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Hey PWs out there--do your church folk only come when there's nothing else going on that weekend? Do you find they're out camping, fishing, vacationing on Sunday instead of observing the Lord's Day and worshipping with His people? What do you do? What does your husband do? Does he preach about it from the pulpit? Pray more? Go to individuals privately and inquire why church is such a low priority?

I don't think people realize how their absence affects the entire body. I would notice if I didn't have one of my hands for the day.

We've started a new sport at our house that would ocassionally require us to miss church on Sundays. This is not an option. At all. And it doesn't matter who tries to convince us otherwise. In fact, one of the more seasoned members' mother told me today on the phone that in the long run, missing a Sunday here or there doesn't really matter.

Missing a ribbon or trophy that will eventually just collect dust in a box in the attic DOESN'T REALLY MATTER.

My son's soul, his spiritual well being, his need to be fed the Word and fellowship with God's people, these are eternal things.

THESE MATTER.

In the Valley


"In the daytime there are stars in the heavens, but they only shine at night.
And the deeper that I go into darkness, the more I see Your radiant light."

"Let me find Your joy in my sorrow, Your wealth in my need,
That You're near with every breath, in the valley."

From the Valley of Vision CD by Sovereign Grace Music

Hymns

A friend of mine, whose husband is a minister of music, said that her senior pastor remarked, "God doesn't bless churches that use hymns in worship."

WHAT?!?

What do you think about this? This absolutely floored me. C.S. Lewis called it "chronological snobbery", the belief that just because something is NEW it's automatically BETTER than what was before it.

Sure, there are hymns that are, in my opinion, poorly written or not theologically rich. And there are contemporary songs that are substantive and beautiful. I think the heart of the matter is this:

Does the song exalt Christ and is it biblical?

Thoughts?

Nursing

No, not that kind, breastfeeding. I've nursed two of my three children and it's been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I got the kind of help I needed with baby number two after baby number one had a lot of trouble "connecting". Then baby number three went relatively well and we're now going into our fourth month, shooting for a solid year. I don't mind being the chuck wagon.

So I was chatting with a lady at church a few weeks ago and she still nurses her 15 month old little girl about once or twice a day. She told me people have made rude comments to her about nursing her child in public, modestly.

This just floored me, because I figured everyone knew by now that breastfeeding is best and if you can do it (and not everyone can for one reason or another), go for it! I was telling hubby about it and he (as usual) was very insightful. He said, "It's because our culture hates motherhood."

And breastfeeding, in some ways, in the epitome of motherhood. It's the one thing that connects a baby to her mother outside the womb, making it difficult for her to separate from her baby.

So while the feminists have assaulted their own in the womb (Has it ever occured to you that they are aborting future feminists? Killing off their own kind?), they continue to do it outside by despising a nursing mother and baby.

I was watching this special on psychotropic drugs yesterday, and I was remembering my stint working in a juvenile detention center. These kids were screwed up. And we passed out their drugs (Paxil, Zoloft, Ritalin, Wellbutrin...) like candy. It made them feel weird, and I wonder how much it even helped, especially since researchers have no idea about the long term effects of these drugs on children.

Some of the serious side effects include mania and psychosis. The documentary I was watching contended that these drugs have played a role in the rise in school violence in recent years. A compelling idea, and one I found convincing enough to purpose that my children will never take any of these drugs, drugs that one teacher labeled, "kiddie cocaine".

Ritalin is a controlled substance. It's speed. Yet it's legitimized if given as a prescription. The definitions of ADD & ADHD in the DSM-IV (the diagnostic manual that mental health professionals use to determine illness) are vague ,and often it's a teacher who recommends the drugs, not a psychiatrist, based on behaviors such as:

fidgeting
difficulty sitting in class
trouble concentrating on school work
impulsive behavior

I guess I'm wondering--what child DOES NOT act this way? I'm almost certain that if my firstborn were in the public school, he would be "diagnosed" with a hyperactivity disorder.

Seems to me the drug companies are just packaging another "convenience food" for our consumption because parents don't want to parent.

So I'm all gung-ho about cleaning today...I get the first two levels of the house vacuumed and it smells funny...so I unplug it and take a look, and lo and behold, the vacuum is smoking!

And this was a gift from my parents, a very generous $700 gift.

A $700 gift shouldn't smoke (unless it's a car, I guess).

Sheesh.

Today our home phone was down. Our internet was down. Our cell phones were down. And it caused more anxiety in me. How did we ever survive without all this??

Hubby and firstborn have left for a major league baseball game in a far away city, so I'm just with the little ones tonight and tomorrow. Firstborn was told to help clean out the car before they left. He was given a laundry basket to collect junk (our van is always a PIT) and a trash can for garbage. He did a pretty good job (except I found the big blue playball I bought for church a block away and I noticed he had put our van's registration in the laundry basket...) It occured to me that we need to be more specific with our instructions. "Clean out the car" does not include the glovebox.

So I'm looking forward to an evening of laptop time, housekeeping/organizing, maybe I'll pop in Anne of Green Gables or the Dick Van Dyke show...I'm letting sweet 4 year old share the bed tonight, which I never let them do, we'll see if I end up moving him. If so, maybe I should just get an "Invisible Bed Fence" from Rhett and Link... (click on their website and go to exploits, then videos...I'll put on the hyperlink later from the PC, Mac doesn't let me do it on blogger.).

Jan Brett

I have decided that I will not buy toys for children anymore. Every kid I know has buckets and buckets of toys. So, starting last Christmas, I decided to buy books, good quality children's books for all my nieces and nephews and friends. And I'm focusing on building up my children's library, too, so I've made a wish list on Amazon for certain family members who like to spoil their grandchildren. I mean, you can only have so many hot wheels cars! And books last a lifetime!

