December 19, 2012

Happy Anniversary to my dearest friend...



It's hard for me to believe that twenty-nine years have passed since I walked down the aisle to be married to my best friend. (Especially since, as my children well know, I'll be re-celebrating my 27th birthday in February. But that's another story.)


Twenty-nine years. Twenty-nine years of God's faithfulness. Twenty-nine years of grace and love. Twenty-nine years of learning about one another, only to find that we can never know everything about this other person. Twenty-nine years of growing up, raising children, living life. Twenty-nine years of God's faithfulness. Twenty-nine years of grace and love.



Happy anniversary, dearest Jeff. I love you and pray that God will grant us many more years together, serving one another and Him.



Note: first and last pictures on this page were taken by my lovely and talented daughter. If we get any more affectionate than this, however, she screams and runs away.

December 6, 2012

Team Fetz: An Update

It's been quite awhile since I shared this video about my sister-in-law Michele and her stem cell transplant. (You can also read more here, here, and here.)

But even before that, way back in May, I had changed my Facebook profile picture to support Team Fetz.

Here's the logo I first designed to support Michele:


And here's the very special logo I designed in honor of her husband, Tim, for his birthday:


Now, I'm excited to think that Michele may finally be going back home -- just in time for Christmas! So I've made a new logo which I'll use for my profile picture until Michele gets home. Ta-da!


I'm hoping and praying that this profile picture will only be in use for a few weeks at most. I know Michele and Tim are both thankful for the care they have received, yet beyond ready to be back at home. Join me in praying for them -- I know they would appreciate it!

(And if you'd like to show support by using this as your profile picture, too, feel free!)

December 3, 2012

This could only happen to me, right?

I stopped by Kohl's last Friday -- for the second day in a row -- did a little Christmas shopping, completed my purchase, and was headed to the door. I was approached by three smiling (almost giddy, really) employees who asked me if I was familiar with Kohl's Dream Receipt Giveaway, because I was a winner! My entire purchase, just completed, was on Kohl's!

My face falls as I leaned forward and quietly say, "Are you serious? I just spent $5. I've never spent just $5 at Kohl's in my life. Can you give it to someone else?"

Not a chance.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful. And they did even give me back the $10 Kohl's Cash card I had also applied to the purchase, as well as a $10 card to share with a friend.

They made a big announcement over the intercom, I acted very excited (I think I even let out a "woohoo!"), I thanked them and went on.

As I was driving off to run a dozen other errands, I thought, "Wow. I could've finished my Christmas shopping today. And found a new bedspread. And picked up that pretty KitchenAid mixer AnnaKate and I have been admiring."

Then I laughed. As Jeff and I have been praying for God's provision, especially this Christmas, here was just a small gift that the Lord had given me. One gift completely paid for. And a reminder of what we are really celebrating, after all.

And I thanked Him for his provision in things big and small as He meets our needs each day.

P.S. The next day, this came in the mail (just as viruszilla attacked):


I'd forgotten that I'd won it here. Another sweet gift.





 

November 25, 2012

A Giveaway...



Just a quick heads up that I'm smack-dab in the middle of a nice giveaway over at Welcome to Willow House. Please dash over and join the fun -- $130 in free Willow House products would make a great Christmas gift, no?


November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from Me & George Washington



While the pilgrims began our Thanksgiving tradition, our first president is responsible declaring it a national day of thanking God for His provision in the formation of our country.

Here is President George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation:


By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation. 
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. 
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us. 
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. 
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.         (Text and Manuscript Photo Source)

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends!


November 6, 2012

...as long as life endures


This morning, I was privileged to witness a remarkable testimony from a dying saint.

We had heard others tell of this man's faithfulness in serving God over the years. Church members told of his service as a deacon; his wife of fifty years shared how he had fed and clothed the needy. Doctors might say he suffered from MS for many years but, in reality, he thrived in spite of the disease.

Now, at 82 years of age, he is helplessly waiting to die.

Jeff and I first met Cash as he lay in the Veterans Hospital, already under hospice care. Days later, he was moved the a nursing home for the final days of his journey home. We'd stopped by to visit there several times, especially checking on his wife, Delores.

