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Showing posts from 2014

Until 2015...

I'm taking a social media break this month, to focus my heart on the Incarnation. I don't want to miss the wonder of God become man.

I'll be back in 2015. In the meantime, I'm at Out of the Ordinary today.

Merry Christmas, friends!

Thankful Thursday

I had no idea it has been so long since I've written a Thankful Thursday post. I could say I don't know why I haven't, but I've realized my heart isn't filled with gratitude proportionate to the blessings I've been given. Taking this time to be intentional reminds me of the Lord's kindnesses, both great and small.  Such as:

~friends who readily open their home to us

~a special roadtrip with my girl

~conversations full of the Lord's grace

~lunch at a favorite spot

~a walk on a path strewn with fallen leaves and memories

~an opportunity to help my girl work to realize her dream

~laughter

~having my dad over for a simple dinner

~a husband who loves me lavishly

~health

~the Lord's amazing provision

~the pleasure of curling up with a good book

~a warm home

~much needed rest

~another year of life with a dear friend


Blessings all mine, with 10,000 beside!

Connecting the Dots

I've been reading Housewife Theologian all year, carefully pondering each chapter and how it applies to life. Despite the amount of time I've given to this project, I never saw the overarching theme and importance of the book until last week when I read a devotion based on 1 Timothy 4.

This short chapter of Scripture packs a powerful punch. Paul's words give me much to mull over. He is exhorting Timothy to godliness, to live as he has been "trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed" (v. 6). He encourages the young pastor to "set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity" (v. 12), to "[p]ractice these things, immerse yourself in them" (v. 15).

These words have become especially clear to me as I've been reading The Hiding Place while studying the Housewife Theologian chapter on hospitality. Corrie ten Boom's family opened their homes and lives to the very least o…

Being Thankful Isn't Always Easy

Today I'm kicking off our month of thankfulness at Out of the Ordinary. While it may not be the most upbeat way to begin the month, I think it's important for us to understand that thankfulness doesn't always come easy, especially when we're hurting.

You can read the post here.

To Blog or Not to Blog...

...that is the question. And, silly as it may sound, it's one that has occupied much of my recent thoughts. Truth be told, I can think of many reasons I shouldn't blog - or at least what I shouldn't blog about:

Homemaking. My house is usually clean, but not immaculate. None of my rooms are magazine or Pinterest worthy. I enjoy making our home a sanctuary, but I don't have any original tips or tricks to offer.

Cooking. I like to cook, but most of our weeknight meals are a joint effort so we can put the food on the table faster. We don't follow any special sort of diet, and I'm not creative enough to make up my own recipies.

Organization. I'm a firm believer that everyone has to find their own system. Honestly, some areas of my home have no system at all - and it shows!

Family Events/Accomplishments.My own personal convictions prevent me from sharing much about my husband and our daughter. I respect their privacy.

My "Wonderful" Life. There's nothing…

Still Fighting for My Girls Dreams

16 candles will be pulled out of the box tomorrow. I consider how quickly time has passed since we pulled out a single candle. Back then she was too young to wish, so I made them for her. Even now as she wishes, I silently lift my prayers to the Lord. I listen to her dreams and I think, Go for it!

Although her plans have changed somewhat since I wrote this post in May 2013, these words still rings true...

Click here to read the rest.

Around the House: October

The morning fog testifies to the cool night that has passed. Peanuts, at long last unearthed, lie on the ground in wait. Pumpkin spices fill the air. Autumn is slowly creeping in.

As the days grow shorter, I am:

~Preparing to celebrate my daughter's 16th birthday and wondering how we got here this quickly.

~Enjoying the final weeks of field hockey season.

~Purging closets and drawers.

~Relishing the feeling of accomplishment an orderly and simple home gives me.

~Hoping for energy to tackle the attic.

~Delighting in my nightly visit to Mitford. I'm reading the first book, At Home in Mitford. Yes, I know I'm woefully behind the times! I've decided to crawl out from under my rock.

