Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A (Belated) Lord's Day Quote

We sang this hymn this past Lord's Day and I was reminded of how much I like this line:

"Exalt the Lord, His praise proclaim;
All ye His servants, praise His Name,
Who in the Lord’s house ever stand
And humbly serve at His command.
The Lord is good, His praise proclaim;
Since it is pleasant, praise His Name;
His people for His own He takes
And His peculiar treasure makes."

I just love the part about us being a peculiar treasure. I know this isn't how the song writer intended to use the word, but I think "peculiar" describes the church of God well. If you treasured something that constantly flip-flopped from being rebellious to being devoted and back to rebellion again then I think you'd call that a pretty peculiar treasure, too. And yet He really does treasure us. How peculiar.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Bunch Of Random Quotes For You To Enjoy

"Ninety eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hardworking, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them."

----Lily Tomlin

"From pacifist to terrorist, each person condemns violence -- and then adds one cherished case in which it may be justified."

----Gloria Steinem

"I'm happy to finally be in shape ... round is a shape right?"


"[God] is not proud...He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him."

----C.S. Lewis

"Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. That way, if he doesn't like what you have to say, you're a mile away and you have his shoes."


"What if we trusted God to do the utterly impossible?"
----Beth Moore

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I sent out our annual Thanksgiving letter a few weeks ago and I thought I'd post it here as well. I hope you all have a great day of Thanksgiving to our God for His many gifts to us!

It’s time again for our annual Thanksgiving letter. This is always such a fun letter to write at such a good time of year. Autumn is a soothing time of year here in Erie, PA. We’ve made it through the sticky heat of summer and we’re gearing up for the long, gray winter, but right now we are enjoying bright blue skies, a tapestry of brilliantly colored leaves gently falling around us, and that pleasantly crisp nip in the air. It’s a good time of year to stop and thank God for His many gifts to us.

Our health. As Adiel struggled through a rough bout of morning sickness this summer, we were reminded again of how important our health is to our daily lives and how much we take it for granted. All six of us (including the newest one on the way) are healthy and well. We can breathe, walk, run, see, hear, get out of bed in the morning- all because God has given us good health. We are very thankful indeed that God has made our unborn child healthy, too, which is evident by a strong heartbeat and a lot of kicking!

Our love. “All You Need Is Love.” Isn’t that how the song goes? And while our own feeble love is so insufficient much of the time, when it’s backed by Jesus’ all- sufficient love then that really is all you need. Sometimes it seems like we’re full to bursting with love in our family: Lily is so good with Evangeline- helping her, comforting her, being patient with her, Malachi is already tenderly loving his newest sibling- he’ll rub Mommy’s belly and talk to “Baby Boo,” and the kids take turns going out on “Daddy Dates” with Joshua- what a treat that is! And Adiel still stays at home and shows her love through cleaning, cooking, teaching, etc. We all genuinely like being around each other and we are so grateful for this love that fills our lives.

Our home. We’ve lived in this house for a little over four years and it has been a good home for us. Even though we are starting to feel a little cramped here as our family continues to expand, we are so grateful for a warm, comfortable house to call home. These four walls hold some of our best memories.

Our Family. This is the gift that keeps on growing! Just when we think this parenting thing can’t get any crazier, along comes another addition of joy, trials and dirty diapers. We’re so excited for Kid #4 to arrive in February, but in the meantime we’re keeping mighty busy with the other three kids! Lily is a very loquacious 5-year-old Kindergartener and she’s learning like crazy! We’re doing our best to keep up with her growing mind, but she learns everything we put in front of her and is eager for more. She is so excited to learn how to read and Adiel is thrilled to have the honor of being her teacher. Malachi just turned four and is growing in size, brains, and character. He is turning into a little gentleman. Well, he’s gentle when he wants to be, but when it comes to getting rough and tough with a mud puddle or wrestling with Daddy, then he leaves gentleness behind! In fact, the only one who can compete with Malachi’s roughness at times is little Evangeline. At 1 ½ she’s gaining quite a reputation for herself as one tough cute cookie. She may be pint-sized, but that little girl makes up for her size with her spunk. She doesn’t seem to realize that she’s small so she runs, climbs, wrestles, and gets into trouble just as much as her big siblings. We’re kind of hoping our next kid is a little mellower than Evangeline.

And Joshua and Adiel are still truckin’ away at raising this family and keeping busy with their own talents- music and winemaking for Joshua and photography and homemaking for Adiel. We’re a strange crew when you put us all together, but this family is still striving toward holiness in our own odd ways.

Our Hope. We have had some really great times as a family, but we’ve also gone through some dark, horrible times. We’ve experienced death and heartache, sickness and pain, but through each and every moment we’ve been held together by the promises of God and the hope we’ve found in Him. Today the sun is shining, but tomorrow maybe it will rain again. But we know that even then our hope doesn’t change. We know our place in God’s kingdom and we know that this earth isn’t really where we belong. Heaven isn’t that far away and we are getting ready for it. And that hope is truly something to be thankful for!

Here we are at the end of another letter at the end of another year. How exciting it is to anticipate the events waiting for us in the coming year! We hope you, too, are filled with the wonder of God’s goodness toward us simple humans. How good He is!

With our love,
Joshua, Adiel, Lily, Malachi and Evangeline

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Quote

"If we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, also we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world."

---- C.S. Lewis

Sunday, November 16, 2008

15 Things I'm Not Ashamed Of

Gaby tagged me for this "15 Things I'm not ashamed of" ditty and since I've never been tagged before, I thought it'd be fun to follow through and write down these 15 things.

15 Things I’m not ashamed of:
1. I like to sing Psalms.
2. At this moment I look like a rough representation of what a walrus would look like after eating a heavy Thanksgiving dinner with a bowling ball for dessert.
3. My kids are ordinary. Yes, they are very special to me, but I’m not ashamed to say that they aren’t all that out-of-the-ordinary.
4. I don’t celebrate Christmas.
5. I do celebrate the Sabbath.
6. I can’t cook rice, make certain kinds of fudge or chewy peanut butter cookies (unfortunately for my husband.)
7. I got married at 18 and started having kids right away. Folks around here assume that getting married young and having a baby so soon means we weren’t “pure” before our marriage or “responsible” after getting married. Some people are subtle as they do the math, but others just ask outright: “How old are you? And how old is your oldest child?”
8. I stay home and care for my own kids.
9. I struggle on and off with depression.
10. I like the smell of gasoline- except when I’m pregnant.
11. I often laugh so hard that I start sobbing and can’t stop.
12. I like shopping at Wal-Mart and Pier1. Polar opposites, but good stuff at both places.
13. I’m addicted to buying coffee mugs (especially from Pier1.) Just bought two new ones yesterday.
14. I’m part of an odd church that a lot of people don’t like. We’re too serious for them.
15. These Internet questionnaires are really just desperate cries for love and attention. We all want someone to know these things about us, but no one listens long enough to get to know us this well. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m so hungry for love that I’ve settled for writing this little blurb rather than try to find someone who will listen and care in person.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Memory

Today I was remembering a history lesson Mom had given us back in 6th or 7th grade. It was someting I'd had an attitude about at the time, but I realized that I remembered more of it than I thought I did. What's more, I cared about this topic now.