When we stopped by today, Delores was not yet there. Cash seemed restful, so we thought we'd just leave a note and go. But Cash began calling out in his weak voice, becoming a bit agitated. We didn't understand what he said, what he needed. So Jeff simply began reading Psalm 23 aloud. 

At this point, the years of faithfully feeding his soul produced the most lovely fruit in this man. For even as Jeff  read each verse, this dying saint would join him in finishing it, his voice faint, yet confident. This continued throughout the whole Psalm. Jeff gently held his hand to pray with him, but Cash removed his hand and placed it over the top of Jeff's, grasping it with what probably seemed a tight hold to him.

We sat with Cash a few more minutes, as he seemed to wish us to stay. When we sang Amazing Grace, he joined in as best he could, as well. When we finished, he began to say, or sing, something which sounded very much like "Alleluia". We sang that little chorus with him, as well, and he settled into peacefulness.

As this man faces his final hours of life his flesh seems reluctant, yet his soul is so ready to face his Creator and Redeemer. On this side of things, we don't understand why this inward struggle. But we know that our very days are numbered by the Lord. And we read, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." (Psalm 116:15 ESV).

On the way to visit Cash today, Jeff had me look up the lyrics to Amazing Grace on his phone (oh, the wonders of modern technology). The site listed a verse I had not seen before, yet it was so appropriate for our visit today. Here it is, paired with the more familiar verse which preceeds it:

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

Amen.


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October 30, 2012

Warm chili for a cold day...


Chili seems to be my go-to comfort food during cold weather. I love to make a big pot early in the week and then just enjoy it for days. I eat it by itself, over pasta or rice, over a baked potato with cheese, over tortilla chips with cheese and sour cream, even in an omelette! Here's my mom's recipe, tweaked just a bit:


Pecos Chili

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes)
2 15-ounce cans chili beans (I like Ranch Style when I can find them)
1 15-ounce can seasoned black beans
1 15.25-ounce can corn (I like Del Monte Summer Crisp)
1 tsp ground cumin
½  to 1 ½  tsp ground red pepper
½ tsp garlic salt

Brown ground beef and onion in a medium skillet, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper along the way. While meat mixture is browning, add all other ingredients to crockpot. Once meat is browned and cooked through, drain and add to crockpot. Stir to distribute ingredients evenly, then cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Serve over hot vermicelli or rice. 

*If you don’t have time for the crockpot, simply brown the meat mixture in a large nonstick skillet, drain, then add all other ingredients to skillet. Simmer for one hour or more (the longer, the yummier!).


What's your favorite cold weather food?


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October 19, 2012

Things I've learned since moving to Indiana...

This born-in-Texas-raised-in-Arizona girl never dreamed she'd be living in Kentuckiana (the local nickname for the greater Louisville area that extends across the Ohio River into Southern Indiana). But here I am, and I'm glad to be here. Here are just a few things I'm learning along the way.


This is a beautiful part of the country. And because we live on the outskirts of town, we enjoy a kitchen-window view of rolling hills covered with trees that are becoming more colorful every day. We're surrounded by farmland, and the wildlife love it as much as we do.


It's colder here. When fall comes to Southern Indiana, it comes in with a bang. As in dig out the sweaters and sock liners that I normally don't wear until December or January.


In fact, there's quite a variety in the weather here. Over the past few days, it's dropped ten degrees each day, but is expected to be back in the high seventies early next week. I'm not sure when we'll be packing up the summer clothes.


Because of the cold, fall comes earlier here. We were actually able to wear fall-appropriate attire when we made our annual October trek in search of pumpkins and apples. In Georgia, we tried to dress fall-like, but usually stripped off the outer layers by lunchtime.


I'll probably be chastised from both sides for this one, but White Castle really is almost exactly like Krystal. I could discern little difference between a Double Krystal and a Double Slider, and I may like White Castle's crinkly fries better. But I'll probably never try the Chicken Rings. And we are still without In-N-Out Burger.


On the whole, folks are friendly here. Neighbors spoke to us as we moved in, the grocery clerks are easy to chat with, even the fellow who loaded my garbage can into the car welcomed us to the area. It did take a few days to realize that it wasn't really my husband's name plastered all over, but the nickname for our town!


Homeschooling is awesome. Okay, I didn't just learn this since moving here, but I'm appreciating it anew. I love that we can load up our books and travel down to the seminary to work while Jeff is in meetings. And I love that we can take family outings during the week while everyone else is at work or school. And I love being involved in this part of my children's lives.


