Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My little man!!

We have crossed a milestone tonight and not a very good one. Tonight marks the first time that we have taken one of the children to the ER because of an accident. We did, of course, all go to the ER after the wreck, but this is the first visit for a childhood accident.

William fell tonight while running around outside the church with the other children after the missions conference dinner. He split open his lip and his right front tooth was knocked up into his gum. Nothing can be done for the tooth. Either it will be fine or it will fall out, leaving my adorable 2 year old toothless for 3-5 years until the permanent tooth comes in at a normal time. The main problem is the lip, as the split was wide and deep. I am concerned that the scar will show—he is such a handsome little man! Can one be vain for another person?

Joe and I have talked about serving on the mission field before and see ourselves as missionaries in some ways in the way that we look at God's calling on our lives and in this place. However, when we were actually thinking about moving to Peru, one of our reasons to not go was because of how we handle nights like tonight. Tonight cemented the fact that our gracious Lord has much work to do on me before I would be ready for a calling to overseas missions.

It was a “rubber meets the road” night. And I failed the test. As we dealt with the accident, I was short with Joseph, rude to Joe, and generally all criticisms and accusations when I should have displayed acceptance and peace. As much as I can write about wanting to submit to God's curriculum for me, I muddle through the lessons and sometimes refuse them all together, preferring to do my own thing.

I guess though that this realization is a lesson too. One more chance for me to see my sin and one more chance for Christ's grace to work in me, his strength to be made perfect in my weakness.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It has rained here for most of the day again today. No threatening thunderstorms, just constant and sometimes very heavy rain. A few nights ago we had a bit of a scare (or rather I did--Joe is much calmer about such things) with a tornado. There were warnings for our county and they said the tornado was heading towards Vaiden, which I knew was near here because I have seen the signs. However, I didn't know exactly where Vaiden was and so I was frantically looking at maps trying to figure out if we were in danger. We were not; Vaiden is about 20 miles from here. For future reference I did print out a map of our county that includes all of the little towns near here so that next time we'll know where the tornado is! (And my dear hubby also ordered a weather alarm radio that will beep if there is an alert issued for our area—which is quite handy if one wants to sleep on a stormy night but is afraid of being sucked up by an unexpected tornado while sleeping.)

My bloglines account is down. Firefox is having some sort of trouble with Java and so my feed tree is empty. I have missed keeping up with everyone.

Lastly, we have finally gotten back to working on the office. We have ordered season 3 of 24 and have set goals of how much of the office we have to finish before we can watch each episode so that by the time we are finished with the season the office will be finished too. It is an ingenious strategy because it harnesses our insatiable appetite for Jack Bauer's perilous escapades with the drudgery of stripping wallpaper, spackling, priming, and repainting. We've decided on red, which is great because our house is overrun by a cheery pale yellow right now, and we could use some deeper colors.

Okay, that is enough for tonight. Off to talk to hubby.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

based on Song of Solomon 1:3 “Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth.”

1. How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

2. It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
'Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

3. Dear Name, the rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

4. By Thee, my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

5. Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King,
My Lord, my life, my way, my end,
Accept the praise I bring.

6. Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I'll praise Thee as I ought.

7. 'Til then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy name
Refresh my soul in death.

--John Newton

Friday, October 13, 2006

God's curriculum

Many days the devotional that I get from Elisabeth Elliot is the only morsel of Scriptural truth that I am able to meditate on in a day. But, oh, they are such gems! Today's was long and on contentment. It contained my favorite Amy Carmichael quote too.

If you are not already subscribed to these daily devotionals, I heartily recommend that you do so. Here is a portion:

Everything about which we are tempted to complain may be the very instrument whereby the Potter intends to shape His clay into the image of His Son--a headache, an insult, a long line at the check-out, someone's rudeness or failure to say thank you, misunderstanding, disappointment, interruption. As Amy Carmichael said, "See in it a chance to die," meaning a chance to leave self behind and say YES to the will of God, to be "conformable unto His death." Not a morbid martyr-complex but a peaceful and happy contentment in the assurance that goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives. Wouldn't our children learn godliness if they saw the example of contentment instead of complaint? acceptance instead of rebellion? peace instead of frustration?

