Saturday, December 31, 2011

Planning for the New Year


One of the many books we got for Christmas this year is quickly becoming one of our favorites!  It's Organized Simplicity by Tsh (pronounced "Tish") Oxenreider, & it's not just about getting your house in order (although it is that) - it's about getting your whole life in order.  Your life's purpose, your time, your money, & your home - getting all of these under control & simplified & (most importantly) getting all of these to work together toward a common goal.  Keeping what's truly important, chucking what's not.  All of this, as she says, doesn't happen naturally; you have to plan for it & then live out that plan.  It makes perfect sense & is really resonating with both Michael & me.  We've already gone to her website & printed off a lot of her downloads (which we highly recommend), & we're already using the Daily Docket to create more productive days.  Her "20 Questions" & "Goal-Setting Questions" have spurred a lot of discussion in our home, as well.  And, to be perfectly honest, we're both rather intrigued by her whole "'poo-free" practice!  We might be giving that a try this coming year - after all, we're already big proponents of fluoride-free toothpaste & eschewing antiperspirant for chemical-free deodorant!

Last evening, in the spirit of planning a simpler life - & in keeping with my newly filled-out Daily Docket - I came up with a month's worth of meal plans, including an alternate 5th week, for us to rotate through.  I have tried spending time each week to come up with a new meal plan, but I get overwhelmed trying to wrack my brain for something new all the time.  So!  We now have 5 weeks worth of meals already planned out that we can simply switch out at the start of each week & be on our way!  Breakfasts & snacks stay the same each week, & supper is leftovers from lunch.  The only thing that changes from week to week is the lunchtime meal.  So much easier!

Then, this morning, I open up my email to see that Beth has sent me a New Year's post from my favorite preacher (John Piper, in case you're new here), & what is he talking about?  Yep!  Planning!  His post took me through the Proverbs to show examples of planning & wise ways to plan.  He showed me how Paul, God the Father, & Jesus all planned (present tense for the Father & the Son) & set out to accomplish those plans.  His conclusion was that we should look to the Scriptures as our guide, that we should plan for the most important aspects of our lives - especially including our spiritual lives - & that we should do so not just once at the start of the year, but regularly.  As usual, it's an excellent post that I highly recommend everyone reading & putting into practice.  And, when you do read it, notice the date that it was actually written!  My immediate thought was that God's Word is truly timeless & always applicable to our lives!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sisterly Conversations

A couple of days ago, I was talking to Beth on the phone . . .

Beth:  "So, how are you feeling?"

Me:  "Well, I've gagged a couple of times this morning & I'm nauseous right now, so it's all good!"  (in complete sincerity)

Beth (laughing):  "You're so crazy!"

;-)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pleading for the Righteous

Then the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know."  So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD.  Then Abraham drew near and said, "Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?"  And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake."  Abraham answered and said, "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.  Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there."  Again he spoke to him and said, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it."  Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there."  He said, "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it."  Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it."  And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.  ~Genesis 18:20-33

This passage of Scripture leapt into my mind this morning as I was thinking about some Christians' views regarding other nations, particularly Iran.  I have been shocked over the last couple of weeks that some Christians believe wholeheartedly that our policy should be one of violent instigation towards other countries.  A former elder at our former church even adamantly advocated that we should turn Iran into a "radioactive wasteland".  To say that we were quite disheartened that a man who used to teach us the Word of God was espousing this view is putting it lightly.  Just as with Sodom & Gomorrah, there are wicked people in every country, including Iran (& including the U.S., I might add).  Unlike Sodom & Gomorrah, there are also righteous people there.  Even our brothers & sisters in Christ.  There are also innocent people there - men, women, & children - who wish us no harm.  Should we really be so gung-ho to blow them all to kingdom come, as though they are all wicked?  Should we really be okay with murdering members of our own eternal family simply because they reside in another country also populated by those hostile to us?  I just can't see how our consciences should be able to abide "sweep(ing) away the righteous with the wicked".  Abraham's couldn't, & he pleaded for their lives before the Lord.  God agreed that it would be unjust to take this action.  So should we.

Living Compassion



So, "Ron Paul's a racist", huh?  Tell that to this man, who was on the receiving end of Dr. Paul's compassion & respect during an extremely difficult time when all the people around him who should have been helping him were shunning him because of the color of his skin.  Dr. Paul's a racist, my foot.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stories & Presents

Christmas was a low-key affair this year, especially in terms of our tree.  Each year we put up a big tree, usually a real one.  Our first year of marriage, I put up our gigantic fake Christmas tree while Michael was at work & surprised him when he came home.  It took hours!  As you may have heard, I've been dealing with some pretty debilitating morning sickness, so putting in all the effort of resurrecting, decorating, & then tearing down a Christmas tree was rather daunting.  Our solution?  These little trees that normally sit on our porch to either side of our front door.  We placed one on a small table & stacked the presents all around.  The other went on a plant stand in our bedroom.  They turned out really cute & aren't near the hassle!

Michael came home Christmas morning, & I had my attempt at Eggs Benedict waiting for him.  I say "attempted" because we didn't have any butter to make the hollandaise sauce - & Michael loves hollandaise sauce.  Lots & lots of hollandaise sauce!  Also, having never used an egg poacher before, I read a recipe that recommended placing the cooked eggs in warm water.  My thought went something like this, "Well, there's warm water in the pan they just cooked in, so I'll just leave them there!"  Only about 5 minutes before Michael's arrival did it occur to me that the water was more "hot" than "warm" & only then did I get a slight inkling that these eggs might not be "poached" so much as "hard-boiled".  Turns out, my inkling was right!  Michael was a good sport about it, though, & he was able to get that Eggs Benedict the next day . . . by his own hand!  ;-)

After opening gifts - topped off by a nap - we headed up to Beth & Chris' house & spent the rest of the day with them & the rest of the family.  I had my trusty "throw-up basket" on hand, & while everyone was eating, I just sat off to the side & participated in the conversation.  (I did eat later, & it was good!)  Later, we divided into two teams & played a game that Chris dubbed "Charades on Steroids".  Man alive, was that fun!!!  I have to say that, in my opinion, Bradley was the funniest player, & had us roaring with laughter!  So much so that I had to flee the room with my basket!  That game will definitely be a staple in our family from now on!

