Saturday, January 31, 2009

Perfect Peace

Perfect Peace by Laura Story

stay close by my side
keep your eyes on me
though this life is hard
i will give you perfect peace

in this time of trial
pain that no one sees
trust me when i say
i will give you perfect peace

and you'll never walk alone
and you'll never be in need
though i may not calm the storms around you
you can hide in me
burdens that you bear
offer no relief
let me bear your load
cause i will give you perfect peace
stay close by my side
and you'll never walk alone
keep your eyes on me
and you will never be in need
though this life is hard
know that i will always give you perfect peace
i will give you perfect peace

Friday, January 30, 2009

More news for Nikki

In addition to having her visa interview on February 12, and getting her parole, Nikki also received word this week that she's been given her work permission. This *may* mean that her social security number is now active, and she can change her name legally, change her passport, and get a US driver's license, as well as being officially on the bank accounts! Hurrah! God has been gracious to continue allowing this process to move toward desired ends. Thank you for your prayers!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Health update

Today I saw my wonderful primary care doc. I explained that my oncologist is referring me to a pulmonologist because she doesn't think my fatigue and aches are due to either my cancer treatment or my tamoxifen. He has a different view. He said he has several patients on tamoxifen that are on pain meds all the time due to joint aches and pains. He accepted the fact that I am not depressed, but that I am struggling with fatigue, and was encouraging to me. He thinks it is still a good idea to see the pulmonologist about my sarcoidosis and ask lots of questions, but not jump on the band wagon of taking large doses of prednisone "just to see if it helps." Hurrah! We are like-minded on that. So, I will see the pulmonologist next week, then have tests in March and April, and see both the oncologist and my primary care again in May.

I am learning that heat a couple times a day help with the aches and pains, and that getting rest and sleep is really important for my body right now. And so is consistent exercise (I'm walking 6 or 7 days a week, and going to Curves 2 or 3 times in addition.) So I need to keep my obligations small, and have time to rest and exercise. I am trying to be thankful that I have the wherewithal to be able to be home and quiet, instead of whining about the necessity of it.

And, I am noticing slight and slow improvement as I rest and exercise. I have been able to do some sewing the last few days for the first time in months. It is lovely! And I have been doing a little house work and cooking, too.

So God is being more faithful to me than I deserve. And thank you, Gentle Readers, for your faithful prayers. I know they carry me!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Various thoughts on our culture of death

Today as I drove to work out and go to the grocery store, I was listening to one of the latest issue of Mars Hill Audio Journal. One of the fascinating interviews was with Alan Carlson about his book, Conjugal America. he made the point that the industrial revolution has so undermined marriage as a relationship both for economic gains and for procreation, that fighting the battle for marriage today is tough due in large part because we lost the battle for the definition of marriage decades ago. Once we had removed economic activity from the home, and split-up the family, we industrialized education, too, leaving only eating and cleaning as necessary home activities. And now, with the rise of housecleaners and fast food, we are cutting even those out of our routine. In the midst of this, Carlson claims, we have redefined marriage to be merely for the purpose of pleasure and companionship. When we do this, we have no good defense for keeping marriage from sliding even further. I found it fascinating and illuminating.

In my own state of New Mexico, we have a governor who is insistent in trying to look progressive and impress others with his ability to "lead" our state. One of the things he has been pushing for years is for a domestic partnership/redefinition of marriage bill, which is yet again before our legislative body (SB 12). So I have spent the last hour making phone calls and sending e-mails to legislators, trying to remind them that many of our freedoms are based on the rights of families as the building blocks of society. *Sigh* I must confess, I grow weary in fighting these battles.

And if you think we are not a culture of death, where our priorities are turned topsy-turvy, just look at our huge national financial bail-out, where large amounts of money are being given for contraceptives because children are really only a costly burden on society. (If you don't know what I'm referring to, see here.) And look for some news coverage of the March for Life that happened last week. Even though 300,000 or so people marched on the capitol, not a single major news outlet even mentioned it. We only seem to care as a society about our right to self-satisfaction: our right to kill our babies if they are inconvenient, to kill our elders if they are a bother, to redefine and ignore anything that interferes with our pleasure. It is enough to make any godly person despair and wonder why God has not had enough of us yet and just blotted us out.

