Saturday, May 14, 2005
Friday, May 13, 2005
Just stopping by
We've been hoping to get my blog switched over to the new location. I've had the domain name registered for quite a while, but we haven't used it. Unfortunately/fortunately David has been so busy with work that he just hasn't had time to work on it and I'm technically-challenged so the chances of me doing it alone are nil.
But I am looking forward to getting the new site up. There are a lot of things I want to do that the Blogger system doesn't let me do.
So now you know where I have been. Thanks for the comments people have left recently. I receive all the comments in my mailbox and I read all of them even if I don't respond to them.
Hopefully I will be able to get back here again this weekend!
Bonnie's Baked Beans
4 strips of bacon, cut into pieces
1 large minced onion
2 large cans baked beans with pork
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp prepared mustard
1/4 cup chili sauce
1 drizzle of molasses
Saute bacon and onion until bacon is crisp and onion is yellow. Stir in all other ingredients. Pour into a greased 3 quart baking dish. Bake uncovered at 300 degrees for 2-3 hours.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Of birds, butterflies and summer weather…
Random thoughts from our yard...
If you think birds are eating the buds off the Japanese maple in your front yard, think about what that means and try to stop them. It’s a funny thing. If they eat the buds, your tree ends up with a lot less leaves. Go figure.
We had our first baby birds of the season yesterday. Lots of fluttering and squeaking and begging mom for food by a little sparrow.
Is it fall yet? Yesterday it was 81 degrees with a heat index of 86. That’s enough summer for me. I don’t know how people live in the deep south. Five or more months in the 80’s and 90’s with humidity is simply beyond my comprehension.
If someone came to our house, they wouldn’t know what we are talking about when discussing birds. We have our own names for some of the birds (and other creatures) we get at our feeders.
tweeters = goldfinches
chippies = cardinals (Unless it is a couple; then they are Mr. and Mrs. Chippy)
deedees = chickadees
little guy = red breasted nuthatch (so as not to be confused with the bigger white-breasted nuthatch)
dorky bath birds = I don’t actually know what they are. They are larger dark birds and we’ve never taken the time to get out the bird book and find out what they are. They are just so funny to watch in the bird bath that this is the name that David came up with.
weasels = squirrels
Robbie and Roberta = robins who come as couples
We put in four more butterfly bushes this past weekend. We had three last year and really enjoyed seeing the butterflies. This picture is one I took last year. I am looking forward to taking a lot more pictures this year. We loved the butterfly bushes because they were easy to care for and gave us lots of color throughout the summer and into the fall.
I'm still standing (and learning some good lessons in the process)
I wrote a few weeks ago about my adventures in not sitting. Well, here we are three weeks later and I'm still not sitting much. Thankfully I can sit a bit more, but as David said the other day when we were in the car coming home from physical therapy - I'm good for about three miles and that's it.
This has actually been a good exercise. We talk about moving into a country setting and moving to northern
So I'm learning some good lessons in the midst of all this. But I am looking forward to the week when I can sit down every day for long stretches of time. I've missed my glider rocker these past five months.
Microwave Frittata for Two
I tried out this recipe today. I think I cut it out of one of those Kraft Food Magazines they send me every few months. It was good and quick. I used red peppers and green onions instead of green pepper. I also added some salt and pepper. I used a 9-inch glass pie plate since that’s what I had and it only took about 4 and ½ minutes to cook rather than 6.
1 Tbsp water
½ cup shredded cheddar
½ cup chopped green pepper
Spray 8-inch microwaveable pie plate with cooking spray. Wisk eggs and water in bowl and pour into pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese and green pepper.
Microwave on high approximately 6 minutes or until eggs are set and cheese is melted.
Follow-up regarding women blogging
I wanted to provide the link to a post R.C. Sproul Jr. put up yesterday. I think his clarification of his intentions is helpful.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
So where was I the last few days?
I have to admit that I didn’t do a whole lot of writing here the past few days because I was spending a lot of time reading other blogs. There has been a controversy of sorts in the Christian blogging world regarding a blog entry written by R.C. Sproul Jr. about women bloggers. (My summary of his entry – he thinks they can be dangerously unbiblical and should not “teach” theology.)
In an effort to stick to my original intent with my own little spot in cyberspace, I’m not going to spend a lot of time commenting on it. I would rather post pictures of God’s creation and encourage people to walk more closely with their Creator. I’m not sure if R.C. would approve, but my husband does and that’s about all that matters to me. (That should give you an idea of whether or not I agree with what R.C. wrote.) I've had enough debating/discussion/attempted blackmailing with various people about women's role in ministry and the church over the past few years to last me a lifetime. (Gee, I wonder if that's partially why this blog is not going to go to those kinds of places on a regular basis and we stick to butterflies, pinecones, Spurgeon quotes and chicken marinades?)
However, if you find controversy interesting, here are a few places you can go and read some comments and discussion.
Reflections of the Times (Not specifically about the R.C. incident, but a good explanation of why women blogging is biblically ok)
Reflections of the Times (A follow-up to the previous article and about the R.C. incident)
From The Prairie (I love her Spurgeon quote!)
Threefold Cord (Lots of comments and discussion on this one)
Walking Circumspectly (Lots of links)
Trusting the Creator
All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.
If I can't believe that the spacecraft I fly assembled itself, how can I believe that the universe assembled itself? I'm convinced only an intelligent God could have built a universe like this.
Jack Lousma, astronaut
The man who cannot wonder…is but a pair of spectacles behind which there is no eye.
Lemon Herb Honey Marinade
This is my favorite marinade for grilling boneless chicken. I often have David grill up a whole bunch and then freeze the extras for eating later or putting on Chicken Caesar Salad.
