Tuesday, February 27, 2007

In Others' Words--Chic Religiosity or Real Relationship?

"If I’d abandon all that seeks to make my faith informed and chic, could You, would You, show Yourself to me?”
~ Nichole Nordeman ~

I remember back in my seminary days we would often jokingly call them "cemetery days." My explanation for that feeling was that we spent so much time talking about God that often we forgot to talk to God.

Sometimes I still feel that way. There are days that I seem to know too much about Him, and yet know Him so shallowly (a former pastor would say many church goers are 20 miles wide and an inch deep) . I get caught up in the "chic" and miss the "real." I do the right studies. I read the right books. I frequent the right blogs that talk about the right spiritual things. I say the right words. So I appear to be "informed and chic" but instead I am "shallow and pathetic."

Don't get me wrong, those things in and of themselves are not bad. Studies should point us to God. Books should deepen our desire to know God. Blogs can and do teach me so much. But if my relationship with Jesus is based on other people's studies, books or blogs, I am missing the reality of a life of intimacy with Jesus. I want Him to show Himself to me, and to make my relationship real. I cannot rely on Him showing Himself to others. I need first-hand knowledge. So I need to put aside the tools and get back to basics--me with my Bible in prayer in tune with the Holy Spirit. That is where He shows Himself. That is where I grow. That is what I need the most: to talk to God not just to talk about Him.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6--emphasis mine

Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. 1 Chronicles 22:19a

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you...Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him John 14:16-18; 23

This week's In Other Words is hosted by Christine at Fruit in Season. Be sure and visit the other blogs writing on today's quote. Blessings to each of you!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Fun things heard in our household the last few days. ;)

Mommy: You are noisy
Flower: I no noisy
Mommy: Yes you are
Flower: I no noisy, I funny
Mommy: You are that too.
(how can you fault that logic?)

While watching NASCAR last night:
Jewel: (amazed at spinning car) Someone needs to tell them to slow down.

And my personal favourite...
This morning while cleaning their room:
Jewel: (singing) My God is so big, so strong and so mighty there's nothing He cannot do.
Flower: God big! God big! God big!
Mommy (to herself): Yes He is!

Smile! God is big enough to handle whatever comes your way today!

Monday Menu Planning

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Monday: Chicken Tahini Salad and Cauliflower Soup
Tuesday: (German away) Crab and Avacado Salad for me; Grilled Sausages and Salads for girls
Wednesday: Pork Roast slow cooked in Crock Pot, Chinese Style Broccoli
Thursday: Chicken Breasts stuffed with Spinach and Goat Cheese, Steamed Carrots, Green Salads
Friday: Date night with German:)
Girls: Pasta and Tomato Sauce, Green Beans
Saturday: Turkey Swedish Meatballs, Green Peas, Salads
Sunday: Tomato Soup

To find other great menu ideas visit Laura at Org Junkie.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

In Others' Words--Reading Habits

"Those who read fast reap no more advantage than a bee would by only skimming over the surface of the flower, instead of waiting to penetrate into it, and extract its sweets."
~ Madame Jeanne Guyon ~

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI am a quick reader. I always have been. I have been blessed with an ability to comprehend and remember what I read, even when I am reading it at a pace that most people call skimming. One of my earliest memories about reading was in 4th grade. I came home and told my Mom I had a "free hour" so I read Eight Cousins by Louisa Mae Alcott. All 300+ pages. In an hour. My Mom didn't believe me, but upon quizzing me on the book decided I had indeed read it, not skimmed it.

This ability has served me well. It made university reading a breeze. It got me through my graduate school reading with little effort (my social work program required 500 pages of reading per hour of credit--not an easy feat when carrying a 15-18 hour load). And it allows me the luxury of reading for pleasure as an adult when most of my daily reading consists of the "Good Night Moon" level.

But there is some reading that I must slow down as I read. I must take my time reading God's Word, daily. I don't slow down because it is difficult to read (although sometimes that may be true). I slow down because I don't want to miss a detail. I want to relish it, to savor it, to let it totally digest into my being. I want it to change me, and that takes time.

