February 27, 2013

True liberty... as a slave

I recently finished reading Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ by John MacArthur.

For me, this was a really unique book on the believer's identity in Christ. Other writers have stated that we move from sinner to saint at salvation; Dr. MacArthur lays out a biblical case for our being slaves -- first slaves to sin, then slaves of Christ.

While he shares the biblical, historical, and cultural basis for this case, don't think this book is dry or academic. It's also quite challenging and devotional. Dr. MacArthur intersperses personal anecdotes and illustrations from many who have dealt with this very issue. In fact, the book includes an appendix, Voices from History, that made for interesting reading, as well.

I found many noteworthy quotes throughout the book -- both from Dr. MacArthur and others he cited -- but I think this is my favorite.

It harkens me back to Psalm 37:4...
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (ESV)
Remarkably, it was under Dr. MacArthur's ministry that I began to understand the true meaning of this verse. Somehow, I had a vague understanding that if I was happy in the Lord, He would give me what I wanted -- yet I knew that didn't sound right. It wasn't until about 15 years ago, while sitting under the teaching of Grace Community Church, that I learned that when I delight myself in the Lord -- find my every source of joy in Him and through Him -- that my desires will change to be in alignment with His will. So elementary, yet so revolutionary for me.

This book is just that revolutionary. It makes clear that when Jesus is truly our Savior, He is also our Lord and our Master; we are His slaves, bought with a price.

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February 19, 2013

While BOTH cats are away...

So I'm out on a date with my husband this afternoon and evening, which consists of hanging out at the seminary bookstore (I'm doing homework, he's studying) and then grabbing a bite to eat. And I get this text message and picture from my children...

"What some teenagers do when their parents leave the house..."

Followed by this message and picture...

"What we do."


Yes, we're homeschoolers.

February 13, 2013

Happy birthday to me! {and a giveaway} - winner announced!

{Giveaway closed -- winner announced at end of post!}

My birthday is really not a big deal to me. I'm perfectly happy with a quiet little celebration with my family, and I'm happy that my girly is becoming quite the baker, as that will probably work to my advantage on my birthday.

So this year, new location, new friends, new season... and a birthday of epic proportions!

I'm happy to be celebrating my 27th birthday... yet again. So, in celebration, here are 27+ things I'm thankful for:

1. Jesus Christ, for saving me at a young age and preserving me even now. The gift of salvation is the most gracious gift ever given.

2. My parents, Jim and Anna, for raising me in the Lord but not being afraid to have some fun along the way.

3. My husband, Jeff, for always loving me, always encouraging me, and always making me laugh.

4. My siblings -- Brenda, Keith, and Carol -- who always kept things interesting. We can still have a pretty good time when we get together (along with their terrific spouses).

5. My wonderful parents-in-law, Steve and Pat, who treat me just like one of their own.

6. My children, Christopher, AnnaKate, and Jared, each with his or her own unique personality, gifts, and quirks, who have enriched my life far beyond what I imagined.

7. My sweet friend, Linda, who married my father and added so much joy to his last years. (I have a hard time calling her my stepmother... it reminds me of Cinderella's and she's far too kind for that!)

8. Jeff's siblings and their spouses, who have always made me feel part of the family (including taking and giving my share of ribbing).

9. The freedom to homeschool my children for the past 15 years. What a gift.

10. The hairiest member of our family, Bella.

11. Faithful friends, both old and new. The Lord has always been so good to encourage me through friends, wherever I am.

12.  The lovely home that God has provided for us at this time.

13.  The ministry opportunity that lies before us right now. It's huge, it's daunting, and it's wonderful. More on this soon! 

14.  Coffee. (And my personal barista.)

15.  Springtime. I'm especially looking forward to that this year.

16.  The creativity that God has given to me, and the fun of watching my kids be creative, too.

17.  Birds. They just make me happy, and the remind me of God's provision.

18.  The power of God's Word proclaimed as truth; it's both life-giving and life-changing.

19.  The hope of heaven. I can't wait.

20.  The amazing, incredible, gift of human life.

21.  Chocolate and other comfort foods.

22. Books. What worlds have been opened to me through books!

23. A sense of humor, especially at the most unexpected (and needed) times

24. Being a woman (and learning to be content in the role that God has given me)

25.  The local church. We're looking forward to plugging in.

26.  Technology. Not only does it enable me share this blog, and to talk with my husband on a recent overseas trip (he went; I stayed home), but it also saved a life.

