28 February 2007

The View From My Front Porch

I am sitting in my wicker rocker on my front porch. My mother-in-law gave it to me when we moved into our new house and I promptly painted it black to match my porch swing. The weather is just about perfect – light but not overly sunny. There is a gentle breeze with a mild temperature in the high 60s. I can hear birds singing, and the occasional passing car. My dog Jett has been laying here beside me chewing on a stick for the last half hour, and life is just about perfect for him. At the end of the street where the highway overpass is, I can hear an occasional truck. The house across the street is abandoned. The people put a mobile home on the back of their property and left the house which was in too much disrepair for the elderly people to keep up with. Every once in a while I hear a gull sounding bird, and smell beach air. I know it isn't my imagination because we don't live that far from the Gulf of Mexico. Sometimes I wonder how I got here – and other times I am deliriously happy. I think about the years we will live on and off of this porch. Maybe one of my daughters will be asked for their hand in marriage here. (I will probably sweep before then.) Family reunions, grandbabies learning to walk, small children climbing the rails. I can imagine Travis and I sitting on the swing in our golden years, saying nothing but knowing everything about the lives we've shared together. While sometimes this porch seems very empty, and I wish I could fill it rail to wall with all of my friends, today I am contented to have it to myself. I think my children are making something for my birthday. Sheets have been hung at both entrances to the kitchen and I have been given the "do not enter" speech, but through the storm door that leads to the front porch, I saw flames a moment ago. (YIKES – for real!) I have my feet up and a sweet, hot cup of coffee, and the leisure to blog my little heart out. Life is good here on my front porch!

Sweet Rude Awakening

My last thought before I drifted off to sleep last night was that I was going to sleep in. After all, it was my birthday, and I am blessed to work at home. Why not? But my conspiring children had a different plan. I think they intend to spoil me all day long. At 6:30 (gulp!) they thrust on the light in my darkened bedroom and entered singing "Happy Birthday" and carrying a plate full of breakfast. (A very LARGE plate of oatmeal, toast and scrambled eggs - enough for all four of us in fact!) I smiled and thanked them. I was still so sleepy, so I asked them to put it on my nightstand. Very quickly I realized that they were going to stand there and watch me sleep until I sat up and ate something! It was so sweet. I never did go back to sleep – but the three of them have taken over my bed and are in there snoozing now. I am so very blessed. How did three such awesome kids ever come from a wreck of a mom like me? God's grace. How beautiful.

27 February 2007

Paranoid

People are whispering behind my back and stop talking when I enter the room. My kids took off in the mall today without me. Groceries I did not buy are appearing in the fridge and pantry. The phone is hung up quickly when I come around the corner. In the car this evening I asked my younger daughter what she was thinking about, and she said, "I can't tell you." Am I being paranoid? I don't know. Maybe it could be just because my birthday is tomorrow! I keep reminding my children that "I'm the birthday girl – almost!" Hee hee

Oh yeah – and when I tried to show them my awesome jujitsu moves, they just laughed at me. (does anybody even know what jujitsu is?)

Note to Self - It's Not Worth It!

I don't wanna gain the whole world and lose my soul........
A song on the new TobyMac CD that I bought for Kullen has this verse in a chorus that plays in the background over and over. I don't wanna gain the whole world and lose my soul. What could be worth that?

Movie Date

My husband is not the kind of guy that gives a lot of forethought to things. Asking me out on a date has never been one of the things he does consistently or well. If we do go, typically I initiate it with a suggestion that we go and do something. Yesterday, we were watching a movie and saw a preview for Sandra Bullock's new movie "Premonition". I said, "Ooh, I want to see that!" Thankfully for me, the preview ended with a "opening in theaters on March 16th". So my hubby turned to me, and said, "Let's go see it." I said, "You mean a date? Just you and me?" He said, "Yeah." So there you go people – we're going on a date!

Just

Me

And

The

Man.

No, you can't come. Sorry.

WOO HOO!

and, he.asked.me!!!

Blog Referral

When you read a blog entry that inspires you, you just have to share it with the whole wide world -(okay, okay maybe with the 4 other people who randomly read your blog) so I had to share this post entitled "God Cannot Be Defined". It was authored by my own 15 year old daughter. She has some thoughts so deep that I feel like I need scuba gear to go there with her!

Pit Dweller No More!

I am a frequent visitor at the blog of one, Boomama. One day while innocently visiting there, I read an announcement that she was going to be starting a "Bloggity Book Club". My first instinct was to RUN. I love to read books, and I love book discussions, but I don't have time, money, energy for another one right now, or so I thought. At the same time this announcement goes out, I hear that HSB is also starting up a Literary Club. And, (shameless plug) some friends and I are starting an Inklings book club reading C.S. Lewis and other Christian authors on a yahoo group. (See the sidebar to join us!)

At any rate, I digress.

I skimmed the post about the book club at Boomama's, learned that they were going to be discussing Beth Moore's new book Get Out of That Pit, and decided, nah. Okay, my first and most shallow reason for abstaining is that the book, being newly released would be in hardback only. I absolutely loathe hardback books, and especially ones that come with dust covers, even if cutie-patootie Beth Moore is on it. But, a week or so later, I was in Sam's club and saw "the book". It was only $12 which is very reasonable for a new hardback book, and when I picked it up, it just felt right. (not too heavy, nice paper) I know it's a weird way to examine a book – but reading is not just in the brain, it is kinesthetic and aesthetic for me as well. If the book feels weird, I just can't do it. I am certain there is medicine for this, however, since it is only this one little thing, I think I'll just allow myself to ruminate in this one itty bitty little quirky behavior. (Those of you that know me ITF "in the flesh" can keep your comments to yourselves!) Long story short - I bought the book.

All kidding aside, I just finished it, and while I'll reserve the majority of my comments for the discussion that I intend to participate in fully, I will share something that God spoke almost audibly, as if the words lifted off the pages and became sound – because I've been hurting in this specific way for a little over a week. On pg 176 was a statement that spoke right to my wounded spirit:

Nobody gets the right to keep you in a pit or to shame you for bailing. Not even your mama.

In context, Beth was explaining how some people (specifically family) get mad when you leave the pit of family dysfunction and seek to live life in the freedom that comes from Jesus Christ. I know what she means – boy, do I know.

26 February 2007

Google Reader Blast

For those of you who may have my blog on your Google Reader - please bare with me while I attempt to move some of my favorite posts from my old blog to this one. I don't know why - maybe it doesn't matter much, but I feel compelled to do it. When I get those posts all moved over here - I will probably put up a post with links to the "best of Jewls2texas". (I know you can't wait!) I am a "need to have all my eggs in one basket" kind of girl - and I want this blog to be full of the archives of previous posts. I've been blogging for a year and a half now - with very few slumps. It's fun to look back. I just wanted to let you know why when you look at my blog on Google Reader it may look as if there are 20 new posts! Nope - not even I can blog that much! (Although some days I feel like it!)
It's pretty late - but did I use the right form of the word bare/bear in that first sentence? We don't want no nekid bloggers round these parts, ya hear?

