Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I've never done this before, but I'd love to "meet" those of you who visit my little home on the web and have never commented! If you're a "lurker"...don't be shy...please introduce yourself! Also, if you have your own blog that you would like me to consider linking to, let me know!

Come on, now... :o)


I only "know" Kristen in that I read her blog. But I was super-excited to read her news today! How wonderful when God gives the gift that we most hope for, yet least expect!

What can a wife do... help and encourage a husband who is tired of and frustrated with his current job? Micah has a very entrepreneurial spirit, and would LOVE to work for himself. He absolutely thrives on thinking about and implementing his own business ideas. We're not to the place yet, though, where we can depend on that for our sole income. I'm looking for ideas to lift his spirits!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Inexpensive Home Beautification

When I posted about using glass containers for soaps and things on countertops, people had some great ideas to share! I thought it would be fun to discuss home beautification more generally. I believe that we can make lovely homes for our families WITHOUT buying all the expensive things that the home decor magazines try to convince us that we need! What are some low-cost ways that you beautify your home? Below are some more of mine...

1. Candles. They add such a warmness and homeyness to a room! I have candles in every room of my house. I always light one in the bathroom when we have company, and I light a candle in the kitchen or on the dinner table just for Micah and I to enjoy on a regular basis. Granted, some candles aren't cheap! But less expensive ones can be found at stores like Ross or TJ Maxx (or whatever discount/overstock type stores you have in your area!)

Keeping in mind flammability and safety concerns, you can be creative with your candle holders. For instance, I had a set of four pretty crystal plates and one broke. Since three plates was an odd number for a set, I now use them for candles. I've seen candles in things like teacups, jars, or wide-mouthed glass vases. For my coffee table, I bought an inexpensive white porcelein serving plate and arranged five pillar candles of different heights and complementary soft colors on the plate. I bought a bag of river-stones at Hobby Lobby to cover the bottom of the plate.

2. Consider whether something ugly can be improved. When we first got married, we had this ugly--I mean UGLY--lamp! The base was bulb-shaped, porcelein, and painted a pukey yellow color. We also had a hand-me-down floor lamp that was a brassy gold color. Nothing wrong with gold...I just don't decorate with it. I much prefer silver:o) We bought a silver finish in a spray can and recoated both lamps. The finish also came with a rub-on darkening cream designed to coat any crevices in the surface to texturize and make it look kind of pewtery. Both lamps now look MUCH better and seem to match the rest of the house instead of sticking out like a sore thumb!

Furniture is another category ripe with possibility. Sometimes, all you need to do is add new hardware (handles or knobs) to make something look 500% better. In other cases, you may need to paint or refinish. I've mentioned before that Micah and I found a dresser and a side table with drawers on the side of the road with a sign saying "Free!" There was nothing special about the pieces, but neither was there really much wrong with them. A couple of the drawers had come apart and need to be nailed back together. The side table had a warped plywood top, which was easily replaced with a piece of wood. The dresser is mostly made of real wood, but has plywood sides which I am planning to also replace with wood so that I can paint everything. Then I am going to sand the pieces to give them a distressed finish, replace the handles and knobs, and I suspect that I'll have two wonderful looking pieces for mere pennies on the dollar of what they would cost in the store!

3. Recycle. I made curtains for my kitchen out of an old bedskirt and am really happy with them! Right now, two matching twin-size bedsheets are serving as curtains over the glass french doors leading to the backyard until we can afford actual curtains. They're not my first choice, but they don't look bad! Nobody ever realizes that they aren't real curtains.

4. A couple well-selected pieces are better than a myriad of knick-knacks. I suggest thinking about what's important to you and finding a way to display them. Arrange smaller keepsakes in a shadowbox. My mom is an expert at this! She has several themed shadowboxes around her house containing family heirlooms, like her mom's baby shoes and a picture of her mom as a baby, or little keepsakes from her own childhood. She made a shadow box for me containing flowers from my wedding bouguet and our wedding invitation. I have dried petals from all the roses Micah's ever given me in a large glass jar. Things like these are SO much more meaningful than knickknacks you just pick up at the store!

5. Pictures. My mom is great at this, too! I still have a lot of work to do in getting good pictures in my frames:o) Hanging black and white pictures looks extra classy, in my opinion. It's very easy to get colored pictures scanned and converted to black and white if you want to (Wal-Mart has machines that do it!) Try themed pictures in the different rooms. My mom has a black and white picture of my sisters and I making cookies together when we were little hanging in the kitchen. In our study, Micah and I have kind of a "travel" theme, so we display framed maps and pictures from some of our travels in the past.