~StudyingThe Word of the Lord: Seeing Jesus in the Prophets by Nancy Guthrie.

~Having a blast teaching children's Sunday School with my husband.

~Whittling my blog reading list. The taunts of the unread posts in my reader were entirely too much to handle.

~Still pondering limitations in my …

Exchanging Pixels for Paper

[The] avid interest of the countryman in his neighbours is a most vital part of country living, and is the cause of both pleasure and annoyance. I suppose it springs from the common and pressing need for a story. Books supply the panacea to this fever for those who read; but for the people who find reading distasteful, or are too sleepy after a day's work in the open air to bother with books, then this living drama which unfolds, day by day, constitutes one long enthralling serial, with sub-plots, digressions, flash-backs and many delicious aspects of the same incident as seen through various watchers' eyes.
~Miss Read, Village Diary
I find great truth in this excerpt. I am easily held captive by the living drama that plays out before me on social media. The cure is simple: when I spend more time reading, I spend less time staring at a screen.

It's time to lay in a supply of good books and teas for the Autumn and Winter...

A Primer on God's Design for Women

The Christian cyberworld is inundated with articles on femininity and women's roles. At times I feel we've been reduced to the debate of complementarian versus egalitarian. Not that these aren't important issues to discuss, but sometimes I wonder if we get so caught up in rhetoric that we lose sight of Scripture. Lord, save us from that trap!

Join me today at Out of the Ordinary to continue reading.

The Limitations of Reality & the Reality of Limitations

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I'm continuing to read Jean Fleming's Pursue the Intentional Life, taking it slowing and letting the
thoughts and challenges of the book sink into my soul. I've underlined and marked many passages, praying that they will stay with me. I'm learning a great deal that's particularly meaningful to me at this point in my life.

As I've said repeatedly, I continue to ponder the intentional life and what it means. Not just what it means in general, but what it means for me. I'm continually challenging myself to implement what I'm learning, through Scripture and Fleming's book.  I'm sure it will be something I do for the rest of my life. At least I hope so.

I've set goals, to narrow my focus to the areas that are most important to my life and my family now. I imagine they always will be. The reality of how short I fall in each of these areas is startling and humbling; the progress to be made, overwhelming. My natural - and sinful - inclination is …

More Thoughts on the Ordinary Life

During the time between my grandmother's passing and her funeral, the four granddaughters sifted through photos to put together a memorial collage. Looking at those pictures, many of which I'd never seen, was like walking through my grandparents' life together. As we narrowed them down to create a collage that adequately captured my grandmother's spirit, one in particular jumped out at me.  I couldn't stop staring at it.

To see the photograph and read more, join me at Out of the Ordinary.

Finishing Well - Letters on Pursuing the Intentional Life

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A while ago my friend Trisha reviewed Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming. I already had the book on my wishlist. Trisha's review sparked me to move it off the wishlist and into my shopping cart. Sometime after that, Becky told me she was reading as well and suggested the three of us write a series of blog posts about the impact the book has made on our lives.

Join me over at Trisha's lovely blog today as we continue discussing how to finish well and pursue an intentional life.

Intentional and Ordinary Living

After a summer sabbatical from Out of the Ordinary, I'm back to pay tribute to my grandparents. They lived their lives in accordance to Psalm 16:5-6

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
You can read the post here.  Meanwhile, I'm continuing to ponder long and hard the intentional and ordinary life.

Meditations on Mid-Life

Two women stand behind us in line. I judge they are perhaps 10 years my senior, but it's hard to tell. I inwardly cringe as one bursts into a litany of complaints and coarse language. The other can hardly stop talking about who she's tweeting and snap chatting while we wait. One as salty as a sailor, the other as giddy as a schoolgirl.

I see myself in these women.

A complainer who makes those around her miserable.

