Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Chair Makeover

Here's a chair I bought at a friend's moving sale, before I gave it some love:

To make it more "me', I just had to stain that light wood a darker color! And I recovered the seat:

And it was cheap! Chair was $7 and the fabric was left over from that yard I got for $2.99 for the window mistreatment project. So with very little money and time spent, there's room for one more rear end to sit in my family room!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reading and Loving It

Well, I've finished some books recently and started a new one. Hopefully I'll get some reviews up here soon. But I'm kind of behind again in life, so we'll see. But let me tell you about the one I just started that I LOVE: Devotional Classics. I highly recommend it. Highly. Click on the link I have under my reading section to order it from Amazon. Lisa, a lady that is mentoring me, is going through this book with me, and I'm loving what I've read so far. It's a compilation of excerpts from different authors who have written various Christian devotional classics. SO AMAZING. Each excerpt is short, includes a brief passage of Scripture at the end of that excerpt for you to study more in depth on your own if you want, and it gives reflection and/or small group questions. Do you read "old" books? I say you should! Cultivating that as a practice has been a relatively new thing in my own life but one that is probably the most significant and rewarding for my spiritual life/practicing the disciplines of the faith, with the exception of learning how to actually study Scripture itself. Since I have this bad habit of starting about 50,000 books at a time and it taking 20 years to finish each one, I am usually in over my head with reading, trying to multi-task in my learning. I'm not a good multi-tasker by the way. But for the last couple of years, I've made it a priority to always be reading at least one old book. I've found this year that I usually have more old books going than new. It's so refreshing to realize that the things that seem to "work" today in the Christian life are not new. These authors can help us! They've been through a lot, and I'm always amazed when reading them to see how little culture really has changed. It seems to surprise me every time. But I realize that human nature hasn't changed over time. So how could culture, when it's comprised of individual human beings living together, making up societies? (Same for all classics, not just "Christian" ones, but for now I'm just addressing the Christian classics since that's what this book is about!) With our community group at church, I just re-read one of my favorite books, The Jesus of Suburbia, but as I continue to read more of the old books, I realize that while some of the ideas in the Jesus of Suburbia book seem at first to be radical and new, they're not. The Jesus portrayed in that book is the same Jesus so many brilliant authors knew and loved and wrote about. Why wait for some big-name Christian author to write a New York Times Bestseller before we learn how to grow? Help in spiritual growth is already there. And it's been there a long time. It's so easy to relate to what these authors of the great devotional classics are saying and teaching. It is SO relevant. I just really love old books, if you can't tell. I like a lot of new ones too. But I noticed the other day that even my favorite "new" author (meaning still alive and more recently published), Gary Thomas, is such a student of these old books and seems to quote the old guys so much that even his books don't really say anything new! I have a thing for the old. I'm a nerd, what can I say. But I really will try to influence my friends to join in this passion. So be ready! I wanted to share something I read from one of the excerpts, but that will come later, because now I don't have time and I really wanted to first share some things from the introduction that talks about what I've been trying to express; Richard Foster just does it better!

"We today suffer from the unexamined notion that the more recent something is, the better, the more true it must be. This book is our attempt to counter this present-day myopia. It brings together fifty-two carefully chosen selections from the great devotional classics....The word classic has gotten bad press in our day. If a book is a "classic" we immediately think it must be obscure, hard to read, and most certainly out of touch with modern concerns. As Mark Twain aptly notes, it is the kind of book that "everyone wants to have read but no one wants to read." In reality, however, for a writing to be a classic means simply that many people over a sustained period of time have drawn strength from its insights and witness to its value...It is a genuine asset to be soaked in the devotional classics. Pure modernity makes us parochial. But these writings have vintage. They are weaned from the fads of the marketplace. They give us perspective and balance. C.S. Lewis notes, 'A new book is still on trial, and the amateur is not in a position to judge it...The only safety is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity, which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective. Such a standard can only be acquired from old books. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.' ...A word of instruction needs to be given about reading these devotional classics. These writers make no attempt to grab you quick and hold you tight. They have no intention of tickling your ears and titillating your fantasies. They promise no easy steps to instant holiness, no guaranteed plan for personal prosperity, no surefire technique for peace of mind. Since these men and women wrote before the modern notion of speed-reading, they did not know to fill each paragraph with trite cliches and meaningless jargon. As a result, each phrase is pregnant with meaning and it is best to read at a measured pace, pausing often to reread, rethink, reexperience the words until we not only understand their meaning but are shaped by the truth of them."


And when these kinds of books get hard to work through and reading them requires a little bit of support or verbal processing, that's what good friends at a coffee shop are for!

