December 28, 2008

Cookie time

One thing I remember from my childhood is that Christmas means cookies--at least seven or eight different kinds. Sometimes we gave a bunch away, sometimes we had cookies until Valentine's Day. Regardless of how many or how few cookies were made, invariably, two weeks or so before Christmas, my mom started making cookies and didn't stop until Christmas. I also try to make a lot of cookies with the purpose of giving most of them away as gifts so that we only have a week's worth left over at Christmas time. This year, I asked my dh and kids what cookies they wanted for Christmas. Our list this year was star spritz, Christmas tree spritz, toffee bars, gingerbread cutout cookies, sugar cookies and homemade caramels. Yesterday, thanks to a friend and her daughters, we finished decorating all the cutout cookies. I have been sampling them and I realize that I much prefer the spicy goodness of gingerbread over the bland sweetness of sugar cookies. In my effort to become more blog-proficient, I decided to try to post a poll to see what cookie everyone else prefers. The poll closes January 4th.

December 27, 2008

Tribute to my mom

Today, I was involved in praying for a woman who had just lost her mom rather unexpectedly, even though her mom was at an advanced age. While we were praying, she confessed that she had always looked down on her mother because her mother hadn't seemed to accomplish anything "important" in her life. However, at the funeral, based on all the compliments people gave her about how her mom had helped them, she realized that her mother had chosen "the most excellent way" and that she had a quietly helped people without trying to get the glory for helping them. I echoed her confession and realized that, for too long, I have also not given my mom the praise that is due her.

My mom has demonstrated that even though hugs can't solve the problem, they make you feel good enough to face the problem. At one place where she worked, she was known as "the hug lady" and it was meant as a compliment. She may not be able to solve word problems, but she has an intuitive or maybe an emotional intelligence that allows her to solve life problems. She has a sunny smile and is quick to laugh and quick to cry. I always knew where I stood with her because she either is unable to hide her feelings or unwilling.

Above all, my mom has a servant's heart. Now that might not sound glamorous or glorious, but I know that in Jesus' eyes, the One who came down 2000+ years ago to serve mankind, that is high praise indeed. Being a servant is much more than just putting others needs above your own. It sometimes means shutting your mouth when you want to defend yourself. It means letting others take the spotlight when you have done the work. In her case, it also means picking a husband on the basis of how good a father he will be to her daughter as well as how he treats her. She isn't necessarily the perfect servant, but she is perfectly wonderful.

Proverbs 31: 25-29 describes her well:
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."

Thanks to my blessed mom! I love you.

December 26, 2008

Christmas pictures

Because our extended families live so far away, I thought I would post pictures of our Christmas. Our Christmas tradition involves everyone getting dressed before coming downstairs to see what Santa delivered in their stocking. The story goes that when Elizabeth was born, Santa asked us what type of presents we wanted him to give to the kids. We told him that filling the stockings was enough. We wanted to be the ones to give the really cool gifts. Then we made sure the kids got big enough stockings. Thanks Nana Lambert and Grandma Sue for providing stockings that only Paul Bunyan would be able to wear. At this point, bread for sticky buns in in the process of rising. The kids aren't hungry anyway. They are too preoccupied with figuring out what Santa gave them.

This year, we took turns opening presents for six rounds, letting a different person go first each time. All the kids took turns passing out presents too. It was nice being able to ooh and aahhh over each gift. While each child was waiting for someone else to unwrap their presents, some of them got creative. Isn't she lovely? BTW, can you tell what she likes best next to gymnastics and dressing up?

It was a Lego Christmas this year, with each child getting at least one Lego. Interestingly enough, four or five adults (including Santa) were involved in choosing different lego kits for each child and we didn't have one duplicate! Thank you, God! Of course, now our basement floor is littered with little lego pieces. This afternoon, the kids ran out of space and started putting together a big lego set in front of the stairs before my dh and I made them move the 10,000 pieces to another area. It will take weeks to pick up the basement again.

The kids were excited to get rocket kits from Grandma and Grandpa K. We started rocketry last summer, after Daddy got a rocket kit for Christmas. We had successfully launched and retrieved his rocket four or five times until he decided that he wanted more power! He bought bigger rockets and instantaneously lost his rocket and Elizabeth's brand new gold rocket.

After roughly eight years of waiting, Daddy got what he really wanted for Christmas--a train set to put up under the Christmas tree. When our oldest was a baby, he talked about getting a set. At the time, I reminded him that between the baby and the cat, the train wouldn't last long. The cat is long gone and we finally do not have a baby around at Christmas. So the kids and I pooled our resources to get him a train kit. I wrapped each component separately, so he would be able to unwrap several presents, instead of just one or two.

These are some new ornaments we got for our tree. Nana bought an ornament for each person in our family and Grandma K. cross stitched an ornament and finished it (the big square one). I put them all together so that we could take one picture showing them off. Grandma K has more ornaments stashed away somewhere until she has the time to finish them. We love new ornaments.

What a MESS! We spent the rest of the day putting together legos, napping, eating and watching a movie or two. It was a complete and total day of rest. Beds were not even made. However, the next day, we decided to spend fifteen minutes or so picking up until... looked like this again! The basement, however, is still littered with legos, as it will be until all lego kits have been totally assembled.

Merry Christmas everyone. We missed seeing you! We love you.

December 25, 2008

Another tribute--My Two Dads

My apologies...
Okay, I missed writing yesterday. Please forgive me. I was a little busy getting ready for some holiday celebrating the birth of a baby who would grow up to die ignomiously on a cross after spending three years teaching with authority and doing miracle after miracle after miracle which all testified to the fact that he was, indeed the Son of God. The really good news, which I will talk about at another time, is that he didn't stay dead. It wasn't that he was "mostly dead" and was revived by Miracle Max to live happily ever after with Mary Magdelene. He was really truly, all dead. But that story will have to wait.

Moving on...
In the late 1980's, there was a TV sitcom series that ran for three years called "My Two Dads" starring a future has-been, Greg Evigan, formerly of "BJ and the Bear" fame and a future star, Paul Reisner, who would become the leading man in the sitcom "Mad About You." The basic plot is that a mother of a tween dies and leaves her in the custody of two men, either of which, could have been the father (because, apparently, paternity tests weren't available until sometime in the 1990's?). So this girl moves in with two total strangers, who haven't shown enough maturity at this point to take care of pets or maintain a long term relationship. Sounds funny doesn't it? (written with extreme sarcasm). This is NOT my story. My mom has been married twice. I was the product of her first marriage, which ended in divorce when I was still a baby. She re-married when I was four.

