Category Archives: christian growth

A Poem of Hope

Resurrection, imperfect

Sleep sleep old Sun, thou canst not have repast
As yet, the wound thou took’st on friday last;
Sleep then, and rest; The world may bearer thy stay,
A better Sun rose before thee to day,
Who, not content to’englighten all that dwell
On the earths face, as thou, enlightned hell,
And made the darker fires languish in that vale,
As, at thy presence here, our fires grow pale.
Whose body having walk’d on earth, and now
Hasting to Heaven, would, that he might allow
Himself unto all stations, and fill all,
For these three days become a mineral;
He was all gold when he lay down, but rose
All tincture, and doth not alone dispose
Leaden and iron wills to good, but is
Of power to make even sinful flesh like his.
Had one of those, whose credulous piety
Thought, that a Soul one might discern and see
Go from a body,’at this sepulcher been,
And, issuing from the sheet, this body seen,
He would have justly thought this body a soul,
If not of any man, yet of the whole.

–John Donne

Whine, whine, whine

I read this book about 10 years ago, not long after it came out.


Then I read this one:

 And, let’s not forget the Parenting with Love and Logic Seminar that Mark and I went to when the three older kids were little.

 All of these books/resources were good, and I recommend most of the concepts presented in them.  They all advocate the idea that children are to be taught when and how it is appropriate to express their feelings.

 Unfortunately, all the book reading in the world will not change the behavior of children.  Consistent admonition and consequences for wrong behavior and modeling are what really makes a difference.

 Lately, the whining at my house is driving me up the wall, and one would think we never practiced any of that.  But the fact is, we did some of the time.  Were we always consistent?  No.  Were we perfect role models, by no means.  Did we always present consquences for wrong behavior in a proper way?  No.    But the fact is, our kids do behave well a lot of the time–especially when they are with other people.  So I feel that the work that we did do is paying off some.

But, now I need some refresher courses in being consistent, in improving my own behavior and reactions to wrong behavior so that I can be a better example, and, what I believe is most important, coming up with consequences that appropriately match the offense.  Basically, I am looking for a more peaceful household.  It would be nice if I hadn’t read good books that had good advice so I could claim complete ignorance.  But I did indeed read these and several other good books on the subject.   So I am praying that all the good information floating around in my head will sink in again.  I am also trying to pray for our family more.  As the kids get older, I want peace not just for the here and now of our lives, but I want it for them as they enter adulthood and leave our home into the world.

The prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Goodwill Gleaning

Our women’s group at church kicked off the fall with a Goodwill fashion show and lunch last week.  A few of the young women modeled their thrifty and fashionable finds from Goodwill. Since 2/3 of our family’s wardrobe comes from Goodwill and other thrift store, this was a function I felt I must attend.  Since Mark was working, the girls came along wearing a couple of their cute dresses from Goodwill.

Our numbers for the event were small, but everyone enjoyed sharing info about their finds . . .  As I talked about which Goodwill stores I shop in and mentioned other thrift stores in St Louis that I like to frequent, I realized what a blessing it is to live in a country where the cast offs of some are perfectly usable and worth hunting down.  It is great to glean from the waste of others.  I can’t pretend that I don’t also send my own cast-offs to Goodwill and other charity shops.  I am also blessed to have somewhere to take things we can no longer use that still have some wear in them so they can be passed on to others.  It was also good for my girls to see that other women in the church whom they respect shop at second-hand stores.  They were able to see that we are not the only family that chooses to buy gently used clothes and household items whenever it is feasible.  I hope that as they mature, they will remember this and conclude that buying from second hand stores is not something to be ashamed of, but it is something that makes us better stewards of all that we have been given.

(P.S.  Did you know you can shop at Goodwill on-line?  I have never tried it, but I like the concept.  They also have a merchant site on Amazon for books.)

Time Passes


School, overall, is going well for the children.  The middlers (Nevin and Evangeline) are hitting a few bumps as they adjust to their new school, but I believe they are not insurmountable.  Charis and second grade get along well.  Yes.  I said, “well,” not “good.”   (That’s a topic for another post.) Calvin is still happy with homeschooling, and it is working out for us, too.  So no complaints on the school front!  Phew!


