Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Discernment vs. Faith and some pictures

There is much going on in our house lately, and I must say that my favorite part of being home for the summer is the chance to reflect on what is happening and recharge my batteries by focusing on what matters and not what is necessary.

Adam and I talked yesterday about the line between discernment and faith. Some people, probably legitimate believers, believe that making wise choices is contrary to having faith, and this sparked some discussion in our home. These people would have had me quit teaching when Charlotte was born because I felt strongly convicted to stay home, even though there was no possible way for our family to financially stay afloat in that situation. The position Adam and I had worked our family into needed to be undone before the decision for me to stay home would be wise. However, the undoing of that situation, which is the season we are in now, will ensure that I will probably be able to stay home for a more permanent period of time than if we had simply "gone on faith" back in 2008, and I know that the Lord will be exalted in that longer period of time more than just a year or two that Charlotte will not really remember. Those same people would have said Adam and I had no faith that the Lord would provide. I, however I may have fought him the spring after Charlotte was born, see my husband's wisdom in his choices and decisions, and I see that discernment/wisdom and faith go together like prayer and God's sovereignty. None of us would say that since God is sovereign, our prayers are meaningless. On the contrary, Scripture says that God delights in the prayers of His people, and we are commanded to pray throughout God's Word. The same thing can be said of faith and medication; trusting the Lord to heal every ailment is foolish when He has provided the wisdom, technology, medication and means for us to obtain them. Charlotte's feet are a perfect example of this: prayer alone was not going to fix the obvious problem, but the wonderful Poncetti method, a persistent Dr. Shaw, casting, two surgeries and the discipline of her parents to obtain and enforce the proper braces, have all been blessings given to us by God so that her feet may be healed. When she is finished with all of her treatment, I am going to donate her braces so that children in third world countries can receive the same blessings. These things: discernment and faith, prayer and God's sovereignty and faith and medicine are not mutually exclusive. Be mindful not to slip into legalism either way you go.

Adam and I were blessed to have my parents come to visit us this weekend. They don't come nearly often enough, and they were delighted to see Charlotte walking around our house and church authoritatively. She, of course, loved the attention; we made a Lynchburg trip to Kohl's and Dickie's where she was spoiled beyond recognition. When her grandparents left on Sunday after coming with us to church (which was a true joy in itself!), they left us with a picnic table for her so that, as my father said, "she has a place where she can learn how to color." I put this table together yesterday afternoon, and when Charlotte came downstairs, she knew that it was hers. We taught her how to get in and out of it and helped set her up with toys and books to play with on it.

It looks like she's being bad in this picture, but she's actually in the middle of getting herself into the table.

Please continue to be in prayer about Adam's job. We still have not heard, and we're not even sure anyone really knows what's going on anywhere in the district. I pray that these last couple posts have been blessings to you.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Christian Marriage

What is the big deal about biblical womanhood anyway? Why can't we just be who we are?
Because we are sinners, born into sin and living in the world which is ruled by, you guessed it, sin.
Biblical womanhood is a process, not an ultimate goal on this Earth, just like sanctification. We cannot check being biblical women off our list; we must pursue and fight for it daily.

