Friday, September 29, 2006

SBQ of the week: Mistakes

Today's SBQ was suggested by Sharon
( and is:

When you find yourself making a lot of mistakes in various stitching projects do you find it better to muddle your way through or do you take a brief break from stitching? If you do take a break, how long do you take?

I find most of my mistakes occur late in the day when I'm tired or when the chaos level with the children is too high to concentrate. So in both of those cases, I find it necessary to take a break and come back to it later. Usually later in the day (if it's due to chaos) or the next day (if it's due to tiredness) but soon enough that I haven't forgotten where the mistake was to begin with. lol

Awesome Discussion

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
We just had an awesome time of discussing materialism in our Bible Study time. It was such a blessing. Lots of good questions. Even more heart-felt searching. We talked about where our attitudes about money came from. We discussed how we can instill in our children proper attitudes towards stuff. We prayed for our children as they live in a peer-pressured society to be able to have appropriate appreciation for what they have and God-centered desires. We discussed the heart of why we are to not seek more:
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" Hebrews 13:5

This quote will be the perfect bridge into next week's discussion on security. So much of our pursuit of stuff is out of insecurity. But God has commanded us to be content because He is constant in our lives. Amazing!

We spent a significant amount of time discussing how to be with friends who are at different places than us regarding acquiring things. We all agreed that prayer is the first and foremost response. One of the ladies said that she had recently dealt with an issue of whether to say something to a friend about a sin issue in the friend's life. Overwhelmingly she has been reminded that she needs to pray. "If I'm willing to say something to her, shouldn't I also be willing to spend an hour on my knees praying for her?" What a question. I'm not sure I am always willing to spend the imploring time on my knees. And if I'm not willing to do that, I should not be speaking "for" God. But we also all agreed that sometimes the Holy Spirit so clearly leads us to be "Nathan's" to a friend's "David" and speak boldly and responsibly about behavior. In those cases, we must be willing to face that if the friend is not willing to hear, the friendship may be strained or end until they are able to hear what was said. Courageous friendship.

We also spent a significant amount of time discussing how we may impose on others in our generosity. Thank you for your comments on that, I thought I might be out there in left field, but from comments and responses today, I don't think I'm alone out there. In offering to give to others sometimes it is just that, generosity, and there is nothing wrong with that. But, sometimes, it is perpetuating a lifestyle choice that says to others "this is the way you should live, where you should go, where you should eat, how you should celebrate, etc." Those lifestyle choice may be right for me, but if I set it up as the expectation and I'm "giving" it to others I may take away their ability to joyfully reciprocate in their own way. It is subtle. And it may not be the case in all offers of sharing. But I think God is telling me to be careful what messages I'm sending unintentionally. Why does this walking a Holy Life have to be filled with so many subtleties?

Finally the discussion turned to how do we make this work in marriages, when two people come with differing opinions about money and saving and possessions. We spent time praying for our husbands as they provide for our families (everyone present was a SAHM) and for ourselves to be supportive as they lead our families. It was a sweet time. I'm looking forward to future discussions in this vein.

note: photo from

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Generous to a Fault

Well, no one took on the question of do we say anything to a friend/sister in Christ struggling with shopping/accumulating stuff. I guess I'll just have to keep praying on that one.

Today, I want to briefly mention something else that has come to mind as I've prayed over this topic this week. Can we be materialistically motivated in our generosity? Stay with me for a minute, because I don't know the answer. But I've been thinking how I have been guilty of saying to friends who have less monetary flexibility than me to just come and do (whatever) and I would pay for it. I am happy to share my monetary blessings. Often this is said when I am really wanting to do something and someone else is really trying to live within their budget. So I get company and they get to go do whatever. It should be a win-win. But is it? I wonder if my willingness to share comes across as flaunting. I wonder if I should instead choose activities that just don't cost money--still get to be with a friend but they are not put in a place of accepting a gift or refusing to go.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines materialism as
"Main Entry: ma·te·ri·al·ism Pronunciation: m&-'tir-E-&-"li-z&m Function: noun

2 : a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things

Even in sharing what I have, maybe I am putting stress on the fact that I have it and not looking at what that may or may not do to the spirit of my friend. Something to ponder as I strive to seek God first, keep the attitude about stuff and money right, and watch Him align the rest of my life.

Blessings my friends. I'll post tomorrow after our Bible Study discussion.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Finally a Stitching Picture

Here is a block I stitched for Robin's Seasons RR:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
It is Prairie Schooler--Country Seasons (Autumn, obviously).

