Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's Not That Easy....

Well, I can't believe it, but I've decided to participate in Linda's "I See What You're Saying!" today. Inspired by my local bloggie pals who did great videos, here is my video of a subject near and dear

Click here to view.

(with no apologies to Stacy and Clinton)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

In His Image

What does "In His Image" actually look like? Consider how this may look different in some ways before the fall, after the fall, and after Christ.

OK, Edie, this may be the most challenging question you have posed to us to date.

'Image' has so many meanings and connotations. Are we concerned about image these days? Doesn't it seem like we are and have always been concerned about our image??

Certainly, after the fall, Adam and Eve were concerned about their image. Suddenly, they were naked! Suddenly, that was a problem. Worse than that, their image of being THE couple that walked with God was tarnished. Though created "in His image," could they still be considered "in His image"?

Did David's image change over time? The great faithful brave boy who became a mighty king, then had that run-in with adultery and murder. Bit of an image crisis.

Saul, the persecutor...image-challenged! The poster boy for the "Letter of the Law," he is confronted with Almighty God and forever changed. Paul, the now-Apostle, has to deal with the disciples and followers who only know of his past image. He explains in great detail in his books and letters, arguing with Jesus' friends, even, that, now truly, he is "in His image."

The root word for 'image' comes from a word that is related to 'emulate,' which means trying to equal or excel. When we were originally made, God created us in His image to be good and sinless. We can't even fathom that image today! Adam and Eve could walk with God because they were, to a point, equals. With the Fall, that relationship was broken. Our Creator still makes us in His image, but we are no longer in a position to walk without sin.

But, God had an image-restoration plan in mind.

Look at Jesus. Jesus was born "in the likeness of men," yet He was fully God. Jesus did not come to us in the full image or emulation of God alone. In fact, Jesus, the man, "did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped." (Philippians 2:6)

How else can we relate to God when we no longer are fully in His image? Only through Jesus! The One who was God, the Word made flesh and came to dwell among us, who walked in the likeness of men. Because to be fully in His image was not something that WE would grasp. But, by believing in the One God sent, we could again be restored. Our sinful image replaced by that of our humble Savior.

* * *

'Imago' is a word used by counselors in talking with folks about their upbringing, their family life--getting to the root of what why folks respond in a certain way to situations in their life. Specifically, 'imago' means a picture or likeness of a person, as of a parent, usually idealized, constructed in the unconscious and remaining there.

We joke (and definitely not joke) about how our family history has a huge impact on our lives. We wonder what issues our children will present to their shrinks when they grow up. Counselors love to get to the 'imago' because it's very revealing how we form the images that we do, not only of our parents but of ourselves.

I think that if God didn't love us as much as He did that He wouldn't have given us the 'imago' of Himself within us. Some folks refer to it as "the God-shaped hole in my heart." When God created us in the image of Himself, the Son and the Spirit, I really think He also gave us the image of Him as our Father--the One who forever wants to draw us back to Him, the One who loves us unconditionally--an image to reflect upon, to worship.

God made us and gives us life. He gives us His Word that we might emulate Christ in what we do. He gave us the Spirit to guide, direct and counsel us along the way. He created us that we might know Him and return to Him, fully in His image!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Throwing it all aside!

ard not to participate in Amy Wyatt's (Signs, Miracles and Wonders) "Then Sings My Soul Saturdays" this week, having just used the title of a Chris Tomlin song in my last post. (OK, actually, Chris' chorus doesn't talk about weeds being gone, but, rather, chains.)

Truth is, Scripture tells us that we carry a lot of things that we shouldn't be carrying. Definitely shouldn't be carrying sin around with us! Shouldn't be carrying around burdens. We shouldn't be carrying ANYTHING that hinders our walk with God!!

For you, it could be chains. For me, it was weeds (thorns in the soil, choking out my ability to see the truth of God's word for me.)

After I read my blog friend Kelli's post on perseverance (quoting Hebrews 12: 1-3
), I found in my Bible reading the story of Bartimaeus, one of the blind men who had received sight from Jesus (the loud, begging one!). But, I found a detail I hadn't seen.

...But he kept crying out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him here." So they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you."

Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus.

And answering him, Jesus said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" And the blind man said to Him, "Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!"

And Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well."
--From Mark 10: 48-52 (emphasis mine)

It would seem to be a meaningless detail, but no word in the Bible is ever without meaning. Bartimaeus recognized who Jesus was and knew what he most needed first--mercy! Those around him encouraged him. "Have courage!" "Stand up!" "He is calling for you!"

And then, he throws off his cloak.

He released the outer garment that he had shouldered, that which had distinguished him as the blind beggar. In the presence of Jesus, he became a new creation. He removed the things that had hindered him. At that point, his chains were gone. At that point, he regained his sight, in the spiritual sense. And Jesus fully restored his sight in the physical sense, too.

My chains are gone!
I've been set free!
My God, my Savior, has ransomed me.
And like a flood
His mercy rains
Unending love. Amazing grace!

For me, this week, it's another step in "working out my salvation with fear and trembling." It's taking another step closer to God. It's been leaving behind pride and lack of submission to walking freely, sight restored. It's been about asking for mercy and forgiveness in not knowing and understanding His word, and yet receiving, once again, that amazing grace. Grace that lets you throw off the things that bind you with abandon!

John Newton, who wrote "Amazing Grace" (around which Chris Tomlin adds his new chorus), is said to have based the song around words in I Chronicles, in which God's favor upon David is explained. I find myself reading my name instead of David's, and rejoicing in the mercy, knowledge and grace that God has bestowed on me this week.

"What more can David still say to You concerning the honor bestowed on Your servant? For You know Your servant.

"O LORD, for Your servant's sake, and according to Your own heart, You have wrought all this greatness, to make known all these great things.

"O LORD, there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

--I Chronicles 17: 18-20

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Weeds are Gone...I've Been Set Free

For our Fall Bible study, God has led our group to select Jen Hatmaker's book Tune In: Hearing God's Voice through the Static.

I love Jen Hatmaker, though not for the same reasons as my friend (and Bible study leader) Kelly. Girlfriend Jen, as we've come to call her (because she's always referring to her readers as 'Girls' and 'Girlfriends'), knocked me and my Bible study approach flat by reminding me of what God's Word says. We (He and me) can study the Bible all by ourselves and glean what He wants me to understand. That, and, that there are earthly resources to help with that understanding (like the dictionary, thesaurus and the plethora of translations and paraphrases of the Bible and study Bibles).

So, I've been dealing with this problem for a week now. With the help of all your blogs and prayers, and Jen's study from this week, God's Word on my problem is clear.

I knew the problem was with me. (I love how Jen puts this in her book: "I'm not pointing any fingers, but out of the two of you, only one is perfect. So if there is a guilty party--well, let's just say it's not God. Okay, it's you.") The big problem was that I was putting too much emphasis on analyzing the problem and not enough emphasis on what God wanted me to do (which was NOT to analyze the problem).

Big picture girl needed to take a larger step back, and be reminded of some basic Biblical principles that were being choked out by thorns (Matthew 13: 7).

Girlfriend Jen asked us to journal about the "Parable of the Soils" at the end of our Bible study for the week. I have definitely read this before, written about it before, talked and taught about this before. "OK, God, what's new today?" (Because there is always something new.)

He showed me the thorns I had in my garden. In this passage, thorns are actually weeds that come up, even after plowing has been done. So, parts of my garden are blooming. But, I have this section that had these thorns come up, even after I thought I had "plowed through" that issue before. Persistent, deep-rooted weeds!

My issue involves a lack of humility and a lack of submission. Jen brought up something that left me with a question. Fortunately, there was a verse attached to her statement, so I did some reading. That reading led to further reading, which led me straight to the Truth about my problem! And I definitely had a lack of understanding--honestly, it was a flat-out misinterpretation on my part. Something I had let others explain differently. Whoa...or more accurately, Woe!

I believe God has pulled the weeds permanently today, though I am praying for continued application of weed-killer, if you know what I mean! Since I've had these weeds come up before, can I say with certainty that they won't come up again? Not without the One who tends my garden and gives me the new fertile soil upon which His seed will grow.

* * *

I had missed the significance of something else in that passage as well. (And Jesus says it twice, so woe again to me for missing that....He is abounding in grace!)

"And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." (vs. 8)

The seed that falls on the good soil doesn't yield the same crop, the same amount of fruit, among believers. When I cross-referenced passages in Genesis and Job, the key to the passages is not the "hundredfold." God doesn't say that we all have to strive to yield that. He says that HE will bless us, so long as we bear the fruit, grow where we are planted. HE provides the blessing, the result.