Ultimate Blog Party

I don't know much about getting your blog noticed. I mainly started blogging because I've always enjoyed writing - and quickly got addicted to the enjoyment of sharing my thoughts with others and learning and growing from them sharing their thoughts with me.
I found out about this from my friend KarenW - she invited me - and anyone else who would like to come to the Ultimate Blog Party. It is a way to find some new online friends, find some other cool blogs to visit, and send out the invitation for others to come and visit your blog during the week long party. It sounds like a lot of fun to me - so jump on over there and join in the fun. It starts this Friday, March 2nd - March 9th.
I hope to see you there!

Wonders of God’s Creation

We have found this incredible video series that has captivated our entire family. It is called The Wonders of God's Creation. We rented them through our Netflix membership. (Which by the way celebrated the shipment of their billionth DVD shipment this weekend!) The videos are by Moody Institute of Science and take an incredible look at the wonders of God's creation. There are six videos in the series, the first of which captured us with the Milky Way and the solar system. Yesterday we watched the second one which is about planet earth. It was incredible. Travis and I were watching and one by one the children wandered in to join us and got drawn in. It had our whole family talking about things like atmosphere, space exploration, what it takes to sustain life, etc. and all of our curiosity was ignited as we watched – so much that we had to repeatedly pause the DVD to ask our resident science expert (a/k/a Daddy) questions. You can't learn things like this in a textbook.

Quotable Husband-isms

Let me set the scene – my husband is home from work with a stomach bug, that he shared with me. Here is the conversation that followed:

Me – I don't feel like doing anything, but I can't sit here all day. I've got so much to do.

Travis – You don't have to do anything.

Me – Well, look at me. I look terrible.

Travis – Well what do I look like, a prom queen?!

I laughed so hard I couldn't answer, but if I had been able to answer – it would have been a definitive NO! Not a prom queen. I'll save you from an actual description, and leave it to your imagination. We've all seen the sick hubby look – not a pretty sight. Good thing I married him for his money! Haa ha haaahaah!

25 February 2007

Sermon Ponderings – Running the Race

Tonight's sermon was based on the Hebrews 12:1-3:

Therefore, 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. Let 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Wow! I think the part that really got to me was the "throw off everything that hinders". Pastor said that this might be a relationship, a possession, a habit. Everything. Anything that hinders us in our relationship with Christ and running that course set out for us, is to be thrown off. He also pointed out that "throwing" something means to violently remove it – to take it from where it is and thrust it elsewhere.

This race is set before us to be run – and there are saints in glory (must be a southern expression – but I like it) surrounding us, cheering us on in this race. Pastor also pointed out that these saints will be seeing us the way Jesus does – because when they see Him they will be like Him.

I know some things that have been hindering my relationship with the Lord. They are things that wouldn't seem to be hindrances at first glance, but they are nonetheless – as time, energy and emotion that should be fully devoted to my relationship with Christ are being sucked up and absorbed here. I am going to throw off this hindrance – with everything I have I am going to remove the distraction from my life, and give the time, energy and emotion to my Lord.

Also – please pray for our Pastor and his family. His mother is battling end stage lung cancer and losing her battle. It seems as if she might be heading home. She was admitted to the hospital this evening – and I would appreciate any prayers on their behalf. Thank you in advance.

Mom Advice Needed on Playmates

Living in a neighborhood is a new situation for me as a mom. My children's only playmates used to come to our house because there was an arrangement between the parents to transport the children from one home to another – and there was always an understanding of when the playmates would arrive and when they would leave. Living in a neighborhood has provided a constant stream of companions for my 9 year old son, and at times for my teenaged daughters. There is boy who is here from the second he gets off the school bus until we make him go home – eating dinner with us many nights, and on the weekend he is here in the morning as soon as he chokes down a bowl of cereal. While we enjoy this much of the time, it also starts to wear on you after a while having the door to your house always open with a steady stream of traffic. For instance, this afternoon, my husband who has not been feeling well is attempting to take a nap on the couch – and we just want peace and quiet, and privacy. I honestly don't know what to do. We took the boy to church with us this morning, and dropped him off at home afterwards, and only a few short minutes he was at our house again. I sent him home because my children had some yardwork I wanted them to do, and a short while later he was back. I am not sure where the language barrier is, or where the communication is breaking down.

One thing for certain is that this boy has some emotional issues. Whenever I tell him no about something, he sulks and pouts. I have started to tell him that if he is feeling that he is unable to be with us and enjoy the company, then he can go home. Even after being told no, he will repeatedly ask me something – which is behavior I do not tolerate from my own children, and provokes my son to ask things again to which he has already been given an answer. (Kullen's own fault – but the point is that he is a bad influence in this way.)

Every single weekend he asks to sleep over. I am going to say something that may be unpopular with some parents – but I HATE SLEEPOVERS – especially when kids are young. This particular boy lives only a block away – and I let him stay and play until late – but don't understand the need for him to sleep here at our house. It makes bedtime miserable. It makes the morning chaotic. I am also guarding my son from the late night "chats", and other opportunities for negative influence. I also think that it is rude for him to ask - and have told him if we want to invite him for a sleepover, Kullen and I will discuss that. He seems to have no understanding of how this works, so I try to be patient.

I am really feeling at a loss. I know that it may seem simple – just tell the boy to go home. But, I want to share the love of Christ with him as well. I am just struggling to establish some well-defined boundaries. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

24 February 2007

My Favorite Bread Recipe – Buttermilk Oat Bread

Ever since I got a Bosch kitchen mixer, I've been making our family's daily bread. I really do enjoy it most of the time, although there are days when I wish I didn't have to do it. It isn't that it's hard – it's just those days when it is just one more thing to do. However, the results are so wonderful that we don't really like store bought bread anymore – and find most of the time, even the better brands that we used to swear by taste much like a dried up sponge. I have tried several different recipes that we've liked, but boy did we find a great one last week. I hadn't tried it before because it called for "buttermilk powder" – and it wasn't a staple ingredient I had in the cupboard. I think this is the favorite of the whole family. The recipe is from Marmee Dear's Bread Basket Cookbook.

Buttermilk Oat Bread

Mill 2 cups hard wheat in your mill – set aside (I don't do that – I just use whole wheat flour)

Place these ingredients in your mixer equipped with dough hook:

4 cups boiling water

1 ½ cups oatmeal flakes

9 Tbsp softened butter

9 Tbsp raw sugar or granulated sugar

1 ½ Tbsp sea salt

9 Tbsp dry buttermilk powder

Add the wheat flour from above – then add:

2 Tbsp SAF yeast (or any brand – I can never find SAF)

Unbleached bread flour will be used in the next step.

Mix until ingredients are combined with the mixer on a low speed. Now begin adding unbleached bread four, 1 cup at a time, until dough begins to clean away from sides of mixer bowl. Add flour very carefully as you only want a soft, workable dough. Do not add TOO much flour but dough should be able to be handled and not sticky. Knead on medium speed for 6 minutes. Let dough "rest" for 1 hour. Turn mixer on briefly to deflate dough. Turn dough out onto clean oiled surface. Form loaves and place into greased loaf pans. If desired, brush with egg wash and sprinkle tops of loaves with oatmeal flakes. Let rise for 45 minutes. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes. If tops have not been sprinkled with oatmeal, brush hot loaves with soft butter. Let loaves cool in pans for 5 minutes after removing from oven. Remove to cooling racks and cool completely. Cool completely before slicing.