My first dad, Dennis, was a remarkable guy, though I really didn't know he existed until I was nine (my oldest daughter's age). How I found out about him is a funny story that will have to wait. My mom moved 1800 miles away from him when she initiated the divorce, which meant that he couldn't really visit me very often, if at all. He has admitted to me many times that he was in a very messed up state, even before the divorce, and he only got worse. And yet, in spite of his brokenness, he was able to do a very generous, self-sacrificing act of chivalry: he gave up his rights as my father so that I could be raised by one man, without divided loyalties wreaking havoc on my emotional stability. That single act of sacrifice has had a huge contribution to the person I am today.

My second dad, Bill, married my mom after a whirlwind courtship. However, he chose to adopt me as his own daughter. He didn't have to adopt me, but he did. And he was able to adopt me because my birth father. The court date to finalize my adoption happened on my fifth birthday. He is the one whom I have called "daddy" or "dad" ever since. Because he raised me, of course, he has had a tremendous influence in my life. You experience his influence every time you read phrases from me such as "die ignomiously". He always told me that using big words properly was a mark of intelligence. Unfortunately, these days, it might make me more unintelligible (hard to understand). He also has high standards of workmanship which translated into high expectations in any task I was assigned, whether it was schoolwork, housework or any project.

Dennis and Bill, thank you for your influence! Merry Christmas with much love,

December 23, 2008

New beginnings--tributes

I am ending this year and starting the new year with random tributes to the various people in my life who, I believe, are making a positive contribution in my life. I am doing this because I don't want to save it for their funeral. I am not writing in order of importance, just as my mind latches onto something. I will try to do one a day, but there are no guarantees. Such is the life of a random thinker. Deal with it and remember my dear husband has to deal with it on a daily basis.

For my first tribute, I would like to thank Kathy Overtoom, my step-mother-in-law, for giving me a new "inner voice". This afternoon, as I was looking at the decorated green blobs on the cookie sheet that should have been crisply baked and crisply outlined spritz Christmas trees, I had two "tracks" playing in my head: one saying "you doofus, can't you count how much flour you put in?" and the other, Kathy's track, which says "Oh well!" I chose her track and added my own variation, "They will probably taste fine anyway and most people who will receive them will know what they are supposed to be anyway because they get these cookies from us every year."

In the past, I would have been very upset, berating myself, and getting ready to make another batch of "perfect" spritz Christmas trees to give to friends, keeping the other 150 or so cookies for my family to eat. But because of this new "inner voice", I can still enjoy the holiday and move on to making star spritz cookies.

Thank you, Kathy! And Merry Christmas!

With much love,

December 22, 2008

Breaking News...

John is potty training and he is doing a great job! We started last week, when he started getting a rash from eating something that his body did not like. We are suspecting that he might be developing lactose intolerance, which is a condition his brother developed at three also. The first day we started, he had a couple accidents. At this point, he has not had a liquid accident for three days and today, he found that he could put his solid waste into the potty without a problem. I am hoping that the rest of the potty training experience will be as much of a dream as the first week. I think it helps that he has five people cheering him on every time he goes potty. The other kids are also hoping it will take a short time because as soon as he is completely potty trained, we will be getting a dog as a pet. Way to go John!

December 20, 2008

Something you don't hear very often

Today, we are in a frenzy of cleaning, trying to get ready for Christmas and just attacking the clutter and dust that has been silently driving both Eric and I bonkers for some time. Earlier in the day, when asked to do additional work, John said, "No thank you, Mom." I just as politely replied that this wasn't an option. Much later, when I interrupted John's work in creating some space object out of Duplos to do yet another task, he said, "Thanks, Mom, for letting me do work." It is a phrase I don't expect to hear often. Now it is time for me to continue cleaning! Thanks, God, for letting me do work!

December 18, 2008

A variation of the Christmas Story.

It has now been over a year since our original pastor (he was the founding pastor of our church) has left. And while I can praise God because He has not left our church as orphans, giving us a wonderful interim pastor to lead us through the pain of separation and to help our church heal, I want to honor our former pastor for all the wonderful ways he made God's word real and relevant to us. In his honor, I would like to offer a version of the Christmas story if it had happened in America this year, rather than two thousand years ago in Isreal.

If the Christmas story took place now instead of 2,000 years ago, Joseph, a carpenter, would have been out of work for a while because the construction business is so bad. He and his fiancee, Mary, who was pregnant, would have been kicked out of their house which was in foreclosure because he could no longer meet his mortgage payments. Because Mary is pregnant, though she vowed it was God's doing and not a result of fooling around too soon, neither Mary nor Joe's parents are speaking to them. After all, they lost standing in their church because of the embarrasement of an unplanned pregnancy. Therefore, the young couple have no where to go for shelter. As the time comes for Mary to give birth, Joseph searches all the homeless shelters in the area hoping to provide at least a warm place for Mary to give birth. Finally, as her labor pains worsen, they go to the emergency room, where the baby is born in a hallway because all the rooms are filled with poor people without insurance who need medical attention. A doctor is there, briefly, to make sure the baby comes out all right, but he has many other patients to see and soon, the young family is alone in the hallway, except for the rest of the overflow patients. Mary and the baby sleep. Joseph thanks God for His provision.

A few miles away, a bunch of divorce and malpractice suit lawyers, insurance salesmen and web spammers are in a bar, celebrating the cold, snowy weather because it usually means more business for them. Suddenly the roof of the bar is lifted up and a huge creature flowing with light enters. Most of them drop their drinks and wet their pants, thinking that the latest horror movie, "Freddy vs. Predator" is coming true. Instead, the creature speaks gently to them of peace and joy and hope that God has planned for all men and tells them of a baby born in a hospital nearby. Suddenly, the bar is filled and even overflowing with heavenly creatures all singing God's praises. Angels as far and as high as they can see singing such heavenly music that their hearts grow three sizes that day. When the angels finish singing the song, they suddenly vanish, putting the roof back in its place. The entire bar population stares in slack-jawed wonder as their eyes adjust to the darkness and, as one, rush out into the night to search for their new friends. The only testimony of the angel's presence is a brilliant star that outshines the city lights. They all pull out their organizers to find the location of the hospital and rush off, trying to be the first one to see this new baby. All thoughts of business have been replaced by the hope of finding peace.

