Thursday, August 30, 2007

Food and faith

Head over to Ancora Imparo for one of the most balanced posts I've read, on how nutrition relates to God's calling on our lives.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Waste

The title of this blog reminds me of a Phish song from my hippie days. Sigh.

So, I've been working on reading through the Bible in my quiet time. I wasn't sure what to read, so I just decided to start at the beginning. I was hit a few months ago with the thought that I don't really know God like I want to. I know lots of things ABOUT God, but I wanted to know HIM better. What does He like? What things make Him happy? He has a personality, you know.
Anyway, I have worked my way to Numbers. There is a whole lot in the book of Numbers that is...less than thrilling. I cringed inwardly when I got there. However, I have been asking God to reveal Himself to me, and He is faithful to do that.

I have been struck, as I read through the ceremonies and traditions outlined in Numbers, by the concept of sacrifice versus waste. The Israelites were told to sacrifice a baby lamb - one in the morning, one in the evening, every day. They also were to make a drink offering - just pour out good wine on the ground in a holy place that God would see. This is just one of a long line of sacrifices in a long line of occasions that had to be made to forgive the sins of the people.

But God, what a waste! What about poor people? What about the sheep's mothers who carried and birthed those babies only to have them burned up - not even used for food? What about the expense that was? Surely there were people who needed those things to feed their families! It's not like God needed them! I guess that is the age-old argument against tithing too.

In the world's eyes, sacrifice will always look wasteful. Why would you allow yourself to be uncomfortable for somebody else? For me, why should I stay home with my kids and do dishes over and over? (I always mention dishes. They are my least favorite.)

I think there are several reasons.

1. We are not really our own provider. We work and try to be productive because it's what we are supposed to do, but God is the one who provides for us. Ps. 127:2, in the alternate translation in the NIV, says, "In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat, for while they sleep he provides for those he loves." When we give away some of ourselves, we surrender control over our own destiny. It's not all up to us. I think it is possible to tithe out of habit and not remember this, by the way. Don't give out of compulsion.

2. It changes who I am, to sacrifice. I was telling Nick last night that nothing I do strokes my pride anymore. I have had to find all new reasons to hold my head high and invest in people. Hard. But best for me. Wearing trendy clothes all the time, being on stage, achieving, looking like I have it all together... That's where I used to find my security. I have spent the past 5 days with a flaming case of pink eye, wiping green running noses, rocking crying babies with stuffy noses late at night, coughing my head off, disinfecting, washing my hands until they are raw, and resolving not to worry - we'll get packed and moved on Friday...somehow. Not exactly food for the ego. But, once the transformation is complete (it might take years!), I will be secure in my value. It won't depend on my performance anymore. I like that outcome.

3. God said to. I think sometimes, with certain things, we need to be able to say "I don't understand, but I will do it anyway." We know in our heads that we can trust God. So, trust Him. If He says something, don't question it - just do it. I have to pretend sometimes that I'm trusting. I don't feel it. I will say out loud - "I am letting go of this, this is Yours!" And that's the end of it...until 2 minutes later when I have to do it again. Sometimes I think we can over-complicate our lives by demanding answers for everything. I try to explain to Hannah why I need her to do most things, but there are times she says, "How come?" And I just can't explain it, so the answer is "Because." That HAS to be okay coming from God. Just because.

Another thought that comes to mind in this area is our new pastor that we voted on yesterday. More than 95% approval. Cool. It does, however, make me wonder about that 5%. Why would they vote no? Do they think they know better than everybody else? From the first announcement, I decided to trust the process. We elected a selection committee. They prayed and fasted. We prayed for them. They spent months looking at the options, trying to hear from God about who He wanted to be pastor. They settled on Brady Boyd. Not who anyone expected. But why would I question the decision? If I couldn't agree to submit to the authority at that church, I would go somewhere I could submit to. There is rest and protection in trusting people. And I can still say that after what our church has been through. Anyway, kind of a rabbit trail there, but maybe not so much. I believe God wants me home with my kids. So I do it. I can't expect anything in return because staying home does not guarantee me obedient, healthy kids. But I'm doing it anyway because it's what I'm supposed to do.