This bread makes for a GREAT peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but we've also enjoyed roast beef and havarti, ham and cheese, etc.

Grammar Quiz

Okay - I don't do these very often - but this was was so intriguing. I have a bit of a pet peeve about bad spelling and grammar - and while I make mistakes myself occasionally I can hardly resist the urge to correct mistakes when I see others make them. I found this quiz at my friend DeeDee's blog. She is evidently a grammar whiz as well!
Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

23 February 2007

Girl on Fire

I figured I would be doing you an injustice if I didn't point to this blog of a teenage girl on FIRE for Jesus! (But hey, don't tell her I said so - she's trying hard not to think too highly of herself!)

T13 Edition #1 - Thirteen Scarcely Known Things About Me

  1. I can say the entire Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish, even though I've always thought it was weird to pledge allegiance to the US flag in a foreign language!

    Juaramenta a la bandera de los Estados Unidos de America……. Don't make me prove it!

  2. I talk on the phone sometimes while I use the bathroom. (Okay so maybe some of my good friends know this – but don't let on! Thanks for the discretion!)
  3. I used to have an OCD issue with writing words on the back of my teeth with my tongue. It started when I was in high school. I had a whole routine about how I would do this – if the word had an even amount of letters I would split them up evenly on those two front teeth. If any words had an odd amount of letters, I would have to put the odd letter in the slight space in the middle of my front teeth – but it would have to be the letter in the EXACT center of the word. I promise – I seriously used to do this people, I couldn't make this stuff up.
  4. Three of my closest friends have birthdays in January, and four of my other closest friends have birthdays in November.
  5. I smoked from the time I was 14 until I was 26 – except when I was pregnant or breastfeeding. I am the worst kind of ex-smoker - it makes me sick to be around it - I can't stand the smell of smoke on clothing or furniture, OR in the air.
  6. I have moved over 30 times in my life - and attended 16 schools growing up.
  7. My left ear is pierced three times, and my right ear is pierced twice – and even though as a teenager I thought I would always wear tons of earrings, I never wear more than two.
  8. When I sneeze, sometimes air comes out my right lower eyelid. (I asked my Pastor once if that ever happened to him, and he stepped back, looked at me like I was a freak and said, "No.")
  9. I want to be a missionary when I grow up.
  10. It is important to me that a book "feel" right before I buy it. I prefer paperbacks to hardbacks, and can reject a book strictly because I do not like it's cover. I absolutely loathe dust jackets.
  11. One of the highlights of my life was meeting the missionary women that had been held captive in Afghanistan when they appeared at a Women of Faith conference. I met them when I got my Prisoners of Faith book signed that my friend Kate bought for me. One of the other biggest highlights of my life was watching her get all nervous about talking to them when it was our turn! She is one of the most confident people that I know – and this was an absolute role reversal for the two of us. I lurched out with a comment about a intestinal worm story – and Kate stuttered and stammered.
  12. I take shorthand at about 90 wpm.
  13. I sing in the shower – loudly and without reservation, and have passed this genetic trait on to my three children.

So now that you know a little bit more than you probably ever wanted to about me – how about you?

Unschooling Interview on NPR Radio

Valerie Fitzenreiter, author of The Unprocessed Child was interviewed last week on North Carolina Public Radio. If you are interested, you can listen to The Story here. It was a great, thought provoking, and encouraging interview with Valerie and her daughter Laurie Chancey.

Exploring the Big Thicket

Yesterday our co-op group went on a nature trail in the Big Thicket.
thicket - n. dense growth of shrubbery or trees
The woods around here are much different than the woods in the Blue Ridge Mountains where we lived. While each has its own beauty, we are specifically enjoying a closer look at the flowers, birds, and trees in this area. While we were at the Big Thicket Visitor's center, I purchased field guides on wildflowers, birds, trees & shrubbery, and insects (eek!) indigenous to the area.
In my own yard I have a vast amount of trees and shrubs that I know nothing about. The most curious of them was a bush that seemed to have budded and bloomed with these purplish flowers - without a single leaf on the branches. I have never in my life seen anything like it. It also has these little buds that precede the flowers that look like a rabbit's foot. I am not very practiced at looking these things up in the field guides, but it appears to be something called a Skeleton Plant - which would make sense of the leaflessness - and the picture shows similar flowers. What I can tell you is that it caught my attention when it started blooming. Those vivid purplish flowers really catch your eye!
On our hike (I always think of a hike meaning hill-climbing - however, the do call it hiking around here on the flat land!) showed us many other interesting finds. Here are some more:
Some exotic fungi growing on a tree downed by Hurricane Rita

A yellow flower - it was growing on some sort of a vine - I think I have identified it as Yellow Prairie Flax

A young Magnolia - they grow wild here. I can't wait until they start to bloom!

A crawdad hole - which I have never seen in WV!

Now - this is by far the most interesting find of the day. We were hiking a trail called the 'Sundew Trail' that was known for a host of carnivorous plants. This little plant that has the round shape and red tips is the Sundew. It is only about the size of a quarter but we found tons of them once we knew what we were looking for. They were fascinating. Some brave kids touched them and said they left their fingers feeling sticky. That stickiness is what traps the insects that the plant "eats". Another interesting carnivorous plant we saw at the ranger station was the Pitcher plant. I read about it today - the special leaves form a long tube. Nectar inside the straw-like stems attract insects. The insects can crawl in past the hairs in the stems but not back out. Once in the stems the digestive juices help the plant absorb nutrients from the insects. This is not a great picture of them - they are quite fascinating to look at in person.
There are about 20 trails within 10 miles of our house. In fact I was so perplexed by the different kinds of yellow flowers in the wildflower book that the kids and I jumped in the car and went back out to take a look at it today - in hopes of correctly identifying it. I can't wait to check out the rest of the trails. The one thing I hope we do not discover is an alligator or snake! There are tons of them around - as well as - believe it or not wild hogs. Freaky! I have no experience with any of these things. But I am discovering a lot of beautiful nature in Texas.
One thing we learned from a video about the Big Thicket is that this area is one of the best "birding" areas in the US. It is thought that the many species of birds were forced to this area during the ice age. Hmm.... I am going to go and plant myself out there one day just to sit and quietly see what comes to visit. I was also inspired to put up birdseed and hummingbird feeders around my front porch. This place is like a great big science lab.

ROFL - PG-13 Birthday Card

My friend Tina - who is not a blogger but should be - sent me a birthday card that says this: In ancient times when someone special had a birthday, it was customary to make a virgin sacrifice. I'd do that for you.......but I'm afraid I've already sacrificed my virginity to one of the lesser gods." That woman is a NUT! Completely - cracked shell and all. I laughed so hard I could hardly get a grip on myself when I opened it!

22 February 2007

La La La La Life Goes On

I have been blogging so much lately – that if you noticed I haven't posted anything yet today and it's almost midnight – it is because I have been VERY busy today. We went with our co-op on a trail through parts of the Big Thicket. I will post more about that later. Then tonight we went to a "Leeland" (Sound of Melodies, Yes You Have, etc. - from Baytown, TX) concert at a mega-church in Beaumont (which btw was FREE, thank you Leeland!) One thing I really miss is having another adult to enjoy times like this. The teens are great – but when there is another adult with me, I don't feel outnumbered.