What about you? What are some of your favorite "oldies"?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Updates and Lots of Pictures

Well, it's been a busy week around here. We've graduated to only semi-hermit mode. I'm starting to feel like I can take my kid back in public. Just not for long at a time. =) No, Jonah has been doing great. I'm so thankful. But I want so much to remember the lessons learned the last couple of months about desperation for the Lord's guidance and constant dependence in prayer. I don't want to forget to pray urgently for my child even when the need doesn't feel quite as urgent.

Parker has been changing tons the last two weeks. She's eating cereal now and is rolling over and is so much more alert and trying to be active. I've had some sudden milk supply issues this week which will surely shorten how long I can nurse her. It makes me sad! She's the same age as Jonah was when I started having problems producing enough milk for him. I am ok with it, I just didn't want the end to come so suddenly. I finally realized yesterday morning that this process of stopping provides the explanation for my emotional weirdness this week. There have been times I've wanted to cry for NO reason at all. I haven't lost it yet, but I feel on the verge. I'm so hormonal! Ugh. Maybe my family should stop taking ME in public for a while!

Below are kid pics and some from a friend's wedding last weekend. The bride, Amber, was one of my best friends in high school (from 7th grade actually) and we were roommates in college. She was one gorgeous bride and her wedding was absolutely beautiful and FUN. I was able to see high school friends I hadn't seen in a really long time and also some of my best college girlfriends. There were five of us at DBU that were close, and we hadn't all been together in 4 years. Way too long! I love when friendships are strong enough to just pick back up and be very comfortable after a long period of distance. I enjoy these girls just as much as I did back in our college days even though we are all in different stages in life, locations, etc. But as of this summer, we're all back in Texas at least. So these reunions should happen more often! We laughed so much that night. Good times.

First time eating cereal, not so sure about it then:

Got him trained! It really helps that Jonah can give her a bottle when we're in the car too! But this was his first time to really feed her by himself, and he was happy:
Enjoying but not yet jumping in her johnny-jump up:
Yes, EVERY game day my kids look like this:
My daughter likes to read! What could be better to this mom?! =) This is how she looked when I came back into her room yesterday after putting Jonah down for a nap, like she was really into this little book:
And now for the wedding fun.

Left to right, Angela, me, Leighann, and Lizzy:
The sweet couple:

In college, everyone thought Leighann and I were sisters because supposedly there's some resemblance. We've never really seen it, but we heard that anytime we went anywhere together! Some crazy people even thought we were twins. So we took this picture to see if we "still look alike":

The five of us were the cheerleaders from our class for three consecutive weird years:

And we'd all be sad if this girl didn't catch the bouquet! Erin was one stunning bridesmaid:
And because I love you, I'll leave you with these:

Oh yeah. Betcha wish your husband had moves like these!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Should a Woman be Vice-President of the United States?

Hmm...interested? A few days ago, I came across something interesting that Voddie Baucham wrote on his blog. Go here to read it. Now, I quite like Voddie Baucham. I respect so much of his teaching and immediately took a listening ear to what he had to say about the idea of having a woman in the office of vice president because I believe him to be someone who strives to be biblical in everything. In fact, his 18-year old daughter who is a brilliantly prolific writer articulately explained the viewpoint that they seem to share, and you can go here to read what she had to say about this on her blog. I really want you to read their points, but in short, I'll tell you that they are saying that God wouldn't vote for Sarah Palin (not exactly their words) because she's a female and females should not be in positions of authority over men. Hmm. They also repeatedly reiterate that the role of a woman should only be in her home, taking care of her children and supporting her husband while he works. Actually, Voddie gives room for work outside the home as long as your family affairs come first. And as long as you're not the boss of someone male, I guess? Interesting, huh. Now, for every single one of the points Voddie makes in this matter, he uses Scripture to "back up" what he is saying. You can't read what we says and not take it a little seriously when it appears through his writing that the Bible is supporting his argument. This all got me thinking about some things. You know when things don't sound quite right but you're not sure why? It means you need to study! So I'm wrestling through this subject (because it's quite important!) and I'm just going to pose some questions about this:

1.) It is very obvious that if what the Bachams are saying is taken to its most logical conclusion, then women are completely and utterly limited to using their giftedness in their home alone. Nowhere else. If a woman can't be in "authority" over a man, then what about the female college professor who teaches male students who are technically adults? What about the female surgeon who has male attending doctors and nurses and staff with her during an operation? I mean, we all realize the implications of what they are saying, right? To say our culture would be different is quite an understatement. It would be more drastic than I think we can imagine. No woman could have a job that might involve being the boss of a male. And if that is true, then what do we do with the skills and giftedness that many are given for specific occupational tasks? How do you explain that? Self-made or what?