27. You, for reading my blog (or at least this post!)

Because I'm thankful for those who drop by my little blog, I'm having a giveaway for my birthday! I'd love to send one of you the book, What is the Gospel by Greg Gilbert (also available for Kindle).

Entering is easy -- just leave me a comment below telling me something you are thankful for. And be sure I have your email address to let you know if you're the winner!

After that, you can earn extra entries for sharing this post on Facebook, Pinterest, or your own blog. Just leave me a comment telling me where you shared.

I'll choose a winner on February 18 once I'm recovered from celebrating!
And finally -- we have a winner! Congratulations, Mary, our highly technical randomizer picked you to win the book. I'll get that sent off to you this week!

February 8, 2013

January Reading Report

Back in January, I mentioned that I was working on a reading challenge this year. I'm becoming reacquainted with many of our family's long-packed-up books, and the challenge specified reading books I already owned and reading only real books for the challenge, not e-books.

No problem, I thought.

Just after that, it seems that new books started find their way into our home. In fact, just this past Sunday, the church we visited gave me a new book, and it's one I'd wanted to read.

And my husband was given a Kindle. And my daughter is discovering new books at the library and telling me I must read them.

Everyone is against me. Nonetheless, I shall persevere.

In January, I did manage to finish a few books, though.

Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books (Tony Reinke) is a book I'd actually been working on in 2012, but I was moving very slowly through it, making notes along the way. Whether you read a lot or not, this is a very valuable book that can shape your thoughts on both how and why to read. My teens will be reading this book, for sure.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn  (Betty Smith) -- somehow, I'd missed reading this book until now. My daughter enjoyed it and insisted that I try it. I'm glad I did. (fyi -- some profanity throughout)

From One Ministry Wife to Another: Honest Conversations About Ministry Connections (Susie Hawkins) was assigned reading for a seminary wives course I was taking. Hawkins approaches the role of a ministry wife as a series of connections and disconnections. While much of the material was helpful, I found One with a Shepherd: The Tears and Triumphs of a Ministry Marriage   (Mary Somerville) to be more valuable to me.

Currently reading:

Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ (John MacArthur) is a book I'd been wanting to read since it was released in early 2011. I'd heard Dr. MacArthur discuss the premise in a sermon and I'd seen the trailer for the book, and I was intrigued.

How about you... Are you part of a reading challenge this year? What are you reading? Let me know in the comments

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February 4, 2013

While the cat's away...

 ...the mice will play!

A friend asked me before Christmas to host a craft night, but we couldn't seem to get a date pinned down because of holiday stuff, sickness, and life. So when I found out my man had to do a bit of traveling, it seemed the perfect time to have a girls night.

I must say that it is incredibly handy to have minions kids around to not only help clean the house, but decorate, too! As long as I have a list in my head, I can bark out orders ask my son to vacuum, clean bathrooms, and empty trash all day long and he does it willingly (especially when he knows he can ultimately retire to the man cave once the girls appear). And my daughter somehow convinced me that decorating for the evening qualified as school because it is teaching her hospitality. All I really had to do was prepare our craft supplies (which mainly involved cutting many strips of burlap and rolling them up). Remember this on the days your preschoolers are driving you mad: one day, they will be useful individuals {smile}.

We tried to think of a craft that would be simple to make, would appeal to most anyone, wouldn't require hot glue or drying time, and was inexpensive. We chose a burlap-wrapped wreath with felt flowers, which my daughter had learned to make at an SBTS Koinonia Pinterest night last fall.

And, of course, there was food. A couple of ladies brought some amazing desserts, and I spent hours on an elaborate hors d'oeuvre called Cowboy Candy. (Actually, I quickly spread some cream cheese on crackers, then topped each with a jarred jalapeno slice. But it really is called Cowboy Candy. Learned that from Jules, who is a total foodie and knows these things.)

As we worked, we laughed, chatted, helped, shared, snacked, and generally had a good time. I use the phrase we worked rather loosely, as I turned my wreath over to my daughter as soon as I finished wrapping my wreath (which I finally did correctly about the fifth time).

Through it all, there was plenty of laughing, talking, helping, and eating. At the end of the night, we all had lovely wreaths and were refreshed by the fellowship. And we were already planning our next girls night, which may be less crafty and more laser tag-ish. We are multifaceted women, you know.

Eclectically Vintage