Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Strong Tower

"My ability to do this job ran out about two years ago." This was what someone said to me recently when we were discussing hardships of life. I didn't tell him that God will not give him more than he can handle. Because that's not true. At least not in the way that I've always heard it spoken.

It is not true that "God will not give you more than you can handle." He may give you so much that you wonder where He is, if He is listening or does He even care. There have been many moments in the past few years that it felt like God wasn't available for us.

There have been many times in my adult life that grief and sorrow were so strong, but I could always "feel" that God would see us through. But lately, the grief of this life has seemed overwhelming, with no help in sight.

God wants you and me to totally depend on Him. He wants us to cry to Him like the psalmist. When our heart is faint, He is the Rock that is higher than we are.

Because I know that God is sovereign and omniscient, I can rest. I don't have to "feel" like He will see me through one heartache or another. He will. I must depend on Him, rest in His care, and trust Him to help me.

He is strong enough to handle my life. He is a Strong Tower.
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
 Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
 Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations! May he be enthroned forever before God; appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
 So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day.     Psalm 61

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Field Trip Day 2016

Greek goddess
"We're finally doing what my friends think all homeschoolers do - Only go on field trips." Like a lot of the general public, many of Lydia's friends who attend traditional private Christian school have the idea that all homeschoolers just go on field trips, never do any real work, and do school in their pajamas. Well, they do actually wear their pajamas all day, if they don't have to leave the house.

Our history, literature, and Bible curriculum focused on early civilizations this year so we went to the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University. It's a great museum for kids. The staff is comfortable with children talking out loud and seem eager to tell them about the exhibits. And it was fun to go with friends who knew more about the exhibits than we do and were actually excited about them too.

It's sand!

The High Museum was great on a Tuesday afternoon. There was almost no one there and it was perfect for my talkative four year old. I could've spent hours there but I was also there with my four year old.

Lydia was surprised by how much she enjoyed the museum too.
Mary loved the urban art.
The Eric Carle exhibit was perfect Abigail

We became part of the art.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hebrews 12:15

See 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.
I have allowed anger and bitterness to take root too long. Nursing it as a small child, I have held on to it. Because my pride is so great, I am not sure that I even want to get rid of the sin.

Besides that, it seems easier to hang on to sin. It's easy to blame others for the sin in my heart. It is true that I've been sinned against.  But the sin against me doesn't justify my own sin. No one is to blame for me turning over and over in my mind the hurts done. I conjure up conversations that I would have, if I had the perfect opportunity. Anger and bitterness swell up, and I say things that ought not be said. And I dwell on it, set up camp on it, live with it.

I tell my children all the time, no one else is to blame for your sin. I have to listen my own teaching. I can't blame others. We are all related to Eve. She didn't want to take responsibility for her sin either.

That sinful root can spring up and cause trouble. And the sin becomes just as visible as the roots of the maple trees in my yard.

But, Jesus knows our temptations and He is able to help us.

Hebrews 2:18
For because He himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.
All of Hebrews 2 is so encouraging. I am calling on Him to help me to turn away from sin in my heart. The most practical thing that I can do when my mind wanders to sinful thoughts and practices is to focus on Philippians 4:8.
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Heart of Rebellion

How do we keep our children's hearts from rebelling? There no guarantees.

We have three adult daughters and three more in different stages of growth. Rachel is married with three children; no rebellion there. Hannah is a first grade teacher at a Christian school, lives at home, getting her masters degree; no rebellion there. Sarah is enrolled at a technical college, lives at home, looking forward to her career; no rebellion there.

I often think with the number of children we have, chances are that some of them will rebel. Good thing we don't live our lives based on chances. God is sovereign over all. He uses circumstances to bring about His will. In His grace to our family we have no rebellion - yet.

Or do we?

Every time a child rolls her eyes or pouts or stomps her foot, she has rebelled. But that also makes parents rebellious doesn't it? How many times have we pouted, stomped our foot, or rolled our eyes? (If it's done in the heart, it's been done.) I am often thankful that no one around me can see me stomping my foot in my heart.