I wish we had pictures from our get-together, but - sadly - the only ones we have are of our presents & one that I really like of an ornament on our tree.  I hope you enjoy them anyways!  (One present that didn't make it because it was too big to photgraph was also the most unique thing Michael got for me - the Firedragon - because he knows how much I like to play with fire!  In a fireplace/pit, of course!  I just laughed & laughed when I opened it!)

Sigh.  Pretty. 

I always have a hard time deciding what I'm going to read because I have soooo many options!  I've decided that this year, I'm reading all the books that I got for Christmas - & some of Michael's, too! 

Michael got Inheritance for me earlier in December, & rounded it out with the rest of the series on Christmas morning.  Sweet T introduced me to "Anne of Green Gables" this past summer; loving the movie, I of course wanted the books.  Michael very sweetly obliged me! 

Some of my favorite movies!  Notice how "The Sound of Music" is BluRay?  Yeah.  We don't have a BluRay.  Michael says now we can get one.  Sneaky fella, huh?  ;-) 

I've wanted an ice cream maker for 4 1/2 years!  And, I just said in passing one day while we were in Bed, Bath, & Beyond, "Here's a cute cookie cutter!  I need to get some cookie cutters to make cookies with our little one."  I didn't think another thing about it.  Apparently, Michael did!  And I thought the round package must be a hat box!  ;-) 

We saw this in Kirkland's Home, but I didn't think Michael got it.  If it was just the black scroll, I wouldn't care for it as much, but the blue flowers give it just the right pop!

We hope y'all had a Merry Christmas, too!  Love to all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Michael's Model

When you are married to a woman who is 13 weeks pregnant & whose morning sickness not only lasts all day, but is set off by pretty much everything other than her lying in bed on her side, what do you do?  Well, you've come to the right place, because I have some ideas for you!

     *Lay beside her & stroke her hair & back;

     *Set aside your plans to clean the living room so that you can fulfill the above-mentioned idea;

     *Run out to get lunch so she doesn't have to worry about fixing something;

     *Decide not to complete your last-minute Christmas shopping in Birmingham because riding in a car is one of those afore-mentioned triggers, & you can't stand to go without her;

     *Get some of that last-minute shopping done around town, allowing her to stay home in the bed;

     *Show lots of understanding & sympathy about her situation, especially when she laments about being a "bad wife" because she's having difficulty cooking & keeping house;

     *Run to the grocery store to pick up items that might help her nausea, even though it's late at night;

     *Be forgiving for her overly sensitive emotions.

There, that should be enough to be getting on with.  And if you need more suggestions, simply ask my beloved.  After all, he's the fella who fulfilled every one of these ideas all in one day, all without prompting from me.  Haven't I told you before that he's a marvel & a gift from God?  I love my Michael Boyd & am immensely grateful for him!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Another Year Older . . .

. . . But thankfully not deeper in debt!  ;-)  Michael asked me earlier this month what I wanted for my birthday.  My answer?  These people celebrating with me!

My beloved, our friend Arnold, our sister Allison (in the blue), & her friend Catherine (who we really like & were so happy she could join us) 

Michael had a hard time catching me with my eyes open.  Apparently, I close them when I smile or laugh.  Which I did a lot this particular evening.

 Sweet T & Angie - such precious ladies!

Lynn (you should visit her blog) & Sweet T (whom you've heard a lot about!) 

Leslie - pretty in pink (you should visit her blog, too!) 

Amber & Brett - proud new parents of a handsome baby boy!  One of Michael's favorite words to describe me is "feisty"; Amber's feisty like me!  ;-) 

Is this not the most precious couple?!  This is Jon & Sommer - Yep!  That Sommer!  One of my absolute favorite people in the whole world.  Nice to put a face with the name, huh?  She's just as pretty on the inside, too.  And her husband is absolutely as nice as he looks.  They are such a great, godly couple!

And this little fella?  Why, he's "my nephew" Josiah, Jon & Sommer's little boy.  I adore him!

Now, I thought that I was clear when I asked these precious people to come celebrate with us that I did not want presents.  They brought them anyways along with some very sweet cards.  I was grateful - & felt so loved - but really just them being there was present enough!  However, I did love my cards & gifts!

Allison got me these beautiful little bowls, even making sure to get one in my favorite color!  Sweet girl!

Our pastor & his precious family.  This past summer, they took a family photo & posted it on Facebook.  I told Michael - & later Sweet T - that I wanted to print it out & put it up in our home.  I love them that much!  So, Sweet T surprised me with this Christmas family photo!  I didn't even have to pirate it!  It's already in a frame next to our sofa.  It's a blessing to have a pastor's family that you love so much that you want to have a picture of them in your home!  (Sorry my picture of it is so blurry; to see a better version - & fully appreciate it - visit Lynn's blog.)

I fairly squealed when I opened the envelope containing this little gem!  See, one thing I haven't told you yet is that Lynn is a very accomplished photographer!  So, for her to give us this gift, is truly a treasure indeed!

Where exactly do you hang your first-ever scarf (& first-ever houndstooth piece of clothing - Roll Tide!) to photograph it?  Let me tell you, doorknobs don't work.  And I don't like pictures of myself if I can avoid them (which, in this case, I can).  So, lamp it is!  A dorky position, perhaps, but a lovely present, don't you think?

This picture & the next one have a special story.  This is Michael's gift to me, one for which I have yearned for years.  He's never had a reason to buy it before now, though.  The other day, we went to Cracker Barrel, & as he paid the bill, I strolled over to the Willow Tree display & proceeded to sob over all of the pregnant mama & baby figurines.  I wasn't vocal about it, but the tears were flowing freely!  Michael came over & said softly, "You can't stand in the middle of the store & cry!"  ;-)  So when I walked into our bedroom to find this & a homemade birthday card, you can bet the tears began again! . . .