Meanwhile, in smoke filled government offices, several men take a break from making political deals and happen to look outside the window. They notice a single, solitary star, overwhelming the bright lights of flashing billboards, skyscrapers and spotlights beckoning people to stores with the promise of fulfilling their desires. The "break out group" suddenly rush out of the room, certain that the star will fulfill the promise that the man-made lights cannot. They stop at home briefly enough to search out and bring with them their most precious possessions as an offering of joy. They are soon joined by former political rivals and disgraced political leaders on both sides of the political fight--Rod Blagojevich, Ted Stevens, George Ryan, Elliot Spitzer, to name a few. They walk, keeping the star in sight, until they see its light touching a broken down hospital. They stand for a moment, wondering what makes this place so special. Suddenly, a rush of well dressed men and women pour out of the building, each taking the hand of the huddle of men and women, saying "The real leader is inside. He will be the one who gives us peace. He is the hope of the world! Inside, you will find a mother and her child. That child is the King of Kings and he is the one who can make us right with God. " They then scatter, shouting the good news to anyone who will listen, pointing to the hospital. The political lackeys waste no time in seeking the baby. They suddenly realize the futility of all their planning and their quest for power. When they see the baby, they are overwhelmed with awe. Somehow, the child simultaneously appears totally pure, totally helpless, and yet imbued with power and wisdom. As each man and woman lays down his or her gift, they suddenly remember all the wrong things they have down in their power-hungry madness, all the family problems they could have mended, all the friends they have abandoned. They weep as they kneel before the baby, knowing that they are totally and completely incapable of serving this new little king. The baby smiles and reaches out to them, and suddenly, they look up in wonder and joy, feeling the weight of their sins lifting off their shoulders. Power struggles forgotten, they walk out prepared to serve Immanuel.

This is not necessarily a new idea, so my apologies for anyone I have inadvertently plagerized. It is a melding of sermons from my former pastor, skits performed in our church, sermons I hear on WMBI. It also was initiated by a short video I am including in this blog.

This particular story idea was the result of my thought regarding the most recent spate of political scandals, economic distress, and crime that try to overwhelm the God's promise of hope offered during the Christmas season.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Isreal

December 16, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I have many favorite Christmas carols. My favorite hymn is "O Come O Come Emmanuel". I like it because it lists a lot of Jesus' nicknames and the reason for Christ coming to earth.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel
And ransome captive Isreal
That mourns in lonely exile here.
Until the Son of God is here
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

What a great promise! Yet the promise is also yet to come, too.

But for getting kids excited, nothing is better than Miss Piggy's version of "Christmas is Coming".
Christmas is coming.
The geese are getting fat
Please to put a penny in an old man's hat.
If you have no penny, a ha' penny will do.
If you have no ha' penny then God Bless You!

The concept that a half penny (ha' penny) could actually buy something at one point in time is amazing, considering the cheapest candy you can buy today might be five cents, but is typically more like a quarter or more.

Here is another thing I like about Christmas:

JESUS & SANTA CHRISTMAS VIDEO from Barton Damer on Vimeo.


December 12, 2008

Long term effects of a one time Senator from Illinois

Both Abraham Lincoln and Peter Fitzgerald served one term in Washington representing Illinois. Lincoln served in the House of Representatives in 1846 and Peter Fitzgerald served one term in the Senate in 1999. Lincoln's term in the House was relatively unremarkable, though it may have fueled his ambitions for higher office. However, it eventually led to more than one term as President at which time he ended slavery and kept the country from splitting. He is considered one of our greatest presidents. I would say that Peter Fitzgerald has also had a huge impact on our country by one little recommendation: nominating Patrick Fitzgerald (who is not related) as U.S. Attorney General for the Northern District of Illinois. Why might you ask? Four cases:

1. He had former Illinois Governor George Ryan convicted of racketeering, conspiracy, fraud, attempted extortion, and money laundering.

2. He gave Mayor Richard Daley a piece of humble pie indicting mayoral aids of mail fraud and uncovering the Chicago City Clerk taking bribes.

3. He had Lord Conrad Black (media mogul) convicted of criminal fraud.

4. He brought indictments against Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby, in the Plame CIA leak case. Mr. Libby was convicted of perjury and obstructing justice in the Plame case.

4. His most recent case involves charges of Governor Rod Blagojevich (pronounced
Blah GOY ah vich for those of you not from Illinois) in soliciting bribes and mail fraud.

As an aside, which may or may not be sour grapes, here is some additional information: Barak Obama and Blagojevich rose through the ranks of the Chicago political machine fairly quickly. Barack Obama, worked with Blagojevich at some level to get him elected as governor in 2002. He must have worked with the governor one or two times while he was state senator and Rod Blagojevich was governor. Yet despite the fact that Barack Obama rose up from the Chicago "Boss" system and Illinois political system which recently has been described recently as "possibly the most corrupt state in the Union", he still managed to have a squeaky clean image during the Presidential campaign. I wonder how that happened?

I, for one, am glad that we had Peter Fitzgerald represent us as a senator, be it ever so brief. He, like Lincoln had a huge impact, at least on our state because he nominated Patrick Fitzgerald, who is trying to clean up the Illinois political system.

December 6, 2008

A new fast food

For the past 30 days, God has had me embarking on a new eating lifestyle that would be considered severely vegan. I thought I would get a reprieve for Thanksgiving, but, after my SIL suggested that I pray more about it, I realized that, while God would probably allow it, what He really wants me to be is thankful no matter what kind of food I am eating. So I made it through the holiday eating no meat, dairy, leavened products and very little sugar. Thankfully, God provided a recipe for sweet potatoes that was very yummy without all the brown sugar and full of protein to help me be satisfied and thankful. I have realized three things in the past thirty days: there are so many delicious foods that do not involve meat, dairy and unleavened bread that I could be happy leading a mostly vegan lifestyle; I have been feeling much better since eating vegan diets; vegan food can be prepared pretty quickly. The last concept has surprised me the most.

When I started out, I thought that I would be having to spend a lot of time preparing the foods I was to eat. However, lunch can be as simple as grabbing some nuts and cold veggies and dipping them in hummus or spreading hummus on a wasa cracker and adding cucumbers and salt. Prep time is minimal. Making tabouleh is pretty simple too. Pour boiling water over bulgur, add mint and parsely and wait ten minutes, add some chopped tomatoes and green onions and pour a dressing of olive oil, pepper, and lemon juice. TLT's (tofu, lettuce and tomatoes) on crackers takes ten minutes to fry the tofu in oil and soy sauce (thanks Dad J. and Momma K. for that recipe). There are no worries about undercooking anything because you won't get sick from undercooking it, it might merely be extra crunchy or less flavorful. I found a wonderful blog site this week called Vegan Footprints that had a yummy recipe for Gana rice and beans. I have added it to my list of blogs that I am following.

