Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sunday hymn

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

Text: Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847
Music: John Goss
Tune: LAUDA ANIMA, Meter: 87.87.87

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like me His praise should sing?
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same forever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish
Blows the wind and it is gone
But while mortals rise and perish
God endures unchanging on
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Praise the high eternal One

Fatherlike He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He Knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Widely as His mercy goes.

Angels help us to adore Him;
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him, praise Him,
Praise with us the God of grace.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Words for Mamas

"The Home Circle may be, ought to be, the most delightful place on earth, the center of the purest affections and most desirable associations, as well as of the most attractive and exalted beauties to be found this side of paradise. There is one vision that never fades from the soul, and that is the vision of mother and of home. No man in all his weary wanderings ever goes out beyond the overshadowing arch of home. Let him stand on the surf-beaten coast of the Atlantic, or roam over the western wilds, and every dash of the wave or murmur of the breeze will whisper. . .HOME, SWEET HOME!"

from: The Golden Gems of Life ~ Gathered Jewels for the Home Circle
by Ferguson & Allen
published 1882

Christmas catch-up

I have done what many people (judging from the few new post on my bloglines) did and skipped bloggin the past few days. The day after Christmas, we went to Atlanta to visit Joe's mom and just returned yesterday. It was a fine visit and the boys did the best on the 6 hour trip trip each way of any car trip that I can remember. We only stopped twice for quick stops and that really is the key for long trips. The time with family was good too, although it is never easy to be in someone else's home with small children. I was so glad to be here last night!

We visited the new Atlanta Aquarium on Thursday along with several thousand others. It was miserable! You could not see many of the tanks because people lined the walls 10 deep. And I had heard that it was such a cool place that I was disappointed in general by the exhibits. The large tanks were neat, but all I could think about was how many germs the thousands of people that we were sardined in with must be carrying! (You know that you're a mom when....)

On another and definitely unusual note, Joe and I stayed up until 5 AM last night finishing season 5 of 24, which Joe got for Christmas! We'll be paying for it today, but if we can make it until lunch time, we'll grab naps when the boys nap. We enjoyed it and it was very out of character for us. Now if we can just remember to be nice today we'll be doing fine.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sunday hymn

Once in Royal David's city by Mrs. Cecil Alexander
Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.
He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior Holy.
And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly Maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.
For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.
And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.
Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God's right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Words for Mamas

For my Saturday posts, I've decided to start posting some quotes on motherhood and homemaking to encourage all of you mamas out there.

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay in her book For the Family's Sake:

"Have we not heard, have we not seen that human life is a gift, a treasure worth tending? Is it actually more valuable to push a pen on paper or buttons on a computer than to be an expert in human life and its care? Is life more worthwhile because there is never time to pick wild blackberries and make a fruit crumble? Are *things* really more important that *people*? Will the warmth and wisdom of the expertise of caring for each other be handed on? Isn't this an amazingly interesting and complex life vocation on the one hand, and yet clear on the other? I find it so. To me it seems an enormous privilege to be what my children call "Mum." I've found each stage full of challenge and interest."

Thursday, December 21, 2006


For a news story right out of Mayberry, see this article that appeared this past Wednesday in this week's (yes, the paper only comes out once a week) Kosciusko paper. This one should definitely be included in the collections of dumb criminals stories that always seem to be circulating.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The importance of discipline

I don't know why I have a blog when most of the time the best thing to do is just quote Elisabeth Elliot. Another long one, but so good. She writes first about the need to discipline our children, but then points us towards God's loving discipline of His children.

Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: All That Was Ever Ours

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:32 Deuteronomy 1:27-32 Hebrews 12:6-8

The Comfort of Discipline

Too many parents today hate their children. We saw it a couple of weeks ago, and in church at that. Lars and I attended a very small church where there was a very large number of small children. The creaking of pews, rustling of books and papers, dropping of crayons and toys and offering-plate nickels, talking, crying, and traipsing up and down the aisles for trips to the rest room all made it quite impossible to listen to the sermon. One child who was sitting with his father in front of us was passed forward over the back of the pew to his mother. Immediately he wanted daddy. Back over the pew again, headfirst into his father's lap. In a few minutes, up to mommy. So it went.

