Friday, October 31, 2008

Reformation Day

Happy Reformation Day!

Well, 489 years ago Martin Luther nailed 95 thesis to the door of Whittenburg Cathedral. This week we carved pumpkins. We do it just for the fun of it and unfortunately, Halloween is the only time of year that pumpkins are available to carve. So, we did different fun designs. I did mine for Reformation Day and if our camera didn't mirror the image it would say "M L 95": Martin Luther, 95 Thesis. I was deteremined to keep my Reformation Day theme. I had much teasing, much laughter, much abuse but hey, so did Luther.

I do hope you are having a wonderful Reformation Day: giving thanks to our heavenly Father who cares for His people and protects His church even in very difficult times. He is very faithful to us so may we be ever-faithful to Him who has done great things for us. Luther stood at the Diet of Worms and said, "Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God." We do not stand in court rooms of men, but we do live before the world as representatives of heaven's King..."so help us God!" Praise to the Lord who keeps His promises to His godly ones and will "present us before His presence with singing!"

A Mighty Fortress is our God
by Martin Luther
from Psalm 46

A MIGHTY fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper he, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great;
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,—
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he,
Lord Sabaoth his name,
From age to age the same,
And he must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,—
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,—
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers—
No thanks to them—abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Good day,

You know, the funny thing is, I was just thinking to myself that I needed to post something when I checked Talk Time today. Thank you Sarah, for always making the time...even when I don't : ) I've not been the happiest person lately...and I never feel like writing when this is the case. Why is joy so hard to come by? Right now I feel really bogged down and agitated about a lot of things...this is neither the time nor place to go into detail...the bottom line is weariness. I'm just weary of the fight and the struggle. It's tough to be physically and emotionally tired. So this is what I'm working through right now. I think it must be time to refocus. Usually, when I get this way, it is because I've stopped looking at my Saviour, and have become too self-centered. My whole family is having to work through a lot of headaches right now, and we're at the point in the battle when you just feel like giving up. So will y'all pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen us and teach us to be content? Most importantly, that we will be able to "count it all joy", during these trials. Contentment according to Burroughs is a gracious frame of spirit. I know that the Holy Spirit is teaching me submission, thankfulness, graciousness, and contentment right now...all the above are linked together. Sometimes this "School for Character" isn't the most pleasant place to be. :) Thankfully, our Teacher is also our Comforter, Helper, Friend and Father.

Apart from this, I've been enjoying autumn so far. It seems like we've officially entered into the season. This week has been especially cold for us this early in the season. We've had a fire burning all day some days. It takes the edge off the chilliness in our drafty house. And it's so warm, homey and comforting. I've also been running around decorating. Mommy isn't much of a seasonal decorator, so usually (except in the case of Christmas, when Sarah helps) I'm the one to make seasonal changes. I'm going to take a picture of our fireplace and mantle, which turned out okay and post it up here sometime. Oh, and I made a Apple, Pear and Cranberry later I'll post up the recipe. It was definitely a keeper!

Later this week I'm going to post a slide-show of pictures from my parents' trip to Scotland. They were gone for 10 days, during which I stayed in the home of some good friends (thanks, Aubrey for sharing your room!) and my sister and brother were shipped off to Greenville to stay with our relatives. (I had to stay here since I teach piano and had too many other events to cancel or reschedule) It was the fastest 10 days I've had in a while. However, it was a nice break from a lot of my normal (housekeeping) activities. More of that later....

What else? I've not even covered a fraction of what is going on right now, but somehow, I feel like this is enough for now. I've committed myself to a lot of follow up posts...and Sarah's promised you one from me on The Rare Jewel. So you'll hear from me later, Lord willing.

Meanwhile...take a lesson from me and don't allow yourself to become so busy doing the things of life, that you forget why you do them and who you are doing them for. This mistake is very easy to make! So for now, I'm going to go refocus and remember my chief end.


What's Our Problem?

Oh yeah! Talk Time! I almost forgot!

Well, the truth is out: Lily and I are extremely busy. Yeah, it's true: busy.