"Let's Go Shopping" Not!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

A few years ago I remember being in a study with someone who loved shopping, and buying and having stuff. Her love of shopping was becoming a problem in her marriage. So she was asking for help and prayer. She was saying that part of the problem of not shopping was not being able to spend time with a certain friend who often went with her. I remember someone asking her if this friend always bought things when they went and she said the friend rarely bought anything, she was happy to just look. So I remember saying that maybe it was worth pursuing just inviting the friend over for tea, or to go for a walk, or something that did not involve shopping. She was adamant that this was a shopping friend and that the other suggestions were inadequate. The truth is she did not want to stop spending money and accumulating things. She wanted to believe that it was the friend keeping her from stopping but it was her.

A few weeks later I remember being very uncomfortable when invited to go on a shopping excursion to Stoke-on-Trent, the pottery mecca (think Wedgewood, Spode, Portmeireon all at 80% off the prices in the US), because this person was going. I wondered what it said to go along when I knew this was a difficult area for her. In the end, I did go because she was not the person who invited me and because I actually needed a couple of things. But all day long it needled at me as I witnessed her spending more and more on things that she even admitted on that day she did not need.

Does it matter how we behave around our friends in the matters of material belongings? I believe that it does.

Paul cautions us,
“Even if we believe that it makes no difference to the Lord whether we do these things, still we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves; for we must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others---of those who feel these things are wrong.”

My shopping may not be an issue for me, but if shopping is an issue for someone else, do I have any right to participate in the activity in front of them or with them? According to this passage, the answer has to be “NO.” I need to find things to do with them that do not tempt them to step outside the boundaries that God is laying for them. But that is not easy to do. Even in the case above, where the friend had admitted needing help in the area, I found it impossible to say, “Maybe we should do something else.” I was afraid of offending. But that would be the response of a true friend.

It is even more difficult if the person who apparently has an issue with materialism has not invited me into the problem. Then it just appears that I am judging, not helping. So what am I to do? Is it enough to simply avoid the situation? Will there not always be someone else willing to go shopping with them? Then, what? Pray for them? Absolutely, I believe that is the first step. But should I speak up? I don’t know. I welcome your ideas.

In my heart of hearts, I want friends who care enough about me to tell me when I’m falling into a pattern of behavior that is going to hurt me. But that implies close friend. Do I want casual friends doing that? On the surface, not really. But, ultimately if God has led the person to speak, I hope they will be faithful to speak. And I pray that God would also give me a heart to listen. So in that respect, if I feel that God is leading me to say something I would pray that the person would be in a place to hear it. It sounds good on paper, but it is so difficult in reality. What do you think?

Tomorrow: Generous to a Fault?


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dream a Little Dream

I was sitting in a room of church leaders and future church leaders. We were discussing our dreams as part of a Jesus on Leadership study. The pastor asked, “What do you dream of doing?”

The room was quiet. Shuffling in seats. A nervous cough. More silence.

Tentatively, I said, “I want to write.”

There. It was out there. I’ve dreamed it for a few years. I’ve never said it out loud. And now I’ve said it to the church leadership. I held my breath.

The response was amazing. The validation of the dream. The encouragement. The loving and prayerful support.

The next day, I’m walking in the park with a friend. Out of the blue she turns to me and says, “So when are you going to start writing for others?”

I stopped. “How did you know?”

“I didn’t.”

It’s a God-thing. Validation. Encouragement.

"It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else."
~ Erma Bombech ~

I took the chance. And God validated the dream.

I want to be in the business of validating dreams, not of hampering them. How about you?

Join other Christian bloggers here today for their take on the quote.

Materialism and the 50 Project Challenge

As I said yesterday, I have been praying about whether or not there is any area of having material things that may be an issue for me or which could become an issue. And the thing that came to mind was my hobbies. hmmm

There is a current activity going through some of the blogs that I read to not buy any more cross stitch “stash” (charts, fabric, etc.) until 50 projects have been stitched from current stash. It sounds like a great idea, but then there are still a couple of charts out there that I am really wanting, so I think that I won’t sign up...

And I find myself pondering if this is my materialism issue? I don’t really think it is, but I think it is probably the weak area that I could let become a problem if I’m not aware of it. As I said there are a couple of charts I want. I’ve wanted them for several months now. But I committed to myself that I would not buy them until I finished the 2 main projects that are in my rotation. It’s not 50, but it’s the same idea. I’ve committed to myself to not buy any fabric until I have used ½ of what I currently have bought and stored. Basically, I want to be able to find what I need and close the drawer where it is stored. These are commitments I made in March to myself, and I’ve honoured them. If collecting hobby materials (cross stitch and quilting) was my god, I know that I would have failed in this endeavour a long time ago. I didn’t begin this commitment for a spiritual reason, it was practical--I have more than I need for three lifetimes. But does it say anything about my spiritual state?