2.) The main passages they use to teach that a woman should have no authority whatsoever over a man are the following passages that address a wife's submission to her husband: Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:3-5, and 1 Peter 3:1-7. And so I ask: Is there a distinction between government or employment-related authority and spiritual authority? Are these passages solely addressing the spiritual authority, in terms of leadership and accountability, of a husband to a wife? Is it true just because a woman is in an elected government position about her husband that she must not be submitting to him? Who can tell? Since I am not in a position like VP over my husband, does that mean I don't struggle with submitting to him? Is it not an issue and battle of the heart and the result of that battle may remain unseen to others besides God? How does taking a particular job automatically make you unsubmissive?

3.) I appreciate that Baucham did say he doesn't believe it is always wrong for women to be engaged in affairs outside of the home (Thank you!) and he does acknowledge that the problem is when mothers neglect their domestic duties to do so. If you know me, you'd know that I much prefer to raise my own children rather than to sacrifice that time and share too much of its responsibility with others. However, here's where it gets scary: When MAN draws a line between what is too much focus outside the home and what is not and that line doesn't line up with any line we've seen God himself draw for us...shouldn't we be a little more frightened to do so and say it's what God says is right for everyone?? And what exactly does it mean in Titus 2:5 when we are urged to be "workers of the home"? The Greek word for it is "oikouros" which means the keeper or watch of the house, the caring of the house. I don't think that definition alone would convince me that those roles can't be fulfilled while having other responsibilities outside of home or with some domestic support from others. To me, it sort of implies a level of management of home that may or may not involve full responsibility of every single domestic task or affair. I trust where I believe God has led me to draw the line, but because of a lack of specificity in the Bible, I'm hesitant to say I can draw that line for everyone. But don't get me really started on this one. I could get too fired up for any good. Time for #4.

4.) What do you do with other examples in Scripture where women not only worked outside of the home but were in positions of authority over men? Positions that Scripture says God ordained. Check out the story of Deborah in Judges 4 and 5 and tell me if you don't feel that God thinks a woman can handle a high position in government. She was a prophetess (married, by the way) who became a judge over a portion of Israel, and the previous chapters inform us that "God raised up" these judges to do their jobs. So we know Deborah didn't rebel against God in her fulfillment of this job. He blessed her in it. I have heard that there are more biblical examples like this, but Deborah is as far as my study on this has taken me this week. Her story is fascinating, by the way. How God used her and my goodness how He used another woman Jael (scary!) to defeat this enemy is rather inspiring to a gal like me. I'd love to hear what other examples anybody has to share!

5.) Another thing....has anyone ever complained about potentially damaging effects on children whose father is the leader of the free world?? Surely there are a number of negatives resulting from their lack of quantity, quality time with their children as well. But with a man, haven't we just assumed that's part of the job and God will take care of their families? My heart also breaks for children whose parents's work limits so much of their availability for time with them. But if it's possible for God to lead someone to a high-powered, multifaceted, complex job like that of the president or vice-president, is it naive to trust that God will then take care of their children and perhaps cover them with a certain portion of protective grace? I'm not saying that's what He's doing. But isn't it possible? What can we see from Scripture that definitively tells us it's not a possibility? I know of foreign missionaries whose kids sacrifice tremendously and individuals who have had to literally forsake their families in the way that Matthew 10:37-39 instructs to do "work of God." But don't many in the church give them a pass because of the worthiness of their call? And isn't it evident that such a stance conveys a compartmentalized view of spirituality that says certain "churchy" work is worth those kinds of demands and sacrifices on families but other nonchurch-related work isn't? Is that not an example of an ungodly, dichotomized perspective which says it's ok to separate life into categories of what is possible for Christ to redeem and make holy and what isn't? Isn't it in reality adding on to Christ's saying He tells us, "Forsake them in order to follow me as a pastor, missionary to Africa, or some other related occupation" instead of what Scripture actually says He says, "Forsake follow me"? Follow wherever He goes. Christ likes going a lot of places. I think the White House could be one. =) Seriously...please don't misunderstand me to be saying I think God is leading a particular candidate to this position. I'm not about to say who He'd vote for! And to explain why would take quite a lengthy new post itself. But what I am saying is that, in theory, God could have in mind for someone to be VP who does have a family that would be forced to sacrifice tremendously and He may be ok with asking someone to be in that position, just as He has asked and still asks many others to be in difficult circumstances for His sake.