A week later we went to a much larger church with over a hundred children present. They were quiet. We were amazed, and later questioned a couple who were members there. ''We believe Christian parents should control their children," they said simply. Where did they get that idea, we wanted to know. Well, from the Bible. The Book of Proverbs speaks repeatedly of the use of the rod. One reference is in chapter 13: "A father who spares the rod hates his son, but one who loves him keeps him in order." The implication is clear: The keeping of order, where children are concerned, sometimes requires the use of the rod.

In the small church, it seemed, they hated their children. In the big one they loved them. They were taught (from the pulpit, the couple told us) to love them according to the Bible's definition of love: Keep them in order.

My dear friend Mari, the wife of a Welsh shepherd, writes often about lessons she learns from watching sheep. In a letter to me she described a very hard winter:

All the sheep were brought down from the mountain early, about one thousand breeding ewes. Two hundred are wintering in a lowland farm while the others are hand-fed here with hay and maize. The grass is covered with snow...When John wants to move sheep or cows from one pasture to another it is a hopeless job when the lambs or calves take to running their own way. They will be followed invariably by their mothers, who will go headlong after their offspring, blindly, in their care for them. What chaos! If only the parents would stay where they were, holding their ground, defending their standpoint, the little ones would eventually return to them and would willingly be led together to the right place.

Although our men are fighting hard against nature's elements these days, even that's easier than fighting unchanged, selfish human nature. I wonder: are the sheep and cows a true picture of what's happening in the world? Road men refuse to grit and salt the snow-covered roads; dustmen, gravediggers, and others are pressing for more money. It is so true that money is the source of all evils. If it isn't the capitalists it's the workers. This has been true in every generation. But now parents are leaning backwards to please their children, afraid of displeasing them. Teachers live in fear of their pupils at school, bosses are afraid of the workers, the government of trade unions. It's anarchy.

Anarchy is the complete absence of order and authority. It's what lambs and calves like. It's what people like too--for themselves. (It's another matter when the neighbors scorn order and authority.) A Houston high school principal described the new educational system as a "cross-graded, multi-ethnic, individualized, open-ended learning program with the main objective being to learn respect for the uniqueness of a person." Maybe that's what the parents in the little church were aiming for. It was open-ended, all right, and each unique little individual was doing his or her not particularly unique thing. The result was chaos, if not downright anarchy. A short lesson, emphasized in the vestibule with a narrow "board of education," i.e., a rod, might have done wonders to teach small individuals respect for the persons around them, who were there not to provide an audience for their antics but to worship.

The trouble starts, of course, not when the kids tumble out of the station wagon and charge into church. It starts at home, before they can walk, with parents who believe that love means giving them what they want and letting them do what they choose. They don't like ordinary food. They blow it out when they're babies and throw it on the floor or down the garbage grinder later on. They scream for other foods, and their screams are rewarded. If screams don't do the trick, tantrums will, especially in public. (Watch them around the gumball machine in any supermarket. The initial "No" is quickly reversed.) A child who doesn't throw tantrums can use another weapon--he can go into a sulk. His parents pity him and this teaches him to pity himself. When things don't go his way he knows that he has a right to resentment. The spiritual implications in later life of this kind of early training are disastrous: ''If God loves me he will give me what I want. If he does not give me what I want he does not love me." That isn't what the Bible teaches, of course, but it's what a child may conclude if his parents operate this way.

Training children, like corralling calves and lambs, is a great deal of trouble. It takes sacrifice. It's much easier to let them go. But you can't do that if you care about them. Only the one who cares about them will go to the trouble of bringing them under control. "The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep." The sheep don't take kindly to the crook he uses, to the dogs who herd them where they don't want to go, or to the disinfectant baths they are plunged into. It is the shepherd's sole purpose to take care of them, to see to their well-being according to his wisdom, not according to their whims.

My parents loved us enough to make us wear galoshes (those awful things with black metal clasps) when "nobody else had to wear them"; to see to it that we got five meals a day (three for the body and two for the soul, the latter including hymns, Bible reading, and prayer); to say no to things like candy or coming in when we felt like it, or skipping piano lessons and church; to give us chores to do around the house and to make it clear that if we didn't do them they wouldn't get done; to give us an allowance even during the Depression and teach us that some of it belonged to God; to stick by what they had said--line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. They drew lines. We knew where they were drawn. They didn't move them. They knew more about life than we did, and had a fairly clear picture of what was good for us. Like other kids we complained that they didn't love us or they would do so-and-so. "When you have children of your own," Mother would often say, "you can let them do that if you want to." She knew we wouldn't want to--if we loved them.

