Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day

On October 31, 1517, Luther posted his 95 thesis on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, unknowingly sparking the Protestant Reformation.

His intent was to initiate a debate on the doctrine and practices of indulgences, but this event sparked a controversy that resulted in the excommunication of Luther and his followers in 1520 ... and the Lutheran tradition was born. This eased the later creation of the Reformed and Anabaptist traditions.

Check out the Internet Christian Library (iclnet.org) to read all of Luther's 95 Theses.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Ten Cannots

I read these on a friend's blog and thought they were worth repeating. It is an interesting perspective to consider, especially in light of the current politics.
  • You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  • You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  • You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
  • You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  • You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  • You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
  • You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  • You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
  • You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
  • And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.
by Reverend William J. H. Boetcker
The Ten Cannots
1916

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Abigail at 10 months

Abigail had her nine-month doctor appointment today, although she is now almost ten months old.

So here are her stats from her doctor visit:
Weight: 17 pounds, 5 ounces -- 17th percentile
Height: 27.5 inches -- 31st percentile
Head Circumference: 17.5 inches -- 55th percentile

We were a little concerned about her weight because she has been self-weening over the last few months and wouldn't take a bottle. But she has really taken to solid foods. Her new favorite of the week is Cheerios!

She loves everything I give her. We had tried diced peaches, potatoes, pears, carrots, etc. But now that she is nine months old, she also gets to try yogurt, cheese and hard-boiled eggs.

Our little girl is growing up so fast...

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
Turn their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Amen

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Prayer in the desert

Prayer is a subject that has been on my mind lately. It is not an easy subject to wrestle with; nor is it easy to admit such a struggle.

Do you ever feel like you are in a desert and your prayers are getting lost in the wind? There have been times in my life when prayer is refreshing and exciting; and there have been times, like now, when prayer is so hard and dry.

In the midst of this dryness, God has been stirring me, moving me back to prayer. I am so thankful that he still calls, still draws, in spite of my neglect and unfaithfulness. But I feel so lost in knowing how to get back to the joy, that spring of life overflowing.

I have no answers today, but I know that where the Spirit draws, he will also teach. So, I am coming back to the position of humility, sitting eagerly at his feet.

First Snow of the Season

Today was forecaster to be very wet and rainy. However, I am looking out the window at big snow flakes falling on the already soaked ground. It is beautiful, but has no chance of sticking. By Friday the temperatures will be back into the 60's, with sunny skies.

Joshua was so funny this morning. He was looking out the window, waiting for me to finish changing Abigail. He was chattering away about the puddles and the rain that makes puddles. I heard something about rain boots and walking in the water. It was so cute! We may have to put on our rain clothes and march around this afternoon.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Make Us Like Him

I wanted to share this prayer that I have been pondering and praying during my study of John. It is from Prayers Plainly Spoken by Stanley Hauerwas. This was a book my husband gave to his father before he passed away a few years ago. It has some beautiful, thoughtful prayers.

Spirit of Truth, direct our attention to the life of Jesus so that we may see what you would have us be.

Make us, like him, teachers of your good law.
Make us, like him, performers of miraculous cures.
Make us, like him, proclaimers of your kingdom.
Make us, like him, loving of the poor, the outcast, children.
Make us, like him, silent when the world tempts us to respond in the world's terms.
Make us, like him, ready to suffer.

We know we cannot be like Jesus except as Jesus was unlike us, being your Son. Make us cherish that unlikeness, that we may grow into the likeness made possible by Jesus' resurrection. Amen.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Spider Web at School

Joshua built a spider web this week in his class at school.

The kids were the spiders, stringing their yarn all over the classroom. They even turned the class table upside down to create the perfect spot.





This was a perfect activity for Joshua. He was so excited that he told me all about it when he got home.






One of Joshua's favorite books right now is The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. Its the story of a spider who is too busy to play with the farm animals ... "She was very busy spinning her web." In the end, she catches the pesky fly "... just like that."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Joshua's exercises...

Joshua has been receiving physical therapy for over a year now to address some of the delays he has experienced in both his gross and fine motor skills. His therapist is so creative at getting him to exercise his muscles.

Here is one of the her latest strategies. It is a set of six buckets tied to each other with short ropes; they are specifically designed for kids to step on them.

Joshua loves walking on these buckets.

The bucket steps require balance, strengthening his legs and core muscles.


As his confidence grows, we spread the buckets further apart.


We also turned the buckets upside down for a new twist on the exercises.


And Joshua just thinks he is playing with a fun new toy.

My mind is racing with all sorts of exciting ways we can use these buckets to help Joshua exercise his little muscles while having so much fun!

