Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Piano

Here is our newly acquired used piano.
1973 Kimball

This is another gracious answer to prayer. I have been without a piano since we moved in August of 2008. It has been hard! We look forward to an evening of praise and worship accompanied by my rusty playing!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Censorship and the Christian Parent

(Reposted 11-12-2011 - edited only for spelling and grammar)

When I was in high school (I went to public school), we had an annual Censorship Week/Banned Books Week, in which the librarians told us how we should despise the censorship that some conscientious folks would like to force upon us. At the time, I was very grateful... I mean, afterall, one of the censored books was the Bible! But, as a Christian parent, I am seeing things differently.

I don't usually think about the debate of censurship anymore... I just DO it! But, recently a new topic came to my attention. My dad, who is always getting the kids used books to further their education, gave us a book of one hundred of the masterpieces contained within the Chicago Institute of Art. I was delighted with the book! I love teaching "art appreciation." I love to expose my kids to lovely things. I did not even think to preview this book before handing it over to Rebecca.
Rebecca, who will be 8 years old in a few weeks, is VERY modest. She is easily heartbroken over the dress of women that she sees in public. (Note: She is NOT judgemental! She is hurt for the ladies she sees... I think she is a lot like me in this. I will/do shed tears for women who parade themselves before men. It causes a deep ache within me.)
Anyway, my modest daughter threw the book down in front of me and ran from the room! I said, "Rebecca, what is the matter with you? We don't throw books on the floor!"
And, poor, flushed Rebecca replies, "But, Mommy! There are NAKED people in those pictures!" My daughter was nearly in tears, because she saw these portraits of nude subjects.
I thought I was being wise when I said, "OK, we can cover up those pictures until we can learn to appreciate the work of the artist." (Honestly, I was not thinking! I was just reciting something from some art appreciation class I had in my Bible college!)
My very mature Rebecca replies, "But, Mommy, I don't want to look at those pictures! Why should I appreciate pictures of naked people?"
Let me tell you, that was one of those "Wow!" moments for me! Rebecca really opened up my eyes! Why should we teach "art" when it is a bunch of ladies bathing naked by a stream? Why should we subject our children to portraits of nudity, just because they are "masterpieces"? Why, when we strive so hard to teach modesty, would we push pictures of naked women in front of the eyes of our children and call it education?!

I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? Job 31:1 (KJV)
I make no apologies for the fervor with which I write this post. I do not mind that it is controversial. I really think that some Christian parents (like myself!) sometimes function in autopilot! We just do what we ourselves did as children. Or, we (all too often) teach things without really trying to see it through God's eyes.

In conclusion: I love our new-to-us art book. And, I am very fond of some of the paintings within it. What Paul and I have decided to do is cut out all of the pictures that expose body parts. True, none of the images are pornographic in nature... but that does not mean they will not stir up unhealthy desires within us! And, if we show them pictures of nudes at a young age and call it art, what would that potentially lead to as they age? Would they someday see a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition as art? The Victoria's Secret catalog? I mean, aren't those photographers artists in their own way? I am being completely serious. You might laugh at my train of thought that "fine art" could lead to adult pornography... but I do not think it is so far-fetched.

I am open to disagreement here. I just ask that you speak with charity.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Matt 5:27-30 (KJV - emphasis mine)
What do you think that our Lord would have your family to do?

Christian Entertainment

Is there such a thing as Christian entertainment? You bet! And, I want to mention one such film to you now.

The Widow's Might is a great, full-length film made by homeschoolers for the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. Paul and I just found it by "accident" on Netflix a few weeks ago.

What I liked about the movie (in no particular order):
- seeks to honor God
- By watching it I feel like I am supporting entrepreneurial homeschoolers
- Very modest... the ladies only wore skirts (but there was NO mention of this in the film, I am just making an observation)
- *tongue in cheek* The boys all had the classic Vision Forum haircut. Seriously, I thought they all looked really nice. I wish someone could make Nelson's hair look like that! (If you are scratching your head, wandering what I am talking about, just look at a Vision Forum catalog, or visit one of their churches. All the boys have the same haircut, which looks like one of the fine boys in a Normal Rockwell calendar.)
- Clean speech: no bad language
- It was very funny. The kids burst out into peals of laughter every few minutes. Paul and I also laughed out loud a few times.
- The music was very good... I will be hearing it in my head for months
- The youngest boy wears an eye patch, and Nelson is now very eager to wear his ; )

The only thing that might be questionable to some viewers is one song that has a line, "what were they drinking?" The song is meant to be cute and silly. And, I liked it. But, somewhere in my mother heart, I do not like the idea of making drinking alcohol a silly thing. We in this family are teetotalers, but we do believe in Christian liberty... however, we want alcohol to be consumed in moderation, not to lead to drunkenness. This is my only critique of the movie, and it is not a strong one... just another observation, and warning, should my readers be more conscientious than myself.