We've just recently discovered Jan Brett. As both an author and illustrator, her work has been influenced by the many places she's travelled with her husband, who plays in the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

We've enjoyed her book Hedgie's Surprise, about poor Henny whose egg gets stolen every morning by a hungry, ornery Tomten. All she'd like is some piping baby chicks of her own, so her friend Hedgie, the hedgehog, devises a plan to outsmart that naughty Tomten once and for all.

In Annie and the Wild Animals, Annie's beloved cat suddenly disappears so Annie tries to fill the void by coaxing some wild animals to be her companions in her arctic neighborhood with some homemade cornmeal cakes. A surprise ending delights young readers!

Brett also has written a few books about trolls, those troublesome, pesky creatures that drive a certain little girl crazy.

She's retold some classic stories as well, such as Town Mouse, Country Mouse.

The influence of different cultures is apparent in her work. Her paintings are incredibly detailed and look like a beautiful tapestry or intricate needlework.

One of our favorite features of her storybooks is the subtle way that she gives you a hint of what's to come in the lovely borders of each page.

Her goal is to make you feel like you can just jump into the world she's created on the page-and you can!

"Say not thou lovest Christ, so long as thou canst lay those sins in Thy bosom, which plucked His heart out of His bosom. It were strange if a child should keep, and delight to use, no other knife but that wherewith his father was stabbed."

William Gurnall

I've recently bought the Not Just Beans cookbook by Tawra Jean Kellam. I made this recipe the other day and my family licked the pot clean (literally).

Start with making her homemade Bisquick mix (which I halved to see if I liked it first)
9 c. flour
2/3 c. dry milk
3 T. baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 c. butter flavored shortening

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

For the Chicken and Dumplings

4 c. water
4 tsp. chicken bouillon
1/2-1 1/2 c. cooked chicken or turkey, chopped
1/2 c carrots, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. parsley flakes

Dumplings:
2 c. baking mix
1/8 tsp thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp parsley flakes
2/3 c milk

In large pot, combine water, bouillon, chicken, carrots, bay leaf, parsley, and celery seed. Bring to a boil. In a bowl, combine baking mix and herbs. Add milk and stir until just moistened. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into the boiling broth. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. DON'T peek or your dumplings will be soggy. Remove dumplings with a slotted spoon and ladle into bowls. Remove bay leaf and spoon broth over dumplings. Serves 4

Watch the pot to make sure you don't let all the broth evaporate while the dumplings cook!

Quiet Time

I was able to have a few hours of two kids napping at once and one out birding with his dad (birding is the en vogue term for bird watching...a new phenomenon around this house) at the river. So I got to read my Bible, pray, and sing with no one listening. It was refreshing. It helped me to carry my burdens to the Lord, burdens of church, of life in the ministry (as the unpaid other half). I love Keith Getty's and Stuart Townend's music. I sang the song "Jesus is Lord" and it fed my soul. Here's a snippet of the song (you can long onto www.gettymusic.com for more info about their music):

"Jesus is Lord" the cry that echoes through creation; Resplendent pow'r, eternal Word, our Rock.
The Son of God, the King whose glory fills the heavens, yet bids us come to taste this Living Bread.

"Jesus is Lord" whose voice sustains the stars and planets, yet in His wisdom laid aside His crown.
Jesus the Man, who washed our feed, who bore our suffering, became a curse to bring salvation's plan.

So rich, so meaningful--a song that SAYS something. Jesus is Lord--all of creation is longing for His return, groaning in anticipation of everything made right again. Power, eternal, our Rock. These huge cosmic concepts, yet we can come and taste the Living Bread and drink the Living Water.

Majestic, our Sustainer. He who has the nations on His shoulders also has borne our sin...these mind boggling truths are what set Christianity apart from all other religions. Our gracious God-Man, Christ, paying our debt, freely. *sigh* Just rest in that. Rest in that.

I have housework calling...but I'll try to think of something substantive to write about soon! Thank you faithful readers! :)

I've tried to love my dog, really, I have. I feed him, walk him (sometimes)...sometimes I pet him. But the boys love him...

My Dog


I was inspired to post about my dog after reading The Upward Call this morning, a very thoughtful blog by this cool Canadian lady (Why has Canada never had a war?? I should ask her sometime...). She posted about her beagle. I thought I'd post about my Shetland Sheepdog (also known as a Sheltie).

This photo isn't my dog, but he looks just like it. And for those of you who actually know me (especially for any length of time) you'll know that there was a significant portion of my life where I despised dogs. Then I got one, about 6 years ago.

And I still despise dogs.

I don't care how cute they look as puppies, and my dog was CUTE, the mess, the time, the stolen hot dogs, the throw up, the dog poop, the walking, the feeding, the barking, the...

You get the idea.

I was not meant for dogs. But I can't bring myself to get rid of him. Even though he ate hubby's ENTIRE birthday Derby Pie (yum) and I wanted to kick him down the stairs and banish him to the garage (I didn't kick him, just felt like it, ok, PETA?), I feel obligated to him until he dies. I've committed to raising him. It's like when I start a book. Even if I don't like it, I feel like I have to finish it.

{A digression: an exception to this habit happened recently when I tried TWICE to watch the movie One Night With the King. Let's just call it Two Nights With the Bad DVD. Baaaad acting. Just give me Veggie Tale's Esther...)

So unless he runs away, we're stuck with him. Stuck with his barking, his food snatching, his messes. It's a good thing he's so darn cute.