It was such a huge reminder for me that even as I strive to do the right thing, that EVERYTHING is under His control, His blessing. And the quantity of fruitfulness is not my doing but His.

Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement in this past week. I have been blessed by your fruit! What better way to end this blog than with the quote Girlfriend Jen has on her homepage. (NOT a coincidence to find that there today!)

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
- Isaiah 55:10-11

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Matter With the Heart

I had my first EKG yesterday!

Don't panic. I was just in the doctor's office having a routine physical. (They could have brought me a frozen drink, that's how comfortable I was.)

I worked in a hospital setting for 9 years, but I forgot that, when you reach a certain age, EKGs become a regular part of your physicals. ("And you're ONLY 44!" said my doctor. I LOVE my primary!! "Won't have to worry about that colonoscopy for a few more years." Oh, gee, thanks for reminding me about that milestone.)

An EKG is short for electrocardiogram. (I guess ECG just didn't have the same ring, so they went with an abbreviation based on the German spelling. Some docs use ECG, but it's not as common.) Anyhow, an EKG shows the electrical activity of the heart, which allows doctors to find irregular heart rhythms and heart muscle problems. Patches are applied to the patient on various parts of the body with electrical leads that plug into the measuring machine that graphs the results.

So, I was comfy in the lounge position on the patient's table, chatting with the EKG tech about the challenges of stay-at-home momhood (which she acknowledged that she couldn't do, enjoying her job very much). She applied the leads. She ran the graph. She stared at the paper.

"I'm going to run this one more time," she said, adjusting the position of the patch that was right over the bottom left part of my heart.

She ran the graph again. She stared.

"I'm going to show this to the doctor to see if it's OK with her."

Oh, great! What does this mean? Believe it or not, I have learned not to worry in these situations until somebody actually says something. It's only taken me 44 years to get to this point.

"She says it's OK," says my tech, who then goes on to explain that the EKG machine is a little fluky. They have sent it out to be calibrated several times, and it works for awhile, but then it decides to act up, having a mind of its own. (I think it knew I was having my first EKG and decided to have a hissy fit right then and there!)

Good news is that my heart seems to be just fine....or is it?

* * *

The one lead closest to my heart didn't register the way it should have. If I wasn't going through a spiritual growing phase lately, I would say that it really was the machine's fault. My heart may be physically fine per my medical team, but I know that it's not completely working right these days.

Perhaps the machine really detected a "dead" space in my heart. The part that doesn't have the compassion to pray for someone who needs Divine intervention. The part that still has some "servant-do's" left in the jar. The part that may be a bit bloated of self-thought that needs a shock of humility. ("Paddles!!")

I'm glad that my heart is physically fine. This means God has given me heart life to start addressing those "dead" spaces.

"So now, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek after all the commandments of the LORD your God so that you may possess the good land and bequeath it to your sons after you forever.

"As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.

"Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be courageous and act."

--1 Chronicles 28:8-10 (NASB)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Dad's birthday was yesterday. He got all of these great E-postcards from us. Thought we'd share them all in one bundle for easier viewing (and forwarding, OK, Dad! Go for it!!).

By the way, my Dad loves to make scones. That's important information to know...trust me.

Roll 'em!!

Love ya!

(This is a park in my hometown where my sisters and I played softball--Go Leo!)

Can't forget dessert! 71-derful flavors!!

* * *

Dad had the best topper of the night, though:

"You must be exhausted from leaving no scone unturned !!!"

(Still always manages to get in the last word.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturday

y song for this Saturday dovetails into the struggle I've been blogging about over the past couple of days--discernment of God's leading. Truly, this song says it all to a T! (And should put aside any lingering questions I may have.)

Jon Mohr wrote these lyrics based on Philippians 1:6. Steve Green sang the classic, "He Who Began a Good Work in You."

If the struggle you're facing
Is slowly replacing your hope
With despair
Or the process is long
And you're losing your song
In the night

You can be sure that the Lord
Has His hand on you
Safe and secure
He will never abandon you
You are His treasure
And He finds His pleasure in you

He who began a good work in you
He who began a good work in you
Will be faithful to complete it
He'll be faithful to complete it
He who started the work
Will be faithful to complete it in you.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
--Philippians 1: 9-11 (NASB)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Interrupting Quality Reception

he timing of Edie's Random Question of the Week is hardly random, in my opinion.

