Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's a Celebration!

Today I finished baking my favorite Christmas treat - pecan mini-tarts! With so many treats surrounding us this time of year, why in the world do I keep baking? (Especially when I'm fighting a losing battle with my waistline!) Well, here's the long and short of it.

When Rick and I were first married, we decided that we wanted to be intentional about family traditions. We didn't want to accumulate baggage or obligations - we wanted to choose things which were meaningful and would provide teaching and nurturing for our future children. Over the years, we've settled into those traditions which mark us as a family. Not too surprisingly, our Christmas traditions especially seem to highlight food. But this isn't just because we like to eat!

When Christ was speaking to the people, He said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) Life, joy, abundance, gifts, overflow, beauty, and music are purposely highlighted during this season in order to remind ourselves and our family that Christ's incarnation [leading to his perfect life and sacrifice ]brought us into God's abundant grace and salvation.

One of my gifts to my family each season is an abundance of favorite foods. (Did you realize how central food and meals are to God's family? That's a topic for another blog!) Each year I have to take the time to shop, schedule, and make items that require more effort than I normally put into cooking. It's a gift of love; each personal favorite is included on the dessert table. And, when the children were young, they were part of the preparation process as they planned and packaged gifts for others.

As you move into these final days before Christmas, my prayer is that you and your family will experience the abundant love and goodness of God revealed in Christ. Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I've always wanted to be one of those women who aged gracefully, who stayed mentally sharp and energetic in her autumn years. I don't want to chant a daily litany of aches and pains. To that end, I've tried to make choices along the way that would foster that kind of lifestyle. Curve balls do come our way sometimes, though. These are reminders that I am not ultimately in control of life.

As always, God's Word pushes me to reconsider my perspective on things. In 2 Corinthians 4:16 I read, "Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day."

This year I've been introduced to my thyroid and four little glands around the thyroid. Mine aren't working as they should, resulting in a severe Vitamin D deficiency, energy depletion, insomnia, joint aches, and early hints of osteoporosis. My capabilities seem to be diminishing as the demands in life are increasing! As my bones and joints begin to weaken and I'm not able to pursue the physical activity at the level I'd like, I need to redirect my attentions to the strengthening that comes through these things that stretch my faith. I'm in far more need of "weight bearing" exercises to strengthen my soul which is eternal! And God, in His mercy, continues to give me opportunities in the lab of faith.

So, thyroid issues and threats of osteoporosis may slow down the "outward man", but my prayer is that the loveliness of the Spirit may become more a part of my day-to-day life.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Not what you might expect

I can only add my heartfelt "Amen" to this post over at John Piper's blog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Only Human

"I'm only human" we'll say when we want to explain why we can't do something. And it's not a lame excuse - it's true! Oddly enough, though, most women I know may say this but not really accept it. We often carry a lot of guilty feelings about the things we can't do, like make everyone happy, stop our children from suffering disease and hurt, pray for all the needs we know about on a consistent basis, and so many other things. We even kick against our finitude when we are physically incapable of doing the ordinary tasks of life. How can we know contentment and glorify God in our "not doing"?

One of my favorite sonnets is by John Milton, the author of the incredible Paradise Lost. When he discovered that he was going blind, he was heartsick. He had a profound faith and had been sure that God had given him his talent for writing so that he could serve God with it. How could he do anything significant if he was blind? How could that gift be of any use at all if he couldn't see what his hand tried to produce? Before he was completely blind, he penned this great sonnet.

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my maker, and present
My true account, lest he, returning, chide.
'Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?'
I fondly ask; but Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: 'God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best; his state
Is kingly - thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.

That last line always stops me in my tracks. While being busy may feel more productive to me, it isn't always my calling. There are seasons where I "stand and wait". This, too, is good.