At one point at the concert, it was getting very warm, and I felt like people were leaning in on me from every side and felt what must have been the beginning of a panic attack. I had to make everybody spread out a bit – because I was really having the feeling that I would freak if I didn't get some space. Strange – that's never really happened to me before.

Anyhoo, it's been a full day and I'm tired – hope your day was awesome too!

I love how the picture at the top was taken outside at dusk without the flash - and it has a blue-ish tinge to it. L to R is Bethany, Kyle, Kullen (under Kyle's arm), Kaitlyn, Cecil (this picture cuts off his face) and Kendra. I took that awesome picture of Leeland also - pretty cool, huh? It was completely by accident because I mainly held my camera up over my head and snapped. Why is it that the tallest guy in the room always seems to be standing directly in FRONT of me? Anyway - lucky shot. Kendra thinks I should send it to the band! It is kind of cool with the starburst effect of the light behind the lead singer.

21 February 2007

Anything But Jesus

I read this story on the news this evening – and while it doesn't surprise me – what really upsets me is that it is okay to promote anything but Jesus. You can promote witchcraft, homosexuality, and immorality of every kind, but you CANNOT promote Jesus. I bet this child could have dressed up as a suicide bomber and would have gotten less flack. Unreal. And ironically, the same people who said that his dressing up as Jesus was "promoting religion" would likely out of the other side of their mouth say that Jesus wasn't God - but just a good man. You can't have it both ways people.

I Just Can't Help It!

I am sorry - I just can't help myself. This was the thermometer on my front porch - in a corner - in the shade this afternoon! It was almost summer weather here today and I'm loving it! I thought I would post this picture to prove how lovely it is here in Texas. (Although this is likely an indication of how terribly hot it is going to get in a month or two! YIKES) Thermometer courtesy of Andrew Seredinsky and family! (Thanks y'all!)

Rapid Return Rate

No, I don't mean banking – I'm talking here about swift and sure conviction. ONE of my daughters is so hilarious. She has such a tender spirit, that she experiences conviction so swiftly and surely that when she does something that deserves an apology, you can almost count 3-2-1 – and there she is making amends for whatever she did. Today she offended her sister in some way that only a sister can – and headed outside to take out the trash. The offended party was in my bathroom with me telling me all about the wrong committed against her, in dramatic fashion. I reassured her that if she just waited, her sister's sure apology would follow. A few seconds later, the guilty party appeared around the corner and just as I predicted…….. "I'm sorry." Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters.

Way too Cute

There is a little boy in our neighborhood named Ricky. Ricky's dad goes in and out of jail – and life is not easy for this little guy. He is just the cutest thing. I think he is maybe 5 or 6 years old. He always has his hair cut in a buzz, the kind you just want to run your hands over, and he has gigantic blue anime-like eyes. Yesterday afternoon, all the neighborhood kids were gathered on my porch, and Ricky was with them. He walked right up to me and said,

"My dog got runned over."

I said, 'Oh Ricky, I'm so sorry. Is he alright?"

He shook his head and said, "Mm hmm." Then paused for a moment, and added, "But he's day-yud." (southern twang translated "dead")

My girls and I giggled at him – not because we didn't sympathize with his little broken heart, but because he was so darn cute when he said it. I told him how sorry I was and gave him a Reese's peanut butter cup – which in my experience is good medicine for whatever ails you. Poor little guy.

I just KNEW y'all had to see this cute-ness, so I asked him today if I could take his picture and he said "yay-us".

Spiritual Fraud

What is pitchfork religion? I have heard this comment before and tried to find some resources that might explain this somewhat paradoxical expression. Pitchforks make me think of the devil. Religion is anything that you are devoted to – worship, seek after with all of your heart. I think that this expression is generally used as a connotation that someone is attacking another person with their religious beliefs. But can you "pitchfork" someone else who claims the name of Christ with His word? Should not His word be beneficial to both of you – even as you may disagree on interpretation?

There has been an accusation leveled at me – that I take to heart. Do I use my relationship with Christ against someone else? The only place to truly evaluate this is between the Lord and I. In so saying am I using this statement "against" someone else – ie. Pitch-forking them? No. I am speaking of MY relationship with Christ.

Is my relationship with Christ a fraud? Only He can determine. It is Him that I stand before, with my whole heart in my hands. It is He that rescues me from the pit, and from the snare of other pit-dwellers. He alone knows my whole heart, and the motivation behind every action. I don't desire to "appear" religious, or label myself a Christian. I want to be identified with Christ and Him alone – no church, no man, no worshipful expression – just Christ.

Should I do things you consider to be "false" or "fake", feel free to point those things out. I will consider the source.

Comment Moderation

Because of some harassing comments that have been posted this evening – three in fact – I have enabled comment moderation. This is a slight inconvenience, which simply means that your comments will not appear until I approve them. I will be permitting all comments – I will not however, allow my blog to be used as a venue for someone to attack me. Please comment – please feel free to give me your input. I apologize for the inconvenience.

I would also highly recommend that all bloggers get a site meter so that you can have a reference point to check who comes to your blog, how long they stay, etc. I have always had one on my blog - and while I have never had a situation like this before, I found it interesting to see how much this person has visited my blog in the last 48 hours.

20 February 2007

Thank you Secret Sister


What a nice surprise! The local florist delivered this precious arrangement today. It is so colorful and sweet. It just really brightened my day!

I have a really sweet, thoughtful secret sister! What a blessing!

Chew on This

I saw this on a church billboard today -

The church is a rescue mission for sinners, NOT a rest home for saints.

Shout out to Snow Dwellers – Come See Me Soon!

I had to evaluate my motives for wanting to publish this post. I woke to temps this morning in the 60s. The sun was out earlier and birds are chirping, but even while it threatens rain, I have windows open and am enjoying the scent of spring. Some of my friends live in the breath-taking mountains of West Virginia – it is a gorgeous place that I will forever call "home" – but this time of the year, it seems cold, and slushy, and any snow that has fallen is dirty, icky; your house begins to have a mud trail up the front porch from where snow has slogged down to the dirt and created a muddy mess. It is sometimes hard to see through that to the beauty that will eventually be springtime in the mountains. But spring will come. For me, in TX, this nice weather has come a bit earlier – and it is a blessed reprieve. I have been soooo cold here – way colder than I ever expected. Everyone says it is the coldest TX winter they can remember. (That figures!) But did I want to post about the lovely weather to make my friends jealous? Maybe just a little bit – but not for ugliness sake, but so they will want to come see me! Come see me soon! Love ya ~ Jewls

I Saw the Lord

Evidently God wants to drive home the fact that He is all that I need. This morning I read this from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest:

"In the year King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord." Isaiah 6:1 Our soul's history with God is frequently the history of the "passing of the hero." Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged. Take it personally: In the year that the one who stood to me for all that God was, died – I gave up everything? I became ill? I got disheartened? Or I saw the Lord?