How do you recognize when God speaks to you?

I am dealing with God-speaking-to-me thoughts right now (see yesterday's post). Really, every day! But, some days, it's much more of a fine-tuning discernment issue than others. (BTW, Edie, our Bible study group had Priscilla Shirer's book in the running to do this fall. She was not the final selection this time. I think we'll keep it in mind, however, as we all need to better understand how we find discernment.)

I don't think God speaks to me in a consistent way. What? God, not consistent?! I mean, it's not always a lightning bolt. It's not always a whisper. It's not always in words on the page. It's not always in what somebody says. But, do I know He's speaking to me when He does??

Well, truthfully, no. But, let me quickly add that it's not God's fault (obviously).

Sometimes, absolutely, without a doubt--Who else's voice could that be?! And I can buzz about and confidently say that, yes, God gave me that idea. God answered that prayer that I had. Only God could have put all of that together, because I certainly couldn't have. God totally cleared up my understanding about that passage. It's as clear as a bell! (And since I've rung those for decades now, I know what that sounds like.)

But, back to complete disclosure here (and where I am as I write today)--sometimes, I don't fully hear Him. Or, maybe it's not that I don't hear, but I don't understand. I don't get this particular detail. I don't see how this piece is going to fit into the big picture puzzle. (Insert your metaphor for suddenly lacking discernment here: __________________.)

Are You speaking to me or am I hearing other voices in my head?

Sometimes when He speaks, I forget that it's not all going to be happy buzzy joy time. Sometimes when He speaks, it's about addressing other things going on in my life, words to say (or words I shouldn't have said), or about shaping my character, or reminding me that I really was created a little lower than the angels. The heart-check voice is different from the here's-that-great-idea-you-needed voice.

This past week, a friend sent me an E-mail that has been floating around for a while. It's the one about the woman who visits the blacksmith to learn about what 'refining silver' means. It's about the biblical idea of refinement--bringing us very close to the fire so that all impurities might be cleaned yet not so close that we are burned up in the process (nor left alone by our Blacksmith but skillfully watched over and cared for).

I glanced at it, smiled, and trashed it.

Then, I got the other E-mail that caused me to write a whole blog about my problem of...well, discernment. The one in which God is obviously speaking to me, just not as clearly as when He gave me the idea for the project that is now being....refined? Or is it God refining me through the project? Or, is the project not about me at all, even though I'm about it? And why do I think God isn't speaking clearly to me????

I can let a question like "How does God speak to me?" get me really wrapped up in trying to find an exact answer. Or, as I'm thinking now, God is speaking to me ALL THE TIME. How am I choosing to hear Him? Selectively or with my whole heart? With an eye on His word that I might be refined...perfected? Is it still all about Him when He speaks or is it suddenly all about me?

I'm not sure I've heard His complete response to me yet. And that's OK.

But, maybe I have heard Him completely. Or, perhaps, I fear, I have interrupted Him, yet again, with my side-tracking thoughts, discouragement and self-involvement in the wrong thing.

He really is patient, isn't He?

God, can you start from the beginning again? I promise I'll listen more carefully this time....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Houston....it's happening again

I'm having one of those moments in which I'm feeling like the space capsule making its way back through the earth's atmosphere after a great mission. Kind of feels like this:

I'm being real transparent here, because I know you've probably experienced this before. I know I have. (Here I go again!) I would just like to come through this most recent experience without losing too many heat shield tiles, if you know what I'm saying.

So, I've been working with a team of folks on a project. God gave me some great ideas. I offered up the ideas and got some great feedback. We moved forward. Now, things are being reassessed a little bit, and I'm feeling some "heat." The kind of heat that causes you to be bent out of shape.

Having been in this hot spot before, I know that there are multiple things happening. I have taken a little too much ownership over things, taken too much to heart, and I need to remember that God is still very much in control. I have struggled with being a catalyst for lift-off and then being able to back off, to allow things to happen in His will.

Then, I take stuff personally--anything that strays from the original plan is my fault. And, truly, there is nothing wrong here. Things are just going to proceed differently from the original mission plan.

The bending out of shape comes because nobody radioed me to ask me for my opinion. And, pie-in-the-sky that I've been over this project, maybe they thought I'd be hurt. So, the mission plan was altered and put forward by Mission Control. I still shouldn't be hot over this, though, because they are the leaders and advisers on this mission, and other folks go to them for answers. I'm a tech person. But, I love to fly, if you know what I mean.