Anna asks, “At any rate, I know I need to do something about the sprawl in my craftroom, so I was thinking, what's the point of 50? There's no magic in finishing 50 items, there's no rhyme or reason to the number 50 or even 25 or 10. Does it make any sense to stitch 50 charts if you have to buy the threads and fabric for 46 of those? Or, do they mean to use up $300-400 worth of what they've already got? Now that, I can get behind.”

Why 50? What about using $300 or $400 worth of stuff? Or what about just doing what I feel I need to do to have better control over the stuff in my life (or you feel you need to gain more control over your life). I think this is where I am coming from, 50 is an arbitrary number. To me it made sense to cut back. It made sense to finish what I started two years ago before I did something new. But 50 would just be an arbitrary target. I need goals that are more tangible, and make sense to my current life.

But now I’m back to my original question: What does it say about my spiritual state? I think it says that materialism is not my current god. I’m happy when I can add to my hobby, but I don’t have to buy to be happy. And I’ve learned how to share that hobby with others. In the last year I’ve had the joy of stitching for several quilt projects for friends to celebrate the joy of babies’ births and in one case to warm a friend as she recovers from chemo. God has blessed me with never truly suffering material need, but he has taught me to share with others by identifying with them in emotional need. I believe I am learning to say with the Apostle Paul,

“Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”

I am content with what I have. I believe I would be just as content with less. In some ways I think I would be much more content with less. That is why I continue to purge my life of junk. But I don’t think I need to feel guilty the next time I add a chart to my wish list or even if I buy something off of my wish list. I don’t buy it unless I can afford it, and I know that God has blessed me with the ability to have such luxuries. So cross stitch is not a materialism issue for me. Really materialism is not a big issue for me. That’s good, I have so many more issues to work on. lol. So where do I go with this study? Tomorrow I’ll be considering what to do when you know that a sister does struggle with the issue of material things. See you then.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Materialism: Is it an Issue?

I am beginning a new study with my Bible Study group. It is a hodgepodge of thematic discussions. Each week there is an assigned topic for members to come prepared to discuss issues, questions, Scriptures, other people's quotes and whatever else God lays on our hearts. I'm looking forward to hearing and learning from the others. I'm believing that somewhere in the midst of these discussions I may very well find where God has been leading me to write. We'll see. But you, my friends and readers, will get a head start each week by hearing where my heart is on the issues and themes. Lucky you (tee hee hee). Lucky me, that I will have some of your wise comments to help me clarify my thoughts before I teach each Friday morning. Anyway, the first topic is just a soft lob to get everyone started. Materialism.

The definition of materialism according to MiPa:
*the state of being controlled by the stuff we accumulate
*the constant need for more material or monetary things
*making belongings an idol

(I was going to put an official definition here, but I think I will wait until another post. I don't want to confuse myself.)

I tend not to be too bothered by material things. New car, ten your old car, bus, taxi, or walk, if there is a means of getting where I am going I'm happy. Designer clothes or Wal-Mart store brand, if it is appropriate to cover and protect me from the elements, I'm happy. I like nice things, but I don't have to have them to be happy.

It is tempting to say that of course I'm not bothered, because I've been blessed my whole life with having material things. And for the most part that is true. I've never gone without necessities of life. I've had tight times, but never not been able to get what I needed. But I think there is more to it than that.

It is probably safer to say I'm not bothered because of the example of my parents when I was young. My Dad is a farmer. And farming is not very dependable. You can invest an awful lot to see it go to naught with a nasty turn of the weather or price. We spent 6 months of the year living on the promise that a crop was coming, but we didn't spend much during that six months in case the crop didn't come in. All of our expendable money was invested into the farm. If the crop came in vehicles, nicer clothes, more meals in restaraunts, movies at the cinema, etc were part of our life. If the crop was not good, we made do with last years models, more hand-me-downs from my cousins, and more game nights at home than movie nights out. It was never really articulated, but the lifestyle confirmed that you don't spend what you don't have, and I learned that from an early age.