I will train my eyes to see the Lord. I was just telling my friend Joanne yesterday that God wanted me to learn something in this time of loneliness – that when He is all I have, I come to know that He truly is all that I need. Not a clique, but a ever present reality. I am so overwhelmed that He has taken such pains to speak to me over and over again.

There was also another verse this morning – Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. Psalm 27:10 Thank You Lord – Thank You, Thank You.

Really???

Sound the alarm! Call Scotland Yard! I was browsing the news this morning and came across this little gem. Did they really need to do a study to figure this out?

19 February 2007

Neighborhood Dinner Table

One of the things that is new in our lives here in East Texas is that we live in a neighborhood, where in West Virginia we lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The mountains are beautiful, but don't lend to the real sense of "neighborhood". We did have friends that lived close by – we could walk to their houses or they to ours – but most of our immediately surrounding neighborhood was older people. There weren't a lot of children for my kids to play with, nor were there any paved roads for bike riding, skateboarding, or roller-blading. We are enjoying some of those changes, but one that I must say I enjoy the most is the fact that in our dining room at least once a week, we seem to have the neighborhood dinner table. Kullen's friend Todd eats with us at least once – usually two or three times a week – and sometimes the girls have a friend here for dinner too. Tonight we had two extras for dinner, and I was thankful for the large cut of roast that I bought last week at Sam's club. Every night after dinner we read a devotion from The One Year Book of Family Devotions – and our family is learning so much. It is a blessing to have a table full of young minds taking in the word of God with us.

Tonight's devotion was based on Philippians 1:6 – He who has begun a good work will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. The story illustration was a six month old baby that couldn't walk until they were ready – and a "new Christian" not being mature until they were ready. The other night we read a devotion about how sin is a lot like frostbite – and the more you sin, the less you seem to feel it – but the numbness is when it is most dangerous. We have remembered these stories and the scriptures that accompany the stories. It is a valuable time as a family – and I enjoy sharing it with others when the opportunity arises host the "Neighborhood Dinner Table".

Testing Font in Word

Being a little anal about things – it is freaking me out that I cannot change the font on that last post to look like the rest of the blog – and yes, it’s so bad that I am about to delete the post. I am going to resist – even though I like things to be uniform. I think that this is taking the OCD to a whole new level!

I am going to try this font and see if it is any better if I change it – this font is called Calibri.

Testing 1-2-3 in Microsoft Word

Okay, this is a new thing! I am using the Microsoft Word 2007 to post to my blog. The 3 of you that frequent my blog may remember my mentioning something about it in this post! Anyway – I thought it would be really neat to use Word to publish to my blog because then I could save the posts not only to Blogger but also to my computer. Ya know, like maybe future generations would want to read what is going on in my nutty brain! Hee hee – Anyway – Just wanted to test it out. Not sure how I’ll use it or not just yet. I am concerned about inserting graphics or pictures – so let’s try that out. I’ll post a picture of my girls together at the Teen Valentine Banquet. A rather random posts all things considered, don’t you think?

Okay the picture posting didn't work - I'll have to figure that out! But I came here to Blogger to post it just so it wouldn't disappoint you. BTW - for those of you who know how "un-crafty" I am - I set up the archway - and put the lights and red hearts on! I only had to go through two sets of lights before it worked! Hee hee.

Knees to the Earth

Have you ever heard a song, and you knew through it that God was comforting you? I started listening to this one after Boomama's blog about music! I was walking through the house singing this with all my heart earlier today - what comfort, how precious, it was a moment, a "walk" if you will with the Lord.
Knees to the Earth
by: Watermark

Wonderful Savior
My heart belongs to Thee
I will remember - always - the blood You shed for me
Wonderful Savior
My heart will know Your worth
So I will embrace You - always - as I walk this earth

Be blessed, be loved, be lifted high
Be treasured here
Be glorified
I owe my life to You, my Lord
Here I am......

Beautiful Jesus
How may I bless Your heart?
Knees to the earth - I bow down - to everything You are
Beautiful Jesus
You are my only worth
So let me embrace You - always -as I walk this earth

Be blessed, be loved, be lifted high
Be treasured here
Be glorified
I owe my life to You, my Lord
Here I am......


The second verse just grabbed me - my worth is in Him - my treasure is in Him - He is the reason that I am anything - and all that I have to offer Him is this life. I don't want to waste one more second tripping over the snares of loneliness, homesickness, or even rejection. He is all - He is enough - He is everything. Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me.
If anyone knows how to upload a music clip on Blogger - I would love to be educated!

Shut My Mouth!

Since my blog has been such a downer this past weekend, I wanted to lighten it up and share a cute story my daughter Kendra shared with me this morning to cheer me up. She has been reading "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" (Read her blog-all-about-it!)and read it at such a ravenous rate that Friday I bought her "Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship" and she is about halfway through it as well. In the second book Joshua Harris tells of overhearing his father telling his younger brother why God gave us two ears and one mouth - because He wants us to listen twice as much as we talk. Evidently the younger brother took this to heart, and began sharing it with others around him. My sentiments, "Shut My Mouth!"
(There is however, no application of this to blogging as we do not use our mouths but our fingers! And in case you haven't noticed I've been going blog-wild with 21 posts last week alone! That's 3 a day people - do the math!)

The Fellowship of Suffering

After my post yesterday about being an open person, and how freely I share, I have been sitting on a tremendous hurt since yesterday afternoon. I opened my email to an emotional bomb - with devastating consequences. In fact, it hurt so much that I could not even muster up words. My sweet husband knelt with me at the foot of our bed and prayed while I cried. I am grieving a loss - for about the millionth time, which you would think would make it easier, and yet for some reason, it seems to make it worse. However, the Lord and I have walked a long road of fellowship in this. He continues to remind me that He knows what rejection feels like and while it hurts deeper - I am more able to handle it than ever before. I know that there is a spiritual principle here somewhere that I cannot identify, other than maturity.
My thoughts are slightly clouded by grief - someone that I love - in fact one of my parents - has chosen to sever a relationship with me. There is nothing I can say or do - as I know from past history. I am thankful that while it continues to repeat itself, God shows no limit of pouring love and forgiveness through my heart to strengthen me for the roller coaster ride that this relationship mandates. I am innocent of blame. Their perceived injury is that of Satan's design, and he continually blinds their eyes and encapsulates their heart.
This morning I was so comforted by this verse - John 1:11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Jesus was familiar with the sting of rejection from those we would have expected to love Him the most. I know Christ better by sharing in the "fellowship of His sufferings". If walking this road is necessary to experience the power of His resurrection, fill my heart with courage Lord.
God spoke comfort to my heart this morning with this verse as well - (in italics)
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
I know the answer to this question is YES.
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
I know the Lord will not forget me. I know that He loves me. I know that all the things that have transpired in a lifetime Satan meant for evil, but my Lord intends to use them for His good.

And as I write this, I can hear my children down the hall singing from Matthew West's song, Only Grace, these words, "there's only grace, there's only love, there's only mercy and believe me, it's enough, your sins are gone without a trace, there's nothing left now, there's only grace". The Lord has freed first me, and then my children. I am so blessed. I am so very very blessed.