½ cup ReaLemon Juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp dried sweet basil
¼ tsp oregano
Mix all ingredients in a ziploc bag. Add chicken breasts. Marinade chicken in refrigerator 4 to 24 hours. Grill.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Freeing Up Cash
As I wrote before, several of the ways we have simplified our lives have had to do with money. I thought today I would share some simple ways we have freed up additional cash.
Notice I didn’t say “ways that we save money”. In order to “save money” at the grocery store, for example, you actually have to take the money you would have spent and save it. Most people don’t save their savings from when they buy things on sale. The money never sees the savings account. I think a more accurate way to describe it is “freeing up cash”.
Here is a list of ways that we have freed up cash for other things that are more important. Most of them aren’t really all that significant on their own, but over a year they add up. In order to show the profound impact these choices can make, I’m also going to show how much these choices add up to over ten years and twenty years.
Cutting David’s hair myself:
$299/year, $2,990/ten years, $5,980/twenty years
Changing our car insurance to a flat payment rather than installments:
$10/year, $100/ten years, $200/twenty years
Canceling long distance service and using long distance phone cards from Costco (3 cents/minute):
$300/year, $3,000/ten years, $6,000/twenty years
Adding a little extra water to our grape juice when I make it:
$9/year, $90/ten years, $180/twenty years
Only getting the Sunday paper rather than every day:
$50/year, $500/ten years, $1,000/twenty years
Basic cable rather than full cable:
$432/year, $4,320/ten years, $8,640/twenty years
Not buying new cars and keeping the cars we do have a lot longer. This results in lower insurance payments, not paying depreciation on a new car when we drive it off the lot, not paying for all of the fees we would incur every time we purchase a different car (new or not), not making monthly payments, etc. (This is a rough estimate since this is a lot harder to calculate and I’m doing this off the top of my head with just a calculator.):
$6,000/year, $60,000/ten years, $120,000/twenty years
Using two printers for our business. We use one with high quality ink for important things (photo restoration projects, business letters, invoices, etc.). During our busy season we can be printing hundreds of pages of drafts a day and we use an inexpensive printer and cheap ink cartridges for that:
$400/year, $4,000/ten years, $8,000/twenty years
Those are just a few things that came to me off the top of my head. I didn’t write anything about grocery shopping, clothes, etc. There are lots of other ways that we cut costs. But just the ones above add up to these totals:
I think most people can make similar changes in their own lifestyle without a lot of extra effort and I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to free up $150,000 over the next twenty years.
Here’s to freeing up cash for the most important things!
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Fascinated by the Weather
Here are two sites we access regularly for the forecast, storm information and radars. You can click on your area for specific information.
Intellicast National Radar Loop
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Day by Day
My husband and I grew up in different denominations but we grew up with the same hymnal. We have copies of those hymnals in our home and we enjoy singing from them. My hymnal is a little different in that it has an additional section of Swedish hymns in the back. The denomination was started by Swedes and there was a strong Swedish influence for many decades.
One of my favorite hymns is one of those Swedish hymns.
Day by Day
Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best.
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As they days, they strength shall be in measure,” –
This the pledge to me He made.
Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
Ever to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.
Monday, May 02, 2005
Happily Ever After
I am a paper and pen kind of gal. While I know there are people who live and die by their Palm Pilots and Blackberries, I am not one of them. I still use a classic size Franklin Planner with a tapestry cover and flowery pages. It must be the writer in me and the artist in my husband but we can’t imagine switching to something that we can’t write on, doodle on and otherwise use our artistic side.
Anyhoo, this morning I was going through my April pages to make sure I didn’t lose any important information before I recycled them. I was reading through the various quotes and found a few that were worth adding to my collection of quotes I’ve had since college.
It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day to day basis.
I’ve written before about how I met my husband and how blessed I am to be married to David. We’ve been married about eight and a half years so in a way we are no longer newlyweds (although sometimes we still feel like it!). Yet we both know that just because God brought us together doesn’t mean our marriage is fail-proof. We are both fallible humans, redeemed by the blood of Christ, but we will still struggle with sin until the Lord calls us home. There are no guarantees that any marriage, a Christian marriage included, will endure. It is only by the grace of God that any Christian marriage doesn’t end up in destruction and divorce. For us to live “happily ever after” we have to make wise, biblical choices that protect and nurture our marriage each day.
I remember one time someone I knew (who was single) made a comment about adultery. The comment was to the effect that this person could never do that and it was said in a somewhat prideful way. I immediately had a check in my spirit. My thought was that if you think you are above doing that you don’t know the potential depths of sin that exists in each of our lives. I believe a healthy fear of falling (or walking) into sin is one of the best defenses against that very sin.
So I’m going to keep working on my marriage each day because I do want the “happily ever after”. God gave us a wonderful start to our story and we want to be good stewards so the whole story will be a happy, God-honoring one.
Herb Roasted Tenderloin with Oven Roasted Potatoes
I made this yesterday for Sunday dinner. It is so easy to put together, but tastes like it took a lot more work. When I make it for the two of us, I just use one tenderloin and adjust the amount of potatoes so I have the right amount for two meals. I served it with a French Style Bean Salad.
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp rosemary, crushed
2 tsp thyme, crushed
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 and ½ lbs red potatoes, quartered
2 whole pork tenderloins (3/4 – 1 lb each)
Stir oil, garlic and seasonings. Coat meat with 3 Tbsp of seasoning mixture. Place meat in large roasting pan. Toss potatoes with remaining seasoning mixture and arrange potatoes around meat in pan.