Well...those are some of my thoughts! I would LOVE to hear some of yours! I'm sure that some of you will have ideas that I haven't thought of:o)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Why I believe in God

I'm not a scientist. I can't wow you with my understanding of physics, formulas and biological data. But I don't believe that a thorough study of these sciences is necessary to comprehend the following basic facts:

1. Life cannot come from non-life. In NO case have we ever observed even one living cell develop from a lifeless, inanimate object such as a rock.

2. Macroevolution would require that complex life-forms evolve from simple life-forms. However, the effects of entropy (see the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics) cannot be thwarted. (To this argument, macroevolutionists try to make a distinction between closed and open systems: They claim that if a system was impenetrable by other influences, it would deteriorate due to loss of energy. But our universe is "open" to other influences, they say, so that energy can flow into it from outer space and cause a decrease in entropy. What they neglect to account for, however, is that raw energy alone does not increase the probability that the energy will be used "constructively" build, rather than to destroy. Where is the information--or "intelligence", if you will--coming from that determines how an increase in energy within our universe will be distributed? For more on this, read this article by Granville Sewell, a Professor of Mathematics. It's rather scientific, but very interesting.)

3. The world looks designed. The world acts designed. Survival of the fittest does not account for things like interdependent organisms or body parts evolving at the same time (such as the eye and the brain). Or how about the devolpment of male and female reproduction capabilities in most species?

4. The body of EVIDENCE AGAINST macroevolution is enormous.

5. Humans are more than flesh and blood. How does one measure or create abstracts like love or a moral conscience in a science lab? If such concepts have been generated solely by the biological evolution of the human body, why can we not heal the human soul with surgery or solve the human condition with drugs? (Some people will try, but surprisingly--or not!--it hasn't been accomplished!) This is what the discipline of sociology claims: that if we can "scientifically" understand why people behave the way that they do, we can engineer society to satisfy everyone's' needs and desires, thus reducing and eventually eliminating social ills. How interesting that experiments in socialism and communism have been colossal failures! And how interesting that one can be fulfilled, though hungry, and despairing, though possessing every material thing!

The above evidence causes me to believe in an Intelligent Designer with my head. I could give you many, many more reasons, too, if I had the time and space. Now let me tell you why I believe in God with my heart:

My heart had a hole that needed filling. God filled it. Living for Him gives a peace and a joy that is unsurpassed by the highest high that the world has to offer! I look around this world and see that only the things that will last forever (God and people--in particular, our spirits or "non-physical" parts) are worth living and dying for. Earthly fame, power, money, cars, houses, clothes, conveniences, television shows, food, luxury, physical gratification--all the things that people fill their lives with are merely hollow distractions we use to keep ourselves from hurting. None of it will last past your final breath. You could spend your whole life living to be praised by men, and in the end you might end up with a little blurb in a history book, IF you're lucky. So what? I mean, THAT worth living your whole life for?

A true athiest might tell me that I'm just deluding myself. I believe in God so that I won't have to go through life feeling like it has no meaning. I believe in God because it comforts me. At least such an athiest is being honest in acknowledging that a life without God WOULD have no meaning! Most people try to invent meaning or ignore the inevitable, rather than submit that without a God, we might as well blow up the planet right now, because nothing will ultimately come of our existence. If life is simply a cruel joke, why should we play along any longer?

I guess to answer the honest athiest, I can provide head knowledge such as the "basic facts" listed above. But I don't believe such knowledge alone will bring someone to the truth. You see, I didn't "CHOOSE" God. He placed a "knowing" in my heart. There is something within my heart that resonates with His Word and that is soft to His touch. I'm not a mystic or anything...I don't hear voices or speak in tongues, and I've never seen an angel or witnessed water turned into wine. But I am simply one who has had a previous emptiness filled. I am one who has meaning and peace and joy, even though life is painful. I cannot tell you anything I have done to achieve this, because I HAVEN'T done anything! God has asked me for my life, and I have given it to Him. I cannot prove it to you. But I know Whose I am. I can say this with absolute certainty!

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Romans 8:16

What's in a Name?

Our puppy's name has been officially changed from "Snuggles" to "Peaches". The reason being, she would rather run circles and tug on toys than cuddle up in our laps. Sure, she's still a puppy, but I can tell she'll most likely be an energetic little character, even as she gets older!

So we are naming her "Peaches" because of her little peach ears and the peach spots on her back. To all puppy lovers, let me recommend that you wait a few weeks (or at least a few days) before naming a new addition! It can prevent either confusion or a misnamed dog;o)

On the subject of naming: I've known parents who wait until a while after birth before naming their child. I know one family that waits months...and I mean eight or nine...before selecting the final name. On the other hand, many families name their child in the womb. I'm not about to make a judgement about which method is better (although eight or nine months is really pushing it a bit too far!), but I will say that it seems like children tend to grow into their names, no matter what they are. Out of all the people I've ever known, I can only remember one or two whose names didn't seem to suit them.