As I write, my capsule is still waiting for splashdown. Prayers welcome! I really would like to emerge from the capsule right ready to go back up in the rocket tomorrow, and continue the mission, renewed and relying on the Ultimate Mission Commander, the One who controls the very stars and this very ship.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beach, Bath... and Beyond

I don't have to tell you how special the beach is to our family. To remember those special times at that special place, we have some reminders on the walls (and shelves).

Our downstairs water closet (because it truly is that tiny) was my big remodeling project that I started last year. A light green "beach cottage" look is what I was after, and everyone seems to believe that we have achieved that.

I finally finished up some shadowboxes last week to display part of our beach collection. Now, before you get all excited thinking that we actually found all of these, let me calm you down and say, no. There's quite a collection of stuff in there, but we can't honestly claim that we picked up all of it ourselves off a beach.

The large sand dollars, the starfish and some larger shells are part of my mom's old collection of beach stuff that she had lying around her bathroom. (She is renovating hers, too; theme, if any, TBA.) We acquired a few beach pieces that way, which was fine to both of us.

There are polished rocks from my childhood days of owning a rock polishing drum. The machine only polished one set of rocks before the motor fried itself. (But, I still have the rocks!)

Then, there are countless shells from beaches in North Carolina, Florida, and the Eastern Shore peninsula, where we have visited as a family. There may even be a shell from Vancouver, where my hubby and I honeymooned. D#1 may have thrown in a shell or two from her ventures with her dad to Virginia's Tidewater region. Rather than get scientific or historic, we just went for artistic!

In the girls' bathroom, we have a small shadowbox with more shells and D#1's crablike creation from Kindergarten. And, a real sand dollar that you can touch!

Shadowboxes give such great punch because they allow you to go 3-D. Pictures of shells on the wall are nice, but when you can actually SEE a shell or TOUCH a sand dollar, doesn't that help put you ON the beach, at least in your mind?

* * *

I really think we bring these kinds of 3-D displays into our homes because we are so enamored with the creation outside our homes. Which would you rather enjoy: a picture of a bouquet of flowers on your wall or a vase full of fresh flowers on your counter? Granted, there are many beautiful floral paintings, but when given the choice of the "real thing," doesn't that excite your senses a little more?

In Isaiah, God speaks to His people, Israel, and to all of us, about things to come. And He doesn't say that there will be more words written down for us to display. He says the new things will spring forth.
This is His prophetic Word in which He tells us that His Son is coming. His Son, who was the Word made flesh....3-D! And this Word would spring forth, as if from a shadowbox...reaching out to us with something new, exciting, memorable, tangible, REAL.

He would not leave us in the shadows of darkness, but He would show us His creation, His purpose, His plan for us all along by springing forth with great light, that we might see and know and believe and love.

"I am the LORD, that is My name;
I will not give My glory to another,

Nor My praise to graven images.
"Behold, the former things have come to pass.
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you."

--Isaiah 42: 8&9

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Worship in Creation; Focus on Translation

Blogger friend Edie's random questions are a highlight for me because they make you think and they get you in the Word. I'm tackling two in one, since I missed last week's. But, to start, this week's question:
What element of creation makes you most want to worship the LORD?
The first thought that came to mind was the stars. I take out the garbage at our house, and I like to take it out the night before the garbage guys come. With the season and time change coming up, I'll be doing this weekly chore in the dark again. But God has provided the most amazing sky on my garbage nights.

Most of the time, it's chock full of stars, which brings great delight! Our house is up on a hill. After I carefully bring the trash cart down to the street, I look back up at the house, and then over the house. What a view! I think of my little self standing in the street and the vast expanse over my head that He puts there, and I regain any lost perspective that I may have had over the day (or over the week). God is sovereign! God is way bigger than me! Praise God that He is way bigger than me and that He sends this marvelous array of light in the darkness to tell me that!

Truly, though, what leaves me in awe countless times, bringing me to submission, leading me to confession, filling me with abundant goodness, drawing me to worship is God's working in the creation of me. To be able to step out of myself and to see Him in me--and wondering why He would want to--absolutely draws me to worship Him! Those experiences are as close as I'll know to being in the literal presence of Jesus on the Earth.