Moves are a bonding experience for our family. We've bonded in the car, over boxes, exploring our new community, and restarting our daily routine. Even as we seek to serve others outside our family, we find ourselves refocusing on strengthening our family. And we learning anew to depend on the Lord.



October 9, 2012

Surprising News from Willow House!


Note: I don't normally write about my Willow House business over here on my personal blog, but I feel compelled to make an exception today as I want to share some phenomenal news with as many folks as possible!


Well, I got quite a surprise last week when I learned that Willow House is phasing out the home decor division during the second half of 2013. But this is super good news for you, because...

Willow House isn't going away, we're growing strong!

Over the next 9 months we are putting nearly $30 million dollars of retail decor on sale at ridiculous prices. This means you can shop this fall for your home and for Christmas gifts through my Willow House store and get crazy good deals! I've already been amazed at the deals coming through. For instance, our current Fall Bazaar Sale offers 29 beautiful products for your home for up to 67% off! And these are not even our outlet items or weekly outlet deals!

Here's how the liquidation will work.  Through the end of this year, items are still available through parties or online orders. In fact, it's a great time to host a virtual party so that those hostess rewards can help you stretch your dollars even further! Once an item is sold out, it's gone. (And it's hard for me to say good-bye to some of my old favorites, let me tell you!) Items will be added to our Fall Bazaar Sale about every fifteen days, with the next update being Friday, October 12. Items are added to the e-outlet on a regular basis, and weekly outlet deals are updated each Monday. Beginning in January through summer 2013, decor will be available online only. I'll still be available to help you with your orders, though, and I'd love for you to continue to shop through my online store!

How can you keep up with these deals? The best way is to follow me on Facebook. You can also check in often at my Willow House website for the current sale flyer and customer specials (yes, the sale items can help you qualify for a customer special -- sweet!).

As you can imagine, products are flying off the shelves at these prices. So if you see something you want, go ahead and order! Free free to call me to place your order (keep in mind I'm in the Eastern Time zone) or place your order online through my website:http://suzannejackson.willowhouse.com. And if you don't have a host you are ordering through, I'd consider it a personal favor if you would choose me as your host as well as your consultant when you place your online order!

Some of you may wonder how I'm feeling about the change. I have to tell you that I'm sad to see home decor go -- I fell in love with it over ten years ago when it was first introduced as Southern Living at Home -- but I'm thrilled to be a part of a company whose leadership has the foresight to prepare for changes such as this. You see, over a year ago, Willow House introduced a second division, Willow House Jewelry by Sara Blaine. This division has blossomed and provided Willow House consultants with another avenue for developing relationships and income. And yet another division will be introduced in the future -- can't wait to see what that is! I truly believe there's not a better direct sales company out there.

Speaking of Willow House Jewelry by Sara Blaine, if you haven't check it out you are missing a treat! We introduced a new catalog this month -- I'm amazed at the variety, yet blendability, of the new collections, all with Sara's signature style! And, also new this month, some of our retired pieces are available at a discount. Check out the Last Chance! tab in my Sara Blaine store.

And if you'd been thinking about your own Willow House business, this is a great time to start! A multi-division kit is just $79 right now, and will allow you to take advantage of sales during the decor liquidation, as well as begin your jewelry business during the busiest selling season of the year! Or, if you prefer, a jewelry-only kit is just $99 and gives you an even great jewelry credit to build your sample kit! Remember, Willow House isn't going away, we're growing strong!

If I can help you with your purchase or with questions about your own Willow House business, please let me know! And thanks for your business!

September 16, 2012

Moves are bittersweet

Historic Louisville
Things are shaping up for a busy week. As we wrap up our time here in Georgia and prepare for the move to the Louisville area, our days are filled with bittersweet moments.
About a week ago, we enjoyed a family reunion of sorts as we all gathered together to celebrate my sweet pa-in-law's 70th birthday. Sweet.

This weekend, some special friends were passing through town, so we were able to meet up for dinner and say our goodbyes. Lunch with more special friends today, and a girls-only lunch rendezvous tomorrow. Sweet. Saying goodbye to these folks? Bitter... but I'm appreciating the sweet convenience of keeping in touch these days.