This is tied very closely to biblical marriage, the picture of Christ and His Church that we are to mirror in our marriages. Our marriages are not just about us; they are about bringing glory to God above all things, and we often forget that. Worse than forgetting that our marriages are about Christ, we instead make them all about us: our glory, our emotions, our needs, our preferences and our desires. Even pagans know that "love is patient, love is kind" and it does not think of its own desires, but for so many of us, even admittedly believers, marriage turns into being about us, not our spouse or our Savior. This world tells us that our perfect partner will complete us; do NOT listen to that foolishness. Only Christ can complete us. Period.
So what do Christian wives look like?
  1. Christian wives support their husbands, in public and in private. We cannot tear them down with words or deeds. We cannot expect them to be perfect leaders. Of course we can't, they are only fallible men. We must support them, and almost as importantly, we must pray for them. For their leadership, maturity, discernment, wisdom and faith. We cannot expect them to have these things on their own, and we cannot roll our eyes at them when they try and fail.
  2. Christian wives know when their husbands need help in areas of focus, discernment or discipline, either personally or for the family. We can gently rebuke our husbands when they are wrong, helping them get back on track in love. This is very difficult to do, and it is very easy for our pride to take this point out of control.
  3. Christian wives care for their husbands by making the home peaceful, comfortable and clean. This is so much more than doing housework, but housework is, sadly, involved. :) This charge pleases our husbands and the Lord since it is expected of us in Scripture. Instead of grumbling about chores at home, seek to complete them joyfully as a blessing to your husband, even if he doesn't notice. And, when overwhelmed, follow Carolyn Mahaney's advice of making your husband a PB and J sandwich and attending to his, um, other needs - one of my favorite quotes about marriage. You can find her blog about biblical womanhood here; it is VERY encouraging.
  4. Christian wives keep themselves from temptation. Anything can be tempting to different people, but we wives are committed to keeping pure hearts for our husbands alone. Fantisizing is lust which is adultery, and if watching certain movies or listening to certain music or going to certain websites makes your heart impure toward your husband, quit immediately. Even seemingly benign things can tempt; be on the lookout and cut out anything that tempts you to sin.
  5. Christian wives open their homes to others, believers and not. This is one of the most important reasons our homes must be kept. Invite someone over for dinner this week: newlyweds, a couple with five kids. What a blessing this can be if we let it.

There are more ways to be Christian wives, but these are the five on my heart this afternoon. Above all, we as women and wives must embrace our place as submissive but not controlled, gentle and caring, but warring with sin and the flesh. I hope this message causes you to pause and consider your marriage, home and husband; I also added the Girl Talk blog to the side of my blog because it is SO good and applicable to things on my heart right now.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Music

Have you ever stopped to think about why you listen to the music you listen to? Usually the answer is easy enough: we like the way it sounds in some capacity - the rhythm, the beat, the melody. But what we seldom think about in our world today is, what does the music that we listen to say to us as we listen?

Adam and I have been convicted anew about our music tastes after slipping into a very secular taste in music for the past couple months. Our default CDs were the Glee soundtracks, and on our iPod running mixes we had Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Ludacris and Timabaland to name a few. None of these are "bad" or "sinful" in themselves, but over a couple months of listening to primarily worldly music, our attitudes started to mold themselves to what we were hearing. How do humans learn? Mainly by repetition. And worldly music repeatedly puts worldly messages in our ears, brains and hearts, taking away the power of the Holy Spirit in us to instruct and sanctify us.

Most of this conviction is because of Trip Lee, the reformed Christian rapper and Adam's friend, Josh. For those of you who don't know of Trip Lee, please give him a try. His songs contain more theology than most Christian bookstores. He's one of my favorites, and the picture above is his new CD that came out this week, Between Two Worlds. Josh's contribution to this music conviciton will remain unspoken at this time, but as Adam and I pondered the messages our music was giving us, even while we ran, we felt the need for a priority shift. So we pulled out the old Lecrae, Trip Lee, Flame, Sho Baracka and Tedashii. We pulled out Jimmy Needham and Bethany Dillon. We switched out Glee for praise CDs for a while and remade the running playlists on our iPods. Today, I ran to a new but old mix of my favorite reformed rappers, and it was refreshing. The run itself was ridiculous; I felt like my legs weighed 100 pounds each. But the music didn't just give me rhythm to run to or beats to get myself up the hills on my route. It also made me think of things I hadn't in a while, eternal things of eternal significance. How amazing God and His love for us are. How we've been purchased with a price of great expense for Him. How the prosperity gospel "trips [God] of His flyness, making Him more of a servant and less like His Highness." And my spirit was revived, even if my body was worn out (which it was!).