Clothing Exchange

My "problem area" for the week is all our clothing. It is time to pack up all the summer clothes and pull out the winter clothes. For the kids, this process includes pulling out everything that is too small and determining what we have (and need) for the coming season.

This comes just in time for our community's clothing exchange. Twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring, there is a big clothing exchange for everyone in the Seminary. People donate their wearable, used clothing and pick up 'new' clothes donated by others. I always find great children's clothes.

They start accepting donations today, so I will be spending this evening and tomorrow sorting, washing and clearing out clothes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Organizing for Toddlers

There are so many great things I want to do with my children, but we are held back by a lack of planning and organization. This is the next big area I am tackling in my journey toward living a prepared life.

I have recently discovered a series of books by Trish Kuffner that are full of creative activities for kids, using things I have around my home.

I LOVE these books. You really need to check them out.

The Toddler's Busy Book - This book has great ideas for activities to do with your one-and-a-half to three year old that stimulate creativity and learning, not to mention stave off boredom on long rainy days.

If you have older kids, she has also published The Preschooler's Busy Book geared toward three to six year olds.

Most of this book is still too advanced for my not-quite-three-year-old, but I enjoyed reading it for additional
inspiration and a picture of the soon-emerging skills to watch for in my children.

For children six to ten there is The Children's Busy Book. I haven't read this one at all.

Another great book is the The Wiggle & Giggle Busy Book.

I have only read a few sections in this book so far, but I am finding great games to play with my kids.

These ideas have really helped on rainy days, when we can't get outside to run around.

All of her books have large "Rainy Days" sections to help with those 'stir-crazy' days.

I have been so inspired by these books. There is a great section in the beginning of each book that lays out how to organize your home to meet your child's changing needs.

You will have to stay tuned to find out how well I am able to implement these great new ideas into my daily life.

Apple Orchard!

My Bible study group and our families went to the apple orchard this weekend. We had a great time, enjoying the fresh fall air.

Joshua was very excited about picking apples.


He even had his own bag for his apples.


It was nice to be out as a family.


The kids love to spend time with daddy!


Joshua could not resist sampling his pickings!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Crawling Skills!

Abigail is working on her crawling skills.

She loves to push up onto her knees, but our wood floors are too slippery to make much forward movement.

When we play outside in the grass, she practices moving with her tummy up off the ground. It is probably easier due to the friction -- her knees don't slide around like they do on the wood floors and her tummy creates too much drag to leave on the ground!

She has also almost mastered going from her tummy to a sitting position. I have found her completely sitting up in her crib a few times.

It won't be long before she is crawling everywhere and sitting whenever she wants!

Friday, October 17, 2008

John 2 - Wine & Whip

John 2 contains the story of Jesus attending the wedding in Cana and whipping the money changers in the temple. These stories show such a contrast in the attitude and demeanor of Jesus.

John 2:1-12 | As I read the water-into-wine story again, there was a nagging question in the back of my mind. Why was this story included in the book of John? He only recorded seven miracles in his entire book -- why was this one of them?

I don't have a firm, authoritative answer, but I enjoyed the discussion at Bible study. Here were some of the lessons we found in this story.
  • It shows the authority of Jesus as Lord over nature
  • It revealed the confidence of his mother
  • It demonstrated Jesus involvement and care in "earthly" things
  • It uses the strong symbolic elements of WATER (baptism , living water) and WINE (last supper, blood of Christ, wedding banquet)
  • It shows an abundance of wine, just as we have received an abundance of grace (John 1:16)
  • The miracle manifested the glory of Jesus, and his disciples believed in him.

John 2:13-25 | The second half of this chapter tells the story of Jesus cleaning out the temple. I have often puzzled over this story and how it relates to church-life today.

At first read, this story is about the zeal of Jesus and his authority. And about his disciples' future understanding of Jesus' words and Scripture. But does it also warn us about God's attitude to commercialism in his house?

The money-changers and sellers were providing a vital role for the worshipers who were arriving in Jerusalem. Many people had traveled quite far to worship at the temple for Passover. They needed to exchange their currency for the local currency. They also needed to purchase their sacrifices at the temple instead of having to carry them on their journey.

So, what was the source of Jesus' anger? Why did he take this action? Was it because they were doing this on the temple grounds, instead of outside somewhere? Was it because these money-changes and sellers were taking advantage of the people and charging exorbitant fees?

I often ponder these questions when I encounter a church with a bookstore on the premise. It is a good function of the church to provide its people with resources for discipleship and the Christian life, but ... ?