It's funny how names can carry an "aura", and seem to lend to the feelings or sense that we get about a person. The name parents pick for their child is really a statement about the kind of person they wish that child to become! What a responsibility!

How is it possible...

After a weekend trip to Dallas to visit friends followed by house guests for the past couple of days, I'm happy to resume blogging:o) Doesn't it seem like I've been doing this a lot lately...disappearing for days at a time? How is it possible that life feels busier now in some ways than it did when I worked full-time outside the home? (Oh, but when I say busy, I mean the GOOD kind!:o)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Not Science

For evolution to be a fact, you must have two things, minimally. First, you've got to have life coming from non-life--abiogenesis. Second, you've got to have a change in that life from simple forms to complex forms over time. You must have the kick-off, and you must have the rest of the game.

Now, here's my question: How did life come from non-life? How did the game get started by evolutionary means. Does anyone know? [...]

Then why do we call evolution a fact when evolution can't even get off the ground, based on the information we have right now. The answer you get is always the same: Because we're here. It must have happened . That's called circular reasoning, friends, based on a prior commitment to naturalism that won't be shaken by the facts.

Which proves that this is not about science, it's about philosophy.

Gregory Koukl, Evolution- Philosophy, Not Science

Honest Macroevolutionists

It is interesting to me that many secularists are so quick assign faith and reason to polarized universes, rather than acknowledging that they are meant to work together as a harmonious whole. And yet...when I examine their "scientific" theories such as macroevolution, I am amazed at the amount of unsubstantiated "faith" required to even entertain these ideas.

Some honest and brave macroevolutionists have admitted to some of the scientific problems and assumptions inherent in macroevolution .

Reason and Faith

I recently participated in a congenial discussion about faith and reason at Happy Feminist's Blog. Such an interesting topic! I didn't want to overload her site with my thoughts, so I'm posting here instead.

I believe that faith and reason are FULLY compatible. They both have their place. I may reason scientifically about the natural world, for instance. But when it comes to things like the origins of life, the meaning of life, the existence of a moral sensibility, the existence of love, whether there is life after death...these things lay outside of the realm of empirical science. Therefore, I must hold a "faith perspective" on these issues. Everyone does, whatever their religious or philosophical pursuasion.

Faith is "the ASSURANCE of things hoped for, the CONVICTION of things not seen." The key question becomes: is my "faith perspective" supported by or undermined by reason? If I'm going to put the most important elements of my life on the line for a "faith perspective"...does it make sense, so that I can have reasonable assurance and conviction that my faith rings true?

Here are a few quotes from a good article about faith written from the biblical perspective:

So, when someone asks me the question, Are faith and science compatible?, I'm going to immediately ask for a clarification. What do you mean by faith? If you think faith is mere fantasy and science is complete fact, well then, fantasy conflicts with fact, doesn't it? If faith is a blind leap in the dark, if faith has no concern for the facts, you're in trouble.

If, however, your faith is an intelligent trust in what can't be seen that's inferred from evidence that can be seen--if your faith is a commitment to reality, to acting on what you have good reason to believe is true--well then, there doesn't need to be any conflict at all.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Little Home Touches: Banishing Plastic!

I LOVE home decorating...doing it, talking about it, and looking at books and magazines devoted to I'm always excited when I get a new idea that doesn't cost tons of money, but makes a big difference!

A couple of weeks back, Mrs. B gave me one such idea when she suggested tossing that ugly plastic dishsoap container sitting by the sink in favor of a glass oil decanter. She bought hers from Walmart and loved the new look. (Most of the nutrition sources I have been reading lately suggest that oil stays fresher in an opaque container, so I simply commandeered the clear glass oil bottle I had been using for my olive oil, and waa-laa!:o) I wish I had a digital camera so I could present the before-and-after shots! It's amazing how much classier glass (or porcelein, or almost ANYTHING other than plastic!) looks sitting on your counter.

I was so inspired, that I also used some birthday giftcards to replace the plastic soap dispenser and toothbrush holder in my bathroom with this and this, throwing in this glass jar just because I liked it:o) I rather splurged because it was my birthday, but I know for a fact that classy accessories can be had for cheaper than what I paid and look SO much nicer than plastic! I still have to get a glass jar for the face scrub that currently resides in an ugly orange plastic bottle by the bathroom sink, and a hand-soap dispenser for my kitchen.