"How about that?" I thought. "Mom actually knew what she was doing when she taught us. She taught me to care about this stuff. I should tell her that. She'd get a kick out of hearing me say that after all this time."

It only took half a second or so before I remembered that I couldn't tell Mom. It's been over five years now since she died. You'd think I'd be able to remember that.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

My Daily Thanks

If you are a follower of my dear sister's blog, you'll have noticed that she is once again posting her daily thankfulness posts. While I greatly enjoy reading those posts of hers, when I saw that she had started that again this year I felt a little down. You see, that was my idea to begin with. A few years back I started writing my Daily Thanks posts and it was such a good time for me. But this year I just can't write daily posts like that. I simply don't have the time or brain power. And that kinda bums me out.

But I've decided to not get down about it. Yes, I miss thinking up and writing out my Daily Thanks posts, but I need to realize that, for now, this is just a side effect of the stage of motherhood that I'm at right now. Sometimes I feel like there are too many things I've had to give up over the last several years, but then God always reminds me of how much I've gained in the beautiful blessings of my children.

So I guess this right here is a Daily Thanks post. I'm so thankful for my children and everything that goes along with them- sleepless nights, poopy messes, temper tantrums and bickering, the drain of my time and energy and the goodnight hugs from warm, cozy little people, the smiles that greet me whenever I come home, the little life squirming in my womb, and the feel of my heart winding around four other little hearts.

Thank you, God, for my little people. They are exactly what I've always wanted, even if I never knew it before. Give me strength to keep loving them when I don't feel loving toward them and help me to remember the blessing that they really are to me. And thank you for letting me see, as I look at my children, a little of what You see when You look at me.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Captions, Anyone?

This was a "blooper" from my portrait session with Barb, Grace and Dora. I thought Grace's expression was priceless! Here's the challenge: What do you think she's thinking? (You can click on the image to see it larger.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Quote

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one."
---C.S. Lewis

Friday, October 24, 2008

More Great Music

I hadn't heard this song in years and then I stumbled upon it just a few days ago. It's even better now than when I liked it before.

Still Fighting It

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Am I A Soldier Of The Cross?

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith’s discerning eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lord's Day Quote

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest; Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best. This all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee; More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Let sorrow do its work, come grief or pain; Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain, When they can sing with me: More love, O Christ, to Thee; More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Rambling Post About My Kids, But Mostly About Malachi

When I was pregnant with Evangeline about two years ago I enjoyed watching our other kids' varying levels of excitement for the baby. Lily was thrilled about having a new baby around and she liked to feel the baby kick my belly. Malachi really wasn't all the interested in all that baby stuff- even after Evangeline was born!

This time around it's so different. Malachi is very aware of "Baby Boo" and knows that the bump in Mommy's belly is a real little person who will be coming out someday. He's protective of me and he'll just walk up to me and kiss or pat my belly. He likes to "snuggle" with Baby Boo and give her hugs.

But here's the sweetest thing ever: Several days ago Malachi and Lily were cleaning the shelf that holds all our shoes (aptly named the Shoe Shelf) and Malachi very carefully left a free space on the bottom shelf for Baby Boo. I thought that was so cute, but I figured he'd forget about it after five minutes. Imagine my surprise when, this evening as I was putting my shoes away on the bottom shelf, he said firmly, "Make sure you leave space for Baby Boo." In Malachi's mind the baby is just as much a part of our family as Lily or Evangeline is- and just as real. Wouldn't you love those pro-choicers to imitate that?

Anyway, I suppose I've rambled enough for one post. I just like my family and I'm so amazed at how my kids are growing and turning into fascinating little people. Malachi has been difficult lately so it's good for me sometimes to remember his admirable attributes.

And so to close with a Malachi quote: "I can't take care of too many sisters!"

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Milestone Day

Today I turned the heat on in our house for the first time since last winter. The temperature had been dipping around 56 and 57 degrees indoors for the last several days, but we stayed firm and just put on an extra sweatshirt. This morning it was down to 55. For some reason that one tiny degree made all the difference and I couldn't hold out any longer.

Sigh. It's only October. My dad usually makes it to November before giving in.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Dumb and Dumber

From time to time I like to meditate on some of the more truly stupid issues we humans deal with (and get used to) on this fallen planet. There are those petty arguments between friends, stubbed toes, chapped lips and lima beans just to name a few. The latest item I've added to my list is the goodbye.

I mean, who's dumb idea was that one? Here's a great example of its stupidity: imagine a small handful of people who have known each other since birth, grown up in the same home, and shared the same parents, memories and bathroom. These people have held each other up during tough times and also enjoyed some pretty uproariously good times together, too. Then imagine them one day all saying goodbye to each other and separating to various parts of the country only to see each other once or twice a year and maybe have the occasional phone call.

Pretty dumb, huh?

Or how about this one: let's say there's a young woman who has a few babies and raises them and loves them into adulthood and one day- boom!- she leaves them all, never to return. Isn't that just most asinine thing you've ever heard?

And yet, we take it all in stride and say it's part of life- because, well, it is part of life here. But my husband reminded me just today that it won't always be like this. The stupid goodbye will never happen in Heaven.

Here's hoping the Land of Endless Hello comes soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

So True

This just might be my favorite Baby Blues strip yet.

(click on image to enlarge.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Joshua!

Tomorrow is my wonderful husband's 28th birthday. I'm afraid tomorrow will get too busy so I'm posting this today. If you get me started on how great I think my man is then I could write pages. So instead I will simply post a few pictures that, I think, sum up what I love so much about Joshua.

His careful thoughtfulness.
His tender love for our kids.

His willingness to work hard.

And, last but not least, his dashing good looks!

I couldn't find a picture that properly portrays his goofiness, (even if I did he probably would rather I not post it) but that is also something that I love about him.

All these different aspects of my Joshua are what make being his wife a joy. He's not a perfect man, but he's the perfect man for me.

I love you, Joshua. Happy Birthday!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lord's Day Quote

He leadeth me, O bless├Ęd thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.


Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.


And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

What's Over There?

Your guess is as good as theirs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gotta Love This Quote

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

----Mark Twain

Friday, August 08, 2008

Another Good Song

I've heard this song dozens of times, but I was struck anew by it today. Yeah, the music video is a tad on the silly side, but just listen to the song. I bet that you'll be struck by a strange desire to raise your hands in praise. At least I was.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

From My Heart To Yours

Throughout the earliest stages of this pregnancy, I have been struggling with fear. I've been afraid of the possibility of miscarriage. After all, don't women who have their children close together have a greater chance of miscarriage? I've never had a miscarriage- isn't it my turn? I would imagine what it'd feel like to go into my next midwife appointment only to find that there is no heartbeat and my baby has died. These fears were starting to eat me up inside and I felt like panic was always just below the surface.

It took me some time and a lot of crying out to God, but I reached the point of being able to say, "God, you are in control here. You can give my baby life or You can take it away. You are good so I trust You no matter what you decide."

Last Friday I went in for my check up. I lay down on the exam table and the midwife got the doppler tool they use to hear the heartbeat. She put it on my belly, wiggled it around and... nothing. She couldn't find a heartbeat. She tried a different spot- still no heartbeat. She pushed on my belly until it hurt, still trying to find that gentle beating. I heard my own heart's beat, but not my child's.