We've got it backwards--love says don't restrain, hate says restrain. God puts it the other way: "The Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. . . . If you are left without discipline . . . then you are illegitimate children and not sons" (Hebrews 12:6, 8 RSV). "When we fall under the Lord's judgment, he is disciplining us, to save us from being condemned with the rest of the world" (1 Corinthians 11:32 NEB).

It is not difficult for adults to see what's wrong with other parents and other people's children. But how blind we are in our childish reactions to the dealings of a kind Heavenly Father! The motive for discipline is love. Its purpose is salvation. The people of Israel muttered treason against him and said, the Lord hated us that he brought us out of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 1:27 NEB). Freed from slavery, they missed onions. Led by the Lord of Hosts himself with his angels and a pillar of cloud and fire, they were terrified of the Amorites. "You saw how the Lord your God carried you all the way to this place as a father carries his son. In spite of this you did not trust the Lord your God" (verse 32).

Discipline or "chastening" can be a painful thing for us poor mortals. We think only of the "rod" itself--the hard experience, the prayer that was answered with a No, the shattered hope, the misunderstanding, the blow to pride--forgetting the loving Hand that administers the lesson and the Savior who like a shepherd leads us. We forget how much we need his tender care.

As parents, let us faithfully remember that the keeping of order sometimes requires the use of the rod. As children of the Father and sheep of his pasture, let us remember humbly to accept his discipline, praying:

We are Thine, do Thou befriend us, be the Guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Thoughts for a long day

One woman will brag about her children, while another complains about hers; they could probably swap children without swapping tunes


Saw this quote yesterday and was greatly convicted that I don't want to be the complaining mom, though often I am.

"Lord, give me grace to love my children on the tough days and to treat them as co-heirs of God. Help me to speak words of kindness and to discipline with grace and gentleness."

Monday, December 18, 2006


I have pared down my blogroll as I have also pared down the blogs that I keep up with. In trying to be a better steward of my time, I have limited the blogs that I read because I wanted to really focus on the best of the best—the stuff that consistently spoke to where I am and what God is teaching me. As I have time over the next few weeks, I am going to highlight these blogs, giving a glimpse into why they are so instructive or encouraging to me and hopefully enticing you to check them out for yourself.

The first one that I will start with is Amy's Humble Musings. I believe that Amy's was the first blog that I ever kept up with. Her style is witty (always) and sarcastic (some of the time) with lots of self-deprecating humor and pithy observations on being the mother of little ones. Her theology is consistently pushing towards Christ and away from the world, with much emphasis on grace, sanctification, purposeful living, and seeking God's glory above all else. She has agrarian dreams and DV we'll be hearing soon about her family's transition to country living (I wish I could arrange it for them to move to Mississippi—she'd be a great neighbor)!

Here are some highlights from Amy...

Daily life

We had our open house for the congregation this past Friday night and tonight I have finally finished the last of the Christmas presents. Both of these things are a load off of my mind and now I can just focus on preparing my heart to celebrate the incarnation and on loving my family during this wonderful time. I also have not been sleeping well recently and am hoping that with these loose ends tied off that I will go back to more solid sleep.

The boys are just bundles of energy these days. They played outside a lot today too, but it didn't seem to help. Joseph and William rode their bikes, ran around the yard with their homemade flags, played with the bamboo stand, threw balls, hid in the bushes, and had various other little boy outside adventures. I was inside all morning doing laundry, cleaning, and dealing with a very fussy David. He barely napped this afternoon and was down to bed at 6:30 tonight after fussing all evening. I am guessing that he must not be feeling well, but he hasn't developed any noticeable symptoms.