My prayer for you today is that you consider the music you are listening to the most. How is that music instructing your soul? How is it affecting your attitudes toward the world? What ammunition are you giving the Holy Spirit to work in you?

Soli Deo Gloria.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

I hope this post finds you having (or having had, tomorrow) a wonderful Father's Day. As our pastor reminded us at church this morning during baby dedication, fathers as the heads of
their houses protect, nurture, instruct and minister to their wives and children. It is such an important responsibility for fallible men, so thank you to Adam, Barney and my dad, Charles for being such great dads.

There is so much to reflect on in terms of fatherhood biblically - our holy Father and our adoption into his family; the redemption that we have only in Christ through the love of the Father; what a godly father, home and family should look like, the fact that we should teach the gospel when we sit in our house, and when we walk by the way and when we lie down and when we rise (Dt. 6:7). Amen.

Yesterday, Charlotte went to her church friend Vivian's 2nd birthday party. It was great fun even though it was HOT, and here is our picture journey of the party:













And then, she was done with planting, Adam took his flower, and we were about done....
And then, it was time to go home for a bath. Ahh...summer. :) Soli Deo Gloria; have a great week!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Feet


What a difference a year and a half makes. Dr. Shaw, who is one of about 300 doctors in the country who specializes in what he does, said the Charlotte is a model patient. Her club feet were severe, and now through modern medicine and God's grace, they look almost normal. She's walking and standing, getting more secure and confident every day.
Here's what we found out today from going to see Dr. Shaw for our bi-yearly visit:
  1. We get to come back again in December.
  2. Charlotte will probably have to sleep in her braces until she's about 3. That means we're going to have to get at least one more pair...maybe two. Ouch.
  3. Charlotte will probably not need the surgery some kids need at age 4 where tendons from toes are moved to keep the feet from curling.
  4. The sandals we picked out for her, that my mother adores, are basically like corrective shoes. He loved that the band at the front of the foot was adjustable along with the strap. I told Dr. Shaw that was why we bought the sandals in the first place - because Charlotte's feet are too fat for some shoes.
  5. Which led Dr. Shaw to explain to us that her feet are short and fat for her age. He told us that if she only had one club foot, it would be 2 sizes smaller than the normal foot. Huh. So, I guess Charlotte will have dainty little feet. I'm just glad we don't have to buy her two pairs of shoes in two different sizes; THAT would be annoying.

Anyway, that's how our appointment with Dr. Shaw went today. In other news, school is over for the year, and I am thrilled; graduation went great. Here is a link for pictures, not of me though, and here is the link to watch the ceremony. God continues to work in our lives, directing, moving and shaping our future. We pray for His Will to be done in all things.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Today is Monday. Do not Panic.

During my first year as Senior Sponsor, I stayed at school so long on the Monday of the week of Graduation that when I left, I thought I was going home on Tuesday. I freaked out about it, so on Tuesday, I wrote in marker at the top of my list "TODAY IS TUESDAY. DO NOT PANIC." You know, that really helped. And the moral of that story is that I got through that Graduation, and I got through another one when I was about 4 and a half months pregnant. I will get through this one. My only issue right now is that I feel so calm that I am paranoid that I must be forgetting something.

In other graduation news, and then I promise to move onto something else, I went to the district website tonight and found out that my Graduation ceremony will be streamed live online. Really? I don't even know how to respond to that piece of news coherently, except that it makes me definitely more nauseous than I was about this before. It just feels like extra pressure, which I know it isn't because probably only my parents will watch my graduation online (if that...I mean, let's be honest. Graduations are just boring when you're not involved.). Anyway, I just feel the weight of technology in this situation. I realize that I don't actually speak at the ceremony. All I do is the pre-game behind-the-scenes setup to make my administrators and the kids look perfect. Still...

