Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Testing Your Bible Knowledge

Trek AWANA, my middle-school church class, is coming to a close. It has been a great experience for a number of reasons, but also a big stretch on my time because the Trek leader book did not contain any lesson plans. I had to extensively research each passage we studied until I understood it like a Bible scholar, and then I had to synthesize it all into a coherent, relevant lesson for middle schoolers. It was like writing a sermon each time and gave me new respect for what pastors go through in writing sermons once a week (I only had to teach every third week).

For this, my last lesson, I wrote a final exam of sorts that I'll use as trivia-type questions. It only includes what I taught from Luke (and other Gospels as needed to clarify events) not what my co-teachers covered. Take it for fun to test your Bible knowledge?

Some Final Exam Questions (for fun and review) - Trek Class 2016

1.  What two books of the Bible did Luke write?

2.  Which Gospel writer was like an investigative journalist?

3. Which Gospel writer was a doctor?

4. What is the path to greatness in God’s Kingdom?

5. Finish this verse: Matthew 20:28 Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his ________   ____   ____   _________  _____   __________.

6. John the Baptist told the people to repent. What does repentance look like?

7. Name two unusual things about John the Baptist. Can you think of a reason why God may have wanted John to be so unusual?

8. Who put John the Baptist in jail?

9.  Sharing in Jesus’ greatness involves sharing in his _____________.

10.  Of the biblical couples we learned about, which one had trouble conceiving a baby? What was their attitude in regard to their inability to have a baby?

11. What happened to Zechariah before his son John the Baptist was born. Why did it happen?

12. Mary’s famous lines in the Bible are:  I am the Lord’s_________________. Let it be ____   ___   ___   _____   _______.

13. Joseph belonged to the house and line of _______________________, so he had to go to _______________________ to be registered for the census. Why is it important that Joseph and Mary were from the line of David?

14. Finish this statement from John the Baptist: (Luke 3:16) I baptize you with water, but one more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not ___________   ___   _______.  He will baptize you with ____   ______   _______   ____   _______   ______.

15.  What is the main need of every person, and what was the main need of the paralytic man Jesus healed?

16. When Jesus healed the paralytic, who was lowered down by his four friends, the Pharisees had an attitude that prevented them from appreciating the miracle. How would you describe their attitude, and is it still here today in our churches? In what form?

17. What city was known as the headquarters of Jesus? Hint: It’s also the city in which the most miracles occurred. Jesus said of it: “And you, __________, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.” (Luke 10:15)

18. When we die and have to give an account to God for our lives, God will specifically want to know what we did with ____________?

19. What can you tell me about the Roman Centurion who wanted Jesus to heal his servant? (We went over four details about him, but you don’t need to detail all of them.)

20. Jesus was very impressed with the Roman Centurion. Why? (Luke 7:9) When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "____  ____   ___,   ___   _____   ___   ____  _____  ____   ______   ______  _______   ____ .

21. Who was the unknown man who walked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus?

22. What did Jesus discuss with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus?

23. Finish this verse (today’s memory verse): Luke 24: 25-26 ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to _____   _______  _____  ______ ______  _____  ____  ____.

24. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked?” What lesson is this from? What makes your own heart burn within you, and why do you think this is so?

25. Statement about today’s lesson: The story of the disciples on the Emmaus Road is important for many reasons. It provides an emphasis on the Old Testament prophecies related to Jesus, evidence regarding an additional appearance of Jesus, and a connection regarding the many eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus. Luke 24 is often seen as a model of the journey that Jesus makes with many of us today, as He opens our eyes, points us to the Word, and reveals Himself along life’s walk as the resurrected Savior and Lord. (Got

Why do you think all of this is important for the faith--the emphasis on the Old Testament prophecies, the evidence regarding an additional appearance of Jesus, and a connection regarding the many eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus?

26. During the triumphal entry of Jesus seated on a donkey, the people were very excited and the crowds were large. They worshiped Jesus as a king. What kind of a king did they want, and how did Jesus disappoint them?

27. How was Jesus’ triumphal entry different than what you would expect for a King?

28. Why did Jesus weep during the triumphal entry, as he looked out over the city? What was coming that caused the compassionate tears?

29. What was God’s 70 A.D. judgement on the people who crucified him? Can you name a figure from history who was important in the judgement (starts with a T)?

30. What 18-hour and overnight event starkly contrasted the tremendous majesty of God with the depth of man’s sin? What is the purpose of this contrast?