Tomorrow, we will go with Joe to the Primetimer's (retired people from our church) Christmas dinner. It should be a neat opportunity to spend some time with some of the older members of our congregation and I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Happy news

Since the news is out the the real world, it is time that I let the blogging world know too....We are thrilled to be expecting baby Holland #4 to join us in early June! The boys are excited and of course Joe and I are too! I'm just out of my first trimester and slowly getting back to a more usual energy level. The nausea seems to be lessening too, and I am hoping it will disappear completely in the next few weeks.
I am seeing a midwife for my prenatal care and we are planning a home birth. I've had the boys all in the hospital, but it is a dream come true for me to be planning a home birth. Melinda (my midwife, and also a new nurse) seems to be great and I look forward to getting to know her better with more appointments.
This announcement should clear up a few things that might not quite have made sense around here. First, that I wrote about being so tired all of the time even though I was going to bed at 8:00. Second, for a while my posting was infrequent and topics when I did post were random. The pregnancy and excitement about it were all I could think about and I really didn't have anything else to say at the time. It was like there was this huge piece to my life that was a secret and it overshadowed everything else for a time. At any rate, we've announced it to friends here and I'm safely out of the first trimester and so the secret is out. Thankfully, the maternity clothes can finally come out too because it was getting harder and harder to disguise my blossoming figure.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Children and work

We had a delightful visit last weekend from my cousin, R. and her family. They were on a 2 week cross-country expedition that included stops at various family members homes and Disney World, thanks to homeschooling and the dad being in a very flexible job position right now! Their girls are older (2nd and 4th grade, I believe) and played so well with my boys. It was freezing here--a rare Mississippi occurrence--yet the children all ran around outside and then came in for hot chocolate with rosy red cheeks and icy fingers.

While they were here, I picked their brains about homeschooling and their journey getting to homeschooling as they had been adamant public schoolers the last time I saw them (about 3 years ago). They had a lots of good stuff to share and their girls really seem to be thriving--polite, well-spoken, energetic, and still with all of the zeal for life that one so enjoys seeing in a child.

We also talked about churches as they have switched from a PCA church to a Sovereign Grace ministries church (though they both grew up as dedicated Baptists, what a history, huh?) That too was an encouraging conversation as we saw their hearts for Christ and their desire to live authentically for Him.

One thing though about homeschooling that R. said that I wanted to mull over a bit. She was talking about the homeschooling and educational theory books that she had read and said that some of the more classic homeschooling manifestos don't really apply to her because they are so structured for the large family. (She joked about how some of the sample schedules in the books had the 7 year old entertaining the preschoolers for several hours a day as part of his daily routine and that just didn't help her. She also talked about how some moms with many kids must not do anything because they have the children do so many household chores.) Though I don't really consider us to be a large family, I definitely have a large family mentality and it was interesting to hear her observations about large families. I do think I probably have the boys do more than the average amount of household chores for little guys their age, but I definitely am not sitting around doing nothing! In fact, having the boys "help" me with chores at this stage in their development requires more supervision and slows down the process more than if I just did it myself. However, I want to develop children who are willing and able to work (something I so struggled with growing up and still do sometimes) and so it must start somewhere.

Elisabeth Elliot has something to say this week about children and work. It is long and I tried to cut it down, but I just couldn't bear to leave anything out.

Serious Play, Careless Work from Keep a Quiet Heart

When I was a kid we rushed home every afternoon from school, burst into the house to make sure Mother was there where we wanted her to be (she was), and then collected the kids on the block to play Kick the Can or to build playhouses out of wooden greenhouse boxes. Equipment didn't cost us a cent. Adults didn't have to supervise us or drive us anywhere or coach us. We just played. We were kids, and we knew that after-school time was playtime--until it was time to work (practice the piano, set the table, clear the table, do homework!).

Something has changed. Educators have gotten terribly serious about play and terribly casual about real physical work. Billions of dollars are lavished on developing crafts which nobody really needs and forms of recreation which people have to be taught to like. We've got "toys to grow on," computer games, play groups, playgrounds. Tiny tots who would have been happy with a few Tupperware containers and some spoons are given fancy mechanical toys that do things, and taught that if they make huge messes with finger paints they're being creative, which they didn't know they wanted to be.

I've seen Indian children playing in the river, climbing trees, sliding down mudbanks. But at the same time they were often catching fish or finding wild honey, fruit, or edible snails. They had no toys to play with but they had a marvelous time (at the age of three or four, mind you) building fires, sharpening knives, whacking away at the ever-encroaching weeds. Nobody told them what to do. Child's play naturally turned into useful work. My little three-year-old Valerie was as adept at these activities as the Indians--learned just as they had, by daily observation of adult men and women at work, then by imitation. A girl of ten could weave a perfect hammock; a boy of ten could handle a blowgun and bring home the "bacon," i.e. a bird or monkey for supper. A lot of what they did mattered, and they had much more fun than children who spend a good part of their childhood doing things that don't matter very much to them or anybody else.