But God is patient, and we can trust His timing for both judgment and blessing. I am waiting on Him to bring honest revival to our land. Maranatha, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."
For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,
through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.

But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

~2 Peter 3:3-9

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

News for Nikki

Nikki has been receiving excellent news lately! Yesterday she received word that she has been granted early parole, which, in immigration terms, means she can leave the country (to go to Canada where her family is, for instance) and will be allowed back in. This is good news in and of itself, but it also bodes well for her permanent residence visa. She has her interview for that on February 12 in Tucson. Please continue to keep this whole process in your prayers!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wedding Dress

Today during my nap time, I was listening to a station I've created on Pandora (and if you've never played with Pandora, you should!) A beautiful song came on, and the lyrics took my breath away. It was Derek Webb, and his song Wedding Dress. It convicted me of my own hypocrisy.

If you could love me as a wife
and for my wedding gift, your life
should that be all i’ll ever need
or is there more i’m looking for

And should i read between the lines
and look for blessings in disguise
to make me handsome, rich, and wise
is that really what you want

I am a whore i do confess
but i put you on just like a wedding dress
and i run down the aisle
i’m a prodigal with no way home
but i put you on just like a ring of gold
and i run down the aisle to you

So could you love this bastard child
though i don’t trust you to provide
with one hand in a pot of gold
and with the other in your side
i am so easily satisfied
by the call of lovers less wild
that i would take a little cash
over your very flesh and blood

Because money cannot buy
a husband’s jealous eye
when you have knowingly deceived his wife

This song was immediately followed by Jars of Clay, Jealous Kind:
i built another temple to a stranger
i gave away my heart to the rushing wind
i set my course to run right into danger
i sought the company of fools instead of friends

you know i've been unfaithful
with lovers in lines
while you're turning over tables
with the rage of a jealous kind
i chose the gallows to the aisle
thought that love would never find
hanging ropes will never keep you
and your love of a jealous kind
love of a jealous kind

tryin' to jump away from rock that keeps on spreading
for solace in the shift of the sinking sand
i'd rather feel the pain all too familiar
than be broken by a lover i don't understand
'cause i don't understand


love of a jealous kind, yeah
love of a jealous kind
love of a jealous kind

one hundred other lovers, more, one hundred other altars
if i should slow my pace and finally subject me to grace
and love that shames the wise
betrays the hearts deceit and lies
and breaks the back of foolish pride

love of a jealous kind

Who would have thought that such good reminders for my soul were to be had while listening to the radio? God is good.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sundays with John

This has been another excellent week of fellowship for Dave and I as we read Calvin together. Some of my favorite moments:

In talking about the knowledge of God, John points out the logic, as seen in Augustine, that judgment here is present, but not final:
Indeed, Augustine's remark is well known: 'If every sin were to suffer open punishment, it would seem that nothing is reserved for the final judgment. Again, if God were now to punish no sin openly, one would believe that there is no providence.'
~Calvin, Institutes I.5.10

What beautiful logic, and how little thought about these days. It makes me sigh and wonder, along with the Professor from Lewis' book, "What do they teach in schools these days?"

Calvin also gives us such a clear, lucid defense of the need for a written Word:
Suppose we ponder how slippery is the fall of the human mind into forgetfulness of God, how great the tendency to every kind of error, how great the lust to fashion constantly new and artificial religions. Then we may perceive how necessary was such written proof of the heavenly doctrine, that it should neither perish through forgetfulness nor vanish through error nor be corrupted by the audacity of men. it is therefore clear that God has provided the assistance of the Word for the sake of all those to whom he has been pleased to give useful instruction because he foresaw that his likeness imprinted upon the most beautiful form of the universe would be insufficiently effective.
~Calvin, Institutes, I.6.3

We also see Calvin's relentless logic as he discusses the proper ground of authority for the church. Here, he is fighting the Roman Catholic notion that the Church gives authority to the bible by proclaiming the books included in the canon of Scripture. Instead, he says:
But such wranglers are neatly refuted by just one word of the apostle. He testifies that the church is "built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles" [Eph.2:20]. If the teaching of the prophets and apostles is the foundation, this must have had authority before the church began to exist.
~Calvin, institutes, I.7.2