31. Who were Annas and Caiaphas? What do you remember about either of them?

32. What was the name of the body of people which had 71 members, with a high priest serving as leaders, and including the Sadducees, Pharisees, priests and scribes? What part did this body take in Jesus’ trial?

33. The scripture mentions that prior to Jesus’ trial, Pilate and Herod were distrustful of one another. After the trial they became friends. Can you think of a reason why scripture includes such historical details like this, that at first seem irrelevant?

34. Annas was guilty of a certain practice in the temple courts, which made him rich. What was it?

35. Can you think of any reasons Annas and Caiaphas would want Jesus dead? What did they stand to lose in regards to Rome, or way of life as they knew it?

36. Jesus was given an illegal trial. Can you remember anything about it that was illegal? (He was asked to testify against himself, death wasn’t supposed to be ordered until 2 days after conviction, and there were to be no night-time trials).

37. We went over three Herods:  Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, and lastly, Herod Agrippa I--who was the grandson of Herod the Great (Acts 12). It was Herod Agrippa I who persecuted the church in Jerusalem and had the apostle James, the brother of John and son of Zebedee, put to death by the sword. By the hand of Herod Agrippa I, James became the first apostle to be martyred. What are Herod the Great and Herod Antipas known for?

38. Jesus actually had more than one trial. He had two trials with 3 phases each--the whole ordeal lasting eighteen hours, overnight, and including many beatings. Why did it have to be so?

To ask everyone: How did going through the gospel of Luke--from learning that Mary was pregnant through the Holy Spirit, to reading about the resurrected Jesus appearing to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus--change your life? How do you think that reading the Bible systematically, versus just opening it anywhere and reading, can change someone’s life, and why?

Monday, March 28, 2016

My Baby Has Hair on His Legs, Oh My

Do you see this cute little boy? Don't you just want to squeeze the stuffing out of him, he's so cute? I sure do.

There we were today, sitting in the pediatrician's office for a routine check, and my 5' foot 7'' boy--who just yesterday was a downy-haired newborn--sat waiting on the examining table for the doctor, while playing "I spy" with his sisters. He had on ankle socks and I couldn't help noticing the manly leg hair peeking out from his jeans--all quite shocking to this Momma. His whole childhood flashed through my mind during their three rounds of I spy.

Exactly when did he become a man? How did my newborn, in a flash, morph into a hairy-legged creature with a definite mustache? 

Am I ready to let him go? Am I successfully working myself out of a job, and is it supposed to hurt this much? 

I'm so proud of my young man! He loves the Lord and cares deeply about the salvation of each child in this neighborhood. Twice a month or so he'll ask them...How are you doing with God this week? 

He lives each day to please the Lord and he fiercely loves his family. He protects his sisters, prays about their stubbornness, looks after his brother, and tells me thank you for raising my children to love the Lord. 

Becoming his mother 14 years ago was the happiest day of my 35-year-old life. He's driven me insane more times than I can count, but he's also filled my heart with an inexplicable love that forever changed me. 

Indeed, no one else has grown me or stretched me like he has. He's humbled me. He's matured me. He's taught me the intricacies of love and hope and endurance and grace. 

Thank you, Lord, for my baby boy. Thank you for my young man. Thank you for his life and his love and his loyalty. May he live true and bring many hearts to your Throne of Grace.

May he fiercely love you and follow you all the days of his life, and dwell in your House forever. Amen.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Resurrection Day!

One of the most beautiful times as a Christian is on Easter Sunday when the whole congregation sings beautiful and strong all the songs of hope, redemption, glory, and amazing grace. He is Risen! The three most beautiful words in all the world. 

He. is. Risen. 

This morning there was a really large choir and a brass band and an uber-talented worship leader and my tears and my joy knew no containment. My troubles, eclipsed. My hope, new. I wanted nothing because I had everything.

Then our family got back into the van and trouble resurfaced and not five hours later, life felt heavy again and I was reminded of what hope means. Hope looks forward. If you want hope, go to Him who is the author of hope. 

Congregating with the faithful who are one in Him, our voices rising in unison, our breasts swelling with the breath of Life, singing about His glory and amazing's as close as it gets to heaven on earth, for me.

When we look for hope on earth we will be disappointed. Too much pain, anguish, hate, disorder, disease, and ugliness. Hope lies within, looking forward to that time when there will be no more sorrow, no more pain.

Revelation 21:3-5 (about end times and the new heaven and the new earth, after this, the "first things" have passed away.)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new."

