Wednesday, October 29, 2008

a great run-on sentence

2 Timothy 1:8-12a  (Paul's words to Timothy)
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do.

What better news is there than this?

  • He saved us and called us to a holy calling

  • He did this because of His own purpose and grace and not because of our works

  • He has abolished death - through the gospel

  • He has brought life and immortality to light - through the gospel


Early this morning, baby nestled warm in between Matt and I, my phone buzzed.  Hmmmm.  A picture from Amy Long.  Who was the picture of?  I opened my little phone, surprised to see a small portrait of Pat Santavenere with his hair all curly on top.  Was this for real?  You'll have to ask Pat.

Later this afternoon, in light of Pat's fiasco last night, we got to talking about haircuts and Abbie expressed her desire to have hair like me, which I thought was sweet.  Her exact words were:  "Mom, I always wanted to be like you when I grow up, so can I get my hair cut to my shoulders?"  She is so stinkin' sweet that I could just eat her!

So....Abs and I left Stephen downstairs to make lunch for everyone and we headed to "Snips & Tips" (my bathroom where I cut the kids' hair and trim their nails....and occasionally they give me a tip).

Here's the before and after.  I'm happy to say that my client is pleased.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

unhappy laundry

At first Azariyah was happy.

And then she wasn't.  This is the way I feel whenever I look at my ever growing mound of laundry.

stop and smell the entire flower garden?

Ever since my kids were little, I've tried to express the importance of the phrase, "stop and smell the roses."   This sort of statement came from my lips primarily with Stephen, as he was (& still is a bit) often tempted to rush through things/experiences  without what I would consider, appreciation.  It's not that he didn't appreciate them in the end, but he didn't always slow down or stop to really let the enjoyment soak in.

Abbie on the other hand, stops to smell every single rose that comes her way and often ones that are out of her way.  She can rarely get from one point to the next without stopping to comment, express her enjoyment of or thoughts about something she has noticed that she likes.

This afternoon as Abs was on her way to brush her hair, she stopped by the baby to play with her feet and sing a little song to her...then she took one step up the stairs and looked back to say something sweet to Diamonte and then she even said something kind to me - out of nowhere.  All this before reaching step #4 where the brush awaited her.

I told her, "Abs - you don't just stop and smell the roses, you stop to smell the entire flower garden!"

When I am in "task-mode" and I just want the kids to do what I asked them to do in a timely matter, these sort of delays from Abbie can be tiresome.  Maybe I'm the one who needs to stop and smell my 7-year old rose that loves to take a detour in order to share her delight in something small.

20 resolutions from James

The following list was given by Sinclair Ferguson at the Desiring God conference I attended.  Of course I was far to slow to write them all down, but Justin Taylor got 'em and posted them on his blog.  They are given in Jonathan Edwards style...
James 1:5  To ask God for wisdom to speak and with a single mind

James 1:9010  To boast only in exaltation in Christ, & humiliation in world

James 1:13  To set a watch over my mouth

James 1:19  To be constantly quick to hear, slow to speak

James 2:1-4  To learn the gospel way of speaking to the poor and the rich

James 2:12  To speak always in the consciousness of the final judgement

James 2:16  To never stand on anyone's face with my words

James 3:14  To never claim as reality something I do not experience

James 4:1  To resist quarrelsome words in order to mortify a quarrelsome heart

James 4:11  To never speak evil of another

James 4:13  To never boast in what I will accomplish

James 4:15  To always speak as one subject to the providences of God

James 5:9  To never grumble, knowing that the Judge is at the door

James 5:12  To never allow anything but total integrity in my speech

James 5:13  To speak to God in prayer whenever I suffer

James 5:14  To sing praises to God whenever I am cheerful

James 5:14  To ask for the prayers of others when I am sick

James 5:15  To confess it freely whenever I have failed

James 5:15  To pray with and for one another when I am together with others

James 5:19  To speak words of restoration when I see another wander

Monday, October 27, 2008

james 3

Almost a month ago, Matt blessed me with a trip to Minnesota to attend the Desiring God Conference entitled: The Power of Words and the Wonder of God.  All of the messages can be heard or watched here.

