Friday, January 31, 2014

Three things that made me smile today

Because yesterday was NOT the norm...

Because I want to remember these times of sweetness from my youngest...

Because it will remind me later that we say and teach really does make a difference...

Three things that made me smile today:

1. Hearing my boy say that for every dish he put in the dishwasher, he thanked God for something.

2. Having to tell that same boy (twice) to stop typing his story because it was time for lunch.

3. Listening to that same impetuous, bouncing-off-the-wall eight-year-old boy tell me that he wondered something a while back and then heard his question answered in Grandpa's sermon, without ever having told anyone the question.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Social Media Experiment

Let's start off with a confession... 

I have watched friends, both near and far, do away with Facebook, either for a time or permanently.  I have considered doing it but never really thought that I could do away with Facebook entirely.  The truth is that there are a couple things that happen on Facebook that are very important to me.  I have a very dear group of friends who meet once a month for dinner and chatting.  We plan these gatherings and discuss any follow-up conversation in a Facebook group.  I wasn't sure how we could continue this if I took time away from Facebook. I also have a very connected, but very long-distance, family, which tends to use Facebook messaging as the primary method of communication.  How could I go on a hiatus without disrupting these two vital parts of my life?

So, I must confess that when I took a Facebook hiatus last week, I created a Facebook alter ego and decided to use that account to contact the aforementioned people.  I have also chosen to log on to post a blog update, but I have not used it otherwise.  I have been able to stick to my resolve to stay away from the noise of Facebook.

So, back to what I really wanted to talk about...

As of this morning, it has been one week since I bid adieu (for an undetermined time) to my Facebook account.  I find it interesting to look back over the last week and analyze my "reaction." (Read: "withdrawal symptoms as a Facebook junkie.")

The first day, Monday January 6th, I kept finding myself defaulting to check Facebook when I had a brief moment of "nothing."  I had to keep reminding myself that I had logged out and wasn't planning to log back in.  A couple of times my thumb did manage to hit the icon on my iPod before I realized what I was doing, but since I wasn't logged in, there wasn't much to see.

By Day Two, I had broken my body of the habit (since that is what it had become) of checking Facebook every hour or so.  It was rather freeing to have so much time on my hands.  (Sobering, as well, to realize how much time and energy had been put into checking into the lives of friends and family afar, instead of checking in with my own family.)

By about Day Four, I noticed one of the lingering long-term affects of Facebook addiction:  Every time I thought of a clever one-liner, I thought about how it would be great to put it on Facebook.  Which made me wonder why it mattered so much to have something clever to say on Facebook.  Which made me stop and analyze what purpose I really wanted Facebook to have in my life.

By Day Seven, I decided that when I did go back, I wanted to minimize my Facebook experience further by getting rid of most of the pages that I follow.  I don't need to have my Facebook news stream cluttered with voices from companies and businesses around the world.  Some of them are useful and uplifting, but for the most part they are just noise.

So, I find myself asking, "What use does Facebook really have and when will I return?  Or will I return?"

I do want to return.  I have a lot of friends who really do matter to me, living all over the world.  It is easiest to stay in touch with them by logging in to one place and seeing how everyone is doing.  While I have email addresses for the most important people, it's still nice to stay in touch throughout the year.  And that's where I find myself wondering if I'm using Facebook the way it was intended to be used and the way others wish it would be used.

Facebook has literally become a news ticker.  It was intended to be a place for people to connect, but now it is a place to share memes, link to new articles, and post inspirational pictures with inspirational quotes.  I want to interact with people, not their favourite links.  I realize that this is impossible as this is how we interact.  Humans interact by sharing news.  That's completely understandable. But I hope to see more of what's happening in my friends' lives when I return.  From Johnny's first loose tooth to Matilda's wedding and everything in between, I want to share in my friends' ups and downs.  We are communal!

When I left Facebook, I set a goal for myself that I wanted to nourish the relationships around me.  I can see it happening, but there is still more that needs to be done before I return.  I have set a goal, the specifics of which are private, which needs to be reached before I return.  This won't be a walk in the park, but I'm motivated to get it done.  I think that the accomplishment of this goal will go a long way towards setting many relationships on the right path.

Until then, this is my prayer, for myself and for you:
"I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God."
Philippians 1:9-11

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Have you noticed this...

2 Chronicles 20: 17-18 "Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord.

In the face of battle, King Jehoshaphat chose to worship, before the battle had even begun.

A few verses later, in verse 21, ...the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!”

