Thursday, April 17, 2008

The White Flag of Surrender - a Temporary Cease Fire

Readers...I've given up. The muse has gone from me, words fail me and I have no creative resources left to write this week.

I kept thinking each day that I would have a topic to share with you (did anyone notice that Marriage Monday was NOT?), but each day I woke up with one thing on my mind...preparing for our Bible Quiz National Competition.

You see, each year dh and I coordinate the food and some logistics for a group of nearly 70 teens and adults for this event. This year...Minneapolis. My mind is brimming with lists of to dos and have dones and what ifs and could bes. Trying to figure where we'll be, when we'll be there and how we'll get there. With that sort of bric-a-brac clogging the creative pipeline can you understand why I'm struggling?

Now don't get me wrong, my dh and I look forward to this event every year. Hundreds of teens gather from all over the country to compete. These teens have spent the year memorizing several books of the Bible WORD FOR WORD (I can't stress that enough...not even a "the" or an "of" can be out of place when called upon during the quizzes) and now they're bringing what they've learned to the table ready to quiz. Last year our top team took the National Championship. This year, we have two very strong teams that could....well....I won't competitiveness is showing I think. *blush*

I'm also especially giddy because THIS year John Piper is our keynote speaker to kick off the event. He has to be one of my favorite modern day authors and teachers and I can't wait to hear what he has to share.

Anyway, I'm responsible for our ministry group alone, but it's a challenge to feed that many people, three times a day, out of a hotel room using 3 banquet tables, 5 coolers, a bathroom sink for dish washing and multiple trips to the grocery store. Can you picture it? We love a challeng but planning is key.

And so...I will beg your leave to cease entries on my blog from now until I return. That means about a week and a half from now or so. And then I'm sure I'll have plenty to say.

Hasta La Vista, for now.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Today's Helpful Tip: "Like..if you have a butter knife in your head...don't yank it out"

Am I sick to think this story is actually humorous? Well, maybe not the plight of this boy, but...well, wait until the last 30 seconds of the piece. If you can keep yourself from laughing at his sage advice...well...then you're a better woman than I (which probably isn't really open for debate anyway!).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Then Sings My Soul - "Grace Like Rain"

Just sit quietly and listen with your heart to each beautiful, unbelievably TRUE word. What more can I say but "Hallelujah!"

Friday, April 11, 2008

"Cold Sassy Tree" - a Little Humor with alot of Bite!

I'm always looking for good fiction to read. It seems I sew in the fall and winter and read in the spring and summer. "Good fiction" to me can be just about anything...romance, mystery, pseudo-memoirs...but I especially love something that can make me laugh (I might be addicted to laughter).

Cold Sassy Tree did that, but I think I liked it most for it's irreverence toward societal rules in the turn of the century deep South. Now, I'm not a southern girl so I admit that I can't be sure if Miss Olive Ann Branch's view of Cold Sassy, Georgia is a true representation of southern folk in general,but if it is...ya'll are a HOOT!

This would make a good rainy spring day read, after the first 40 or so pages. I give every book I read a 10% chance. Meaning I read through the first 10% of it and if it hasn't captured my fancy by then, I give myself permission to put it down (any less than that seems disrespectful to an author, don't you agree?). Cold Sassy Tree barely made it, but the remainder of the book more than made up for it's slow start.

The dialogue was captivating, with all the southern vernacular and backwater phrases leaping into my mind and sometimes out of my lips. I found myself saying things like, "if'n you want", "cept'n this time", and "'thout havin' to". When I didn't say it, I was thinking translating a foreign language before speaking it out. It's addictive I tell ya!

One reviewer compared the main character, young Will Tweedy to Huck Finn and the story itself to Gone with the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird. When I read that I do believe I rolled my eyes. Talk about over-selling. But, post-read, I have to say they weren't THAT far off. The chacracters names alone are worth the read - Love Simpson, Aunt Loma, Cousin Lottie, Cudn Hopewell Stump, Bluford Jackson, Miss Effie Belle, Loomis, Lightfoot McLendon. How CAN you go wrong with a cast of characters like THAT?!

I recommend it to anyone who's not afraid of a little Presbyterian/Baptist doctrine twistin', unexpected bitin' humor or splashes of non-gratuitous swearin'. Give it 15% and you'll be glad you did.

Thanks Shalee for pointing it out to me.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'm Confused or How To Reply To Blog Comments

I LOVE getting comments on my entries. I LOVE hearing from folks who have actually taken the time to read something that I've written (wouldn't my kindergarten teacher, who taped my mouth closed to keep me quiet, be surprised?) and then pause even a moment longer just to chat with me about it.

I also LOVE replying to you and I try to do this as much as I'm able. I LOVE that sense of connection and comraderie that builds when we connect via our blogs and comment sections.

One thing I do NOT LOVE is how confusing it can be for me to find a way to reply to some.