And then, that evening, I opened up Sommer's gift to me last to find this figurine - one of the very ones that I stood in Cracker Barrel & boo-hooed over!  She had conspired with Michael to get this for me, even chatting with him through her husband's Facebook account!  I don't really have to tell you my reaction, do I?  I felt very loved that she would care enough about me to do this.  Aaannnddd, just before I opened these gifts, she asked me what Michael got me & was regaled with the above story . . . all of which she already knew, unbeknownst to me!  Sneaky girl!  ;-)

This hasn't been the easiest year of my life - dealing with Ginger's death & grieving over infertility - but it has been a year in which God has shown me His all-surpassing grace & mercy.  And He has brought great joy into our lives by giving us the precious gift of our little M&M!  He has also given us the gift of all of these wonderful people, people whom we love & are so grateful to be able to share our lives with.  All in all, another year older has meant another year of experiencing God's loving presence & another year of getting to love others & be loved by them.  If I do say so myself, we live very good lives!  Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Gospel for Islam ~ James White



I know the title says "for Islam", & yes, James White does address the errors in this religion.  However, he gives such a clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, & does such a remarkable job of showing that it is, indeed, the good news, that everyone - Christian & unbeliever alike - needs to see this.  Christians, so that their faith is reaffirmed & strengthened.  Unbelievers, so that before they continue in their unbelief, they know what it is they're rejecting.  Soli Deo Gloria!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"An Unwed Teen with an Unplanned Pregnancy" ~ Desiring God Blog

"There is a murderous logic to those who advocate aborting children with disabilities. It goes something like this:

     -People with disabilities suffer in this world. Abortion is a kindness that prevents such suffering.

     -The caregivers (primarily parents) of children with disabilities also suffer. Abortion is a kindness that prevents their suffering, too.

     -Society suffers. Financially and administratively, the burden on society is significant. Abortion is a kindness to the rest of society to prevent such a burden from existing.

The argument has become more sophisticated over time, but the main point is this idea of preventing hardship. Everybody just wants to be comfortable. We like things easy, and cheap — the American and British eugenics movement in the early 1900s had no trouble focusing on the monetary costs to society as sufficient reason to limit the births of undesirable children.

Now, why such a depressing thought in the Christmas season? Because Mary, the mother of Jesus, shows us a different way to think about hardship.

Her circumstances weren't great. She was an unwed teenager with an unplanned pregnancy. Her betrothed was seeking to divorce her. And more than that, her son was the "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." She was told that a "sword will pierce through your own soul also" (Luke 2:35).

How did she respond? She trusted in the Lord. She knew she was his servant and she could depend upon his word. She rejoiced in God, her Savior (Luke 1:38, 46–47).

To embrace the sovereignty of God over all things means that we can also embrace his sovereignty over every kind of hardship in our own lives. God gives meaning to all suffering, and only he knows the future. The fact that we can’t understand or see what's ahead can be difficult, but God knows and we can trust him.

May we rest in God like Mary did. For she magnified the Lord,

He has shown strength with his arm;
He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
He has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty (Luke 1:51–53)."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Jake!

Yes, I am writing a happy birthday post for our dog.  ;-)  It's our little man's 3rd birthday today!  Although, "little man" is not the most accurate name for him any longer, as you'll see!  He got excited this morning when I squealed, "Happy Birthday!" & then gave him a bone.  Rawhide, of course.  He was so little when we got him, & it's hard to believe that he's already 3 years old!

Here he is at 4 months old . . .






And now, at 3 years old!  He's a big boy now!






Just as when he was a puppy, I expect that toys, bones, & comfort (& love, of course) will always be at the top of Jakey man's priority list!  He's a good boy, nigh on the perfect dog, & we love him!

Friday, December 16, 2011

"To My Fellow Christians" ~ A Letter From My Beloved

I'm sorry for my absence!  I've been struggling with intensified morning (a.k.a all-day) sickness for the last couple of weeks as we're approaching the end of our first trimester & simply haven't had the stomach (ha!) for writing.  But, I do have something to share with you today - a rather lengthy something written by my beloved, who has quite a gift with words!  I have been wanting to write a post on how Ron Paul's (yes, him again) views are, in fact, biblically based.  Well, out of the blue, Michael wrote a letter doing just that!  And I'd like to share it with y'all, first of all because it's very good, & secondly because I don't have to write it!  ;-)

"To My Fellow Christians,

I feel compelled to address my fellow believers, especially conservative evangelicals, as pertains to the common misconceptions concerning Ron Paul. As one who has long admired Ron Paul and the Austrian Free-Market School of Economics that informs his economic thinking, and also one who loves theology, I do not understand biblically why so many believers have the problems they do with Ron Paul, or are not strongly considering him during this election season. I would like to bring up some points in my letter that many of us may have not considered and would like feedback as to where I may have possibly gone wrong in my thinking. Personally, I've kept up with Dr. Paul since the early 1990s and love the man and what he stands for. He is quite remarkable in a myriad of ways. I think it's important for us to all be aware of these things, especially since the media is not making us aware of the facts, is often excluding him, and casting him in a negative light through mischaracterizations and half-truths. My hope is I can compel many of you to take an honest, non-biased look at Ron Paul, and to fulfill a responsibility as an American and a Christian to make an informed choice.

Are you aware of the Sanctity of Life Act Paul reintroduced to Congress in 2005? Ron Paul has taken a strong pro-life stance over his 30 years in political office. His professional life began as an OB-GYN MD. He delivered over 4,000 babies and his standard in his medical practice was pro-life, having never performed an abortion in 25 years as an MD. Part of the Sanctity of Life Act includes the repeal of Roe vs. Wade. But, I would like to bring to your consideration another area that should define our pro-life stance, and this is an area that sets Ron Paul apart from all other candidates. Is it important to be pro-life for not only the unborn, but also for those innocently killed in an unjust war or as the result of U.S. sanctions on other countries? I commonly imagine a scenario, which is very real for some, of if I lived in Afghanistan or Iraq, or another country affected by our sanctions/wars, and was innocently sitting in my home with my wife who is 8 months pregnant and 3 children and a U.S. war plane's bomb misses its intended target, hitting our home and killing all my family but me. Thousands of innocent people have died by similar means. Where does this play into being pro-life? I also think of our sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s which led to the deaths of an untold number of women and children. This may not have been directly caused by our sanctions, but at the least was indirectly. Should we Christians be concerned about life issues when it comes to these type situations, or just with the unborn? Or, is collateral damage perfectly acceptable as long as it's not Americans who die? It's easy for us to sit over here in America and ignore the plight of others who've suffered due to our non-pro-life foreign policy, yet all the while we voted for and supported it. How is that Christian?