Prior to Sinclair Ferguson's message and Paul Tripp's message, they showed this poignant video.  It's best to watch in a place that you can hear it - the tone of the music adds to the sober theme.

sovereignty & sorrow, a worthy example

As I was wrapping up the previous post, Becky Fox immediately came to my mind, as an excellent example of the marriage between grieving and trusting.

Just last week, Becky found out that her car needed a new transmission, which would cost over 3k.  If she made the choice to not have her car fixed, and opt to buy another car, her brother had found one with low mileage for  a little over 4K.  Either way, the thought of emptying her savings and dipping into her retirement plan wasn't a happy thought I'm sure.  We talked on the phone one evening and through her tears, I heard my friend make the choice to trust in the Lord.  I remember her saying that she knew that all of the money she had belonged to the Lord.  It would be easy in a situation like this to feel sorry for yourself and stake a claim on the money you saved up for other good things.  But Becky did not do that.  She opted to trust, even in her sorrow.

I watched Becky exemplify this same sort of attitude as she waited and waited and waited for the settlement date on the purchase of her home.  The need to wait caused all sorts of problems as her well thought out plans and schedules, which involved moving and cleaning and painting, were shifted over and over again. The prolonged date even left her without a home.   No, she didn't take to the streets - a friend opened her home to her and her cat, Shadow.  :)

I can recall a phone conversation I had with Becky where I prayed for her...and once again, through tears and sadness, I heard her place her trust in God's timing.  Her words were not a denial of the realities of being upset and frustrated - but she made that important turn towards trust.

Both of these stories - the transmission and her prolonged settlement date - had great endings.  God showed His faithfulness in so many ways to my friend.  But before the great ending, when she was living in the uncertainty of what would happen - she chose to trust.

Thanks Beck, for being a real-life example of what it looks like to grieve and trust in the Lord.

sovereignty & sorrow

I struggle from time to time with the following conflict:

I believe that God is sovereign and that His ways are best and perfect and ultimately for His glory and my good.  Yet when something happens that I believe is not good or best for a particular situation or even seems to give way for more evil actions - yet God ordains or permits it, I struggle with my emotional response.

For example, if I trust God totally, is there really room to be discouraged, disappointed, or grieved over His plan or decision regarding something that has a personal effect on my life or the life of my friends and/or family?

In reading 2 Kings 8 today, the Lord gave me a small little nugget of truth in the response of his servant, Elisaha.  Here's a little background:  Elisha is at Damascus and Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria was sick so he sends Hazael to meet him and to find out if Elisha knew from the Lord if he would recover from his sickness.  Elisha is then greeted by Hazael who has 40 camel loads worth of gifts (not bad!) and a question: "Your son Ben-Hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, 'Shall I recover from this sickness?' " v.9  Elisha informs Hazael that the king will recover, but that the Lord has shown him that he will certainly die.  This is not exactly good news to take back to the king - especially when it begins sounding hopeful (you will recover) but then ends horribly (but you will die).

Then in verse 11 and 12, we read this:
And he fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was embarrassed.  And the man of God wept.  And Hazael said, 'Why does my lord weep?' He answered, 'Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel.  You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women.'

Once again, not a very uplifting prophetic word.

Elisha doesn't just skip off into the desert with his 40 camel loads worth of gifts, thankful for the plans of God.  The Scripture says that "the man of God wept."

I was so thankful to read these five words.

In the midst of falling in love with our two foster children, the question of when and if (in that order) they  return to their birth mother looms over me.  My theology is what I cling to; it's what keeps me on solid ground when our family is immersed in such uncertainty.  Unlike Elisha, God has not given me a prophetic word about the future of these children.  I know the birth mother and she is not Hazael.  I don't believe she is setting out to harm her kids in any way, shape, or form.  But the future doesn't look so hot for these little ones based on the little bit of information I do know.