Welp, I better go pack boxes, reminding myself of my sermon the whole time. Two more days!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Carpet...naturally!

So, I think I've mentioned that the new house had a terrible pet smell problem. I have a story to tell, edited for length and clarity. :)

Tuesday I had an appointment to have the carpet treated and cleaned by a professional company. I knew they were going to use nasty chemicals, but I didn't know what else to do. We can't live in a sewer, ya know? Tuesday morning I talked with the mother of one of my piano students. She owns a furniture restoration company. "Don't have them put chemicals in your house," she tells me. "Get some Citra-Solv."

Of course. What's that again?

Anyway, I went down to the local health food store, got a $10 bottle of the stuff, diluted it 1 part Citra-solv to 5 parts water like she told me, and using a turkey baster, injected this into the carpet in the dirty spots. My parents own a black light, which enables you to see where the urine spots are. Instantly, the smell was gone. It smelled like oranges instead.

Today, we rented a carpet cleaning machine and filled it with 1 cup of plain white vinegar per 2 gallons very hot water and cleaned the carpet. It smells clean, looks MUCH better, and no chemicals. The best part? We had planned on paying maybe $250 to have the smell professionally taken care of.

Carpet machine - $25
Citrasolv - $10
Vinegar - $1.50
Bucket/turkey baster - $7

For a grand total of... $43.50. Nice.

We're siiick.

Ugh. (Read that out loud without breathing through your nose)

We did not manage to escape the nasty cold going around. In addition, Hannah has this weird habit of poking the corner of the tag on her blankie into the corner of her eye. As a result, if pink eye is going around, she gets it. (Any brilliant ideas there? She LOVES her tag.) Therefore to date all four of us have had it. Gross. We are washing hands till they're raw and disinfecting nonstop.

Have I mentioned we're moving in five days?

This is one of those times where relying on my own strength would be comical. When we get through this, well and moved, it will be because of God. And amazingly, to this point I'm trusting fairly well. The tone in our home is upbeat and light. We're in this together. I'm so grateful!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I'm here

...Just flying from one thing to the next. Quick headlines:

-Audrey took her first steps this week. She was with my mom while I was getting my teeth cleaned so I missed the first ones, but she's very excited to demonstrate ever since.

-Nick got moved down to 50 hours a week at work. To most people this sounds like a lot. To us, it's a vacation. No more working weekends, no more getting home at 6:30 every night... What a relief!

-10 more days until moving day. If you're around and you're volunteering, yes, please come help. Let me know when you can be here. :)

-We're really excited about Pastor Brady. He's a shoe-in.

-Today I left the girls at "Mom's Day Out" at church, and went to Starbucks and read and then window shopped for a while. It was wonderful.

-I do not feel like cooking dinner. Ever again. Maybe it's because it's 90 degrees in my house right now.

-I packed 5 boxes today. I better go get more boxes.

-Currently reading: Elizabeth Elliot's "Keep a Quiet Heart." This book has been on my bookshelf for seriously 10 years. There is no way it could be more relevant to me today. Also picked up some Kierkegaard for the first time. Don't know why I have never read this guy before. Where has he been all my life?

-Carpet cleaning: tomorrow. Maybe our new house will then quit reeking of pet.

-Hannah is learning to use her words. A couple days ago, I got an "Up, please?" instead of Uhhh..uhh...UHHHH!!!" This signals success in my book. It's the little things.

That's all I got for now. Be back soon.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I love this!

I know of no greater simplifier for all of life. Whatever happens is assigned. Does the intellect balk at that? Can we say that there are things that happen to us that do not belong to our lovingly assigned "portion"("This belongs to it, that does not") Are some things, then, out of the control of the Almighty? Every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good. As I accept the given portion, other options are canceled. Decisions become much easier, directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter. A quiet heart is content with what God gives.~Elisabeth Elliot

Friday, August 17, 2007

Our New House

We spent about 5 hours total at our new house yesterday, working on things. There's a reason this place is cheap. There were several gaping holes in the walls/ceiling, the carpet is in bad shape, and the whole place is covered in a layer of grime. Now, I'm not a perfect housekeeper, but if there's grime in my house it better belong to someone in my own family.