I must confess that there are times when I really want the grilled cheese sandwhiches everyone is eating or the roasted chicken the rest of my family had tonight. However, I am not dying or starving and I made it through the Thanksgiving holiday without gaining weight, which is a MAJOR breakthrough. At this point, I have ten more days until I feel God is releasing me from the fast, unless something happens along the way. It means I will be able to eat Christmas cookies and monkey bread and other holiday treats. However, I am planning to make vegan meals more of a staple in our family's diet. My DH approves of this plan. And I am hoping that God has used this time to help break my addiction to sweets and rich foods in general.

"'Everything is permissible for me'--but not everything is beneficial. "'Everything is permissable'--but I will not be mastered by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12-13)

November 16, 2008

A late post election commentary

I, along with many people I know, was praying through the election that God would put His man in the White House. I believe He has, though it may not look like it to all the McCain supporters. So, for those of us whose candidate did not make it into the White House, or any of the Senate elections, what should we do?
The Bible is pretty clear on this. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says that "requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--for kings (i.e. presidents for Americans) and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives..." Paul was saying this at a time when those in authority were pretty focused on persecuting and killing Christians. In fact, it was just before Nero blamed the Christians on a huge fire that was started in Rome that resulted in Paul's beheading and mass rioting and killing of Christians in Rome. So, if those Christians, whose lives were in danger by being Christians should have been praying for their leaders, we, who can worship Christ freely should exercise our freedom even more and pray for wisdom and good counselors for Barak Obama and for God's protection for our country.
The Bible also reminds us that "The king's (president's) heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases." If God can convince an arrogant, idol-worshipping heathen the Pharoh Rameses to let the Isrealites go; if He can convince an arrogant, idol worshipping heathen like King Nebuchnedzzer to worship him (read the book of Daniel); if He can cause an idol loving king like Darius to let the Isrealites rebuild Jerusalem (the book of Nehemiah), He can lead a president-elect who at least claims that he is Christian.
Finally, all Americans should remember that no president, nor is any form of government our saviour. Nor do I believe that Barak Obama is the Antichrist, even though the Pick 3 Lotto numbers in Illinois right after the election were 6,6,6 ( as a fact check).

Here are some other verses regarding world leaders in the Bible. It is by no means exhaustive.
Isaiah 40: 21-24
Isaiah 49:7
Daniel 2:21
Titus 3:1

God Bless!

November 8, 2008

Taking a stand

I just want to say how great my husband is. He was being asked to go on a trip that would have him be gone for two weeks AND arrive just in time for us to leave on vacation. He managed to work out a way to be part of the meeting without having to actually go to it because, his family comes first. This is especially courageous because there has been a lot of downsizing in the company lately and there is always uncertainty in what will happen to you if you go against the flow. To be fair, another person who was supposed to go isn't because his wife is due to have a baby at any time and the plane trip would take several hours.

My love, you are my hero!

October 19, 2008

More family news

Jessi lost another tooth. The tooth fairy was inexplicably delayed for two days :-(. However, she was very patient and was rewarded with extra cash.

John asked Jesus to be his Lord and Savior this week. Woo Hoo! Now all my kids are God's Kids. I know that as he grows, he will have to make re-committments to God because he is at a very young age, but it is still quite a relief to know that God is working in my kid's lives. Last Wednesday, October 15th, during our prayer and praise time of school, when I asked for prayer requests, John said, "Momma, I need the Spirit." I cuddled him and started praying for him when I felt God say to me "Ask him if he wants Jesus in his heart." I asked him and to my joy and amazement, he said "Yes". So I got to lead him in the Sinner's prayer. I used to say that I never saw anyone come to Christ because of my testimony. Now I can say that I led two of my children to Christ. The other two asked Jesus to be their Savior at church.

My sil had a baby boy this week, even though, 20 weeks ago, the ultrasound technicians were certain the baby was a girl. They must have had a boy's name picked out from the early weeks of pregnancy because they came up with a very nice one--Ezra Nicholas. They seem to be recovering well from the shock as well as the delivery. Keep up the good work!

My hubby took a three day trip. I thought it would be easy-peasy for me because it was so short. For some reason, I had a LOT of trouble this time. Friday ended up being really horrible in the morning trying to get ready for our homeschool co-op. It seems inevitable that I only teach the weeks that he is on a trip. This week, on Thursday, one of the teachers asked me to sub for her because she was sick. I agreed and then realized that it was my turn to teach the other subject, geology. Plus, I was leading in the P.E. event of cross country running. Something had to give. I quickly emailed the group and asked them to help me out with the day and the moms were really great about taking over the geology lesson and helping me with P.E. It still took a toll on me. On Saturday, I found out that my husband's return flight was delayed by five hours! The agony!!! He was still home by dinnertime, though and the kids really enjoyed having him back.

This week, we started memorizing Proverbs 25:28--"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a person who lacks self-control." The goal is to apply it to our lives to limit the amount of screaming, crying, slamming doors, and temper tantrums in the house. As we were memorizing it, the one thing God pointed out to me is that city walls are broken down either from neglect (not relying fully on Him) or invaders and that it leaves the city defenseless against further attacks. I shared that thought with the kids. We will see if they get it. The interesting thing about scripture memory is that when you really try to put it into practice, God gives you abundant opportunities for that very purpose :-).

This week, I read Caddie Woodlawn, which was one of Elizabeth's required reading for school. I never had read it and I was curious about the story. For those of you who do not know, the book is based on an actual person who lived south of Menomee, Wisconsin. Her father convinced her mother to let her run "wild" with the boys because he felt she would be healthier and stronger because of it. Near the end of the story, after she has played a very mean trick on a visiting cousin, Caddie's dad tells her the following: "It is the sisters and wives and mothers...who keep the world sweet and beautiful. What a rough world it would be if there were only men and boys in it, doing things in their rough way! A woman's task is to teach them gentleness and courtesy and love and kindness. It's a big task, too, Caddie--harder than cutting trees or building mills or damming rivers. It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things. They have them just as much as the men who build bridges and carve roads through the wilderness. A woman's work is something fine and noble to grow up to, and it is just as important as a man's. But no man could ever do it so well." This gave me great encouragement to "stay the course" in my commitment to my children and my husband and my home. It is also something I hope to pass on to my children--that the truly important things of life will not be valued by the world, things like having good relationships, taking care of others, letting others have the limelight, holding your tongue instead of either boasting or tearing someone down. I am an imperfect teacher at this concept, but then again, God is still working on this vessel. Thank you, God that you have not given up on me!

October 11, 2008

Garage Sale update

Well, our garage sale enterprise is officially done and the end result is that most of the stuff we have no one else wants to buy either. So today, we packed up the van and car and took the stuff to various and sundry places--Goodwill, Tri-County Pregnancy Center, and the Grayslake Library (books). There we discovered that even Goodwill has limits: they won't take any electronics that were made before 2000! So tonight, I put an ad on Freecycle just to get stuff out of our garage! Apparently, some people don't mind "old" electronics! Hopefully by tomorrow everything will be gone.