I was thinking that after I didn't post for four days in a row Lily would get the clue and post something...maybe just a quote (that's always quick and easy: someone already said it for you!) But, she's busy, too. So, I suppose her philosophy is, if I continue to not post anything Sarah will "make time for what's important" and do it for me! It worked!

So, since I know all our readers have been checking the blog every day just dyin' for a quote...I have one! Of course, I do!

"Take notice not only of the mercies of God but of God in the mercies. Mercies are never so savory as when they savor of the Savior." ~ Ralph Venning

I do hope that you are all having a wonderful week. I'm sorry the blog has been slow...everything else has been busy :) Lord willing, we'll (meaning Lily!) will post something on Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment soon. We have been reading it...just not posting.

Have a great day!

"The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, they are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!"


Monday, October 20, 2008

The Biannual Tradition, part ii

Oh, it's all just part of my blogging scheme. I posted the Biannual Tradition about Chicken and Broccoli Casserole but I didn't give you the recipe. Now, you have to comment and ask for the recipe if it really sounds "that good." And then, I get comments and I get to do another post. I really did it intentionally...not giving you the recipe, that is! But, Jessica commented and asked for the recipe so here it is:

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

3 packages frozen broccoli OR one bunch fresh
6 whole chicken breasts, cooked
3 cans condensed cream of chicken soup (also known as Cream of Chemical Soup :)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup white wine
3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 package crushed Ritz crackers
2 tablespoons melted butter

Arrange cooked broccoli in a greased 9x13" pan. Cut chicken in large bite-sized pieces and place over broccoli. In a medium bowl, mix together soup, sour cream, lemon juice and white wine and pour over broccoli and chicken. Sprinkle with the cheese, then the crumbs and drizzle the melted butter over top. Bake covered at 350 degrees about 1 hour until bubbly and very hot. Excellent for a crowd. Serves 10 or more.

The Blair house had a great time teasing Daddy about the food he was "avoiding" while he was gone because at Presbytery they served....Chicken and Spinach Casserole. Now, I'm sorry, maybe it's good, but that just sounds like you really wish you had some broccoli to make the right kind of casserole and you realized you didn't so you threw spinach in there to make it nutritious...but not delicious. We did get to laugh a lot this weekend over that, though ;)

I hope you're all having a great Monday!

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
~Psalm 118:24

With much rejoicing because He is King!


Friday, October 17, 2008

The Biannual Tradition


When our families (the Blairs and the Freemans) lived in Greenville, South Carolina we could always think of some reason why we needed to get together--ya know, birthday parties, sleep-overs, dinner, apple picking, basketball practice, the list is really endless.

Lily and I always had each other over for our birthdays (just watch Lily get on here and remind me that I didn't invite her one year -- if she does that, I honestly don't remember it :) and we would usually have a sleep-over. And then there were just the spontaneous occasions when the Freemans would have the Blair girls over just for the fun of it...just for the hang time! On one of those very exciting, most momentous occasions in Blair and Freeman girls' childhoods Mrs. Freeman made Chicken and Broccoli Casserole. I'm tellin' you that stuff was rockin'! It was so yummy. We told Mama all about it and how delicious it was so she said she'd make it for us. (It was worth it because Leah doesn't really "do" casseroles so this was a big deal.) Anyway, she made it....Leah and I were goin' on and on about how great it was and we look over at the end of the table and Daddy is practically gagging on his minuscule portion of this feast!

So, yeah, we never have Chicken and Broccoli Casserole....except! Every 6 months (April and October) Daddy has presbytery. It starts on Friday morning and goes until Saturday at noon. So, it's a tradition: on the Friday night of presbytery we have Chicken and Broccoli Casserole. We all look forward to it for weeks. We dedicate a sleeve of Ritz crackers for the casserole a month in advance just to make sure we don't run out. It's the one thing we love about presbytery: Chicken and Broccoli Casserole! And, Mama is so sweet: she makes a 9x13" pan so Leah and I can have left-overs for lunch on Saturday. We really make it a Chicken and Broccoli Casserole weekend. It's a big deal around here.