Dear Lord, 
Thank you for the cross and for your precious Son, through which you secured our place in heaven, to live in glory with you forever. Thank you for the hope they have both wrought in our hearts and lives. Thank you for the glimpses you give us here of the new heaven and the new earth. Thank you for the mercy and grace you provide daily that eclipse our pain and suffering. Thank you for the glory of God, and may it shine through us daily. Thank you for our family and friends, who each are gifts from you. Thank you for the most powerful words ever uttered:  "It is finished" and "He is Risen!" We love you!

In Jesus' name I pray,


John 19:28-30

"It Is Finished"

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Some very famous learned men set out to prove that the Resurrection was a hoax. They studied and studied, but they only found irrefutable evidence that the Lord Jesus rose again. Instead of writing a famous paper that would settle the account once and for all, they gave their lives to Jesus Christ.

God, who makes no mistakes, knew that there needed to be irrefutable evidence of the Resurrection.

If you don't yet know if it's true, I invite you to read about the evidence.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tough Love is Hard

Some of you know we don't really have any family here in Ohio, except a couple of aunts who for the most part have their own lives and big families with grandchildren to care for. We seldom see them on holidays or any other time, really, except for a couple intimate dinners a year and a yard party or two in the summer.

So, for holidays we invite two people, who happen to be single. One is an elderly lady who walks extensively in this neighborhood and befriended my girls to start, due to them being out in the yard so much when Mary walked.

The other is a single guy my husband knew from California (I met my husband through the church singles group). Dean and my husband were roommates and they often invited the whole singles group over to their house for fellowship. Dean married after we moved to Ohio, and subsequently divorced, and we only got in touch with him about three or four years ago after learning he moved to Ohio. We have enjoyed his Christian fellowship in our home once a month or so, and for every holiday, but soon he is moving to Delaware. My children love him and vice versa, and we are very sad he is moving.

Now getting to the point of my post: Each time we invite these two singles for a holiday meal, they reply that "they don't know what they are doing yet". It doesn't matter if we invite them two weeks ahead, or two days before...the reply is the same.

Now, we've gotten this from single people before over the seventeen years we've been married ( we used to head up a singles ministry). I don't know if single people always wait for what they deem the best offer, or what. I never did this to anyone, and I was single until age 33! I was raised to have better manners than that.

You either say yes or no, not..."maybe-I-don't-know-yet". Occasionally there might be a compelling reason to do that, but certainly not every time. And these two never give any details explaining the delay.

We've also had them not confirm at all, and then show up as much as an hour late.

This is always very inconvenient for me as a mother of four and the one responsible for the meal. Many of you are probably like me in that if you know you're having guests, you spend a little more on the food and time on the preparation than when you're just cooking for your own family.

Well, for Easter dinner this year these two singles did the exact same thing. Mary, who is nearly eighty but fit and active, has no family here and is lonely, which is why I always invite her. She appreciates having the fellowship and is always thankful. In that way she is a gracious guest.

We also drive her to the store and help her out as much as possible, and pray for her salvation. Since she is not saved, that is another reason I have put up with the rudeness over holidays. I wanted to present Christ's love to her; I decided that I didn't need to insist on her respect. Not to mention, I am just not an assertive person anyway.

However, as I heal from a dysfunctional family upbringing, I am trying to do better in not playing the martyr so often. What good does it do anyone, anyway, when it's ongoing? It only perpetuates a bad situation. Plus, I shouldn't complain about the way people treat me, if I don't plan to do anything about it, right?

So, my friends. I did what was for me, a very difficult, heart-wrenching thing. The kids made an Easter card for Mary and we sent it over with some chocolate and a note saying that since neither she nor Dean could commit to coming, that we were not going to have a dinner, but just celebrate quietly after church, and that I needed to work on a teen Bible Study I have coming up, anyway (very true and I do indeed need the time before AWANA class on Wed.). I wanted her to know that there are lots of things I can do with my time...lots of ways I could bless people, and if she wasn't interested, that was fine, but that other people need my time.

As for Dean, I sent him an email telling him Happy Easter and that we are still praying for him regarding his house hunting in Delaware, and that since neither he nor Mary could commit to coming, that we weren't having anything on Easter, except for church and a quiet day at home.

I tried to be very gracious to both of them, and I hope it was taken in the spirit I intended it, and nothing more. I will still continue to invite them each holiday, and I can only pray that they either reply yes, or no, but no..."maybe-I-don't-know".