I tried to not cry. I prayed, silently screaming the words, "God, please!" Then I fought down the panic and I was able say to Him, "Whatever you decide, I trust You. God, help me." In that moment God was asking me, "So did you really mean what you said about trusting Me? Are you really willing to trust me even now?" And I found I was able to answer- through tears- "Yes, Lord, I trust You. Even now."

And, suddenly, I heard the heartbeat.

The gentle whooshing of my baby's little heart was strong and healthy. He had just been tucked away in there and hiding from us. I breathed a prayer of thanks.

I cried the whole way home that morning. I had had quite a scare, but I realized that I had also passed the test. It's not often that I pass the tests that God gives me and I felt such joy- again through tears- that my faith has grown enough to pass this one. God has done some really horrible things to me. I have experienced what it's like to see a sonogram and know that baby wouldn't live. But I am able to say, with full certainty, that my God is good.

I write this with the hope that you, too, can now look back on the various heartaches you've endured and see that God brought you through them all and He was holding you close the entire time. He asks a lot of us when He tells us to trust Him, but He is always worthy of our complete trust.

And all these tears that we've cried through these hardships have been counted and stored by the One who sees all and one day He will wipe them all away.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Another Arrow For Our Quiver!

That's right, another baby is on the way and we're thrilled to bits about it! Come February, Lord willing, there will be a beautiful child in our arms for us to love and raise.

How amazing is that?!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Found On A Photography Blog

"I don’t think of myself as a great photographer, I may never be a great photographer; but I am definitely having fun just trying to become a better photographer than I was yesterday."

Yep, that's what I say, too.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just Plain Good Stuff

I don't actually watch the show "America's Got Talent," but I do enjoy watching some of the highlights from the show online. I wanted to share with you two of the acts that I keep coming back to. Both of these performances combine something rather old-fashioned and traditional with something new and modern. It really is a joy to see people work hard at their art and create something really incredible.

The Southern Belles

Nuttin' But Strinz

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Suggestion

About a year ago, my family and I were out taking a leisurely Sabbath afternoon walk and our steps took us past the local nursing home. There were a few elderly patrons sitting outside enjoying the fresh air and they were staring and smiling at the kids so we walked over to say hi. They introduced themselves as Paul and Betty. Betty lives at the home and Paul, her husband, constantly comes to visit her. We said we'd come see them again and they were excited at the prospect.

It's been over a year now and we've been visiting Paul and Betty on various Sundays ever since. We try to make it every other week or so. We've also made a few new friends there. Ginny, a single woman who lives at the home and doesn't have any family nearby is always thrilled to see us. She doesn't remember us from visit to visit, but the kids always bring a smile (and sometimes tears) to her face.

I'm mentioning all this because this experience has been a really good thing for our family. We are training our kids to be unselfish with their time and to be kind to others. The kids used to be a little scared of the older folks, but now they ask every Sunday, "Can we go see the elderly today?" God gave us this little ministry and we are so glad He did. Each time we visit the elderly and bless them through the simple joy of a young child's hug, it's as though we are doing it to Jesus and we, in turn, will be blessed for it.

There are some weeks that I don't want to go to the nursing home and there have been times when we didn't go when perhaps we shouldn't have skipped it. So we're not perfect here. But I feel it our duty to share this tiny way in which we are endeavouring to obey Jesus and to suggest to you that you do the same. Your ministry will be different from ours and maybe visiting a nursing home isn't practical for you, but please consider doing something. Jesus is pretty clear when He told us to visit the sick, prisoners, etc.

Anyway, like I said, each of our ministries will look different, but may I encourage you to be sure you are ministering in some way?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Too Funny To Not Share

What would happen if I took my two daughters, put 'em in a box and shook 'em:

Hmm, maybe they're cuter separate.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm Not Alright

I'm Not Alright by Sanctus Real

If weakness is a wound that no one wants to speak of
Then "cool" is just how far we have to fall
I am not immune, I only want to be loved
But I feel safe behind the firewall
Can I lose my need impress?
If you want the truth I need to confess

[Chorus:]I'm not alright, I'm broken inside
And all I go through, it leads me to you

Burn away the pride
Bring me to my weakness
Until everything I hide behind is gone
And when I'm open wide with nothing left to cling to
Only you are there to lead me on.

Honestly, I'm not that strong.

[Chorus:]I'm not alright... that's why I need you.

(Listen to the song here.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Deer Little Boy

Just as we were leaving my in-laws' house yesterday, we came upon a beautiful little fawn standing in the road. We slowed the van and said to the kids, "Look at the baby deer!" We pointed out its little white spots. What a great opportunity to show the kids God's glorious handiwork!

Malachi, in his usual boyish way, said from the backseat, "When is Grandpa going to get his gun and hunt it? Deer turns into meat!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Poem

Here's an exerpt from a poem written by Kevin Swanson for his mother. It's so lovely and just what I needed to hear.

Some will stand in the gates.
Make a name in the state.
But she's in the kitchen
Surrounded by children.
Nothing big in the world's estimation,
Just taking that world with the next generation.

A glorious woman
Jehovah has given.
Worthy of such honor
No mere man could proffer.
In the eyes of the world, there's nothing to see.
But then, that world was never worthy of these.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Being A Dad

Joshua had stumbled upon this article about Christian fatherhood. It's so beautiful that I thought some of you might enjoy it as well.

My Education Continues

My Dictionary.com Word of the Day today was "mephitic." I had never heard of this word before, but amazingly enough I found I understood its meaning and purpose completely. I think I can even use it in a sentence:

"The odor emanating from Evangeline's room this morning was mephitic."

Yes, after changing that diaper (and the sheets and giving her a bath) I find that my mind has now been enriched in its understanding of the very aptly descriptive word, mephitic. Who says motherhood can't develop our minds more?

mephitic \muh-FIT-ik\, adjective:1. Offensive to the smell; as, mephitic odors. 2. Poisonous; noxious.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Super Cute Kids!

When we were in Illinois I managed to get a picture of each our adorable little relatives. Look how much they are growing up!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Marriage in the Eyes of a Three-Year-Old

This evening, during family worship, Joshua thanked God that we've been married for six years. When we were done praying, Malachi said excitedly, "I'm going to marry a girl! And Lily's going to marry a boy!"

"What about Evangeline?" I asked.

Without missing a beat he answered, "She'll marry a baby."

Happy Anniversary To Us!!!

Today marks the sixth year of marriage for Joshua and me. Six years doesn't sound like a very long time, but these last six years have felt like a lifetime. I can't express enough what a joy it is to spend my life with my best friend. And if the first six years have been this great, I can't wait to see what the rest of our lives will be like.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Our Newest Niece Is Here!!

Our newest niece was born earlier this evening! Her name is Jordan Michelle. She lives way down in Texas so I don't even know when we'll get to meet her in person. I'm guessing she's insanely cute, though- it seems like that runs in the family.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Possibly The Spiffiest Sport Ever

A friend from church organized a really neat Vacation Bible School of sorts where the kids are learning about martyrs and missionaries from certain cultures. We're meeting once a month and each month we'll be studying a different culture. Today's study was about Adoniram Judson who went to Burma. It was a really good time.

I was in charge of finding a Burmese game for us to play and I discovered Chinlone. It's so spiffy to watch, but super hard to play! It was sure fun watching the kids try it. I totally love the creativity involved in playing the game.