Everything? Everything about which I am tempted to complain may be the very instrument whereby my Lord intends to shape me more into the image of Christ. That certainly puts a new light on the petty frustrations of life with little ones. It means that when Will was helping me make a cake this morning and knocked a cup full of baked pumpkins seeds on the floor, breaking the cup and scattering seeds across the kitchen that it was an opportunity for God to sanctify me. The frustration (and let's be honest here, anger) that immediately surfaced was my sin staring me blatantly in the face. Oh, I need grace! I need Christ's sacrifice on my behalf!

An excerpt from another EE devotional earlier this week provides this fitting closing:

Mercifully, God does not leave us to choose our own curriculum. His wisdom is perfect, His knowledge embraces not only all worlds but the individual hearts and minds of each of His loved children. With intimate understanding of our deepest needs and individual capacities, He chooses our curriculum. We need only ask, "Give us this day our daily bread, our daily lessons, our homework." An angry retort from someone may be just the occasion we need in which to learn not only longsuffering and forgiveness, but meekness and gentleness; fruits not born in us but borne only by the Spirit. As Amy Carmichael wrote, "A cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly jarred" (From her book IF published by Christian Literature Crusade).

God's curriculum for all who sincerely want to know Him and do His will will always include lessons we wish we could skip. But the more we apply ourselves, the more honestly we can say what the psalmist said: "I, thy servant, will study thy statutes. / Thy instruction is my continual delight; / I turn to it for counsel. / I will run the course set out in thy commandments, / for they gladden my heart" (Psalm 119:23, 24, 32, NEB).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

An overflowing closet and an abundant blessing

I have been keeping my eyes open for several months now for fall clothes for Joseph. In fact, I scooped up several pairs of long pants and long sleeved shirts for $.25 or $.50 an item at yard sales this summer when it was so hot outside that it almost seemed impossible that one could ever want to wear long winter clothes. We also went shopping from 9-5 last Thursday in Jackson and got church clothes and shoes at the mall. Finally, I picked up a few things at the thrift store this past Saturday when they had a $5 a bag sale. (BTW, I had 2 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, 2 pairs of almost new boots, a small food processor, an electric waffle iron, 2 candlestick holders, a set of notecards, 4 ties, and 16 cloth napkins into my bag—that's less than .$25 an item!)

Inspired by the Tightwad Gazette, I have really been trying to be more frugal and to be more open-minded about yard sales and the thrift store. It has been a lesson for me. Six months ago, I would've turned my nose up at both, but I have been humbly trying new territory....And it is fun! I love the bargains I can get. (Although I must admit that I am still embarrassed to say so in public—except for here, but that isn't the same. We were having dinner with a new couple from church on Saturday night and the wife raved that she just loves to find “bargains.” Joe, thinking of my newly-found yard saling prowess chimed in, “Oh, Hallie does too.” She went on to explain how she finds “cheap” antiques that are a steal, and I blushed and waited to see if my dear hubby would mention my fabulous finds at the thrift store. He didn't, and I let out a little sigh of relief—pride intact.) All of this to say that I am learning not only to try to be content with less, but also to try to be more creative.

The amazing thing is that God has just blessed above and beyond what I could have expected in this area. At church on Sunday, I was lamenting that Joseph's brand new Sunday khakis had shrunk so much after the first wash that they were already too small. My friend remarked that she had some hand-me-downs from her son that she thought might fit Joseph. She dropped them buy yesterday afternoon, and I sorted them last night after the boys were in bed. There were enough clothes not only for Joseph to have a full wardrobe for this fall and winter, but for next spring and summer too! And they are cute things, name brands some of which are expensive and I would never even buy! Even down to socks and a warm winter coat—all barely worn! Even a pair of overalls, which Joseph has been asking for, but I just wasn't going to buy brand new. Isn't God good? I have just been amazed all day as I have washed and folded it all. I called my friend this morning to thank her and need to write her a note too. Joseph has more clothes than he can wear!!!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dinnertime discipleship

Tonight we had dinner with 2 couples from our church and had such a good time. The boys were pretty well-behaved and it was just a pleasant evening. It was so nice to be in the home of people that we care about and to whom we have been called. We truly believe that God has given us these people in this church and community to love. As we considered a call to overseas missions before ending up here, this place seems even more evidently our current mission field than it might otherwise seem. God clearly placed us here in this place and it is so good to remember that. I don't want to get caught up in living life that I forget what God has called us to. As we make friends and get to know people, I want to keep in mind my duty to love as Christ loved me and the mission He gave our family to minister in His name.