The one thing that my Mom and Dad did not wait until the crop came in to do was to tithe. I remember overhearing a conversation when I was quite young where my Dad was predicting what he thought a reasonable guess of what the crop would sell for if the market continued. A tithe was determined from that and weekly tithe amounts were established. I can also remember another time after the crop came in, hearing my Dad tell my Mom to write an extra check to the church because we hadn't given enough. Indelible memories on a young heart which helped me to understand that it was God's first.

And so they laid the groundwork of a life that is not too bothered by material things because it is God's first. I did go through a period as a young adult where I was bothered and I spent too much. And the debt came. But God blessed me with a husband who made some of the same mistakes and did not want to repeat them. We set a goal to be debt-free and accomplished it and that brought a new freedom. We live within our means and we enjoy what God gives us. That has been wonderful. But that does not necessarily mean that materialism is never an issue.

Henry David Thoreau, in Walden, said that
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.
I like that. The more I can let go, the less hold the cares of the world have on me. And the richer I will be. It is a philosophy that resounds with me. But it is not enough. If I am focusing on what I need to let go, material things are still my focus. They can still be my god in the quest to get rid of them.

In contrast, Jesus said,
What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and the way He works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (Luke 12:29ff, The Message
This is really the key, seeking God first. Steeping myself in God. Giving God the glory and the honour for the blessings I have. Recognizing that I could have all the riches in the world, but if I didn't have God I would be far too poor. Likewise, I can have not a penny to my name but being a child of God makes me rich. When my focus is on God first, material blessings are just that, blessings, and they do not control me.

So, I could be on the way to feeling rather smug. Material things don't have much hold on me. But getting smug at this point could be dangerous. I asked God to show me the non-essentials I spend money on and reveal to me if they have too much control on my life. As always, when I earnestly seek God's face, He is more than willing to show me where my life could be more aligned with His Holiness. Next time, I'll look at the area of my spending that could become an issue if I don't keep it surrendered to God.

Blessings....Have a Wonderful Monday....

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Little Blessings

Sometimes I miss the little blessings that God gives me, but our trip to Germany was filled with little blessings. I've been meaning to share them, but let other things get in the way. So, without further delay, here are some ways we were blessed.

*It was pouring rain the day we left. We had several things that we need to do before leaving (take dry cleaning, mail a letter, buy something for the camera, etc). Did I mention it was raining? Also, we were going out for breakfast as we do every Saturday morning. And parking in our little town is difficult. Did I mention it was raining? We pulled up in front of the cafe and there was a parking place right in front of the door. We praised God for His kindness. When it came to run the other errands, my dear husband was going to drop me off and drive around the block both at the dry cleaners and the post office while I ran in (bless him). Both stops had parking places immediately in front of their doors. This has never happened. We again thanked God. Then we went home to load the luggage in the car to go to the airport. The rain stopped. We loaded the car. The rain started again. Isn't God good?

*We are driving through Germany with a praise cd playing. From the back seat I hear a little voice singing "Blessed be the Name of the Lord, Blessed be the Name." It was so sweet. My husband looked at me and said "I think we are doing something right." Isn't God good?

*The *stupid* Satellite Navigation System got us lost. Yes it was the system's fault. It had diverted us around an accident (which we were okay with) but in the process of getting us back to the main road it had said turn right onto a road that was not more than a cowpath. (ok the system didn't know how little the road was, just that it was a road) So anyway we were lost, and we were trying to determine the best way to get back. We stopped the car to look at the map. Determined that we were about a mile from a better right turn and then we would be back to a main road in about 3-4 minutes. We were probably stopped for 5 minutes. We got back onto the road and followed our new plan and sure enough, 5 minutes later we were at the intersection with the main road. Where there was an accident. A bad accident. With a car off the ravine on the other side of the road. It had just happened. (Everyone was out of their cars and appeared there were no major injuries and several people had stopped to help so we did not stop--better to have help that speaks the language). The few minutes we were lost and determining our route may have kept us from being in the middle of the accident. Isn't God good?

*The weather for the week was supposed to be around 21C and cloudy, but no rain. Instead we had perfect blue skies everyday and the temperature was 30-35C. Perfect weather! Isn't God good?

I pray I never forget to thank God for the "little" things He blesses my life with everyday.

How has God been good to you today?

Another way that God has been good this week: My friend Mary's surgery went well. The surgeon did not believe there was any node involvement. She'll get full results today, but thank you all for praying.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sacred and Ordinary

"No distinction was made between the sacred and the everyday...their life was all one piece. It was all sacred and all ordinary."