The king didn't put his best swordsmen at the front.  He put the worshipers at the front.

Even when we don't understand,
Even when God seems far from us,
Even when we ask of Him and He doesn't answer,
Even when we are confused,
Especially when we are about to face a battle

Our first response, the weapon that we grab, needs to be worship.

Despite the choices I make,
Despite the actions He takes,
I choose to worship.

Psalm 22
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
    Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
    Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.
Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises of Israel.
Our ancestors trusted in you,
    and you rescued them.
They cried out to you and were saved.
    They trusted in you and were never disgraced.

But I am a worm and not a man.
    I am scorned and despised by all!
Everyone who sees me mocks me.
    They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
“Is this the one who relies on the Lord?
    Then let the Lord save him!
If the Lord loves him so much,
    let the Lord rescue him!”
Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
    and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
    You have been my God from the moment I was born.

Do not stay so far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and no one else can help me.
My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls;
    fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!
Like lions they open their jaws against me,
    roaring and tearing into their prey.
My life is poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
    melting within me.
My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
    My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
    You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.
My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
    an evil gang closes in on me.
    They have pierced my hands and feet.
I can count all my bones.
    My enemies stare at me and gloat.
They divide my garments among themselves
    and throw dice for my clothing.
O Lord, do not stay far away!
    You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
Save me from the sword;
    spare my precious life from these dogs.
Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
    and from the horns of these wild oxen.
I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
    I will praise you among your assembled people.
Praise the Lord, all you who fear him!
    Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
    Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
    He has not turned his back on them,
    but has listened to their cries for help.

I will praise you in the great assembly.
    I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you.
The poor will eat and be satisfied.
    All who seek the Lord will praise him.
    Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.
The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him.
    All the families of the nations will bow down before him.

For royal power belongs to the Lord.
    He rules all the nations.
Let the rich of the earth feast and worship.
    Bow before him, all who are mortal,
    all whose lives will end as dust.
Our children will also serve him.
    Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.
His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born.
    They will hear about everything he has done.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


I have never been one to make resolutions at the beginning of the new year.  I have tried, simply because it seems to be expected, but I never really felt any connection to any New Year's Resolution, so they never stuck.  I found myself perusing the ideas of resolutions from friends again this year, giving nary a thought to making my own.

In the meantime, I have been forced to face two character flaws.  One had been slowly creeping up on me, allowing me to think about it and brush it away whenever it was inconvenient.  The other called me on the phone, reached through the airwaves, and punched me in the face, Merriam-Webster-literally.  (Not Oxford-literally.) When I realized the assumptions I had been making and the way I totally disregarded the feelings of others (as both of these character flaws play out) I was forced to really look at myself.

Generally speaking, I like who I am.  I could list my many admirable qualities, but I'm much too humble to do that.  (See that there?  That was a joke.)

But given enough time to sit and think, eventually I'll come around to what God's been trying to show me all along.  I'm realizing that the root of the things that frustrate me most about myself and others always comes back to me...
How I handle situations.
How I respond to people.
How I choose to think.
How I choose to pray.
How I choose to spend my time.
With whom I choose to spend my time.

You get the idea.

So, for a time, for an undetermined period of time, I am removing some things that distract from what I really need to work on.  I see a good life all around me, but I'm constantly yearning for better.  Not in a frivolous way, but in a "there's more to life than this" kind of way.  I know I have a place in God's plan, and I know that I can serve Him where I am, so it's not that I'm not content.

On the contrary, I make great efforts to  be content.  (I have never put up curtains in my house, simply to remind me to be content.  Oh, how I'd love to have curtains.  But they are unnecessary, so, for me, I choose not to have curtains.  It's not that I think curtains are bad and I'm really glad for all the curtained windows of this world.  It's more symbolic, for ME, than anything else.  But I digress.)

I make great efforts to be content.  So this stirring is not a result of me wishing I had more, more, more.  I believe it is, instead, me seeing a little bit of the better that God has in store for me.  Perfection.  Perfect relationships.  Perfect choices.  While that may not be attainable, it's still something that we should be striving for.  And it all starts with changing myself.  As usual.

I feel like I'm muddling through this, trying to say something but just becoming more unclear.