I came up with all kinds of reasons not to do this over the last few years--most of them Christian reasons about sacrificing and not insisting on being right, or treated well. And what is hospitality? Is it having something spiffy that takes extra time or money, or is it just opening your home and heart and sharing what God has graciously provided? That's another reason I've done nothing to prevent this ongoing treatment. Shouldn't I be willing to open the door to people, even when it's last minute?

But I thought seriously this time about the wisdom from the Bible that says, "So far as it depends on you, get along with everyone." Romans 12:18

When people are rude, but we have done our polite, gracious part, then we have fulfilled this, I believe.

We have hard things to deal with here, and I'm very often stressed. OCD, in particular, is a very stressful thing to endure, so I need to make hard choices about other sources of stress in my life.

This was one of those hard choices.

Mary, who is very assertive and has hurt my feelings more than once, handled it strangely. She walks extensively, as I said, and when I was driving to the dollar store this morning to get a large pan for my turkey--which I decided to make today because church would interfere tomorrow--I saw her walking back with a bread bag in her hand. Oh, great, I thought. She is going to come to the door with some bread, and I am going to feel terrible about the note we just dropped off.

On my way back, I didn't see her walking, so I assumed she was back at home and had seen our note. Not fifteen minutes later, she came to the door with the bread, saying it was for tomorrow. I asked her if she had been home yet, and she said no. I told her we left her a note saying that because neither she nor Dean could commit to coming, that we weren't having anything on Easter, except for church and my working on my Bible study quietly, while the family enjoys a day at the park, which my husband is aching to do.

She then asked if she could have half of the bread back. Yes, folks, that is what she said. I told her to go ahead and take all of it because we have rolls, but she insisted I cut some of it. So I did, feeling more awkward than I ever have in my life, but I was determined that she not do this to me again, for another holiday.

The first time is always the hardest, I suppose, when you try to stop being a doormat.

I believe Mary had already been home, and was being manipulative, trying to get me to change my mind about what was written on my note.

I love working with children! They are such a breath of fresh air compared to adults. I hate to say that, but I find it so true.

Now, what are your thoughts? Am I being a jerk?...And don't be afraid to say so. I can take another perspective. Thank you, friends.

And Happy Easter!

P.S. We are sending turkey down to Mary later today.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maundy Thursday and Easter Week With Kids

The bread is rising in the oven, the kids are breaking from school for a quick, invigorating basketball game out front. I'm staring down laundry baskets of clean clothes that need to be folded before our guest comes tomorrow to accompany us to a noon-time Good Friday service.

Such are the goings on here, about 2045 years after Christ celebrated a last supper with his disciples, at which he washed their feet. Maundy Thursday, it is called.

The word Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command.” The “Maundy” in “Maundy Thursday” refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another

John 13:6-10, John 13:12-17

(Jesus) came to Simon Peter. “Lord,” Peter said to Him, “Are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You don’t realize now what I am doing. But later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter. “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you can’t share life with Me.”
“Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet! Wash my hands and my head too!”
Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs to wash only his feet. The rest of his body is clean. And you are clean. But not all of you are.” - John 13:6-10

“Do you understand what I have done for you?” He asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You are right. That is what I am. I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet. I have given you an example. You should do as I have done for you.

“What I’m about to tell you is true. A servant is not more important than his master. And a messenger is not more important than the one who sends him. Now you know these things. So you will be blessed if you do them. - John 13:12b-17

It's so easy for the tyranny of the present to thwart parents' desires to disciple their children. Our young people need fed, clothed, and directed to clean their messes. Tables need set, cleared, and dishes done, trash disposed of, showers and baths taken, pajamas gathered, hair combed...and the list goes on. 

Satan counts on us being too busy to do what's most important as parents. He'll throw us curve balls when we serve in the church, get ready for church, drive to church, endeavor to pray with our kids, pray as husband and wife, and conduct family devotions. He manages to make us too tired, irritated, stressed, mad, and overwhelmed. He causes our children to be uncooperative, nasty to one another, full of complaint. 

Don't let him win during these next four days, which are the most important historically speaking for our faith. Without Maundy Thursday we don't have the second most powerful example of humility ever known to man. Without Good Friday--the blood, the cross--the single most humbling event mankind has ever witnessed, we are nothing. We have nothing. And finally, without the resurrected Christ, the aforementioned blood and crucifixion death mean practically nothing--merely another event in history. 

The Resurrection is everything to us. Everything. And you can't teach the resurrection story well without starting with Maundy Thursday as an introduction. 