Our children have a special gift of revealing our own sin. They learned so much of what they do from us. Disrespect, bad attitude, discontent, anger, disregard for others are all sins that I have passed on to my girls. Some days, I wish I hadn't been such a good teacher.

One thing I know is that if the most godly person in the world had raised my children, they would still be sinners. Romans 3:23 says that we have all sinned. We are sinners by nature and by choice. We have rebellious hearts that want to sin.

By God's grace, He has provided a way of forgiveness through Christ.  While there is no special formula to keep our children's hearts from rebellion on this earth, we know that God is faithful to forgive those who call on Him.

(Someone gave us tickets to Cirque du Soleil where these pictures were taken.)

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Hannah, My Favorite Teacher

It's Teacher Appreciation Day as I write this and I have been thinking about qualities of a good teacher. From young childhood, Hannah has had a desire to help children in need. She thought that she would be living in an inner city area, counseling and mentoring children in need.  All through college her ministries led her to working with privileged children more often than not. She found that children coming from privileged homes were as needy as those coming from impoverished communities. Their needs were different but had just as serious side effects as anyone else.  Many different things led her to teaching in a Christian school.  And after two years of teaching first grade, I can't imagine Hannah doing anything else.

I love this picture of her. Her love for the children she teaches is so apparent and they love her back. She isn't a typical school teacher; she's sad if her breaks seem long. For the past fifteen months she has also been getting her Master's in education while teaching full time. 

 She and Sarah took Mary to Charleston for Mary's 16th birthday. Hannah loves to travel and is always planning her next trip. She's in the process of getting her passport in hopes of a big trip soon.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to my favorite first grade teacher!

Monday, May 02, 2016

Mary's Final Final Paper

Yes, that's supposed to read her final final paper. She thought that writing a major paper on the Confessions of Augustine was her final paper, but for several reasons I decided it shouldn't be. This was the last minute assignment I gave her and Lydia -

Final paper

Titled- What Did I Actually Learn?

Rough draft completed by bedtime tonight
Creative but Informative
Include some subjects studied, scripture learned
Be specific, but don't get bogged down by specifics
Don't be afraid to use big words and to make it fun

This is what I received (way before bedtime). I just wish all of the girls' schoolwork was so fun to receive.

What I’ve Actually Learned This Year

            In the duration of this past rotation of the earth around the sun, I have been truly blessed to have much new and valuable information imparted upon me. I have learned much of the days from yesteryear, such as the contrivance of the complex for the disposal of excretion in ancient cities.  This data will be monumentally important for me as I pursue a career in the medicinal field. I have also burned the midnight oil in order to peruse the volume containing the Confessions of Saint Augustine, and committing to memory passages of the Holy Bible. I have performed electron configurations, trend analyses on the periodic table, and attained the information and skills to utilize burettes for the purpose of titration. I have robbed friends of punch lines; I have provided ample entertainment for the entirety of my class. However, the aforementioned activities, however epoch making they may have been for my life and the lives of everyone around me, were not the most important of the year.

            This past span of one hundred and eighty school days have taught me to exert myself in order to produce the optimal results in everything I do. I have acquired the experiences necessary to succeed in school. I am able to do what is necessary to truly fathom the information imparted to me, not just recall it for the period of time necessary to pass an exam. I have (necessarily) learned to keep my mandible bone raised to the heavens even in times of trial and tribulation. I have learned that humor is necessary to the existence of humankind. I have learned fighting for what I believe is not always necessarily quite the spanking notion I would think. Sometimes it is necessary to keep one's trap shut in order to abstain from causing conflict in the mind of someone convinced of their conjectures. However, most importantly, I have stumbled upon the way to remember the way to spell “necessary.” A shirt necessarily has one Collar, and two Sleeves!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

I Peter 4:13

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
1 Peter 4:12-19 ESV

God has called each of us to obey Him. As we do, some will not understand that when we say no to them we are actually obeying God. As I put aside my own will for my life (and the will of others) I sense more from God than ever.  God has called each of us to do some very specific things. The basic things in life are clear -