The first picture in this post is from a picnic Charlotte and I went to on Saturday night with our Sunday School class. She ate fried chicken and broccoli like it was going out of style. She then proceeded to play in a little playground in mulch and emerged FILTHY. Shannon Maxey told me that she could always tell how good of a time her son, Seth, has had by how dirty he is.






Look at those feet....


And then, the morning after, after a TON of sleep....


Last, but not least, Happy Birthday to Adam's brother Nick.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Zoo Trip

Charlotte and Adam went to the zoo with the Hurleys today. Because he is a wonderful husband, Adam took pictures and a video for me to post on here. Above, Charlotte is waiting for the Hurleys to arrive.

Here are the monkeys which Charlotte particularly enjoyed. Then, they took a little bit to play around in the playground, including the slide. This clip was filmed by our dear friend Sarah, who you can hear in the background. Charlotte wasn't sure about the slide at first, but in hindsight, she liked it and wanted to do it three more times.





And of course, at the end of every good outing, every red panda and toddler crashes into exhausted sleep. Ah...summer.






























One week of school down, and one to go. The air conditioning at my school is being remodeled, and the lack of air conditioning has made this last two weeks especially taxing. We graduate next Saturday, and I can hardly wait to check this year off, as my father would say. No other news; don't worry, I'll let you know when there is some.

Allison and I are contemplating which book to study next since we are all but finished with Radical Womenhood by Carolyn McCulley. That book was a very eye-opening mix of history and theology, scripture and feminist thought. After Wednesday's sermon about Abram and Sarai in Egypt (the first time when Abram lied about Sarai being his sister, etc.), my curiosity about God's character was peaked again. I came home and rummaged through the boxes of our packed books in the basement until I found what my soul thirsted for: The Pleasures of God by John Piper. I read this book two summers ago, but now I intend to savor it as I read. The whole premise is that by understanding what gives God pleasure, we more intimately and completely understand the character of God. What I have been considering since Wednesday night is that we serve a HAPPY God. He is not sullen or moody; He is not angry or silly; He delights in being Himself. God doesn't hate or resent His job, duty and position - He delights in it. He delights in revealing Himself to us, because He could've been the God of Deism who put the universe together and let it go on its own. He is not this type of God; He cares for His creation, giving us all the common grace of sunrises, breaths, food, relationships and creation. He speaks to us through His perfect, unerring Word, even though He is under no obligation to explain His ways to us, vessels which He created. Again, the emphasis in all of this is that He is happy. He is a joyful God. That is wonderful, glorious truth, and I am honored and thrilled to serve a happy God.

Lastly, today is Adam's sister, Liz's birthday. Happy birthday, Liz! Enjoy your pizza!! :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Busy hands are happy hands...

So goes the adage that my Grandmother passed onto my father who reminds me of it at hectic times such as this. The truth is that I like being busy...I get more done, I am much more efficient and less lazy. Now, don't get me wrong, I like having the summer to recharge also. But, since I had a five day hiatus from school, I came back to school today fired up and ready to go. I expected a million fires to put out, and there were none. Ahhh.... Two weeks from graduation, that is a very blessed thing.

Florida was lovely and went very well. We are especially thankful to the blessing that Adam's brother Nick and his wife Kristen are to let us crash at their place with very short notice. Thank you for your prayers; I should have more news in the next couple weeks.

Charlotte has progressed from tenative, necessary walking to walking for the fun of it, because there is nothing else to do. It is a true joy, as is she. She knows what a dog is, even though she pronounces it the same as duck which is pronounced "gock." She mimics us, which I am sure will get annoying but is still in its charming stage. Basically, I am very much in a season of Psalm 127: 3-5:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.

Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with enemies in the gate.

Eight school days until I can bask in mother/wifehood for a summer. Until then, please enjoy this video of Charlotte inspired by the Lady Gaga episode of Glee. I know, I know, Lady Gaga is not the most anything of role models for my toddler, but it's the Glee version, so I think that it's permissible. :)