18 February 2007

Ja-Ja-Jalapenos

When I was pregnant with my middle child, who incidentally is the pickiest eater of my three children although perhaps an unrelated fact, I craved jalapeno peppers. I liked anything hot - but especially these zippy little green things! I would order extra jalapenos with a little nachos! For some reason I have started to crave them again - I eat them on anything. What started it was a jalapeno burger at Sonic - and now I put them on just about anything. I am certain I am not pregnant. I was just wondering if there could be some sort of deficiency that is causing me to crave these peppers so badly. Oh, yes, and while my mouth can handle the heat, after a while my stomach can't!

Ugly, Nasty Truth - A Blogger's Creed

When I started blogging - I didn't know much about any sort of blogging etiquette. Having always been an open person, I share freely what I am thinking, feeling, struggling with, enjoying, etc. I probably always will. Putting things down in words is so helpful - and it is a survival technique that I have been using since my parents' divorce in 1979. Sometimes I write things down that are still in process. As my friend Joanne pointed out I was harsh in my comments about the worship at the church we have been attending. The conviction sat like a lump in my throat all the way through church this morning. It doesn't mean that the issues were resolved, however, it does mean that my attitude about them needed correction. I am thankful for a friend who will say so even if it may not be received well. I also realize, my friend James was right in saying that I was whining. I was. This is the body of Christ in action. This is friendship the way God intended. This is how we should sharpen one another. Even if it makes me mad, in the end as your sister in Christ I will know that you spoke truth because you love me. My blog will always state my feelings, valid or invalid, rational or irrational - and as my friends - I need you to be the check point. A million "poor baby" comments would have left me struggling in the black pit of depression. The truth, spoken in love set me free. Thank you for helping me out of the oppressive chains of bondage to discouragement, and reminding me I do have friends even if I can't sit and have coffee with you this afternoon - some of the best friends a person could have to boot! I love you both for it.

Counting Armadillos a/k/a "Be Quiet James!"

Gosh - have you ever noticed how some people are so good at calling a spade a spade! Don't you sometimes just hate and love them at the same time for it!? Well, our friend James, sort of like a father figure who isn't old enough to be your father kicked my butt with the comment on my last post. I know it was God who put our family here - it was He who has done the leading and us the following all along. Why can't I trust Him for the smaller things? Sell my house that I prayed 10 years to have, pep talk my children all the way across 1500 miles, and as a child of divorce who moved and changed schools more than I care to mention - I let go of the sense of security living in the same area and developing long term friendships had given me. I trusted God for each step of the way - but now I'm here, and I grow fainthearted at times. Yes, I was whining. I was having a very bad night. Travis is sick and hopped up on about all the cold medicine I can legally give him, and in a total fog. If you talk to him, you get a "Huh?" snort, sniffle cough cough cough. No excuses though - butt adequately kicked and a swift step back in line. The strangest thing is that deep in my heart is a dream of going on the mission field - and while it is possibly a fantasy, doing something like telling people about Jesus seems more important to make such a sacrifice for than the reasons I came to Texas, which was NOT to count armadillos. (BTW I've only seen one!) I promised Travis I wouldn't look back - I would make a life here with him. Please Lord help me, because I am not having any success on my own! (duh! same lesson for the 7,894,348,397,573,032, 577,378,173, 234,093th time!)

17 February 2007

Contrived

My husband and I sat in Sunday school a few weeks ago - and there were some women sitting in the row in front of us. He kept leaning towards me and pointing at each woman in turn, whispering, "Have you tried talking to her?" It made me giggle - and I shushed him because I was afraid somebody would hear. Friendship is something that just happens, and not something that you can go looking for. It is bizarre to think that you "plan" to be friends with someone. I was blessed with a wonderful group of friends in West Virginia. I miss them terribly - but here is the thing - they all still have their lives. Things keep going. They are the lucky ones. Their absence screams out loud in my life daily.
We are sort of in the same situation with the church we've been going to. The pastor's sermons are great - thought provoking, convicting, and Bible based. What is lacking is in the people - they are friendly while you're there at church - but outside of that they tend to stay to themselves. But the absolute worst part for me is the worship time. When we first attended and met with the pastor we were told that they were supposed to be hiring a worship leader - and now there are plans and things far into the future being discussed with the same interim leader - who has a beautiful heart - but the worship time is really lacking. I mean really. Monotone singing, heads down with eyes in the hymnal - and no real sense of worship. I have heard more upbeat music played at funerals than what we have had the last two Sundays. I cannot imagine permanently being planted there in that situation. The thing is that I feel it necessary to stick with it because it seems the only venue for meeting people and establishing some roots.
It is all very contrived. It all feels fake. It all feels useless. I am not sure what will come of it all - I just know that suddenly - in the last two days it has hit me like a ton of bricks - the discouragement. I am going to be seeking the Lord on these things. I am thankful that His mercies are new every morning. It seems to lift and descend and lift and descend.

Bridge to Terabithia - Movie Review

I took the kids to see the new Bridge to Terabithia movie yesterday afternoon. I am glad that we had a chance to read the book before the movie came out. It always gives me a sense of accomplishment, and is nice for the kids to use discerning eyes and notice differences and similarities.
The story is sweet and sad. It is a story about unlikely friendship, and sincerely loyalty. Two children, a boy and girl that need each other become friends and conquer the world - both enemies in the real world, and foes in the imaginary world of Terabithia that they create for themselves - an escape from their not so rosy reality.
I love the imaginations of the main characters, and the example of how a vivid imagination can be contagious. I like that a boy and girl can be friends, innocently.
One thing that was a little more exaggerated in the movie than in the book is when the female character, Leslie Burke goes to church with her friend, Jesse Aaron's family. On the way home they are talking about Jesus and God. She doesn't believe that God would "damn a soul to hell", yet she goes on to say that the story is beautiful. She tells Jesse that he has to believe it (evidently because it is his "religion") and hates it - but she doesn't have to believe it and thinks it is beautiful. It is one of those conversations that might make you uneasy if it weren't for the fact that it is incomplete.
The story is sad, and we can all relate to the sense of regret, and the sentiments of "if only" that resonate in the sadness. I don't mind a sad story sometimes. There is an understanding that into each life a little rain must fall (although some people seem to get a torrential downpour and others seem to get drizzle), that connects us all as part of the human experience.

Birthday Party & Blah


This is Kullen (R) and his new friend Todd (L). Todd is turning 10 years old this month. Kullen is pretty excited to have a friend who lives within walking distance - in fact only one block away. We went to a putt-putt place this afternoon to celebrate Todd's birthday with him. I think that everybody had a good time. Kullen and Todd have a great time lighting fire crackers, riding bikes and the 4-wheeler, shooting BB guns, hanging out of Kullen's treehouse, and all the things that boys love to do together. The kids had a nice time playing putt-putt golf, and using a humongous supply of tokens on various games, but I think the most exciting thing of all was the bungee jumping. Everybody got in on the action, even the three teenage sisters. I think the kids had a good time.
Me however - even in times like this that should be a lot of fun - I find myself homesick and lonesome for my friends. Coming home as it was getting dark, there was a stark realization that my cell phone hardly ever rings because there is nobody trying to catch up with us to do anything. Saturday nights used to be a house full of friends - playing games, watching movies, or just hanging out. No, we didn't do it every weekend - but at least we could if we wanted to, and we got together more often than not. There have been far too many lonely evenings without them in a row. I hate feeling this way. Sometimes it seems worse than others but regardless, I need a reprieve. I am praying that God would intervene here in a way that only He can. I don't think I can take much more of the loneliness.