Aren't children nowadays often getting far too much of the wrong kind of attention and not nearly enough of the right kind? Does it really make sense for kids of six and seven to be so frantically serious about organized sports and to be geniuses at computer games, but to have no idea how to amuse themselves without a coach, a team, a uniform, an arsenal of weapons, or an expensive and complicated piece of electronic equipment--not to mention daily transportation to and from the athletic field, park, ice rink, anywhere but the back yard? Must they be rounded up, herded, instructed, shouted at, praised, coaxed, and hovered over by adults who are paid money to pay attention to the poor little hooligans in order to keep them out of the adults' hair during "working hours"?

Is anybody paying attention to how a child works? Is it assumed that if asked to rake a lawn he'll do it halfheartedly? Will he sweep the garage in silent fury or will he rejoice in doing a thorough job of it? Will she scrub a sink till it shines and know herself to be a useful member of a household? School teachers desperately try to teach children who have never really labored with their hands to do schoolwork--not a very good place to start, it seems to me. If a child is not given to understand that he has a responsibility to help make the wheels of home run smoothly--if he is not given work which matters, in other words--why should he imagine that it matters very much whether he cooperates with teachers and fellow students? His parents have failed to give attention to a vital matter. Their attention has been elsewhere--on their own interests, jobs, amusements, physical fitness, or only on the child's health and a misguided notion of happiness which leaves out work altogether. If the "quality time" his father spends with him is limited to amusements rather than work, small wonder the child assumes nobody really likes work. His choices in how to spend his time, like his preferences in food, are taught at home--by observation of parental attitudes.

The jungle Indian children I knew learned without formal lessons of any kind. They were with their parents more or less all the time--everybody sleeping around a single fire at night, boys hunting or fishing with their fathers by day, girls planting and gathering food with their mothers. It was hard work to survive. They took responsibility to collect firewood and keep the fire burning. Very rarely did a parent even have to tell a child, let alone nag him, to do his job. It was expected and the kids met the expectations. Nobody over two had much leisure, but they had a lot of fun. I've never seen people laugh so much. It was a peaceful life, a life without anything like the severe stresses and conflicts we have created for ourselves. Wouldn't it be lovely to go back to all that?

But how are we supposed to do it? We don't live in the jungle. Children have jungle gyms instead of real trees to climb; plastic swimming pools instead of a clear flowing river; sliding boards instead of mudbanks. The work necessary to keep everybody alive and fed and clothed is done where they can't see it. So far as children can see, it usually has nothing to do with being fed and clothed but only with money. Their parents (often, alas, both of them) tear off somewhere in the morning and come home at night exhausted, having spent their day at who knows what. The newspaper, dinner and TV take up a chunk of what's left of the day. Football, the child learns by observation, is vastly more important than anything else in the father's life. It takes precedence over everything, rivets his father's attention, something he himself has never managed to do. So he, like his father, seeks escape from home and the responsibilities of home.

Is the situation irremediable? I don't think so. Surely we could eliminate some of the frustration and discontent of "civilized" family life if we took our cues from the "uncivilized" people who work almost all the time (and enjoy it) and play very little of the time (without making a complicated chore out of it). Happiness, after all, is a choice. Let your child see that you put heart and soul into the work God has given you to do. Do it for Him--that changes the whole climate of the home. Draw the child into acceptance of responsibility by starting very early. Expect the best. If you expect them to oppose you, to "goof off," to be terrible at two, rude at ten, intractable as teenagers, they won't disappoint you.

It takes longer, of course, to teach a child to do a job than it takes to do it yourself--especially if you have not given him the chance to watch you do it fifty times. It takes sustained attention--the sort of attention a child desperately needs. He can't get too much of that. He needs to be convinced that he is a necessary and very much appreciated member of the family.

What about the sacrifices? We're going to have to make some if we mean to correct our mistakes. Instead of sacrificing everything for money and sports, which most people seem ready to do without a qualm, we may have to sacrifice money and sports for our children. We will certainly have to sacrifice ourselves.