And so even in the middle of comfortable conversation and easy fellowship around the table, may I be mindful that I am to be living out the Gospel in my interactions. What does this mean? Most obviously, it means that my conversation should be seasoned with grace and not gossip, sarcasm, or complaining. That I must seek to love what God loves and hate what God hates in the way that I speak. Am I speaking about my children to others in a way that shows that I consider them a blessing or a curse? Am I treating the reputations of others with care and love in the way that I speak of those not present?

It also means that it should be the goal of my heart not to just share easy conversation, but to use time with fellow believers to truly encourage them in the faith. This is a hard one. I can carry on a conversation, but my words will wither and pass away. It is only the word of the Lord that will stand forever. May I be mindful of opportunities to take conversations deeper and to encourage a real struggle with the faith and a transparent trust in my Lord.

I am praying that as I have opportunities in growing relationships that God will grant me the ability to speak the truth in love and to spur others on towards love and good deeds. I know I need people like that in my life and that is who I want to become.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Full-time shopping

Today the Holland family made a trip to the big city to buy some fall clothes for Joseph. Since we are huge "hand-me-downers," the younger boys have most of what they need, but Joseph was in desparate need of some church clothes. We have switched from the john-johns and white shoes to the khakis and button up for him--he is so grown up! Every time I wash him or dress him, I am just amazed at how big he is! How did I ever have a son with feet this big?

I also got some fun brown heels (to complement Joseph's buy one get one 1/2 off deal). I cannot remember when I last bought fun new shoes. I get new running shoes (that I wear every day) at least yearly, but I haven't bought other shoes in longer than I can even remember. We also got some great t-shirts and shorts on huge discount for Joseph for next summer--that is unless he continues to grow like a weed and I underestimated it!

I also got some flax seeds at the natural foods co-op and am looking forward to adding them to our diet. I with that I was better about natural eating, but I guess each step in a positive direction is better than nothing.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


It is October 3rd and all three of my children have spent a delightful afternoon in the kiddie pool in the yard. It was 92 degrees and so I figured that it must be okay although all of my Virginia-raised sensibilities bristled at the notion of bathing suits in October. I have already put away the sunscreen for the year and so I was a bit worried that they'll sunburn! Even baby David enjoyed crawling around and splashing enthusiastically in the 10 inch deep water. He gasped at the coldness every time his brothers splashed.

I also experimented in the kitchen tonight. After I brought David inside and William and Joseph were still playing outside in the pool, I needed to find something to do in the kitchen that would allow me to watch them through the window. I decided to try to make fresh pasta as I has seen a recipe a few days earlier. It was good, but I don't think quite good enough to justify rolling it out and painstainkingly cutting each individual noodle. I mixed some fresh basil into half of the dough and that was delicous. If I try it again, I need to figure out how to roll the dough into thinner sheets before cutting because all of the noodles were too thick. Still, at least I tried!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Back in the saddle again

The past few days have been uneventful in household Holland. We've been getting back into the swing of things after a great visit with my parents and just living life. Joe preached a great sermon on Sunday night on our identity as Christians and the seriousness of sin from 1 Peter 2:9-12. Yesterday, we had a candlelight spaghetti supper with really yummy sauce and homemade breadsticks and topped it all off with Sonic slushies for dessert.
The 2 younger boys are down for naps (although William is still singing) and Joseph is resting in the play room. I have a few minutes for "me." I have been thinking a bit recently about how things are going with me and one thought I've had is about how I am doing in managing our home.
Before we moved here, I feel like I had a better handle on my household. I don't know if it is because this is a bigger house, but I always feel like I am unorganized and behind on housework. I want to take a few minutes this afternoon to work on my household notebook to see if I can get reorganized. I might even have to revert to the Flylady!