Butter VS Margarine

About four years ago, my family switched from using margarine to using only real butter. I always used margarine for one because it was what we used when I was growing up, and two, it was cheaper - much cheaper than butter. But I was cleaning the house of a lady who told me some facts about margarine that made me feel like I needed to go and have my arteries flushed out - and I made the permanent switch. I will never use margarine again - ever! I got this email today and it contained a lot of interesting facts about butter and margarine - and I thought I would share them here. Please read, and consider making a switch for the health of your family.

Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back. It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow coloring and sold it to people to use in
place of butter.
(Blogger comment -OH MY WORD!)
DO YOU KNOW...the difference between margarine and butter?

  • Both have the same amount of calories.
  • Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams compared to 5 grams.
  • Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.
  • Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.
  • Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few only because they are added!
  • Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavors of other foods
  • Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years.


And now, for Margarine..

  • Very high in trans fatty acids.
  • Triple risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)
  • Increases the risk of cancers up to five fold.
  • Lowers quality of breast milk.
  • Decreases immune response.
  • Decreases insulin response
And here's the most disturbing fact.... HERE IS THE PART THAT IS VERY INTERESTING!

Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC. This fact alone was enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).

You can try this yourself:
Purchase a tub of margarine and leave it in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will note a couple of things:
* No flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)
* It does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value; nothing will grow on it...even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow. Why? Because it is nearly plastic. Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?
DON'T EAT MARGARINE!


My Girls

Kendra 15 & Kaitlyn 13 - Feb 13,'07

Sometimes I just think these two girls are so cute that I have to share a picture of them for no particular reason. This past week has been a busy one. Monday night was the youth Valentine's Banquet at church and they had a "True Love Waits" speaker come and talk to the kids. Tuesday night was the Senior's Valentine's Banquet and the teenagers went to serve dinner. The girls looked so cute that I made them pose for this picture before leaving that night. Then Wednesday night was the Children's Valentines Banquet and youth group. Thursday night a large screen showing of Facing the Giants. Whew! I am worn out from the festivities - but not these cuties - they could keep going and going and going. I'll have to post some pictures of Kullen later on. I haven't taken too many of him lately - I think most likely it's because it's harder to hit a moving target!

Felonious Prank

A few years ago while on a homeschool yearbook staff, my daughter faced a moral dilemma. Some of the girls she knew - high school aged and all older than she and her friend, had laced the soda of another girl with a laxative. Kendra was very upset and called me from her cell phone to ask me what she should do. I told her the fact she was calling me showed that she knew it was wrong - and gave her some options. This is an unlikely scenario that homeschooled children seldom have to face. She felt a moment of intense peer pressure. One of our biggest concerns is that the girl they chose to "prank" already had some serious health issues - and a laxative meaning something more dangerous than for the average person. In the end, Kendra went to the girls and told them that they needed to tell an adult in charge, or that she would. They still failed to realize the seriousness of what they had done. In the end, the girls were removed from the yearbook staff - and made no attempts to hide the fact that they hated her. Still she did the right thing.
What made me think of that incident was this story today in the news: Minnesota Teen's Laxative Laced Brownies Lead to Felony Charge. Kids need to know how dangerous their "pranks" can be. Unbelievable.

16 February 2007

Beadless Pursuit

I am sure that this will be a strange post - but I am having a personal dilemma. I am a contact lens wearer. Recently I have been having frequent incidence of randomly torn lenses. Sometimes the lenses tear in the middle, sometimes a piece tears off around the edge, and I have to work it out of my eye (that's fun!), and sometimes they tear when I am washing them. I have worn these lenses and this particular brand for years and could not figure out what was going on with them. Finally a few weeks ago, I was also realizing an increase in irritation in my eyes. It felt like there was often grit in them. One day while washing my face a light bulb went on - my face wash had little granular beads in them - "micro-beads" as they're called. These things are getting in my eyes, irritating them and tearing my contact lenses. I went to the store today and found it a nearly futile attempt to find face wash without any beads, or abrasive scrubbing additives of any kind. Strange how things go in phases. After a considerable search, I found a foaming scrub containing no bead-y thing-ys. I hope that my contact lens issues are over now!

Current Mood: Vulnerable

Have you ever seen those blog buttons that some people put up that express the "current mood" of the blogger? I've always thought those were interesting. In the vast forms of awkward communication available on the internet, body language, facial expression and tone of voice cannot play into how the message is being transmitted or received. Sometimes these little buttons help you with depth-perception, and understanding of the written word. If I had one of those cute little stamps right now, it would be say that my current mood is "vulnerable". It seems that situations happen in clusters that make me feel insecure, and I can be overwhelmed by this sense of worthlessness.
Several specific things have happened that I can pinpoint:
  • Someone I love is playing games with me - not returning my calls, etc. (this is a cyclical situation with this person)
  • At work, a group email goes around - and as soon as I give input it goes silent
  • Not finding a niche where I fit in at a new church, or making any personal friends
I know that I am particularly prone to these feelings. A few years ago I did a Bible study called "Loving God With All Your Mind" by Phyllis George and it helped me to understand that women in general are prone to these kinds of feelings. And I am thankful that I can apply truth to my feelings - and don't have to be overcome by them.
One of my most mature Christian friends, and someone who helped me learn to walk with Christ helped me understand years ago that there is this battle constantly raging in our minds. It helps to know you're not alone. Perhaps that is the very best motivation for sharing a post such as this!

Google Reader - Attempted Tutorial


I have seen very fancy schmancy tutorials for things before - and sometimes the words make it much harder than it really is. This morning while attempting to explain how to use Google Reader to my friend Kathie, I think the words were inadequate, so I decided that I would attempt a picture tutorial.

First you go to Google Reader and sign up! You should be able to click the link - but if not you may type in www.google.com/reader. You get a list on the left hand side of the page of all the blogs you've subscribed to - and at the right - you see the posts of whatever blog you are currently viewing.