A foolish woman too mesmerized by social media to be a friend to someone standing right beside her.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Lisa's friend passes away. A woman I've never met, but will one day. Her example to Lisa became an example to me. While she is just beginning to understand what it means to worship God fully, her family and friends mourn a life ended too soon.

I consider the woman I long to be.

A woman who, in Lisa's words, "...believes the good news of the gospel to be true; she believes it, she needs it, she banks her life on it."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ The words le…

Gone Quiet

This space has been dormant for a month. I never intended to take an extended break. Time has passed in slow rhythm frequently broken by the frenetic pace of a girl growing up too fast. These are days I want to remember, to savor and cherish. They are my treasures, not for public consumption

and so the blog has remained quiet.

And, truth be told, I've been too busy watching Masterpiece Theater and reading excellent books to think about writing

and so the blog has remained quiet.

Although I haven't written any blog posts, I've read plenty. Sometimes with a resounding "Amen!"; sometimes shaking my head in disbelief. More often than not, realizing much of what happens in Fantasy Land (as my beloved has dubbed social media) should have little impact on - or value in -  my life

and so the blog has remained quiet.

Although I haven't made my presence known here, I've been present with family and friends. Long and thoughtful conversations around a table, in a kitc…

Thankful Thursday: Anniversary Edition

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh?" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”

~A.A. Milne

I've known him exactly half of my life. Soon, life with him will overtake life without him. Truth be told, it's hard to remember when he wasn't here. Those years are dim images dusty with cobwebs and time. The older I become, the further they fade away.

Today marks 21 years of cleaving to each other, of adhering firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly (source).  Our marriage is marked by God's indelible grace and His unending goodness. As I contemplate these decades together, I'm thankful for:

~laughing together
~crying together
~worshipping together
~loving together
~grieving together
~working together
~traveling together
~cooking together
~eating together
~walking together
~parenting together
~growing older together
~praying together
~praying for each othe…

Thankful Thursday

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It's been a long while since I've written a Thankful Thursday post. I'm hoping this will spark my blogging creativity and that I'll start posting with some sort of regularity again.



This month, I've been especially thankful for:

~fresh strawberries, picked from a local patch

~celebrating my dad's birthday

~Mother's Day with some of my favorite people, on a baseball diamond in one of my favorite places

~some particularly good books, among them Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God's Image and True Beauty. More to come on both.

~my pastor and his wife

~days of sunshine after what seemed like a constant deluge of rain

~the unconditional love of my husband and my daughter

~the gospel

Blessings all mine, with 10,000 beside!

People Before Pixels

I strive to lead a quiet life. I've set a few more guidelines that I don't always follow. I continually struggle with spending too much time looking at a screen - be it computer or phone. When I have a few minutes on my hands, I instinctively reach out to the social media world. Sometimes I fear I have as little control over my impulses as Pavlov's dog.  All my best intentions are no match for the lure of tweets and status updates. The more I wrestle, the harder it becomes to turn away. This knowledge of my sin - this coming face to face with its ugliness - is making the idea of living my life as a public display less appealing.

Even the wrestling is part of my sanctification.

I'm seeing that the time I've devoted to social media has impacted my life in ways I hadn't recognized before. I've been nicked by this double-edged sword.

My online friendships have been a source of exhortation and blessing, yet my attention to them has contributed to my aloofness wit…

Theology Reading Group

When our Women's Ministry Team began talking about having a monthly discussion of Housewife Theologian: How the Gospel Interrupts the Ordinary, we were unsure of what to call it.

Bible study was obviously out, even though we use the book as a guide for a systematic study on the issues confronting women today; Bible study is just that, studying the Bible. (Jen Wilkin recently wrote a fantastic post about Bible study and Bible literacy).

Book club was also a misnomer. We wanted our time together, and the time spent reading between meetings, to be so much more than that.

I think we landed on book study because it was somewhere in the middle. (And it was late and we were tired.)

