Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Big questions


questions

There are a lot of big questions about God.  You know the ones I mean…

How could God allow so much suffering if He’s good?
Isn’t it pretty narrow-minded to say that there is only one way to God?
What about hell?  Can a loving God send people there?
How is the Bible relevant in today’s culture when it was written so long ago?

I thinks it’s good – critical actually – to ask these questions.  If our faith rests on Truth, we can find answers.  God isn’t threatened by our questions and I think He welcomes our honest search for faith. 

There are many good people who have dedicated their lives to helping others get answers to these questions and most of them began their own search in a place of extreme doubt and skepticism.  Many began in an attempt to ‘prove’ that faith in Christ was not rational but their careful study of God’s word led them to the opposite conclusion. 

We have been listening to several podcasts by Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City.  I can highly recommend them – they’re easy to listen to, very well-researched and well-spoken.  All of them are available for free download or streaming on iTunes or at the church website here.

Here are a few that I think are excellent.  Click on any title below for a link to that message.

Absolutism: Don’t we all have to find truth for ourselves?
Doubt: What should I do with my doubts?
Exclusivity:  How can there be just one true religion?
Suffering:  If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world?
Hell:  Isn’t the God of Christianity an angry Judge?
Literalism:  Isn’t the Bible historically unreliable and regressive?

There are many many more messages with topics like Who Is God?, How Do I Experience God? and How Does the Gospel Change Me?

If you’ve ever had questions about any of these things (I know I have), this is a great place to start getting some answers.
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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wonderful Week



We had a wonderful Thanksgiving week, beginning on Tuesday night when our youngest arrived and ending late this afternoon when she drove off in our Jeep because her trunk wouldn’t close.

In between, there was lots of coming and going, eating and talking, football and board games, shopping and Wii-playing, barking and laughing, coffee and cocoa.

I love when my kids are home! 

Yesterday we all piled in cars to cut down our Christmas tree.  Because I am exhausted, these pics (most taken by Lindsey) will tell the story!

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I need to get Thanksgiving down and Christmas up ASAP because I have a dinner here on Wednesday night and right now the table is covered with pumpkin candles, fall wreaths and acorns. 


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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wealthy



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"In ordinary life we hardly realize
that we receive a great deal more
than we give, and that it is
only with gratitude
that life becomes rich."  
 
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
 
I hope your heart is filled with gratitude this Thanksgiving weekend and that you share your riches with family and friends.    

                           Becky
 
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Monday, November 19, 2012

An upside-down Christmas




I have loved everything about the Advent Conspiracy since I first heard about it.  The basic concept is really simple...

Worship fully

Spend less

Give more

Love all

I know we can't make everyone in our extended families do these things. And to be really honest, a few years ago if someone had tried to tell me to change the way I celebrate Christmas (especially the spending less part) I probably would have smiled and went right ahead buying whatever I wanted to buy so my kids would have lots of fun stuff under the tree. It's not that we ever went way overboard (oh - unless you compare it to what someone gets for Christmas in Ethiopia).  Deep down I didn't want my kids to be disappointed.

Disappointed?  I can think of a few other things I don't want my kids to be more than being disappointed.   

The thing I love about the AC model is the focus on Christ and on giving in worship, in presence and in loving others.  That's what I want this season to be about in my life.

Lord, show me how to make these things my priority!  Show me who. Show me where.




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Saturday, November 17, 2012

He likes thin crust; I like thick


28 turq

I wonder why I get to be married to my best friend and love.  I think it’s because God knew we would be better together.   

I am more selfish than Jeff is. 
I spend more than he does. 
He is nicer than I am. 

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Us on our honeymoon - love that 80's big hair!

I can still hear the song that was sung at our wedding (anyone remember Leon Patillo?) 

You are flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone
There's no one closer
You are flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone
We are one

I do pledge my life to you forever and always
I will take good care of you and shower you with praise


The storms of life can blow and blow
But they won't knock me down
We'll stand the test
The test of time
Cause we stand on Holy ground.


I do give my life to you, today and everyday
I will stand right by your side whatever comes our way


It really is an incomprehensible thing that God makes two people one.  I still don't really get it but I have experienced it.  Only God could do it.

We are celebrating 28 years of God’s faithfulness in our marriage, family and ministry.  Years of making daily mistakes and discovering how to humble ourselves to admit them.  Years of choosing to love and serve and forgive each other even and especially when we didn't feel like it.  Years of finding out how wise and good God has been in making us one.
  
We were talking the other day and saying how much we love our marriage.  We laugh a lot together.  We pray together because we need it so much.  We’re very different from each other in a million ways (pizza being just one) but so alike in the ones that matter most.
 