I'm still not completely SURE how I've done this or exactly SURE how others have, but I know there is a way that I am notified via email that I have received a comment on a particular entry I've made. And for SOME of you, I can just hit "reply" from my email account and send you a message. For others, I can't. In this case I do try to go to your profile and hunt down your email. When that fails I try to comment in my own comment section hoping that perhaps you'll return and see that I haven't ignored you, but truly appreciated you stopping by. Besides that, I'm not sure what else to do.

I "think" that the reason that I can reply directly to some and not to others is because of your settings. Some have an email address added under the "settings" and "comments" tab in your Blogger dashboard. It's very simple to do really and I think makes reading and commenting on blogs a gazillion times more fun and friendly.

Do you agree that this is what makes the difference? The email added to the settings, I mean? Or is there some other way to change one's email settings to make a blogger able to reply directly to a comment you left. I really DO want to acknowledge each and every visitor when I can.

Thank you.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Marriage Monday: For Happiness or Holiness? or Our Last Best Chance to Grow

“If the purpose of marriage was
simply to enjoy an infatuation and make me “happy”,
then I’d have to get a “new” marriage every two or three years.”
– Gary Thomas The Sacred Marriage

I suppose each of us comes into marriage with the idea that we’ll be happy. I mean, who’d spend months planning a big party and spend thousands of dollars buying the perfect dress, choosing the perfect cake and then invite all their friends to dress in their finery and come to watch the send off to a work camp? A big bon voyage party wishing our friend well as they are carried away to a life sentence where they are sure to grow in character, but thrust of their days would be filled with sorrow, emotional upheaval, struggle, strife, sickness, uncertainty and, ultimately, death? Ugh. How sick would that be? But the reality is that, after the wedding, there’s a lot about marriage that looks like that work camp. But what if it’s all part of God’s plan to mold us into the creation he intended us to be?

Each time we’re called upon to confront our own sinful nature there is spiritual value. And we have many opportunities, beginning even before the wedding, to do just that. Marriage can go a long way to buffing off our rough edges and polishing us along the road of sanctification.

*Marriage can teach us about God. Marriage analogies can be found throughout the Old and New Testaments. In Hosea we’re told that God will no longer be our “master”, but our “husband” whom we’ll be betrothed to forever, which gives us a glimpse into the passion the Lord has for His people. In Matthew, Jesus is the Bridegroom. In Ephesians husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loves the church. The comparisons go on and on.

*Marriage teaches us to love others. When we love well, we please God. Whatever we do to one another we’re doing to the Lord Himself. By loving our spouse even when he is “unlovable” we’re exampling Christ to him, to ourselves and to others. Christianity is all about learning to love and marriage is a great place to get that lesson.

*Marriage can expose our sin. I’m not sure I need to say much about this. I’ve sinned more and caused more sin because of my marriage than I dare to remember or confess and anyone reading this who is married knows EXACTLY what I mean! But, without having had that sin exposed, how could I have grown and, by God’s Grace, overcome it? It’s easy to pretend that I’m perfect in a superficial relationship, but I can’t run from the reality of who I am when I share a bed and a home with for more than twenty years.

*Marriage teaches us to forgive. I think the above says all too well that forgiveness is a must in marriage and by learning to forgive our spouse over and over and over and over…and watching them forgive us, we’re learning about God’s capacity for forgiveness

*Marriage can create in us a servant’s heart. Going into marriage with a “me first” attitude is going to get you one of two things…either a life filled with anger, frustration, tears and harsh words or a divorce. There’s no way around it. If you want a marriage that lasts, one that honors your partner and God, you’ll learn to be a servant and the better and quicker you get the lesson, the more content your time on this earth.

I have friends who have been struggling in their marriage since before the I do’s were said and rings exchanged over a decade ago and are now heading toward a divorce. There is “fault” on both sides. He struggles with unrepentance and honesty issues, she’s a victim and a martyr. Everything that ever goes “wrong” in her world is someone else’s fault and he can’t seem to get past his own pride. They’re both Believers, but they aren’t living victorious in Christ. They’re not allowing their marriage and circumstances to better them. Their years together have not been spent growing their relationship with the Lord, but in name calling, finger pointing and blame. Grasping and demanding that their partner “make them happy”. But it’s not our spouse’s responsibility to make us happy. Happiness, only mentioned a handful of times in the Bible, seems to be coupled with our commitment to the Lord and His blessings upon us. Not in anyway externally generated by another human being.

So to the question of whether marriage was intended to make us happy or holy? I’d have to say that I think that marriage is meant to keep us from sin (1 Cor 7:2) and is part of our continued sanctification (holiness). As we grow in Him we will find happiness.

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis
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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturday - "Gather at the River" For a Lesson in Singing Harmony

"Just LISTEN and sing it the way I do. I'll sing your part for a while then, once you've got it, I'll switch to mine."