If I had to do it all over again, I would save the trouble of having a garage sale and just give it to charity or put something on Freecycle.

Good News: My SIL did not have a C-section because prayers were answered and her "pecan" turned around on her own. Yay God! Yay Katie! Of course, this means that she is still 9 months pregnant...

October 8, 2008

Family ramblings

This morning, my sister-in-law, is going to the hospital to possibly have a C-section. We are hoping she gets a lovely surprise and that the baby turned itself around properly and will be "heading out" on its own. You're in our prayers KT!

Also this morning, my son, after watching rain all yesterday afternoon and evening and waking up to it, cried out "Holy Soaks!" I don't know where he gets it from.

Last week, my oldest daughter mastered doing cartwheels on the balance beam like Shawn Johnson while suffering through a fever. Way to go! (We didn't realize she had a fever until she got home). She's much better now.

We have an impending visit from the tooth fairy for my younger daughter, who is also doing a fabulous job in gymnastics.

My youngest son, is learning to wag his eyebrows in the cutest way.

I am working a lot and enjoying every minute of it, both at home and my work outside the home.

In political news...
I, like my dh, have realized that Obama is the Messiah! He foresaw the Georgia crisis; he foresaw the financial crisis we are experiencing; he foresaw the problems in Pakistan. And he flew into action with keeness and speed, issuing statements of concern and filing position papers and starting to evaluate whether he should be president! He and the creator of the internet, Al Gore, are soul mates!

September 19, 2008

Bridgetender School Newsletter

Bridgetender School started again on September 2, 2008. Children attending are Elizabeth in 4th grade, Jessica in 2nd grade, Kyle in Kindergarten, and John in pre-school. This year, Kris is doing more of a literature based unit study approach, which mainly means that there are several subject we do together as a family. Before school starts, we all do chores, focusing on one room. School starts with worship, prayer and Bible study. We are currently going through Proverbs, which is Providential because Elizabeth is also studying Proverbs in church. Then we do Math (individually), History or Science (combined), Language Arts--Literature, break for lunch and recess, then get back together for Language Arts--written arts for the girls. We start around 8:30 and are usually done by 2 p.m. Our history study is a Diane Waring study of the ancient cultures with support from Streams of Civilization. For science, we are studying Botany through Apologia. Fridays involve our homeschool group which is currently studying Spanish, geology, and doing logic exercises.

For Elizabeth, we will be focusing a lot of effort on expanding her writing ability. One day a week, she is journaling. This month, we are working on book reports and developing essay skills. In October, she will be submitting an essay for an essay contest sponsored by the Homeschool Legal Defence Association. She has Spanish homework from the homeschool group and we are going through a Latin Roots book. Elizabeth is over halfway through the Gamma book from Math U See, which involves multiplication and division. We are trying to get through two chapters a week as long as she can. We are continuing spelling and grammer, focusing on prepositions this month. She finished reading The Green Glass Sea and is reading Caddie Woodlawn. For P.E., she is taking Gymnastics three times a week in the Level 5 competitive team and participating in the homeschool P.E. group. The P.E. group is currently using letterboxing in a "great race" format. In home skills, Elizabeth learned to clean the refrigerator, which also helped her earn extra money. She participated in a one day horseriding "field trip" for homeschoolers that she paid for with her own money.

For Jessi, we are working on penmanship skills, which are still pretty weak right now. However, this week, they improved dramatically when I explained that penmanship should be a thing of beauty. She is flying through math as quickly as she can and claims that it is her favorite subject. She is working on spelling. For P.E., she is taking Gymnastics twice a week as part of the Jr. Trainer program and is participating in the homeschool P.E. program.

For Kyle, we are focusing on developing reading skills and learning about money. He can currently recognize pennies, nickels and dimes and can count by 5's and 10's. He can blend sounds easily when he knows the sounds of the words. We checked out the "BOB books" from the Library. He is enjoying botany with the girls and is taking a Jr. Engineering program through the Grayslake Park District. He also decided to do gymnastics when the Grayslake Park District cancelled their fall T-Ball program for lack of interest. He is also participating in the homeschool P.E. program.

John is learning to listen and enjoys reading time and play time with momma. He is learning to play card games, dust and pick up his room. He plays with clay, playdough and colors when we get together on topics. Once a week, on Tuesdays, the girls and Kyle spend an hour at art class while momma and John play.

I hope you enjoyed the update.

September 17, 2008

Garage Sale results

I held my first ever garage sale last weekend. My DH helped a lot with setting up the garage and putting tarps over the stuff we didn't want to sell. We kept a lot of stuff in the garage because there was a forecast of rain for at least part of the weekend. However, we had put something in CraigsList and we didn't want to disappoint. It started raining Friday afternoon and didn't stop much until Sunday afternoon. We were only planning to have the garage sale Friday and Saturday, but we ended it early on Saturday. We sold a few things, but still have a lot of stuff. We will try and have another garage sale in a couple of weeks and if it doesn't pan out, we will give the remaining toys to Hurricane Ike victims and I might put the rest on Freecycle. It was nice to see that some of the stuff was worth buying. I will say that seeing someone walk away with empty hands from your stuff is a little humiliating. You feel like saying, "What, my stuff isn't good enough for you?" But then again, it isn't good enough for me....hmmm.

August 20, 2008

Let the dynasty begin...

Last week, Jessi was invited to join the Junior Team at the Gymnastics Factory. It is a great honor, but also a great commitment. Just as with Elizabeth, Eric and I prayed about it and asked Jessi to pray about it. Of course, she feels that God wants her to be on the team and she is really excited. John is taking a Parent and Tot class on Saturdays and really enjoys it. Even Kyle is talking about taking gymnastics after he is done with T-ball. Eric and I are joking about starting a gymnastics dynasty in which an Overtoom will be competing in gymnastics from 2016 (Elizabeth), which, hopefully, will be in Chicago, to 2024 (John). We will have to meet some interesting financial challenges if that were to actually come true.

With Jessi starting team, I am embarking on a new role: part time work. I mean VERY part time. I will begin tutoring a homeschooled boy in geometry this fall and will be working at the Gymnastics Factory, where the girls train one day a week in exchange for reduced class fees. My philosophy is that every little bit helps.

August 9, 2008

That's entertaining! Or Not!