The kids were able to spend a bit of time with some cousins on Saturday. Sweet. And we got quite a bit of packing done. Not sure if that's bitter or sweet.

Today, we enjoyed meeting for worship with the unique body that is Faith Bible Church. Lots of good fellowship, too. Sweet. Only one more Sunday with them. Definitely bittersweet.

I have to add that watching the Braves swat the Nats again tonight for a three-game sweep is sweet. Very, very sweet.

The rest of this week?

A little minor surgery for my girly. Not exactly sweet, but we're so glad to get it done before the move.

Lots of details to take care of... lodging to secure, utilities to set up, schooling to continue. And more packing. Mostly sweet, because it's all part of making the transition happen and happen smoothly.

And of course, my hubby has plenty of sweet projects on his plate, too, both to help out his folks and to prepare to feed his new flock.

This week, we'll also be praying for our new little church family. Sweet, definitely.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11 ESV)



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August 31, 2012

God's Goodness... expressed in His provision

Back in June, I wrote about being challenged from scripture to not worry, but to trust God to provide my family's needs. This is a lesson God has continued to teach me all summer (and I'm betting it will continue the rest of my life).

I'm a bit thick sometimes, so I don't always recognize His provision. But this week, even I couldn't miss it.

My husband recently accepted a pastorate in Southern Indiana. However, the church is quite small, which means our housing budget is small. We visited the area a few weeks ago and did a bit of rental shopping while we were there. We shopped via Craigslist, which turned out to be a really bad idea. We checked online classifieds; this didn't take long, as they were non-existent. We drove around and looked for houses with "For Rent" signs. We drove and drove. We left messages; very few landlords returned our calls.

After we returned to Georgia, some folks in the church picked up the search. And, as it happens sometimes, some friends of an acquaintance of a friend had a house. An empty house. A job change prompted them to move out of state and buy a new home, but their old home continued to sit for sale with nary a nibble. They had not considered renting before, but would love to have someone in the home who could cover just their mortgage payment and utilities. Someone who would care for their home like it was their own. Someone like us.

* Their mortgage payment exactly matched our monthly budget goal.

* The home is more than large enough for our family, with plenty of storage space and a nice big kitchen. There's even a dining room (so we're glad our dining set never sold).

* The home will be wonderful for hospitality.

* The back yard is fenced and the owners are happy for us to bring our dog.

...because how could we leave this sweet girl behind?

* There's an amazing playground set in the backyard. (For those of you who wonder why a mom of teens would be excited about this: our new little church has a number of little families with lots of little children. Another plus for hospitality.)

My kids with new little friends.
* Location, location, location! This home is in a great neighborhood and is within 20 minutes of both our church and Southern Seminary, the two places we'll spend the most time when not at home.

God didn't have to provide for us in this way. We had prepared ourselves to live in a less comfortable home, or to find additional income to pay a higher rent (meaning my husband's second job, yet to be found, would require more hours).

But God, in His gracious wisdom and goodness, brought all the pieces together in His perfect timing. As He always does. And, thankfully, even thickheaded me could see His handiwork and marvel this time.

And I'm once again reminded of His truth at work in my life:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:25-30 ESV)

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August 30, 2012

Real or not real?


Thought it would be fun to see how well you know me. I've listed several things about me below... all are facts except one. Can you find it?


I enjoy a good piece of chocolate every now and then... or so.

I'm a Texan by birth, and it's not my fault that I wasn't raised there.

I'm an Atlanta Braves fan, even when it hurts.

I enjoy good Mexican food. As often as I can.

I am moving to Indiana or Kentucky.

I once held a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.

My first car was nicknamed "The Tank."

For a brief time, I was an army wife.

I take a twenty-minute power nap every day.

My superpower is making kidney stones.

I've attended a bass-fishing tournament and expo. Twice.

I have an In-N-Out Burger lovin' family.

I don't have a favorite color.

I get a little nuts about mice.

I'm a middle child.

I once dreamed of a corporate career in marketing.


Well, did you figure it out? Let me know in the comments below!

(Oh, by the way, there's an announcement of sorts tucked away in there as well. More on that later.)