I urge all of us to make the most of the next four days, for the glory of God. Don't let the chocolate bunnies and treasured baskets be the only things that stay with them, creating anticipation year after year. 

Do it all in remembrance--out of gratitude and awe, not as ritual, however. We can't let them leave our homes in adulthood without intimate knowledge and awe of the Resurrected Christ. We only have so many years to shape their hearts and lives...and then they're gone.


An explanation of Maundy Thursday (Got parents)

Maundy Thursday Lesson for Young Children (a Christian mother's blog)

Do Your Children Understand Easter? (Focus on the Family, five mini-lessons offered in pdf)

Happy Easter to you and yours! I treasure your friendship and enjoy our communion in Him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


One of the most challenging parts of the Christian walk is...


Humility? Obedience? Consistency? Trust?

What is it for you now, and has it changed over the years?

Right now, I believe for me it is trust. There are so many unknowns.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding

Psalm 9:10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

I have to trust that even if God never heals Beth's arthritis, she is going to thrive spiritually and emotionally...that neither bitterness nor envy will steal away her joy in Christ...that she will be able to have children and care for them without serious pain...that her strong medicines will not destroy her health over time...that my love will guide her to acceptance and peace.

Psalm 112:7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

I have to trust that even if God never heals Peter's OCD and ADHD, Peter is going to live for Christ and work hard to care for himself and his family, accepting and compensating well for his differences, without bitterness or envy, for the glory of God.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Right now, specifically, I have to trust that God will provide a job for me, in His timing. I've completed a childcare profile on, paid for a background check, advertised on Craigslist, and spread the word locally. Now, it's a wait game, not knowing when my lifestyle will drastically change, or if it will at all.

Did I read God right? Is this what He wants?

I confess I keep checking to see if anyone has responded. Was my ad all wrong? Not enough information...too much? How long might this take?

After clicking refresh way too many times, it hit me. What am I doing? What can't I do the leg work and let it go...walk away and go on with my day, knowing that God has a plan for everything, including my next job, despite my not having worked for 9 years?

I thought I had the spiritual gift of faith, but now I'm not sure.

This trust? It's hard. Trust is the day-to-day manifestation of faith. Trust is believing that God is good, all the time. Trust is believing that the outcomes--even if unexpected and different from what we prayed--will prove better than what we hoped for. And not better in terms of comfort so much, but better spiritually all around.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Trust is living free, letting go...falling backwards without care. In essence, trust is daily living on a spiritual plane, rather than on a physical one. We trust not in our daily physical comfort, but in our daily spiritual growth.

And we get there how? We stay there how?

It's not something we learn one time and keep with us forever. Trust requires refresher courses, as does much of the Christian life. That's why we walk with Christ. We have to tether ourselves to him, much like the European child leashes you see in crowded public places. Children tethered to their parents--something that shocks us Westerners.

I tether myself to Christ by observing my prayer time. The Holy Spirit speaks to me as I release it all in prayer, asking for Christ to reign in me.

I tether myself to Christ by keeping Believers close, who sharpen me in the faith.

I tether myself to Christ by memorizing his Word.

I tether myself to Christ by loving His Word, and picking it up and opening it and reading it.

I tether myself to Christ by studying spiritual concepts through serious Bible study.

I tether myself to Christ by choosing Christian music to bring my thoughts captive to Christ.

Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Sometimes, when I'm not actively tethering, I pursue certainty instead and certainty becomes my God. I become consumed with outcomes and possibilities, but the Holy Spirit doesn't leave me there. The Shepherd comes calling for me. "Where are you, dear sheep? I no longer see you."

Psalm 91:1-16 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, ...

The Good Shepherd opens my eyes and brings me back into the, a wayward sheep.

Me...a contented sheep, glad to be back in the Shepherd's fold, enjoying the spiritual bounty.

Are you tethered and enjoying His bounty today?

Isaiah 43:2-3 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...Sunday, March 20

Outside my window...

It's supposed to be in the 20's tonight. Crocuses are blooming, the grass is greening but still muddy. It snowed today but after a week of spring temperatures, it didn't stick.

Inside the house...

We give the Easter baskets a week early, so right now there's artificial Easter grass and a couple candy wrappers on the living room floor, plus garden seed packets, a garden map the boys are making, and two large baskets of clothes to fold. Welcome to a house with four kids. I'm learning to take it in stride while still trying to keep up and keep them in line. We do devotions after dinner and sometimes, if it goes long, the living room stays messy until morning...because in my playbook late bedtimes are worse than a messy living room.

