Children and "elders"

19 year old "elders" always give me a chuckle. It was an interesting conversation last night in the driveway. Oh the many proud things that keep us from a humble and total trust in Christ.

19 and 21 year old Elder White Shirt and Tie came walking up to my open garage with smiles on, asking how we were doing.  We were doing a workout with our buds in our ears and sweat pouring down our faces, but we pulled the buds out and greeted the "elders".

They made small talk with us, or we made small talk with them for awhile.  I asked where they were from, how long they were here for, if they went to the Mormon church down the road, etc.  James asked what they were doing.  They told us that they hoped to be invited into someone's home to give them an opportunity to study the Book of Mormon with them.

James asked about their "prophet"- where he came from, who decided he was a prophet, etc.  I asked them what they believed about Christ.  They answered a very good rehearsed answer.

I told them I didn't believe the Book of Mormon was the inspired word of God.  I prayed as they talked for what my Lord would have me say.  Those timely, comparable-to-precious-metal words (Proverbs 25:11). I went with what came to mind rather than a theological debate.

I asked them how they thought an unbelieving person, say a person raised in immorality or where the name of Christ or God was used as a curse, would perceive their message when they approach people in white shirts and ties with "elder" tags.  They said they didn't want to misrepresent Christ.

Christ, the Christ who was accused of being a glutton and hanging around with sinners I asked?  They said, "Oh yes, there is definitely a place for service if that's what you're talking about."

I confessed that I only knew that without Christ dying in my place I was hopeless before God and that my inability to love my neighbor who throws trash in my driveway, or my own spouse, or children, or the people that cut me off while I'm driving, prove to me everyday that I am in need of a Savior.  I told them I believed that the gospel of Christ was best spread by one's everyday living and talking with people.  After all, I said, Christ said others would know we were His followers by our love for one another.

They had no rehearsed fodder for that discussion.  My dear husband did have a reply though.  He told them he agreed with his wife.  If someone was going to believe in Christ it would be through the believer showing by the way they lived around unbelievers that Christ was real.  I had nothing to say, but my heart was speaking in palpitations for that glimpse into a secret place.

The conversation ended with me wishing them a nice evening and them giving us their card.  The conversation between my husband and I continues...  Oh for the grace to open my mouth with wisdom and for the law of kindness to rule my lips!

If anyone wants to know I have stumbled upon a consequence for leaving lights on that seems to be working in my house... so far.   It's a continual problem.  I walk into an empty boy's bedroom and or bathroom from a hall all with lights on.  I informed my boys the other day that they would pay the price of sitting in their room in the dark for 15 minutes for every offense of bedroom, bathroom or hall light left on with no person using those rooms.  So far, the consequence has been put into effect twice.  I think it's having an impact.

Consequences are important.  Consequences are.  Period.  You reap what you sow.  There's a result to the choices you make.  Apparently in Delaware spankings can no longer be used as a consequence in parenting without the parent facing the consequence of jail time.  Connor said he wants to move to Deleware, which I thought was funny since he doesn't really get spankings anymore- unless you call the attention-getting swat to the behind a spanking.

Spanking is a hot topic.  It seems to me the people who don't believe in spankings don't know what a healthy spanking is.  And unfortunately the people who physically abuse their children will get all up in arms about the people who are against spankings because they think when they beat their children they are spanking them.   And even worse, some will use the Bible as a reason for the physical abuse they deem a spanking.

I believe there's a reason, place and time for a proper paddle to the behind of a child.  I also believe there are many other, just as effective and sometimes even more effective, forms of discipline when raising a child.  Spanking is not the only way to discipline a child. Whatever consequence (imposed or natural) a parent chooses to use when raising a child, if it is accompanied by cruelty from the parent, it becomes abusive and ineffective in training a child.  A parent can be just as abusive in words or the use of time-outs (isolation) as they can in spanking a child.  If you sow abuse into a child, you will reap the consequences!  If you sow loving discipline, you will reap the rewards!