And this week, we run into one of the great cries of the Reformation, from Calvin's own lips: the self-authentication of Scripture through the work of the Spirit:
Let this point stand: that those whom the Holy Spirit has inwardly taught truly rest upon Scripture, and that Scripture is self-authenticated; hence, it is not right to subject it to proof and reasoning. And the certainty it deserves with us, it attains by the testimony of the Holy Spirit. For even if it wins reverence for itself by its own majesty, it seriously affects us only when it is sealed upon our hearts through the Spirit. Therefore, illumined by his power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else's judgment that Scripture is from God; but above human judgment we affirm with certainty (just as if we were gazing upon the majesty of God himself) that it has flowed to us from the very mouth of God by the ministry of men.

~Calvin, Institutes I.7.5

And in the category of quotable quips, how about this zinger:
Consequently, those for whom prophetic doctrine is tasteless ought to be thought of as lacking taste buds.
~Calvin, Institutes, I.8.2

If any of you are reading Calvin, and have not yet done so, be sure to get the e-mail of Blogging the Institutes you can find at Reformation21. Here is one of my favorites from Sinclair Ferguson to whet your appetite:
We have within ourselves a veritable divine "workshop." Yet instead of praising him men swell with pride in themselves and find reasons for rejecting the revelation God has given to them. Instead of acknowledging the true and living God men "substitute nature for God."

We have all seen or heard it. A secular naturalist engages in the activities Calvin here describes--whether by exploring the heavens or investigating things on earth. Insects and animals with the most limited mental capacity are said to engage in all kinds of detailed logical thinking as they develop coping mechanisms in a hostile environment. And as the program ends the naturalist comments "And so again we find ourselves saying 'Isn't Mother Nature wonderful?' "

But who, one might ask, is Mother Nature? Why is her name always capitalized? On what logic has our agnostic or atheist presenter smuggled in his or her appeal to the transcendent? How profoundly true are Paul's words that men exchange the truth about God for the lie.

~Sinclair Ferguson, Blogging the Institutes

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Keeping focus

This afternoon as I dragged myself on a short walk, the clouds were hovering over the mountains, and I walked in alternating drizzle and sunshine. The air was cold and moist, and smelled fresh and clean, and rainbows came and went from the clouds. They reminded me of God's promises.

I feel like my heart is always fighting my body these days... My heart is joyful and my mind full of great ideas, and my body is weary and painful and doesn't want to do any of them. *sigh*

But Paul reminds us not to lose heart. I have memorized these verses, and say them over and over to myself in those times when I am tempted to loose heart:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So, I pick up my eyes from where they have wandered, unbidden: from despair, and frustration, and weariness. And I look at Christ: the One who died for me, who made me His own. He calls me to live as His chosen bride: free of condemnation, holy and blameless, adopted by grace, accepted for His sake, redeemed, forgiven, abounding in the riches of wisdom and prudence, knowing God's will and good pleasure, gathered to Him, obtaining an inheritance, predestined according to His purpose, praising His glory, trusting in Him who is worthy of my trust, and sealed with His promise. I am His possession.

Who am I to complain so?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Birthday John Donne

Today is John Donne's birthday...or it was back in 1572. You can read a little bit about him here or here. And let me share some of his most famous words:
DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Updates on us all

I thought I would give a little update on the family today.

Ben and Elsa are doing very well, and we are getting excited about visiting them, Lord willing, in March, during Ben's spring break. Elsa continues working in the office at the School of Business at Indiana, and hopes to move to graduate admissions work there this spring. Ben is in the second semester of his PhD studies, and has a comprehensive test before him this semester, and several more years of study ahead. He seems to still enjoy what he is doing, however.

They remain active in their church. World Magazine recently ran an article about one of the elders at their church, a man who is in their small group. You can read about this fascinating gentleman here.

We really enjoyed our time with Tim and Nikki in Tucson last weekend. We had a lovely lunch with friends of theirs who run a bed and breakfast in Tucson. If any of you are travelling that way and want a wonderful place to stay, check out the Jeremiah Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Nikki has her interview for her permanent residence visa on February 12th. Please pray with us that they will grant her a visa, and free her to change her name legally, apply for a social security number legally, and do the myriad of things one can only do with one (like be placed on their bank account and get a valid driver's license!)

Dave continues to head up the working group for his area at the Test Site in Nevada, and to plug away at monitoring ground water there. He is faithful in so many areas. And this spring we pass 17 years since his last cancer battle. Perhaps Dave's faithfulness only reflects the amazing faithfulness God has shown to him!

And I am doing well. I continue to battle fatigue, but am resting in God's arms as best I can. I will see my primary care doc next week, and a pulmonary specialist the following week to discuss my sarcoidosis. Please pray for me to keep my eyes fixed where they need to be, and not to grow discouraged by my lack of energy. Ask the Lord to help me make every minute count for eternity, despite my weariness.

He is faithful to us all!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Homeschooling for the harvest

Mrs. Edwards' comment from my post yesterday got me to thinking about my homeschool journey. One of my classical homeschooling friends also wrote along the same lines:
I went to a meeting of moms in our church who homeschool — they aren’t numerous but they are all wonderful. We started talking about another homeschool mom who has finished her homeschooling journey and another mom said that she used to ask her how she did it and how she wasn’t intimidated and the response was this: “I always pray ‘Lord, let it be enough.’ “ So that is now my prayer.

I prayed several prayers regularly during those in-the-thick-of-it homeschooling years. One that I still pray occasionally is, "Lord, make up for all my mistakes." I also prayed that my boys would always get caught in wrong-doing so they could be corrected. God was gracious to answer both of those prayers with abundance! I think the trick is to figure out what you've been called by God to do with your life and your kids.

It can be a weary road to be obedient. And if God has called you to homeschool, you need to tough it out and learn to depend on Him in it. If He has called you to have your children in the public school system, you need to tough it out and learn to depend on Him through it. The vital thing is to know your calling from God, and then stick to it. Sensing His call makes a huge difference. He is so gracious, even and especially, through the toughest times when we are being obedient to that calling.

“Is that your plough leaning by the tree, and is it not too heavy?”

“It is heavy,” answered the Princess,” but I love to turn the hard earth
into soft furrows and know that I am making good soil wherein my seeds
may grow. When I feel the weight too much, I try to think of the

~“Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” by Kate Douglas Wiggin

So, let's get on with our plowing, Gentle Readers. My time of homeschooling is behind me, and right now my calling is to my comfy chair and my heating pad. But let's carry on and think of the harvest that is coming.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A trip to Tucson

This past weekend we spent a lovely few days with Tim and Nikki in Tucson. Watch for photos popping up of the strange and rugged beauty of that area!

We enjoyed a Lord's Day lunch with friends of theirs from their church. We found that one of my classed friends has a lovely daughter who married one of their sons. This lead to a friendly discussion about home schooling. Our gracious hosts explained their schooling decisions, and as I explained ours, I mentioned my worries that perhaps I had "ruined" my children. This is the secret fear of every conscientious homeschooling mom. I commented that as newly-Reformed, young believers, we had catechized our kids up one side and down the other, and wondered if they would show some latent problem because of our zealous experiment. Our hostess commented that Tim seemed "just great, but she was beginning to worry about his mom!" We all had a lovely laugh together.

This teasing made me think about the fact that our educational experiment has, indeed, been successful, and that I had better let go of my own insecurities. And God has been gracious to us, and allowed us the joy of watching grown men, with godly and lovely wives, continuing to serve Him.

If you are still in the midst of raising your children, Gentle Readers, keep your eyes focused on Christ. Whatever He calls you to do, do with confidence. He is gracious, indeed!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How about Wednesday with John this week...

Since Dave and I are going to be gone tomorrow through Monday or Tuesday, I thought I would post about our Calvin reading before Sunday this week, since I don't know what my opportunities will be like over the weekend. We have been reading ahead, too, so we can safely leave our rather large McNeill/Battles tome at home rather than drag it on the airplane.

We are well into chapter 1: The Knowledge of God and That of Ourselves Are Connected. How They Are Interrelated. I have been bookmarking sme of my favorites as we have been reading. Let me share a few:

The wonderful opening sentence is simply so true:
Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.

Calvin's colorful use of derogatory language (as RG points out) is evident, and while it struck me as funny, should likely not be emulated. Take this as an example. poor Lucretius...:

This [the proclivity of man to confuse the creation with the creator] shows itself even more clearly in the sacrilegious words of that filthy dog Lucretius which has been deduced from that principle.

Sometimes Calvin's colorful language surprises and delights me. This one, when speaking about Epicureanism, made me laugh:

Do all the treasures of heavenly wisdom concur in ruling a five-foot worm while the whole universe lacks this privilege?

And the beauty of not only Calvin's words, but his thoughts, at times overwhelms me. Take this beautiful passage, discussing how the creation of God reflects Him:
The final goal of the blessed life, moreover, rests in the knowledge of God. Lest anyone, then, be excluded from access to happiness, he [God} not only sowed in men's minds that seed of religion of which we have spoken but revealed himself and daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the universe. As a consequence, men cannot open their eyes without being compelled to see him.Indeed. his essence is incomprehensible; hence, his divineness far escapes all human perception. But upon his individual works he has engraved unmistakable marks of his glory, so clear and so prominent that even unlettered and stupid folk cannot plead the excuse of ignorance.

And perhaps this is the most succinct, beautiful explanation of what it means to be a Christian in all of literature:
For what is more consonant with faith than to recognize that we are naked of all virtue, in order to be clothed by God? That we are empty of all good, to be filled by him? That we are slaves of sin, to be freed by him? Blind, to be illumined by him? Lame, to be made straight by him? Weak to be sustained by him? To take away from us all occasion for glorying, that he alone may stand forth gloriously and we glory in him.
~Prefatory Address to King Francis, part 2.

What things have struck you as you have been reading through Calvin?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A little adventure is good, too

Adventure looks like different things to different people...just keep that in mind.

My dear husband, a man among men, has been looking for a new car for the last couple of years. Now I haven't gotten too excited about this becuase he is usually on something like the four-year plan, so I figured we had plenty of time to wait yet. But wonder of wonders, he has already purchased a used (new to us) car via his favorite care dealership, e-bay! (It is a 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe, for inquiring minds...) He is buying it in the town where he has a business meeting later this week, so I am going to fly with him, and then we will drive the car back, via Tucson, where we can spend a couple of days with Tim and Nikki. To me this sounds like a grand adventure! I love car-time with Dave, for listening to books together and talking, and just the change of scenery sounds exciting, not to mention time with Tim and Nik!

And as if that weren't enough adventure for the day, we also found some great Southwest Airlines deals, and have scheduled a trip to visit Ben and Elsa in March, over Ben's Spring Break. We have had to cancel plans to visit them in Bloomington twice now, and so are excited about getting to see them in their own home soon. Hurray!

God is awfully good to me. I am not sure what my stamina will stand, but even if I have to take naps or go to bed early, these will be wonderful trips, and I am looking forward to them!

Monday, January 12, 2009

A little adversity is good for the soul

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
~ Anne Bradstreet

I am about to head to my comfy chair for my afternoon rest time. Without this rest time, I can't get through the day. While that sometimes frustrates me, I am trying to see God's blessing in it. I can pray for an hour uninterrupted (except for when I fall asleep!) I have the ability to be home and order my days as needed, and a lovely place to rest.

I know God is slowing me down for a reason. I'd just like to have His reason and be done with it, and move on to other things. But what ingratitude that is! A dear friend reminded me today that unless Paul had been imprisoned, we would not have much of the New Testament. I have no illusion about God doing any big or mighty work in me, as He did in Paul, but I trust Him to have a good plan for me all the same. So I will rest here. A little adversity is good for the soul. It keeps me from complacency, and reminds me who to call upon in my times of need.

And speaking of need, here are some specific prayer requests. I know there are days when I am carried by the love and prayers of many of you, Gentle Readers. Thank you!

~Please pray that the sarcoidosis would not become a problem.
~Please pray that there would be no return of the breast cancer.
~Please pray for upcoming tests and appointments:
*Primary care doc last week of January
*Pulmonary specialist about sarcoidosis first week of February
*Mammograms and blood work in March
*CT-scans and appointment with oncologist in April
~Please pray that I would content myself beneath God's hand.
~Please pray that I would find my worth and sufficiency in Christ alone, not is what I can or can't do.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sundays with John

Since Dave and I are reading through Calvin's Institutes this year, Lord willing, I thought it would be helpful to reflect on Sundays over what we've read for the week. Most of this past week, we read Calvin's Prefatory letter to the King of France. In it, Calvin basically gives the King his reasons of justification for the whole Reformation. It is fascinating reading!

Any of you reading along, feel free to share favorite quotes or interesting ideas or favorite themes in the comments section. I hope we can have some dialogue here! Also, below are some Calvin references that may be of help to you.

Here is a list of audio links to various Calvin resources.

Here is the online foreward and first chapter of A Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes by Hall and Lillback. The foreward is excellent, and written by J. I. Packer.

Here is the Calvin Blog over at Reformation21, where various theologians are blogging short, helpful notes about each reading. You can also e-mail them for their excellent and do-able reading list.

Princeton Theological Seminary also has a reading plan for this year, complete with audio resources for listening to the institutes, and accessing the Lewis/Battles translation online.

Randy has also listed some other great resources over at SomberandDull.

Friday, January 09, 2009

An expectation of relief

Raise up thy heart by faith to an expectation of relief from Christ. Relief in this case from Christ is like the prophet’s vision (Hab. 2:3): it is ‘for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, yet wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.’ Though it may seem somewhat long to thee whilst thou art under thy trouble and perplexity, yet it shall surely come in the appointed time of the Lord Jesus, which is the best season. If, then, thou raise up thine heart to a settled expectation of relief from Jesus Christ; if thine eyes are towards him as ‘the eyes of a servant to the hand of his master’ (Psalm 123:2), when he expects to receive somewhat from him; thy soul shall be satisfied.
~John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, Chapter 14, p.165

Thursday, January 08, 2009

He is no fool...

53 years ago today, five missionaries were martyred in South America. If you are unfamiliar with their story, above is a little taste of what our remarkable God did through their costly sacrifice.

If you have never seen Steve Saint's documentary,Beyond the Gates of Splendor (for purchase here), I highly recommend it. Even if you know the story, or have read the books by Elizabeth Elliot (Shadow of the Almighty and Through Gates of Splendor) or seen the feature film, End of the Spear, the documentary is well worth watching, beautifully done, and very moving.

Of course, one of Jim Elliots's most famous quotes is a good commentary on living the Christian life:
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

(Thanks to JT)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Today I have been pondering the idea of vocation. It was probably partially implanted there by my reading a book review of Gene Veith's book, God at Work. I love the Reformation idea of vocation: God's calling in and on our lives; that for which God equips us and provides opportunity for us to use in service to Him and others. If you can grasp what God has called you to do and do it, there is much peace and satisfaction!

In different seasons of life, I think our vocation is sometimes different, or the call of God on our lives changes for a time, or for eternity. All my life I have seen my vocation as teaching. I think God gifted me for it, and provided opportunities for me to serve others and glorify Him in doing it. But my current season of life has removed the ability to teach (at least in a class or study group setting) from me. While I am saddened by this (because I love teaching) I am determined to see what God's calling is for me in this season.