Roast at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 155 degrees and juices run clear, stirring potatoes after 20 minutes. Broil on top rack of oven 5 minutes to brown. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
French Style Bean Salad
David really likes green beans so I try to make them in various forms - steamed, in recipes, etc. This is a great cool side item for the hot summer months.
1 can French style green beans, drained
2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
2 and 1/3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 and 1/3 Tbsp chopped onion
Mix lemon juice, salt, mayonnaise and onion. Pour over beans; toss well. Refrigerate and serve.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
Advice or Counsel?
I heard a pastor speak today about knowing God’s will and something he said struck me as being significant.
Should we seek advice or counsel? Should we give advice or counsel?
As I said before, I think words are really important and carry significant meaning. Just ask my husband who is often the recipient of my questioning – “Do you mean xxx or did you mean xxx?” Precise words matter to me because they carry different nuances. So when the pastor talked about the difference between advice and counsel, I noticed.
His idea was that we should not ask other Christians for advice when we are seeking to know God’s will. Instead, we should ask them for counsel by asking, “What do you think the Bible teaches about my situation/choice?”
That got me to thinking… Do I offer advice or counsel? Do I point people to my own wisdom or do I point them to the wisdom and principles of God’s Word? Ouch. It is easier to rattle off our own “wisdom” than pull out the Scriptures and help someone think biblically through a choice.
So this was a helpful sermon for me. I’ll be trying to put this into practice and ask God to help me be a better counselor when opportunities arise.
Saturday, April 30, 2005
How Great is Our God – Thoughts from the Psalms
Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth…For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
~ Psalm 48
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens…When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
~ Psalm 8
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
~ Psalm 5
My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.
~ Psalm 7
The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
~ Psalm 9
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
~ Psalm 19
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
~ Psalm 18
Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
~ Psalm 40
Friday, April 29, 2005
Thoughts by Spurgeon
Charles Haddon Spurgeon is one of my "heroes" of the faith. He was a Baptist minister in England during the last half of the nineteenth century. He was a passionate preacher of the Gospel and the Scriptures.
If you aren't familiar with Spurgeon, here is a link to a website I found with lots of information about him.
And if you would like to know Spurgeon's thoughts on the seeker sensitive church growth movement, click here for "Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats".
Do not look to your hope, but to Christ, the source of your hope.
No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.
Out of every difficulty Omnipotence can bring us, only let us in childlike confidence cast our burden upon the Lord.
"Speech" any man may attain to, but "act" is difficult.
Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.
A sacred regard to the authority of God ought to lead us to reject an error, however old, sanctioned by whatever authority, or however generally practiced.
If the people do not like the doctrine of grace, give them all the more of it.
A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.
It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.
No one knows who is listening, say nothing you would not wish put in the newspapers.
Hold everything earthly with a loose hand.
If we would learn from our prosperity, we would not need so much adversity.
East and West, home is best.
He who made the promise will find a way to keep it.
Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.
No one is so miserable as the poor person who maintains the appearance of wealth.
The Lord gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.
Of two evils, choose neither.
If we cannot believe God when circumstances seem to be against us, we do not believe Him at all.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Come Out, Come Out Whoever You Are! (aka Leaving Comments)
I've had a couple of different people ask me in the last few days how to leave comments. It is super easy! At the end of each entry is a little thing that says "0 comments" or "4 comments" or something like that. If you click on that, a new little window will open where you will be able to read any comments that have been left. You will also be able to leave a comment. Anyone can leave a comment, even if you don't have your own blog.
There is also a little envelope with an arrow. If you click on that, you are able to send the entry to a friend.
I hope that helps. If it doesn't, feel free to let me know and I would be happy to help some more!
Shredded Chicken from the Crockpot
After sharing my basic meatball recipe, I thought I should also share my shredded chicken “recipe”. It isn’t really a recipe but more like a timesaving shortcut.
My motto in the kitchen is cook once, eat at least twice and preferably three or four times!
When boneless, skinless chicken breasts are on sale I buy several packages to make shredded chicken. I clean them and cut them in half. I then layer them with salsa in my crockpot (i.e. put down a layer of chicken pieces, pour salsa on them, put down another layer of chicken pieces, pour salsa on them, etc. until you use up all the chicken and salsa). I then cook it on low for several hours until the chicken is done. I pull all the chicken pieces out and put them on a jelly roll pan so they cool enough to touch. Then I use a fork and shred them while they are still warm. When I have a pan full of shredded chicken, I measure the chicken out in one cup increments and put each cup in its own Ziploc sandwich bag. I throw all the Ziploc bags in a larger Ziploc bag and put the whole thing in the freezer. When I need shredded chicken, I just pull out the right number of cups/baggies.
You can use the shredded chicken in quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos, tortilla soup, etc. – basically anywhere you would want a spicy shredded chicken.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Leaving a Legacy
The pastor was speaking of the different kinds of legacies that people leave behind. Most often when people hear the word legacy they think of something related to money. Sometimes they think of donations or large gifts to organizations such as a university or ministry.
But the greatest legacy, he argued, was the one that we leave through other people. For those with children, by far the greatest legacy would be to leave behind godly children who are fervently committed to Christ. For those without children, legacies can be left through people we disciple, other family members, friends, and fellow church members.
After reading the entry about Dr. Clowney, I pulled The Church out of my bookcase and spent some time reading parts of it again. It is a wonderful book he wrote that I have turned to on numerous occasions when thinking through different issues related to Christ’s church. I had the opportunity to sit under Dr. Clowney’s teaching when he came to an InterVarsity regional staff retreat. He was a wonderful teacher and, as R.C. wrote, a man of great humility.