I love the image in this week's quote. Last summer I watched the honey bees in my front garden. They flitted from plant to plant, testing and tasting the surface but not dwelling. Until they got to the lavender plant. The lavender would be covered at any one time by dozens of bees, drinking in the nectar. Taking the sweetness back to their hive to infuse the honey they would make. And lavender honey is some of the loveliest honey I've ever discovered for putting in my tea, so their efforts were worth it. It is the perfect picture of my reading habits. I flit from book to book tasting the surface. But at the Bible I need to dwell and drink it in. The more of the sweetness I drink in, the more of God's building blocks I will have for building my life. And just as the lavender infuses what the bees produce, so the Word of God will infuse my life--but only if I drink it in quantities to change me. I could read the Bible quickly and be able to retell the stories, but it won't change me. Steeping in the stories changes me. Knowing the word of God (Bible) helps me reflect the Word of God (Jesus). And that is the change I pray is made in my life.

I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!

I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path.
I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
that I will follow your righteous laws.
Psalm 119:102-105

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. John 1:1-2

Follow this link to Laurel Wreath to read more.

photo credit: from www.morguefile.com author="ladyheart"

Monday, February 19, 2007

Prayer Request

When you have friends and family serving our country in the military in times like these, there are certain phone calls you hope to never receive. My friend S received one of those calls yesterday. Her brother-in-law was killed in a helicopter accident this weekend. Please pray for S, her sister H and her nephew as they cope with this news. H was a newly-wed, had found the love of her life who loved her son as well. I cannot imagine what they are dealing with, so I don't know how to ask for prayer except for peace and comfort.

Also, please remember to pray for all of our brave men and women who are sacrificing time with their families to protect ours. Pray they will be safe and come home soon.

Thank you!

Monday Menu Planning

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Monday: Pork in Marscapone sauce, steamed cauliflower, green salads
Tuesday: Special Treats: shortbread, King Cake and Pumpkin Bread at tea party
Dinner: Lemon Pepper Chicken, Snap Peas, Salad
Wednesday: Lamb Steaks, Green Beans, Salad
Thursday: (church meeting) Ham Rollups and raw veggies
Friday: Salmon, Steamed Carrots, Salad
Saturday: tbd
Sunday: Lentil Soup

Back to the Land of Blogging

Thank you for your concern and your encouragement last week. The week did get markedly better, but I could not find any computer time. Here's the recap:

Wednesday--I decided we would have a better day. Period. I was not going to allow spiritual and emotional attacks in our home. Jewel was still sick, but not coughing as much. We managed to do two full days of school work in one to make up for Tuesday. I got the main rooms of the house ready for company this week (just keep it decluttered and vacuum on the day). Then dear husband asked Wednesday night if we could have a dinner guest on Thursday evening. Uhmmm....ok. He did offer to make it Monday (today) instead at which point I paniced. He wasn't supposed to be home tonight (oops...I forgot to tell you the late meeting causing me to stay overnight was canceled). I was counting on not having to cook a big dinner since I have the quilting Valentine meeting here today and the BIG teaparty here tomorrow. So, no, Monday is not good for dinner guests. (Men don't get it--"you're just making tea, how hard can it be?" uhmmm tea/coffee, sweets and sandwiches for 20!) But I digress.

Thursday: Jewel was feeling worse. Spent most of the day curled up reading books to her. But we were able to have German's friend over for dinner and had a great time.

Friday: Jewel was much better! Hallelujah! German had taken the day off for us to have an all day date, so I was very glad she was well enough to leave with the sitter. The sitter is a teen from church who our girls adore. Her mother is a nurse, so I knew if Jewel got worse she had help 5 minutes away. And she was sure it was no problem to keep them. (And they did great). So German and I spent the afternoon wandering around the War Museum in Manchester, doing some shopping, going to see Footloose, the Musical, and a fancy dinner out. We had a blast! I highly recommend dates with your husband.

Saturday: Jewel didn't cough all day! German and I did our taxes. Then we all went to a "Beetle Drive" at church to raise funds for the youth group. Great fun! (well, not the taxes part)

Sunday: Church then an afternoon of baking for the tea party.

So, thank you for your prayers. I know God's hand was with us. Although the busyness and illness didn't just go away, I was much more capable of coping. I do knkow that it won't always be this hard, and I know that someday I'll miss them being so dependent on Mom, so I'm trying to cherish the time. Your encouragement made that easier. Thank you!

Now, I'm off to set up for the Quilting party. Have a blessed day everyone!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

IOW--Defining our Needs

It's been a bad day.