Overall, we loved the movie. And, we would consider buying it to add to our small collection of clean films (that is, if we had allowances for entertainment expenses in the budget beyond our monthly Netflix fee).

I hope you all go out and get a copy of this movie. I do not think you will be disappointed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

God's Glory in His Creation

Today we saw an enormous group of Snow Geese. I wish I had gad my camera/recorder! (Click the link and you can see some pics and a video.) The geese covered at least 40 acres of farm land (as judged by my farmer husband). One of the neat things about snow geese is that when they are flocking together on the ground they look like snow! And, when we drove the van right into the midst of them they flew into a tornado pattern! We sat in the van beneath thousands of these gorgeous birds! We enjoyed seeing their formations. Up close it just looks like the center of a tornado. But, from a distance Nelson thinks they look like ocean waves. Rebecca thought it looked like a swarm of bees or butterflies. I sat and wept for the sheer joy of it all. Paul (our family theologian) calmly said that it was the "glory of God."
The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples have seen His glory. Psalms 97:6 (NASB)
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20 (NASB)
We all agreed that the show of birds was "better than TV!" In fact, I would say there cannot even be any comparison! How can you set TV beside the glorious works of the Lord? And, those were just birds! If only I could fathom how much more The Father thinks of us. How much more He has done for us than creating these birds. How much greater is His Glory in the death of His only begotten Son?
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:16-17 (NASB)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. Romans 5:8-9 (NASB)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Great Grandma Meets Josiah

Weekend Pictures:
My Grandma (she now goes by "G.G" for Great Grandma) meets Josiah
My Aunt Shirley meets Josiah. She got a lot of smiles and coos from him!
Above: Josiah smiles at Aunt Shirley.
Below: My handsome husband
My mother with Joshua.
Me and Josiah

Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

We had a good visit this past weekend.

Friday - Drove to my parents' house in central Illinois. Went to eat out at Perkins. Yummy! Had a very rough night's sleep. I slept on an air mattress with Lydia and Joshua.

Saturday - Drove to Northern Illinois to see my Grandma, Uncle, and Aunt. We ate lunch at Perkins, again - Yummy! We were able to see my Uncle in the hospital, where he has been sick/in recovery for two months now. It was a short visit, but a good visit. We spent a little more time with my Aunt and Grandma, then we drove home to my parents... after stopping off at Steak 'N Shake. (Do you get the idea that my family eats out a lot?) We slept much better Saturday night, as we were all exhausted.

Sunday - We went to church at the small, country church where Paul was formerly the pastor. I went into it with a lot of fear and trepidation, but came out with great joy! We were SO glad to see our old church family. Such precious friends we have there! These kind folks are not our peers, more like our parents/grandparents. They treat us like their own families! Joshua, who is now only 2 years old - and only one when we moved, remembered the woman who always held him during the service. She held him during church since he was newborn. Often the older children would sit with her as well. Yesterday, they ALL sat with Miss Velma, and had a great time exploring the recesses of her purse... and perhaps found some treats there as well.
We also got to eat lunch out with a couple that has never lost touch with us since we moved. They have always treated us as though we are there own children... even when we made some silly choices (like moving to Florida or Missouri, or joining up with a questionable faith group, going on crazy diets, etc). They know it all, they read our blog(s), and they still love us!

Every time we think about the church we left behind in IL we are struck with one pervading thought:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. " By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35 (NASB - emphasis mine)
These folks are real! They are real believers! How do I know it? Because they love with as few "conditions" as we humans are capable of having. Paul and I have been in groups where knowledge was the be all and end all of a person's faith. We have seen people who esteem doctrine over love. (We have been that type of people ourselves!) But, looking back over all we have been through, I pose this question...
What is doctrine if it does not end in love? Is it real doctrine at all, or just dogma?
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Heb 10:23-25 (KJV - emphasis added)
We are not told to encourage one another towards doctrinal perfection... but to love and good works.