Baby girl got up at 6, then went back down so I got ready.
Washed all the dishes (our dishwasher's been broken for 2 weeks)
Made blueberry pancakes for my family
started laundry
took out the trash
check my email, forum, and blog
picked up clutter

and we only have two days left of school!

Mr. Gartenstein-Ross is courageously reporting from Iraq, interviewing journalists and soldiers. His most recent article was emailed to me today and dealt with the danger journalists face in Iraq from militant groups following them from safe zones and shooting them in cold blood sitting in their cars. Iraqi journalists are in extreme danger, and Gartenstein-Ross reports that they have a short life expectancy.

The constant danger these men and women face obviously taints their journalism, putting a negative spin on the stories they write. I found this point fascinating: there is no such thing as "value-free", "state the facts" journalism, especially when it comes to a hot button issue like the Iraq war and especially when you don't know if you'll see tomorrow.

Please pray for Daveed, a fellow believer in Christ, as he works among the people of Iraq. And check out his counter-terrorism blog at the link below:

http://counterterrorismblog.org/2007/05/baghdad_iraqi_journalists_targ.php

Please note that I have edited this since last night after I went downstairs to find smoke in my kitchen. In my excitement to make it, I forgot that the oven was to be at 250, not 350, so I've changed the recipe. It's still good, but not so much burned...just a yucky ending to a terrible day, yesterday. Oh well. His mercies are new every morning!


I got this from the More With Less cookbook: WOW!

2 cups whole wheat flour
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1 cup wheat germ

Combine these dry ingredients in a large bowl.

1/2 cup water
1 cup canola oil
1 cup honey
scant 1 T. salt
2 tsp. vanilla

Combine these wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and spread on two rimmed, greased baking sheets. Bake at 250 for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.

Add dried fruits, if desired.

Tonight I made this for the third time and added sunflower kernals (not seeds, kernals) and two teaspoons cinnamon and forgot the 1/2 cup water! Oops! I guess we'll see how it turns out that way...This is so good. It's very easy to chew for little guys and very economical! I love cheap!

The following is from a treasured friend, whose husband has been in the ministry about as long as we have. They are dear, dear folks. I think you'll be blessed by the insights she shared in an email to a friend recently. I've posted it exactly as she wrote it, with her permission:

My friend reccommended a great webblog called www.thatmom.wordpress.com and I was reading it and then listening to
her podcast last night about a homeschool mom whose husband was diagnosed with cancer in Nov. 04 and died in July 05. She spoke of God's faithfulness to her and also of all the things she did not realize her husband took care of for her while he was still living.

Anyhow, if you get a chance to read or listen to her webblog it is the podcast on May 11 (the 3rd part of an interview with Joy Nuesken).

My husband is a pastor and it sure made me think of his message on Sunday from Genesis 23 about Sarah's death. His main point was that life is temporary and we should live for eternity. We do this by pursuing holiness ("for without holiness no one can see the Lord") and we pursue holiness by trusting fully in Christ and obeying him. We know that we are believers if we love God, love other believers, and we obey God's commands. We cannot obey perfectly and that is why we must trust in
Christ who did obey perfectly.

The reason I got up this morning and sent you this e-mail was because I was laying in bed thinking how that we, as women and managers of our homes, should prepare some kind of list that details the things that we do each day so that if we ever have an absence from our family, for whatever reason, our husbands and children would know what to do. We are called to be their "help mates" and this is one way we could help them. Just a thought!

Tomie DePaola

I thought I'd start with one of my favorites...I discovered Tomie DePaola from the Gladys Hunt book I mentioned in the previous post. His work caught my eye because he has written extensively about his childhood growing up in the 1930's and '40s and particularly about his relationships with his grandparents on both sides of his family. I had grandparents who were quite a bit older than your average grandparents, as well as a great aunt I spent all our holidays with, so as an only child I had lots of experiences around the elderly. I want my children to not fear them, but to welcome them and esteem them as they should. That's why my boys go to the assisted living center in town each Friday with their dad, who reads the Bible to the residents after breakfast.

DePaola's book, Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs, is about his grandmother who lived downstairs and his great grandmother who was bedridden upstairs and taken care of by her daughter. Tomie would go to visit each weekend when he was four and they would sit and talk and eat peppermints. The story deals with the death of an elderly loved one in such a tender way.

His book, Tom, is about his grandfather. Let's just suffice it to say chicken legs are involved in this story!

The book, Now One Foot, Now the Other is about a grandson and grandpa's special relationship. It's not a true story, but it could be for a lot of families who have a loved one suffering from a stroke.

DePaola has written and illustrated all of his stories, many based on his life experiences or his heritage, he is Irish and Italian. He has many books written about Irish and Italian folk tales, in addition to some from Mexico and the Native Americans.

He's written some books about his terriers, Moffie and Morgie, who go to kindergarten, have to deal with bullies and other kid crises.

Perhaps my favorite of his books is the 26 Fairmont Avenue series. These are chapter books, probably at a second grade reading level, that are based on his childhood, from about the time he was four through early elementary school. He has illustrated these just enough to keep beginning readers of chapter books interested.

My kids have loved all his stories, and we've been trying to build up our home library with quality literature like DePaola's.

Hope you'll check some out from your library!

I'm about to read my precious 4 year old a whole bunch of stories, and it reminded me of the most wonderful book about children's literature called Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. So I've decided that every Saturday, I'll post a quick review about one of our favorite children's books or authors. Stay tuned! I'd better read now! He's arrived on my big bed with a big ole' stack--and it's an hour from bedtime so we have lots of time!