So, Nick took on the holes, and half a tub of spackle later, the holes are almost invisible. I scrubbed the kitchen floor and walls and the bathtub and bathroom mini-blinds for a start. We're looking into replacing the carpet (perhaps we can split the cost with the landlord) because there's just no way to live on it in its current state. Maybe during that process, I can actually get something other than carpet in the bathroom. Yuck. Carpet in bathrooms is just gross.

Anyway, lest you think we're about to go live in a dump, with a little money (which in theory we can afford because of how cheap the rent is), a little work, and some imagination, we will have a very cute house with a nice yard, and very little in rent. Two weeks till moving day!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Advantages of moving

Sometimes you find cute pictures.


This is Nick's Grampa. He was a famous accordion player who had a polka band that toured Nebraska back when it was largely Polish and Czech people. No joke. We have a tape of them somewhere.


This is my adorable husband when he was 2, with his dog Mochie. And you wonder why our kids are so cute... :)

Wow.

The list in my brain gets overwhelming some days. Actually, today it's a list of lists.

People I need to call back
People I need to see in the next week or so
Things I need to buy
Things I need to do to get money for the things I need to buy (sell junk on Craig's List, get a late check from a student, call back potential new students, etc.)
Meetings I need to go to
Things I need to start packing
Things I need to take to the new house
Things I need to do to the new house
Random errands to run (Gotta get x-rays from old dentist to new dentist)
Chores that need to be done at home

You see how it is.

Monday, August 13, 2007

well-behaved women

Kyla wrote an interesting post today as she was processing the movie "Becoming Jane," which I would love to go see. Here is the part I found very interesting (hope you don't mind being quoted, Kyla!)

"This is off topic with the movie but I found it odd when I joined the blogging world that Jane Austen and her characters are held as the role model for femininity and "Biblical Womanhood". I always loved her books and her heroines for their non conformity and their independent thinking. Yes, they were feminine and and they adhered to the social expectations but deep down they were always looking for something more than what society could offer to them. Isn't that why we choose the books we love so much?

I have never met a woman who wanted to be Beth March or Diana Barry or Melanie Hamilton or Mary
Ingalls or Jane Bennett. We always relate to the women who are different and whose aspirations exceed those limitations set upon them by circumstance and society. Does anybody else find this to be true? If we were going to use these novels as a guidebook to how to live right, then we should look at the side characters rather than the leading ladies as our role models. Maybe I am missing why people have chosen this time period to be the standard by which we should live."

Jane Austen's time period was one of women not afraid to be feminine, and of polite, gentle manners that appeal to lots of bloggers, that is for sure. But I think Kyla's right - they miss the part about the heroine's fight against that very society. The women who rebel always seem to be the ones who end up happiest. The submissive ones have sad stories. Think of Diana Barry - didn't she end up in an unhappy marriage and eventually widowed, never having done or seen anything except the town where she was born? Mary Ingalls really did get scarlet fever (is that right?) and went blind. Jane Bennett might be a role model, she was just quiet and therefore hard to fully understand and relate to. She at least ended up with a good man and a happy life.

The rebellious ones appeal to us, I think, because women (and men, for that matter) long for adventure in life. In the words of John Eldredge, "to have an irreplaceable part in a grand adventure." We want the rebellious ones to win, because it somehow validates our own desperation with...monotony.

I have always liked that bumper sticker that says, "Well-behaved women rarely make history."

I have thought about this stuff a lot lately though, and the fact is, caring for my husband, staying home with my kids, leading a quiet, peaceful existence and daily pursuing a deep relationship with God IS counter-culture right now. Nobody tells us that keeping our marriage strong and raising our kids to be people of God is a higher calling than saving the world, but I believe it is!

Well.