If you want to make a small change in your home that lends beauty, no matter how humble the abode, banish plastic from your countertops! It works!:o)

Trying to Get Home

I am a FT working mom of 2 kids. I work right now because of my husband being is a HUGE necessity with 2 kids. We do not live out of our means at all. I am frugal whenever I can be. It is my complete desire to be at home with my kids during the day. I do what I can all day long to not think about not being able to be with them during the day. I see so many of mothers at home working out of there home. Every time I think I have found a job that I am able to do out side of my home is always a dead end. Do you have any suggestions? -Heather

Heather, I'm no expert on this, but I can tell you what my husband and I are doing! First, for insurance: Micah is considered a private contractor in his line of work, so for all intents and purposes he might as well be self-employed. We are responsible for providing our own insurance. We have a high-deductible policy and are establishing an HSA (Health Savings Account). I would recommend that everybody...ESPECIALLY self-employed families check into this option! In a nutshell, you must self-insure up to a point (say, $2500.00 or $5000.00, or whichever deductible you choose), but then if any major medical expenses occur beyond that, you're covered by a high-deductible policy. The premiums are a LOT lower than traditional insurance policies. (For Micah and I, our premium is only slightly above $100 per month). For your deductible, you can save up to a certain amount in your HSA tax-free (if you work for an employer that offers this option), or deduct the amount paid into the account from your taxes at the end of the year (if self-employed).

As an alternative to insurance, I know a lot of people appreciate programs like Medi-Share. I don't have any experience with it myself, but it looks to be worth checking into.

Now, for jobs that can be done at home...Micah and I are still very much in the figuring-that-out phase:o) We've tried some things that haven't worked so well, and just recently, have been succeeding with a few ideas. I wrote a post a couple months ago, sharing some work-at-home resources that I have found helpful.

I love to write, and would eventually be happy to make some money with that hobby. That's a long-term goal that hasn't happened yet:o) I think everybody's long-term goals for making money...whether with a full-time career or very part-time job, should be doing something they absolutely LOVE and are good at. Only you know what that is for you!

In the meantime, Micah and I have recently been making some money selling some products on Ebay. I wrote a few posts about our Ebay endeavors when we first started trying this, and plan to update those (hopefully soon!) with what we've learned through trial and error in the past few months. I have many ideas for my writing and other types of products we can eventually sell, and am excited to see where my husband's entrepreneurial bent (and my desire to help him) will lead us!

I LOVE to hear from other wives and mothers who are working from home, so if anyone has any tips or thoughts to share about this, please do!!! And Heather, I wish you all the best as you set out on this journey of trying to make it home. I truly believe that with a lot of prayer and creativity, it can be done! God bless you!

This Past Week...

Well, my absence from this blog prompted a sweet blog-friend to email me, making sure I was OK:o) Yes, I'm doing fine. Busy, but fine! I didn't plan to be away so long without notice, it just sort of happened.

Anyway, this week I have three dogs under my charge:

My two sweet elderly pups, Muffin and Puffin (they came with those names!) who live with my parents. My family got them when I was ten years that makes them VERY old in doggie years! The poor dears sleep a lot, but they also have bathroom issues and wear doggie-diapers at all times. They take extra-special care.

I also have my new puppy, Snuggles (or Snuggs or Snug-bug, as she's more often called), who ALSO has bathroom issues in that she is still probably only 25% house-trained. Hmm...I don't think I've yet mentioned the "Snuggles Saga" on this blog. A few days after we bought her, I took her to the vet and discovered that she had sarcoptic mange. Yes, in "you mangey mutt!!!" Not only is mange disgusting, but the form she had is highly contagious to humans as well as other dogs. Since this was right before my sister's wedding, and Snuggles had already had contact with just about all of our relatives including the bride and groom, we promptly and completely freaked out! I had visions of everyone standing at the front of the church covered with rashes and scratching like monkeys.

Thankfully, I am happy to report that (to my knowledge), none of our relatives suffered adverse effects as a result of their encounters with Snuggles. Micah and I are fine as well, though it's been a grueling three-week treatment period! Just try handling a brand new puppy only with latex gloves, successfully keeping her away from other dogs (when you've committed to dog-sit for your parents!) and preventing skin-to-skin contact with humans, all the while house-training her and making sure she gets the attention that new puppies need. Snuggs gets her last treatment today, and then I am going to wash all her bedding and toys, sweep and mop the floors, and pray HARD that that's the end of the mange!

Unfortunately, I know a lot more floor-mopping will be in order due to accomodating three dogs with lack of bladder control...but if I can touch my puppy without worries, I think I'll learn to deal:o)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Serenity and Being Frazzled are Not Compatible!

Homeliving Helper recently published an article, Frazzled By the Age of Fifty, about the stress that results when women try to do it all (and naturally, fail!).

In one interview I had with a new homemaker, she gave her reason for wanting to quit her job and be a full time homemaker: she said that over the years she had observed that women who stayed at home and managed the house had a serenity and a more gentle countenance and a contentment that the women and work lacked.