His book on my shelf is a very small part of his legacy. His time spent teaching that week is also a very small part of his legacy. But in my life they are meaningful parts that have had a hand in shaping me in different ways. Multiplied by the tens of thousands of people who have read his books and sat under his teaching…well, you have quite a legacy.
I know most people won’t be called to write books and teach at seminaries. But all of us have opportunities each day to add a little bit to our legacy. Whether it is loving a neighbor, caring for a sick child, helping an elderly family member, or sending an encouraging note to a friend, we all should be looking each day for opportunities to serve the Lord and leave a legacy that will remain long after we have gone home to be with Christ.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Happy Birthday to My Sweet Hubby
I love you, David! Happy Birthday!
Like I said in the banner box... I'm Midwestern
Your Linguistic Profile:
65% General American English
20% Upper Midwestern
NASA Earth Observatory website
Monday, April 25, 2005
Over the Fence - Sharing Recipes!
Banana Grape-Nuts Bread
1 & 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, well beaten
2 Tbsp shortening, melted
1 cup mashed banana
Mix flour with sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in cereal. Blend milk with bananas, egg, and shortening. Add flour mixture, stirring just until all flour is moistened. Pour into greased 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 65 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and finish cooling on rack.
We love granola! I like this recipe I found in a magazine because it is a quick granola to throw together. We found it a little too sweet the first time I made it so I cut back on the brown sugar the next time. The recipe below is the original. You can adjust it to your own taste.
4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 & ½ cups sliced almonds
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup cooking oil
¼ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 & ½ cups dried cranberries (or raisins)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl mix the oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. In a saucepan warm the oil and honey. Whisk or stir in vanilla. Carefully pour liquid over oat mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon; finish mixing by hand.
Spread granola in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake 40 minutes, stirring carefully every 10 minutes. Transfer granola-filled pan to a rack; cool completely. Stir in dried cranberries. Seal granola in an airtight container or self-sealing plastic bags. Store at room temperature for 1 week or in freezer for 3 months.
Makes 9 cups (24 servings).
This is not the typical deviled eggs recipe! It has a tangy yolk filling. These are my favorites because I love green olives.
7 hardboiled eggs, with shell removed
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp green olives, finely chopped
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp prepared mustard
salt and pepper
Halve hard-cooked eggs lengthwise. Remove yolks and place yolks in bowl. Set egg whites aside.
Mash yolks with fork. Add mayo, olives, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix together thoroughly.
Refill egg whites with yolk filling. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired.
This is my basic meatball recipe. I mix up a couple of batches at a time and then freeze them. Then I just pull out however many I want to use. I use them with spaghetti sauce and pasta, in meatball subs, or just to eat them plain! This is one of the ways I keep us from eating out! I love to have things in the freezer that I can use quickly and in a variety of ways.
1 lb of ground beef
½ cup dry bread crumbs (I use Italian bread crumbs for more flavor!)
¼ cup milk
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp pepper
1 small onion, chopped
Mix all ingredients and shape into balls. Bake on ungreased jelly roll pan for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Stayaway Saints – When Christians Quit Church
I debated for a few days whether or not I should write about this article. Then I decided it was just too interesting and important to pass up. I think this is a significant trend that Christians should be aware of, whether they agree with everything in the article or not. Chances are, a number of my readers fit this article as well.
So before I say anything else, read this article:
Then read the following comments about the article I found on another blog (daveblackonline.com):
Interesting article. However, like your reader who sent in the link, I fear the writer is missing the whole point. They say Rick Warren is something people are running "to." I think he's one of the things people are running "from." It's almost impossible to find a church that isn't using his materials and ideas anymore. I certainly couldn't find one in this area so I gave up looking. One of my criticisms of most churches is their music. I love the old hymns AND the new hymns. The key word being "hymns." I personally DESPISE repetition and just can not abide the little choruses (I refer to them as jingles) where one sings the first couple of lines twice or more, then another couple of lines and then the first couple over a couple of more times. That is so inane and meaningless to me. We have hundreds of theologically sound hymns available to uplift, encourage, and inspire us. The "
And I understand
But I think this is one of the things, (or a couple) from which the "stayaway saints" are fleeing. They, and I, are seeking true, meaningful, heartfelt worship to, and service for our Living Saviour. Not happy clappy, feel good, what's in it for me, services. Perhaps I'm wrong. But that is what I've seen and heard in my personal experience.
I've read on some websites that people see a huge revival happening in this country. I must ask, "Where?" I certainly don't see it. Not real, true Biblical revival such as we see in Acts. Although I would truly love to see that since I see no hope for this country or this world unless it comes. I pray for it. I hope all Christians are praying likewise. And for the soon coming of our Lord Jesus.
I found this article and the response so interesting because David and I have observed this phenomena all around us and have even struggled with it ourselves. When I read this article, I could easily think of about a dozen couples/families we know who have given up going to church, who are only very nominally involved, or who go to a church they don’t like but feel compelled to go because they have children and they have to go somewhere. These people are like those mentioned in the article - very committed Christians who take their faith seriously. They love Christ and want to follow Christ. But they are so fed up and frustrated with the church. In almost every case, it is for the very reasons that Buddy mentioned in his response to the article. For the most part, I would say that David and I have the same struggles Buddy mentioned.
We are highly committed to being in a church, being a part of a community, worshipping in spirit and in truth, using our gifts, etc. However, we have found it incredibly challenging to find a place. We live in a city with literally hundreds of churches and have really struggled to find a place to belong.
Before we married, we both had good experiences in our churches. David was at his church for ten years and I was at my church for nine years. They were not perfect churches but we were fed meaty sermons, participated in meaningful worship, used our gifts and had opportunities for community. We have both experienced what it is like to be in a good church where you are actively involved in meaningful, Biblical ways. Once you experience that, it is really hard to settle for anything else.