We are refinancing the Jetta! Not a great interest rate, but the payment will stay the same, and I get to keep my car. :) We may still try to sell it, but are planning on saving up money to fix the door, etc. So, a good end to the story. We go to sign the paperwork tonight. That's a relief!

The garage sale was a success. We have sold some of the bigger things on Craig's List so we didn't make a ton at the actual sale, but overall we were pleased with the result.

I went and found Hannah some new clothes at Old Navy Saturday night. Their stuff is SO cheap when it's on sale. Nice. Suddenly none of her 2T stuff fit. Funny how they grow overnight like that.

Church was exciting yesterday. We went to the morning and evening services, which has become unusual for us since having little kids. Pastor Brady seems like a really good guy. His sermon Sunday morning showed some of his strengths, which match up incredibly with New Life's weaknesses. It seems that he will bring a new perspective that is sorely needed around here - both at New Life and in the city as a whole. Wednesday night we get to go to a small group leader meeting with Pastor Brady. Thursday night is a big women's meeting I will attend with my small group. Sunday is church all day again. Choir starts with a huge family picnic next week. Things have seemed so quiet all summer, but they are definitely picking up.

I have to go to the dentist this week. Ew. I inherited my Dad's terrible teeth. It makes for "fun" cleanings pretty much every time.

Somewhere in here, I HAVE to start packing. Even one box would be good!

Huh.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West

The South

Boston

North Central

The Inland North

Philadelphia

The Northeast

What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Vitamin D/sunshine Conversation

I found this article today, written by a Nurse Practitioner. Definitely not an end-all authority, but fairly reliable, I would think.

"Today many of us work in sealed buildings with glazed windows, and we wear sunblock and drive everywhere in cars instead of walking outdoors. Any sunblock with an SPF above 8 will block the UV rays necessary for vitamin D conversion."

TC had a good point - do we want to lower our risk of some cancers, but raise our risk of melanoma by spending time in the sun? I don't know the answer to that. I sometimes wonder if the skin cancer rates are not caused so much by the sun as they are caused by the constant barrage of chemicals we are exposed to. I know people who blame it on the parabens that preserve...pretty much every kind of skin care product from lotion to soap to makeup. Or even on dyes in similar products. Who knows if that's right or not since it hasn't been studied to my knowledge? People 200 years ago certainly didn't have sunblock and didn't die from skin cancer, and I find it hard to believe sun exposure has changed THAT much since then.

The article also says this:

"Our bodies are remarkably efficient. During the summer months, even as little as 15 minutes in the sun (without sunblock!) in the early morning and late afternoon is enough for most light-skinned individuals to create an ample supply of vitamin D. Skin with more pigment (melanin) may require up to 40 minutes.

But you could say we are trading our longer lifespan for an increased risk of skin cancers, so don’t throw away your sunblock! It’s important to protect your skin, particularly on your face and scalp, during the sun’s peak hours (11 AM – 2 PM) by using a lotion with SPF–15 or more, preferably PABA–free. Melanoma is a serious condition, and I’m not in favor of increasing your risk with unhealthy sun exposure.

This means you should not be out in the sun unprotected for more than 15 minutes, twice a day, early in the morning and late afternoon. If you begin to turn red before 15 minutes, cover up completely or go inside. It is never a healthy practice to burn your skin. It is also not safe to use tanning beds as a source of vitamin D. Please click here to learn more about tanning beds and vitamin D."


As in everything, the bottom line is going to be that we have to make our own choices and be responsible for our own health. We can only do our best with what we know. Any other thoughts?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Ha!

Encouragement for moms

Hey, if you're a stay at home mom, this sermon by Pastor Brady Boyd is very encouraging!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

And...breathe!

I haven't had time for writing many thought-provoking things lately. (Provoking, maybe, but not thought provoking, right, Christina? :) The past couple of weeks have been a whole lot of keeping my head above water.