Praise songs are great, reading His Word is amazing, experiencing life in His creation daily is wonderful. But to see the living God take residence in you, and to come to grips with the fact that HE WANTS TO LIVE THERE is a call for deep reverence and awe on my part.
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
--Ephesians 3: 14-19
* * *

As for last week's random question, though I now own a few different translations of the Bible (NIV, NKJV, NASB) and have access to many more via the Internet, I think the best translation is the one the Holy Spirit uses to clarify, guide, and counsel at the time in which you are seeking.

God's Word can come across in different ways at different times. We don't always read with the same intent and focus. We don't always pick up on everything in a given passage. Studying different versions gives you the opportunity to fine-tune the voice of God. And the more we read, of course, the more we understand God's character and His voice, and we are able to use His words more productively in our lives.

I use my New American Standard Bible because, right now, it's my only study Bible. But, I like to explore the other translations and paraphrases for greater depth. And, given the circumstances, sometimes the more contemporary words will resonate and sometimes only the words of the King James Version sound most like what God wants me to hear at the time.

So, I pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance when I read. And if He guides me to explore more than one translation or paraphrase, I go for it, dictionary and thesaurus nearby. Because I'm not just reading the Bible for my own edification. I need to put these words of His into practice and to speak them as necessary. So, I better understand what I'm talking about, as the Spirit leads.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturday

Amy Wyatt at Signs, Miracles and Wonders launched this weekly Saturday post back in March of this year. Songs are great, and she gives us a venue to talk about why they are.

Here are her instructions: "Just write a post on your blog about a song. It can be a song that has spoken to your heart during a difficult time... a song that brings back a special memory... a song that makes you want to sing along to the top of your lungs... a song that makes you glad... a song that makes you want to dance... a song that has inspired you... a song that makes you feel like the words were written just for you...
a song that makes your soul sing." (And she has a Mr. Linky so everyone gets to share. By the way, "Then sings my soul" is a phrase from How Great Thou Art in case you were wondering.)

The song that has inspired me this week is Chris Tomlin's Made to Worship. This has become the anchor song of the new kids music ministry we have at church called Kids: In His Service.

You and I are made to worship.
You and I are called to love.
You and I are forgiven and free.
When you and I embrace surrender.
When you and I choose to believe,
Then you and I will see what we were meant to be.

For kids to understand that they were created to worship God is a big leap for them. Kids are very confused about worship. Frankly, I think we're all a little confused about worship, myself included. I am reading a very revealing book called Teaching Kids Authentic Worship by Kathleen Chapman. She says that most of the songs we sing in church today are NOT worship songs. She brings us to the roots of worship, saying that anything that doesn't solely address "God alone" is outside the realm of true worship.

Just the fact that "You and I" are mentioned in Made to Worship means that it's not about God. Oh sure, God made us to worship, but the song itself is not about worshipping "God alone." It's an interesting and challenging premise. More to come as I finish the book.

Is Made to Worship still a powerful song with a powerful Biblical message? Oh yeah! In the bridge of the song, Tomlin works in Scripture
(Luke 19:14): "Even the rocks cry out! And even the heavens shout at the sound of His holy name." God wants everything in His creation to worship Him.

When kids embrace this message--Wow! God wants them to worship. God wants to see them collaborating, sharing the gifts and talents He gave them, to lead others in worship. God wants them to grow in the knowledge of His Word and to share that with others. And God created us to do just that.

My prayer, as I approach Wednesday nights, is that God will continue to work through each one of His special creations--that they will know they were made to worship and made to find joy in being in His presence.

I'll take "Potpourri" for $1,000

Have had one of those weeks when a lot of creative energy has been expended, at the expense of blog time (and reading time, too, my friends). But, I'm catching up again, so here's the round-up, starting with our regular Friday Guest Blogger, Daughter #1:


My sister is scribbling again once more,
This time on the garage floor.
It looks like nothing but lines and dots,
also stripes and swirls and smudges and spots.
Nothing is there but her little chalk whops,
I just can't wait 'til her scribble-age stops!

But wait....

People take scribbling from different views.
What would a scribble look like to you?
Would it look like a castle, a restaurant, a horse?
Would you think: It looks just like a person, of course!
A scribble can look like a million things,
From a bike to a cake to a bird without wings.

So think of a scribble as something else,
and put all those scribbles back on the shelf.