(I fell asleep at 9:30 last night, so I'm sorry I didn't post this sooner!)
Here's the science behind brining: the salt water tenderizes the breast meat, while the rest of the chicken cooks. What usually happens with a whole chicken or turkey is that the white meat gets done before the dark meat so that the white meats ends up tasting dried out as you keep the chicken in to cook the dark meat. The brine keeps that from happening, and you can get the real details from Alton Brown's awesome cookbook: I'm Just Here for the Food (I was brining poultry way before he was talking about it, though!)

Julie's Brined Roasting Chicken

8 cups warm water
1/2 c kosher salt (must be kosher salt!)
1/4 c packed brown sugar
3 T. molasses
1 T. whole peppercorns, crushed (or 1 tsp. pepper in a pinch!)
1 T. whole allspice, crushed (or 1 tsp. ground)
2 tsp. ground ginger
4 lbs. roasting chicken
4 cups cold water

For the brine: combine first 7 ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, cook and stir until everything's dissolved. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature. Remove giblets from chicken, discard. Add chicken to the pot, breast side down. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

When ready to roast, remove chicken from brine and discard brine. Place in roasting pan and roast for 80-9- minutes at 350 or until chicken registers 180 in the breast meat (tent with foil if it's getting too brown). Usually, you can make great gravy from the drippings, too.

I do this to my Thanksgiving turkey every year, as well. I use an apple cider brine and put the bird and brine in double thickness turkey oven bags set in a large roasting pan. I did two turkeys for our first church thanksgiving dinner and everyone was pleased with how moist and delicious it was. Even my red-meat loving brother in law lets me do the turkey when we eat at his house.

My son, as many of you know, is a very busy person. He's extremely intelligent, but lacks much common sense. For example: I found a hole in the bag of peat moss in the garage and a rubber mallet laying on it. I said, "Did you make this hole? Why did you put a hole in the peat moss?" His answer: "I wanted to see how hard I could hit with the mallet." Ooookay.

So when we do school, especially, I am constantly telling him to stop being silly, to get his spelling page finished, or whatever. It's a lot of getting up and down, wanting to see what his little brother is doing, making nonsense sounds, scribling in his workbook, etc. It's not outright disobedience, it's just a lot of goofiness and, honestly, it irritates me like crazy. I don't know how to handle it. And of course, the incessant picking on his little brother, who then screams (his one defense) and it's enough to make this here only child committed to the funny farm. I need suggestions! I need help! I already try to separate them, but I can't always enforce that, particularly when I'm tending to baby girl. *sigh* I can't wait for school to be done.

By Blackpurl, one of the PW forum's wonderful moderators, missionary and all around cool gal (see the blogroll for her link!). So I think I'll keep it short and sweet and make it 7 favorite foods:

1. Maple Pecan Crunch Cereal
2. BBQ flavored corn nuts
3. Honey BBQ Fritos
4. Joey Bag of Donuts chicken burrito with black beans from Moe's Southwest Grill (burrito perfection)
5. Butterfinger candy bars
6. My recipe for Brined Roasting Chicken (which, by the way, was a runner up in Taste of Home's Chicken contest a few years agol--my one claim to fame)
7. Jack's Spicy Chicken sandwich from Jack in the Box (boy, do miss those)

You know I love my garden, and this year is one of experimenting with the square foot gardening concept (see the book by the same name if you want more details). Well, I've also been told that there's a fun way to grow lots and lots of potatoes in your yard in very little space. Here's what you do:

Take an old tire. Fill it with good dirt all the way to the top, then plant your pieces of potato (I ordered Yukon gold potatoes from Gurney's). When the plant begins to grow up through the soil, stack another tire on top of the first tire and fill it with dirt. Continue to do this until you've stacked about 4 or 5 tires on top, always burying the plant in dirt. Then, come around August or so, start digging in the top tire. You should have a bunch of potatoes! Eat those up, then take off the next tire and do the same thing, until you've eaten all your taters and get to the bottom tire.

I've got two tires going...we'll see what happens!

This is a subject a friend and I have tossed around for a while now. And I see it come up a lot in homeschool circles. And, frankly, it really bugs me..

Let me say that I think every marriage should be open to having children. It's one of the primary designs for marriage. I think married people should be fruitful and multiply, to pass on a Christian heritage to their children.

But the "quiver-full" movement says that you MUST, you are COMMANDED, to have as many children as possible (sounds like my Mormon neighbors...) to be an obedient Christian. There is a status, a pride involved here. That's not to say that all large families are arrogant about it, but when parents of very large families look down on or criticize a smaller family as though they are living in sin for not having ten kids, then I think there's a problem.

Thoughts?

Oh where, oh where can it be? For at least two days now, the pastor's wives forum has been down. No one knows why, and it makes me feel all sad inside. I usually check it multiple times a day, especially while nursing baby girl. I don't think I realized how big of a role it played in my life. I've been a member since it started, back in July. Having no forum has made me even more thankful for Amy, for creating it, and for Joann and Alida who are our moderators. I hope it comes back soon. There are few places I feel like I can be so honest (and laugh so hard!).

7 things

Crickl tagged me (I just love her blog-be sure it check it out to the left! Crickl's Nest), soooooo...

I am so new at this blogging thing--is meme a word I should know already? Or is it like "blog", a made up word? At any rate, I'll try to list seven things I've learned in my short life and then tag seven other people (Do I know seven other bloggers?? If I don't can I just tag less? Am I a concrete sequential or what? I need definite directions!)