I know there is Better, just around the corner.  Instead of being consumed with people who are not intimately part of my life, I need to focus on the relationships that are right in front of me.  I need to fix the way I interact with people, with God.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

So, don't mind me while I muddle through, perhaps a little too introspectively at times.  This public journal has always been my way to record life so I can later share it with the kids.  Perhaps they will find something useful in knowing that their mother had plenty of character flaws.  It's always nice to know that no one is perfect, right?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Through a glass, darkly

"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely." 1 Corinthians 13:12

One of the struggles that many people have is understanding suffering.  I have been given cause to think about this a lot more lately.  I see suffering in the world around me, near and far.  And I have taken action at times to alleviate some of the suffering...  certainly not as much as I could or should, but definitely more than I had in the past.

I have used logic and Bible texts to explain suffering in light of a loving and caring God who doesn't wave a magic wand to fix everything.  Logic and Bible texts often fall on deaf ears.  I couldn't help but be reminded of all that today...

This afternoon, I read the penultimate chapter of The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis to the kids.  (If you haven't read the book, you really must.  If you have read it, but not recently, pick it up and read it again. These last couple chapters are amazing.)

We started reading just after Narnia had been created and near the beginnings of its corruption.  Uncle Andrew had been listening to, and following, Jadis, the witch from Charn.  She had convinced Uncle Andrew that the Lion, Aslan, was out to get him. Polly, one of the young children, asks Aslan, the Lion, to say something to "unfrighten" Uncle Andrew.  Aslan responds by saying:

But I cannot tell that to this old sinner, and I cannot comfort him either; he has made himself unable to hear my voice. If I spoke to him, he would hear only growlings and roarings. Oh Adam's sons, how cleverly you defend yourselves against all that might do you good!

Uncle Andrew, caged by the animals for his own good
Uncle Andrew was deaf to the very voice that might offer him comfort, instead thinking it a voice of malice.

Further in the conversation, the young child, Digory, is confessing that he was tempted to steal magical fruit that would have healed his mother, saving her from her pain and suffering.

...the Witch tempted you to do another thing, my son, did she not?"

"Yes, Aslan. She wanted me to take an apple home to Mother."

"Understand, then, that it would have healed her; but not to your joy or hers. The day would have come when both you and she would have looked back and said it would have been better to die in that illness."

And Digory could say nothing, for tears choked him and he gave up all hopes of saving his Mother's life; but at the same time he knew that the Lion knew what would have happened, and that there might be things more terrible even than losing someone you love by death. But now Aslan was speaking again, almost in a whisper:

"That is what would have happened, child, with a stolen apple. It is not what will happen now. What I give you now will bring joy. It will not, in your world, give endless life, but it will heal. Go. Pluck her an apple from the Tree."

For a second Digory could hardly understand. It was as if the whole world had turned inside out and upside down. And then, like someone in a dream, he was walking across to the Tree, and the King and Queen were cheering him and all the creatures were cheering too. He plucked the apple and put it in his pocket. Then he came back to Aslan.

"Please," he said, "may we go home now?" He had forgotten to say "Thank you", but he meant it, and Aslan understood.

And that is a better explanation of suffering and God's love than I could ever give.  Forget for a moment that piece of fruit that Digory took home.  Digory understood that it was better for his mother to have to suffer through pain and illness than to have gone against Aslan's plan and use the apple heal his mother.

Lord, may I never be so arrogant as to think that I know or understand better than You.  There is much about this created world that I don't understand.  Try as I might, I can never know all that there is to know. I look forward to the day that I will understand things perfectly.  Until then, you have my heart, even though I can only see and understand you as through mirror, dimly.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I have confidence!

Moments ago, my girl was crying, between frantic gasps, explaining that her egg was ruined because it was "shrinkng" as she tried to see if it was ready to turn. It was just getting smooshed.

Now about ten minutes later, she just offered to make eggs for her brothers, confidently telling them that they'll be runny eggs because that's how she likes them. 

It's amazing what a difference success gives a child, especially when they were so certain of failure. 

I'm proud of my girl for persevering. And now I think I need to have her make me an egg...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

... And the winner is!

I am so excited to announce the winner of the Elegantees gift card code giveaway!  I wanted every single one of you to win but it just couldn't happen.  The winner...
That's the gift card, right there!

  Winning $10 to spend at the Elegantees store... Is...

Oooh, look, cute Elegantees tops.

Caroline Vladianu!  She will be sent the gift card code in a private message.

I thank each of you who put your name in to the draw. I do hope you'll check out Elegantees if you have not already. It is a great store, run by fabulous people, supporting a life-changing cause.

Thanks for playing.  I'll see you back here soon.  In the meantime, I wish you all a blessed year as we begin 2014 together.