In our eight years of marriage we have been members of two churches, have been actively involved attenders at a couple of more and visited another couple of dozen more. We have tried very hard to find a place to belong, but in each case there were things that we could not look past.
I have to be honest. I see why people give up. We’ve visited churches where no one spoke to us. We’ve visited a church where we could not find a place to sit because people had their Bibles all spread out and turned us away from their pew because they were saving seats so we ended up sitting behind a support beam where we could not see. (I’m not kidding.) If people like us, who really want to find a church home, are discouraged and turned off by what we experience, why in the world would someone less committed keep trying?
We have gone through periods where we worshipped at home. It isn’t what God teaches in His Word, but sometimes we just needed a break and couldn’t deal with the visiting thing any longer. But we get back out there and keep trying.
I don’t have all the answers. As I write this, we still have not found a church home. We have been visiting someplace, but don’t feel convinced this is where we will end up.
There are people out there trying to make a difference such as Doug Phillips of Vision Forum and the
I have said to David several times over the past year that I believe in the future when people look back on these recent decades, these years will be seen as a very dark time in the life of the church. So often when we are living in history we don’t clearly understand what is going on. I truly believe that we are (unfortunately) living through a very low time in church history. Can God break in and change things? Of course He can and we should be praying that He will. But unfortunately we are the victims (for lack of a better word) of decades of poor and unbiblical choices by church leadership here in the Western church.
I feel like I’ve written just enough to be dangerous and that I haven’t done justice to a lot of the topics I’ve touched on here. Perhaps I will return to some of them in the future. But there’s probably plenty of food for thought here for now.
The Road to Simplicity (Does it have a destination?)
I have gradually realized that the simplicity we are finding here is less linked to our setting than to our direction – our spiritual commitment to live more simply, our determination to make simplifying choices, and our willingness to clarify and stand by certain goals and priorities.
The longer I have walked down the road of simplicity, the more convinced I have become that there is no “destination”. I think by nature people who are seeking to simplify are people who will always be seeking to simplify. I don’t think we ever “arrive”. Life is always changing and so we have to always be open to rethinking our journey towards simplicity. David and I have achieved a higher level of simplicity compared to most people we know, but if we moved, had a baby or our work situation changed, we would have to reevaluate a lot of aspects of our simplicity in light of our new life situation.
So I don’t think we will ever arrive. But I do think it is important to remember and celebrate the choices we have made that have brought us to where we are right now.
Here’s a list of ways we have simplified over the past several years…
Getting out of debt
This is by far the most important thing we did. We have no debt other than our mortgage. Being out of debt has given us freedom in so many ways.
Increasing our savings
It’s a funny thing. Once you get out of debt it is a lot easier to save money. Go figure. Maybe increasing our savings doesn’t sound like a typical “simplicity” idea. But anything that increases your peace of mind qualifies in my book as simplicity.
Buying less house than we could “afford”
We have chosen to live beneath our means. The bank would have given us a loan for about two and a half times what we borrowed. And we probably could have made those payments. But we didn’t want to.
Not having a public cell phone
We purchased a cell phone in 1997 when I was teaching and was going to be commuting long distances each day. We only carry it around for emergencies and it is never turned on unless one of us goes somewhere without the other. No one has the number and we don’t use it for work. We do not want to be that accessible.
Decluttering our home
I am a neat person and I’m also very good at neatly storing things (read: not letting go of stuff). I read Clutter’s Last Stand by Don Aslett and it freed me from the “hanging on to stuff that is still good just in case” syndrome. It also freed me from the “I can’t give this away – it was a gift from my students/friend/parents/etc.” syndrome. We have gotten rid of so much stuff.
Putting our TV on a cart and keeping it in a closet
We do not have our TV out in the living room. We keep it on a rolling cart we bought at Target and it is stored in the closet. When we want to watch something we have to get it out of the closet, hook up the cable and then turn it on. We have purposely made it difficult to watch TV.
Developing a well-stocked pantry
We purchased a large upright freezer when we moved into our house and set up a bunch of pantry shelves in the basement. We could go quite a while without shopping and we could go even longer if we just shopped for the basics (milk, eggs, etc.). In fact, the past couple of months while I have been recuperating we have found out just how great it is to have a well-stocked pantry.
Not automatically upgrading and making things last
We don’t rush out for the latest stuff. We like to see how long we can keep something before we have to replace it. We take care of our “stuff” so it will last as long as possible. We never upgraded our cell phone until this year. (Yep, that’s EIGHT years on the same phone.) We didn’t buy a new TV until the one we had (a hand me down) died. Same thing for the answering machine, cordless phone, etc. We don’t upgrade our computer software for the business until we have to. We drive older cars (11 and 8 years respectively) and for eight months a few years ago only had one car. (It worked out fine.) Choices like these will save us tens of thousands of dollars over the years.
Working at home
It is amazing how working at home in our own business has simplified our lives. I know this might not be true for everyone, but it has been amazing how much it has done for us.
Those are just a few of the things we have done. Most of them aren’t really all that monumental on their own, but the cumulative affect of them year after year becomes quite profound.
I mentioned in a previous entry about the list of questions I developed when teaching about these topics. Here are a few more relevant questions from that list:
Am I drowning in clutter in my home?
How many clothing items in my closet have I not worn in over a year?
Does my calendar really reflect the things that I say are most important to me?
What kind of clutter is piled under my bed? In the garage? In the basement? On my desk? In my filing cabinet?
What financial decision could I make that would bring more peace to my life?
Are there 25 things in my home I could take to Goodwill? 50? 100? 200? 500?