As I walk through so many unknowns, I am just relieved to know that grieving and trusting God do not have to be at odds.  In my grieving, I can turn to Him with trust and adoration.  The two can work together in a beautiful way that reflects the heart of our Savior.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

time out

The Abster takes time out of her busy day of scholastic studies to play in the baby prison (aka: play yard).

chop chop

Diamonte (19 months) got his first big-boy haircut, thanks to Marcia at Creative Design.   She did an excellent job at carefully trimming his curls and D sat very still, sporting a pink cape while sitting on Matt's lap.

not a "kid person"?

During the first few weeks of foster care, I could see how awkward and uncomfortable my son Stephen was with the kids.  I knew there wasn't a lot he could do with a newborn, but Diamonte was 14 months and full of energy and certainly excited to have a big boy like Stephen to play with.  Stephen seemed stiff around him though; almost indifferent.

I asked him one day what was going on and he made this confession:  "Mom, I'm not a kid person!"   In Stephen's mind, he concluded that he wasn't a "kid person" because he didn't know what to do with these kids that suddenly, overnight, became a part of our little, secure family.   The playing and teaching and caring didn't come naturally.  Well not at first.

In the last 3 months, Stephen has made a huge turn-around.  We haven't pressured him or forced him, but have tried to encourage him and give him time to grow.  The change came almost overnight.  He is on top of all the details.  When he hears the baby cry, he runs to put a pacifier in her mouth.  He asks me constantly how he can help and he is eager to learn how to do new things in order to be a bigger help.  I will mention that I did teach him a very critical skill:  making coffee in the morning.  Nothing like waking up to a fresh brew, courtesy of your 10 year old son!

He plays with Diamonte, teaches him things, reads to him, helps to dress him and corrects him!

Basically, my "non-kid kid" is actually a "kid person" and he didn't even know it!

I think it has surprised Stephen to see how God has changed him and has helped him to grow in his care and love for these children.

As a mom, I marvel at the lessons we are learning as a family as we've stepped out to do foster care.  There are family lessons that I was expecting, but there are all sorts of individual lessons that I wasn't expecting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



After weeks of carrying around an article from some woman's magazine about how to reorganize your linen closet, I finally did it!  It took a few phases that lasted a few days, but it's complete and I love it.

Highlights include:

  • rolling the bath towels instead of folding them

  • having bins for hand towels and pillow cases

  • having all the cleaning supplies in one place - on the floor in a plastic bin.  Now when Matt is in search of the windex  (yes, Matt) he can go to one central place and wa-la, it will be there!

Here's a before and after shot.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Why does something so gross make your soup taste so good?  And just in case the picture below doesn't turn your stomach just a little bit, as you imagine it floating in a steaming hot pot of 16 various beans, then read this.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

something new

Knowing that I would be handed my new ESV Study Bible today, it got me thinking about my approach to reading the Scriptures.  It also got me wondering about how others read the Bible.

For the past several years I have chosen a reading plan that gets me through the entire Bible in 2 years.  I always used to do the one year plan but usually when April rolled around, I'd fall behind and the thought of trying to catch up was overwhelming.  Also, in my attempt to get all of the reading in, I found that I didn't have the time I wanted to just meditate on a particular Scripture and/or journal what I was learning.  I also enjoy being in two different books at a time as opposed to four.  It keeps me a little more focused.

What plan do you use and why do you like it?

it's here......woohoo!

Matt bought me the long awaited ESV Study Bible and it arrived today! know what this means.....yours is here too!  I can't wait to dig in.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

a frightening sentence

I am reading through 1 Kings and just wrapped up reading chapter 11.  We learn in the previous chapters that Solomon built a temple for the Lord, which was something his father David had on his heart to personally accomplish. He didn't get to do that; instead his son Solomon had that privilege.  Solomon took great delight in carrying this project out.  He was meticulous with the details.  He blesses the Lord in chapter 8 and dedicates the temple to the Lord and his prayers and petitions for his people are faith-filled.