Then I read Eric Bancroft's post entitled "The Joy of Theology Reading Groups". Bancroft's words struck a chord in my heart, perfectly outlined my hopes for our group.

I wanted to see the people entrusted to my care know their God better and live lives reflecting joyful devotion to him. I wante…

Thoughts on This, Good Friday

Under the Old Testament law more than 1,200,000 lambs were sacrificed every day. 6,000,000 animals were sacrificed on the first day of the month (see Numbers 26:2, 51; Numbers 28:1-3, 11).  The priests must have been covered in blood. Did their hands ever come clean? Yet the carnage wasn't sufficient; it wasn't meant to be. The animal sacrifice merely pointed to the ultimate sacrifice that would come.

John the Baptist recognized it.
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29) The Jewish leaders, Jesus' followers and His disciples did not. They didn't understand that redemption would require a far greater sacrifice.
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.For where a will is involved, the death of the o…

Around the House: April

The long winter has finally loosened its grasp. Spirits climb with the temperatures. New life bursts forth in a bright rainbow of colors, yellowed by a heavy dusting of pollen. In these early days of Spring, I am

Reading some fantastic books, none of which were on my original list for 2014. Our Theology Reading Group didn't start until last week. While I'm waiting for the group to catch up with the topics I've already focused on in my extra-curricular reading, I'm enjoying some other titles: Authority by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (because I've never been disappointed by his writing) and Exodus: Saved for God's Glory by Philip Graham Ryken (because my pastor is preaching through Exodus).  In this season, I'm closing the day with Nancy Guthrie's Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross: Experiencing the Passion and Power of Easter. I'll soon go back to Women of the New Testament: 30 Devotional Messages for Women's Groups by Abraham Kuyper.

Realizing that there is an …

How Easily I Forget

I avoided getting a smart phone for years, but I finally gave in last month. It didn't take long for me to get sucked into the world of apps and games, not to mention constant access to Facebook, Twitter, and email. With just a couple of taps, I could be "up to the minute" on everything.

And that became a problem.

My self-centered, worldly heart soon became enraptured with this bit of technology in my palm. I quickly lost my resolve to reduce the noise. I found that I had little time or attention to give to books. Shamefully, I didn't find the Word as appealing as the latest happening in the cyberworld.

The Lord, in His infinite grace, has convicted me - again - about the amount of time I give to social media, its monologues and diatribes. The truth is, nearly everyone has an opinion on nearly every event and conceivable topic out there. That's not necessarily a bad thing. But placing a priority on others' opinions isn't always to my ultimate benefit. In…

Defending a Lion

Today I'm at Out of the Ordinary:

I've been pondering this idea quite a bit lately, that believers (myself included) are often more prone to speak based on their assumptions about God rather than relying on God's Word itself.

Read the rest here.

Birthday Cards and Sweet Notes

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Most of my childhood vacations were spent at a campground. Each year I'd make a new friend and we'd vow to be pen pals. In college I wrote letters to my parents, my sister, and even our dog. I found a stack of those letters after Mama passed away, along with years of cards and other notes I'd given her. When my husband and I were dating and in the early years of our marriage, I'd write him long letters and poems declaring my undying love. In years past, I would sit with the church directory in my lap and write notes to the people whose names jumped out at me.

The art of handwritten cards and letters has gone by the wayside. It's easier to send an email, easier still to whip out a quick text or message on a Facebook wall. Any form of communication from a friend can be an encouragement; however, it's a special delight to open the mailbox and find a  treasure amongst junk mail, bank statements, and bills.

I've recently been reminded of the pleasure that handw…

March Malaise

When I was a child, March was one of my favorite months. After all, there was my birthday and, more often than not, spring break. Cake and days out of school were always cause for celebration! As I've gotten older, March has lost its sparkle. After saying goodbye to Mama on my birthday two years ago, I know the month will never be the same.