For moms with so many responsibilities, learning to "wait" and "rest" is an extremely hard assignment. You can read an excellent meditation on that here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Refreshment - Elizabethan style

Rick and I are actually on vacation! What a sweet time of renewal for both of us. He found a wonderful B&B - Anne Hatheway's Cottage - in Staunton. We enjoyed a lively and intense performance of Hamlet last night at Blackfriar's Theatre (constructed inside like the Globe). The crowd was boisterous and the players were beyond energetic, performing songs before and during the interval as well as putting on a fast-paced performance of the play. I was intrigued by their choice of lighting - they keep the lights up during the whole play so it's like daylight. The dynamic this created between the audience and the players was fascinating. I was expecting to be distracted by the fact that I could see both the actors and the audience, but the experience was much the opposite. I loved having the panorama of characters in my field of vision (unlike the movie editions) and the audience involvement was high. Maybe this accounted for some of the actor's energy!
This morning we enjoyed cool mountain breezes in the breakfast/great room. Now we're taking the time for some quiet reading/writing after our morning walk through the cemetery. ☺ I'm in the rocker by one of the windows under the eaves with a cup of green tea. Quiet - how refreshing!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grace for Each Season

As we settle into the slower rhythm of summer, the challenges of helping an aging parent loom large. I'm so grateful for the time (finally) to look for wisdom and help from others rather than do crisis management with "a lick and a promise"! Finding an article on this at Radical Womanhood has been a great help!
Alzheimer's and Gospel Transformation

Friday, May 20, 2011

Amoretti: Presenting . . .

Amoretti: Presenting . . .

Calling all sewers:
Just in time for summer.....a great give-away at Amoretti! Click on the the "Amoretti:Presenting" just under the main title.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Closing Out the School Year

This is the last full week of classes - Yippee! I think I'm at least as excited as my students. I'll have one more week of exam grading following all the testing next week, but there's closure with that. Something finished. A new beginning awaiting me in September. (I think that's one of my favorite things about teaching - a fresh start every year!)

Summer holds a promise of rest, not because there won't be anything to do, but because there will be different things to do, and most of those different things revolve around my home and family. I also have a stack of reading beckoning me - Travels With Charlie by Steinbeck, Saving Leonardo by Nancy Pearcy, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and a long-awaited revisit to Pilgrim's Progress. The intellectual challenge this summer is reading through Calvin's Institutes with my dear (and brilliant) husband. We'll be taking a few days to attend General Assembly in Virginia Beach (and treat the girls to a beach day - something they've never experienced!) Uh oh, that reminds me---need to order bathing suits today!

I have some new recipes to try, some sewing to do, and, hopefully, more regular writing. And, at the top of the list of things I'm looking forward to - time with friends! Ah, summer, how good you look.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Wrappings of Love

It's been a looong time since Valentine's Day! The days have been so full of changes and challenges that I've hardly had a moment to think, and thinking is the essence of writing. Hence, no blog posts!

Today is Good Friday, though, and I have had some moments to reflect this morning. Uppermost on my mind is one of the odd things about love. Our depiction of love is usually "sweet" - relaxing and beautiful environments, that special someone with adoring eyes looking at us, and the joy of giving (love is about giving, after all!) in ways that bring us a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure. Sometimes love is experienced this way.

The aspect of love I'm pondering today though is the not-so-pleasant presentation of love -- intense suffering and paralyzing grief. So many people that I love are in the throes of suffering right now, and my heart breaks. My heart grieves. My mind reels and cries out for an end to it. I've had my own physical challenges as well, and it's hard to remember sometimes that I'm in the hands of a loving God.

Good Friday puts it in perspective, though. How bleak that day was for those who loved Jesus. How unbelievably difficult it was for Him as He anticipated it all in the Garden of Gethsemene. Yet, "for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame." (Hebrews 12:2b) That joy was the salvation of His people! That joy was life from death!

Love was wrapped up in bloody, sorrowful suffering and death. It was a gruesome sight, an utterly hopeless moment for those who loved Jesus that day. They couldn't see yet that the awful day was a prelude to the most glorious day in history - the resurrection!