1. Babies will eventually sleep. When I had my first child, I was 21 years old, in college, newly married, and none of my friends were even married yet, let alone mothers. I was so clueless, and during those first few months I would honestly think to myself, "What have I done?" Fortunately, once he started sleeping through the night (around my birthday! THANKS!) and we quit nursing (that's a whole other post!), my outlook changed to one of "I CAN do this!" So I always tell new moms: there WILL be a light at the end of the all-night vigil tunnel. I promise!

2. Nursing a baby is one of the most special times in a mom's life. I can say this from experience. After attempting to nurse my firstborn (who, by the way, appears to be the most intelligent of my children) for 6 weeks with lots of tears and frustrations from both of us, I switched to the bottle. I didn't have any support at all (my mom bottle fed me) and, like I said, clueless. But it was the right decision because it helped our relationship so much. I could get him on a schedule, anticipating his needs, and dad could take some turns feeding him, too. It was right for that time of our lives. With baby #2, I was determined to give it a go again, but this time, seek out help. So I nursed him right away after birth, then met with a lactation consultant after I went home. At her office, she worked with me for three hours one day, weighing him before he ate, weighing him after (important for my psychological wellbeing!), helping us get a correct latch (which was my problem with my first child). She did not let me go home until my little boy was eating. She called that night, called the next morning, then had me come in to train me how to pump if I needed to. I nursed him for 13 months and he had not one bottle of anything!

3. Never stay mad at your husband. A stubborn will never solves anything. I can't stay mad for very long. Neither can he. We end up trying to be mean, but end up smiling at each other, which breaks the ice for us to talk about whatever's going on. Be the first to give in...I'm convinced it works wonders.

4. Look at the components of your dinner, see how long each item takes, then start what takes the longest first. For example, if you're making spaghetti, defrost your meat for meatballs, heat your oven, form your meatballs, set your water to boil for noodles, bake your meatballs, put your pasta in the water and cook it, open your can of spaghetti sauce, drain pasta, take out meatballs, combine in a pot and heat through. You have to do things in order, so they make sense and you're not in the kitchen forever.

5. Keeping in touch with long distance friends is essential. And there's no excuse, with the internet and all. A note, a card, an email, a phone call, can bless someone at just the right time.

6. Older people just want someone to listen to their stories. There's nothing worse for an older person than to feel like they're a nuisance. Most just want to be treated like a friend, not a burden. So seek them out and listen to them.

7. Most TV is not worth watching. We've lived with it and without it, and I much prefer without it. It can be done. HONEST.

Let's see, who to tag...I've got a crying baby girl so I'll edit this later for tags!

Okey Dokey: I'm a pathetic blogger and can only think of five gals to tag (and my Mac doesn't let me post a hyperlink in my post so just click on their websites to the left, ok?)

TAG!
Caroline at Living inside (or is it outside) the Fishbowl
Helpmeet
Finish the Race
Anita at Average Girl
Young Pastor's Wife

It was only from one of my children, though I did receive a red rose, some homemade flowers and cards...

Baby girl gave it to me:

SHE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT.

Thank the Lord for small gifts!

Today our church is having a catered meal for everyone in honor of our moms in the congregation. The men were in charge of it and do all the clean up! What are you doing today?

Garage Sales

I spent all day today at a garage sale at my friend's house. Our kids played (and got very filthy) and I made about $40. I was wondering if it was really worth all the hassle of it. We probably had maybe 50 people come by. I didn't have to bring too much stuff home, but still I have to come home to a messy house since I've been gone all day. It was fun visiting all day with my friend, so I guess it was worth it for that. But it just seems like very visible evidence of my materialism. I'm astonished at how much STUFF I have and want to get rid of...

I was reading the magazine of our state's Christian homeschool organization last night. And I was struck with something: It doesn't matter how involved my husband is, how much of a spiritual leader he is, what curriculum we use, how many Bible verses we memorize, how much we avoid the "evil" public school, how we discipline our kids, it's ultimately up to them if they choose Christ. Until the Holy Spirit frees their will from the bondage of sin, they won't respond to our most earnest efforts to encourage them to trust Christ. That's not to say that our efforts are in vain, but I think we need to have a balanced understanding that God WILL use us in molding and shaping our kids for His glory, but we should never delude ourselves into thinking that homeschooling is a "foolproof" way to keep our kids off drugs, out of bed, and sitting in the pews.

And it's like pulling teeth. Even with my new ideas from that The Way They Learn book, it's still a battle. I will be so relieved when the school year is over! I'm hoping to really plan out each day of our school year and do less fly by the seat of our pants. I want flexibility with methods and style and projects, but I'd like to have a list of what we need to accomplish each day and stick to it! I would like to fork over the $400 for a complete Abeka curriculum, but I already have my spelling, history, and language for third grade. I'm just lacking reading, math, and science stuff. We'll do Abeka math for sure, but I can't seem to find a reading program that plans everything out for me (I'm not good at coming up with my own stuff!). Anyone out there have any recommendations? For reading and science?

Hubby gets back late, late tonight. That is, if his plane runs on time, doesn't crash, and he doesn't hit an elk on the drive home over the mountain pass at night...

Well, my precious middle child is complaining again of tummy trouble. Just a month ago he had five days of intense illness: nonstop throwing up, step throat, fever all in the same week! Now, he's not eaten his breakfast, wants to lay around all day and is holding is tummy. I've got him on the floor in front of his favorite video, I Love Toy Trains, with a bucket. Please pray that I can take care of him, the new baby, my oldest son whose rather high maintenance, and not lose my sanity. My anxiety level is shooting through the roof right now! I know I'm such a baby...*sigh*

I wish these guys were my friends. I bet their wives are as much fun as they seem to be! Here's one of the funniest videos they've ever made about Facebook...Here's the link since I'm too slow to figure out how to post videos on my blog.


http://www.rhettandlink.com/exploits_videos/view.php?id=RLK_Facebook

Going Solo

I'm going solo today and tomorrow...I will admit I am rather attached to my husband and don't particularly like him going away, even if it is to awesome conferences where he can get fed the Word.