* * *

Here is sister, mixing up her creative cooking of the week--her favorite, sweet potato casserole! It's best after it's cooked, I tell her. But, that doesn't stop her from sampling the dry ingredients and wearing the wet ones! She's never at a loss for vitamin A, though....

* * *

And, in between starting up (did we ever quit this year?) the adult handbell choir, starting up (or giving new birth to?) a new kids music ministry, starting up (again, had I ever left?) meeting with the gals from MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and starting up (OK, this one is new this year) the PTA newsletter--for online download!--I finally made my niece's birthday present. (Her birthday was at the end of August, which seems like ages ago now.) It's a Family Fun project from a few year's back--a bed pocket.

Family Fun
had a racing design, which, I'm sure, appealed to lots of boys. I just saw the opportunity to reach out to the big-time reading nieces and nephews I've got with a blank canvas that could be filled with their favorite designs. When we visited one of my nieces over the summer, she and D#1 created a special garden in the sandbox. My niece also showed off her beautiful terrarium that she made.

So, I crafted a terrarium for one side of her bed pocket. My Mom had just given me some jars filled with old buttons she wasn't using. Makes perfect "gravel." The other side of the bed pocket has a big, fancy, frilly, girly floral display (
bottom left).

D#1 got her own version for Christmas a couple year's back. Besides being half-girly, half-sporty, she's also big into the Fourth of July and Stars and Stripes Forever (just not the fireworks!) Hers hangs from the top bunk of her bed (
right). Unfortunately, we don't ever see the other side, although I have tried to twist the pocket strap so that the other pocket will open up on the opposite side of the bed on the underside. It's a stretch. Something to consider for the next design.

* * *

Having completed that category, Alex, I'd like "Potable Quotables" for $200.

Friday, September 5, 2008


(On the occasion of Daughter #1's first ride in a canoe)

un shining brightly

with a cool breeze blowing
through the marsh grass
little crabs scuttle into
their holes

dad and i are coming
in our big red canoe

and we're taking it across
the creek,
leaving nothing
in the

Thursday, September 4, 2008

When Life Gives You Zucchini...

If that headline sounds familiar, it should be. Wednesdays are back to Baking Days at the Js!

Sous chef and chief cookie baker, Daughter #2, has returned to her post to whip up some new culinary creations for the family bakery. (And she is just about to flip the switch to "5" instead of "off" in this photo--OOPS!)

On the menu board today? Zucchini bread...or, as we like to call it in kid-friendly terms, breakfast cake!

The zucchini and the bread recipe come courtesy of my Mom, who has been making this for years. She actually she lost her own recipe and had to get it back from a daughter--and not me, surprisingly. I have been making some form of zucchini bread since high school (see below), but I had to reclaim the recipe from Mom on our last visit over the summer.

Anyhow, days home from preschool go by so much faster when we're busy in the kitchen. And someone will be privy to some really good bread...ah, breakfast cake!...at a time in the future when he or she least expects it.

It's nice to have two Kitchen Aid(e)s!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of "Fall"

For all intents and purposes, Fall has fallen!

The girls have returned to school, and the house has that unbelievably quiet nature--primed for leaves-dropping (Ha!). Perhaps even a project or two (or ....!?... don't ask).

But besides the girls heading off to school, I know summer is over when something else gets put away.

Swimsuits? For the most part.... They are in the washer today. A last good washing before being put away for the season (though there could be some unplanned overnight at a hotel with a pool. Eh.....)

Beach towels? Ditto!

Sunscreen? Don't put that away! Same with the bug stuff. Fall cleaning does not include closeting those items.

Flip-flops? Yep, not that I wore them extensively anyway. (I'm totally attached to warm fuzzy brown slippers, though I don't wear them to the pool....I'm not that crazy!)

Red nail polish? Out with the flip-flops.

Truly, the sentimental end of summer comes when this goes back into my jewelry box:

I made reference to my anklet quite a few posts ago. My sister, #3 in age ranking and the one on the far-right side in the picture from the beach in yesterday's post, presented all of us girls with this anklet after we started venturing down to the Outer Banks together. Since 2001, we've been 6 times! (The 2002 Mountains trip, in which we thought we'd try something different, is not fondly remembered--lots of sick little kids and no laundry facilities in the cabin to wash out the stuff of being sick. We have been to the beach ever since.)

As you can see, my anklet has one of those elastic string bands. It wasn't supposed to be an expensive memento. Just one of those cute beachy pieces of bling! It also features 5 pairs of very fancy, fake diamond-studded glasses, which you could argue look a bit like Mardi Gras.