Our church lost an important part of the congregation last week when one of our members was killed in a house fire.  It was a shock to our system, and we will miss all this talented man added to our worship through his music and all he offered in terms of service as a deacon and beyond.  This came only a month or so after we lost one of our elderly members to cancer–another man who had served Christ and His church faithfully for 80+ years.

Also, Mark’s grandfather passed away in July, and several folks at the church where I work have been seriously ill, and some have passed away in the last couple months.  I am feeling a bit weighed down by all the sorrow around me–even when I am not one who is/was particularly close to those who have died or are sick.  I am praying for the families touched by these sorrows, and I know God is changing me through that.  One thing I am learning is to be more purposeful in what I do and to be thankful for each day as a gift from God.


We had a great visit with Mark’s parents in the first half of August.  It was wonderful to have 2 weeks with them being a part of our routine–however mundane that may be.

I have lamented not being able to get away to see my mom and brother since last July when my sister Katherine passed away.  The new job, kids’ schedules, Mark’s work schedule, finances–none of it seemed to work together to make a trip possible.  So, we are planning to have Mom and Dave out to visit at the end of October.  Mom had eye surgery this past Monday, and she needs to wait a month before making the trip.  I am looking forward to seeing them!

Nothing Earthshattering

So time marches on in my life . . . nothing big to share.  God continues to give me and our family gifts of grace and mercy.  I pray that I will not squander them, and I pray for forgiveness for the times that I have and will inevitably do it.

1 Thessalonians 4:9 -12 (esv)

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

Psalm 16:5-11 (esv)

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.


The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.


I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have(N) set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.


Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.


You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.





The Big 10

The senior pastor at the church where I work has been focusing on the 10 commandments these last few weeks.  He is launching something of a campaign for everyone in his church to learn them.

I told him that I could sing the 10 commandments.  Now, mind you, I never said I couldn’t say them.  I just said that learning a song had helped me to learn them.  We disagree on the benefits of using a song as a tool to learning important truths, but I digress . . .

The real point of my bringing this up is that all of this 10 commandment talk has made me appreciate the simplicity and complexity of the law as it was given to the Hebrews via Moses.  The law is simple in that the decrees are clear and concise–easy to understand.  Yet they also present the complexity of our relationships with one another and with God and that there are serious consequences that touch everyone in community when these laws are broken.

I don’t have a lot of time to post more, but I leave you with some links that I think are helpful tools in learning and heeding the Big 10 —the 10; vocal music of the Decalogue from the Genevan Psalter, and lyrics and printed notes of the same.

Grace and Love Among Us

I am wondering about something.  Why does God put us on the path He chooses for us?

Here’s some context to my wondering.  There are certain beliefs that I share with many Christian friends, certain lifestyle choices I would make, have made in the past, actually. These lifestyle choices are seen by many to be almost non-negotiable for Christian families.  Yet, the only reason Christian families who make them are capable of doing so is because God has put them in a situation that will allow them to comfortably do so.

Some might say that the circumstances of these families’ lives are definitely in place because of God’s sovereignty over all, but they would argue that they also have a solid commitment to their lifestyle choice and that all their decisions over time have been made within the framework of that commitment.  I believe this is true, but I also know that God doesn’t always do things so neatly.  He doesn’t always allow people to remain so firmly “committed” to a lifestyle choice or ideology that they are able to do all that they want to or choose to.

But somehow, when others we know don’t act within the framework we have deemed as the only way Christian families should, the judgments start to roll out.  Thoughts like . . . they aren’t committed enough; they are giving up their ideals;  Is that any way to raise a Christian family begin to sneak in to minds of other Christians who are standing by  . . . watching, waiting.

In this age of internet communication, we learn so much, perhaps too much, about what our friends and acquaintances are doing . . . and are thinking.  But so much of what we learn is polished, all nice and shiny for Christian friends, family, and the world to see.  Is all of what people are sharing so neat and easy?  People who read about our lives on the internet begin to think they know us, and, therefore, they think they can judge our decisions.  Sometimes, these judgments have repercussions in the real world, too.  But the reality is, we really don’t know all the facts.  We know the edited, shiny version of people’s lives.  We are living in a digital age of keeping up with the Joneses . . . or the Christians in another part of the country.