This afternoon, like I do every afternoon, I climbed into my comfortable chair with my prayer notebook and my bible and my copy of Owen's Mortification of Sin, and a heating pad, and after reading and reflecting and praying, I laid back and drifted off to sleep. And part of my calling for this season occurred to me. God is calling me to draw near to Him. He's providing both the time and the motivation, and calling me to spend my afternoons with Him. What a delightful notion, and an irresistible invitation! For those of us who are by nature "doers", times of quiet and enforced rest can gall and chafe. But if I keep my eyes fixed on the one who invites me to Himself, I am calmed, and see only beauty in my quiet afternoons.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Yesterday I saw my oncologist. We scheduled mammograms and blood work for March, and C-T scans for April. We discussed my continuing fatigue, and much to my surprise, she said, "Oh, you should be recovered from all your treatment and surgeries. Do you think this could be post-treatment depression?" I explained to her that I don't feel depressed, but I *do* feel a great amount of fatigue, causing me to HAVE to nap every afternoon. She surprised me again by saying, "Well, fatigue is the main symptom of sarcoidosis. I think it's time we got you to a specialist." Sarcoidosis is that auto-immune disease that they discovered in my pesky lymph nodes in October. I had hoped to blissfully ignore it, but I have to say that this idea came as a bit of a blow. I guess I wanted her to say something like, "Give it more time, and you'll see improvement." But no. Done with one disease and on with the next. I have made a commitment to fight for joy in Christ during this new year. And it is being tested right off the bat.

As Dave and I were preparing to read through Calvin's Institutes in the course of the year, we read an introductory essay by J. I. Packer. Among many good and interesting things, Packer said:
Shaping all its [the Institutes of the Christian Religion by Calvin] elaborate doctrinal discussions, with their rigorous biblicism, their strong assertions of divine sovereignty, and their sharply focused trinitarianism,is a persistent orientation to the conscience, a contagious awareness that we do and must live our lives coram Deo, in the presence and sight of the searcher of hearts, and a drumbeat insistence that sound belief must express itself in pietas, faithful—that is, faith-full—obedience to, and worship of, the Father and the Son through the Spirit.

That idea of living "coram Deo"-- before the face of God-- is a good one to remember. May I respond to all things, the good and the bad, the joyful and the trying, as if I believe God is there and He is watching. May I live in the same joy He has provided no matter what my circumstances. Would you pray for me, Gentle Readers, that I may do so?

And if any of you know anything about sarcoidosis, please drop me a line...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. J.P.

One of the special things we did over the holidays was attend the wedding of former students and friends, Jesse and Elise. Jesse, along with his younger brother Joey, were like additional sons to us as our boys were growing up, and we love both families involved, so it was very special to watch Jesse and Elise begin this new stage of life together. What a privilege to be invited!

Here is Joey, dancing with younger sister Lucita, while another younger sister, Preciosa, looks on.

Ben and Elsa did some dancing, too! They really do dance execellently after their two semesters of dance classes at Hillsdale!

Elsa and Ben are laughing and talking with Joey and Sarah. This was our first time to meet Sarah, though we have prayed for her for a long time. She is delightful!

And here are two of our favorite gals: Emily and Nikki.

And finally, the happy couple, on their way out into the snowy day, and the rest of their lives. Our prayers will follow Jesse and Elise to Tennessee, where they will begin their new life together.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

"Our darkness and weakness are no plea for our negligence and disobedience. Who is it that hath waked up to the knowledge that he hath had of the perfections, excellencies and will of God? God's end in giving us any knowledge of himself here is that we may glorify him as God; that is, love him, serve him, believe and obey him, give him all the honor and glory that is due from poor sinful creatures to a sin-pardoning God and Creator. We must all acknowledge that we were never thoroughly transformed into the image of that knowledge which we have had. And had we used our talents well, we might have been trusted with more."
~John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, Chapter 12, p.141

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Hello 2009

The older I get, the more quickly it seems the years fly by. 2008 was a busy, blessed, difficult year, but I can't for the life of me figure out where it has gone!

2009 will begin as a year of continued recuperation for me. I don't know what my energy level will allow, but I am resolved to fight for joy there. You are all given permission to hold me accountable for this, Gentle Readers!

2009 is the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin. I haven't yet decided if I will jump aboard one of the many reading programs online to celebrate (Princeton is doing it, Reformation21 is doing it, Tabletalk is doing it, and undoubtedly there are others.) If you want to follow all the fun and frivolity, check out the Calvin Quincentenary site.

And in the spirit of the frivolity of celebrating the birth of Calvin, here is a silly song for you to enjoy! May your New Year be a bright and joyful one!