~ Sue Bender ~
author of Plain and Simple

I have struggled with this quote this week. I would love, someday, for someone to be able to say this of me. But, alas, I am far from it.

I try to live my life with consistency. I don't like compartmentalization of it--this is my church life, this is my family life, this is my recreation life, etc. But I find that compartmentalizing is so much easier. *sigh*

I try to not miss the sacred in the ordinary and to always give God the glory for the ordinary successes in my life. But in reality, I take far too much credit and bask in more of my own glory than God's.

I make distinctions between the everyday and the sacred. And I don't like it.

I see snippets of this seamlessness in other people. I try to learn. Maybe someday...

Other's will be writing today about this same subject. You'll be able to find their interpretations here:

I know I'll be reading with interest, trying to learn to be more seamless in my life.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What a difference 24 hours make

From the whirling dervishes of yesterday to whirling ballerinas in the living room today. Wish I had had the camera, they were too cute. Dancing with their hands in the air while I blasted Mercy Me's Undone cd. My perspective is better. I'm not really sure their behavior is better (crayons on the cabinet this morning prove that) but I'm not as undone by them when I'm focusing on being Undone by Him. I highly recommend this cd!

Thought I'd include a pic of when they look angelic. lol This from the trip. They actually started the night on opposite sides of the bed (note the duvet on the right side to cushion dd1 since she is not used to sleeping in a big bed). Apparently during the night she crawled over the duvet in the center to be close to her big sister and big sis moved to the other side in order to "keep sleeping" in her words.

In another note, one of my dear internet friends is having surgery today to remove a cancerous tumour in her breast. Please join me in lifting up Mary today. Praying for exceptional results.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Free to Good Home

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
One completely non-housebroken, un-potty trained, constant chattering and into everything 19 month old. Don't let the cuteness fool you. She is a force to be reckoned with.

If you are really kind, I'll include as an additional bonus:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
One four-year old, not-so-helpful tattle tale. Not-so-helpful in terms of she doesn't tattle at the "mom she's in the laundry room" stage or even the "mom she took the soap off the cabinet" stage, but waits until the "mom she went in your laundry room, climbed on the basket and got your orange soap and took it to the toy room and opened it and poured it all out on the carpet" stage. It was Pledge furniture soap. It took 45 minutes to sponge out of the carpet. I think there will still be a stain.

Just like there is a stain where said nineteen month old scribbled on the tan carpet with black mascara this morning (pre-Pledge incident).

Any takers?

I thought not. And since they are both sleeping like angels and I've had a cup of tea and a long prayer/Bible Study time, I guess I'll keep them. Today. They may up for offer again soon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Glimpses of Germany

Warning picture overload! Here are a few pics from our trip. I'll supply a few more stories in the next few days.
This is the tallest mountain in Germany, the Zugspitz.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Here we are on the balcony of our room. Notice the Zugspitz behind us. It was our view for the week.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Here we are at Neuschwanstein Castle. We've just walked down the hill after touring the castle (25 minute walk down).
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Looking down from the cable car (we just came up those cables--it was practically straight up for 15 minutes) to the Eibsee as we near the top of the Zugspitz.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
My husband and dd4 on the cable car.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

My girls at Konigschlosse, Herrenchiemsee.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We took 1484 pictures, so obviously this is a drop in the bucket. I'll post more as I tell some of the stories.

The Car Story

We try to get to Germany every couple of years. It is a place that we love. We feel like we are going home when we go there. Our family roots are there. My husband was born there (he's an Army brat). It is just a comfortable holiday place for us. And one thing we always do is splurge on a premiere car for hire while we are there. My husband loves to drive, and autobahns scream out to be driven, really driven. So we splurge on a car. This year my husband had hired a Mercedes E-class with Satellite Navigation System. He could not wait to get to Germany to drive his Merc. It was to be a fun-filled week of seeing how fast he could drive. He talked about it and dreamed about it and salivated over it. We had the paperwork to prove that a Mercedes E-class was reserved. And we arrived...and this is the car we received.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Now you may not be car enthusiasts, but you should be able to immediately determine that It's not even a Mercedes. It is a Volvo. A Volvo Station Wagon. The sweet man behind the counter said to my husband, we have no Mercedes at all today. To his credit, my husband never said a word. He just accepted the keys. Accepted the keys with a dejected puppy dog look that would melt your heart. We could have taken a smaller Beemer, but it wasn't one with a power engine. (I'm sure they had seen an order for a car and two child seats and assumed we would love a Volvo Station Wagon. They were mostly wrong).
It turned out to be a great car. It had incredible power. It had great get up and go. It was comfortable. (It had a lousy Sat-Nav system but that is for another post). Our first autobahn experience in the car was trying to get to church on time. And when the traffic and road construction cooperated this car valiently tried. We just ran out of road. DH had not even started really pushing it when road restrictions were back in place. We didn't make it to church. But we had fun trying.

