Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Who daily loads us with benefits,
The God of our salvation!
I am ashamed to say that I've overlooked the "loads" of benefits in my life. I know without doubt that I've been blessed, but when I read "loads" that took me by surprise for some reason. Not only does God bless uswith benefits, but He does it daily and by loads.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour our your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
Something was said this morning in a prayer about life (I have no remembrance of what the details were because I think I must have immediately wondered to the following thought.)
Life continues eternally after our bodies are gone.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Oh, I should add that we finished our school year today! Yippee! We are both ready for a break. We'll start back up after labor day. I should also mention that we'll continue doing math and science during the time off. I know Amy isn't so thrilled, but hey you gotta do what you gotta do. ; )
Today we "killed" and ant and brought it back to life. I thought later that I should have taken pictures. First step is to collect a bug. Second, put it in water until it "dies" (you'll have to hold it down). After you're sure it's dead (this can take a while) spoon it out onto a paper towel, cover it with salt and wait. Watch it closely. Pretty soon you'll see your bug crawl away. Pretty cool!
I will admit to having bought two Christmas presents already, but that's it.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
This is an outstanding testimony from Tony Snow, President Bush's Press Secretary, and his fight with cancer. Commentator and broadcaster Tony Snow announced that he had colon cancer in 2005. Following surgery and chemo-therapy, Snow joined the Bush Administration in April 2006 as press secretary. Unfortunately, on March 23, 2007, Snow, 51, a husband and father of three, announced the cancer had recurred, with tumors found in his abdomen,- leading to surgery in April, followed by more chemotherapy. Snow went back to work in the White House Briefing Room on May 30, but has resigned since, "for economic reasons," and to pursue "other interests."
He passed away on July 12, 2008 at the age of 53.
Blessings arrive in unexpected packages, - in my case, cancer. Those of us with potentially fatal diseases - and there are millions in America today - find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence "What It All Means," Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.
The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the "why" questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.
I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is, a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.
But despite this, - or because of it, - God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.
Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.
To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life,- and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many non believing hearts - an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live fully, richly, and exuberantly - no matter how their days may be numbered.
Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease,- smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see, - but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance; and comprehension - and yet don't. By His love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.
'You Have Been Called'. Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. "It's cancer," the healer announces.
The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. "Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler." But another voice whispers: "You have been called." Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter, - and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our "normal time."
There's another kind of response, although usually short-lived an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tiny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.
The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing though the known world and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.
There's nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue, - for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do.
Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.
We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us, that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God's love for others. Sickness gets us part way there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two peoples' worries and fears.
'Learning How to Live'. Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God's arms, not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power and authority of love.
I sat by my best friend's bedside a few years ago as a wasting cancer took him away. He kept at his table a worn Bible and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. A shattering grief disabled his family, many of his old friends, and at least one priest. Here was an humble and very good guy, someone who apologized when he winced with pain because he thought it made his guest uncomfortable. He retained his equanimity and good humor literally until his last conscious moment. "I'm going to try to beat [this cancer]," he told me several months before he died. "But if I don't, I'll see you on the other side."
His gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn't promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity, - filled with life and love we cannot comprehend, - and that one can in the throes of sickness point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms.
Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?
When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it. It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up, - to speak of us!
This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.
What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don't know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us who believe, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place, in the hollow of God's hand."
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Every year the Madison Children's Museum (MCM) has a American Girl sale to benefit the museum. It's held at the AG warehouse. Amy had heard about it and wanted to go. Tickets went on sale June 7 at 10:00. I was on-line right at 10:00 and was sent directly to the "waiting room." By the time it was my turn we ended up with noon tickets. (They started at 7:00.)
Here we are before the sale. We (all three of us) arrived around 11:30 or so. We were directed to the line which was divided by time areas. The 11:15 or 11:30 group was still in line, so we wondered how long we'd have to wait. I think we waited about 30 or 40 minutes in the sun. They had a big tent set up for these lines, but we didn't quite get under it before our turn.
The warehouse was pretty full of people and it was warm, but we managed to shop anyway. ; ) DH was very helpful to hold the bags of stuff for us while we looked. I'm so thankful.