Six Flags day: If you remember a previous post about fair rides, I was a little concerned about going to Six Flags because a fair ride made me queasy. Rest assured, neither prunes, nor Yanni will be welcomed into the house anytime soon. Eric actually has told me that Yanni will never be welcome in the house. The kids and I had a blast going on rides. I was able to go with Jessi on "The Demon" which features both a loop de loop and a cork-screw turn. Elizabeth and I went on "The American Eagle" and "Viper" rollercoaster rides. I rode with John on the Whizzer and log flume ride. I didn't get to ride with Kyle, though :-(. I wanted to go with Kyle on the "The Demon," but, although he was thrilled that he was tall enough to ride the rollercoaster, he wasn't so thrilled about going on the ride. We all went together on a river rapids ride. When I went with John on the Log Flume and the Whizzer, I asked him at the end if he liked it and without smiling, he said "yes". However, the picture they took from the log flume showed something more like a grimace than a smile as we went down the long. Kyle's favorite part was the bumper cars, which he went with Eric.

Bad Day: The day after Six Flags was a bad day for everyone. We had all stayed up too late and were going through withdrawl after all the stimulation and sugar consumed (mainly in sodas). In the afternoon, I was apologizing to the kids for being so grumpy and Jessi chimed in, "Don't worry, Mom. God loves you anyway!" I've got to remember that line when my kids misbehave!

America's Got Talent: Eric and I managed to make it through a whole hour of "America's Got Talent" on Thursday to see who would go on to CA. We missed the Tuesday show because of Great America. Normally, I don't watch those type of shows because they seem to be in the genre of Roman Ampitheatre, like in the movie "Gladiator". However this season, a friend of Kristi Kloos, my sister-in-law, is competing. His name is Neal Boyd and he has a fantastic operatic voice. I think he is much better than the cross dressing opera star, even if the "guy" can sing from bass to soprano. However, watching the show was painful, mainly because of the judges. Halfway through I was so tired of seeing David Hasselhoff cry and Sharon Osborne trying to look stern. And of course, they left Neal Boyd as the last contestant. I felt so sorry for him because they really played on his emotions. From now on, we will tape it so we can fast forward. Go Neal!!! Vote early and vote often!

August 2, 2008

Kitchen update

A few months ago, I decided that I was sick of our kitchen. I had been living with it for almost eight years. It had a drop ceiling and dark walnut cabinets that were yucky, probably because I didn't do spring cleaning often enough. See what I mean? Don't you love the combination of faux butcher block, dark walnut and those antique brass knobs that have long been tarnished? In this picture, the drop ceiling is already gone, a July 4th project Eric completed.

Our budget is pretty tight right now, so we decided to paint the cabinets instead of re-covering them. Last night, after working for three weeks with a vacation break and other distractions, I finished painting a section of cabinets. This is what they look like:
I will work on the rest of the cabinets in five different groups to minimize problems with matching the doors and to minimize the amount of stuff we have to store on the table. And then there will be the big job of painting the walls, removing some useless decorative shelving, painting the windows, putting up curtains and replacing blinds. We will also probably recover the counters to match the new color scheme. One of our friends said he has the cutting tools to do it. It will probably be Christmas before we are done with the kitchen, but it will feel like a new kitchen. It also feels good to know that instead of just chucking old stuff, we are re-using and refurbishing perfectly good materials to make them beautiful.

The Fair

I didn't enjoy the fair as much this year as I usually do. I have two things to blame for this: a really hot day and the "Ring of Fire." The first part of our fair experience was letting kids go on a few rides. The younger kids went on three because they chose cheaper rides. However, Elizabeth wanted to go on "Ring of Fire", which cost four tickets. The "Ring of Fire" is a roller coaster ride in which the cars go around a vertical loop. I decided to go with her, partly as a protective mom and partly because I usually enjoy the rides at Six Flags where you go upside down, either in a cork-screw or a loop. However, as I buckled myself up for the ride, the thought occurred to me that it would take some time to build up enough momentum before the ride would start running in circles. As the thought lingered, the ride started up and I realized something: I do NOT like hanging sideways looking down. Nor do I like hanging almost upside down or even hanging completely upside down for more than three seconds. I also realized that I don't like going in loops backwards, which is strange because I don't mind riding trains backwards. Over the course of the ride, I also came to realize that the operator loved having people hang upside down for up to ten seconds because he slowed us down at the top a LOT. Elizabeth was, of course, having a blast while I was using all the self control I had to keep from screaming "Get me OFF this thing." When the ride was done, Elizabeth was ready for a second run. I, however, solemnly swore that I would NEVER get on that ride again. I think I picked up an extra grey hair or two. I also felt queasy for the rest of the time at the fair, so much so that I could not eat either of the fried dough products covered in powdered sugar we bought. And now I hate that ride for two reasons. It ruined the rest of the day for me and it made me feel old. This was a ride I in which I used to glory riding. I just hope that when we go to Six Flags in a few days, I will be able to enjoy "The Demon" with Elizabeth and maybe Jessi, which has both a cork-screw and a loop in it. If not, I might as well start eating prunes, playing shuffle-board and listening to Yanni. Sigh.

July 31, 2008

It is getting batty here

This is not a metaphor. Last week, as Eric and I were going to bed, we heard a bat chattering just outside our window. Then, last night, while we were enjoying the music of Beethoven at Ravinia, I spotted at least two bats flying around our area. I guess with all the water we had in the spring and early summer, hunting is good for the bats. I personally love the idea of bats being around here because that means less mosquitos. It is also fun to watch bats flying around because they fly like birds that have had one too many beers.

On the home front, it is hot and Elizabeth has a middle ear infection, which means we can't go swimming. I guess it means we will go out and play in the early morning and late afternoon.

July 22, 2008

Why I chose "Tandeming Trolls"

Some of you who are not family may have wondered why I chose a "Tandeming Trolls" moniker. After all, who would really want to be associated with a troll.

My husband and I met through a bike club. I was just getting into it and he was a hard core recreational bicyclist. He would go on 30 mile trips without any difficulty. I worked my way up to 30 mile bike rides when we were courting and twice paid an organization to ride 100 miles in a day. When my husband and I got married, instead of choosing a china pattern, we chose a tandem bicycle and asked people to help us buy it. It is the beautiful royal purple one in the picture. Now it has been converted to an adult/child tandem. My mom told me that I would regret not getting china. Well, mom, so far, I have had no need for it. Sorry!

Our last name is Dutch. The Dutch translation for Overtoom is either "Troll" or "Bridgetender". I liked the alliteration and rhythm of "Tandeming Trolls" much better than "Tandeming Bridgetender."

However, when deciding on a name for our homeschool, since homeschools are considered private schools in Illinois, my husband and I decided to call it "Bridgetender School" because bridgetender has a better connotation than troll.