August 25, 2012

Adorning God's truth as a wife


When I read 4 Responses to the Challenge of Same-Sex Unions (Al Mohler via Ligonier), it really got me thinking. Just last night, we'd had a little conversation in our home about society's attempts to normalize homosexuality and how the Bible provides the plumb-line for our normal: holiness.

Dr. Mohler sums up the conundrum so well:
We are facing a true moral inversion -- a system of moral understandings turned upside down. Where homosexuality was even recently condemned by the society, now it is considered a sin to believe that homosexuality is wrong in any way. A new sexual morality has replaced the old, and those who hold to the old morality are considered morally deficient. The new moral authorities have one central demand for the church: get with the program.
This puts the true church, committed to the authority of God's Word, in a very difficult cultural position. Put simply, we cannot join the larger culture in normalizing homosexuality and restructuring society to match this new morality. Recognizing same-sex unions and legalizing same-sex marriage is central to this project. 
 I thought back to a seemingly unconnected sermon preached by my husband last Sunday. The message dealt with the unbelief of Abram and Sarai as they became impatient with God's fulfillment of His revealed plan for them. Sarai came up with Plan B, drawn from the normal practices of society around them; Abram submitted to her plan, and the rest is history.

At the end of the message, Jeff provided some helpful acronyms including this one which helps us understand what it means to wait on the Lord.



See that A up there? It helps us remember to adorn God's truth -- to live in a way that makes the truth of God attractive to the unsaved. And that's what Dr. Mohler got me thinking about today.

You see, biblical marriage is such a beautiful picture of biblical truth.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24 ESV)
Wives, let's talk a minute. There's so much controversy about wives submitting to our husbands. Yet we are told in Ephesians that our wifely submission paints a picture of a greater submission: the church submitting to Christ.

If I am to adorn this truth -- that is, beautify it -- I must make it look attractive. I joyfully submit as a way of honoring not just my husband, but my Lord. I recognize Christ's authority and sovereignty over my life and that, in this authority and sovereignty, He has placed my husband as head over me. I also adorn the beauty of godly marriage, lifting it to the holy position for which it was intended. And, should I be married to an unbeliever, adorning this truth is a means of sharing the gospel of God's grace with my husband.

If I do not adorn this truth, I damage, mar, or deform this truth. I degrade Christ's authority and sovereignty. And that's what Dr. Mohler ultimately led me to think about. This truth didn't originate with Paul; it was God's original design for husband and wife:
Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper for him." ...So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord god had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:16, 21-22 ESV)
Of course, Satan couldn't leave well enough alone. As the serpent, he tempted Eve, she invited her husband to participate in sin, Adam relinquished his headship; Abram and Sarai repeated this, and we continue the cycle of sin today.

Elyse Fitzpatrick explains the bigger picture:
When Satan tempted Eve, he wasn't doing so because she was stupid, but rather because he wanted to attack God's designed order, something Satan hates. He enticed Eve to lead Adam, to become more important to him than she should have been; he wanted Adam to worship and obey her, rather than God. He duped her into subverting her role as helper. (Helper by Design, p73-74)
Divorce rates continue to be unacceptably high among professing Christians; churches deal with adultery among clergy and laity alike. These sinful acts have degraded God's truth and authority, especially in marriage, in the eyes of the watching world, for certain. Yet I'm wondering if a more subtle degradation has been even more damaging. Have we, as married Christian women, failed to adorn God's truth as it relates to marriage and womanhood?

Ladies, we didn't get here overnight. While my own mother adorned the truth of biblical submission before my eyes throughout the seasons of my life, the world has had its influence upon me, as well. In my young adult years, my thoughts were infiltrated by a worldview presented by my reading, watching, and by my college environment. In later years, I found my discernment tested even in Christian circles, as I continued to be faced with women disparaging their husbands, openly lusting after celebrities, and seeking their independence (and this was just in my homeschool group!). And, of course, my own fleshly bent toward rebellion continues to this day.

In all of this, what painting have we presented to the world? Have we reinforced an apathy or rebellion toward God and His truth through our own apathy and rebellion? Have we encouraged resentment toward God's authority in our less than joyful submission? In marring the beauty of godly marriage and  godly submission to our husbands, have we laid open the way for homosexual union to be more appealing?

Two people of one gender might level the playing field... is this the rationalization?