Or what about the church that holds a "garage" sale in their building to raise money for a mission trip? It provides the community with access to inexpensive goods and earns money for missions, but ... ?

What do you think? I have no real answer. But what I do know is that Jesus demonstrates the zeal God has for his house, his church. We are called to live with that same zeal -- not just for some building, but for his people, the church.
Check out the previous post in this series:
John 1 - The Word became Flesh

Playing in the Leaves!

The weather here has been beautiful -- sunny and in the 70's. We just had to go outside a play in the leaves yesterday.

Joshua loves to "crunch" the leaves, as he calls it; he goes marching or kicking through the leaf piles.

Abigail likes to push the leaves around with her hands. But mostly she likes to eat them!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is my home prepared?

I have been pondering what it means for me to be prepared in my home. It mostly comes down to organization and discipline.

I use to be more organized, back when life was simpler, before kids. The last three years have been a slow surrender to the forces of entropy. Now I have to expend great amounts of energy to get back to where I was. But I must, for the sake of my family and myself.

So, my conviction to be more prepared, to be in a position to be used by God, begins with a few basic rules. (I'm almost too embarrassed to admit the level of chaos in which we now live, but confession is good for the soul, right?)

  1. No dirty dishes left on the counter or in the sink over night.
  2. The kitchen table, the bookshelves and the desk need to remain clear of clutter.
  3. I need to tackle at least one "problem area" each week -- "problem areas" include, but are definitely not limited to, all the closets, my bedroom, the play area, the piles of crafts and games.
I have no desire to be legalistic about this, and there are always exceptions, but these rules really are about finding freedom not bondage.

So far, this has been a good week. The rules have lowered my stress around dinner time (I don't have to do dishes before I have enough counter space to cook and I don't have to rush around clearing the table before we can eat). We have also had the opportunity to invite friends over, without needing three-days-warning to get the house picked up.

My problem area for the week was the hall / linen closet. It was a huge pile of stuff that we no longer used. I also found some toiletry items that I had bought and lost (toothpaste, shampoo, etc). It took several afternoons (with only about 15 minutes available each day) to get it done; it sure looks good!

Now I just have to apply some of the discipline I was talking about to keep it up!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Abigail is nine months old!

Can Abigail really be nine months old already? The time has passed so quickly. She turned nine months on October 5. We haven't been to the doctor yet so I don't have a current weight and height, but here is a picture of our little girl at nine months old.

Abigail just cut two more teeth today -- the next two on the bottom. Now she has four on top and four on the bottom.

We have been working on her sleep pattern and have finally established some great habits. She goes to bed at 7pm and sleeps until about 8am; once or twice a week she gets up once in the night to feed. She also takes two naps during the day, two hours each. She is such a good napper!

Abigail is still crawling military style, with her tummy on the ground, but in the last few days she has started to take several "steps'' up on her knees.

She has started babbling more, mostly with 'b' and 'm' -- ba-ba-ba and ma-ba-ma. It is so cute! She especially loves to hold conversations, where we babble back and forth to each other, taking turns.

Abigail is at such a fun stage! I am enjoying my time with her!

Cha-cha-cha!

When I picked up Joshua from school today, his teacher, Miss Bela told me he had a wonderful time dancing the cha-cha with her. I was surprised that he would participate, but very pleased that Bela can draw him out of his comfort zone so well.

Back at home, as we were finishing lunch, I asked Joshua what he wanted to do this afternoon. He quickly yelled out, "Cha-cha, more cha-cha." If Bela had not told me about his time at school, I would have spent the day trying to figure out what he was talking about.

Since Joshua had that much fun, I'm going to have to learn how Miss Bela does the cha-cha so we can dance at home!

John 1 - The Word became Flesh

John chapter one is a beautiful, incredible and very concise introduction to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Remember John's purpose for writing this book is that we may believe.
"... these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:31 (NIV)
With this in the front of our minds, we look at the first chapter of John. He starts by introducing Jesus, clearly telling us who he is -- God himself; then he provides the eye-witness testimony of John the baptist and the disciples to confirm this identity, so that we may believe and have life.

So, who does John say that Jesus is?
  • 1:1 - Word - the one through whom God has always expressed himself
  • 1:1 - God - in the beginning, with God, is God
  • 1:2 - Creator - all things were made through him
  • 1:4 - Life - revealed God in the unique gift of life that transformed a barren universe
  • 1:4 - Light - enlightens everyone
  • 1:14 - Flesh - human, God with us to redeem us
  • 1:29 - Lamb - the sacrifice that would take away the sins of the world
  • 1:41 - Messiah - the Christ, the one anointed by God
  • 1:12 - he gave the right and ability to become God's children
  • 1:14, 17 - he is full of grace and truth
  • 1:16 - we have received grace upon grace from his fullness
  • 1:18 - he has revealed God to us, made him known
These descriptions speak for themselves, and don't need me to expound. However, I do want to share a few points that struck me.