As far as Paul's foreign policy, it has been described as being a "golden rule" foreign policy and is based on the just-war theory of Christianity. Is this not the most biblical? Does this not fit more with the biblical world view in the N.T. and how we're called to think as Christians? Having looked fully into his foreign policy myself, it makes a lot of sense. He has written a book on it and is on the Committee On Foreign Affairs. For us to think we know better than other countries, dictating to them what they can and cannot do, violating the national sovereignty of other countries, playing the role of world-bully at times, and policing the world like we do is arrogant and prideful. It also makes sense that our continued military presence in Muslim lands is like pouring fuel on the fire of radical Islamists' hatred toward us "infidels" and leads to more problems than would have been otherwise. It seems evident that our foreign policy has led to resentment by other nations, like Paul points out, and that understanding fallen human nature as we do, is a plausible explanation for much of our trouble when it comes to terrorism against us. Does it not make sense that the principle of blowback and our involvement in preemptive wars are major reasons for terrorism against the U.S.? And back to my example of an errant bomb killing innocent people, what if that happened here in the U.S.? Would we not demand retaliation and harbor resentment? So why is it okay simply because we're the ones dropping the bombs? It goes both ways. Not to mention how angered we would be if they had a long-standing presence on our land with military bases. It makes complete sense that we've angered many against us, and this is particularly dangerous when it has occurred in Muslim lands where they already have religious/theological reasons to hate us. Like I said, we're putting fuel on the fire of hatred toward us. Dr. Paul has some excellent, common sense points here.

Are you concerned with the issue of economic freedom? Is it OK for one group to manipulate its way by various corrupt means into political power, and then dictate policy in their economic favor to the detriment of others? Food would be a big example in the U.S. of what I'm talking about as pertains to this issue of economic freedom. Is having someone like Paul to fight against this type of corruption consisting of theft, greed, covetousness, selfishness, and lack of love toward one's brother important? It seems like the issue of economic freedom along with other important issues are not on the other candidates' radars, and, unfortunately neither seems to be on many believers' radars. As believers, should we allow - by not voting for a strong leader such as Paul, who's keenly aware of the problem - the roughshod ways the powerful and elite corporations are running all over their smaller competition? Competition who commonly have our good in mind and are making superior products which are better for us? Should we allow them to go on inserting themselves by morally corrupt means into policy-making positions and making laws and rules favorable only to themselves while stripping away our freedom of choice? Should we not be leaders on this issue of economic freedom, and call out for what is right by putting an end to the injustice and ensuring a true free-market economy for all, so everyone has equal and fair footing? I think similarly to how Jerry Bridges points out such a thing as "respectable sins" and our lack of seriousness about them. We're ignoring the "respectable sins" found so prevalent in our federal government - greed, covetousness, stealing, pride, selfishness, and lack of love towards one's fellow man, not to mention others - while we're caught up on the "big" sins of homosexuality and a lack of prayer in secular public schools. Notice, I did not include abortion as a "big sin". Abortion should always be opposed by all Christians and should play the most prominent and overriding role in how we vote, period.

Also, in view of us living in a secular culture, would it not be better if we Christians were not known for using the political process to legislate how secular lost people live? Are we not placing ourselves in an "us vs. them" situation? Also, are we expecting unregenerate men to live like regenerate ones when there is no way they can, when this is the only way they can live since they're dead in their sins? Are we going to make them externally conform with no heart change? We should shun the culture war, and be more concerned about the spread of the Gospel. This is the only thing that will truly change a person from the inside out. I'm concerned when we get so caught up in a culture war that it hinders our Gospel proclamation and witness and muddies the water on what our mission is to be in this world. It appears that a lot of Christians are fighting to make their fellow Americans into white-washed tombs, perfectly content with an outward morality that still dooms them to eternal damnation. While I also oppose homosexuality, I believe we have proven over the last several decades that legislating morality to lost men does not work; we should rather win them to the Gospel, by the grace of God, so that both the outside and the inside may be cleansed. As relates to this, is Ron Paul's integrity in holding fast to the Constitution, which appears to end up hurting him in most believers' eyes because on issues important to Christians, he sticks to the Constitution in how the issues of concern should be dealt with. With integrity, Paul adheres to the Constitution by advocating states' sovereignty. He says, Constitutionally, the states should make these decisions, not the federal government. I'm thinking of the issue of homosexuality and homosexual marriage. If we give the federal government power to make decisions that should Constitutionally be left up to the states, do we not open ourselves up to a lot of misery in an ever-increasing secular world, as this would give them too much power to make decisions unfavorable to us down the road? Are we not better off insisting the federal government be properly caged by the Constitution according to its original intent, so we can protect against a too-powerful federal government? Our Founders warned about this, as I'm sure many of you are well aware. Our Founders were wise in the document they gave us and we should honor their design and intent like Ron Paul does. It also seems like Paul would have some credence with Christians since he handles/interprets the Constitution like we demand the Bible be handled/interpreted - getting at the authors' original intent. Also, in this same regard, would be the fact of Paul being a reformer, which is much needed with our out-of-control federal government. I liken Ron Paul to be to our out-of-control U.S. government what Luther and Calvin were for the Protestant Reformation. We should love a man like Ron Paul who rightly adheres to the Constitution, with tremendous fortitude and integrity, over a long period, when others have given lip-service to it, then trampled all over it.