The verse He gave us for our wedding is Isaiah 25:1

O Lord, You are my God;
I will exalt You and praise Your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
You have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago.



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Happy Anniversary my love!  I am so thankful for you.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Flowers in the house


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I love to have fresh flowers inside, don’t you?  In most seasons, there are plenty to cut in our yard and for that I am so grateful.  But in the winter months the yard doesn’t yield much of anything in the way of blooms so I have to get creative if I don’t want to buy them at the store (although Tr*der Joes is always a wonderful source of affordable cut flowers).

I buy Paperwhite bulbs every November and plant them in a tall glass vase, using the ‘soil’ that often comes with the bulbs.  You can also set them on a clump of rocks or pebbles – no dirt required!  The reason I use a tall vase it because they become pretty tall and top-heavy.  The sides of the vase help to hold up the stems.  These can also be planted in a lower container but you’ll probably have to make a way to support the stems.

You can crowd the bulbs for a better display!  Place the bulbs tips up and moisten the soil.  Place the container in a sunny window and remember not to let the soil dry out completely. 

Blurry pic of when I planted mine


You can almost see these stems grow!



Then you’ll see buds forming (so exciting!)…

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And in ~4 weeks you’ll have beautiful Narcissus papyraceus (papyrus is Latin for paper and aceus is ‘like’ - get it?).  Bulbs planted closer to Christmas will bloom in only 2-3 weeks so I’ll be planting another batch in early December.  The smell is heavenly and fills the room they’re in.

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You can buy these in most variety and grocery stores at this time of year.  They often come with a pot (which I don’t use) and a ‘pod’ of soil that you add water to.

You’ll love having these beauties in your house!

Here is a much more comprehensive and beautiful post about forcing Paperwhites at Christmas.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Links I Liked


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source
In Which I Break Up With Martha Stewart
@WhimsySmitten.com
Talk about guilt and pressure and unrealistic expectations!


Between Seasons
@seasonsweekend.com
On embracing where God has you


From Overpowered to Empowered
@LysaTerKeurst.com
About chaos inside you


Five Simple Steps for Choosing Your Kids over Your Phone
@thehappyfamilymovement.com
I couldn’t resist including this one – includes a tutorial to
make Ned the iPhone Monster!


And then, just to be confusing:
10 Tips for Taking Better Photos with Your Smartphone
@popphoto.com
Do I have one yet?  No.


20 Pillowtalk Questions for You and Your Child
@imom.com
I don’t have a child that I tuck into bed any more but if you do, here are some really good conversation starters. 
These would also work for dinnertime!
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Over & Out


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This is the season when it’s not hard to become

Overwhelmed.
Overstimulated.
Overspent.
Outdone.
Out-dressed.
Out-given.

I’ll admit that the older I get, the less all the ‘stuff’ of the holidays is even attractive to me.  But I still have to be really intentional if I want to find worship instead.

When I open my eyes first thing…

Good morning, Lord.  
Thanks for this day. 
For eyes that see.  
Fill me with Yourself.  
I am Yours. 

Then shuffle to the coffee pot and my spot on the couch looking at one, maybe two verses in the quiet before the newspaper, phone, computer, traffic, lists, planning, needs...  Time with Him to hear what I need so much – Truth that will stay with me into the day and that will remind me what I am.

Out-loved.
Out-given.
Out-forgiven.
Overcome.
Overshadowed.
Overjoyed.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nieces, leaves and lots of wax


Not too infrequently, we get to have my brother’s two girls spend the night and this week we got to keep them for a few days!  They love to come over, which makes me so happy.  We usually always bake something (pizza this week) and then I try to have a ‘craft’ they can take home.  It’s the teacher in me, I guess.

When I know they’ll be coming, I start searching the internet for something fun to make.  One of my boards on Pinterest is dedicated to these visits!  Just as with recipes you try for the first time, things don’t always go perfectly smoothly.

Monday we picked the girls up from school and headed home for a snack.  The minute they walked in the door, they started asking what we were going to make.  I told them we needed to take a walk first to collect some leaves and we headed out into the sunshine carrying leaf-collecting sacks.  The only rule was you couldn’t pick anything from someone’s trees or bushes.

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Someone in our neighborhood has this ‘Little Free Library’ attached to their raspberry trellis.  How cool is that?  When the girls opened the door, they were a little disappointed that there were only ‘baby books’ inside.  We’ll check back and take some books to leave inside for someone else…

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Of course Uncle Jeff brought his camera and had lots of help finding things to take pictures of.

“Jeff!  Take a picture of this leaf with these drops of water on it!”

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“Jeff!  Look at these berries!  Take a picture of these!!”

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“Oooooh!  A spider web with rain drops on it!  Take a picture of this!”

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That’s the fun thing about doing stuff like this with kids – they see things you might have missed.