Check out a video of Chinlone being played here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Jumbled Thoughts About Why We Do What We Do

I was sitting in church yesterday thinking about all the time and energy I put into making myself clean and presentable that morning. I took care to shower and do my hair and pick out a nice outfit. I made sure I was in a good mood so I could smile and chat with other people at church. And I sat there all prim and polished, as we confessed our sins before God and admitted how worthless and vile we are.

But I didn't feel worthless and vile. I was clean. I didn't even have cracker crumbs on my shirt dropped by some messy child. I put on my best face this morning and now I was supposed to focus on how not nice I am.

I'm totally convinced of my sinfulness and perverted nature. But on Sunday mornings I feel clean and pulled together- well, most of the time I do, anyway. So I was just thinking what difference it would make it I showed up for corporate worship in my sweats with my hair disheveled and greasy and feeling grumpy in general. What difference would that make in my worship? When I'm sitting at home having a quiet time with God, I feel more real and unappealing. And sometimes, on the flip side, I feel so guilty sitting in church with everyone else looking so neat and pulled together and when I compare myself with them I feel filthy- even though I look just as nice as they do right then. So why do we get all dressed up for church? I mean, I understand the idea of being properly dressed for meeting with our God, but still.... How am I supposed to be real when I'm all dolled up?

I was trying to bring these thoughts together for a coherent blog post, but I'm finding I'm having a hard time doing that. Does any of this make sense? Does anyone else feel similarly? Any thoughts, anyone?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Music Video I Actually Like

I complain a lot about music videos and their general lameness, but I find I can't get enough of this music video. I really like it. Those of you who know me well shouldn't have a hard time figuring out why.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Stop Me If You've Heard This One...

What do you get when you throw a grenade into a French kitchen?

Linoleum Blownapart.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

We're So Cute

I feel like I don't post many pictures of my family here anymore so I thought the time was ripe to enriched the blogger world with a photo of an adorable family. Families this cute don't happen every day, you know. I'm not biased here at all, of course.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Cheeky Quote

"I think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and bought jewelry."

Saturday, May 31, 2008


This is Kierra, my newest adorable niece. Isn't she precious?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Happy News!!!

I have a new niece! My sister-in-law Christen just gave birth this morning to her second little girl. I don't know the exact time or weight- I don't even know her name! All I know is that she has a headful of red hair. And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be far off if I assumed she was the cutest little newborn on the face of the earth.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just in Case You Were Interested

I frequently check this blog for inspiration for my portraits. This photographer takes such beautiful pictures. I think her wedding pictures are particularly breathtaking. I find myself attempting to mimic her style- of course her style includes a fully functional studio with all the bells and whistles. Oh, well. I can dream, can't I?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"The Everlasting Song Is Almost On Thy Lip"

"Whom he justified, them he also glorified." -- Romans 8:30

Here is a precious truth for thee, believer. Thou mayest be poor, or insuffering, or unknown, but for thine encouragement take a review of thy"calling" and the consequences that flow from it, and especially that blessed result here spoken of. As surely as thou art God's child today, so surely shall all thy trials soon be at an end, and thou shalt be rich to all the intents of bliss. Wait awhile, and that weary head shall wear the crown of glory, and that hand of labour shall grasp the palm-branch of victory.
Lament not thy troubles, but rather rejoice that ere long thou wilt be where "there shall be neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain." The chariots of fire are at thy door, and a moment will suffice to bear thee to the glorified.The everlasting song is almost on thy lip. The portals of heaven stand open for thee.
Think not that thou canst fail of entering into rest. If he hath called thee, nothing can divide thee from his love. Distress cannot sever the bond; the fire of persecution cannot burn the link;the hammer of hell cannot break the chain. Thou art secure; that voice which called thee at first, shall call thee yet again from earth to heaven, from death's dark gloom to immortality's unuttered splendours. Rest assured, the heart of him who has justified thee beats with infinite love towards thee.
Thou shalt soon be with the glorified, where thy portion is; thou art only waiting here to be made meet forthe inheritance, and that done, the wings of angels shall waft thee faraway, to the mount of peace, and joy, and blessedness, where,

"Far from a world of grief and sin,
With God eternally shut in,
"thou shalt rest for ever and ever.

--Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Speaking In Song

There have been a few songs that God has lately been using to teach me some things about Himself. Two of these songs are "Wholly Yours" and "I Need You to Love Me."

"But the harder I try the more clearly can I
Feel the depth of our fall and the weight of it all
And so this might could be the most impossible thing
Your grandness in me, making me clean"

--Wholly Yours by David Crowder Band (You can listen to the song here.)

"I have wasted so much time
Pushing You away from me
I just never saw how You could cherish me
'Cause You're a God who has all things
And still You want me

But I need You to love me, and I-
I won't keep my heart from You this time
And I'll stop this pretending that I can
Somehow deserve what I already have
I need You to love me"

---I Need You to Love Me by Barlow Girl (You can listen to the song here.)

Neither of these songs are new or particularly profound, but whenever I hear them in the car or on a Pandora station, it feels like a hug from my heavenly Daddy. It's like He's saying, "It's okay. I feel the weight of your sin even more than you do, but when I look at you I don't see any of your yuckiness. All I see is my little girl whom I love very much. And I'm not done with you yet."

And those words are what get me through the day.

Monday, May 12, 2008

All My Tears

I heard this song for the first time today and it gave me shivers. I think either Buddy or Julie Miller originally wrote the song, but I really like Jars of Clay's version.

All My Tears by Jars of Clay

When I go, don't cry for me
In my Father's arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole.
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed
For my Savior knows my name.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.
Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven's store,
Come and drink, and thirst no more

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

So, weep not for me my friends,
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to Him
Who will raise the dead again.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

A Quote

"Right now I'm having amnesia and deja vu at the same time."

---Steven Wright

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lord's Day Quote

Go, sorrowing son of affliction, tell thy secrets to the Friend who sticketh closer than a brother. Trust all thy concerns with him who never can be taken from thee, who will never leave thee, and who will never let thee leave him, even "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever."
--C.H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

From My Own Experience

The first time mother:
"AAUGH! The baby is climbing on the Little Tikes kitchen! She could fall and kill herself! It's not safe- we're getting rid of it right away."

After having a few kids:
"Oh, good! The baby is climbing on the Little Tikes kitchen. Maybe now she'll stop climbing on the dining room table and chairs, and the couch and the computer desk and the stairs...."

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Quote

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."


Friday, May 02, 2008

On Modesty

C.J. Mahaney has been posting excerpts from the forthcoming book, Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World, on his blog. The excerpts he is posting are from the chapter he wrote on modesty. He has posted four out of seven parts so far and I've really found reading them to be enjoyable. That is, if you consider it enjoyable to be convicted of sin.

I highly recommend reading these posts. I'm eager for the book to come out- it sounds like something that would be quite helpful to me.

"...modesty is humility expressed in dress."
-----Pastor C.J. Mahaney

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I was in the basement doing laundry, wearing my sweats with holes in them and a baggy t-shirt. I shook my disheveled hair out of my face and looked up the stairs to see Malachi standing at the top in the basement doorway.

"Hello, princess!" he called down cheerfully.

And for a brief moment I remembered: yes, I am a princess.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lord's Day Quote

"Learn the divine skill of making God all things to thee. He can supply thee with all, or, better still, he can be to thee instead of all."

