Monday, December 31, 2007

Looking for a road map?

Looking to the New Year always makes me pause and reflect.

We have a beautiful park in our town and this past year they did a major overhaul on the parking areas & roads, put in a memorial garden... I can't get used to it. I drove through the winding roads one night this fall, and came again to the sign that says the exit is the opposite direction from where we used to go, even though the exit is exactly where it was before. I always think, how can this sign be correct? How can I turn right here, and finally end up left? How can this road possibly take me out of the park?

I drove that long, dark, counter-intuitive, winding road and thought, this is our life. Long, dark, going the wrong way and yet God says it will be the right way...and I don't understand it. I want the whole map--but God gives me the headlights on my path in Jesus, who is the Way. And He says that is enough.

Hosea 6:3 "So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth."(NAS)

There are few certainties in life. This coming year let us press on to know the Lord!

In Christ, Merry :-)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The hope of a child...

Hello! Benjamin T. Dustbunny here again. The family is knee-deep in tissue paper and boxes, so I thought I'd post a little picture until Mom can get back on here!

This is Anna's closet. She emptied two shelves of her belongings into the hallway for next year's yard sale in anticipation of Christmas Day!

Ah to receive like a child--with open arms and always room for more!

May we look to God with the same eager anticipation--with open arms to receive His love, open minds to hear His Word, open hearts to receive His neverending mercy and grace. Hope you all had a Merry Christmas! bdb

Friday, December 21, 2007

Just For Fun...

When you need a break from those million & one holiday things you need to do, here's a few short & funny videos to brighten your day:

Twelve Days of Christmas--you've NEVER heard it done this way. Don't let the normal-sounding first verse or two fool you, keep listening!

Holiday Jingle--singing Reindeer & Santa do the "Drifters" from 1954

Homeschoolers gone Adam's Family--nuff said!

And one just because she's so amazing:

Joni Eareckson Tada on Larry King Live--what an encouraging woman! You can see the whole show or just watch a few clips. I only wish the clip of her doing her painting was longer. She's amazing...and so patient. She can spend up to 9 months working on a single painting. I really respect this woman!

Ok, you may now return to your regularly scheduled shopping, baking & Christmas-card making!

Merry :-)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ice Storms!

I had to share a few pictures. This is our street. It's hard to do it justice in pictures, but the sun shining in the trees sparkled in a rainbow of colors. Thankfully we didn't have any significant damage, and not too many people here have lost power. I'll have to get a picture of our neighbor's evergreen tree that's looking more like a pole these days.

Amazingly, with the temperate weather in November, some things started to bud again. Our black-eyed susans had sprouted whole new plants!

Here you can see new leaves on our neighbor's lilac bush.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What Does God Promise Us?

Ah, now there's the million dollar question! Sometimes I just want things the easy way--when I read 2 Peter 1:4, for example, I wish God had just listed out all those great and precious promises!

2 Pet 1:3-4 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Instead of listing them, God beckons us to come, seek Him, search through his Word to see what we can find. There are a few here we can start with--everything we need for life and godliness through His divine power. That's good to know!

I think participating in the divine nature sounds pretty awesome, don't you? We're in good company; Paul thought it did too. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death... Phil 3:10

Ok, well, it sounded good at first. Though this is reality--today for people in the tragic YWAM and church shootings--and sadly in many countries around the world where people are persecuted for their faith. Paul takes it a bit further than maybe we'd care to though. Suffering really isn't part of the American way after all--at first glance it seems to get in the way of the pursuit of happiness. Or does it?

What kind of a person would sing praises to God from a prison cell after being "severely flogged" as Paul and Silas did? (Acts 16:25) Maybe one who realized that by sharing in Christ's sufferings, we will experience His power--we will participate in the divine nature.

We're familiar with power, and we often long for God to use His power to make our lives easier--but I don't see that promised in scripture either.

Or is it?

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body... far I'm seeing hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down--nice promises! Chronic illness. Crushing circumstances. Persecution. This isn't going where I wanted it to! Where's this "easier" part?

It's coming.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Personally I find this a difficult, even painful, message. There are days when I would feel like punching my computer screen if these words dared appear before me--Dave's illness, disabled for 7 years, our lives turned upside down--this is light and momentary? Insanity! But honestly, those days my eyes are fixed on what is seen--on the pain of seeing Dave when he struggles to walk or speak or can't play with our kids, on the injustice, on the length of time we've called out to God, waiting for an answer (not always patiently).