Personally, I've grown weary of the same status quo, so-called conservative, historically uninformed, integrity lacking, ignorant of sound economic thinking, vow-breaking, paying lip-service to issues while campaigning but then reneging once in office (for instance those who have promised a pro-life position, but then not doing anything about abortion when they had a majority in Congress and the presidency) type of candidates being elected. I'm ready for a real leader with the manhood to lead our country out of the mess we're in. Ron Paul's record, consistency, integrity, and commitment to principle is so unlike anything we've seen. How is it that we as believers do not take him seriously and give him a serious and honest consideration? In my estimation, we're derelict not to."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Researching Ron Paul

Have you ever wondered why I post videos about Ron Paul on a blog devoted to Christianity?  Well, I'll tell ya - it's because my beloved & I both believe Ron Paul to be the most consistently godly man in politics.  If you're one of those who believe that he must be outspoken about his Christian beliefs, this may surprise you, because other than references here & there to his Christianity, you won't hear him say much.  That's because rather than exploiting his Christian beliefs for political benefit, he simply lives out his faith, both privately & publically.  For us, this is a bonus, not a detriment; whereas, we are completely turned off by politicians who talk a good game about family & faith while living hypocritical lives.  So, we think Christians need to pay more attention to him.  We firmly believe that Americans would support him more if they would cease being sheep & simply spend their time researching Paul's views & voting history for themselves, rather than relying on the mainstream media (including Fox News) for their information.  That's how I came to love him myself.  Michael told me during the last election that he was the best man.  I didn't take his word for it; I didn't take the media's word for it that he wasn't.  I spent hours upon hours watching videos & reading about him from unbiased sources.  And in doing so, it didn't take me much time to see that he was, indeed, the best man.  And he still is.  So, in that spirit, I give you more Ron Paul videos to help in your research.  A final thought:  if you, like so many others, erroneously believe Ron Paul to be "anti-Israel", you'll want to start with the bottom video.  That'll set you straight!  ;-)





Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ahhh, Those Lovely Hormones!

Anyone who knows me - or has read this blog for any amount of time - knows that I'm a crier.  Happy, sad, angry, hurt . . . pretty much, you name it, I cry.  But, there's always a reason.  I'm not an irrational crier.  Well, I wasn't, anyways.  Until last night.

I'm reading a truly fabulous book, Natural Hospital Birth, which is helping me prepare for exactly that.  I want a homebirth with a midwife, but that's illegal in our state . . . which is another post.  ;-)  So, back to the book.  I was reading last night about the stages of labor, & when talking about early labor, she said that was a good time for husband & wife to create memories of their last moments alone together.  Now, it's not as though the reality that we won't be alone any longer hasn't occurred to me already, but Michael & I enjoy an awful lot of time alone together.  Time that I have always been very jealous to preserve.  Even though I yearn for this child with all of my being, all of a sudden, I felt a little panic, & I came into the room with worry etched all over my face.  When I explained this sentence to him, I teared up a little . . . & he laughed.  I lost it!  Seriously, I started to sob!  I walked away with my face in my hands, & when he asked me where I went, I said in that really high voice (think chipmunk), "In the bathroom."  He asked me to come back, & I wept on his shoulder.  I'm sure he had no idea what was going on.  The whole time that I'm weeping, there is this rational part of me saying this was crazy, but I just couldn't stop crying!  Later, once I was able to calm down, I burst out laughing over my weirdness.  Poor Michael, I think he's got a long road ahead of him!  ;-)

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Monday, December 5, 2011

Our Football Idol

Can I tell you a little secret?  I have a love-hate relationship with the college football season.  I never cared in the least about it until I married Michael, but I have since come to really love certain aspects of it.  Others, I can't stand.  Like, how every Fall we get into a discussion over whether or not we need a TV & cable just so we can watch the games.  ;-)  Far worse than that, though, is people's attitudes.  Even professing Christians!  Being on Facebook is sometimes not such a good thing; the college football season is a perfect example.  I see moms, teachers, medical professionals, & even seminary students spew spiteful, angry, & intentionally rude comments about opposing teams & their fans.  So, I'm here today to offer people a reality check.  Here goes:  Folks - It's. A. Game.  It's a game, for goodness' sake!  Unless you are employed with a college football program, or you are a reporter, or you are in some other way directly involved in making your living working with college football, then it doesn't affect your life.  So, stop taking it so seriously!  Now, if you do not fall into one of these categories, & it is - in fact - affecting your job, your home life, your relationships with friends & family, your relationship with God, then you need another reality check:  football is your idol.  Really quickly, let me ask a question of my fellow believers.  How open do you think unbelievers that see or hear your vicious remarks will be to your witness for Christ?  The Gospel is already an offense to those who are perishing; how much of an open door do you think they'll give you when you've already offended them over something as trivial & ridiculous as football?  And for those who are already saved by the blood of Christ, is it seriously your desire to anger & offend those who are part of your eternal family?  A lot of times, it certainly seems so.  It's not wrong, nor is it a sin, to have a favorite football team & to cheer them on.  No, what's wrong is lashing out, sometimes with obvious relish, at those who aren't a part of or don't support your favorite team.  What's wrong is having your emotions so tied to the game that if your team wins, you're on cloud nine, & if they lose, you're down in the dumps.  How much attention are you giving the Spirit of God who dwells within you when you behave in these ways?  Not much - more likely not any.  Support your favorite team.  Cheer them on & have fun.  But do it remembering that football is not eternal or even important.  And walk away from the game prepared to focus with gusto on the only things that are:  the Word of God, God Himself, & the souls of men. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

"The Terminal" ~ R.C. Sproul, Jr.