Word / Logos - This term was commonly used in Greek philosophy. In reference to Jesus, it is unique to John, used only in this gospel, in 1 John 1:1, 4 and in the book of Revelation 19:13 - his name is Word of God, (You can debate amongst yourselves whether Revelation was really written by John).

'Logos' means so much more than it that it does when translated 'word' in the English language. It contains the expression of a thought, not merely the name of an object. It embodies a concept or an idea. In the Old Testament, the Word of the Lord is the revealed will of God and the sum of God's utterances.

But John takes it a step further and tells us that Jesus himself is the Word, the will of God, the revelation of God, all that God has said and ever needs to say.

I am looking forward to the unfolding of this description of Jesus that John has given in chapter one. As we proceed through this book, we will see the continued revelation of who Jesus is and what his life (and death) means for us -- that we may believe and have life.

Check out the next post in this series: John 2 - Wine & Whip
Or the previous post : Introduction to John

Monday, October 13, 2008

How prepared are you?

I have recently been reminded (and convicted) about an aphorism used constantly by the head of the engineering department back in college -- "God uses prepared people!"

There have been so many opportunities that I have missed lately because of my lack of readiness; opportunities to reach out to others, to share, to encourage, to build relationships, to minister; opportunities for my children, for my husband, for my friends. God is challenging me to live a prepared life.

This is a huge task, and will probably be a continuing theme in my posts for a while. It includes so many areas of life: spiritually, physically, mentally, financially. The area weighing heaviest on my mind right now is preparation in my home (can anyone say "organization"?).

So, I am pondering this life goal and considering the baby steps I can take today, tomorrow, this week, to live in obedience, to be prepared.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Meal Plan?!?

So, I have been reading about meal plans lately. There are some enthusiastic bloggers who have had great success with this. Some people do a plan each week, some prefer a monthly plan. I have attempted meal plans in the past, and have not been very successful, but the it looks like it is time to try again -- to save money and especially to lower the stress around dinner time.

I am debating between a monthly or weekly plan. Should I just jump off the deep end and tackle the entire month at once? I am going to try one week at a time for a month. Does anyone have some tips for getting started? How do I avoid the pitfalls that have foiled my plans in the past?

Check back in a few weeks to see how it goes!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Book of John - Introduction

My ladies group is studying the gospel of John this year. This seemed like the perfect topic and opportunity to start my new blog.

We are using Kay Arthur's book, the The God Who Know You and Cares, an inductive study of the book of John (check out my last blog post for more about the inductive study style). So far, I have been disappointed with the book. It is not as thoughtful as some of them -- the questions and comments don't seem nearly as thought provoking. However, it does help provide structure to our study.

Here is the brief introduction to the book of John that I shared on our first night in this new study.

John explicitly states his purpose for writing this book in John 20:30-31. Knowing his reason for writing this book can help us understand this scripture better.
"Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
John 20:30-31 (NIV)

We will see this theme repeated throughout the book of John: Jesus did this sign, and the disciples believed. John's entire book is focused around giving us the proof that we need to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

John is a deeply theological book, focusing on the diety of Christ and the meaning of faith in him. The early church was heavely dependent of this book for much of its theology. John is always careful to interpret what he is reporting with key theological terms.

He introduces key theological term -- know, world, Word, glory -- and uses them again and again. The biggest key word in John is belief / faith. He uses this term 98 times in his gospel. A careful study of these terms can give us a clear understanding of basic New Testament revelation.

John teaches his lessons primarily through contrast -- life & death, light & darkness, belief & unbelief, love & hate, etc. As we read through this book, we will see these contrasts and this teaching method used repeatedly.

John 1:1-5 reminds us of our primary focus as we study the life of Christ as recorded by John.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:1-5 (ESV)
Jesus is the Word of God, God himself, the one through whom God has always chosen to express himself.

Check out the next post in this series: John 1

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Inductive Bible Study

A few years ago, a friend and I started a ladies group to study scripture together. We decided to spend our time doing an inductive style study of various books of the Bible.

I first encountered this type of Bible study in our church in Tennessee, Nashville First Church of the Nazarene. Our pastor taught a Wednesday night series on how to study you Bible. His approach was very much an inductive style of study.