He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow, And the rod of his anger will fail. -Proverbs 22:8
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.- Mark 9: 42
 Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.- Proverbs 13:24



Characterized by talk or walk?

I made pico de gallo tonight to go with our chicken fajitas on corn tortillas with avocado. Yum. I had no idea pico de gallo is literally translated: rooster's beak.  Turns out that pico de gallo was eaten using the thumb and the forefinger therefore resembling a rooster's beak.  You can learn all kinds of things on wikipedia!

This weekend and upcoming week I'll be single-momming it.  Parenting was definitely never meant to be a one person job.  Tomorrow is baseball all day.  I'm looking forward to Sunday!  Monday and Tuesday are hurry-up-and-finish-all-your-required-screenings days at my school.  Wednesday is a short day.  Thursday a very long day.  And Friday an out-the-door-for-fall-break-at-1:45 day!  Then two glorious weeks of school nursing cessation!  Two weeks of taking every opportunity to be with my kids and husband, not just going from one task to another.  Two weeks of more time outside in cooler mornings and evenings.  Fall is a favorite season for me.  You feel fall here, you don't see it.

These scriptures have been in my mind these past few days:

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.- Proverbs 31:26

This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.- Ephesians 5:32

Proverbs 31 is the famous ideal-woman/wife passage.  When you read thru the verses that describe this woman of virtue, there's more describing what she does than what she says.  From what I can tell, in God's economy, a woman of excellence is mostly identified by her actions, not her words.  Although her words are important.  In fact, when she opens her mouth it's noted.  Wisdom comes out and a teaching of kindness.

Ephesians 5:22-33 talk about the relationship between a husband and wife.  At the end of this section Paul says, "This whole thing about the roles and relationship between a husband and wife is about Christ and the church."  He didn't say it was about male vs. female.  It's a mystery, a picture of something greater.

So I was thinking.  If a wife is a picture of the relationship of the church to Christ, and Proverbs 31 talks about this ideal wife/woman and her many actions and few wise words that reveal her virtue and her reverence for the Lord, maybe the church should be more about action and very selective about words.

Talk is cheap.  We say we go to church.  We call ourselves Christians.  We put fish symbols on our cars and write Christianese on our Facebooks.  Nothing wrong with any of that.  But is that the large portion of what we're known for?  Or is it our actions?  It should be.  We should be known as a church, a people group, who fear the Lord by actions like the woman in Proverbs 31: carrying for those in our families, reaching out to those in need, working to provide for our needs, and speaking wisdom and teaching kindness.

Christ said people would know we were His by our love for one another.  Not by our cheap talk.  By our actions.

I've been thinking about this because of Rahab.  Not exactly the model of godliness, but she is a noted model of actions that speak much more than mere words.

And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.- James 2:25-26


Trying to get into the habit

I got sick a few weeks ago. So much so that I couldn't bear the thought of drinking hot coffee in the morning. A week later, my coffee habit was broken. Since then I've had a cup or two, but now I'm mostly drinking hot tea.

When my life was torn in two for the second time a few years ago, I couldn't blog. I couldn't keep writing. All that I had been writing was about being a wife and marriage and homemaking and it was very...bold. But at the time that I stopped blogging, my boldness was painful and nauseating. Like drinking strong coffee when you're sick.

 I got out of the habit of blogging in the same way I let go of the coffee routine. It was good, even though it was hard, for both coffee and blogging. Now I drink hot tea. It doesn't leave me with all the yucky side-effects, no cream is involved, and more antioxidants are involved.

 Now I blog less and more transparently. I'm not hung-up on talking points and the grace of God in Christ is my over-arching desired theme.

It's late. I can't write much but I want to begin getting back into the habit of sharing. I have been chastened. I have been afflicted. But I don't want to pout. Not writing is pouting for me. I want to humbly be a pointer His direction. I have no great talking points. By the grace of God, I am what I am. I get to use what He's given me for shining and magnifying HIM!