And I forgot something else in the living room. Twinkle the hamster--belonging to Mary who waited three years to grow old enough to own one--is going like mad on his hamster wheel while I type. What would I do without that noise and the loud furnace keeping me company while everyone is sleeping?

I am thinking...

That I don't like being 50 years old (my birthday was this month). Life is so very short and youth is fleeting, but I had my it's my children's turn to be young and vibrant and my turn to share wisdom and escort them into adulthood, which is a privilege and a prayer.

I went to the thrift store for spring clothes for the family, and I had to try on short-sleeved shirts. Not attractive once you hit fifty, let me tell you. Older arms develop sun spots and more freckles from all the years of sun exposure in cars and during summers, and skin is less elastic.

I have en elderly aunt here who wears long-sleeved shirts year round because she doesn't like to show her arms. I was 39 when we moved here and my arms were great, so I thought she was crazy wearing long-sleeves in a rather humid summer climate. Now...I get it! I probably won't ever be quite that vain, but I totally get it.

I am thankful...

For the Lord's grace and mercy, new everyday, for my children and husband, for the power of prayer and humility, for the eighth grade boys' Sunday School teacher taking the boys out to dinner and for laser tag (on his own dime), for Mary's Sunday School teachers hosting a fun event also, for the sweet toddlers in the nursery this morning, and the cute 2 year old who told me I was smart (apparently because I did an exemplary job reading Brown Bear Brown Bear to him :)). Children are non-judgmental and easily pleased. Beautiful human beings!

And I'm thankful that Peter is mature enough now to watch the kids while I go to the store. That has been a recent thing and it's going well so far. Hubby and I haven't been on a real date in years and years, so maybe that can come soon? 

What will we even talk about?!

Well, we best not talk about OCD, or money, or car or home repairs, or arthritis, or Donald Trump, or my husband's obstinate elderly father who lately is meaner than Donald Trump. 

That leaves...what? I can't think of a single thing to say. Help me?

I am wearing...

Blue jeans and a plum-colored sweater.

I am creating...

A profile on because I need a job. I thought about what I can do from home using my gifts and talents and passions. I love nurturing and teaching children and I love writing. Writing for money would require a great deal of time, so childcare it is.

I am going...

I never go anywhere special...too expensive...though special is a relative word. Nature is God's glory and it's free and it's very there's that. The library, Walmart, the thrift store, the Rec Center that hosts homeschool gym, to parks, to the kids' doctor appointments...that's about it. I'm never bored however; every minute is accounted for and every minute is meaningful when you're with kids all day. Stay-at-home motherhood is not for everyone, but it is a purpose-driven life.

I am wondering...if anyone will read this entry? Stagnant blogs get forgotten fast, but I've avoided putting any pressure on myself to keep this up. After nine years of blogging, I've said everything over and over too many times already. Still, this is a pleasure of mine.

I am reading...

Peace Child.. a missionary book I assigned the boys.

I am hoping...

That my children will serve the Lord all the days of their lives and dwell in His house forever. And that someone will need my babysitting services on a part-time basis...because we have Beth's arthritis appointments to keep up with. I have to work around those.

I am learning...

That each day has enough trouble of its own, and enough blessings, too. You'll never know the extent of God's love and care if you don't count your blessings. You'll discover over and over that you do indeed have enough. Discontent melts away and joy prevails.

In my garden...

I love having a garden but I would never call it "my garden". I'm too busy with the house and meals and schooling to take care of the garden myself. Paul and Peter are planning it together this year. The seeds are purchased and now they're plotting the planting times and measuring the ground.

In my kitchen...

The dinner dishes are waiting for me and can I just say I hate dinner dishes? After seventeen years of marriage and fourteen years of motherhood, I think it's time to pass the dinner dishes onto the least several nights a week.

In the homeschool room...

Mary is reading chapter books and is much more independent with her school work. Beth, who likes school more than anyone else here, will soon be reading chapter books and she's thrilled. Both girls are doing 3rd grade Teaching Textbooks math, which has been wonderful for them. They love it and they're excelling. The TT guys are far better math teachers than I am!

A favorite quote for today...Psalms 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

One of my favorite things...long-sleeved solid-colored classy tees from Old Navy or other famous makers that are tight enough to show you're a woman, but loose enough to show you're a lady. They're the most practical thing to mother in, since I don't do sweats or sweatshirts. I get dressed to shoes every single day and while I don't dress up, I do want to look put together. They go with jeans and jean skirts and can be paired with scarves and cardigans and I love them! And Old Navy fades so slowly..the tees last a long time. Thrift stores are my only option and I jump for silent joy when I find a high-end long-sleeved tee.