It started early this morning as I drifted off to sleep and realized I hadn't even read today's quote, much less started writing.

It comes after a week of a croupy, clingy two year old needing more than Mommy has to give her.

It continued at 7 this morning with a croupy four year old waking up crying because the coughing hurt her ribs. *sigh* Another week of not enough Mommy to fix the yucky feeling to look forward to. I *hate* not being able to make them better with the wave of a hand.

The day continued. I have the aftermath blahness of a migraine yesterday. I have that moodiness that says "everyone really needs to stay clear for a few hours." I have two major things happening in my home next week, so I'm trying to get the house really clean for them. This is difficult with little ones who don't feel well. They made themselves feel better by dumping a large paper box full of styrofoam peanuts on the floor in the only room I've finished. I'm feeling pushed to my limit. And I wonder, "Why God does it all have to happen at once?" But refining comes under pressure, doesn't it?

Mercy Me is singing in the background. "Sometimes I feel disappointed, By the way I spend my time, How can I further Your Kingdom, When I'm so wrapped up in mine?"

Lord, Help me not be so wrapped up in my kingdom that I miss how you are refining me for Your Kingdom. Forgive my impatience and my pity for myself. I trust that you have my best at the heart of what you allow to come into my life. Forgive me when I doubt. Amen.

"We are urgent about the body; He is about the soul. We call for present comforts; He considers our everlasting rest. And therefore when He sends not the very things we ask, He hears us by sending greater than we can ask or think."
~ Richard Cecil ~

Please visit Loni at Finding Joy in the Morning for links to others participating in this week's In Others' Words.

Friday, February 09, 2007

On Being Happily Married

I'll just warn you that this is a long post as I work out what God is refining in my thoughts of marriage. So you may want to go get a cup of tea. You may be here a while, lol.

German and I have been happily married for 11 years. We have our ups and our downs, but we are absolutely certain that God brought us together to be each other's complement and that apart we are not whole. We are happy, but we are not content to stay exactly where we are in our marriage. We believe that, as with every other aspect of our walk with Christ, He wants to give us more. That is where my meditation to be a more respectful wife came from at the beginning of the year. I knew in my heart and in my head that I respected German, but I knew that it could be more. And if the more came the marriage was going to be greater as well. When we are faithful to seek God with our hearts, He is faithful to refine us. And He has been blessing in incredible ways.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAt the same time, I believe that if a theme becomes recurring in my study and my time with others, God is usually speaking. As I've stated before, I'm reading Dr. Eggerichs Love and Respect, which has been revolutionary for me in how I listen to German and how I expect for him to respond. This week I have been absolutely challenged by his statement that "ultimately my relationship with my spouse is not about my spouse at all but about my relationship with Jesus Christ." Wow. Ugh. Yeah. And I am reaping the benefits of that. God has honored my efforts over the last 6 weeks to prayerfully read this book and try to engage some of it into my marriage. The theme of marriage recurred in my time with two friends a couple of weeks ago. One of them asked if it was true that the wife was not allowed to say no to a husband's advances (alluding to 1 Corinthians 7:4-6). This led to a healthy, if not lively, discussion of the differences between a husband's needs and a wife's needs and how to find a balance in everything. These ladies were not newlyweds (one married 7 years and the other nearly 20) but still found it difficult to cope with differences in needs. Again, I was reminded of how different we really are and marveled at why God made us so different.

Then, this week I came upon this post at She Lives. This is one of my favorite sites because it is well-written and honest and incredibly funny. And I found myself "amening" through much of the post. Yes, it is over the top in places. But sometimes hyperbole catches attention to teach the lesson. (Read some of the parables looking for Jesus' use of hyperbole, great fun.) Yes it is more stark than I would have said it, but that is difference in personality. But in general my reactions were that the heart of the message was so right. We, as wives do need to make our husbands feel special, dress nicely for them, meet their physical needs, and respect them. Actually I believe that we are respecting them when we do those other things. I loved the post. I printed it to share with others (maybe even with my daughters 40 years from now when we finally allow them to look at boys). And I was mulling over it when I went to Restoring the Years site yesterday and found this post. And I nodded in agreement throughout it as well. But more in terms of "yes that is how it should be" and "gee I'd love to be that in synch with my husband" but not really in a "that describes my marriage" sort of way. And since I am so often in synch with GB at Restoring the Years I began praying about what was I missing.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I took both of the posts to my Bible Study today. The ladies present represented being married from 7 to 23 years. There was me (an American transplant), a born and raised Brit, a British Indian and a transplanted Scot in the group. We represented the Baptist, Anglican and Catholic faiths. Lots of diversity. First I read "She Lives" and everyone agreed that it was witty, had some good advice and was over-the-top. There was issue taken with "treating our husband as if he were Jesus." So a large part of our discussion was how do we serve our husbands? Why do we take them for granted or treat them with familiarity? What happens in the relationship when we truly serve? And when we got past the notion that "serving like Jesus" was treating them as a god (i.e. idolotry) and was really serving as Jesus commanded us, there were some good ideas come out of the discussion. Then I read "Restoring the Years." Without exception the comments were: I would like to have that but I don't. And we discussed why a marriage where we don't have to ask for our needs to be met they just are met is so difficult to grasp at.