At the close of Chapter 8, Solomon gets up from his knees and stands to bless the assembly of Israel, ending with this benediction: "Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day." v:61  They offered sacrifices to the Lord and they feasted and celebrated for seven days.  On day eight, they went back to their homes joyful and glad in their hearts for all the goodness that the LORD had shown them.

In chapter 9, the LORD actually appears to Solomon a second time and confirms that He has heard his prayer and then exhorts him to walk with integrity of heart and uprightness, being careful to keep His commands.  He warns Solomon not to turn aside from following Him and commands him not to serve and worship other Gods.

Solomon is a wise man, right.  We are told in Chapter 10 v.24 that "...the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind."  Solomon wasn't just wise - he was filthy rich!  God had blessed this man big time.  There was nothing he needed - nothing.  Nada.

There was something he wanted though.  And what he wanted was the very thing God told him he could not have.
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh:  Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, "You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods."  v.1-2

The very next sentence is frightening:  "Solomon clung to these in love." v.2

And God was right.  They turned his heart away from the LORD and toward other gods.  The wisest man that ever lived was not walking in the wisdom he knew so well.  He knew what God had commanded him and he knew what the consequences would be because God made that crystal clear.  Solomon knew the goodness of the LORD.  He experienced it daily.  He was prosperous and respected by everyone.  Yet he clung - in love - to the very thing that God said was off limits.

As a Christian in 2008.  As a wife and mom and homeschool teacher.  As a sister, as a daughter, as a friend.  As a foster mom.  As a pastor's wife.  As a woman.  As a human being - this portion of Scripture is sobering.  How easily I drift, especially in "prosperous times", to things that draw my heart away from the Lord.

John Piper offers a helpful prayer from his book "Roots of Endurance".  I read this at the beach this summer and have sought to pray these words often.  They have helped me as I hope they help you!
Let your goodness, O God, bind my heart with a chain to You!  Seal my will to yours with an unbreakable application of your eternal covenant.  Keep me!  Preserve me!  Defeat every rising rebellion!  Overcome every niggling doubt!  Deliver me from every destructive temptation!  Nullify every future allurement!  Shape me!  Incline me!  Hold me!  Master me!  Do whatever must be done to keep me trusting You and fearing You till Jesus comes or calls.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

compare & contrast essay

A discovery has been made.  My ten-year old son is a Mac-snob and he doesn't even own a Mac...yet!  Big Daddy has informed us that come December, we're going to more than likely purchase an iMac and since that moment in time, great anticipation has filled our house.  Yes, over a computer.  Pat Santavenere will convince you that it's more than a computer.  Stephen agrees.

In our English class today, Stephen's assignment was to pick a subject and begin outlining the framework for a compare/contrast essay.  He didn't take very long to choose his subject.  "I want to do Mac and PC Mom!"  At first I suggested another idea but he kept coming back to his first choice so that's what he's going with.

I wanted to share with everyone what he wrote on his T-chart, which lists details about each subject.  I think you'll get a laugh.  Pat...well, you'll be beaming with pride at the little monster you helped to create.


- you can get a desktop or laptop..............with a PC you can get a desktop or laptop

- it can run microsoft word.....................with a PC you can run microsoft word

- it can run iTunes..................with a PC you can run iTunes

- you can play games on it..................with a PC you can play games

- it is fast..........but a PC is slow

- it has funny tv ads..........but the PC tv ads are boring

- it has time machine to back up your stuff........but the PC can't back things up; at least not like TM

- it turns on fast.............but the PC takes forever to turn on

- it has leopard.......but the PC has Vista

Upon learning that we would be purchasing our first Mac, Stephen began creating his own Mac/PC commercials using lego people and his camera.  His tag line is, "I'm a PC but I don't want to be!"

Monday, October 6, 2008

cords of steel and silk

John Piper's latest book, Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ, is a must read! I say this having only read the introduction and chapter one - it's that good.

In this short (it's only 112 pages) book, Dr. Piper seeks to answer four questions:

1- Why does God think it is good for us to know that He is sovereign over sin?
2- Why does God not restrain sin more often (natural disasters, calamaties, personal tragedies, etc.)?
3- How can we have faith and joy during the severity of the last days?
4- How is Christ magnified/glorified in a world of sin like ours?