I have found this to be true in my own experience! When I was gone from my home 60 hours a week, I lived in a constant state of exaustion, both mental and physical. I also felt hopeless about my role and contributions to our family life. The house was often messy and we ate take-out probably half of the time. I felt like a complete failure at home, and I hated and resented my job. My husband, for his part, was disappointed that we had to spend weekends cleaning and grocery shopping rather than relaxing and spending time together.

This perspective may sound whiny to some. After all, many woman "have" to work outside the home and do it without complaining. Their families survive, right?

Each family has a different situation and different experiences. But I have observed many families and seen the struggles and problems that result from stressed and over-burdened, over-busy wives and mothers. More than one of my former female co-workers has dealt with teenage children in "special" schools and juvenile delinquent centers over the phone from their paper-cluttered desks. More than one woman has sat with me in the work lunchroom, relaying that her teenage daughter is pregnant, or that the daughter cuts herself, or that her son's school called to say he didn't show up again. "I don't know how this could have happened!" I've had women tell me about affairs, or that they just don't "connect" with their husbands anymore. (Could it be that they don't ever SEE their husbands, or have time to work on their relationships?)

On a less drastic scale, I've had many conversations with friends in which we commiserated about the state of our home-keeping and our lack of energy to do anything about it because we were so drained from our outside employment. One of my grandmothers was a nurse for many years. She was always stressed and frazzled. An amazing transformation occured when she finally retired! She now relishes her time spent at home, cooking and caring for my Grandpa. She's softened so much that she doesn't even seem like the same person.

If you work to earn money, whether outside or inside of your house, you will serve your family with a divided heart. One or the other will not be done well. You cannot serve two masters successfully. Usually, the one that "pays" will get the most attention. Money talks, but it is often hollow talk. The money you make while neglecting your family, your house, and your life, will often make itself wings and fly away. You probably won't be able to point to very many things that you have, that you got from earning money. Mostly, it pays for things you cannot put your hands on.

Amazing how this works...but true! When a woman starts paying other people to take care of her home and family, in many her cases her profits seem to just dissipate. At my last job, I remember my chagrin when I discovered that my REAL wage (after taxes, gas, other car and insurance costs, extra food costs, other conveniances, etc. and including "extra" non-paid driving time) was about $3.oo an hour. Great! Did I really want to spend 60 miserable hours a week to come out a measly $180 ahead? Not a good trade-off, if you ask me:o) Since being at home, I've been able to find more ways to be frugal (money saved by not being spent is not taxable, by the way!), and Micah's income has increased so that we are not really worse off than we were before.

Even a well-paid professional woman may find that all her money isn't worth what she's given up: Time, home, and especially relationships.

We women sometimes worry that if we don't go get a J-O-B, our finances will plummet. Mrs. Sherman has interesting point about this: Is it possible that we are actually doing our husbands a favor by standing back and letting them stretch their Provider Muscles?

If you have an able-bodied husband whose back is not broken, then do let him be the provider. It builds him as a man and draws out the qualities he needs to be the masculine protector and provider.

I've always said that if a married woman will work, the man will let her, and he will not feel the pressure he needs to feel in order to recognize his responsibility to earn a living for his family. It may entail letting a bill go unpaid, and letting the phone go dead before he will open his eyes, but if you continue to stand in the gap and earn money for something like this, you will never be relieved of the responsibility.

Let me tell you what's happened since I've come home. Not only has Micah's pay increased simultaneously (not really under our control, but a blessing from God!), but he's become a lot more motivated in his desire to develop some cottage industries for us. Since that's Mr. Business Major's forte and I'd rather sit and write:o), I've stood back and let him research and plan some things that we can do together to earn extra income to get out of debt. He's really excited to be in the process of getting some things going, and our plan is for me to take over some of the day-to-day operations of our part-time business once it's working, as a help to him. As long as my other responsibilities aren't being neglected, I can help him in this way, and then we can work together on evenings and weekends or during lulls in his day-work as need be. During almost three years of marriage, I've never seen him as excited and motivated to work on this as he is now. And before I came home, I would not have been in a position to be a partner and a helper for him in this regard.

One final thought from Mrs. Sherman:

There are plenty of people that can do all that extra work, but there isn't anyone else that can be the wife, mother and keeper of your home. No one else will do. You are it.

Finding Serenity

Some people seem to thrive on stress. I have no advice for these people, because I am not, never have been, nor will ever be such a person! Stress frazzles me. Prolonged stress--as in living a stressful lifestyle for more than a couple days--eventually shuts me down altogether. I have to stop thinking and feeling and just go through my days like a robot to get anything accomplished. Not a fulfilling way to live!