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."- 1Cor.1:26-31

The food blog was a short-lived attempt.  The re-telling of the Bible to my boys blog is still a very strong desire and I don't plan on giving up on that one.  Currently working on a study on the 5 women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ in the Bible.  Totally fascinating!!!  I think the above verse may very well speak to the reason those women are mentioned.

Our first study was on Tamar.  The grace and mercy that saved me humbled Judah and redeemed Tamar.  The next study is on Rahab.  The prostitute in the wall.  These studies will be my focus for the next few months.  These women and I share a calling that none of us can boast in and a Lord we all point to.


Good things and hard things.

Yesterday kindergarten, today preschool screenings. It was nice though... almost too nice.

When you're used to functioning on a high-energy expenditure level with lots of interruptions and constant prioritizing of decisions, sitting in an empty board room in silence while your scheduled every-15-minute preschooler and their parent come in to let you screen the child's vision and hearing is actually hard.  You don't know what to do with yourself and all that paced, focused time. It was nice though.

The head of my department told me he's learning all about appreciation of focused time from his new son. Just being in the room with him is valuable. Multitasking is over-rated!

It's hard to just be with a person and not have your attention divided by other things, like computers or email or T.V. or phones, etc. It's good but it's hard. It's revealing. I like it.

A four year old was bribed with $2 to buy clothes for her babydoll by her mom today so she would let an un-named school nurse screen her hearing. WOW! I wonder what she'll pay for getting homework done?

I understand, let's just get this over with.  Will a buck get it over with?  How about two?  

Teaching children to do hard things without any obvious or immediate reward is hard, but it's something we need to do. Building virtue is worth far more than a few less hours of hearing a crying child. I try to encourage the kids I come in contact with in a day to do hard things without any prize or reward. I find myself saying this a lot, "We all have to do things we don't like sometimes. Doing things that are hard, that you don't like, is necessary."

My boys often hear me say, "I didn't ask you if you liked it or if you wanted to.  Just do it."   And, "No I'm not going to pay you or give you a special treat for doing that.  That's part of being a family.  You do things you don't like.  It's part of living together.  One person can't do everything."  They don't like it but one day I pray they'll do things they don't like for the greater good of those around them, not just so they can get what they want.

I've heard the arguments for giving rewards.  I agree with some of them.  I've used rewards.  I still do at times.  Incentives are necessary sometimes.  But learning to do what you don't like to do without any immediate reward is even more necessary.  Most of life is filled with things we don't like to do that give no immediate reward but are necessary for healthy relationships and communities.

I don't like laundry.  Even when it's finished I get no bonus check or special treat.  But I do get to wear clean clothes and so do my kids and husband, and we all like the smell of each other a lot more with clean clothes on.

I don't like doing dishes.  When they dishes are done I get no satisfaction, no happy face sticker, no Starbucks gift card.  But my family and I do get to eat off of clean plates and drink water without floaties in it. 

I like Starbucks gift cards by the way... even happy face stickers, but I think I enjoy them even more when they are given just because.  Not because I earned it, but because someone wanted to give it.

I try to do that with my boys.  They do a lot of work around this house that they don't like and that they don't get any immediate reward for doing.  At times I'll pick up some Chips Ahoy or an Izzy drink just because, and give it to them.  I want them to learn to do hard things without a reward or prize for the greater good.  And I want them to enjoy special things in life.  Things that are gifts that we all are so graciously given.  Not because they were earned.  Sweet things, and smiles, and pats on the back, and beauty.  It's nice to be the recipient of something you weren't thinking you were entitled to.

There's a place for earning a wage, a place for incentives and a place for hard-work with no immediate reward. 

 Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. - Proverbs 12:11



Gonna keep this short. I was going to say, "...and sweet," but it may just be short.