Ladies, let's adorn God's truth in our daily lives, hour by hour, minute by minute. Let's show our families first, and then the world, the beauty of marriage and all of God's plan for life. And let's discipline our lives to make this adornment an outpouring of the heart, not merely silverplate for the eyes of others.
...but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. (1 Peter3:4 ESV)
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, so leave me a comment below!

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August 13, 2012

Perspective on reading...

James T Boyce Centennial Library, The Southern Baptist Seminary
I've been an avid reader since I was about four years old (apparently, my mom homeschooled me a bit before I went to kindergarten). And I've been thankful that my kids enjoy reading, as well, especially since reading is so much a part of our homeschooling plan.

Earlier this summer, I came across an excellent article from John MacArthur about the value of a liberal arts education. He began the article with a summary of a University of Virginia survey on key skills to expect to gain from a college degree. The top three skills were communication skills, interpersonal skills, and critical thinking skills. Those surveyed also overwhelmingly recommended the pursuit of a liberal arts degree.

As I read through the rest of the article, I realized that our mostly classical approach to education has quite a liberal arts bent. And I wished I'd had this perspective when I was in college -- at that time, I thought the liberal arts program was for those who didn't know what they wanted to be when they grew up. Ironically, I ended up changing not only my major, but also changed schools, and ended up earning an associates degree in, of all things, general studies. It was basically a mini liberal arts degree.

As my daughter begins her junior year and my son approaches high school, I find myself further honing our approach to education. Because our education style is so literature heavy, I want all of us to learn to be better readers and discerners as we read. One tool that is helping me to do this is the book, Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke. I'm not through the book yet, but I wanted to share a couple of quotes that are already helping me think through reading.
"...it is impossible to be a discerning reader of books without first understanding the Christian worldview." (p52)
It's important to note that Reinke had previously described how the Bible provides the means to a Christian worldview.
"The gift of literacy is more profound than merely mastering literary techniques, improving comprehension, and learning to speed-read. Fundamentally, literacy is a spiritual discipline that must overcome the spiritual darkness that veils us. If we ever hope to spiritually benefit from our reading, the Holy Spirit must intrude upon our lives and remove our blindfolds so that we can behold the radiant glory of Jesus Christ (John 1:9)" (p33)
 I'm intrigued to read what Reinke will have to say about choosing what we read in light of this principle. I know some believe that fictional literature is a waste of time; I see incredible value in good fiction but believe we should balance our reading.
"In a world so easily satisfied with images, it's too easy to waste time away with entertainment. We have a higher calling. God has called us to live our lives by faith and not by sight -- and this can mean nothing less than committing our lives to the pursuit of language, revelation, and great books." (p50)
This is such a strong statement, yet I see the truth in it. How much more discerning would we be if this were our pursuit?

Lit! has been an enjoyable and challenging read thus far. My older son read through Adler's How to Read a Book, but I plan to have my daughter read Lit! instead as she begins her school year. I think it will provide a more contemporary approach, especially as it addresses the effects of the internet on reading habits. And I think I'd like to read this book after I finish Lit!.


What are you reading these days...and why?


August 4, 2012

I've gone to the dogs... well, one dog, anyway!


"Don't be mad," he said.

Not exactly the words I wanted to hear coming from my cell phone. On my son's birthday. Two days before Christmas. While family was in town.

I was even more surprised by what came next: "Do you have $15 cash?"

About thirty minutes earlier, my husband had gone on a Dunkin Donuts run for the family. He took a route we frequently used; I traveled it at least once a week.

And I'd seen the sign: FREE PUPPIES. The kids always made sure I saw the sign. Every couple of weeks, the breed (or mix of breeds would change), but the sign was perpetually there. I'd just chosen to ignore it. Especially since we'd decided this wouldn't be a good thing for our family with a possible move in our future.

And yet, here we were, at the crossroads. Would I bend or would I be the fun sucker?

Yeah. I bent.

My husband swung by the house, picked up the cash and our oldest son (Christopher was now his unknowing accomplice), and headed out to seal the deal. Before they left, I asked only that they make one additional stop on their way home that evening to get a crate, kibble, and whatever else this alien creature might need. The last thing I wanted to do on Christmas Eve was be anywhere near any shopping centers.

And that was that. For the first time in fifteen years we were dog owners again.