I believe that with a lot of prayer and the inner fortitude that comes only from God's strength, I will be able to walk with Him (or perhaps be carried by Him!) through times of meaningful stress: the deep, bitter pain caused by those things that will come to mar and fray my "perfect" life tapestry--deaths and acute losses. The tastes of meaningful stress I've had so far have not been easy to endure, but looking back, I see the sweet fruits that have sprouted from the ruins. These are the stresses that God allows to chasten and strengthen us. It has been said that character is always forged in adversity. And the One who died to gather us to Himself said "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."

But what about worthless stress? The stresses we choose for ourselves that God hasn't asked us to shoulder? As a perfectionist, I am especially susceptible to over-burdening myself with stupid worries and petty tasks. A constant battle rages between my mind, crying "try harder, try harder!" and my heart, pleading: "Let it go, and pursue serenity."

How can I achieve the serenity I so crave? How can I live my life so that I have time to appreciate the meaning of my valleys, and to enjoy the peace and pure joy found on my mountaintops? I don't believe God meant my life to be a hurtling roller coaster ride, but a thoughtful hike. I believe he means for me to really engage my life; to feel it. He has given me a brain and His spirit to help me distinguish between the gold and the chaff. I don't want to come to my last day and discover that I've wasted an entire lifetime frantically trying to weave straw into gold.

Monday, May 08, 2006


From a prayer letter we received from Micah's parents this month:

You don't have to be a brilliant person with a clever mind but a broken person with a clear message to reach others for Christ.

"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power."

1 Corinthians 2:4-5

I was reminded of this again at church yesterday, when the pastor emphasized that GOD ALONE is responsible for bringing us to Himself and producing good works within our lives. Any religion that emphasizes SELF is a false teaching. True Christianity is not a religion or a self-improvement program. It's about believing that our Creator is worthy of our entire existence! It's about dying to Self so that we can gain Christ.

What has Self ever gotten me anyway? In life, Self desires accolades and comfort and instant gratification. Too often, the pursuit of these things results in broken relationships, emptiness and disappointment. I know this, because even as a Christian I have allowed self to take the reigns at times and have experienced the brokenness that results! In death, Self promises nothing but the cessation of all that it has worked to build up. Read Ecclesiastes if you want elaboration on that!

I like to think of myself as a brilliant, clever person. It's a solace I sometimes indulge in when I want to distinguish myself from the stupidity and meaninglessness I observe in the world around me. But then I do something that makes me fall flat on my face (sometimes quite literally!) and I realize that I don't know squat. If the fate of the world depended on my intelligence, we'd be sunk. If I thought that I had to find some way to create meaning for myself or to find escape from the "common destiny" on my own, I would sit down beside a window and let my cynicism fly me away.

When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man's labor on earth--his eyes not seeing sleep day or night--then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaing. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.

So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God's hands, but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him. All share a common destiny--the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.

Ecclesiastes 8:16-9:2a

Thank the Lord, then, that salvation "does not...depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy"! (Romans 9:16)

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering."

Romans 8:1-3a

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thinking for Myself #2

I'm one of those weird students who didn't go to college to party or even to get a piece of paper. I simply wanted to learn and grow. Yeah...I'm that dorky. But proud of it!:o)

I engineered my entire education in order to achieve the goals I set for myself. In order to fight my natural shyness, I forced myself to initiate social contact with others on a regular basis. I forced myself to take roles in community service that I was uncomfortable with. I took advantage of travel experiences simply to go somewhere new, in the hopes that I would learn something new. I thrived on discussions with people who believed differently. I laughed when my Buddhist-Unitarian roommate in England said: "You know...I was really freaked out when I found out I was going to be living with people from '---' University, but you guys aren't at all as close-minded and brainless as I thought you were going to be!"

Throughout my college years, many aspects of my life got questioned. I questioned church and organized religion. I questioned my future. I asked questions like...did I want to go to grad school? (yes-I didn't want to stop learning!) and did I want to have an outside career? (no, but maybe I should have something to do part-time or from home).

I never questioned God. In all the tumult of the world around me, He was my one constant and the only One I could anchor my soul to. Sure, I questioned theology and doctrine...but, He was THERE. I could see Him working and sense His hand guiding me, even when I didn't feel ecstatic about Him or understand what He was doing. There were many times when I didn't have the warm fuzzy-wuzzies about church or even God during those years...but He was there, nonetheless.

My questions continue to this day, and will until I die--no doubt about that! The more I know, the more I realize that I don't know. Since graduation from college, my questions have led me to the conclusions that grad school isn't as important as I once thought (I can still pursue further education WITHOUT spending thousands of dollars I don't have!:o), and that life with God means learning to value what He values: My family...serving the people around me.