So, what is the inductive style of study? Basically it is using the Bible itself as the primary source of information about the Bible. It is a disciplined way of slowing down and reading the text for what it actually says, not what we have heard in a sermon, or what we assume it says. It takes some serious practice in order to not read our own opinions and assumptions into scripture, especially if you are very familiar with a passage.

A great guide for this style is Kay Arthur's book, How to Study Your Bible. We have used several of her books in our study group, including 1 and 2 Peter; 1, 2 and 3 John; Colossians and this year we are doing the gospel of John. This is not an endorsement of Kay Arthur -- sometimes I disagree with her conclusions and am not inspired by her questions -- but the books bring important structure to our group.

Here is the basic approach to my new style of Bible study:
  1. Read the text (an entire book or letter) in one sitting, normally in a translation I am not as familiar with, trying to read it through the eyes of the original recipients.
  2. Re-read the text, normally a smaller portion like a chapter, and make observations -- who, what, when, where and how -- writing down any unanswered questions or interesting points.
  3. Re-read the smaller portion of the text again, marking key words and main characters in the book, taking notes on what I learn from these observations.
  4. After this groundwork, I begin cross referencing other passages for answers to any remaining questions.
  5. Then I approach commentaries, or other sources of information to bring additional understanding.
  6. Of coarse, through all this, my prayer is to hear what God wants to speak into my life.
I have found it to be very refreshing to study through an entire book, and not study topically (not that this doesn't also have value). And it is a great way to become thoroughly familiar with scripture, so you can better see the big picture when you are studying a topic or person.

As I said, our group is studying the gospel of John this year. I will be doing a series of posts as we proceed through this book.

Have any of you tried an inductive study of Scripture? Or do you have a different style of study that you like? I'd love to hear from you.

My new blog

Check out my new blog: Contemplative Mom at contemplativemom.blogspot.com

The plan is to continue to post family news here at DarrenAndChristy.com, and to use my new blog to write about the random thoughts and experiences that make up my life.

My Big Boy!

Joshua seems to have grown up so much in the last few weeks. He has been doing and saying the silliest things lately, and I have no idea where he got them.

This picture is a great example. Any time you ask him to smile at the camera, he shrugs his shoulders and holds them up until you are done taking the picture. It is so funny!

He is also making the new facial expressions. Last week I reminded Joshua to sit down until he finished his food. He looked at me with the cutest, most pouty face I have ever seen. I laughed so hard! But he still had to finish his dinner.

The clearest sign that he is growing is found in his new, favorite phrase: "Joshua do himself!"

Sigh ... my little boy has grown into a big boy who no longer wants mommy's help!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Day at the Farm!

Terhune Orchards has Fall Family Fun Festival Weekends through the end of October. So this weekend we headed to the farm to enjoy the festivities.

The horses are still his favorite attraction whenever we visit. For the festivals, they have several ponies available for rides in addition to their regular farm horse.

Too bad we didn't have time for a pony ride, though he probably would not have ridden willingly.

We also spent time at the pumpkin patch! Abigail and Joshua both had so much fun looking at all the pumpkins and picking the perfect ones to take home.

We left with two very nice, little pumpkins to decorate our home for fall. I think we will stick with markers and paint this year, instead of trying to safely carve them with an impatient 2 year old (whose new favorite phrase is "Joshua do himself").

The whole family got to enjoy the fresh apples we bought at the orchard when I made apple crisp for dessert tonight. Maybe next time we will try the "Pick Your Own" option for apples.

We had a wonderful day and the weather was perfect (sunny, in the high 60's)! I'm sure we will be back out there again before the weather changes.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bath time with Abigail

Darren took some really cute pictures of Abigail taking a bath!


Abigail has always been opposed to bath time. Sometimes she would cry the entire time ... until now!

She is finally sitting up well enough that she gets to sit upright in the bath, instead of laying down. This has transformed bath time.

Now she has so much fun playing with the little toys and splashing around in the water.

Check out her teethy grin ...
she is showing almost all of her six teeth!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Indoor basketball

Joshua is so excited about basketball.

He loves to watch the grown-ups playing on the court near our apartment. And he always wants to shoot hoops in the little kid's basket out at the playground.

What he really needed was a way to enjoy this game on rainy days without buying an indoor basketball hoop.

We gathered all the balls we have into a pile on the living room floor. Next we set a toy bin on one of Joshua's little chairs.

What follows is a flurry of fun!

Joshua loves to shoot all different sizes of balls into the toy bin. Sometimes he is laughing too hard to even aim.

So far, he only throws the balls at the basket... we may have a problem if he gets too excited and starts throwing them anytime at anything!

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