Amy bought three dolls (among other things) on Saturday and two others for someone else. I managed to get out of there with only three hangers, a Bitty Baby outfit from years ago, and the Winter Weekend outfit.
On Sunday dh and Amy decided they'd go back (it was free to get in). They arrived around 7:30 and stood/sat in line for an hour and a half. WOW! I'm so glad I slept in. I think Amy bought a few things, but I don't remember. After checking out of the hotel we decided to go back one last time. ; ) That's when I found a couple more items.
So here's the loot I brought home. On Saturday the dolls were between $55 and $85. What was left on Sunday (the Just Like You dolls) were $35. I'm glad I waited. Although, I honestly had no plans to buy any dolls.
Emily is modeling the Winter Weekend outfit.
DH thought we should get a big plastic bin to house all the dolls (8 in all).
On Sunday after the sale, we left for Chicago and the American Girl Place. Once arriving, we were able to have a time of family worship and relax. On Monday morning we got up early so we could make the hour long drive to downtown. We wanted to be there when they opened so we could leave after lunch. So I actually got up at 7:00. I was pretty tired all day, but it was worth it to have the store mostly to ourselves at 9:00. We were able to look around and shop before it got crowded. We ate lunch in their cafe as a special treat.
Here's Heather, one of Amy's new dolls sitting at the table in the cafe.
Here are all the items I got from AG Place.
Above is my now expanded doll collection. From left to right: Etta Leigh, Josefina, Emily and Just Like You #25 who will be named soon. Etta's name comes from my middle name and dh's middle name with the feminine spelling. She is the doll that "looks" like me, although the only similarity is the hair and eye color. ; )
We had a great time. Even hubby enjoyed it. He felt good all weekend and was able to relax. And now it's great to be home!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I really think the dog would much rather stay home, but walking is good for her also.
Queen Anne's Lace
Chicory. If you click on the picture you can see it better. I was disappointed that most of the close-up pictures I took of it were blurry.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
This quote came from a Charlotte Mason blog. Click here to read the whole article.
I must admit that waiting is difficult. Right now I'm waiting until we have health insurance (Aug. 1) to get some medical tests done. Meanwhile, sewing for my dolls, Emily and Josefina, has been like therapy for me. I listen to books on my ipod and sew. I told my dh that I'll have a slew of dolls clothes by the time I get through this. I'm trying to be like Job and worship God in the midst of suffering. I'm not really suffering, but the worry gets the best of me at times. I appreciate prayers and in the meantime enjoy all the pictures of the new doll clothes. As I've said before sewing isn't the only thing I do. We have one week of school left for our year. Then we'll have several weeks off. So school takes up some amount of my time along with daily household chores.
DH encouraged me to get out and walk, so Amy & I have been two days in a row. Today we learned something. You know those pretty periwinkle-colored flowers that grow by the side of the road? As far as I can tell from pictures it looks like chicory. I could be wrong, but it was a fun discovery. I'll see if I can get a picture of it to post.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Nearer Still Nearer
Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Savior—so precious Thou art!
Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast.
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest”;
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest.”
Nearer, still nearer, nothing I bring,
Naught as an offering to Jesus, my King;
Only my sinful, now contrite heart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.
Nearer, still nearer, Lord, to be Thine!
Sin, with its follies, I gladly resign,
All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride,
Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified.
Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified.
Nearer, still nearer, while life shall last.
Till safe in glory my anchor is cast;
Through endless ages ever to be
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee;
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways.
And My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8, 9.
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20, 21.
This skirt came from Dollar Tree (along with three others). They are skirts for babies 6-12 months. Someone mentioned these on the AG fans board. I brought them home and Amy sewed the side seams smaller to fit the dolls. I added the pink ribbon to this one to break up all the white.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Tomorrow I'm going to finish an outfit I'm making for the AG Fans Board sewing swap. Let's just say sewing is therapy. :)
I need prayer for some health issues I'm having. I may blog about them later (or not), but for now I'd appreciate prayer.