I'm spent.  A good deal of energy goes into squatting from a 6 foot position to a kindergarten height to say:

Ok now, remember what I showed you in class yesterday?  That's what we're going to do now.  I'm going to point to the shapes and you tell me what they are.  

Ok, let's start here.  What's this shape?  Yes, good.  And this one?  A box, yes, you can say box, or square.  Ok, now what's this one called?  Yes, that's right.  Now what about this?  What does this look like to you?  Ok, a tooth is good.  Some say it looks like a heart, some an apple, but you can call it a tooth if you want to.  Ok good job. Now let's look at the little ones.  Ok what shapes are these?  Good.  Ok now cover one eye with your hand like this.  Now don't poke your eye, just cover it.  Ok, what's this shape?  And this one? And this one?  Good.  Now take your hand off your eye and cover your other eye.  No, now you can't see with both eyes covered.  Take one hand off and cover the other eye like this.  Good, now what's this shape?  And this one?  And this one?  Good job!  You did great!  

Now come over here and sit down and you get to look in these magic glasses and see this cool E.  Do you see that E right there?  Now in one of these squares is an E that looks just like that but you can only see it with these special glasses on, so put these on and tell me which square you see the E in?  Good!  Yeah isn't that neat!?  

All right, now we get to play the hearing game?  Remember what I showed you in class?  Ok, well, I'm going to put these earphones on your ears, and you're going to hear a quiet beeeeeep.  When you hear that beep you have to raise your hand so Nurse Sheila knows you hear it.  Show me what you're going to do when you hear the beep.  Ok good.  Hear we go.  Ok, are you ready?  All right listen and raise your hand!  (Pause.  Push button.  No response from student.)  Did you hear that?  (Child says, "Yes I heard it.")  Ok, when you hear it you have to raise your hand!  Ok, let's try again.  (Pause. Push button.)  Yes!  Good job.  Ok, keep listening and raising your hand when you hear it.  (Repeat for 8 more tones).  Great JOB!  

Ok, let's see how tall you are and how much you weigh.   Stand on the scale over there....

Repeat for about 30 kindergarteners.  At that point it was only 10:30 in the morning and I was sick of the sound of my own voice. 

By the time I was on my way home at 4pm I was ready for a good nap.  That didn't happen.  Picked up the kids from school.  Got the usual, "It was good," responses to, "How was your day?"  Came home to check emails, go over long-division struggles, change into baseball practice clothes and off we went to practice. 

Ryland was proud to get nailed in the lip with the bouncing grounder he caught with his mouth and glove because the coach praised him so much for being tough and catching the ball.  

Connor was showing everyone his eyes to see if they could see his new contacts.  Yep, my 9 year old has contacts.  I don't need vision correction so I really can't speak to the issue, but I think the visual reflex of shutting one's eyelid tightly to prevent foriegn objects from entering the eye is a good enough talking point for why one shouldn't get contacts.  But my husband, who does need vision correction, and wears contacts, thinks it good for a boy who is as on-the-move as Connor to have contacts and not glasses.  So he's got 'em. 

I love these words:

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.  For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.  I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.  - Psalm 32:1-5


We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.- C.S. Lewis

I hate playing catch up here.

As I've said, I process life better in the second-living of it- i.e. writing. Or talking it out with God, which is what I do for the life I can't second-live in public writings.

I took up early-morning walking with my black lab Bailey a week or so ago, when it started getting cool in the mornings. I take her down to the local park on-leash and then release her to chase rabbits to her hearts content in the empty park. While she lives the Labrador Retriever dream of chasing a fast-moving small animal, I walk and talk to my unseen Lord.