July 19, 2008

Top 10 reasons why I homeschool

So many people ask me why I homeschool, when they learn what I do. I acknowledge that homeschooling is a personal choice and not everyone is called to homeschool. Public schools do a decent job of educating kids and I know there are great teachers out there. I also acknowledge that there is no perfect educational system, even homeschooling, because the teachers are limited. However, homeschooling appealed to me from the time I was pregnant with my first born for a number of reasons. Here are the top ten reasons that I homeschool. I have listed them so from least important to most important.

10. Bullies--I want teach my kids not to become one and limit their experiences with them to outside social activities.
9. The bus ride
8. I get to see my kids more than just the early morning sleepy grump and early afternoon/late evening cranky times.
7. My homeschool has a much better student-to-teacher ratio of any school around.
6. Lesson times are shorter because there is less inertia from large groups in the transition time, leaving more time for kids to pursue their own interests.
5. Kids can progress at their own rate in all the basic subjects without being labeled.
4. They learn to socialize with everyone, not just kids of their own age.
3. They can learn life skills, like peacemaking, forgiveness, learning to keep a house clean, budgeting, and cooking, so that when they get out in the "real world", they will have a lot less stress in the transition because the life skills will be second nature.
2. Homeschooling builds a special child-parent bond and bond between siblings that cannot be created by the public school.
1. God gave me the job. There are times I want to quit and there are times I feel God would be justified to fire me, but He keeps telling me this is my job. Until He releases me, I will continue to seek His wisdom on how to raise and teach my kids.

July 17, 2008

A close call

I am starting to realize that I am in a fairly "golden" age for my kids. Sure, they get into mischief and my oldest has a bit of attitude at times. However, they haven't gotten old enough to get into real trouble, they are starting to be a really big help in keeping the house clean and they play together fairly well which gives me some extra free time during the day so that I can write blogs and work on projects. I know that in the next five years, as my two oldest enter puberty, I will be experiencing tougher times.

God has been putting on my heart, though, to play more with my kids. I have put so much time in them, that part of me would like to take a break. This job of motherhood is the longest job I have ever held. Yet, I am not even halfway done with the job. I am feeling so tired most of the days, just trying to get the chores done that I have been content to let them play on their own. Yet, I know that Elizabeth and Jessi enjoyed a lot more attention when they were the boys age than Kyle and John have experienced.

This has been a general feeling lately, but this weekend, God gave me a kick in the pants. Most of the kids were downstairs playing in the basement of someone else's home which has a lot of children's books and toys (they also have a lot of books in general). The adults were upstairs talking amongst themselves when Eric was called downstairs by our youngest and found Jessi , lying on the ground and holding up a bookshelf with books surrounding her. Apparently, she wanted a book from the top shelf. Instead of calling one of us to get it, she tried climbing the bookshelf, which was not anchored into the wall. The books fell on her and the bookcase almost fell on her if she had not been somehow holding it up. She escaped with bruises and scrapes, which, to me, is a miracle. I only saw the aftermath, fortunately. I think we all said prayers of thanks to God for sparing her. I need to go to bed now, so I can play with my kids tomorrow with childlike abandon.

July 9, 2008

Conquering fears

My son, Kyle is afraid to do a lot of things. I am not exactly sure why he is afraid of so much other than that is the way God made him to teach us all as a family how to overcome our fears. I think this is Kyle's year to conquer many of his fears and gain confidence. One of his fears has to do with lakes/pools/oceans. When we went with Hawaii earlier this year, Kyle was content to stay on the beach building lakes, rivers, and Iceland filled with volcanoes using mainly his hands. He would wade a couple of feet into the water, or sit at the edge so that a wave would gently wash over him. But try and get him to go more than a couple of feet in the water and he would scream as if we were cutting off his arm. Today, I took the kids to Independence Grove, a forest preserve that has a man-made beach and lake. We hadn't been to a beach at all this summer--too cool. I spent time with each of the other kids in the water and then went over and played with Kyle. After a little while, I asked Kyle gently to come into the water. I explained that we would stop when the water was up to the top of his swim trunks. He was VERY uncertain about it. I took hold of his hand and led him out, letting him stop a couple times to get adjusted to feeling the water around his legs. He was crying and I asked him if I was hurting him or if the water was hurting him. He just said it felt funny. Then I had him turn around to see how close he was to the shore. I asked him to try kneeling on the ground to see how low the water still was. A huge grin broke out on his face as he realized that this wasn't so bad after all. I almost visibly saw all the fear go out of him to be replaced by pure joy. By the end of our time, he was walking out until the water until it reached his chest and walked on his hands in the shallow water, letting his legs float behind him. He couldn't stop smiling. Neither could I. We both felt joy and triumph.

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37

House projects and thoughts of spring cleaning

I know that it is a little late for spring cleaning. Actually, I haven't ever really done spring cleaning in this house, not like what I read about in Farmer Boy or heard about from my grandmothers. Orthodox Jews have spring cleaning just before Passover to get out any possible trace of yeast from their house. The "Chicago Tribune" wrote about it a year or so ago and made me glad I wasn't an orthodox Jew in the spring.

Eric and I have been working on our house a bit this year since gas prices and airfare have gone up so much recently, making travel pretty expensive. I just finished painting our bedroom except for the ceiling, which really needs it. Now I am starting to work on the kitchen. Eric already did his part. He took down the drop ceiling, uncovering a mysterious electrical box that looks like it broke through the wall near the ceiling and a bunch of flour moth larva. He also installed track lighting for work areas, a round light for general light, and painted the ceiling. I started preparing some of the cabinets over the stove to be painted, since we can neither afford new ones or the facades you can put over perfectly good but ugly cabinets. This is where the link to spring cleaning comes in play. It took me a good hour or so to clean off six cabinet doors this morning, mainly because I neglected to annually degrease them. Some of the grease had bonded to the varnish and I had to basically strip it using a scrub brush, tri-sodium phosphate and, at times, a putty knife. I also took time to clean the insides of the cabinets because I hadn't done that in quite a while. While I was doing all of this cleaning, I wondered how many people do spring cleaning these days. Is it a vanished practice of a bygone era? I certainly don't remember my mom doing spring cleaning, though she probably worked on it while I was at school. I actually think February would be a good month for doing spring cleaning, since in the Midwest at least, the weather is still pretty bad and we are starting to get cabin fever from all the cold weather since sometime between October and December. Technically it is still wintertime, but when spring actually hits, who wants to be inside cleaning cabinets, refrigerators, dusting and cleaning all those fiddly bits you don't usually get to regularly, like lamp shades? Not me. My favorite part of Wind in the Willows is when Mole gets fed up with spring cleaning and says "hang it all" and runs outside for some fresh clean air.