So, this Friday and Saturday is presbytery. I woke up this morning to the smell of cooking chicken. It's been sitting in the fridge all afternoon. And now, as I type this, I can smell the casserole. I have even purposed to not have a snack at all this afternoon so that I will be able to fully enjoy my dinner.

Much thanks goes to Mrs. Freeman for introducing us to the delights of this casserole. And Daddy, I love you so much but I'm thankful for I can have Chicken and Broccoli Casserole: our biannual tradition.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Book Club -- Institutes of the Christian Religion

I am continuing on my journey through Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. Some of the best mornings lately, have been those when I wake up and read Calvin: about our faith -- how it falters and it's not perfect and yet the Lord is gracious and He continues to work in us and strengthen us, and produce in us "an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison."

On Saturday night (as I was delighting in my completed to-do list, in my bed (by 7:30!!), reading Calvin, ready for the Lord's day!) I was finishing chapter three of Book Three. He was talking about (by the way, just let me know if this is the most perfect way to end the week, or what?) In any event, He was talking about our sinfulness and how the saints can often become so overwhelmed with how sinful they far short of His glory they fall, that they lose sight of the Savior. And then he quoted Bernard~

"Grief for sins is necessary, but must not be perpetual. My advice is to turn back at times from sorrow and the anxious remembrance of your ways, and escape to the plain, to a calm review of the divine mercies. Let us mingle honey with wormwood, that the salubrious bitter may give health when we drink it tempered with a mixture of sweetness: while you think humbly of yourselves, think also of the goodness of the Lord."
Oh, we do not have a book big enough (I'm somewhat paraphrasing Thomas Watson, here) to write all the mercies of God in. As William Langland said, “All the wickedness in this world that man might work or think, Is no more to the mercy of God than a live coal in the sea.”

We must see our sinfulness. We cannot see ourselves in desperate need of a Savior if we do not see how totally wicked are our hearts. But I wanted to brighten up Monday a bit with the reminder to "think also on the goodness of the Lord." For He is good...all His ways are good...He desires to pour out good things on His children and causes all things to work together for the good of His godly ones! "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise!"

In the Savior's grip,


* Salubrious: healthy, or health-giving *

Friday, October 10, 2008

More Quotables

I read these quotes this morning and I thought the quote lovers that read Talk Time would enjoy them as well. It was such a wonderful way to wake up this morning -- such blessed reminders. I know they are rather long but I hope they prove a blessing to you, as well. Have an outstanding weekend...

Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His presence with singing~

Miss Blair

In one sense the path to heaven is very safe--but in other respects, there is no road so dangerous! It is beset with many difficulties. One false step (and how easy it is to take that, if grace is absent), and down we go! What a slippery path is that which we have to tread!

How many times have we to exclaim with the Psalmist, "My feet were almost gone--my steps had well nigh slipped!" If we were strong, sure-footed mountaineers, this would not matter so much; but in ourselves, how weak we are! In the best roads--we soon falter; in the smoothest paths--we quickly stumble. These feeble knees of ours, can scarcely support our tottering weight. A
straw may trip us, and a pebble can wound us! We are mere children, tremblingly taking our first steps in the walk of faith; our heavenly Father holds us by the arms--or we would soon go down! Oh, if we are kept from falling, how must we bless our patient Father, who watches over us day by day!

Think--how prone we are to sin, how apt to choose danger, how strong our tendency to cast ourselves down--and these reflections will make us sing more sweetly than we have ever done, "Glory be to Him, who is able to keep us from falling."

We have many foes
who try to push us down. The road is rough--and we are weak! But in addition to this, enemies lurk in ambush, who rush out when we least expect them, and labor to trip us up, or hurl us down the nearest precipice! Only an Almighty arm can preserve us from these unseen foes--who are seeking to destroy us. Such an arm is engaged for our defense. He is faithful, who has promised, and He is able to keep us from falling--so that with a deep sense of our utter weakness, we may cherish a firm belief in our perfect safety, and say, with joyful confidence, "To Him who is able to keep us from falling and to present us before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the only God our Savior, be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." Jude 1:24-25 ~ Charles Spurgeon

“Our circumstances are all in opposition to the promises of God. He promises us immortality: yet we are surrounded by mortality and corruption. He declares that He accounts us just: yet we are covered with sins. He testifies that He is propitious and benevolent toward us: yet outward signs threaten His wrath.