It was a healthy discussion. And in it, I think God whispered to me that I was not missing anything. He whispered that He makes each marriage as distinctive as each person. What works for one of my blogging inspirations will not feel right for another (as GB put it "one size does not fit all") He drew me to ask, what does "oneness" look like in my marriage--not in others' marriages. Therein lies my answer. I believe that I am one with German--knit that way in God's perfect will. The crux of it comes in one of "She Lives" opening remarks. She says, "He's [her husband] one of the ones who didn't just marry a woman he can live with, he married a woman he can't live without." That is how I feel about German. I absolutely cannot picture my life without him. It would be as if I lost a part of my physical self if he were gone. But Oneness does not come at the expense of our own personalities. As I said at the beginning, we complement one another.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) -
com·ple·ment –noun 1. something that completes or makes perfect: A good wine is a complement to a good meal.
2. the quantity or amount that completes anything: We now have a full complement of packers.
3. either of two parts or things needed to complete the whole; counterpart.

We take two disctinctly different personalities (an ESTJ and an INFP if you know Myers-Briggs terminology) and form a whole. We need each other. And the more I allow God to knit us into one, the more thankful I am that German and I are separate personalities, and that our needs, our perspectives and our dreams are different. If we did not have our differences we would not serve the kingdom of God together as effectively. I need his analytical insight. He needs my emotional empathy. Together we serve. And that makes us a better team. Although the thought of German knowing when I needed togetherness and when I needed space (and vice versa) sounds nice, I am content with the fact that our differences may mean that sometimes we have to voice our needs. I am thankful that German shares so many interests with me (more thoughts on this here), but I am also totally happy for him to go play with the boys and he is happy for me to play with the girls. We understand that we can be each other's "best friend" and still have a need for other friends. We have learned to let each other be who we are, because we know that the two of us together is so much more than each of us separate.

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And, ultimately, it does come down to my relationship with God. If I am serving German out of a love relationship with German I will get tired, and frustrated, and disillusioned at times. He will as well if he is serving me only out of love for me. But when we serve each other out of a love relationship with God and out of obedience to God, He takes care of the frustrations and gives us a clearer love for one another. And that is what it is all about--a God-given unity and love for one another.

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:20-22

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33

Thank you Carol and GB for sharing challenging posts that help me see better where my marriage fits into God's plan for my husband and me.

photos from www.morguefile.com author=taliesin

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Worship and Ceidhls

We have a new youth pastor at our church. He started in August. It is such a blessing and the culmination of a two year journey of preparing the church for a change in role and finding the right person to fill that role. It is a process that is near to our family's heart, because German was on the search committee. The last weekend in January, the church set aside a time for a formal induction for the youth pastor.

I don't know that I have ever attended an induction ceremony before. I know that I have never experienced anything like this. The afternoon started with praise. And praise was dotted throughout the service. The band sounded awesome as they led the congregation in "Blessed Be The Name", "There is a New Song in My Heart", "These are the Days of Elijah" and many more. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIt was a delight for me to watch Flower and Jewel clap and sway and even lift their hands occassionally--caught up in the worship.