Another problem is that when we look at what everyone else in our “circle” is doing, we start to feel that we don’t measure up.  We start to feel inadequate.  Again, the shinyness of our digital selves plays a part in this.  We don’t measure up because we are only seeing a small portion of what is really going on . . . only the “presentable” or “for company” part.  We are not seeing the struggles, the heartache, the loneliness, the pain that isn’t appropriate for internet sharing.  So we only have a portion of the information, and we can’t make proper comparisons without all the facts.  Really.

This wondering of mine is a bit disorganized, but I am trying to make a point.  Blogs and Facebook and other social media are great—a fun way to keep track of friends and family, to “stay connected.”  But they don’t tell the whole story.  We cannot make judgments about what others are saying or doing solely based on posts we read on the internet.  We also cannot make judgments about our own inadequacies based solely on the posts we read.   In real life—with other human beings who have flesh and blood and with whom we converse—we worry about how we come across, we have hurt feelings, we struggle to treat each other as we know we should.  How much more difficult it is to accurately understand or “read” others when we only interact with them via the internet!

Ultimately, we need to be more gracious and charitable toward one another.  And, it is SO hard.  I hate that I am often the hardest on myself and the ones closest to me.  So I have to come back to the Scripture and ask God to help me extend grace to the people I come in real flesh and blood contact with as well as in the internet world.   I have to remind myself over and over again about God’s desire for me to treat others as I want to be treated.  Oh how I fail!  Here’s the reminder I am thinking about right now:


Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d]says the Lord. On the contrary:

   “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

   In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.                                                                                                                 Romans 9:12-21

Being Renewed

It’s VBS week at the church where I work.  They are using the Group Publishing’s curriculum, “High Seas Expedition.”  Charis and I have been listening to the songs for the program for the past few weeks, and this song has stuck in my head:

Ancient Words :
Holy words long preserved
for our walk in this world,
They resound with God’s own heart
Oh, let the Ancient words impart.

Words of Life, words of Hope
Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e’er we roam
Ancient words will guide us Home.

Ancient words ever true
Changing me, and changing you.
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart.

Holy words of our Faith
Handed down to this age.
Came to us through sacrifice
Oh heed the faithful words of Christ.

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world.
They resound with God’s own heart
Oh let the ancient words impart.


We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart

Persistence . . .

Hebrews 12–all of Hebrews–for that matter has much to say to us as we strive to live lives that please God.  I was thinking about Hebrews 12 today, so I looked it up, and this portion spoke to me specifically:

12Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

I love they way the passage starts . . . “lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees.”  Man, can I relate!  But I am also struck by how interrelated our attitudes and actions are and ultimately how our pity parties can lead to damaging the church and hindering the gospel.

Just thinking out loud about things that are hard to accept but, oh so, necessary.

Biting My Tongue

Lately, I have noticed that I am biting my tongue more than I have done in the past.

For example, this past summer because of a misunderstanding regarding one of my many children’s activities, we ended up missing a fun outing for the family and paying for it.  I was soooooo upset about this.  I wrote an e-mail expressing my frustration about what happened, and the board for the organization considered refunding our money.  I found out later, as I suspected, that they would not refund us.  I wanted to give them a good tongue lashing about their lack of concern for their members.  I started to write about 6 different messages.  Finally, I just wrote, “Thanks for asking the board about this.”

I find myself holding back my thoughts more and more as time passes.  I have finally started to realize that saying everything that comes to my mind will not always make things better and is not always necessary.

We start out as children saying any and everything that comes to our minds.  Then some of us get shy and don’t say much of anything.  There are others of us who continue speaking our minds with wild abandon, and we wonder why we have trouble getting along with people.  Pop-psychology encourages us to “communicate,” “get everything out in the open,” “make sure our feelings are known.”  This sometimes opens up the shy person and it affirms the others who already value telling all.  Yet, it seems there is still some value to filtering what we say.

It is an idea worth consideration.  James wrote a lot about it:

James 1:26
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

James 3:1
[ Taming the Tongue ] Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

James 3:5
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

James 3:6
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

James 3:8
but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Some people, perhaps, have more natural, or built-in, filters of what comes out of their mouths.  But I suspect most of us have to learn to use discretion. As we get to know Christ and come to a fuller understanding of what is important, the filter begins to form. As Christians, I think some of this has to do with the idea of “bearing each others burdens,” too.  Hopefully, as we mature, we learn that sometimes, we need to keep our hurt feelings and bruised egos to ourselves in the spirit of Christian unity–thus biting our tongues for the sake of others.