I am always drawn to people who exhibit faith in & love for God in the midst of heartbreaking circumstances.  I believe that John Piper is right when he says that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him . . . in the midst of loss, not prosperity."  R.C. Sproul, Jr.'s wife is battling cancer yet again, & he is meeting this challenge with exactly that kind of vulnerable yet strong faith that whatever the outcome, God is good & will see their family through.  I saw just the other day that the clinical trial that she was involved in did not work for her, so it's back to more chemotherapy.  It breaks my heart for people to suffer.  I wish suffering wasn't part of life, because it's not natural; it's not the way God created our world.  But it is a reality in this fallen world, & it not only sanctifies us so that we're more like Christ, it also makes our very souls yearn earnestly for the return of our King.  I received a new "Kingdom Notes" in my email a couple of days ago, & it was so touching, so poignant, so true, I just have to share it with you.  Please keep the Sproul family in your prayers, & let us all bear in mind that, whether we have a doctor's diagnosis or not, we are all terminal & must "look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16)

"The yellowing sky confirmed the wisdom of the forecasters, a tornado might well be just around the bend. With one eye scouring the landscape I dutifully herded my then seven children into our basement. One of them, worried, asked me- “Are we all going to die?” Tender hearted father that I am, I told the truth- “Of course…but probably not today.” We survived the weather that day, but we are all still terminal.

As my wife continues her valiant fight against leukemia she too occasionally asks me to look into my crystal ball. She wants to know if she is going to make it. The doctors don’t know, and they are considerably more knowledgeable than I am. So I tell my wife what I do know- “I don’t know if you are going to get well or not. I do know that that day was appointed before all time. Nothing will make it a day later, nothing a day earlier. Cancer cannot determine when you go home. Only your Father can.

God can and does give clues, from time to time. The Bible affirms that He opens and closes the womb. That doesn’t mean that Abraham and Sarah didn’t have reason to be surprised. That Denise is ill, that it is this kind of cancer, that form of leukemia, this other test result suggests that we have more reason to worry about her than me. Seeking to decipher all these clues causes us to ride a roller coaster of hope and fear. I have come to learn, however, that my confidence on a given day is likely more tied to how poorly I slept the night before than it is deciphering the results of a CT scan.

My calling then is to rest in, to believe, to be comforted by what He has spoken clearly. Providence is His, but there He speaks a strange language in muted tones. His Word, on the other hand is both loud and clear. We know, for starters, that God Himself is behind this. God will either defeat the cancer He has sent, or He will have sent the cancer that calls her home (Isaiah 45:7). We know that whether her time is sooner or later, it works out for the good not only for her, but for her husband and children (Romans 8:28). We know that whenever He calls her home He will at the same time heal her fully (Revelation 21:4).

Insofar as I am able, by His grace, to believe what He has revealed, I am able to be at peace about what He has not revealed. Insofar as I seek to learn the secret things, I will fail to believe what He has revealed. One thing we know for certain- He is good. He loves us with an everlasting love. That doesn’t answer the question of the day or the hour. It just makes it not so important.

It is a good and proper thing that I should, and you as well if you are willing, pray that God would make Denise well, that He would allow us to grow old together. It is, however, a better thing to pray that I would be a faithful husband to my love, and a faithful father to the children He has blessed us with. It is less important that He believe me and my conviction, that the kingdom would be better with her here. It is more important that I believe Him and His promise that the gates of hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18), and that He who has begun a good work in us will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 6:10). This train is bound for glory."

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Excellent, Sacrifical Husband

"Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church & gave Himself up for her . . ."  ~Ephesians 5:25

My precious beloved has epitomized this verse for me this week, as he has loved me with a sacrificial love.  We're both loving that I'm pregnant with our first child, but this first trimester is kicking my hiney with exhaustion & morning sickness.  I joke that Michael gets to see me for 4 hours a day.  I sleep late in the morning, take a long nap in the middle of the day, & then go to bed early.  I don't have a lot of energy to clean house or cook.  And when I am hit with fleeting energy, I get nauseous from moving around!  So, needless to say, our house has been a wreck & we're plum sick of fast food!  But Michael has been so loving & patient.  And he has served me tremendously this week!  He cleaned the kitchen; washed, dried, & folded the laundry; & straightened up our bedroom.  It may not sound like it, but these were daunting tasks!  He's also tackled things that I'm not allowed to do, like cleaning out Callie's litter box (which he hates with a passion) & Cloroxing the shower.  All with nary a grumble or complaint.  He is a marvel!  I know that Proverbs 31 is about an excellent wife, but I have to say that more than once, I have thought to myself, "An excellent husband, who can find?" . . . & have praised God that I did!  Thanks to Him, of course!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Katie Davis on Adoption


Catalyst Atlanta 2011 from Catalyst on Vimeo.

 
In a word, this is phenomenal!  The more I see & hear Katie Davis, the more I love her!

10 Weeks

Last December, I had just finished up my yearly GYN appointment when I heard the most beautiful sound through the wall.  It was a sound that, even though it had nothing to do with me, made me tear up.  It was the sound of a baby's heartbeat in utero.  As I usually do when I'm really touched, I put my hand to my nose & breathed out my longing to God to one day give Michael & me this gift.  Yesterday, less than a year later, He did.  As I lay on the table at our new OB's office, the ultrasound tech placed the machine to my abdomen, & all of a sudden, we heard our M&M's heartbeat!  Of course, I cried - as I'm doing now!  We got to see our little one, too, & he/she was very active!  M&M jumped, wiggled, & even waved!  I suppose I came across as a little dorky (not that I care) when I waved back & said - through tears, of course - "Hi, baby!"  I pray I never lose this wonder & joy over the miracle that God has wrought in our lives!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Our Urgent Mission

I wanted to write a post today, but my brain is more than a little sluggish, so I'm having a hard time coming up with something to actually say.  Then, I went to one of my favorite blogs - A Glimpse of Our Vapor - & read what my sweet friend, Katie, wrote.  And I just have to share it!  I'm going to share the video that she posted below, as well as another one of my favorite missionary videos, but make sure you read her post as well.  It's convicting.  And we need that.  Desperately.



Friday, November 25, 2011

Insight From the Smoky Mountains

The road was dark & curvy, with only the light from our car fleetingly illuminating our immediate surroundings in grey patches.  All we saw was the black road, bordered on both sides by black trees bedecked with shadowy leaves.  Our view of the path ahead was more often than not obscured by the bend in the road.  The black night enveloping us made what lay ahead & what lay beside impossible to discern.

Then, as the sun woke from her slumber, we began to behold the beauty that truly surrounded us.  What the night had hidden, the light revealed in magnificent detail.  The land rose up, up, up to our right while it rolled down in cascading hills to our left.  The ground was strewn deeply with amber leaves, while the myriad of trees marching up & down those hills were still stubbornly clinging to an array of their sunshiney gold, fiery red, & vibrant orange siblings.  Mingled amongst this riot of color were the evergreens with their springy & dark forest green leaves giving just the right backdrop.  We found ourselves suddenly surrounded by God's breathtaking creation!  Only, it wasn't so "sudden" after all.  God's beautiful masterpiece had been there all along in the darkness, we just couldn't see it.  We needed the light from the sun to reveal to us the reality that the black of night had blinded us to.

So it is with God.  God is breathtakingly beautiful, awesomely majestic, & infinitely worthy of our worship.  He is merciful, kind, loving, forgiving, just, & holy.  But the darkness hides Him from men.  Just as darkness is the essence of night, so it is with men's unregenerate hearts.  In the same way that the beauty of God's creation was hidden behind the darkness of the night, so is the beauty of God hidden behind the darkness of our sinful nature.  Only when the rays of light shine forth in our hearts by the Spirit of God are we no longer blind to reality.  Our eyes are opened & we can see God for who He really is . . . & who we really are - creatures in desperate need of a merciful Savior.  And we realize it's always been this way.  The light doesn't create God's infinite beauty, it simply illuminates it.

My prayer today is that the Spirit of God would shine His light in the hearts of men everywhere, revealing to them the splendor of God & their need for His mercy.  To God be the glory!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

9 Weeks



Our M&M is growing so fast!  I love looking at these pictures & being able to see the shape of our baby.  We even got to see the little heart beating today!  I'm so overwhelmed with thanksgiving to God & love for Him, Michael, & this little one!  This is a Happy Thanksgiving, indeed!  And aren't the little captions cute?  Our OB asked me, "Auburn or 'Bama?" & laughed when I said in a "duh" tone of voice, "'Bama."  It obviously said, "Do you even need to ask?"  Then I saw the above picture & laughed out loud!  Sooo cute!  Roll Tide!

Funny Pet Videos

Okay, these are beyond hilarious!!!




Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas Music

Lots of people are already getting in the Christmas spirit!  Just yesterday morning, I played my first Christmas songs.  I'm hoping that we can get our decorations up in the next week.  In that spirit of Christmas cheer, I want to recommend a couple of CDs to y'all filled with the absolute best Christmas music!  If this doesn't put you in the mood to worship our Savior & celebrate His birth, I don't know what will!  I can't praise these songs highly enough, & of course, you don't have to just play them at Christmas, because it's never the wrong season to celebrate Christ's birth!  Enjoy!


Oh, my goodness, what a wonderful CD this is!  I love each & every song, but I have to say that my absolute favorite song is "Glory Be To God".  Every single time I listen to it, without fail, I start crying at the same point.  When they sing, "Hosanna!  Hosanna!  The Lamb of God has come!  Hosanna!  Hosanna!  He is the Promised One!" over & over, I'm overcome with emotion at this stunning fact.  God promised the Messiah, & He kept that promise!!!  I'm transported back to the manger & am in awe that this Child is the fulfillment of God's promise to us.  He didn't forget us!  He sent His Lamb, just as He said He would!  I'm tearing up even now.  And let me tell you what SGM has done:  you can even download this very song for free on their site!  Get yourself a taste of this incredible CD & stand in awe at what God has done!
Seriously, there is not a bad song in this whole CD!  I have a hard time even picking out a favorite!  "Behold the Lamb of God" takes you through the redemptive history of man, beginning with a song of worship for "the brave little boy who was God, but He made Himself nothing", leads you through Moses & Israel's longing for the Messiah, all the way up to the birth of Jesus.  And Andrew Peterson takes his time singing about Jesus' birth; less than half of the CD is devoted to showing the need & longing for the Savior, while the rest focuses on His arrival.  It's a beautiful journey through the Scriptures in song.  If I have one suggestion, it's to buy the live version if you can.  I normally don't prefer live versions over studio versions, but in this one, I definitely do.  The "Begats", which is already so much fun, is even more so, & the way they do the very last song will give you chills.  And you know what will make you like Andrew even more (& definitely tempt you even greater than I already have to buy the CD)?  You can listen to the entire CD on his site!

Buy, listen, enjoy, praise God!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Platts' Adoption Journey

I've been following the Platt family's adoption journey through the Brook Hills blog, & it has been such a blessing!  They aren't just sharing about their adoption of their daughter, but also of how God brought their sons into their lives.  All of the stories are wonderful, filled with humor, warmth, & love.  And they've all left me with a renewed adoration of God's plan & timing, which He works out with absolute perfection.  May you be blessed & moved to praise God through their story as well!  Soli Deo Gloria!

For These Things, I'm Thankful

Dread.  That's what I felt going into this day.  And it turned out to be just as I feared.  I didn't want to experience this day, not in the least.  As a matter of fact, I vowed from the moment we knew it was coming that I wouldn't.  I put my foot down so often & so hard in opposition to it that I have blisters!  But, Michael insisted - insisted, even, that it would be good for us to experience it.  I didn't believe him, & I still wish that we hadn't gone through it.  But, you can't undo the past, even when it's as recent as this morning.  See, our beloved pastor is preaching in Uganda.  So, someone thought it would be nice to have a "Homecoming" for the former pastor.  One in which he preached.  Now, Michael used to be a member of our church during this former pastor's reign, so I've been regaled with stories of "the glory days", as some have called it (Michael not being one of them).  Thus, my trepidation over this morning's service.  What I haven't mentioned is that this former pastor is a revivalist, complete with all the trappings that word conjures up.  And we got to witness every gory detail, of which I could say a lot - a lot - but I truly don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  Instead, I'd like to focus on the one good thing that did come out of this morning's service:  a renewed sense of thankfulness over what we have at our precious church.  Fitting, as this is the week of Thanksgiving, don't you think?