After praise, German gave a short spiel of how the church had come to this moment. Then the new youth pastor spoke of how God had led him to this point. Then the promises were made. The youth pastor was asked to make promises regarding keeping his relationship with God fresh, allowing God to lead him, and being a solid example for our young people to grow them in Christ. Then the pastor was asked to join them for what, for me, was the most poignant part of the service. The pastor and the youth pastor were asked to make promises before God to work together, to pray together and for each other and to lead the church as a team. It was awesome to see these men of God formally join their ministries together. Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAfter that the church membership was asked to stand and to pledge our support to the youth pastor's leading. Finally the entire congregation of church members, families and friends were asked to stand and pledge their/our prayer support for him as he seeks to serve. It was an incredibly touching time of joining together and vowing together to serve. This was followed by praying for him and anyone who wished could voice prayer and lay hands on him setting him aside for this ministry. The formal service ended with an awesome sermon on the equipping of the saints. It was brought by the youth pastor's former pastor who had travelled from North Carolina to England to be a part of the day. And it was amazing.

After the induction service, the congregation joined downstairs for a fellowship dinner. We are a little church of approximately 150. The catering team catered for 200+. The meal was wonderful. The fellowship was great. Then it was back home for a couple hours rest.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

That evening we were back at the church for a ceidhl celebration. This was only fitting since the youth pastor and the pastor are both Scottish. The Scots all came in their kilts. Everyone wore tartan--if only a ribbon. And we danced and laughed and had an awesome time. Over 100 people were on the floor dancing most of the night--so it was crowded but joyful. Being raised Southern Baptist, I still wonder at the fact that we can dance in the church. But dance I did. Couldn't miss out on the fun. Here are a few pics from the ceidhl including one of Jewel dancing with German.
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Through the whole weekend I was amazed at how much fun the people of God can have together: in worship, in solemn promises, in message, in eating together and in celebration. It was a marvelous time. So why do we portray to the world that Christianity isn't fun? Where did that notion come from? Even in the solemness of pledges my heart was soaring. I pray that I will learn to show that side of my Christianity to the world. I pray that those around will see God as a God of celebration who loves the joy that His people bring. I pray that all of my celebrating is a sweet song in the ear of my Lord and a welcoming embrace to those who need to know Him. Blessings to you today!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

In Other Words--Adoring the Father

Flower, age two, has always been "mine." If she needs something she came to Mommy, if she woke up in the night she called for Mommy, if she fell down Mommy could fix it. It wasn't as if she didn't love her Daddy, she did. She delighted in running to greet him when he came home from work, she played tickle games with him before bedtime, she snuggled beside him for bedtime stories (briefly before coming to find me to actually put her to bed). But a couple of weeks ago, something changed.

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I became invisible if Daddy was in the house. Her world started to revolve around Daddy. It started with saying "Daddy watch" as she danced. Then she stayed for an entire bedtime story--and asked for more. Then she said "Daddy put me bed tonight." And this week, even before I took her out of the car to walk up to church she said "I want Daddy's hand." She has fallen head over heels into a love relationship with her daddy--and I love watching it. Because, as He so often does, my heavenly Father teaches me through my children.

I want to be head-over-heels in love with my Father. I want to dance for Him. I want to know He is watching my actions, and not be afraid. I want to snuggle in His arms and hear His stories and the plans He has for my life. I want to start each moment by saying "I want My Father's hand." I want to trust that much. I want to adore that easily. I want to not be distracted and just revel in His love.

"I long to worship Jesus with the heart of a child, in a state of pure and true adoration. Yet so many things of the world cloud my thoughts and pull on my heart until it's no longer just a girl in the arms of the Father"
~ Darlene Schacht ~
"The Mom Complex"

Dear Jesus, Hold my hand today. Help me cope with the distractions life throws at me. Let me revel in being Your child. Let me celebrate You with abandon. May I glorify You in my life and my worship. And may the result be a Father's smile. I love You....Your Daughter, Mipa.

To learn what other Christian Women Bloggers are saying about this awesome quote, visit Iris at Sting my Heart. And Bless you for Visiting.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Monday Menu Planning

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Monday: Chicken Piri Piri (from Quick and Easy South Beach), Salad, Steamed Carrots
Tuesday: (German away) Girls: Spaghetti Me: Salad with leftover chicken & avacado
Wednesday: Shrimp Stir-Fry, Salad
Thursday: Lamb Stew
Friday: Grilled Pork Chops, Green Beans, Steamed Broccoli with Cheese Sauce
Saturday: Indian cooking lessons with a friend (eat the results)
Sunday: Bean Soup, Corn Bread or Crackers

More great menu ideas can be found here.