---C.H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Lily!

On this day, five years ago, my precious daughter Lily made her appearance into this family. She brings so much beauty to the Gardner family. I, too often, am impatient with her as she does those little things that five-year-olds do and I've been praying that I would be able to stop being so frantic and take the time to see what she sees in the world.

Being Lily's mommy is a sanctifying experience because our personalities are so similar, (read that: she gets her emotional state from her mommy) but she has an artist's heart and I'm so proud to share that with her.

Father of Lights, from whom came this lovely little girl, thank you for the grave responsibility and the great joy of having Lily as our daughter. Give us grace to raise her well.

Happy Birthday, Lily!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Kids Really Do Say The Cutest Things

Last night the children were being less than obedient for bedtime. After hearing quite a bit of bouncing and giggling going on upstairs, Joshua headed up to discipline the rowdy kids. He caught Malachi being rather rambunctious and asked him: "Didn't I tell you to be quiet?"

"Well," Malachi answered with a thoughtful look on his face, "I was trying to be quiet but... something went wrong."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My Captured Light

It's been my goal of late to develop my talents as a portrait artist. I'd like to offer my services at very low cost to families who can't necessarily afford to get a professional portrait taken. I still have a long way to go in improving my skills, but I'm enjoying practicing right now. You can view my portfolio here:

Captured Light Portraiture

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thinking of Seth

"There's many a man has more hair than wit."

---William Shakespeare

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's Time To Grill!

This recipe looks so good, I just have to share it: Grilled Pound Cake with Warm Berry Sauce

There are several grilled desserts that I want to try. I think that's my goal for this summer. Getting better at making delectably sweet foods without dying in an overheated kitchen sounds like an honorable goal to me.

Here's another one that looks good:
Barbequed Pineapple (I don't see how you could go wrong when you combine pinapple, rum and fire.)

Has anyone else experimented with grilling sweet stuff?

Monday, April 14, 2008

More Cuteness

Have You Ever Seen Anything Quite So Cute?

Happy Birthday, Crystal!

I've been rather blessed in the siblings that God has given to me. I have siblings that were born into this family and siblings that married into it (yes, that's right- they chose to join this crazy crowd!) My first sibling-by-marriage was Crystal.

It was tough getting used to having to share my big brother with someone else. Seth was my property (or so I thought) until Crystal came along. She stole my brother away from me and made his eyes go all "googly" and starcrossed. But as their marriage grew, I saw what true love looked liked and I saw what I wanted when I got married.

I saw Crystal learn to submit herself to her husband and I saw her help him and work with him in his endeavors. I saw that Seth's goals were Crystal's goals and if he failed in some way, then she felt the failure. And when he succeeded then she was rejoicing and celebrating with him. I saw her give of herself without asking for anything in return. I saw her striving to raise Godly children and I saw her reach out to the hurting people around her.

I saw all these things over the years of knowing Crystal and I see them all more than ever today.

Crystal, thank you for being my big sister. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Quote

"The common mercies we enjoy all sing of love, just as the sea-shell, when we put it to our ears, whispers of the deep sea whence it came; but if we desire to hear the ocean itself, we must not look at every-day blessings, but at the transactions of the crucifixion."
----Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

From One Ragamuffin to Another

A new book recently came my way- The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning. (Yes, this was the book that inspired the naming of Rich Mullins' band.) I've heard some not so great things about Mr. Manning, but I was so moved by his intro into the book, that I wanted to share it. I haven't decided if I'll continue reading this book, but I am glad I read this beginning:

"This book is not for the super-spiritual.
It is not for the muscular Christians who have made John Wayne and not Jesus their hero.
It is not for academicians who would imprison Jesus in the ivory tower of exegesis.
It is not for the noisy, feel-good folks who manipulate Christianity into a naked appeal to emotion.
It is not for Alleluia Christians who live only on the mountaintop and have never visited the valley of desolation.
It is not for the fearless and tearless.
It is not for red-hot zealots who boast with the rich young ruler of the gospels: "All these commandments I have kept from my youth."
It is not for the complacent, hoisting over their shoulder a tote bag of honors, diplomas, and good works actually believing that have it made.
It is not for legalists who would rather surrender control of their souls to rules than run the risk of living in union with Jesus.

If anyone is still reading along, The Ragamuffin Gospel was written for the bedraggled, beat-up and burnt-out.
It is for the sorely burdened who are still shifting the heavy suitcase from one hand to the other.
It is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who know they don't have it altogether and are too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace.
It is for the inconsistent, unsteady disciples whose cheese is falling off their cracker.
It is for poor, weak, sinful men and women with hereditary faults and limited talents.
It is for earthen vessels who shuffle along on feet of clay.
It is for the bent and the bruised who feel that their lives are a grave disappointment to God.
It is for smart people who know they are stupid and honest disciples who admit they are scalawags."

Great words, right? Now go back and read it again and this time, whenever he says "this book" or "The Ragamuffin Gospel" replace it with "The Gospel of Jesus."

That's me he's talking about. And you. I'm a ragamuffin Christian. I don't have it all together. I don't know what I'm talking about most of the time. I'd much rather do things my way than obey my God. And this gospel is for me.

"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."


Monday, April 07, 2008

A (Convicting) Quote

"At this very moment you and I are either committing [selfishness], or about to commit it, or repenting it."
---C.S. Lewis

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Public Service Announcement

Because of time constraints and a chronic case of RLS (Real Life Syndrome) I've decided to no longer keep up my Dash of This, Smidgen of That blog. I'll leave it there so you (and I) can access the archives and I'll post any useful tips and ideas on this blog.

To that end:
I've discovered a wonderful cleaning tips website. I was thrilled to find this. I hope it helps you, too!

Homeschooler Humor

How does a homeschooler change a lightbulb?

First, mom checks three books on electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life.

Next, everyone studies the history of lighting methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles.

Next, everyone takes a trip to the store where they compare types of light bulbs as well as prices and figure out how much change they'll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99 and pay with a five dollar bill.

On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money and also Abraham Lincoln, as his picture is on the five dollar bill.

Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed.

And there is light

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Our Kitchen!

Take a gander at our pretty kitchen. I'm so very pleased with how it all turned out. It was worth the late nights of working, the endless wood staining, the mess and the cranky days.
It's so lovely having my baking supplies behind doors (doors with very strong magnets) where little hands can't cause mischief. And I love having a floor that isn't crumbling to pieces and getting eaten by little mouths.

It's not completely finished yet. There is still some moulding we need to put on the floor and counter.

Joshua and I sure make a good team, don't we? We are available for hire, but our rates our pretty steep and you provide the babysitting. :o)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Quote

'Nothing, not even what is lowest and most bestial, will not be raised again if it submits to death.'

---C.S. Lewis

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Kitchen Sneak Peek

As many of you know, we've been working on our kitchen a lot lately. I'll be posting pictures of the finished project soon , but I wanted to show a few teasers first.

The destruction:

Who needs a tile cutter when you've got a hammer?

A cabinet just the right size for storing cookie sheets!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Glimpse of Gold

Today I walked into the living room in time to see the three kids huddled together with Malachi praying: "...and please help Lily to not be scared of the Bad Guy. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Evangeline added her hearty " 'men!" and then they were set to go back to reading their book with the Bad Guy in it.