Paul and I have been through SO much in the past 18 months since we moved from IL. There is a lot of "water under the bridge", and a lot of lessons learned. (At least, we hope we have learned them!) We would not have asked for the trials that we have been through, but we are thankful for them. I wrote a post last fall about how "broken" I was. I lamented moving away from that church. I later erased the post because the emotions I expressed were too raw. But, as I write today, I am no longer broken. I see why God had to take us through all that we have been through. I am grateful for the pain. And, I look forward to the future... hopefully with those same mistakes not repeated.
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits , and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Heb 12:7-11 (NASB - emphasis mine)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Emperor's New Clothes

Perhaps I am not as ridiculous silly pompous vain as the Emperor from the story book The Emperor's New Clothes, but God did show me this week that I put too much stock in my physical appearance... especially my hair. Even now, I refuse to put a picture up of the bad haircut... because I want to pretend it never happened. I actually walked through Wal-Mart that way - looking like someone slathered my head with product then I jumped on a Harley and road into town! I am still deeply embarrassed, because I try to keep a low profile in public.

Anyway, without further ado... here is my new haircut (after being fixed), and some other recent pics.
I will have to wear barrettes for a while to pull some hair away from my face. The original "stylist" cut my bangs VERY thick (and crooked!). My friend from the homeschool group, the one who fixed my hair, thought that this cut would grow back well. I agree. I am happy with it. (I have not worn bangs since 1999)
The back...

Josiah, about 7 weeks old

Paul and myself a few weeks ago, before my haircut.

Black and White Photos

I love these pictures so much that I want to share them
with my family and friends. 

This first one is my Daddy as a little guy!

This is my grandmother with my Daddy and my Uncle (my Dad is the older boy). Isn't Grandma darling?! In looking at these pictures again (and some that I didn't post), I see that I get my face shape/body shape from my Dad's family.
This is my Granfather, my Dad's father. He fought in WWII.
So handsome!

This is my parents while they were dating.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Story that Really Slithers

Warning: If you have an aversion to slithering things skip this post!

If you followed my old blog, Grace in Bloom, then you know that this house has given rise to many varmint stories! We have had 'possums, snakes, poisonous spiders, and more! (I started a label called "critters") But, this story is not about this house...

We lived in South Florida for a short time in the year 2006. We saw a lot of neat reptiles while we were there... I think I saw a baby shark in the ocean... I even had a slight run-in with sea lice (after the season was supposed to be over). But, one thing I never saw in Florida was a snake.

BUT, Nelson had quite the opposite experience. He had his own little bedroom and his own big closet. We could not afford beds, so he slept on an air mattress. And, when it popped, he slept on the floor. He would come into out bedroom every night crying and screaming... every night! We thought he was scared of the new environment... scared of the storms (every night)... scared of his own shadow. Then, he started screaming and crying about the hissing sound he heard in his room. I went to his room (every night) and looked for the proverbial monster in the closet... never, never saw a thing! Then, he began to say he actually SAW a snake. I went to the room, I saw nothing. All this time, Paul was very weary with a job he hated, so I tried anything to get Nelson to be quiet. I let him bring his air mattress to our room. A few times I slept in his room on the floor. But, we never saw anything in his room other than the enormous cockroaches that anyone who has lived in Florida will understand! Paul and I were very unsympathetic, because we thought he was lying. We thought he was just having a hard time adjusting. Sure, we prayed for Nelson to sleep at night, but I never believed there was a snake in his room.

Fast forward a few years...
I bought a book for the kids (which I highly recommend) called The Encyclopedia of North American Animals, by Bryan Richard. I often read it out loud to the kids, and they also love to look at it in their spare time. Well, one afternoon Nelson cries out, "MOM! It's the snake that was in my room in Florida!" I went to look at the book, and I see the Eastern Coral Snake on the page... it makes its home in Florida! What's more - it is venomous and fatal to humans! Nelson told us there was a snake in his room, and we accused him if lying. He told me there was a snake IN HIS BED, and I accused him of lying. I was wrong... I could have been dead wrong!

The moral of this story is: If your child tells you there is a snake in his room.... coiled up on his floor... sleeping next to him in his bed... you might want to pray for his safety... and seal off any holes in the walls/ceiling/closet!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New Family PIcture

We set up the tripod for some more pictures.
We got the Joshua's first ever hair cut on Saturday.
What do you think?
I miss his precious curls... but maybe they will grow back.

Poor Josiah decided to be hungry... so we cut this picture session very short!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Full Day

Today was our first FULL day of school since the baby was born. I am very pleased that we were able to complete everything on the schedule and more!