And, I looked at my husband and said, "I know it's not the Mercedes, but, really, how many people can say they've driven a station wagon at a cruising speed of 135MPH?" He just grinned. Not many.

In Other Words--Friendship

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What! You too? I thought I was the only one!"
~C. S. Lewis~

It was a Bible Study class at my church when I was in college. I was 20 and the eldest person in the room was 80. I was feeling considerably out of place. I was going thru a horrific (and dangerous) time with a roommate and the leader of the group kept harping that I was being too rigid and just needed "to forgive." She couldn't comprehend that a police officer friend was spending his off-hours sitting outside my house because he was afraid for us. This was beyond "just forgive." I felt like I was the only one that the leader didn't "get." Jan was 15 years older than me. Married. Successful. And she was going thru a very difficult time in her marriage. The leader kept harping on the fact that she needed to submit--to a man that was not a Christian and was walking so far away from ethics much less Christianity that it was impossible to submit. Jan wanted her marriage. She wanted it whole. And she wanted to support to make that happen. The leader could not understand a difficult marriage. So Jan thought she was the only one in the group that the leader didn't "get." But we "got" each other. We instinctively understood one another. We could finish each other's thoughts. And we clicked. Friendship was borne, and still blossoms 18 years later.

Fast forward 3 years. I was sitting in the chapel at the seminary for my first convocation. Shy. Somewhat scared. Out of place? Jules sat beside me. Smiled uneasily. We started talking. Our hearts knitted in that exact moment when we realized we were not alone in feeling scared and out of place. Friendship was borne and blossoms 15 years later.

What is unusual in these cases? None of us share our hearts easily. We are all three very guarded people. Don't want to get hurt. We have casual friends, yes, but few deep-share-our-lives-with friends. But the friendships cemented immediately. We had looked at each other and found someone who shared our hearts, when we thought we were all alone. And my life is forever richer because of those moments.

If you are reading Jules or Jan, thank you for being my heart friends. I love you!

This post is in conjunction with Christian Women Online's "In Other Words" writing challenge each week. You can find what other's are saying about C.S. Lewis' quote here:

Monday, September 11, 2006

Education is Mandatory...and other iterations

I know that I am very late writing about the Mark Twain quote last week, but I was on holiday. But it is one of my favorite quotes, so I am going to have a go at it. Bear with me. I'll tell you about the holiday in my next posts. I promise.

Don't let schooling get in the way of your education.
Mark Twain

The theme behind home education in the UK is based on the philosophy "Education is mandatory, school is optional." I always think of the Mark Twain quote when I see those words. And it fits my philopsophy of education, so of course I am going to write about education. Right? Wrong. I've thought about these words alot over the last week and think that maybe we miss the bigger picture on a lot of issues that we choose to become dogmatic or legalistic.

I've had lots of things go through my head this week.
* Discipleship is mandatory, program ~x~ is optional
* Evangelism is mandatory, tract ~y~ is optional
* Mission work is mandatory; foreign/domestic/your own home is optional
But the one I keep hearing the refrain of is: "Worship is mandatory, church is optional" or in the phrasology of Mark Twain: "Don't let your church attendance get in the way of your worship."

Now before everyone writes me off as a heretical nutcase, don't hear me wrong. I think that church attendance is important, but should not get in the way of the bigger picture. Let me give an example from my recent holiday. We were traveling from Munich to Garmisch on Sunday. The plan was to arrive in Garmisch for the eleven a.m. English speaking worship service. It took longer to get across Munich than we had planned. Then there was road construction and lots of traffic at times. Despite my husband's best efforts (this story to come) it became apparent that we were not going to make it in time to even slip in the back late.

So, we did the next best thing. We popped in a CD of an Alexandria (IN) choir singing the musical "Send It On Down." We pulled into the Alps blasting praise music of the Holy Spirit coming to us and us going to heaven. It was amazing. I don't think the CD has ever sounded so good. We had an amazing time of worship, without ever getting out of our car. Would the church service have been good--absolutely. But it was not necessary to worship. Worship happend because we chose to worship not because of our location.

May I remember to not let legalistic bounds get in the way of the bigger picture of what God wants to do in my life.