The girls are currently napping, which is incredible. Actually, it is carefully planned. I have found that if I take them somewhere as soon as Audrey wakes up from her morning nap, stay out till they're exhausted, then drive home as quickly as I can and put them in bed, they will miraculously nap at the same time. If we don't go anywhere, Hannah falls asleep on the floor somewhere about the time Audrey gets up, and they tag-team naps all day. Fun. So, today was a trip to the childcare at church, provided for Moms who need a day out. (That would be me.) Nice.

The situation with the Jetta has become critical-ish. Our lease is up soon, and because of the hit and run thing that happened, nobody wants to buy our slightly damaged Jetta. So, our choices are to turn it in and pay lots of penalties for too many miles and body damage and then not have a second car, or get another loan. We don't like either option all that much. We're trying to decide what to do. Somehow or other, I am sure God will lead us where we need to go with this, but from our perspective alone it doesn't look too good. Take it from me: no matter how good they make these leases look, don't do one! It is a cleverly disguised way to trap people and thereby rip them off. We learned our lesson well!

A cool thing happened. Our next door neighbors were moving out. We came home that day and they had all their living room furniture out on the front porch. "Need a couch?" They asked us. Why? Turns out they couldn't fit them in the truck they rented to drive to Arizona. So, they gave us their couch, love seat, chair and ottoman, which we were able to sell very quickly. Extra money out of the blue for us, and a new living room set for Liz and Dave and...some other guy who bought the piece they didn't want. :) Thanks, God!

We are having a garage sale on Saturday. Come buy our junk. No, seriously. :)

Just three weeks till we move. I need to start packing now. For real. Although when we moved in here, we packed and moved in three days, and moving day was the fourth day after Audrey was born. I wouldn't recommend doing it this way, but it can be done. Ha! I literally do not remember that moving day.

Our church has found a candidate for the Senior Pastor position. And everybody breathed a sigh of relief! It's time to be out of transition and to move on in my opinion. Plus, the guy they found is fantastic. Nick has been listening to sermons by him all week long. He is sold. Lots of people, including us, thought Pastor Ross (who has been the interim pastor,) would get the job. Everybody was a little shocked when he didn't get a nod. However, he already has a national worship ministry - he's traveling to churches all over the place to encourage them in worship. If he became Sr. Pastor he would have to give that up. Who knows what things will change around New Life, but we're excited to move forward. The new guy will preach three Sundays and then there will be a vote. If he doesn't get confirmed by the vote, the whole process will start again because all the other candidates have been ruled out. Exciting times, I'm tellin ya. We are pretty sure he's pass, no problem. It's time to move on, and the work has been done. Let's trust the people in charge, and the process, and God's direction, and move on.

OK, I suppose I should go organize garage sale things...or else take a nap.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Friday, August 3, 2007

Toy Recall

Hey, if you have bought Sesame Street, Dora, or Diego toys at Walmart in the past few months, you better look here and figure out if they are being recalled. There are lots of them, and a couple of the ones we have are on the list, but were manufactured before this issue.

Can somebody explain to me why they can't figure out how to keep lead out of the paint they put on toys? It just doesn't seem that hard...

On God and Bridges

I came across this article by John Piper today.

All too often we are told that life is supposed to be easy. "Have it your way." "Do what feels good." The fact is, life is sometimes hard, and only God understands why. Sometimes I fear the death of a child or my husband. However, as this article points out, it is only by the mercy of God that any of us lives or dies. Ultimately we as Christians should have the goal to bring the most glory to God that we can. If He decides that a bridge collapse brings Him the most glory, we need to weep with those who weep, love people - whatever that means, and praise God for carrying out His purposes in the earth, despite our lack of understanding it. My seizure disorder comes to mind here, on a personal level.

Somehow this brings me greater peace than believing God had nothing to do with tragedies. Think of the plagues of Egypt. Who knows how many people died as a result, and yet God wanted to demonstrate His power to Pharoah and to the known world by bringing those terrible things. God is righteous, and He was righteous in doing that.

It bears repeating: the point of living on earth is not our comfort or happiness, it is God's glory. I am trying to learn to say with my whole heart the words of Mary, "I am the Lord's servant, let it be to me as You have said."