To add new subscriptions - you simply go to the list at the left and find the button that says "Add Subscription" - and put in the URL of the blog. If the blog you want to subscribe to is on Homeschoolblogger, instead of using the URL address, you will have to go to the blog, and choose the button that says "RSS feed" and when the page comes up - use the URL at the top of that page to add the blog sub- scription. (The blog that I used for the illustration does not have the RSS feed enabled - and so I was unable to actually add it to my reader - so if you encounter that at a friend's blog - you can just leave a comment asking them to enable the feed.)
Here is the coolest thing - you can put your blogs into categories - I have a "Blogs I Enjoy" category with people I don't really know - and then I have a "Family" category with my kids' blogs - and then I have a "Friends" category which is where most of the blogs I read fall. At the top of the page - after you've read the current entries, you can choose "Mark all as read" and the blog will not be highlighted again until the blogger posts something new.
I was so disappointed when I blogged at HSB and they got rid of the friends feature - because that was how I kept up with everybody. However, this is even better - because you can keep up with blogs you like regardless of what blog service the person uses. I think this has revolutionized the ability of bloggers to connect with one another.
COMMENTS: If you want to comment on a post that was insightful or someone took a put a lot of time and thought into (*ahem*), all you have to do is click on the title of their blog at the top, or the title of the post you want to comment on, and presto-change-o, you will be transported in a new window to their blog!
I haven't been using Google Reader for very long - but I preferred it over Bloglines - which is another reader service. I notice there are tons of features there that I haven't attempted to use yet - but I am sure over time I will explore.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask me - I am not sure I will be able to answer them - but I have had success at using this reader and enjoyed it very much!
With love ~ Jewls

15 February 2007

Lessons From Facing the Giants

I watched Facing the Giants for the second time tonight at church with the youth group - Kullen went too. I am sure that by now most everyone has heard of it - but if you haven't seen it yet, please don't miss it. I have taken away so much from the movie - here are some of the lessons I've learned:
  1. Never, never, never give up - keep going, keep going, you can do it
  2. When you win, you praise Him - and when you lose, you praise Him
  3. Even during times of pain and trial, God is still God and He deserves our love and praise
  4. God is into giving us the desires of our heart
  5. With God all things are possible - nothing is impossible with Him
  6. No matter how big the enemy - God is bigger still
  7. You give it your best and you trust God with the results
  8. Keep praying - P.U.S.H. - pray until something happens
#7 is my favorite - that is going to become a life motto - very motivating! This can be applied to absolutely any part of life.
I have heard more than one person say that they weren't interested in seeing the movie because they think it is all about football. This movie was not about football - but used the coach and the team and the picture of coming against an enemy to show spiritual truth. I don't like sports movies either - but thoroughly enjoyed this movie.
More later - I have a lot of thoughts about this movie, but it's too late to articulate them all!

There But for the Grace of God Go I

The newest issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine arrived last week. As usual, it is a blessing to me - a source of encouragement, and a vast array of some serious resources for any style of homeschooler. But there was one article by Jenefer Igarashi that was so real, I just had to blog about it. I am not going to quote her article, entitled The Unlovables: My Reluctant Testimony, so be sure to grab the winter issue and read it for yourself. But her article provoked my thoughts - which I will share here:

I found myself in a similar situation - pregnant and unmarried. My husband and I had been living together for 3 years, but had never taken a commitment very seriously. I was not a Christian, and although I knew who God was, I lived my life separated from Him. During my pregnancy, I started to feel that something was missing - that something being God - and I turned to the only place I knew at the time I might find Him - the church. My experience was not what Jen described - the loving support from believers - but more a judgmental glance, an indignant comment, and a circle being drawn leaving me on the outside. Baby showers were hosted for the "married" pregnant women in the church - and I remained invisible. I know that some of my experience was due in large part to my overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame, and even so, there were specific things said and done that made me feel that not only could the church not love me, but God could not possibly love me.
It took a long time before I was able to see past "the church" and allow God to speak to my heart about what He has to say about my sin. When I gave my life to Him, there was no more condemnation. And yet a few years ago in Sunday school, somebody inadvertently put the shame right back in my lap. This particular couple would come to our church with their "anti-abortion" stickers blazing on the rear bumper of their car, and their legalistic judgmental condemnation (the very thing that drives young women into the back alley entrances of abortion clinics) on their faces. During prayer request time, this man was asking for prayer for his niece who had recently given birth "out of wedlock", and blah blah blah, but they didn't want her to think that they condoned what she had done, yadda yadda yadda. I sat for a while as he rambled on feeling the shrinking, diminishing feeling of shame. When I finally found my voice, I was able to share that I too had a child "out of wedlock". I also was able to encourage that man to live out his convictions, and support his niece as she attempted to raise this child on her own - buying diapers, and baby food, and whatever else she may need. (The less Christlike sentiment in my head at the time was "Quit buying bumper stickers and put your money here your mouth is!" I might have also thought "freak" and then sure and sudden conviction and repentance!)
Sin is sin - and as believers we have to call it what God calls it. There is no doubt that sex outside of marriage is sin. Aren't we to help those up who stumble? Why do we look at that particular sin as if it is so heinous - and yet gloss over our own materialism, gluttony, gossip, etc. as if they are nothing. In God's sight all sin is equal.
I think that in the Christian community we need a constant reminder -
there but for the grace of God go I! I've been there - I've done that - I have the t-shirt - with a big scarlet letter branded that has since been washed white with the scarlet blood of Jesus!

Lock Bumping

Criminals never sleep - and here is a new way to break into your house - public beware:

14 February 2007

The BEST Gift of Love

The only love that will never fail or disappoint, is sweeter than chocolate, and more beautiful than flowers -

But God demonstrates His love toward us , in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8

He has loved us with an everlasting love.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Hatred stirs up dissention, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Many waters cannot quench love, rivers cannot wash it away. Song of Songs 8:7a

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8

This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. I John 3:16

Dear Children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. I John 3:18

Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love.

I John 4:8

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18

Valentine's Schmalentines

Okay, so today is Valentine's Day - and while I am a sentimental kind of gal and love to let the people that I love know how I feel about them, there is something about the obligatory nature of a holiday saying that I have to do so that kinda rubs my fur backwards. I love you - those of you that I love - and you better know who you are - and I don't need a holiday mandate to tell me to do so. I mean if you really think about it - how pathetic is that? If we aren't loving on those we love and telling them so on a regular basis, I don't think a holiday is going to change that.
I have been a schmuck like the rest - and been caught up in the hoopty doo of it all. (BTW- I seem to be making spell-check go crazy!) I have spent many, many a miserable Valentine's day. For years I have had these secret expectations of heart boxes full of chocolates, and flowers delivered in the middle of the day, and being whisked away to a romantic dinner over candlelight - only in my life there is no whisking, and no candles (except the jar kind I buy for myself!), and while there is sometimes chocolate and flowers - I would much rather have them come on a day when my husband decides to bring them to me because he thinks of me, and because he decides he wants to show me how much he loves me - or not. Usually it's the not that gets me. And no matter what the poor guy does, there will always be the rest of the world pushing it in my face that somebody else got something better (ie. is loved MORE) - be it the evening news, Victoria's Secret catalog, or the hype of balloons, flowers and confections everywhere you turn at the local Walmart. This creates in me a heart of discontent, and it is a killer both emotionally and spiritually.
I hate to rain on anyone's Valentine's Day. It's great to be romantic. I have just learned that my husband is an individual who will express his love to me in his own unique ways - and to look for those and delight in them. I know he feels pressure - and I know it makes him miserable. This morning I woke to a beautiful white heart carved out of a piece drywall with "I love you" written in red (one year I got a piece of wood with "Travis Loves Julie" carved into it - evidently his love for me provokes him to carve into things!) - and a sweet valentine card. And while these things are treasured and precious - they are obligatory. He does them because he doesn't want to disappoint me, because he loves me - but is this an expression of love itself? Not directly.
What it boils down to is this - when I ask my husband if he loves me, he says, "Yes, I love you - you should just know that" - and I do.