Despite past mistakes and troubles, and the inevitability of more in the future, I'm excited about what God has for my future! I'm thrilled with the journey He has me on, because I know it's taking me where I want to go: to be with Him.

People looking at me and my life may see only the mere outlines of my journey and assume that because it does not deviate all over the map, I must not have questioned or considered my own path. But let me assure you! Every step has been analyzed. Every twist and curve has been agonized over. And throughout it all, God's hand has been there to pick me up when I fall and to prod me forward when my questions threaten to paralyze me. Thank God for His faithfulness!

Thinking for Myself #1

*Note: I started writing the following in response to the person who thinks that people of "my type" have just never learned to question or to think for themselves. But, as this topic touches on so much of my past experience, this piece has turned into a sort of testimony of my own life journey. Please forgive me if this sounds in any way arrogant or self-serving in places! I'm not trying to be self-focused...but, well...this piece is about MY life from MY perspective so I'm trembling in trepidation it might come across that way:op*

If an outsider tried to condense my existence into a brief profile, here's how it might read...

Erin: Christian conservative woman in her mid-twenties. Born into a Christian family. Accepted Christ at age four. Raised in the church. Homeschooled through high school. Got good grades. Never did drugs. Has never been drunk. Has never even gotten a traffic ticket. Married a Christian conservative missionaries' kid right before our senior year of college. Graduated from a Baptist University. Aspires to be a good wife, mother and homemaker. Wants to homeschool her own children someday, and raise then in much the same way as she was raised. Highly politically incorrect, and holds many "archaic" views about God, life and family.

*Gasp!* Could I possibly fit the bill any more for the liberal secularist's vision of the sheltered and naive Christian fundi? Could I ever have possibly contemplated a thought of my own? The answer is yes, constantly. And that is precisely why I believe what I do and am the way that I am. Allow me to expound on my history just a bit.

When I was four, I accepted Christ. I remember it clearly to this day: My dad and I were at the park, and I was asking him about Heaven and Hell. He explained that Heaven was where we could be with God forever after we died, if we had accepted God's gift of salvation, believing that Jesus died to pay for the bad things we had done. Hell was simply a place apart from God for eternity.

My dad didn't try to scare me with fire and brimstone descriptions. And I didn't need them. I already knew that God existed (I can't remember a time when I didn't know that--and I strongly believe it's because God made Himself known to me!) and it was enough for me to understand that I wanted to spend my entire existence with Him. The thought of being separated from Him was agonizing to me. I knew He was there and that He would listen to me. I also knew I had done bad things, and so it seemed natural to ask God's forgiveness for those.

When we got home from the park, I kneeled on the seat of a chair in our living room, with my arms resting on the back of the chair. I prayed and told God that I wanted Him to save me so that I could always be with Him.

Growing up, I was extremely inquisitive. I always wanted to know the "why" of everything (still do!). My dad tells me I used to ask so many questions, that when he needed a break he would start making his answers go around in circles until I got tired.

I questioned everything, and really thought about it. One time when I was probably seven or eight, I was at a neighbor-lady's house watching a television show on nature. When the show's narrator placed the Earth's age at millions of years old, I piped up, stating my conviction that the Earth wasn't that old. "Oh, of course it is," said the neighbor. "That's just what your parents tell you. You'll find out when you're older." I felt both stunned and indignant. It had never occurred to me that I couldn't know what I believed for myself, simply because I was young, or because my parents believed it too! Even at that young age, I had studied various theories of origin (Creation as well as Macro-Evolution) and knew exactly why I believed what I did.

My playmates on our street were a girl from a not-so-devout Catholic family and another girl from a "Christian" (non-Muslim) Palestinian family. Neither girl was very interested in discussing the details of her family's belief systems with me, so I settled for debates about whether or not there was really a Santa Claus. I had figured out that there wasn't, based on the evidence. (My lack of discretion in telling my friends so is regrettable, however, it was rooted in my belief that anyone should be able to come to my conclusion themselves if they truly thought it out! I was "helping" those poor girls to do so :op)

When I reached high school, I began to question many of the choices my parents had made. They wouldn't allow me to attend public high school, and I was furious. I declared that I needed the social exposure in order to overcome my natural shyness. In reality, I was a teenager suffering with a recent move, a healthy dose of normal teenage trauma, as well as a not-so-healthy dose of depression (I believe from undiagnosed hormonal imbalances). Much of my isolation during those years was self-imposed. Public high school would have been one of the least-ideal method of boosting my social skills, but I didn't have a clear picture of it at the time.