I'm looking forward to the celebration of Christ's resurrection on Sunday. I'm also praying for faith to see the hand of love behind the sufferings of this present day. And, I'm giving thanks for the reminder of Good Friday.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Celebrating Love

If one day of celebration is good, a week is better!

That's my philosophy about almost every holiday and it holds true for Valentine's Day as well. Will you celebrate with me? Here's the challenge: I'm focusing on one aspect of I Corinthians 13 (the great love chapter) each day of the week and prayerfully seeking to love as Christians are called to love. It's much costlier than flowers and chocolate in some ways, but the riches are for those around you and for your soul.

Monday, Feb. 14 - Love is patient. Prepare early in the morning (with prayer) to patiently meet those daily challenges and glitches to your plans. Bless those around you with the peace of a patient spirit!

Tuesday, Feb. 15 - Love is kind. Don't be random; be intentional. Who needs kindness today?

Wednesday, Feb. 16 - Love is not envious. Put down the magazine, turn off the ads, and make a list of blessings to give thanks for!

Thursday, Feb. 17 - Love does not seek its own. What can you give up today in order to give to someone else? Your right to some "me" time? That manicure you've been wanting? Our perhaps you have the opportunity to be flexible because of someone else's need or lack of planning. ☺

Friday, Feb. 18 - Love thinks no evil. Here's a challenge - speak only words of blessing to other motorists today! Don't assume that people are idiots. There are so many applications for this one -- see what God has for you!

Enjoy your week of love! ♥
(and feel free to share your stories here!)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Talking and Learning

"The wise in heart will be called prudent, and sweetness of the lips increases learning." Proverbs 16:21

I have just a simple thought based on this proverb. How sweet is the speech in your home? Are you encouraging your children? Are you their best cheerleader? Are your words life giving or death dealing? People are intricately woven together - mind, body, and soul. We often acknowledge this in theory but don't apply it practically. If your child's body is sick, you realize that he won't be at peak performance academically, and you wouldn't demand it of him. But what if his spirit is broken? What if his heart is hurt? What if she's afraid? And what if those hurts and bruises are all because of careless and impatient words spoken in the family? All these things can affect the ability to learn (and to enjoy learning). Let me encourage you to begin each day with a prayer to see each of your children through God's eyes - whole people, not just bundles of demands or recalcitrant antagonizers designed to make your life more difficult. Then, speak graciously and take every opportunity to build them up. Not only is this good for their souls, it also enhances their learning potential! And when the time comes for hard lessons (in school and in life) or discipline, the strength they've gained from good words from a prudent parent will go far in helping them meet the challenges.

Friday, January 28, 2011

We Need Old Stories

I've been teaching a class in Greek and Roman literature this year to high school students and have been reminded that human nature has remained pretty constant throughout the generations. While we've made advances in knowledge about the world around us, I'm pretty sure we've lost knowledge about the world within - we no longer know our souls for what they really are.

One of the things that constantly amazes me when I'm looking at the daily news reports is how naive people seem. Even with multiple degrees and years of schooling, many folks miss the simplest truths.

One reality that the Greeks saw that we seem to be unaware of is the concept of hubris, or excessive pride. It's painfully obvious in the plays Oedipus Rex and Antigone that the kings, for all their good intentions, are closed to the counsel of others because they are so sure they have the right perspective. They need to be strong leaders, so they won't consider any change of course. Ultimately, everything they hope to preserve (their good intention) is destroyed because of their pride.

I want my children and my students to read and think about these old stories. They are as current as today's news reports! I pray that they move into adulthood with an accurate and humble view of themselves and an ability to honestly assess situations and people. We need adults who have let go of the magical thinking of childhood, who realize that all the wishing and believing in the world won't make things right. Leadership takes discernment, an ability to make wise choices, a willingness to learn the truth, a cautious approach to making pronouncements, and a determination to persevere in hard times. In a nutshell, it takes humility and hard work. The old stories tell us these things; E-News Tonight can't and won't.