Will I ever truly get down to that weight again? And if I did, would I still want to wear those clothes I can’t get rid of?
Are my children too focused on the things of this world?
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Thoughts on Waiting
The deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.
Passion and Purity
God’s timing is not ours. He will reveal himself – though not necessarily when and where we may expect.
Charles H. Spurgeon
Waiting is not wasted time. Realize that God is preparing his resources and strengthening you as well. C.H.P.
Streams in the Desert
When ours are interrupted, his are not. His plans are proceeding exactly as scheduled, moving us always (including those minutes or hours or years which seem most useless or wasted or unendurable) "toward the goal of true maturity" (Rom 12:2 JBP).
God often gives in one brief moment that which he has for a long time denied.
Thomas à Kempis
We would actually accomplish more if we attempted less, and spent more time in quiet waiting on God.
Streams in the Desert
He who waits on God never waits too long.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
A Mother's Day Dilemma
Yesterday my husband and I picked out Mother’s Day cards for our moms. We are both blessed to have our parents still married to each other and have good relationships with our moms. Celebrating our moms and being thankful for them is the easy part of Mother’s Day.
The hard part of Mother’s Day is dealing with the fact that well into our ninth year of marriage we remain childless. For whatever reason, God has not chosen to bless us with any children.
Well, that’s not exactly accurate which is what makes this Mother’s Day even more of a challenge for me.
Like most women who want children and don’t have them, Mother’s Day can present a real dilemma. Of course we want to honor our own mothers. At the same time, we would prefer to just skip the day all together since it can be a hard reminder of something painful in our lives.
The first few years we were married, Mother’s Day didn’t bother me too much. We hadn’t been “trying” very hard and we were open to letting God decide the size and timing of our family. However, each year it became a little harder, especially going to church where everything revolved around honoring mothers that day. So, like many couples, the past few years we have simply chosen to worship at home on Mother's Day rather than deal with all the “stuff”. It is a choice we have been content with.
This year presents a new challenge because in October we had a miscarriage around the sixth week. I actually got out my calendar yesterday and counted. If I had not lost that baby, I would be around thirty weeks right now. I would have gone into Mother’s Day just about ready to deliver. And David would have had a beautiful new baby to carry into church on Father’s Day in June.
Which I guess gets me to the main point of this entry. How does a childless mother celebrate Mother’s Day?
After my miscarriage I posted some questions on a Christian women’s discussion board since I was trying to sort through the whole thing. For me, the hardest part has been the theological aspect. When something like a miscarriage happens, you think about all kinds of things that never crossed your mind before. Am I a mom? What do I do on Mother’s Day? If I’m in church and they ask all the mothers to stand, do I stand up? To stand up seems awkward since I have no living children. And yet to not stand up seems to minimize the life of the child who was only here so briefly and is now with Christ. I still haven’t found an answer that completely satisfies me.
So this year my heart goes out not only to the childless women as it has each year before, but to the women like me who are childless mothers. I pray that God’s grace will be poured out on each of us during this season.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Bits and Pieces – April 19, 2005
I found the most wonderful peppermint shower gel up north. It is made by the Vermont Soap Company and is organic. I love the smell of peppermint! Every time I use it, it immediately lifts my spirits.
I have a relative who passes on issues of Midwest Living to me. (Thanks, Barb!) In a recent issue, they had a small article on the Victorian Trading Company. I checked out their website and they have some beautiful things.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
No Sitting Allowed
I've been experiencing something interesting the past four days. When I went to physical therapy on Thursday, my therapist told me that I should not sit unless it was absolutely necessary. Have you ever tried to spend 16 hours a day only standing, walking or lying around? It is harder than it sounds, especially if you’ve already been lying around the previous six weeks and you are totally sick of being on the couch. I really want my back to improve so I've tried to follow directions and have only really sat down to eat meals and a few other times for very short periods of time. (And the only place I can comfortably sit to eat is perched on the edge of the couch. I don’t know why that works and nothing else does but it’s true.) Right now I'm actually typing this entry standing up in front of my laptop which is on top of a crate so I can reach it comfortably.
So that gets me to why my recent posts have been short and, this weekend, non-existent. (And anyone who has been looking for a return email from me now knows why it has been so slow to come.) Most of my computer energy (which isn’t a lot since I have to stand in one place to do it and the standing in one place is the most tiring) has to be devoted to working on projects for our business.
On the bright side, we’ve eaten pretty well this weekend since working in the kitchen is one of the things I can actually do. I thought about posting some of the recipes I used this weekend, but that will have to be another day. My legs are tired of standing here and it’s time to head to bed. But, Lord willing, I'll be back tomorrow to write about legacies.
Friday, April 15, 2005
A Journal of Thanksgiving
In June 2003 I started a daily discipline that has been a very powerful experience in my life. Each night before I go to bed I write in my Journal of Thanksgiving. I jot down a brief list of five things I am thankful for from that day. They can be about anything – spiritual, emotional, physical, relational.
I would not have thought doing this would be such a valuable experience, but it has been. It forces me each night to focus on the positive and best things that happened during the day and therefore allows me to end my day on a positive note. To be sure, some days it is harder than others to find positive things. I can think of at least one time where three of the five entries were “It’s time to go to bed.” But I was thankful that the day was over and I could go to bed and look forward to a new day when I woke up!
I’m on my second journal now. I chose this journal because I appreciated the poem on the inside cover. I thought it fit so well with the discipline of keeping a Journal of Thanksgiving.
The best things in life
Breath in your nostrils,
light in your eyes,
flowers at your feet,
duties at your hand,
the path of right just before you.