One thing I noticed is that the wood cabinets weren't nearly so dark and ugly once I finished getting the years of dirt off of them. I will still paint them because the kitchen isn't big enough to support the dark walnut stain and nothing improves a place more than a fresh coat of paint. When I am done, I might use my newfound skills of prepping and painting wood to try and paint over the dark walnut finish of the kitchen window. Dark walnut woodwork pervades our house, giving it a wonderful 70's feel, even though the house was built in the 1980's. Over time, that too will change.

June 19, 2008

Being humbled

Tonight, while I was helping my second daughter get ready, she said to me, "You look like a grandma to me." When I asked her why she thought that, she replied, "You are getting gray hair."
I sputtered, "But I only have four gray hairs at most (I've counted them). Do you think Daddy looks like a grandpa?"
"Yes," she replied and went into her room to pick up, leaving me to tend to my wounded pride and self esteem. Of course, I had to tell my DH when he returned home from band practice.

I think the Lord uses our children to humble us the most, in so many ways. It is good for us too :-).

"Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained by a righteous life."
Proverbs 16:31

Renewed Hunger

I confess that I have been in a spiritual sulk for a while. We have had a hard year in our church, we have witnessed good friends and godly people seem to turn away from God and follow their own desires and I have dealing with personal setbacks. My head tells me, "Remember, Romans 8:28 says that all things work for the good of others and the glory of God.". Even with that encouragement, it is sometimes hard to live out that faith in my heart. It has been tempting to join my friends and turn away from God. Yet I know better because, in the past, I tried living without Jesus for a relatively brief , terrible, horrible, no good, very bad time. I thought I could live life fine without God and He used that time to demonstrate conclusively that I couldn't: I couldn't make better decisions, I couldn't navigate through life very well, I couldn't even keep the promises I made to myself about being a good person. Therefore I know that however hard a place God has put me, I know that living without God in my life would be much worse. Recently, God has been wooing me out of my sulk, mainly by pouring out His grace into my life to prepare me to pour it out on others. During the Illinois Christian Homeschooling Conference, He really opened the floodgates and started lifting my eyes up to the hills and realize that my help comes from God (Psalm 121:1&2, read all of it sometime when you really need your spirits lifted).

As a result, I have felt a renewed hunger for God's word and for loving Him with my whole heart mind and strength. My husband and I are starting to go through the "Experiencing God" Bible Study (which I highly recommend) and when I get the chance, I am reading My Utmost For His Highest as a midday break to carry me through the remainder of the day. Today's devotional is about the service of passionate devotion and is based on John 21:16. The comments from Oswald Chambers that really spoke to me were the following (italics are my thoughts):
  • Jesus Christ call service what we are to Him, not what we do for Him. (He values us, not our works. Even though I have experienced it personally, it is still hard to accept because I don't consider myself to be much of a prize and I have a tendency to be task oriented.)
  • People do not want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. (It is easier to do the works than to figure out what it means to be devoted to God--I know this personally)
  • Our Lord's first obedience was to the will of the Father, not to the needs of men; the saving of men was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. (Deeds are the natural result of devotion but deeds can not come first)
  • If I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity though men treat me as a door mat. (because it is Jesus' love that pours out of me into the people around me. As His love pours into me, I have no room left for overweening pride, selfishness, or personal agendas.)

Praise God, who knows how foolish and prideful and inept I am at truly loving Him as He ought to be loved. Praise Him for showing me, little by little, with great patience, how He wants me to love Him. Praise Him for walking with me through this time and keeping me on His path. Blessed be the name of the Lord!


June 12, 2008

Being Born Again

When I was 12, I was introduced to Jesus by my Grandma and Grandpa Carmichael. Actually, it wasn't my first introduction. I had people telling me about Jesus since I was a little girl and sang "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and "Jesus Loves Me." I had pored over a Bible story book and best loved the picture of Jesus holding a little child in his arms with an expression of loving bliss on his face. However, no one told me that I had to pray to ask Jesus to forgive my sins and receive him in my heart in order to be saved. In the two weeks I spent with Grandma and Grandpa Carmichael, I heard this message every Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening at church, in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. They took the words of Deuteronomy 6:7 VERY seriously. I remember thinking "Every discussion we have returns to the Bible and God". And yet, the last Sunday morning, when the pastor was preaching, a little voice (not a physical voice, just that little voice in your head that tells you things like not to put the glass that close to the edge of the table) told me that I needed to respond to Jesus' message of repentence and forgiveness. I whispered to my Grandma that I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart and she hightailed us to the preacher. He questioned me to make sure I really understood what I was wanting to do and led me in the sinner's prayer. After I was done, I immediately felt a great weight being lifted from my body and being filled with untainted joy.

This weekend, at the Illinois Christian Home Educator's Convention, I had another "born again" experience. For the last two years, I have been trying to figure out what I believed about creation: Did God make everything in six, twenty-four hour days or was it six indeterminite periods of time, which is another translation of the Hebrew word, as my former pastor had mentioned in a sermon many years ago? I was taught as a child that "scientific evidence" in the form of carbon dating, reported that the earth was much older than what would be considered by taking the times and geneologies mentioned in the Bible. There were also passages that supported the "old earth" theory", mainly Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8 and the fact that the sun wasn't created until the third "day". How could God count 24 hours without the sun? On the other hand, any Being that could create everything out of nothing could do it all in six days or even less. At stake was my credibility (a.k.a. pride) as a graduate with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois. How could I (gasp) turn my back on all of my scientific training? Grammer was the key to my "salvation" (forgive me for getting melodramatically silly). One of the keynote speakers whose focus was comparing Biblical Creation against Evolution, starting making arguments for the young earth theory. He talked about the passages in Genesis dealing with creation and mentioned the fact that in Hebrew, when ordinal numbers are used (first, second, etc) combined with the Hebrew word for day, it always refers to a 24 hour period. Secondly, God defined day and night in Genesis 1:5, before He even created the Sun, Moon and Stars. But the final convincing evidence was when the speaker mentioned God's words about creation in Exodus 20, when He gives Isreal the Law. Exodus 20:11 states "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy." A connection was made: If God uses the word "day" in Exodus 20:11 and if He doesn't change as Numbers 23:19 and James 1:17 says, then God is saying that he created it in six days. There is definite logic in that argument. Sure I may look like a fool to people like Richard Dawkins and the Carl Sagan wannabes and even my dad, who is an evolutionist; but as that great philosopher, Connie Stevens sang "Everybody's somebody's fool". I would rather be a fool for Christ than anybody else's fool. I felt that same sense of release and joy that I did when I first asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, mainly because I was no longer double minded.

1 Corinthians 3:18-20:
Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness" ; and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile."