Thursday, September 25, 2014

TBT: My youngest siblings


Looking forward to seeing my youngest sister, Annie, this weekend.  Only wish my youngest brother, Matt, was coming, too!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Things I love to listen to


When I am working around the house, or entering receipts into quicken, or sewing, I like to listen to things.  I thought I would share a few of my favorites in the hopes that you might enjoy them, too, Gentle Reader.
  • Mars Hill Audio Journal: thoughtful cultural interviews and analysis, now available for download. This is how I shake the cobwebs out of my brain.  Or at least try to.
  • The Briefing: Albert Mohler is a brilliant guy, an avid reader, and a godly thinker. The briefing is basically his take on the most current articles in major news publications (NYTimes, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Economist, Financial Times, etc.) He is always thoughtful and helpful in thinking worldviewishly.
  • Revolutions: I first enjoyed Mike Duncan's History of Rome podcasts.  This is history with an even hand a sense of humor.  He is clever and witty (without being too snarky), and loves just what I do about history-- the amazing story and drama of it all. I am rushing to catch up on this series, and have almost finished the English civil wars and will soon pass on to the American War for Independence.
  • Spotify.  I am late coming to Spotify, and it won't be news to most people.  But I have recently discovered I can find albums by people I love, put them all together on a playlist, and shuffle them around to make the best radio station ever. They have a good selection of Christian music, classical, contemporary of various genre, etc.  It took me a while to figure some of it out, but I am enjoying it. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Battle on the homefront

These last several days I have found myself on an inner battlefield. At first, I thought I was fighting physical frailty. Then I thought I was fighting other people and their stupid, selfish attitudes.  But in the end, I have finally realized exactly what battleground I am standing on: the sin of  vanity and conceit.  In other words, I am fighting my own misplaced sense of self-aggrandizement and pride.

When it comes right down to it, I would prefer to be my own best friend and judge, the queen of my own cosmos.  And my heart is deceitful enough to pull it off, at least in my own mind, for limited periods of time. But sooner or later the Holy Spirit reminds me that He is God and I am not, and I find myself back on this weary field of operations. For that call back to reality, I am very grateful.

So to re-arm myself against this old foe, I am reminding myself of some important things, thanks to John Piper.  Here are his points for fighting the sin of pride, in a condensed form, and in my own rendering.  Read the whole, articulate, better original here.  I am using these points  as my marching orders while I am in this combat zone.

  1. Call to mind that only God is self-existent.  He is absolute; I am contingent.
  2. Remember that by nature I am a depraved sinner, who has treated God with contempt and made a grab for my own glory. Every "good deed" I have done is flawed. 
  3. Ponder the fact that these very sins hung Christ on the cross.  My snarky attitudes and actions  were remedied by the horrid death of the Son of God to give me forgiveness. Praise be to God!
  4. Meditate on the truth of scripture. (Piper recommends 1 Peter 5:5-6, James 4:6-10, etc.)
  5. Pray that the Spirit would open my eyes to see thee truths as Christ does.
  6. Ask God that I not just understand these things, but feel them with the weight they deserve. A broken and contrite heart He will not cast away.
  7. Pick up my mind off of desire for praise and fame, and turn it instead to the beauty and truth and worth of Jesus.
  8. Try to receive all criticism knowing that there is almost certainly some truth in it.
  9. Cultivate a joy in Christ that turns my eyes toward him, and ask him to help me to forget myself in love for him and his people.
  10. Turn to the old writers, and learn from their wisdom.  Piper quotes Edwards, and I am going to give another Edwards quote below because it seems so very appropriate.
May we all find our peace and joy in Jesus, Gentle Reader, confident that he is a better and more generous God than we would ever be.  May God grant us hearts that would be very busy tending to concerns on the home front of our own hearts..


“Spiritual pride tends to speak of other persons’ sins with bitterness or with laughter and levity and an air of contempt. But pure Christian humility rather tends either to be silent about these problems or to speak of them with grief and pity. Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others, but a humble Christian is most guarded about himself. He is as suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart. The proud person is apt to find fault with other believers, that they are low in grace, and to be much in observing how cold and dead they are and to be quick to note their deficiencies. But the humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own heart and is so concerned about it that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts. He is apt to esteem others better than himself.”
~Jonathan Edwards



Friday, September 19, 2014

Five for Friday: Five fall things that make me rejoice


Five fall things that make me rejoice:

  1. The promise of snow in the mountains.
  2. The yellow of chamisa and aspens, and how beautiful the purple asters look with them
  3. Getting to know new students and a fresh school year with no mistakes in it yet
  4. The crisp, blue skies
  5. Green chili roasting in every supermarket parking lot

Thursday, September 18, 2014

TBT: homeschool history class


We met for a year at the Johnsons.  As far as I can tell, the back row includes one of the Siemon boys, Eric Francisco, Ben Finnegan, CJ Johnson, Tim Finnegan, Andrea Theye.  On the couch are Nathan Finch, Catherine Hines, Wendy Hines, Jess Hines and Kristofor Hines.  On the floor are another Siemon boy, Alissa Idler, and Meghan Johnson.  What sweeties they all were, and what fine young adults they are now.  Praising God for these good friends.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Productivity

I often find that when I am working with my hands, my mind is productive.  This jives with things I've read lately about the lack of reflection in our lives, and its resultant absence of wisdom.  I find that if my hands are busy, but my mind can roam, my thinking can wander, be deeper, better, more productive.

As I picked tomatoes in my garden this morning, I found myself pondering something a high school friend recently posted on face book.  She is not just a gifted writer, but a working writer, and she posted something to the effect that she had to learn to stop hoarding her good ideas for some future project, but to use them as she thought of them.  As I picked Sweet-100 cherry tomatoes by the bowlful, it occurred to me what wise advice that is.  When I pick the ripening tomatoes, I make way for new tomato growth.  The more I pick the ripening cherries, the more the plant will produce.  If I leave them too long, the plant keeps pouring energy into them until they over-ripen and split.

When I pick the beautiful summer zinnias the stems divide and produce more flowers.  When I trim the roses and keep them from forming rosehips, they put out more buds.

And I wonder if it might not be so with ideas.  Pick them and use them, and make room and energy for more.  Don't hoard them, lest all your energy be diverted into maintaining the ones you have. Every idea, like every tomato, is a gift from above, intended to be savored.

And so, Gentle Readers, I return to a recurring theme: there is a gardening illustration for almost every truth in life!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Adopting Ana

A young couple we know in Phoenix is raising funds to bring home their new daughter from an orphanage.  Won't you consider helping them, Gentle Readers?

Flashback Friday: Happy Anniversary Tim and Nikki

Tomorrow marks the sixth anniversary of our son Tim and daughter-in-love Nikki.  In order to commemorate the occaision, below are a few photos from the week in New Mexico when the proposal occured.  There were hikes in the  Jemez:


And some lovely White Rock artwork:


And a cocktail party to commemorate the occaision.



Not to mention a trip to the top of Sandia peak at sunset.
Happy anniversary, Tim and Nikki.  We love you!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

A few health updates

 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of our God.
~Psalm 46: 1-4
People have been asking for updates, so I thought I would let you all know, Gentle Readers, that we have much to praise God for!

Our sweet daughter-in-law, Elsa, wife to Ben, continues to recover from the double-fracture in her ankle.  She will still be trying to care for a 2.5 year old and a 3 month old without walking on it until the beginning of October, but she is a steady girl, made of stern stuff, and has had the most godly and wonderful attitude about it all!  We continue to ask your prauers for a smooth recovery.

Elsa's dear dad, Chris Johnson, continues his long road to recovery after his spring tractor accident.  He is now walking with the aid of crutches/walker, or cane, and is driving, and working, and helping to host Ada while the Johnson grandparents give Elsa a little break.  This has been a long road following Chris' devastating multiple-fractures in his leg, pelvis, and back.  Elsa's strong and steady apple doesn't fall far from that calm and sturdy tree!

Our dear Emma, four-year-old daughter of Tim and Nikki, is improving as her parents and the doctors figure out what foods she needs to avoid.  We are grateful for fewer tummy aches and issues, and thank God for good doctors and parents.

My sweet husband continues to deal with side-effects from 23 years ago, but the good news is that we have made some headway in dealing with the headaches.  And, of course, that means he has been in remission for almost 23 years.  That is a miracle of God's healing, and I never want to take it for granted!

And as for me, I just completed my fourth maintenance dose of remicade, my auotimmune disease shows no sign of active disease, and we are to the point where we can begin discussing cataract surgery later this fall.  I am regaining a portion of my energy back, and for the first time in literally years, every item on my blood work-- including the illusive sed rate and c-reative protein numbers, which have been high for years-- are all in the normal range.   And there is no sign of a return of breast cancer at almost 3 years out of surgery. God's hand of healing and provision has been upon me, and I am grateful.

Thank you, Gentle Readers, for your prayers for us.  I know they have been answered faithfully!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

A poem for the Sabbath

The Agony by George Herbert

Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathomed the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walked with a staff to heav’n, and trac├Ęd fountains:
 But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove;
Yet few there are that sound them, - Sin and Love.

 Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A Man so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
 His skin, his garments bloody be.
Sin is that press and vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through ev’ry vein.

 Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
 If ever he did taste the like. Love is that liquor, sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood, but I as wine.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

TBT: Friends closer than a brother (or sister)


 Throwback Thursday: the bridal shower for Elsa, manned (or womanned) by some of my favorite people: Valerie Idler, Kelley Baer, Jaqueline Weaver, Kris Hollis, and Amy Lawrence.  How I cherish your friendships over many years, ladies!