Friday, January 28, 2011


I've learned that if you receive a word more than once, pay attention. God is trying to tell you something. I had two e-mails this morning with the exact same passage of scripture from Psalm 25. I get the message: I am to be more humble and teachable.

"Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies."

Our school days go much better when my daughters have a teachable attitude. It is difficult when they think they know it all and don't need instruction. (Do I do that with God?) We have an especially delightful day when they are eager to learn and excited about the lessons. (How excited am I to read God's word and learn from him?)

Today I will set my opinions and arrogant attitudes aside and I will listen to what others may teach me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow and More Snow

As much as I don't like snow, we had fun yesterday. Fred came home from plowing and the girls and I made snowmen after shoveling the deck. The snow was perfect for rolling balls and the temperature outside was not so cold. At the end we had to hurry because rain was coming. Rain after a snowstorm. Very odd. But then the weather this whole winter has been strange.
In the evening we heard thunder and the blizzard came in. We watched out the window and we were amazed by how light it was outside. Where was the light coming from? I checked the calendar--no, it was not a full moon. But the whole yard was lit up. I tried to get a picture of that, but the snow was coming down so hard that I couldn't capture it.
My son Dominic mentioned he hoped for snow in D.C.. Well, he got it! The whole Northeast got hit last night. I heard on the news this morning that we have around 18 inches to shovel today. I'm tired thinking about it. But the sun has risen brilliantly from the shadow of clouds and I heard a woodpecker searching for his food. God is still on his throne. I thank him that I am strong and healthy and able to shovel snow.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Horrific Anniversary

Todd Pruitt has been on a rampage this week with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. He is not afraid to stand up and say exactly how he feels about it He has posted numerous articles on his blog. In our own town, an abortionist has been arrested and his house of horrors shut down, so this topic is in everyone's mind around our area.

I usually stay away from politics and controversial issues on this blog. I'm just an ordinary mom with ordinary kids, living an ordinary life. I love God and his Word and try to do what's right each day, usually UNsuccessfully. I daily contemplate and wrestle with cultural issues and how it conflicts with spiritual things. I'm sure all my friends and family know where I stand on abortion. If you disagree, I will gladly discuss it with you. I truly did not come by my opinion mindlessly or blindly by parroting views of white evangelical Republican men.

I have looked at all sides. I know what it is like to be poor raising children without any help. I've been there. There are so many "hard" cases. As a young woman I went with a classmate to an abortion clinic to be with her as she carried out her choice. It was a nice, modern clinic, but as she was in the back with the medical personnel, I had such a sense of darkness and evil that I wanted to flee. As I looked around at the women waiting, I had visions of Jews lined up for the gas chamber. For whatever reason, my friend did not follow through and we left. It was the last time I supported the "right to choose."

I've seen the pain of infertile couples yearning for a baby, with no babies to be had. One woman I know had an abortion when she was young. Later on, after she married, it was discovered she could not have any more children. I remember her guilt, shame, and remorse over her past decision. And then her struggle to adopt here in America. Not enough babies for all the couples who want them. In our own family, I see the outcome of women who chose life and the indescribable joy these children have brought us.

Many years ago I worked in the delivery room at an inner-city hospital and assisted with many births. I saw babies born to teenagers and drug-addicted mothers. Hard cases. Would it be better to not be born at all than to be subjected to poverty and abuse later on? But we fall into a trap if we carry that line of thinking into other problems in life.

Once I picketed an abortion clinic and watched people I know be hauled off to jail. I' saw the anger and ugliness of both sides. This doesn't seem to accomplish anything.

One time I took my youngest son to an optometrist in a poor section of town. I forget why we were at that particular place. I was in the waiting room and a pregnant woman sat beside me. She saw my girls--they were little then--and we started a conversation. She realized she could not care for her unborn baby and she was looking into adoption. She was working through an agency and was in the process of choosing a family for her child. She hinted that maybe I would want the baby. Maybe she saw that race did not matter in our family. I would gladly have added another color to the rainbow of people in our big extended family, but at the time, Liana was still a baby and I knew this wasn't the right decision for us then. I've thought about that woman so many times since. Hopefully she was encouraged that her baby would be loved by its new family after she saw my happy little girls.

At that same hospital where I worked, my views were cemented firmly in place when I was assigned to care for a baby boy born without part of his brain. He had no chance of survival. Nurses were supposed to monitor him and wait for him to die. I believe that was my hardest day of life on this planet. A doctor came into the room and joked how he would like to put a pillow over the baby and smother him. He even picked up a pillow and demonstrated. Despite this baby's deformities, he was still a human being. He was denied food and cried pitifully. I spent the day in tears, stroking his small limbs and talking to him. He suffered for 6 days before he died. This passage of scripture that Jesus spoke came alive for me:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40)

The LEAST of these. Is anyone more helpless than an unborn baby? Poor women are also victims and often helpless too. Followers of Jesus must reach out with compassion to those who are hurting, whoever they may be. There has to be a better way.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Morning Gifts