She wasn't my dog (I made that clear), but I boiled chicken and rice for her over the next several days until she got over her worminess.  My daughter would ask, "Do you love her? When will you love her?" I'd answer, "Maybe when she stops throwing up on my floor."

She wasn't my dog (I reminded the family), but I helped to clean up her occasional accidents (usually caused by the excitement of meeting a new friend).  "Do you love her yet?" AnnaKate continued to ask. "Not yet, maybe when she stops wetting on the carpet," I answered, "But I do sort of like her" (bending down and patting the puppy on the head as I walked by).

She wasn't my dog (I reiterated when they returned from the vet), but when her leg was splinted due to a pulled tendon, I wrapped it in plastic so she could potty in the rain without getting the bandage wet.

That's when she got me. I wrapped it the first time, then removed the plastic wrap when she came back inside. The next time she had to go out, she stood at the front door and held the paw up for me, just looking at me with big brown eyes.

I think AnnaKate must have seen me as I wrapped the paw again. "Mama, do you love her? You do love her now, don't you!"

Doggone it. I did. And somehow, a silly little puppy named Bella has captivated us all.



August 1, 2012

The Back to School Boost for Moms!


About this time of year, I'm feeling unorganized and a bit overwhelmed. As of today, I'm still dealing with loose ends from our last school year and still making plans for the coming school year. And I have the added challenge of not being sure exactly when we'll be starting school or eve which state we'll be schooling in!

In the midst of figuring out new schedules, I still need to keep everyone clothed and fed, as well as keep the house clean. At this point, I start feeling a little less than Proverbs 31-ish, if you know what I mean.

I have a feeling that whether you homeschool or not, if you have school-aged kids you may be feeling the same way. I have two things for you that I hope will help.

First, if the all the details are causing you to be anxious, read this. I probably need to re-read it once a week... or maybe once a day right now.

Second, if you'd like a few very practical resources to help you regain control, have I got a deal for you! How about five resources for just $10? Here's a special Back to School Boost for Moms eBook Bundle:

For one week only (Aug 1 - 8), you can get 5 e-books for one low price.
Just $10 for all 5 e-books.
  1. Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free
  2. Create Your Perfect Cleaning Schedule
  3. The No-Brainer Wardrobe
  4. Cupcakes! Twelve Months of Happiness
  5. Feast in 15: Speed Cooking for Weeknight Dinners
The cost to buy all five e-books separately is $28.95. 
For this week only, you can get them all for just $10! 

For more info on each e-book and to purchase the bundle, click here.

But hurry -- this deal won't be available after Wednesday, August 8!



Note: As an affiliate seller, I will receive a portion of the proceeds from each sale linked through my site. My family thanks you for your purchase!




July 25, 2012

Currently...


{This post idea was borrowed from Emily at Jones Design Company.
If you like lovely things, you'll like her blog.}



loving: Having my girl back home from her two-week-out-of-the-country mission trip.



reading: Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. Again. Because I forget to.

waiting for: God's provision of a church and home for our family.

excited about:  a potential opportunity before us even now.

missing: my already launched oldest child.

trying to: get a bunch of homeschool curriculum sold and trying to get my act together for the upcoming school year.



using: the few card-making supplies I have on hand to send out some encouraging notes

wearing: shorts and a tee -- what my daughter calls my "deceptively sporty outfit" with my faithful Okibashi flip-flops.

planning: our lives for the next few weeks, as best I can, keeping in mind that "the heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord established his steps."

singing: 10,000 Reasons... I really should learn more of the words so I'm not mumbling my way through. I'd never heard it until a sweet family sang it in church last month.

needing: to remember not to worry, and how to not worry.

learning: again, like a good little wilderness-wandering Israelite, that God is faithful.

listening: to father and son working as a team to save the universe from all sorts of evil. I'm so proud of my Xbox boys.

wishing:  for just a bit of dark chocolate... it doesn't take much to make me happy.

doing: lots of list-making, organizing, and research to make a potential transition easier.

praying for: God to give my husband strength, clarity of thought, discernment, and grace as he studies to preach this Sunday; for my children to seek after the Lord; for me to be more faithful, grateful and Christlike

dreaming: of nesting again, and maybe even using some of the gazillion ideas I've pinned on Pinterest.




I had fun thinking through these things. Won't you come play along, too?