I'll get the kiddos down early tonight, do some chores I've been meaning to get to (especially since he has the laptop and I have the desktop that I have to stand to use), maybe watch some more Lord of the Rings special features...I'm trying to think positively about the experience and not imagine his airplane falling through the sky...

I'll have the link for this story soon but hubby said that the men weren't as mutilated as first thought. They were still murdered and their throats were slit, but apparently people who saw the bodies said it wasn't as disgusting as first suspected. We still mourn these dear brothers in Christ, nonetheless, but there is a small comfort in knowing that they didn't endure such torture.

COLIC

*sigh* I don't know what to do about my precious baby girl. She just has a fussy temperament about her. I've fed her (tried to again, but she won't take it), changed her, rocked her, burped her. I know she's not hungry because she just ate not too long ago. My mom is here and it stresses her out, which stresses me out, and I'm just getting stressed about it. Hubby's leaving for three days leaving me with no car and my parents for a one and a half of those days. Have any of you had a baby like this? It's bedtime right now and I can't think of anything else for her to do but cry in her bed. I'm not a huge fan of crying it out, especially for little ones.

Alcohol

I'm a Southern Baptist, it's true. I have been one since fourth grade. I was always brought up that drinking alcohol is wrong, wrong, WRONG.

But in this age where babies are slaughtered by the millions, truth is relative, child molesters prowl the streets and the internet freely, most TV isn't fit to watch, people are completely biblically illiterate, WHY talk about the "evils" of "fire water"?

The Bible speaks against getting drunk, not drinking. Each person has to follow his or her own conscience about this, but why make such an issue about drinking? Does it really matter if I have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer with a bratwurst? If I cook with whiskey and sherry and wine? I don't get drunk. I've never been drunk in my life. Am I less holy or righteous in God's eyes because of this? Is this a matter of liberty?? Thoughts, anyone?

An additional thought--I got to thinking that the last post puts this one in perspective...

I've copied and pasted this article--this is happening every day in the name of Allah. And while I don't think all Muslims approve of this violence, I do wonder why the Quran seems to command this kind of thing against infidels.

Christians Murdered in Turkey

A letter to the Global Church from The Protestant Church of Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey)

Dear friends,

This past week has been filled with much sorrow. Many of you have heard by now of our devastating loss here in an event that took place in Malatya, a Turkish province 300 miles northeast of Antioch, the city where believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).

On Wednesday morning, April 18, 2007, 46-year-old German missionary and father of three Tilman Geske prepared to go to his office, kissing his wife goodbye taking a moment to hug his son and give him the priceless memory, “Goodbye, son. I love you.”

Tilman rented an office space from Zirve Publishing where he was preparing notes for the new Turkish Study Bible. Zirve was also the location of the Malatya Evangelist Church office. A ministry of the church, Zirve prints and distributes Christian literature to Malatya and nearby cities in Eastern Turkey. In another area of town, 35-year-old Pastor Necati Aydin, father of two, said goodbye to his wife, leaving for the office as well. They had a morning Bible Study and prayer meeting that some other believers in town would also be attending. Ugur Yuksel likewise made his way to the Bible study.

None of these three men knew that what awaited them at the Bible study was the ultimate testing and application of their faith, which would conclude with their entrance into glory to receive their crown of righteousness from Christ and honor from all the saints awaiting them in the Lord’s presence.

On the other side of town, ten young men all under 20 years old put into place final arrangements for their ultimate act of faith, living out their love for Allah and hatred of infidels who they felt undermined Islam. On Resurrection Sunday, five of these men had been to a by-invitation-only evangelistic service that Pastor Necati and his men had arranged at a hotel conference room in the city. The men were known to the believers as “seekers.”

No one knows what happened in the hearts of those men as they listened to the gospel. Were they touched by the Holy Spirit? Were they convicted of sin? Did they hear the gospel in their heart of hearts? Today we only have the beginning of their story.

These young men, one of whom is the son of a mayor in the Province of Malatya, are part of a tarikat, or a group of “faithful believers” in Islam. Tarikat membership is highly respected here; it’s like a fraternity membership. In fact, it is said that no one can get into public office without membership in a tarikat. These young men all lived in the same dorm, all preparing for university entrance exams.

The young men got guns, breadknives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible Study, around 10 o’clock. They arrived, and apparently the Bible Study began. Reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilman’s hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they tortured our brothers for almost three hours.

Details of the torture (caution: graphic)
Tilman was stabbed 156 times, Necati 99 times and Ugur’s stabs were too numerous to count. They were disemboweled, and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed. Fingers were chopped off, their noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open. Possibly the worst part was watching as their brothers were likewise tortured. Finally, their throats were sliced from ear to ear, heads practically decapitated.

Neighbors in workplaces near the printhouse said later they had heard yelling, but assumed the owners were having a domestic argument so they did not respond.

Meanwhile, another believer, Gokhan, and his wife had a leisurely morning. He slept in till 10, ate a long breakfast and finally around 12:30 he and his wife arrived at the office. The door was locked from the inside, and his key would not work. He phoned and though it had connection on his end he did not hear the phone ringing inside. He called cell phones of his brothers and finally Ugur answered his phone. “We are not at the office. Go to the hotel meeting. We are there. We will come there,” he said cryptically.