Then do not grasp at the stars,
but do life’s plain, common work
as it comes, certain that daily duties
and daily bread
are the sweetest things in life.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Thoughts on Living Life
The feeling that “if nothing is happening, nothing is happening” is the prejudice of a superficial, dependent and hollow spirit, one that has succumbed to the age and can prove its own excellence only by the quality of pseudo-events it is constantly organizing, like a bee, to that end.
Probably the greatest malaise in our country today is our neurotic compulsion to work.
Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.
What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I had realized it sooner.
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
Let a man set his heart only on doing the will of God and he is instantly free. No one can hinder him.
A. W. Tozer
God doesn’t always smooth the path, but sometimes he puts springs in the wagon.
What you do every day should contribute to giving your life meaning. If it doesn’t, why are you doing it?
The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.
If you have so much business to attend to that you have no time to pray, depend upon it, you have more business on hand than God ever intended you should have.
D. L. Moody
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
What do you call Sunday?
Words have meaning. Now that might seem like an obvious statement, but I believe words have an impact on how we view what we are talking about. Have you ever thought about the difference between a trip and a vacation? What about a young adult versus an adolescent? Kids or children? I think these words carry different meanings although a lot of people use them interchangeably.
So here’s a question. What do you call Sunday?
Some people group it with Saturday and call it “the weekend”. There really isn’t any difference in their mind between the two days. It is just a time period when you don’t have to go to work and you do other things around the house like sleeping in and yard work.
Other people call Sunday “The Lord’s Day”. For a long time, this was primarily how I thought about Sunday. People who use this term usually see it as a day to be devoted to things related to the Lord. This means Sunday School, morning service, choir practice, evening service, and socializing with people from church after the evening service.
Other people use the terms “The Sabbath” or “Day of Rest”. The past several years this has been more my thinking. (I’ve written briefly about this before and Kat wrote a thoughtful comment after my post.) I’ve thought a lot about how God created for six days and then rested, giving us a pattern for rest.
As my husband and I have made the change from thinking of Sunday as “The Lord’s Day” to “The Sabbath”, we’ve found it challenging at times. Both of us were used to Sunday being full of church activities and it seemed “right” to us. To only attend the morning service and spend the rest of the day in “restful” activities was a challenge at first. But the longer we practiced having a weekly Sabbath, the more we realized we were much more prepared to start the rest of the week than we were when Sunday was full of just as much activity (or more) as the rest of the week.
So what do you call Sunday? My intention here is to raise the question, not necessarily convince people that one term is correct and the others are wrong. If you visit my blog often enough you’ll find that I am good at raising questions, but don’t necessarily want to provide "the answer" to every question I raise! But hopefully this is some good food for thought and maybe a discussion at the dinner table.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Things I Love About Spring
Opening the windows and smelling the fresh air
Hearing the cardinals and robins singing in the morning
Putting out the pansy pots on the front steps
Seeing Mr. Cardinal feeding Mrs. Cardinal as they court
The days are warmer but the nights stay cool for great sleeping weather
The goldfinches turning bright yellow
Getting out the lighter clothes and shoes
Hyacinths and tulips blooming in our front yard
Listening to the goldfinches tweet and twitter all day long
Watching the robins in the birdbath
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Staying home - a little bit of heaven on earth
Last month, I referenced another blogger’s entry called “Simple Living: stay home”. I have had a lot of time to think about this topic over the past several weeks since I’ve been at home about 99% of the time. It has really confirmed a lot of my previous convictions regarding the wisdom of just staying home.
In the past two weeks, I have gone away from the house only for doctor’s appointments and walks down our street. My husband has gone away a bit more for work-related meetings, going to the small nearby grocery store, trips to the pharmacy, a couple trips to Quiznos, etc. But for the most part we have been home. To be more specific, we have been at home primarily in the living room.
Now some people might think that this sounds like a curse. As part of a society that is addicted to being on the go (and, yes, I mean addicted), it sounds like something out of a horror movie to think of being AT HOME for TWO WEEKS with (almost) no one other than your spouse. We have actually found it to be wonderful.
In fact, I find myself resenting the fact that I am going to have to go to Meijer this week! I keep a very well stocked pantry, but after a couple of months of hit and miss shopping it is time to replenish my stock. But there are so many other interesting things around the house I would rather be doing! And it is so much more peaceful at home.
In fact, being “forced” to stay home has been a huge blessing. I haven’t had a Starbuck’s mocha in eight weeks. We have only been out to eat at a sit down restaurant I think three times in the past month and once it was after a doctor’s appointment and once was for my birthday. And you know what? I haven’t missed it at all!
I’m not advocating that everyone shut themselves off from everyone else. Obviously Christ would not have us be hermits. But being at home during this time has reaffirmed for me that there is actually very little we NEED to do and very few places we NEED to go when you get right down to it. Most of the rest of it is our own doing, oftentimes to our own detriment.
A Tale of Two Families
My study of the simplicity movement started in 1998 when I was teaching full-time and wanted to be home. Out of my study has evolved a lot of other interests regarding simplicity – margin, overload, consumerism, LBYM (aka Living Beneath Your Means), clutter, calling, downshifting, home businesses, homeschooling, saving money, homesteading, The Great Depression, etc. I really find these topics fascinating. Out of this extensive reading came some significant changes in our own lives.
That being said, my husband knew I would be very interested in this article when he saw it in the paper today. In our paper, it was called “Overextended Families” with the subhead: “The Modern American Household: Strained, In Motion, Child-Dominated, Losing Touch.” The copy I found online on MSNBC is called “Strained Life of the Non-Stop American Family”.
All I can say is – read it and weep (literally). My heart breaks for these children and the hundreds of thousands like them throughout
Then for a study in contrast, I recommend this article: “Tasha Tudor’s World”.