That was the Big Plan that my, then, 12 year old step-daughter came up with. She must have started and stopped the Point of Grace cassette tape (yes...I said TAPE) a hundred times that day and patiently helped me through each note. I tried to explain to her that I just couldn't do it, but she refused to believe me. To her it was as natural as breathing or a heartbeat. I can see her big brown eyes just PLEADING with me to miraculously begin to hear the way the notes all fit together to make chords. I'm sorry to say she was disappointed.

That was over a decade ago. I still can't sing harmony. She told me the other day that until she came to visit this week and heard her Dad, brother and sister playing their instruments and singing (a daily happening in Vaughanville) that she'd "completely forgotten" she was musical. I can't tell you how sad that made me. She use to love singing and playing her flute and dancing and yet, all through her teens, the time she was away from us, she barely explored that part of her.

Well...I remember. And every time I hear this song, I think of that hot summer day and how patiently she worked with a musically hopeless step-mother.

Friday, April 04, 2008

I'm An Exclamation Point - But Is Anyone Really Surprised?

You Are An Exclamation Point

You are a bundle of... well, something.
You're often a bundle of joy, passion, or drama.

You're loud, brash, and outgoing. If you think it, you say it.
Definitely not the quiet type, you really don't keep a lot to yourself.

You're lively and inspiring. People love to be around your energy.
(But they do secretly worry that you'll spill their secrets without even realizing it.)

You excel in: Public speaking

You get along best with: the Dash
(though I just took the test FOR my dh and I think he's a Comma! And wouldn't it be just like an Exclamation Point to take a PERSONALITY quiz FOR someone ELSE?!)

So, friends...what say you? Do you agree or disagree? What Punctuation Mark are you? If you take the quiz be sure to stop by and tell me and I'll give you MY "evaluation" of it's accuracy. :-)


(you know something...this IS my favorite!! Go figure!!)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Jesus Came to Bring Reconciliation

I’m a blogger. As a blogger I should be writing on my blog, sharing my astute observations and bright ideas, but this week…well, I don’t seem to have the words I need to put anything before you that is worth reading.

There’s a lot happening here in Vaughanville, but it’s all still so fragile and ambivalent that to say much might just cause it to shatter into a zillion little bits. I can give you a peek as a peace offering until such a time in the near future I can bring you something more substantial.

If this week of my life could have a theme I think it would be “Reconciliation”.

I have been led to re-establish communication with a woman from church. We had a falling out a couple of years ago and, while we agreed to disagree, things have not been the same since. Each time we see one another there is a great deal of discomfort and averting of eyes. I’ve attempted to extend the olive branch on more than one occasion and have been rebuffed each time. This time however, I think the Holy Spirit is leading me and my prayer is that I’m hearing clearly. I’ve established contact via email and have a date to meet with her at church this Sunday. I’m not sure what to say or how to approach the subject of reconciliation. I still feel that I was wronged in the initial exchange and yet…I don’t want to hang on to that anymore. Jesus was wronged and yet he prayed that is offenders would be forgiven, holding no malice for them. That’s what I want and my prayer is that my over active sense of fleshly justice will not hinder me and that she will be as ready to move on as I am.

Also, this week, we’ve had a visitor here. My step-daughter whom we’ve not had much contact with in about ten years has come to see us. I’ve had a stress ball of contradictions in the pit of my stomach for weeks…a conflict of emotions between fear and elation. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong and why there was a severing…is that the right word? No. Maybe better to say a dwindling of connections between us. Looking back it seems that it was a little of this and some of that added up to nearly a decade of estrangement. It’s heartbreaking really. But now…here she is… grown woman with no one standing between herself and her Dad and siblings. She’s ready to come and go as she pleases visiting us and us visiting her and rebuilding and reconciling. She’s very different now (her religion, her manner of dress, her political views, etc) but in many ways the same (same red hair, same big eyes, same witty personality, same kind heart, etc). My hope is that we can connect on our commonalities, accept with respect our differences and that the Lord will work to restore her to Himself.

So you see? It’s all very uncertain. I feel like if there is one misstep or careless word that all might be ruined and so explains my silence.

"Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation."

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Steam Engine from a Votive Candle (video tutorial)

This is the COOLEST THING!! (keep in mind I'm easily impressed, but still...)

I was doing a StumbleUpon search just cruising the web a couple of days ago and came upon this video. I sat watching and wondering if this would turn out to be four minutes of my life that I'd wish I had back (you know how that is, right?) Well...I'm blogging about it so it MUST have been worthwhile...what more can I say? I give you...the Votive Candle Steam Engine!

Building The Amazing Steam Candle - The funniest home videos are here

Can you imagine these swirling around in low bowls of water as centerpieces or filling the pool at a summer party? Nifty,huh?

Let me know if any of your little geniuses *cough* science geeks *cough* give this a try.