But, of course, that is what being a father or a mother means.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This and that

We've been having record lows here recently and yesterday didn't have heat in the master suite due to a broken furnace. Thankfully, it is fixed toasty warm now, but last night was a bit chilly. I wore two layers of pj's and we added 2 thick wool blankets to our bed. It was so hard to get out from under the covers this morning to venture in to the 57 degree bathroom for a shower!

The boys have played so well today that I got a lot done. I am back to using Flylady's cleaning rotation and am on the kitchen and laundry room this week. The kitchen looks great!

I am a bit miffed that more of the things that I have ordered for Christmas have not yet arrived. I wrapped everything that was here the other night while watching Mission Impossible 3 (a pretty good movie) but I want to get the rest done. I had ordered everything for the extended family by last week, but still need to get a few more things for Joe and the boys. I also haven't made any friend presents (usually candy, cookies, or the like) for handing out to neighbors and friends. Better get moving!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas tree!

I'll have to post about it too later, but for now here's hubby's post on our adventure getting our Christmas tree.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Santa Revisited

A reader, "K," had an interesting comment on my last post that I thought deserved a longer reply. She told a story about her daughter feeling left out of the Santa hoopla at school and worrying about her daughter being too different from the other kids.

As for Santa, we haven't really dealt with the "realness" question. We've just told the boys that some people think that Christmas is a time to celebrate Santa Claus, but we celebrate Jesus. Then though, they ask why some people don't celebrate Jesus and that gets into what I wrote above...mostly I say it is because they don't know about Jesus. Thankfully, they are too young for school (and I'm not sure what we're going to do for school anyway) and so we haven't run into dealing with what other people teach them/what they hear about Santa.
I thought a lot about K's comment about not wanting her kids to be the freaks in the neighborhood or school and my immediate thought was, "Oh! neither...I hadn't thought about that problem...what can I do to keep that from being the case?" However, as I thought about it more, I realized that I am trying to avoid the unavoidable. If my kids are passionate about Christ and His kingdom, they will be "freaks" in the world and sometimes even in the church.

John 15:18-19 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Even as they are little, I should not shy away from letting them experience the rejections and hurts that will come from being different because they are trying to honor Christ. Scripture is replete with encouragements to realize that we are (as the body of Christ) different and that difference is both God-honoring and world-repelling. Is getting made fun of for not doing what everyone else does or feeling left out for the same reason really suffering for Christ? Well, not in the same way as the martyrs of yesteryear suffered, but for a child, I would argue yes! It is often in the little things that it is easiest to conform to the world because it is so subtly enticing. It is hard to go against the crowd and this is a way for a child to suffer for Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

So, all that to say, K, that I really encourage you (and encourage me and anyone else reading) to not be afraid to let your kids be "Jesus freaks." :) (Who knew that I could throw in bad Newsboys lyrics so easily?) Letting your kids suffer for the sake of the Gospel....A lot easier said than done, but very meaningful, very real, very true.

Philippians 1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.
1 Peter 4:14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

Titus 2 afternoon

I just have to post about a website that I found as I was poking around today. It is for a family farm in Virginia that sells chickens and eggs and some pork, beef, milk and vegetables. I told Joe over dinner tonight that it looks like my ideal (idealized?) farm life. Anyway, the whole site is interesting and worth seeing if only for the pictures of the cute children industriously helping take care of the animals. I'd love it if I could buy from the Wilsons, but alas, they are in VA and I am in MS. We'd all be healthier if we ate such straight from the farm foods.

I also had a perfectly timed call today from a dear lady from church offering help for the open house that we are hosting with the senior pastor and his wife here on the 15th. She called just as we were finishing lunch and asked what we were up to for the afternoon. She came just after I had put the boys down for a nap and planned the whole party with me! From revising the menu, to offering to buy the rest of the supplies and to call some other ladies to help make food, she lent me her experience (she is an accomplished hostess who frequently hosts large groups). She even thought about traffic flow and the best way to set out the foods to ease congestion! Reflecting on it now, it was a very Titus 2 moment--she was helping me learn how to be busy at home and extend hospitality, and since this is for our church also helping me learn how to love my husband since I am supporting his ministry by doing this party too. She even brought a little cookie jar full of gingerbread men and Christmas presents for the boys and invited us to Christmas dinner at her house! It was such a kindness on her part--I really appreciated her availability and wisdom. I am so thankful for this church and the people in it. We have been welcomed and blessed in so many ways by the willingness of the people to invite us into their lives.