When I was sixteen, my parents decided that I would attend the local community college as well as the private classes I was already taking. This glimpse into the "benefits" of public education was enough for me! After having to listen to one too many conversations between students in the science lab about drug use and bisexual behavior, and sitting through one too many sterilized, politically-correct but essentially shallow classroom discussions, I began to understand what my parents had been "keeping me from"...keeping me from having to endure! This experience cemented my desire to continue my liberal arts studies at an institution that shared my worldview. Not so I could be "sheltered", but so that I could develop my worldview in the context of what I knew to be truthful and meaningful.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Beyond Remorseful...

If you're like me and are thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt due to school loans, this article will be an encouragement! Let's hang in there, and find creative ways to keep our dreams of being wives and mothers!

"Open Embrace" Partially Recanted

In this post, I shared my thoughts about the book "Open Embrace" by Sam and Bethany Torode. My main concern about their position (and where I thought they were being inconsistent) was their promotion of Natural Family Planning, i.e., abstaining during certain periods to avoid pregnancy. I questioned if this could really be right, according to 1 Corinthians 7:5, and agreed with the readers who brought up the unfairness of this practice to women.

Therefore, I find it interesting that after a few years of practicing what they preached, Sam and Bethany have recanted many of their previous positions. In fact, it appears they have done an almost complete about-face regarding some of their views on birth control, and now no longer discourage the use of barrier methods. Quoting:

Many Christians believe that the "self" is totally depraved or fundamentally evil (thank you, Augustine and John Calvin). Shades of this influenced our perspective in Open Embrace and our attraction to NFP. We now fully believe in the power of the Resurrection and we no longer live our lives constantly on the alert for "selfishness." Yes, we are marred by sin, but God has given us new hearts with his image strongly growing in them -- which means our deepest desires are true and good (see Waking the Dead by John Eldredge). One example: wanting to make love to your spouse often is a good thing, but NFP often lays an unfair burden of guilt on men for feeling this.

We still believe in the "language of the body"--which informs our rejection of some aspects of NFP. How is it that spouses are saying "yes" to the gift of each other when they end up abstaining for much of their married lives (from the aforementioned breastfeeding cycles, pregnancy exhaustion, or energy being diverted into raising kids)? We also see honest congruity with the language of the body by saying "no" to conception with our bodies (via barrier methods or sensual massage) when our minds and hearts are also saying "no" to conception. We don’t believe this angers God, nor that it leads to the slippery slope of relativism or divorce. We strongly disagree with the Catholic Church that this is a mortal sin.

Am I reading this right? It seems to me the Torodes are now saying it's perfectly fine to say "no" to conception through the use of birth control, because we Christians have new hearts and therefore unselfish motives. So, we cannot choose to disobey God?

Let me just say...I have been a Christian for twenty years. I DO still have a selfish nature. My heart has not been made perfect...the only perfection in my life is what God imputes to me. God in me is perfect. I am not. He has paid the price for all the sin I have or will ever commit, but that doesn't mean that I won't continue to sin.

I am glad that the Torodes now see the incongruity of their old position on NFP. However, their justification of their new position still bothers me. I'm not saying that I either agree or disagree with the use of barrier contraceptives. And honestly, it doesn't MATTER whether I agree or disagree. It matters what God thinks. Whatever we do, we should seek to honor the Lord, not decide what we want and then change our views on the Bible (or switch around to various denominations) to make us feel better. God's grace in our lives is not because WE are perfect and always make the right choices, but because HE is and does. It seems much wiser for us, as fallen beings saved only by HIS grace, to look solely to Him (through prayer and Bible Study) for His direction in our lives. Not to church denominational leaders, culture, or even tradition. Though these things can serve to reinforce God's direction, they should not replace it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


My beautiful little sister is now a married woman! And Micah and I are very excited to now have a wonderful brother!

The wedding went very well, with the exception of a few minor hitches (for example, Ashley's bouquet falling apart right before she was ready to walk down the aisle--my mom was able to somewhat put it back together with bobby pins. I also managed to take a major fall on the slick dance floor in front of everybody and have been quite sore ever since!) But despite these and other little problems, the evening was beautiful and sacred because of the presence of God and the absolute worthiness of the match. The intangibles that really matter in a good marriage were evident. It's apparent to everyone who meets them that Casey and Ashley are meant to be together. They truly bring out the best in one another, and share the same heart to love God and others. The only major thing wrong with their union is that they'll be living up north instead of here...but we're working on that one:o)

I'm excited to have a sister join me in the married state. I expect that it will be a connection on a new level, and will help to distribute the obligatory familial teasing more equitably;o) In fact, I'm going to make quite certain that she takes the brunt of the teasing for a while. Only fair.

The happy couple is currently honeymooning, but we'll get to spend the weekend with them before they head back home. A short period of time to squeeze in a lot of, I mean visiting...but we're thankful for what we can get!