I feel like a failure so much of the time, but occasionally I get to see some area in which I've actually done well. The kids knew that when they are scared, the thing to do is pray. By God's grace, Joshua and I taught them that.

Thank you, God, for telling me "Well done" today.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!

I was reading some old blog posts recently and I came across this post that I wrote for Jonathan's birthday two years ago. As I was reading it, I found that it was even more true now so I thought I'd post it again.

My brother, Jonathan, is what you might call the “cool” brother. Seth is getting better in his old age, but Jonathan still outranks him in coolness. Growing up, it was Jonathan who always got me in trouble, but I didn’t mind so much because he was just so much fun! He was the one that would dig tunnels under the garage with me and let me play with his Transformers. He had these neat action figures that had a small space ship thing and we’d try rig up a way for the ship “fly”. I think we used some of Mom’s leftover yarn as line for it to glide on and it never really worked that well, but still, it was amazing!

Even when he was a teenager and always going out with his friends, he made me feel like I wasn’t the annoying little sister tagging along. I almost thought I was cool just like my big brother. His favorite football team was (and is) the 49ers so, of course, that was my favorite team, too. I really didn’t understand football and watching a game bored me to death, but I was a 49ers fan because Jonathan was and I wanted to be just like him.

Like every brother and sister we didn’t always get along so great, but now somehow we’ve ended up as friends. We live about a million miles away from each other and we don’t play with little action figures anymore, but as I watch him live and work and care for Carrie and love her and try to follow where God wants him to go and not be afraid of what anyone thinks of him or what he has to say, I am amazed that he is my brother and I’m so proud to be his sister. So I guess you could say that I still want to be just like my big brother.

Jonathan, I wish that Peoria and Erie were a few hundred miles closer together so that we could celebrate your birthday together. I just want you to know that I'm celebrating here and thanking God for you.
Happy Birthday!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Better Than a Movie

It’s become our family habit to go to a nursing home near our house on Sundays and visit with the inmates- er, I mean, residents- there. We’ve met some really neat people there over the last half year or so. Two Sundays ago we got to witness something really special.

We were walking the halls on our way to our elderly friend’s room when we came upon a lady in a wheelchair struggling to wheel herself along. Joshua offered to push her to her room and she gratefully accepted. When we got to her room we admired the many pictures that hung on her walls. She proudly showed off her family pictures and then wanted us to look at her door because that’s where her wedding pictures were hanging. I looked at the pictures which looked like they had been taken a short while ago and I figured she had meant to say they were from her anniversary party.

It looked like it must have been a milestone anniversary so I asked, “When were you married?” She proudly replied, “A month ago today!” Our jaws dropped. “And here comes my husband now.” We looked to the hallway where a gentleman was wheeling his wheelchair our way and smiling.

She explained that he had lost two wives previously and she had lost her first husband, but when they met each other at the nursing home, they wanted to try it again. “This will be the last time,” she declared.

We offered our hearty congratulations as the newlyweds smiled at each other. As we continued on with our other visits, Joshua and I couldn’t help but smile in amazement. That’s a love story that beats any romantic comedy out there. The story of love found in a nursing home.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Our Snowy Day

Today we enjoyed the snow. Yesterday I wasn't too happy with the boat load of white stuff that was being dumped on us because it interfered with my plans, but today I was able to have fun with it. I've lived in Erie most of my life so I'm pretty used to having lots of snow, but even I will admit that there is a shocking amount of snow outside. For example, in some places the snow comes up to my hips.
So today we took the kids out to play and it was pretty hilarious watching them try to work out how to get around the yard. They tried walking, but because they aren't very big, they'd start out walking on the surface of the snow and then they'd sink in halfway. After a while they figured out the best method was to crawl on the snow.
Lily was pretty tough out there, but Malachi struggled a bit so we had fun picking him up and throwing him. That worked well except that he'd land on his bum (causing a cute imprint) and then flail his legs around like an overturned turtle trying to get up.
Evangeline was far too little to get around well in snow that could easily cover her so we'd just plant her somewhere and she'd play for a bit, then we'd grab her little snowsuit, uproot her and plant her someplace else.
Joshua dug a little snow fort out for the kids and I'm hoping to get back out to play in there more tomorrow.
All in all, we had a grand time being snowed in today. So even though I was near tears yesterday because of the snowstorm, I'm very glad we had the snow today.

Thank you, God, for giving us exactly what we need- even "inconvenient" snowstorms.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Something Spiffy

Sometimes it's just such a pleasure to see a performance done well.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Yet Another Great Quote from Pastor Piper

A quote from John Piper's essay, "Talking to Your Tears:"

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6

“This psalm teaches the tough truth that there is work to be done whether I am emotionally up for it or not, and it is good for me to do it. Suppose you are in a season of heartache and discouragement, and it is time to sow seed. Do you say, ‘I can’t sow the field this spring, because I am brokenhearted and discouraged’? If you do that, you will not eat in the winter. Suppose you say instead, ‘I am heartsick and discouraged. I cry if the milk spills at breakfast. I cry if the phone and doorbell ring at the same time. I cry for no reason at all, but the field needs to be sowed. That is the way life is. I do not feel like it, but I will take my bag of seeds and go out in the fields and do my crying while I do my duty. I will sow in tears.’

If you do that, the promise of this psalm is that you will ‘reap with shouts of joy.’ You will ‘come home with shouts of joy, bringing your sheaves with you,’ not because the tears of sowing produce the joy of reaping, but because the sheer sowing produces the reaping. We need to remember this even when our tears tempt us to give up sowing.”
----A Godward Life, pp. 89-90

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Makeover!

Today I gave my older sister a haircut. She loves her long hair and she wanted something different, but still keep the length. This is what we came up with.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

It's That Time of the Month Again...

Over at the Girl Talk blog the ladies are in the midst of a series entitled "PMS Prep." They are addressing the difficulties of various physical trials that women face and discussing how Godly women can still glorify Him through those times.

"We know they’re coming (most of the time, anyway): PMS, morning sickness, postpartum depression, menopause. Yet these predictable, physical trials of a woman’s life still tend to catch us off guard. When they show up, we feel like we’ve been hit from behind and struggle to keep steady amidst physical and emotional challenges....
You know it’s coming. But take heart: God’s grace is already here to help us prepare to glorify Him and serve others. Let’s consider how. "

Check it out here.

Lord's Day Quote and Thought

Today in church we sang one of my favorite hymns:

Who are these like stars appearing,
These before God’s throne who stand?
Each a golden crown is wearing;
Who are all this glorious band?
Alleluia! Hark, they sing,
Praising loud their heav’nly King.

Who are these of dazzling brightness,
These in God’s own truth arrayed,
Clad in robes of purest whiteness,
Robes whose luster ne’er shall fade,
Ne’er be touched by time’s rude hand?
Whence come all this glorious band?

These are they who have contended
For their Savior’s honor long,
Wrestling on till life was ended,
Following not the sinful throng;
These who well the fight sustained,
Triumph through the Lamb have gained.

These are they whose hearts were riven,
Sore with woe and anguish tried,
Who in prayer full oft have striven
With the God they glorified;
Now, their painful conflict o’er,
God has bid them weep no more.

These, like priests, have watched and waited,
Offering up to Christ their will;
Soul and body consecrated,
Day and night to serve Him still:
Now in God’s most holy place
Blest they stand before His face.