I can't conclusively say I know what is right in this whole issue. I just know that I have enough questions to know that I can't agree with interpretations of Scripture that say Sarah Palin should not be VP because she's a wife and mom. Or woman. So, there they are. And I'd love to hear any answers you may have for my questions! Share your thoughts!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I Think I'm Back

Hopefully I'm back to blogging more regularly. I've missed you! I'm working on catching up on everybody's blogs. Like I mentioned previously, my focus has had to be on my home for the last 5 or 6 weeks. And it's been a hard time. But it's been really good. I feel like I've been re-energized in my roles as wife and mom, and it's taken some pretty tough days to get me there, to make me desperate enough to where I passionately sought out the Lord for help in every aspect of those roles. And when we're weak, He always comes through for us! And it's been fun to have my heart turned more towards my home. I mean, I loved it before. I thought I did. I've always loved being a mother and consider myself quite blessed to have a job that centers on loving these precious children of mine. It's just different now. Over the course of the last month or so, I've come to realize that I had made idols out of some of these blessings that come from being a stay-at-home mommy. I don't know how to explain it well, especially as I'm still processing through this and working on dealing with it, but I've had a fun time so far in my parenting life. I had never experienced the valley of loneliness as I know so many stay-at-home moms have. Until recently. I haven't ever felt particularly disconnected from people who aren't children or struggling with a lack of meaningful relationships and fun experiences. I've been blessed with amazing "mommy friends" and I can't remember the last time I had a week that didn't have a fun playdate on the calendar. Until this summer. I never thought I could be one of those moms who just stayed home all the time. But God is showing me exactly what I am capable of, through His power, and He is, strangely enough, changing my desires to even want it more. Crazy! I'm liking it. I have spent a lot more time within the walls of this house, doing the hard work of homemaking and parenting...the kind that requires constant, tedious training of my child. At first, the sanguine in me resisted that kind of solitude. But I've tasted of its blessings, and I am completely and utterly sold on the idea that I can best parent my child if we stay home considerably more. I had no idea how much I had idolized some of these fun experiences of getting together with my girlfriends during the day and/or just being on the go with my kids all day until I really was forced to miss out on a lot of those things. I always knew constant entertainment (for them or me) was never the goal. But I still pursued it too much, and I never even realized that until just recently, since I've been in my hermit state of existence. But here's the good thing: it's not like I have to stay holed up in my house forever! Even when the difficult stages of parenting little ones (when you just know you can't leave the house because your child is acting so crazy) lingers on for longer than you'd like, it's still just a season. It does end eventually. And I want so much not to look back and feel like I missed out on the opportunities of these few short years I have my babies all to myself. I've been so desperate and struggling with parenting issues, yet I'm never felt so empowered, encouraged, and inspired! This is a GOOD job! And even in these seasons, God sends the breaks when we need them...not just the times we can get away for our own refreshment but also opoprtunities to invest in others's lives. I'm finding that being at home considerably more these last few weeks hasn't eliminated opportunities for ministry to others outside of my family; it just looks a little different right now. A lot more of that is happening in my home, and I'm really enjoying that! And being home better prepares me for those times and keeps me ready for those unexpected times when needs just show up at my door. That's been happening! And it's been fun! Anyway, this probably isn't all that interesting to anyone, but it's where I've been lately and blogging about it helps me process and gain more insight into this change that God is doing in me to draw my heart towards my home roles more. Oh, and by the way, we have had a reprieve from some of these behavior issues of Jonah's...there hasn't been a tantrum in a week and a half! That's been nice.

Our trip to Bartlesville was great. The ride there was rough. Parker cried a majority of the 6 hour trip. I hope my mom doesn't read this! She is really unhappy at the thought of a grandchild of hers strapped in a car seat for that long ever, and the crying part just kills her. But it was loud in our car! Thankfully, the trip home went much better, with her sleeping the first three and a half hours. That helped. There was only one big screaming fit, and it was on the last 35 minutes of the trip, so we knew we could make it! Our visit with family was good...we were able to see all of Joel's siblings, and Joel's mom had planned some fun activities for us which is so nice for a busy three-year old. We went to a local wildlife preserve and to Kiddie Park, our favorite old-fashioned little kids' amusement pak. I think for most moms, traveling with a baby can be quite tiring. I just expected it to be a little hard. WORTH IT, because visiting family always is. But I thought it would be pretty exhausting. And I was pleasantly surprised by how relaxed and rested I felt coming home. Both kids slept pretty well while we were there, which never seems to happen when traveling. It was a nice little getaway for a few days.

I have more pictures and updates on both kids to post soon, and I have a post I've started in my head about Sarah Palin that should be somewhat interesting. Until then, I'm going to start getting caught up on y'all's blogs!