Here's an inside look at how personal this quest is for him:
"...I preached a series of messages under the title "Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ."  It marked the beginning of my twenty-eighth year of preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church.  There was death that autumn, just like there had been death in the spring.  My father and my granddaughter.  The I-35 bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed.  Darkness overcame the young.  And steady-state suffering kept its inexorable pace.  I write out of the way I experience the word of God.  And what I experience almost every day is someone's pain.  Sometimes my own.  Always someone else's that, in part, becomes mine."

Dr. Piper will seek to show how the Bible answer these questions as he navigates through various historical accounts throughout the pages of Holy Scripture.   His prayer for the reader (that's me and hopefully you!) is
"that as these great historical vistas of God's sovereignty over sin take their place in your mind, they would have a profoundly practical effect in making you strong in the face of breath-stopping sorrows and making you bold for Christ in the face of dangerous opposition - Christ-exalting strength in calamity and Christ-exalting courage in conflict.  I pray that the Lord will weave cords of steel and silk into the fabric of your soul."

Cords of steel and silk.....

I love John Piper.   Get the book and read it!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

all in his head?

We have a bees' nest under one of our bushes in the front of our yard.  The bummer is, the bush is at our front walkway so everytime we go out or come in, we need to walk around so as to avoid the mad rush of bees.  I for one just walk right by figuring that if I don't bother them, they won't bother me.  Matt and the kids are not so carefree.

Matt had to preach this morning so he left early and was probably in a rush, so instead of walking across our lawn, he just risked it and walked quickly past the bush.  Bad move.  Before even reaching his car, he realized he had been stung and as he was driving to church, his arm was swelling up.  Did I mention that Matt is allergic to bees and as long as I've known him, I've heard him proclaim, "The only good bee is a dead bee!"

After church when I saw him, he showed me his arm and I immediately pulled him over to Steve Bickel - the resident pastor/pharmacist.  Treatment required:  Benadryl.

When Matt arrived home, his arm was swollen even more and he was finding it extremely difficult not to scratch it.  Treatment required: anti-itch cream.  Sounds good, right.  He found some cream upstairs that he apparently really lathered on - BIG TIME lathered on.  It seemed to help.  Or, was it all in his head?

My friend Allyson was over and we were all watching The Amazing Race when she slipped into the kitchen for a cookie.  When she walked back out, her face was turning a bright pink and she looked like she was holding back laughter.  I asked her a few times what was going on and she finally whispered in my ear that the cream Matt was using was this.  Of course I cracked up and then told Matt to check out the cream he had been using.  He got up, walked into the kitchen and broke out in his deep laughter upon the discovery.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

ever feel stuck?

If you're like me and you struggle with your speech, feeling stuck is a daily experience.  I am talking about feeling stuck in your ability to change for more than a day or maybe even for more than an hour on a rough day.

I went to the Power of Words and the Wonder of God conference with one simple prayer.  It sort of came out of a feeling of dread and fear due to the anticipation of the messages that I believed would strike me with deep conviction.   When you feel stuck, conviction is not really what you want.  You want quick solutions to what is always a much deeper problem.  Or, you get used to being stuck and you get comfortable.  At least I do.  So I went to the conference half scared to take a hard, serious look at my "talk problem", as Paul Tripp calls it.

What I heard was not what I expected to hear but it's what I needed to hear.  Here are two quotes that set the foundation for me.  Almost immediately, they wiped away my fears and refocused my attention on what matters most - the glory of God.
"The greatest aid is to have the word of God preached over me so that it can do its spiritual work in me.  God's word sanctifies.  All my vain efforts to train my tongue will be left in the past because He will transform me through His word."   - Sinclair Ferguson

"The gospel is so robust that we don't need to be afraid of looking at the trouble of our talk."    - Paul Tripp

If you find yourself battling with speech, these two messages in particular will serve you well.  They are free online to listen to or watch right here.