  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart
  • Love your neighbor as yourself
  • The Ten Commandments

But the specific things may not be so easy to see. That's when the whole Scripture is important. Read God's Word, pray without ceasing, get godly counsel, then act. When you act on what you know to be the right thing to do, you may be ridiculed, berated or even despised. Do not be surprised, but rejoice. This isn't third world suffering such as beheadings, loss of job or family, but it is a type of suffering. You are suffering according to God's will while you are doing good.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sarah's Birthday

I went to Sarah's Facebook to find her twenty-first birthday pictures, but this is what I found. She is loving life and living it as much as possible. She is thrilled to be in the EMT training program and can't wait to get to work.

Sarah had been sick for a week with a sinus infection, she passed out in class and I had to come drive her home. The next morning I took her to urgent care, but she wouldn't go home until she had voted.  Walking out of the voter's booth she said, "People are gonna do what they want to do." She lives this out  completely in every area of her life. 
The Spartan Race was supposed to be training run for a half marathon that she would be doing in the  next few weeks. But since she had been so sick, the goal was to finish. Not only did she finish, she had an amazing time and was able to take this beautiful picture.

Here she is on torture hill in the Oak Barrel Half Marathon. She's not afraid to push herself.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dawn Cocktail

One day this week I leaned over to blow dry my hair upside down. I couldn't get back up! For three days, I have limped, moaned and groaned. It seems I pulled a muscle. All that to say, between a back ache and my normal chaos, my house was gross. Nasty! Disgusting!

While I was hobbling around spraying and wiping, I thought that my job would be so much harder if I were still using that other stuff I use to buy. My sister-in-law convinced me to try this solution to clean. It has all the ingredients to clean my house and leaves a really clean smell when I'm done. (Well, I'm never done, but when I stop wiping.)

Her recipe was told to me like this - "You pour about this much Dawn dish liquid in a spray bottle. (She held up her fingers to show what was about two inches, but I'm still not sure about what size spray bottle.) Then you add about that same amount of vinegar. Then fill up the rest of the bottle with water, I like to heat my water up."

Well after playing around with her negotiable measurements, I have found the cleaning solution that I love.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mary Turned Sixteen

In January, we celebrated a milestone in Mary's life. It was fun to do something special for her "big" birthday. We chose to have her birthday broken down into sixteen fun things that she loves spread out over a weekend.
It turned out to be one of the easiest birthday bashes that I can remember. (But not the least expensive.) I asked Mary for a list of some of her favorite things to do, food, restaurants, people, etc. Then I put together the list in an order that would hopefully give her fun surprises through the course of the weekend. Some things had to be done in a certain order due to scheduling. Mary didn't know anything we had planned, but by number fourteen she was guessing correctly.  I wish I could have included more of family and friends for such a momentous occasion but sometimes, things can't be helped. The older girls helped with the details and did some of the driving. 

Following is the list in order as she received each thing. 

1. manicure
2. Dunkin Donuts for coffee
3. movie
4. Hannah J.- came to the movie with her

5. Catherine- also came to the movie
6. lunch with her Daddy at Ted's, which is becoming a family tradition

7. Mary Margaret- came to supper with us

8. dress up dinner at Luna's
9. Mary Margaret spent the night

10. Nana's green beans- all of the kids love! Nana Jarrard's green beans
11. family birthday party- where the sweet words of what we love about the birthday girl come from every person
12. Gray's anatomy book- a legitimate wrapped present
13. Amazon gift card
14. Sophie-came spend the night, this was delayed due to a death in Sophie's family
15. Olivia-drove Mary to several fast food restaurants because she herself hadn't ever eaten at many of them
16. fast food frenzy-Mary loves french fries from everywhere, but especially Arby's

For a lot of people, I would recommend this kind of party over the large gatherings of friends. We've all known that awkwardness of being the odd person out in a group of people who know each other.