As Ugur spoke Gokhan heard in the telephone’s background weeping and a strange snarling sound. He phoned the police, and the nearest officer arrived in about five minutes. He pounded on the door, “Police, open up!” Initially the officer thought it was a domestic disturbance. At that point they heard another snarl and a gurgling moan. The police understood that sound as human suffering, prepared the clip in his gun and tried over and over again to burst through the door. One of the frightened assailants unlocked the door for the policeman, who entered to find a grisly scene.

Tilman and Necati had been slaughtered, practically decapitated with their necks slit from ear to ear. Ugur’s throat was likewise slit and he was barely alive. Three assailants in front of the policeman dropped their weapons.

Meanwhile Gokhan heard a sound of yelling in the street. Someone had fallen from their third story office. Running down, he found a man on the ground, whom he later recognized, named Emre Gunaydin. He had massive head trauma and, strangely, was snarling. He had tried to climb down the drainpipe to escape, and losing his balance had plummeted to the ground. It seems that he was the main leader of the attackers. Another assailant was found hiding on a lower balcony.

To untangle the web we need to back up six years. In April 2001, the National Security Council of Turkey (Milli Guvenlik Kurulu) began to consider evangelical Christians as a threat to national security, on equal footing as Al Quaida and PKK terrorism. Statements made in the press by political leaders, columnists and commentators have fueled a hatred against missionaries who they claim bribe young people to change their religion.

After that decision in 2001, attacks and threats on churches, pastors and Christians began. Bombings, physical attacks, verbal and written abuse are only some of the ways Christians are being targeted. Most significant is the use of media propaganda.

From December 2005, after having a long meeting regarding the Christian threat, the wife of Former Prime Minister Ecevit, historian Ilber Ortayli, Professor Hasan Unsal, politician Ahmet Tan and writer/propogandist Aytunc Altindal, each in their own profession began a campaign to bring the public’s attention to the looming threat of Christians who sought to “buy their children’s souls.” Hidden cameras in churches have taken church service footage and used it sensationally to promote fear and antagonism toward Christianity.

In an official televised response from Ankara, the Interior Minister of Turkey smirked as he spoke of the attacks on our brothers. Amid public outrage and protests against the event and in favor of freedom of religion and freedom of thought, media and official comments ring with the same message, “We hope you have learned your lesson. We do not want Christians here.”

It appears that this was an organized attack initiated by an unknown adult tarikat leader. As in the Hrant Dink murder in January 2007, and a Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in February 2006, minors are being used to commit religious murders because public sympathy for youth is strong and they face lower penalties than an adult convicted of the same crime. Even the parents of these children are in favor of the acts. The mother of the 16-year-old boy who killed the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro looked at the cameras as her son was going to prison and said, “he will serve time for Allah.”

The young men involved in the killing are currently in custody. Today news reported that they would be tried as terrorists, so their age would not affect the strict penalty. Assailant Emre Gunaydin is still in intensive care. The investigation centers around him and his contacts and they say will fall apart if he does not recover.

The Church in Turkey responded in a way that honored God as hundreds of believers and dozens of pastors flew in as fast as they could to stand by the small church of Malatya and encourage the believers, take care of legal issues, and represent Christians to the media.

When Susanne Tilman expressed her wish to bury her husband in Malatya, the Governor tried to stop it, and when he realized he could not stop it, a rumor was spread that “it is a sin to dig a grave for a Christian.” In the end, in an undertaking that should be remembered in Christian history forever, the men from the church in Adana (near Tarsus), grabbed shovels and dug a grave for their slain brother in an untended hundred-year-old Armenian graveyard. Ugur was buried by his family in an Alevi Muslim ceremony in his hometown of Elazig, his believing fiance watching from the shadows as his family and friends refused to accept in death the faith Ugur had so long professed and died for.

Necati’s funeral took place in his hometown of Izmir, the city where he came to faith. The darkness does not understand the light. Though the churches expressed their forgiveness for the event, Christians were not to be trusted. Before they would load the coffin onto the plane from Malatya, it went through two separate x-ray exams to make sure it was not loaded with explosives. This is not a usual procedure for Muslim coffins.

Necati’s funeral was a beautiful event. Like a glimpse of heaven, thousands of Turkish Christians and missionaries came to show their love for Christ, and their honor for this man chosen to die for Christ. Necati’s wife, Shemsa, told the world, “His death was full of meaning, because he died for Christ and he lived for Christ… Necati was a gift from God. I feel honored that he was in my life, I feel crowned with honor. I want to be worthy of that honor.”

Boldly the believers took their stand at Necati’s funeral, facing the risks of being seen publicly and likewise becoming targets. As expected, the anti-terror police attended and videotaped everyone attending the funeral for their future use.

The service took place outside at Buca Baptist church, and he was buried in a small Christian graveyard in the outskirts of Izmir.

Two assistant Governors of Izmir were there solemnly watching the event from the front row. Dozens of news agencies were there documenting the events with live news and photographs. Who knows the impact the funeral had on those watching? This is the beginning of their story as well. Pray for them.

In an act that hit front pages in the largest newspapers in Turkey, Susanne Tilman in a television interview expressed her forgiveness. She did not want revenge, she told reporters. “Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, wholeheartedly agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23:34).

In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many, many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne Tilman has changed lives. One columnist wrote of her comment, “She said in one sentence what 1000 missionaries in 1000 years could never do.”