This is the anklet that goes on my ankle the day before we leave for the beach in June (when my entire family stays overnight here in our not-so-beachlike villa without the master suites, bunk bed rooms and elevator!)...and doesn't come off until, well, today--the first day of "Fall."

I started thinking more and more about the anklet when I read a Washington Post blurb. Their Sunday magazine occasionally looks for writers to submit answers to questions.

"What tradition do you have that marks the end of summer?"

Taking off the anklet, I thought.

And I got to thinking about it all summer. Staring at it. Why am I wearing this?? It's so unlike anything I would wear--and for months, no less. Not like it's a wedding ring.

Then, I started to notice things I had never seen. There are 5 sunglasses. There are 5 family groupings that go to the beach. Each lens of the sunglasses represents the husband and wife in the grouping. There are those little fake diamonds that surround the frame. I have to be honest, they don't quite work out in number the way they should. But, that we all have children now, and there are diamonds to represent each, is a pretty cool find.

Of course, the linking of our sunglasses in a circle is not lost on me either. And the elastic line holding us together just reminds me of how we change, grow, need to be flexible with one another, stretch across state lines to come together again....

So, why take it off?
Because summer would never end. A-ha!

So as not to interfere with the God-given flow of the seasons, I take off my anklet.

And, besides, I need something that works well with brown woolly socks.

* * *

I was totally in the boo-hoo club today, as I watched D#2 take a bus to preschool for the first time. Happiest she had been all morning. Saddest I had been all morning. See...you never can tell....

Monday, September 1, 2008

THE BEACH (Finally!)

Daughter #1 has been asking me to write this post for months now, ever since our trip to the Outer Banks.

"Mom, when are you going to write about THE BEACH????"


It's not easy to write about THE BEACH because it's such a personal family experience. Oh, sure, lots of folks go to the beach--even the same beach! We actually met Chatty Kelly and her girls at a local ice cream shop while we were there. And Mrs. Patterson 5 was at Jockeys Ridge, where a few of our family members took their kites for flights. Bonita and Sonya went to different beaches. Edie wishes she could go to the beach. But, beyond that, how can another embrace THE BEACH the same way as our clan?

We don't just eat, we give the kids control of the kitchen! This year, every kid had the chance to create a meal "experience." We had...
  • Dinner at a Carnival (with corn dogs and funnel cakes);
  • a Breakfast Bonanza with the "Do you like waffles?" theme song;
  • a "Star Wars" breakfast, with "Ham Solo" and "Vader Tatters";
  • a Jungle dinner with vine pie (spaghetti pie);
  • a Pokemon lunch with Pokemon bowling (note specially designed bottle "pin" below on counter);
  • a Beach breakfast with bacon waves and South Beach cereal;
  • French beach (La Plage) lunch with French toast and French vanilla ice cream;
  • the Shopping lunch (take your bagged lunch to the crab-fishing "hole") with a game of "Price is Right" thrown in for fun;
  • And, a Princess breakfast! (You've just gotta have a Princess breakfast when you have a Princess!)

Who would understand giving away raffle prizes on their beach vacation? And who would get so excited about receiving a Jell-O beach bucket raffle prize that it would lead half the family to become engrossed in making Jell-O and Dream Whip instead of basking in the sun?

Or doing....what's that?....CRAFT PROJECTS??!

We sleep well, not because of the sound of the surf but because of our sleep masks.

We have the
Washington Post delivered special every day so we can...

...do the crossword puzzle. (And, by the time it circles through all family members, it IS done!)

We aren't afraid to show our shoe closet to the public.

We spend a lot of time in trees. (Monkeys are Funny)

We even offered specialty classes this year, to help live your life on purpose:

Perfect Shells for Throwing Back Into The Beach: For the Young and Younger

How to Walk Your Dog and Be Cool Doing It

Perfect Turrets: Within Your Grasp

And, Splash Dance: What a Feeling!

No, I just can't imagine that anyone would understand the enjoyment of THE BEACH as we know it, D#1. But, you know, it's not really about the beach anyway.

And, next year, someone remind me to sign up for the "Give Your Camera to a Brother-in-Law or Husband" or "Tripods Make Your Shoulders Look Less Broad in Self-Triggered Photos" class.

(And thanks to my favorite bloggy friends--links to some great places!)