Fred's new job has totally changed our household schedule. We get up very early. For the most part I relish the solitude and total quiet of the early morning. It is worth losing a little sleep to have this time. Recently, I was delighted to look out my windows and see beauty I would have missed if I was asleep. In the western sky at dawn, the moon was setting. My photos are not the best, but you can see the little glowing light above my neighbor's shed. On another morning, I opened the drapes downstairs and was struck by a rising sun setting the sky on fire out the eastern window. It was absolutely spectacular, but I just couldn't capture it well on camera. We have snow on the ground, but I put on my boots and bundled up and ran out to get a picture. Then as the sun rose higher, the sky was even more beautiful and larger in scope. I considered gearing up again to go outside for another shot, but figured it wouldn't turn out. Some things are best just enjoyed rather than captured on film.
January is half over. We are back in the full swing of things and that makes time fly. Liana has to take the California Achievement Test on Friday, so our school days have been full as I try to prepare her. Public school kids are required to take so many more tests and I'm sure they are better test-takers just because they get more practice. Liana knows her stuff but she is not accustomed to being timed or working in a large classroom with other children.
Every weekend from now until June will be filled with sewing at 4-H. It's been a nice break (for me) but the girls are anxious and motivated to sew again. Alpha is starting again tomorrow night and once again Fred and I are cooking for another session. I let it be known this is my last time. A lesson I learned (or rather didn't learn) a long time ago is that you are given the time you need to do what God has called you to do. If you "don't have time" then you are probably doing things God did not call you to do. So I need to make some cuts.
Today is a holiday, but my poor girls are hitting the books. I was criticized by a postal worker last year for making my children do school work on MLK Day. She would probably really be offended if she knew I let them have a day off from school on their own birthdays. Please don't misinterpret. We respect Dr. King and have studied his legacy. But I will set my own school schedule with my own children.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

No More Toys?

Before Christmas I wrote that it was sad the girls don't like toys anymore. That is not entirely true! Liana and her friend Julia have lately been making their own paperdolls and designing clothes for them. They do this for hours...and hours. I love listening to their conversations about their paper families. And thankfully, they still love Build-A-Bears! Right now they are planning a wedding ceremony for the boy and girl dogs they have. I noticed these couples already had dog children. They told me that the dogs had married in the courthouse before having children, but now they are going to have a wedding for guests to attend. I'm invited.

With all the little ones coming to our house for the holiday, Arielle took the time to get out all her old Barbies, dressed them, and combed their hair, and then set up a Barbie town in her room. Yes, she did it for her nieces, but I don't think she will deny that she had a little bit of fun playing with the old toys.

The week before New Year's is a special time for the girls and their dad. Even with suffering from bronchitis the whole week, Fred still made it fun for them. They got out all the old Lincoln Logs and spent an afternoon in front of the fire building. Another day they got out all their old Play-Dough toys and gathered around the kitchen table creating all sorts of things.
Hopefully the girls will not lose that sense of fun and imagination. Maybe they will someday be playful moms, bringing joy to their own children. In the meantime, I will treasure these days with my little girls.
I've been reading Mary Beth Chapman's book Choosing to SEE. The Chapman's lost their five-year old daughter in a terrible accident and Mary Beth wrote how they survived such a tragedy. None of us knows the number of our days on this earth. A quote from the book: "Keep walking and keep well the ones still in your charge and care...realize that time is short, life is have much to do, do not squander it."
Before the loss of his youngest daughter, Steven Curtis Chapman wrote the beautiful song "Cinderella" with all his daughters in mind.
"Oh, I will dance with Cinderella, I don't want to miss even one song,
'cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight and she'll be gone..."

More New Year Resolutions

There is something about January and a new year spread out before us that makes people want to make changes. My blank calendar will soon be filled with, well, LIFE. What will we do this year? How will our days be spent? Spent is an accurate description. Used up, gone forever. What will be written on these blank pages?

I've made resolutions before. Many times they have to do with health. Eat more good food. Exercise more. This year I was reading an article by Andree Seu in World Magazine. It is titled "The Pilgrim's Progress: Three wishes and ways for moving forward in the new year." I have been pondering her suggestions.

1) "Pray to have friends (at least one) who have more faith than you do." Done. I do. Accountability in our Christian walk is crucial. I need a breathing, living example to emulate that shows me how to live out my faith. But am I always honest with her about my struggles? There can be no accountability without transparency in our relationships.

2) "Get rid of everything doubtful in your life." Questionable entertainment. Books that suck the life out of you rather than bring hope or enlightenment. Conversations not worthy of participation. You know when you've crossed into the gray area. "Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit." II Corinthians 7:1.

3) "Mastery of the tongue. Speak slowly, put on a filter, let out no lie." Oh, that's a tough one. Long ago I memorized James 3 because my words have always been my downfall. "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity...If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man." I am far from perfect, especially in light of my words. As a mom, I am especially distressed by my "tongue lashings." These hurt as much as a physical beating. I need to serve my children with tenderness and gentleness.

So one of my resolutions this year is to be more faithful and diligent to follow the God I profess to know and love. I read today, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome." I John 5:3. God gives us the strength (and the desire) to do what is right.

My other resolution is to "redeem the time." These days of 2011 will be spent, to be sure. But what will be left after we fill in the last day of the calendar in December? "Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom...satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days...let the favor of the Lord be upon us. Give permanence to the work of our hands." Psalm 90:12-17.