As difficult as the past two Marches have been, I expected this year to be different. I thought my melancholy would subside, but it's been firmly clutching my soul. It's not just that I miss Mama so much. It's not the other major events that have marked our lives these past 4 years: my husband's job loss and return to school, and leaving our church of 18 years to find another. I used to think that I was in some sort of extended grieving period, so accustomed to mourning that I knew no other way to live. But I'm beginning to understand that, while all of these events have caused major upheaval in my life, they are not the sou…

A Childhood Tale Revisited

As a child, I often heard the story "The Emperor's New Clothes". Today I'm at Out of the Ordinary, discussing how this tale has infiltrated the church.  I hope you'll join the conversation.

Lessons from Midian

My pastor is currently preaching through the Book of Exodus. I really enjoy digging deeply into a book of the Bible, so I'm studing Exodus on my own during the week - with the help of Philip Graham Ryken's Exodus: Saved for God's Glory. Ryken's commentary is a wonderful supplement to my pastor's rich teaching. I have been caught up in this Gospel of the Old Testament, struck by the parallels between the lives of Moses and Jesus.

While I've been studying Exodus 2:11 - 3:5, the Holy Spirit has shown me that what God did during this period of Moses' life can be extrapolated to my own.

The Bible is God's direct revelation of Himself; it is not about me. Looking at a the Word through the lens of my life is a gross error. One I'm guilty of committing too many times. I should look at my life through the lens of God's Word. When I do that - come to God's Word with no objective in mind other than to know Him more - I'm often amazed at what…

In the Quiet

When words are many, transgression is not lacking,but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. (Proverbs 10:19)

...let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak... (James 1:19)

Before my quest for a quiet life, I spent a great deal of time worrying about blogging, particularly what and how often I would write. I followed the social media pundits who claimed that if I wanted to have a successful blog, I needed to post frequently, leave comments on a huge number of blogs, and always respond to comments on my own.  The dream of having a must-read blog and a book deal has vanished. These days I grapple with writing one post per week; it's a battle I lose more often than not. And I'm okay with that.

There will always be a part of me that longs to write, to see the words of my soul in print. Yet it seems to me that posting when I have nothing of import to write is at cross purposes with living a quiet life. I need to guard my tongue and my keyboard against self-indulgence and self-w…

The Sacrifices of Biblical Womanhood

...if you - you married women - embrace the truth that your womanhood, true womanhood is uniquely and indispensably created by God to display the glory of His Son in the way you relate to your husband, you will have a calling of infinite significance.  - John Piper (source)

As I hoped it would, reading intentionally gives me a fresh perspective; in January I read with eyes bent toward my role in our home and helping my husband. Once I began looking, I couldn't stop seeing.  My Living Intentionally notebook can't confine the lessons, they're pouring out into my thoughts and - oh, how I pray! - my actions.

One lesson that has struck me with force came through reading A Severe Mercy. It's an exquisitely written account of the love and marriage of the author, Sheldon Vanauken, and his wife, Davy, and her untimely death. In the pages of their story, the Holy Spirit pricked my heart. "A year before her death, Davy offered-up her life for me, for the fulfilment of my soul

Small-Minded

Lately I've been considering the way our culture has made us think that our value comes from our popularity - having trendy blogs, mega churches, or big ministries. Often, it can feel like high school on steroids; the competition to be popular distracts us from contentment within the boundary lines God has placed around us. I have suffered that mind-set far too long. By the grace of God,  I'm slowly learning to appreciate the concept of small, but valuable.

I started this blog 10 months ago, a few weeks after my family started attending our current church. I had already come to a point in my life where I wanted a quiet, simple, small life. I didn't realize that the Lord would emphasize that by directing us to a quiet, simple and small church, but He did. And He has used it to teach me plenty.

About my blog...

I will never have more than a handful of readers. I don't follow the latest social media trends and I certainly haven't spent any time crafting a brand for m…

As Christ Loves the Church...

One step on the path of intentional living, and I was confronted with soul-searching questions. I have not yet made it past the first set. How do I support, protect, and help my husband?