From the board room...The board room? Who wrote these prompts, anyway?The kitchen and laundry room are my boardrooms. After twenty years on a clunky desktop PC, I now type on a I suppose the comfy blue recliner in the living room is also a boardroom.

That's the state of things here, friend. And how are you?

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Word About Politics

Every three to four years I become extremely glued to politics. I did major in political science, after all. Perhaps if I'd come from a politically inactive family, it would have been different, but the truth is, we all invest ourselves heavily in it in my family, sometimes to our detriment. My father is a staunch Republican and my sister and I used to be as well. After her divorce my sister jumped ship on the Republicans, who aren't known for their gentleness or support of the downtrodden.

My mother and step-father have always been militant Democrats and with my sister now following suit, I don't dare bring up politics in my semi-regular email contact with her. I happen to agree with most Republican principles, but mostly I vote Republican because they support the unborn and champion people helping people, which is God's way as well.

I've never been interested in changing anyone's politics, however. I enjoy studying politics, not discussing it. The White House does well to change parties every four to eight years because good government requires a balance, just like a good marriage requires balance. The generous spouse needs to be tempered by the fiscally conservative spouse, or nothing ever gets paid (or saved).

I'm careful to tell my boys--who seem to be developing into Republicans--that they need to think carefully about the issues and come to their own conclusions. They owe no loyalty to their parents in terms of party affiliation or philosophy. I want them to leave our home with their heads full of their own, carefully considered positions.

Paul seems to have inherited the political gene. He spent hours studying the issues and watching the debates with me. His attention to and passion for the process amazed me. I was the same at his age, though I didn't have as many resources to learn from. Young people like Paul--who very early have a passion for the process--sometimes grow up to run for public office, as Marco Rubio did at age 26, winning a local race in Florida.

Paul has a gifted intelligence and a magnetic personality, so we'll see what happens.

When, last Tuesday, Marco Rubio suspended his campaign, Paul and I cried. Marco was our guy--someone who was conservative but loved immigrants, loved the unborn, admitted when he was wrong, openly spoke about his faith, loved his family, worked and fought hard, and spoke with vision and hope.

The next morning, March 16, I knew that I had to help Paul move on. He had gone to bed the night before still in tears, depressed.

"I didn't know politics could be so depressing," he offered as I kissed him goodnight.

It truly can be, as so many Americans are feeling this season, with the rise of Donald Trump. Perhaps I don't need to say...we align ourselves with the NeverTrump crowd.

Here is what China thinks about Trump. He's making enemies globally, and he's not even a nominee yet.

I shudder to think of what's to come, but as I told my son...our hope is not in politics. It's not in a single person, either, or in a single political party.

We can trust the Lord in all seasons. He puts leaders in place and we can trust his plan. The Republican party may not have a plan right now, but God does. We can trust that no matter what, He loves us and works all things for our good, for the good of those who love him...who are called according to his purpose.

It's good to know the issues, to know the candidates, to know the process. It's good to exercise the privileges open to us as citizens of a republic. We are blessed to be a part of this great nation. If we are losing any of our greatness, it's because we've taken God out of our lives, not because we have bad trade deals or open borders. The drugs, the addictions, the panic and hopelessness, the emphasis on jobs and the economy over morals and decency? These loom so large because God has become so small to us. Trump can only look like a savior to those who don't know what true Hope is. It's not in negotiation or in isolation. It's not in the empty, contradictory rhetoric of a bully.

Hope is Jesus Christ, resurrected, his blood shed for all, his presence in Heaven preparing a place for all who believe.

Remember, we are citizens of Heaven first...followers of Jesus Christ. We can't put aside our Bibles and our prayers for any season. They ground us in Him. They help us remember to whom we really pledge allegiance, above all other people or interests or passions.

God willing, someone will be sworn in as President next January, appointed by our Almighty Father. And no matter who it is, we can wake up and smile, knowing the Lord is our strength and our song.

Psalm 27:1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

He Knows

He knows.

Do you ever think about that deeply, when life seems uncertain and scary?

I'm guilty of forgetting.

Sure, Bible verses comfort me. I always print a list of them when I'm feeling sad or overwhelmed or scared, and they definitely ground me. They're a regular part of my spiritual armor, but I still forget God's all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present love.