Whenever I sing this song, I think of the saints that I know who are, even now, standing in God's presence. When I sing this song, I'm not thinking about some generic saint that's dressed in white with a halo on his head, but rather I'm thinking about my mom, my grandparents, etc. And if these real people that I knew well are enjoying their reward, then I, too, can look forward to my reward. And just as they strove in works and prayer, then I, too, need to do the same.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just to Make You Smile

You can't help but laugh along.

It's amazing what a little packaging tape can do.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Please pray for my brother Jonathan and my sister-in-law Carrie. They are struggling through a rough time right now. Carrie has had back problems for a long time, but recently it's become almost unbearable. Jonathan writes about it here.
Please join with me in begging our good God to relieve Carrie of her pain. Even if you don't know her, please pray anyway.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Just a Thought

I don't feel well today. I've had the same headache for a few days now and it seems to like me more than I like it. But you know what? Someday I won't ever have headaches again. That thought is hard to process, but that thought helps me live better today. Even with my headache.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Adiel's Words of Wisdom (For Women)

Never go bra shopping on the eve before Valentine's Day. You will encounter an absurd number of middle-aged men awkwardly browsing the lingerie section. This makes the already unpleasant task of bra shopping even worse and makes for an embarrassing time for everyone involved. The awkwardness is heightened if the middle-aged man has children with him helping him to pick out "something nice for Mommy."

Ladies, heed my words: Never go bra shopping on the eve of Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Haven't You Heard?

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

I just wanted to remind you of this.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I Met a Murderer Today

I met a murderer today
I hid my face and looked away.
His face was too grotesque to me,
His gleaming teeth a fright to see.
I saw the people that he killed-
Their bodies bruised, their breathing stilled.
I heard the screaming, felt the tears,
Saw the culmination of his victims’ fears.
Oh, what horrors this man wrought!
I uncovered my face and for some comfort I sought.
The murderer does the same, I see
And now I know it’s only a mirror in front of me.

We Christians like to think that we’re better than other people. But the only difference between “us” and “them” is that we are forgiven for the horrible things we do.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Waggle Room is Now Open!

The conversation has begun over at the Waggle Room. Go check it out and feel free to join in whether you've watched the movie or not.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Art of Dance

As some of you well know, I am a dancer. I haven't actually danced a choreographed dance in quite some time and since having kids my body doesn't move in quite the same way that it did when I was a teenager, but nonetheless I still consider myself a dancer. I feel music and I express myself through dance.

This last December I went to a performance of the ballet The Nutcracker and it was then that I realized that I don't really like ballet. This is significant because ballet was my first introduction to dance and I took ballet lessons for several years. So I started thinking about dance and what it is and what its purpose is. And now I just have a bunch of questions about dance and no real answers. Is there an ideal form of dance? Are some forms not as "true" as others? Does dance have to be visually appealing?

I thought it'd be interesting to search YouTube and see different styles of dance. I wanted to share my findings with you all. I realize it would be quite time consuming to watch all these videos in their entirety, but I do hope you'll watch enough of each to get a real feel for that dance.

First, right here is why I don't like ballet. Yawn. If I were to watch or dance ballet I'd much rather it be more like this. It looks much more fun and much less stoic.

Something that I have been enjoying lately is break dancing. My one qualm with it is that it tends to get very "show-offy" and the performer ceases to dance and just starts to display his skills. I think any type of dance can fall into this and it really, really, bugs me when it does.

Here is one example of this showing off mentality. I don't think this Chinese ballet counts as true dance, but if you skip to a little before the six minute mark you'll see a woman balancing on one leg- on pointe- on top of her partner's head. Wow. I have to ask why anyone would want to do that, but hey, it's still impressive.

My search for dance led me to a kind of dancing that I had never heard of until a few months ago. It's called house dance. When I first saw it, I totally didn't get it, but when I saw this video, it made much more sense to me. It is a freestyle sort of dance that seems like it would allow the dancer to feel the music and flow with it. When someone house dances well they are intimately involved with the music. This video show several different house dancers-each with their own particular style.

Just how would you describe this type of dance to someone? It's a Japanese tribal hip hop thingy, I guess. I don't know what to say about it except that I like it. I think.

Gaby introduced me to Parkour- The Art of Movement. (this video gets very good at around the 2:45mark.) These people are celebrating the joy and freedom of moving. They don't use music, but does that make a difference in dance? I think parkour is the closet thing I've ever seen to man learning to fly.

And now we come to Robam Joun Por. This dance is so foreign to me that I have trouble appreciating it. But if you look closely at the way the dancers move their heads ever so slightly, you see that they are dancing to a strange melody that is almost beneath the music we hear. It looks so stiff to us Americans, but in watching it a few times I was able to see how that, too, is a beautiful style of dance. Though that doesn't mean I like it.

So now you've seen a small, but very diverse collection of dances. It's amazing to me to watch them all back to back- my neck still hurts from the whiplash. God created our bodies in such an intricate way and has given us the ability to dance. In some way, all these dances show us something of the beauty of our God. I'm overwhelmed with the magnitude of this thing called dance. Just imagine, what would dance look like if it was done by perfect, sinless bodies? Someday we'll find out.

So now that I've rambled on and posted a plethora of links that I don't even know if anyone will watch, does anyone have any thoughts about dance?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Raquel!

In these birthday posts I usually try to focus on one thing about the birthday boy/girl that I appreciate. I think the thing that I appreciate the most about Raquel is her writing. Since there are a few hundred miles separating us, we aren't actively involved in each other's lives, but (thanks to the internet) we know each other through writing.
In particular I enjoy her haiku. I've never met anyone else with such a knack for creating deep, intricate feelings using only a very few words.

Raquel, your haiku are like a little bright spot in the world. You may never become a rich and famous writer, but you've added beauty to my world and I'm a different me now because of you. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your art with us.

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'm a Winning Loser

Yesterday I had the good fortune to be in a few arguments over money with various siblings of mine. Yes, I do think that was a good thing because, you see, they were niceness fights.

Elizabeth thought she owed me money, but I was sure she had paid me back already so we argued about it for a bit. And then I had a similar fight with Jonathan over the phone later. The upshot of it is that I lost both fights and I'm now richer for it. Not a bad resolution to the problems, if you ask me.
So anyone else want to fight me?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!

On this day, some (cough, ahem) years ago a great man was born. Maybe you know this man and maybe you don’t, for although he is a great man he is not well known throughout the world. The things this man has done have never been recorded in history books nor has there ever been a newspaper article written about him. Most people who pass him on the street don’t even give him a second glance. This man isn’t famous or powerful.

So what is it about this man that makes him great?

He was husband to a godly wife and he raised five God-fearing children. He preaches in a small, largely unknown church where he teaches his flock, through his words and actions, what it means to love Jesus.

That is what makes him a great man. And not only do I have the privilege to call this man my father, he is also my friend.

Happy Birthday, Dad!
I love you!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lord's Day Quote

"Teach me that Christ cannot be the the way if I am the end,
that He cannot be redeemer if I am my own saviour,
that there can be no true union with Him while the creature has my heart,
that faith accepts Him as redeemer and Lord or not at all."