The conundrum burrows deeper into my spirit as I read Ephesians 5:22-24, and  these words from Claire Smith:
The husband is to promote his wife's godliness and sanctification, sparing no effort in advancing the work of Christ in her life. He is to help her prepare for the future marriage of Christ and the church. (God's Good Design, p.119) The command to submit rings in my ears. Not because I don't want to submit to my husband, although there have been times when this has been the case. Not because it's unfair or antiquated, as the women's liberation movement decries. No, I keep mulling this command over and over in light of Genesis 2:18, and my role as my husband's helper.

Aimee gives me something to consider:
As a helper, we always need to remember that we represent our other …

Making More Than a Bed

I make my daughter's bed.

Yes, the daughter who's 15. 

Yes, she's perfectly capable of making her own bed. 

Yes, perhaps she should. 

But while some may accuse me of babying her too much and enabling her to be lazy, I disagree. She has weekly chores and responsibilities. Many nights, she helps me prepare dinner. I make her bed because I want to be intentional at home.

When she was small, I made her bed. Somewhere along the way, I taught her how to do it. I expected her to do it each morning before school. After all, how hard is it to pull up a comforter and fluff a pillow? Some mornings she complied, but many mornings she ran out of time. I knew arguments would make our already tense, hurried mornings worse. Besides, her dad worked swing shift and my own bed remained unmade much of the time because of his unusual sleep schedule. How could I expect something from her that I wasn't doing myself? At some point I decided that she was old enough to assume the responsibility o…

The First Step Toward Being Intentional at Home

If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

The grammar of this old Southern bit of wisdom makes me cringe, but the older I get the more I understand - and am convicted by - the truth it contains: my attitude, countenance, words, mood, and actions set the tone in our home.

As I begin this journey toward intentional living, I have found exhortation in Aimee's wise words in Chapter One,
We must certainly show forth our Lord God's beauty in this awesome task [being a helper to our husbands]. And for us to do this properly, it is imperative that we are functioning appropriately in our role. (p. 22) I see these very words lived out in the life of Sarah Edwards.  As Noel Piper says, Sarah Edwards was a supporter, protector and homebuilder for her husband, a godly mother and example for her children, and a hostess, comforter and encourager to guests.
While she uniformly paid a becoming deference to her husband and treated him with entire respect, she spared no pains in confo…

Intentional Living

During the months preceding my December social media hiatus I spent considerable time contemplating the quiet life and how best to cultivate it. As I thought about changes I've made and still more that need to be made, I concluded that it's not just a quiet life that I want, but a more intentional one.

There are several areas of my life in which I want to be more intentional, however in this quiet place I will share but two. 

Intentional Reading. My past reading plans have set me up for failure. I've tried to read too many books, gotten sidetracked by the latest "must read", and generally been overwhelmed so that, at times, reading has been a chore. No more! I have developed a reading plan that allows me to immerse myself in certain topics. This year I will be leading a monthly study of Aimee Byrd's Housewife Theologian: How the Gospel Interrupts the Ordinary. In order to give this study the attention it deserves, all of my reading - including fiction - will…

What I Learned During My Social Media Vacation

With the Holy Spirit's prompting - and the grace of God abounding - I gave up Facebook and Twitter during December so that I could focus on the Incarnation and prepare my heart for Christmas. I didn't think I devoted an inordinate amount of time to social media; however, when I announced my intention to my girl and her response was something akin to "Good. You need to given them up.", I knew I needed the break more than I cared to admit. I had already stopped posting anything in this little spot for the final months of 2013. Limited blogging at Out of the Ordinary, permanently paring down my feed reader to precious few, and saying no to Facebook and Twitter has taught me some valuable lessons.

~Absence does not necessarily make the heart grow fonder. While there may have been a few who felt my absence, I imagine that I was, for the most part, forgotten. Not that I blame anyone; it's the nature of the social media beast.

~Social media friends aren't always fr…