Bits and Pieces – April 10, 2005
Bits and Pieces are random thoughts that don’t necessitate their own entry, but nevertheless I want to record them somewhere. Consider them Sallie’s smorgasbord.
David’s new favorite ice cream is Breyer’s Heath. (Sallie likes it too but her favorite remains unchanged: Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk.)
My orthopedic specialist told me that Curves (the women’s workout place) has been great for his business. He said some of the machines are very hard on the back, especially for women who aren’t in shape when they start going. (BTW…isn’t that the point of going?)
As part of my recovery the past few weeks, I watched a lot of episodes of The Cosby Show. (I do believe the studies that say that laughter speeds recovery!) It reminded me of why it was so wildly popular when it was on prime time. It was so popular, I remember that Campus Crusade for Christ at MSU changed their meeting night from Thursday to another night for a few years because it hindered outreach so much. Think what you want about that decision, but that’s a lot of drawing power for a family show.
I love to read stories about the neat ways that God provides for people. Here is a great one.
I don’t drink milk so taking prescriptions with milk isn’t an option for me. However, I found that taking them with yogurt worked great! Even some heavy pain pills ground up and mixed in the yogurt never bothered me while I needed them.
I buy plain yogurt and mix in my own fruit spread. I love American Spoon’s Spoon Fruit. Once you go to plain yogurt and mix in real fruit without the high fructose corn syrup, you will never be able to go back to the presweetened and preflavored yogurts. I had one several months ago after making the change and I thought I was going to be sick. The Spoon Fruits are more expensive, but so much healthier. In addition to eating yogurt made that way, yogurt smoothies are part of our morning routine now!
Friday, April 01, 2005
MSU is in the Final Four – Who’d have thunk it?
As I mentioned previously,
The MSU victory over Duke last Friday was very sweet. I think that sped up my recovery by at least a day.
The double OT win over
So tomorrow is
Here’s a great video of highlights from the last couple of years. If this doesn’t get you pumped for the game, NOTHING will.
GO GREEN!! GO WHITE!!
So where have I been? (aka Sallie did not drop off the face of the earth)
It is hard to believe that it has been almost two weeks since I last wrote. However, they have been two long weeks for me. I’ve been severely under the weather health-wise, kicking off the whole thing on my birthday (of all days). I’m still working with my doctor to try to get myself back to normal. In the meantime, I’ve been REALLY grateful we didn’t cancel our basic cable last month. I’ve had lots of time to catch up with Cosby, Home Improvement, The Brady Bunch, Magnum PI and various other shows of my youth.
Well, enough of that. I’m back. Slowly but surely I hope to get up to speed and start posting regularly. I’ve missed it and judging from the hits counter (and one phone call!), at least a few other people have been looking for my return.
So let the blogging (re)begin!
Monday, March 21, 2005
And now, a word from our sponsor… (Guest columnist, Sallie's husband)
Today is Sallie’s birthday, as she alluded to in her posting from yesterday. And for her birthday, I pay tribute to her in the:
Ten Things You Need To Know About Sallie
1. Sallie believes that potatoes are one of the basic food groups, whether it’s potato soup (and she makes a good one) or mashed potatoes, or baked potatoes, or fries.
2. Pansies are her favorite flower. Yep, those flower pots are itching to get filled by me in a couple Saturdays.
3. She owns a baseball bat that was used as a prop in one her favorite episodes of the Christy TV series. (We verified the authenticity by watching that episode.)
4. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT get into a battle of wits with Sallie. You will lose. She has a quick wit that rarely gets beaten. (Or, is it that I’m an easy target….)
5. Proper care and feeding of Sallie requires an occasional road trip to Loafer’s Glory, a little restaurant/country gift store in the dinky little burg of Blanchard, Michigan.
6. She really likes it when the vacuuming gets done by others (Read: me).
7. Squirrels tremble at the sight of her. Really. I’m not making this up. One leaped up on our window bird shelf and Sallie stared him down for several seconds. The little weasel started shaking violently and dove off!
8. Quite often during TV college basketball games, Sallie will comment about some aspect of the game. Moments later, the color commentator will say the same thing. Amazing. I still haven’t found the microphone in our living room with a feed to CBS Sports.
9. One of her favorite pick-me-ups is to play the “cold hands game”. I subject my warm tummy to her cold hands. It makes her laugh so much. Once again, I must be an easy target…
10. She was created especially for me, and it’s a special privilege to know that there’s no doubt about who I was to marry. And I’m so glad that she gets to share her thoughts with you who read her blog. I hope that you all get a glimpse of the wonderful woman that I get to share my life with.
Happy Birthday, Kitten!
- Your David
Sunday, March 20, 2005
On to the Sweet Sixteen! (aka My husband can't believe he has a wife who loves to watch college basketball)
The best medicine I've had the past two weeks was watching my beloved Michigan State University Spartans beat Old Dominion on Friday and
Next up is Duke.
I've mentioned the NCAA tournament a couple times recently and I'm sure the vast majority of the women who visit my blog just cannot believe that I waste precious blogging space talking about this. But I’ve been a college basketball fan since the year Earvin Johnson led the MSU Spartans to the national title over Larry Bird and the
Anyhoo, I’ve been a fan ever since.
A couple of years ago my husband went to a men’s breakfast at church on a Saturday morning. It was during the tournament and David mentioned that we were looking forward to watching the games later that day. The men were stunned. The words were, “Wow. Where did you find a wife like that?”
Funny thing is that he found me online and I never mentioned I liked to follow college sports. It was just a bonus that he discovered later.
Go green! Go white!