---from The Valley of Vision

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

About Saying Goodbye

I suppose it’s all about saying goodbye
And that feeling in your throat when you have to cry
Big brother moved away- farther than I’d known
Even with the six of us I still felt so alone
I remember when Mom’s dad was sick and so weak
I can still feel where the tears ran on my cheek
We were snuggled on Mom’s bed when she told us he would die
I asked a lot of questions, all of them wondering “why?”
My grandma also early left this gray place
Dad collapsed in Mom’s arms, grief etched on his face
Nieces and nephews never born, never met
The grief then captured us like a twisting invisible net
Then came the day my mommy’s heart stopped beating
She lay in bed where the machines kept her breathing
I was at home when the call came: “Come say goodbye.”
The prayers I prayed then- desperate- did my God deny
Every time I feel the sting of Death’s sharp knife
I think I can’t take much more before it claims my own life
I’ll never forget mourning the death of my baby- the one I’d never hold
“It gets easier. You’ll laugh again.” that’s what I was told
It’s true that I laugh now and feel joy once again
But I’ll never in this life be rid of the pain
The pain of conquered death so real, so real
The pain of a broken heart, too scarred to fully heal
My hope is sure, I know my hope will come to be
My hope is of a perfect life- a life that was bought for me
There will be no more goodbyes in the land of my king
My tears will be gone then and I’ll forever sing
But I’m not there yet and it hurts to be here
As I continue to lose all that I hold dear
So for now I suppose it’s all about saying goodbye
And that feeling in your throat when you have to cry

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

A Christian Jew singing about delighting in the Sabbath- with a techno beat. Check it out here.

Yeah, I've heard better techno music, but Aviad Cohen (the artist formerly known as 50 Shekel) still ranks pretty high on my spiffyness meter just for doing what he does.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Angels Shop at Wal-Mart

I am convinced that even though Wal-Mart may have certain Babylonian tendencies, God enjoys using it as a teaching place for me. On many occasions I have been struck with some thought or experience of God during my shopping excursions to Wal-Mart. I’d like to share a few of these with you.

When I was pregnant with Evangeline I mostly got my “morning” sickness in the evenings. So there I was, doing our grocery shopping and feeling like I was going to either pass out or throw up- whichever came first- in the cereal aisle and I was trying to find a cereal that I could stomach. I usually live on cereal when I’m pregnant so this was an important food to me at the time. I felt daunted by the varieties of cereals (and let’s not forget the feeling of impending puking) so I desperately prayed, “God, show me which cereal to get!” Immediately, my eyes fell on a green box of Chex cereal. I grabbed it, thanked God, and continued with my shopping. I knew in that moment that God is intimately concerned with even the most seemingly mundane details of my life. He knew how miserable I felt and how overwhelmed I was by the simple chore of picking out a cereal so He divinely picked out a cereal for me and in that way, He showed me that He loves me.

Usually when I shop at Wal-Mart, I feel tense because I’m trying to not spend too much money while still getting good things for my family. I’m constantly feeling tempted by all the racks of clothing I shouldn’t buy, the special foods that don’t fit in our budget, the cute toys I know the kids would enjoy, etc. I feel the temptations of the world bombarding me as I shop at Wal-Mart. And even if the temptations aren’t obvious to me at the time, I know they are always there. Until I step into the parking lot, that is. Wal-Mart’s parking lot is big enough to build an entire neighborhood on and the sky over it is as big as Montana. As soon as I step out of the store the beauty and breadth of the sky takes my breath away and I am reminded that life is not shopping and buying and attaining things, but rather it is glorifying the Creator of so awesome a sight. I can feel the glory of God as His artwork hangs over the Wal-Mart parking lot.

Since I recognize the many temptations that face me at Wal-Mart, I try to pray each time that I prepare to go to that store. One evening, as I was walking from my van to the store I was praying when I felt a sudden jolt in my spirit. I felt like my eyes were opened and as I looked at the other people about to enter the store with me, I realized that I was different from them. I realized that I am not just another shopper at Wal-Mart. I am a child of Yahweh. I felt like I should be glowing for all the glory that lives inside me. I looked at the other shoppers and I wanted them to have this glory, too.

Now, maybe these stories seem a little odd to you. Maybe you think I’m seeing too much into things and making a big deal out of nothing. I suppose that’s possible except for this- I know my God the way I do because of what He shows me when I shop at Wal-Mart. Of course, He speaks more fully in the preaching of the Word and in Bible reading. If this was the only place I ever listened to God then I’d have some serious problems, indeed! But for some reason God chose Wal-Mart, of all places, to show me how real He is and to impress certain truths on my heart. Now when I’m having a frustrating time trying to get dinner on the table or some such thing I remember that God helped me pick out some breakfast cereal so surely He cares about each and every detail and He can even help me get dinner on the table.

How does all this work? Is it Jesus who walks with me as I push my cart? Or does He send an angel or two with me every time I go to Wal-Mart? I don’t know how this works, but I don’t need to know. All I need is to know and understand that the God I serve is so big that He can reveal Himself to His people using the most unlikely tools. He can even use Wal-Mart.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Happy Birthday, Spidey!

Yesterday was dubbed Spider-man's birthday in at our house. We had a lovely party for him. He really enjoyed seeing himself on the birthday banner and having his own birthday cake. He was so excited that he needed help blowing out the candles.
Apparently, the excitement was too much for him since he couldn't even eat his cake. He did like looking at it, though.
Happy Birthday, Spider-man!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Lord's Day Quote

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, and all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk, till traveling days are done.

Hymn by Horatius Bonar

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Onward and Upward

I recently posted this over at MovingTruth.com and I thought I'd pull a Seth cheater move and get two posts for the price of one.

I think everyone here at Moving Truth agrees that as Christians we have the great privilege and responsibility to mimic our Creator by being creative and sharing that creativity with the world. What I have been recently struck with is the thought that it is also our responsibility to improve our efforts in our art. God never wants anything to stagnate. If we are to be growing in our knowledge and love for Him doesn’t it follow that we are to grow in our creativity, too? I’m not saying that we should all join a class or buy a stack of instructional books and attempt to reach impossible standards , but rather that we should avoid becoming lazy and complacent in our art. I feel that I all too often settle for doing something half-hearted. “I’m too busy” or “I’m too tired” are usually my excuses. While it’s true that a busy life does leave a limited time frame for working and experimenting with one’s art , it should never be an excuse for laziness.

I am a wife, a homemaker and a mommy to three adorable, but rambunctious little kids so, yeah, my time is not my own. But I am also an artist. If God has seen fit to bless me with my talents then I will strive to do my best to use these talents to bring glory to Him and to further His kingdom. I do not have the time, resources, or knowledge that some have to pursue art, but I will not let that be an excuse to bury my talents in the ground.

I’m certainly not saying that anyone here is guilty of this. Everything I’ve seen of this site shows quite the opposite, in fact. But I figured that since complacency is a temptation for me that other artists may struggle with it, too. This responsibility to improve in our creative arts is great, but if we are faithful with what God has entrusted to us then we will reap many, many blessings.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My New Photo Blog

I know, I know, yet another blog is exactly what this world doesn't need, but while I do enjoy writing about life and laundry and posting it on the pinkness, I really wanted to display my artwork on a more subdued background. Hence, the new blog. I don't expect to be do much writing on that blog (if any) so at least I'm not adding one more thing for you all to read. Whenever you have a moment just meander on over to Captured Light and see a little bit of what I see.