Father, thank You for:
     *Pastors - & pastors' wives - who focus on You & Your glory;
     *Pastors who are filled with humility & grace;
     *Pastors who feed us the meat of Your Word;
     *Pastors who rely on the Spirit working in the hearts of men to bring about conviction & salvation;
     *Pastors who study Your Word & bring us correct interpretations of it;
     *Genuine, loving believers who surround us each Sunday;
     *A praise team whose sole ambition is to glorify & worship You through song;
     *Pastors who trust You to bring forth fruit, even if they can't see it;
     *Pastors who are faithful both in the pulpit & in their daily lives;

And last, but not least, thank You, Father, for bringing us to this church.  May Your glory be done in & through us!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Trouble With Altar Calls

A friend & I had a brief discussion the other day regarding altar calls.  Coming from a Lutheran background, I simply don't understand them.  Calls to repentance & faith in Christ, I get, & I've been in churches that do just that with offers of someone to talk to after the service & assurances that leaving your seat isn't a requirement for salvation.  Having been surrounded in my youth by revivalistic Baptist churches as the only models for the practice of altar calls, I usually find them to be irksome, not the least of which is because they are often emotionally manipulative & lead to false professions of faith.  There are entire churches, rather than just an invitation here or there, where this manipulation is not the norm - mine being one - but this is nonetheless a common pitfall for altar calls.  And then I have the problem of not being able to find the precedence of altar calls anywhere in Scripture.  The fine people over at The Gospel Coalition were asked, in short, how to call people to Christ without relying on altar calls.  Jonathan Leeman - editorial director at 9Marks & a PhD candidate researching ecclesiology - gave quite an astute response, one that I agree with wholeheartedly.  Not everyone will agree with Jonathan's assessment, or my assent to it; however, I still ask that any readers of this post will not rely on their own feelings & opinions, but give careful thought to his words & check them - & the institution of altar calls - against the Word of God.  This, not the traditions of man, must be the final arbiter of truth & the guide for all our practices & beliefs.  So, without further ado, here's Jonathan's answer to this query.

Before I had arrived, the previous pastors had always given altar calls. I was now one month into an interim pastorate, and people were beginning to ask whether I would ever give them. I remember a long, meandering car ride with one sweet brother---a good friend to this day---devoted to the question.

I told this brother and the rest of the elders that I wouldn't do an altar call. Why not?

Because I think altar calls are wrong? No, I think a pastor is free to give one. It's not a sin.

Because I don't believe that people must make a decision for Christ? No, I think people must decide to repent and believe in order to be saved.

Because I don't think Jesus calls us to make a public profession? No, people must publicly profess their faith, which is why Jesus instituted baptism. (Emphasis mine)

Because I think inviting sinners to repent is inherently manipulative? No, I believe preachers should invite non-Christians to repent and believe throughout their sermons. I did this during the interim pastorate, and I did it just last Sunday when guest preaching at another church. I very clearly invited non-Christians to repent and believe in the middle of my sermon, and then told them to speak with me afterwards, or the pastor, or the Christian friend who brought them.

So why wouldn't I give an altar call? In short, I believe that this particular man-made practice, this 19th-century innovation, has produced more bad than good for Christian churches in the West. The altar call relies on the powers of emotion, rhetorical persuasion, and social pressure to induce people to make a hasty and premature decision. And producing professions is not the same thing as making disciples. Surely a number of factors are responsible for the many nominal Christians that typify Christianity in the West, but I believe that the altar call is one of them.

How many people in the last century walked an aisle, and spent the rest of their days convinced that they were a Christian, never considering how they lived!

The alternative to giving altar calls is sticking with the practices we see modeled in Scripture:

     *Invite people throughout your sermon to "repent and be baptized" like Peter did in Jerusalem (Acts 2:38). But when you do, don't just stand there waiting with emotionally charged music playing, staring them down until they relent. Rather, make several suggestions about how and where to discuss the matter further.

     *Ask people what they believe when they present themselves for baptism, just like Jesus made sure the disciples knew who he was (Matt. 16:13-17; also, 1 John 4:1-3).

     *Make sure they understand what following Jesus entails (Matt. 16:24f; John 6:53-60).

     *Explain that the fruit of their lives and persevering to the end will indicate whether or not they really believe (Matt. 7:24f; 10:22).

     *You might even explain that Jesus has commanded your church to remove them from its fellowship if their life moving forward does not match their profession (Matt. 18:15-17).

Yes, let's pray hard for conversions. But then let's do everything that Scripture requires of us in the long work of making disciples---a work that generally requires lots of teaching, lots of time, lots of invitations, lots of meals together, and finally the commitment of an entire church body.

The Most Terrifying Truth in the Scriptures ~ Paul Washer



Oh, so very good!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Gathering ~ Sovereign Grace Music

Are you ready for one of the best CDs you'll ever listen to?  Seriously, this one is incredible!  But don't take my word for it - scroll through & listen.  You won't regret it!  You can download it, buy it, & look at the lyrics simply by clicking on the link below.  Enjoy!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Our Little Peanut . . . M&M


According to the measurements, we are 7 weeks along!  It's incredible to me that I had no idea that I was pregnant for 6 whole weeks!  We went in to the doctor for bloodwork & an ultrasound this past week, & so far, everything looks great!  My numbers were healthy, as was our little one's heartbeat & placement.  We're still in such awe over this whole surprise!  I'm trying to think of a cute little nickname for him/her, because it can sometimes become a bit of a tongue twister to say "him or her" everytime I want to talk about him or her.  (See what I mean?)  Come to think of it, Michael might have hit on a nickname this morning, quite by accident.  I was ravenous before breakfast, & I patted my belly & said, "It's okay, baby, I'm fixing to feed you."  Michael chuckled & said, "A peanut M&M is bigger than our baby right now!  I don't think he/she's eating that much!"  I've heard people say "peanut" a lot, but "M&M" is new to me!  I think it might work!  ;-)  What say you?