I watch His sun rise on the just and the unjust, and breathe in deep the air He keeps filling my lungs with, and pour out my complaints to Him. I usually stop my self after a few thoughts and take notice of blazing fireball bursting over the eastern horizon and realize I have more reason to give thanks than to complain. I begin thanking Him for His promises and the everyday blessings and ask for the wisdom to live in relation to situations my heart is heavy with. The park becomes better than coffee. Walking and praying is very invigorating. People come to mind and there's no radio or email or list to make to distract me. I picture myself bringing these people, some by the hand, some in my arms, to my Father in heaven. I am so privileged to get to be apart of what He's doing in their lives.

When I was a teenager I wanted to be a female Indiana Jones. I wanted to be an archeologist. I wanted to go dig up ancient treasures out of the dirt. In a way, I feel a little like a female Indiana Jones of the Bible.

For the last month I've been digging thru ancient writings of the Bible, searching for treasured and timeless truth, preparing to deliver a Bible study. I feel like I hit a vein of gold, or uncovered the corner of an enormous buried treasure!

The nature of the God of the Bible is the same from beginning to end. He loves humility and hates haughtiness. He is sovereign and dangerously all-powerful and good! He cares for barren and widowed women and fatherless children and those who are oppressed. He is faithful to His promises even when those He has entered into a promise with act wickedly. He deals with wickedness and has mercy and compassion on whom He wills. He wills to show that mercy and compassion on ANY who will humble themselves before Him. He is faithful. He alone has the right to condemn and He alone is the one who can save. He is passionate. He sees me. He cares for me. He is patient with me... with everyone. He is the same God to Tamar and to the woman caught in adultery at the feet of the Savior in the New Testament and to me. He is my hope all day long!
The laws of the LORD are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.- Psalm 19:9-10
I made a really yummy gluten-free margherita pizza tonight. I used Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread Dough Mix and sprinkled the bottom of the pan with flax-seed meal for some extra goodness and texture. I topped it with Barilla's tomato and basil sauce, fresh basil leaves picked from my school's sensory garden, and whole-milk mozzerrella. Buon appetito!

Tomorrow I'll be talking with the kinder and first grade class at Pathway about how God fed the people of Israel with "What is it?" (manna) in the desert. I pray these kids will know the Greater-Than-Moses who has delivered them from the slavery of sin. I pray they will taste the goodness of God and feed on His Word in their sojourning... even when they don't understand and ask, "What is it? What is this all about?" newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.- 1 Peter 2:2-3

Don't grow weary in doing good

I was thinking about this this Labor Day.  Maybe some are growing weary in doing good.  Maybe it's been years of doing hard labor, or daily labor or monotonous labor.  Maybe this Monday is like every other Monday for the past 19 years and all your labor and prayers seem to have changed nothing.

 I was getting down. I was thinking, "Nothing is ever going to change." And I heard that still, small voice saying:  

Do not grow weary of doing good.

It took a few hours. I stewed in faithlessness for awhile. And then it hit me. Like a faithful friend standing by. The truth had been spoken to me. And like fertile soil I let that seed of truth sink in before the lies came and scooped it away. It'll grow. It'll produce good fruit. Just like the good of everyday good things done in obedience to God's spirit willing and moving in me.

Prayers whispered, cried and moaned day after day, month after month, year after year.
Forgoing of vengeance.
The passing on of mercy.
The bending knees giving grace to smaller and weaker.
The standing by quietly even when disagreement is voiced.
The reason for my hope answered in trembling humility.
The preparing of meals.
Working for a wage.
Opening a door.
Giving some time to a needy one.
Giving some treasure to needy one.
Using not minimizing gifts.
A gentle look on the world-weary.
Training children- potty and manners and the way they should go.
Talking of God and His Story to our kids in everyday life.
Sleepless nights to grow another.

What are all those laborous things you can think of that seem to be day in day out and maybe don't seem to be changing anything?  Don't grow weary in doing them Christian.  Christ is in you, moving in you, glad to do all those things for years to come, without ever running out of energy.  He knows the promise and we can believe Him:

...for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. - Galatians 6:9

Our labor is not in vain.  Love never fails. 


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