The missionaries in Malatya will most likely move out, as their families and children have become publicly identified as targets to the hostile city. The remaining 10 believers are in hiding. What will happen to this church, this light in the darkness? Most likely it will go underground. Pray for wisdom, that Turkish brothers from other cities will go to lead the leaderless church. Should we not be concerned for that great city of Malatya, a city that does not know what it is doing? (Jonah 4:11)

When our Pastor Fikret Bocek went with a brother to give a statement to the Security Directorate on Monday they were ushered into the Anti-Terror Department. On the wall was a huge chart covering the whole wall listing all the terrorist cells in Izmir, categorized. In one prominent column were listed all the evangelical churches in Izmir. The darkness does not understand the light. “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” (Acts 17:6)

Please pray for the Church in Turkey. “Don’t pray against persecution, pray for perseverence,” urges Pastor Fikret Bocek.

The Church is better having lost our brothers; the fruit in our lives, the renewed faith, the burning desire to spread the gospel to quench more darkness in Malatya …all these are not to be regretted. Pray that we stand strong against external opposition and especially pray that we stand strong against internal struggles with sin, our true debilitating weakness.

This we know: Christ Jesus was there when our brothers were giving their lives for Him. He was there, like He was when Stephen was being stoned in the sight of Saul of Tarsus.

Someday the video of the deaths of our brothers may reveal more to us about the strength that we know Christ gave them to endure their last cross, about the peace the Spirit of God endowed them with to suffer for their beloved Savior. But we know He did not leave their side. We know their minds were full of Scripture strengthening them to endure, as darkness tried to subdue the unsubduable Light of the Gospel. We know, in whatever way they were able, with a look or a word, they encouraged one another to stand strong. We know they knew they would soon be with Christ.

We don’t know the details. We don’t know the kind of justice that will or will not be served on this earth.

But we pray– and urge you to pray– that someday at least one of those five boys will come to faith because of the testimony in death of Tilman Geske, who gave his life as a missionary to his beloved Turks, and the testimonies in death of Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, the first martyrs for Christ out of the Turkish Church.

Reported by Darlene N. Bocek (24 April 2007)

This is a story from Baptist Press:

Study: Church benefits kids
By Michael Foust
May 1, 2007



A group of fourth and fifth graders sing Vacation Bible School songs. A new study says children of churchgoing parents are better adjusted behaviorally, emotionally and cognitively than are other children. BP file photo
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Church is good for children.

That's the message of a new study that says young children of churchgoing parents fare better behaviorally, emotionally and cognitively than do children of parents who never attend church. In fact, the more often the parents attend, the better off the kids are.

The study by sociologist John P. Bartkowski and a team of researchers at Mississippi State University examined data from the nationwide Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which evaluated first-graders by interviewing parents and teachers. In the data Bartkowski used, some 9,500 parents and 8,800 teachers were interviewed. The ECLS study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics.

Examining the ECLS data, Bartkowski and his team concluded it is "quite clear" that religious attendance impacts children positively. His research -- which claims to be a "first of its kind" study on the subject using "nationally representative data" -- will be published in the journal Social Science Research.

"[R]eligion does seem to be good for young children," the study says. "The religious attendance of parents and a cohesive religious environment in the home yields significant benefits for children's behavioral, emotional, and cognitive development, and such outcomes are most pronounced when both partners attend services frequently."

"Religion" in the study includes all religions -- the ECLS survey did not ask specific faith questions -- so there is no way of knowing if there are differences among, say, Baptist, Catholic or Jewish families.

But Bartkowski's study did determine that while church attendance is good for children, parental debate over religion is not. In fact, the study found that when parents argue about religion, it can "significantly undermine" a young child's development. However, when they are in agreement, it can be very beneficial. The study also said parent-child discussions about religion "often yield positive affects on child development."

Regularity in attendance can make a difference, too.

"In many of the developmental domains featured here, the children who are doing the best are in households where both parents attend worship services frequently," the authors wrote.

The frequency of attendance may make a difference, the study says, because it gives other adults -- for example, in Sunday School settings -- the opportunity to "reinforce parental values" taught at home.
--30--

I've got three of the most important people in my life traveling today: my folks are coming from back East to visit for a week and my hubby is driving two hours over a mountain pass for a church member's surgery. I'm such a worrywart--so pray with me for safe travels. Then hubby leaves next week for the Basics Conference at Parkside Church in Cleveland.

Well, I've got three boxes out and filled with dirt, at least the best dirt I could get. Square Foot Gardening guy, Mel Bartholomew says you need either homemade compost (didn't have it) or you have to buy compost from five different industries (because compost is a by-product of a number of industries, such as horses, cows, goats, cotton, etc.) I couldn't locate five different types of compost and I needed 16 cubic feet of it (not cheap) as well as 16 cubic feet each of peat moss and vermiculite (also not cheap). So I went with my friend the goat farmer's old manure (remember, it's now dirt-not poop, as my 7 year old says) in place of the compost and I have started my own compost pile. I have planted two squares of spinach, two of romaine, two of radishes, two of blue flax, one of sugar snap peas, and one of regular peas (everyone else likes peas in my family but me). I've cut tarps to cover my boxes because the weather here is notoriously unpredictable and the rumor has it that we might have snow this week! It was 90 degrees on Sunday. Anyway, as things start to sprout I'll post a photo of it for fun. And, Joann, that beautiful gardening photo is not mine, unfortunately, but it's what I'm aspiring to!

So I'm sitting at the table with my son trying some new things: He has a glass of milk, some music in the background. I let him pick which subjects to do first. He has chosen his consequences: For not being ready and dressed by 9:30 his consequence was no playtime with friends after school, for not working hard at school, no video games...We'll see how it goes!

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