Several weeks ago we noticed the carpet soaking in the hallway, so my handyman cousin came over to investigate. He tore open drywall and cabinets, attempting to locate the source of the water, to no avail. Finally, he suggested it was under the slab and would require a jack hammer, and us moving out of the house for a couple days. We prepared to hire a leak detection company to listen for water under the slab with specialized instruments.

Slab leaks can cost a couple thousand to several thousand, or more. As you can imagine, the news was devastating and scary. I was spending time I didn't have watching DIY plumbing videos, trying to find answers.

Meanwhile, the leak soaked towels day and night, and we couldn't find any pattern or trigger for the water, and mold was a real concern. The stress of it aggravated my son Peter's disorders.

Life felt heavy and miserable, but I tried to count my blessings anyway, rather pathetically coming up short.

Then, last night during family devotions the Holy Spirit really spoke to me. We were weighed down choice. Fretting is always a choice. 

Our entire lives are made up of choices. Good and bad things happen to all of us, everyday. In each case we have a choice as to how we will respond. The hallway plumbing leak was a spiritual test, as are so many things we go through as Christians.

We could either be devastated by the leak and the potential cost, and spend inordinate amounts of time trying to solve it, stressing each other out in the process, or we could go on with our God-ordained tasks, walking by faith with joy and humility, doing what was necessary regarding the leak, but nothing more. We could take it in stride as just another adventure as servants of Christ.

I'm sad to say we did not respond admirably, though some days we did better than others.

On the day I was waiting for a call back from the leak detection company--who wanted to charge nearly $400 for their detection services--I received help from the Holy Spirit, during family devotions as I stated above. I could feel the tension in everyone. We were grumpy, worried, and had trouble counting our blessings.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me, but this time not in a verse, so much as in a concept. God knows.

The Holy Spirit whispers the simplest things, but when given at the right time, they seem monumental. God knows?

Oh, yeah. Of course he does.

I let that knowledge soak in, and then I reminded the rest of the family that God knows. He knows the source of the leak. He knows what's in our bank account. He knows our days are already full. He knows we can't live with flowing water and mold in our hallway. He knows, and he works all things for our good.

He knows the outcome of every challenge, so we don't have to. We can just trust and obey, cause there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, then to trust and obey.

The need to know and to control the outcome is what drives our fretting.

After we realized that...the spiritual test was nearly over. We were a little late, but we got there. God knows.

Something miraculous--or so it seemed to us--happened after devotions that night. The kids began brushing teeth because it was now bedtime, and my husband, on a whim, went into one of the bathrooms and drew the water from the toilet tank with a large cup. He emptied it out as much as possible, and put a "do not use" sign on it. This idea, after weeks of consternation, and my cousin coming up empty after demolishing and investigating. My cousin is fairly knowledgeable, but not a certified plumber. He knew enough to buy a fixer upper home for cheap, to gut it, and start from scratch remodeling it. It's now a beautiful home with high-quality workmanship, so now the extended family always uses his expertise whenever possible.

Until I started watching DIY videos, I knew nothing about plumbing, and my husband knew the minimum. Still, the next morning we discovered that the leak had stopped. The towels laid on the hallway slab were dry, and the wet spots on the interior wall were slowly drying, allowing me to tackle the mold before we redid the drywall. We would still have to spend money changing out the toilet and redoing drywall, but the spiritual test was over and it didn't cost the bundle of cash we feared.

I feel both very relieved, and very foolish. A simple fix was somehow kept from our consciousness--and my cousin's--because God wasn't interested in our comfort or in our leak. He was interested in our hearts. He wanted us to be able to go through hard, scary, inconvenient things, and still praise Him, and still rejoice.

God's people all through history have gone through much harder things than a hallway leak. They've been held captive, ridiculed, persecuted, and killed. They've been afraid, overwhelmed, in pain, and in each case they did not immediately know the outcomes.

If we let go of our need to control the outcomes, we can concentrate better on having a godly response to our circumstances. A godly response is what brings God glory, and isn't that what we want as servants of bring him glory?

Hard to accept isn't it, that God's not concerned about our comfort? Yes, hard, but I'm so glad he cares about my good, about my heart, about my usefulness, more than about my comfort.

Forgive me, Lord. Forgive me for making it about me. Thank you for showing me that I always have a choice in how I respond. Help me choose what is better. Give me a grateful that considers it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds. Help me to live for you and your glory.

In Your name, Amen.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.