Glory. Do we have any idea, any at all what that means? Participating in the divine nature--truly? God's power working on our behalf? We want to be strong instead of weak, but Paul says when we are weak, it's obvious that the power is from God.

When my eyes are fixed on the here and now, the weight of despair at what we're going through is magnified. When my eyes are fixed on Him, when I try to contemplate (even if only a tiny bit) His glory, His great purposes--when I am willing to surrender all my life, even my desire to see Dave healed--when I'm willing to accept what God has allowed in my life and ask Him to be glorified through our lives--then I can feel Him carrying my burden, walking with me, comforting me.

Not always--there are times I still feel lost, still feel the pain. Then I pour out my heart and cry until there are no tears left. At the end I try to lie still in my bed and imagine myself curled up in the palm of God's hand. And then I remember this great promise: For God has said, 'Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.' Hebrews 13:5

In Christ, Merry :-)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Get it in Writing!

The kids and I have started interactive journalling. I tried a few years ago, but they really didn't have the writing skills or the interest yet to keep it up. This fall when my mom offered to buy a couple of books for us, I remembered this idea, and decided to pick up a journal for each of the kids. We're having so much fun!

A lot of the notes are "I love you, Mom!" but we also draw pictures to each other or say something funny, and I'm able to share things they do that bless me or make me proud of them. They love to read what I've written to them and respond back. Kids need lots of encouragement, and this is a great way to give them some.

Another benefit is that they are much more willing to write. Today when I was working on our Language Arts (changing passive verb sentences into ones with active verbs), I noticed Zac wasn't responding to my question--and he told me he was going to write it first and then tell me! This is my child who has been allergic to writing!

Now, I am a little sneaky, I admit, because we're secretly working on spelling too. I don't correct their spelling, but I notice words they misspell, and I try to use the words in my response, with the correct spelling of course. I've seen them start to spell several common words correctly through this. Gotta love those side benefits!

A great resource for encouraging all kinds of journalling is The Gift of Family Writing. Another favorite resource for encouraging writing in general, whether you homeschool or want to help your kids afterschool, is The Writer's Jungle.

Dave likes to write notes for the kids & hide them in their pants pockets for them to find, and they love this too. What things do you do to encourage your kids through writing?

Merry :-)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Immeasurable Worth

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.

I think every time I sing these lines in "Oh Holy Night," I choke up. I can barely get them out. Has your soul felt it's worth lately?

Sometimes I forget the intimacy that God intends. Jesus says He is not ashamed to call us brothers (Hebrews 2:11). God as Father we are used to, for a father still has authority over us--Jesus as brother? It's as hard to swallow as God becoming man.

God dwelling in a temple is not *too* difficult for us to accept. And have you ever walked into a church sanctuary, alone, and felt the quiet, the reverence, the "hallowedness" that some church sanctuaries exude? But God dwelling in us--do we have that same sense of awe and reverence as we consider God's choice of residence--in us?

If we are tempted sometimes to find our self-worth in what we can do, remember the One who ascribes us value because we are His, and regardless of what we can do.

Take a moment, like Mary, and treasure these things in your heart. Contemplate the value God has placed on you--immeasurable, unthinkable, extraordinary worth.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.--I Jn 4:15

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.--Gal 2:20

Merry :-)

Monday, December 3, 2007

My children decorated the tree...

One of them literally! (See the one-of-a-kind Anna-ornament, just above the Christmas bears). And there's a glimpse of Zac to the side, who finds the tree so bright he has to wear shades :).

Please also note the joint-effort creation of the now infamous star, which they decided should NOT be shiny, but white. They split up the work quite equitably--Zac finessed his way into "designing" the star by telling Anna she should do the decorating, since she's "so good at that." He'll make a fine delegator one day!

As for the rejected angel...when she was unpacked, Anna said maybe they should put her up next year--kids! Ah well, it's a tree with character...especially since I think the 2nd row and 3rd row of branches from the top got reversed, giving the tree that "trimmer" (pun intended!) waist many of us have on our Christmas wishlists!

This year the baby Jesus in swaddling clothing will also grace our tree--he rests inside the jeweled halo now surrounding Anna, when he's not being called "Katie" and riding on Anna's hip.

All was done while playing vintage 1960's Christmas carols on an actual record-player. (They sounded better once I changed the button from 45 to 33!).

Happy Holiday Preparations to you! Merry :-)