So we filled several bags with leaves and headed home for step 2.

After we washed and dried several hundred leaves (okay, maybe only 100 but there were leaves everywhere), we melted a brick of household wax on the stove in one of those disposable foil baking pans.  No one told me you should probably use two, one inside the other, just in case you might have bought the cheap ones and it might have a hole in it.  We watched in fascination as the wax melted and then smoke began rising from the burner below.  Before I realized what was happening, wax had melted through the undetected hole in the pan and dripped into the interior of the stove and all over the stovetop.

We don’t have any photos of this.

We quickly got a second pan under the first and managed to keep enough wax in it to complete the project.  Clean up would happen later after a different internet search on ‘best way to deal with melted wax spills.’  Let’s just say that wax might be second only to tree sap on the list of the worst messes in the world.

Anyway…  I stayed calm and carried on.

So each leaf was held by its stem and dipped quickly into the wax.  The goal was to get a light coating on both sides.  Some had more than others which makes them turn sort of opaque and white and I may have said with a little too much enthusiasm “Take it out! Take it out!”

The girls kept wanting to shake their leaf after they dipped it - probably because it looked exactly like it had water dripping from it - and when droplets of wax were flying onto the counter, canisters, cupboards and anyone walking by, I may have whispered “Try not to shake it!”  I was on wax overload by now.

I’ll admit it - I have issues in the kitchen.

The coated leaves were laid out on waxed paper, ready for hanging the next day.

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We tied the stems along a piece of thread for hanging in a window… the leaves shine with the light behind them and they’ll last until it’s time to decorate for Christmas!  Each girl took home a garland and a box full of waxed leaves.

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So if you’d like someone to come over and help your children create a beautifully preserved window display… don’t call me.  I may not have my technique down pat.

But I’d do it again with these two!

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Phone photos


I found these on my phone:

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This truck/mobile billboard/hippie RV has been all over town in the last couple of weeks.  We were one of three or four people who were taking pictures of it with their phones.
Reminds me of something we would have seen in the 60’s!


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This was taken in the hallway of the ‘institution’ where my dad lives.  Some people go all out decorating for a holiday.  I love that this lady leaves her welcome mat out all year round.  She just repositions it after Christmas so it says “OH OH OH.”  Ingenious!


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I’ve been meeting people often lately at P*nera. 
Looks like I may have tried a pumpkin spice bagel!


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Here I was being very sneaky with my camera phone.  I snapped this blurry pic of a cute couple having coffee and a snack.  After they sat down, they simultaneously put on head phones/ear buds and settled in to listen to ??   I wanted so badly to ask – What are you listening to?  Is it the same as the other one is hearing?  Do you do this every Tuesday? 


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Here’s a bad photo of an October snack I made with my nieces – no bake peanut butter pumpkins with chocolate chip stems!


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And speaking of nieces, I need to leave to pick them up from school.  They’re staying with us for a few days.  I get to put on my ‘mom’ cap again – woo hoo!!
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Friday, November 2, 2012

Links I Liked




A Dozen of the Worst-Ever 'Afters' of Home-Decorating TV
@curbed.com
I actually remember a couple of these!
If Hildy was your designer on Trading Spaces you were in trouble!
And in an unrelated sidenote, one of the designers on Extreme Home Makeover used to walk his dog past our house in Palm Springs.  I always wanted to invite him inside in hopes that he'd take one look and bring his crew over but I couldn't think of a good excuse. 




@scarves.net
Don't you always wonder how she tied her scarf to look so cool?
Now you'll know!




33 Meticulous Cleaning Tips for the OCD Person Inside You
@buzzfeed.com
I know there are millions of good cleaning tips available on Pinterest but this post had some new ones.  Like... have you been cleaning your old paintings with a bagel cut in half?


We'll end with a video to relieve some of your campaign ad fatigue...
Here is Kid President:





Thursday, November 1, 2012

Yours is the splendor!



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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  
Gen 1:1


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God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees
on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds."
And God saw that it was good. 

Gen 1:11

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God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 
Gen 1:14-15

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To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens,
the earth and everything in it. 

Deut 10:14

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Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory
and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. 

1 Chron 29:11

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When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? 
Psalm 8:3

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The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it. 

Psalm 24:1

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The trees of the LORD are well watered…
There the birds make their nests.
 
Psalm 104:16-17

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How many are Your works, O LORD!  In wisdom You made them all. 
Psalm 104:24


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The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands

Psalm 19:1

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The creation waits in eager expectation for the
sons of God to be revealed. 

Rom 8:19


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Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.
Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him
to whom we must give account. 

Heb 4:13


Thank You Lord for Your amazing creativity – in color, shape, contrast and mind-blowing design!  I am in awe of You!
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