What then are we to do? We must close our eyes, disregard ourselves and all things connected to us, so that nothing may hinder or prevent us from believing that God is true.” ~ John Calvin

Monday, October 6, 2008

Because it was it was on my mind...

...and won't be later. This is a quote that was sent to me this morning. I thought it was the perfect reminder as the week starts: as we go back into the world (that we are so often weary of). And, since I will forget to post it later this week I though I'd just go ahead and do it today even though I've already done one post today. Hey, it's Notable Quotable Monday, right? Yeah! So I can post quotes all afternoon if I want...! In any event, I thought this might refresh you as you strive to glorify and enjoy Heaven's King this week. In the Savior's grip ~ Miss Blair

“A Christian is an impregnable person. He is a person that never can be conquered. Emmanuel became man to make the church and every Christian to be one with him. Christ’s nature is out of danger of all that is hurtful. The sun shall not shine, the wind shall not blow, to the church’s hurt. For the church’s Head ruleth over all things and hath all things in subjection.

Therefore let all the enemies consult together, this king and that power, there is a counsel in heaven which will disturb and dash all their counsels. Emmanuel in heaven laugheth them to scorn. And as Luther saith, ‘Shall we weep and cry when God laugheth?’” ~ Richard Sibbes

Friday, October 3, 2008

More Thoughts From the Tea Table

Oh, it's a lovely fall afternoon in North Carolina. The sunshine is just pourin' in and it's breezy and crisp; cool and refreshing. I'm eating an apple while I write this (the perfect fall fruit). It's Monday...we just came out of the Lord's day! It's the perfect afternoon to talk about contentment...because hey, it's not hard to be content right now!

I loved Lily's comment on the post she did a couple days ago and I wanted to bring some "more thoughts from the tea table" on that:

Here's the thing: the unbelief IS still there. And to me it's overwhelming that even though our hearts are not perfect the Lord gives us the ability (all by His grace) to be content. Even though our hearts are doubting the Lord is abundantly merciful. He continually sanctifies us and makes us more and more "perfect and complete; lacking in nothing." He will produce in us this rare jewel.

I know you guys knew this had to tie into a sermon somewhere, right? Of course it did. HEllo! Who's writin' this post anyway? :) On Sunday morning our sermon was from Luke 8:22-25 where Christ is sleeping in the boat and a storm comes and the disciples cry out. It was Christ's idea to go across the sea. (read the passage) It's totally His idea. Do you think that He didn't know that there was gonna be a storm? No way! The Lord of heaven and earth was completely aware. But this is the point: He doesn't take us around the storms, He takes us right through them...all the way to the other side! But He promises us that He will be there with us all the way. He "will never leave us nor forsake us." He says in John 14, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give. In the world you will have tribulation but take courage, I have overcome the world." He perfects us through the storms...all the way!

And so, the Lord is gracious to not just hand us rare jewels but to work them in us. "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have it's perfect result that you may be perfect and complete; lacking in nothing." So we can be content in the trials because we know that the Lord is purging our hearts of unbelief; causin' us to be more and more like His Son; and we know that the Lord's with us -- that all His ways are good -- that He does all things for the good of His godly ones.

Now there's a reason to be a contented and joyful people -- because Heaven's King has looked upon our lowly, wretched state and said, "I love them! They will be mine and I will never leave them. I have already been through all these trials for their sakes and I am able to 'sympathize with their weaknesses' and 'come to the aid of those who are being tempted.'" What a gracious Father. So, we can lay all our burdens at His feet and know that He will do all things well!

And I didn't even talk about expectations. sigh* That can be a different post though...since this is more than an epistle :) I hope you're all havin' a great day!

For the King and the Kingdom,