Saturday, December 31, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Blairs!

(Multitude Monday post coming later today?...hoping. Thank you for grace. And a very Merry Christmas to you this day!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

More thoughts...

I was very encouraged today by this message from Doug Phillips (Vision Forum). My heart breaks for the Sproul family. It is difficult to recognize the gifts of God in these circumstances. This evening, I read R.C. Sproul Jr.'s article revealing his thoughts and his faith in God through this trial. The Lord's grace is surely manifest. He loves us more than we can know. Can we truly trust His goodness? Will we follow him wherever He leads us?

"And with that he took my hat from its peg, wrapped my hand in his and led me from the room. My hand in Father's! That meant the windmill on the Spaarne, or swans on the canal. But this time he was taking me where I didn't want to go! There was a railing along the bottom five steps: I grabbed it with my free hand and held on. Skilled watchmaker's fingers closed over mine and gently unwound them. Howling and struggling I was led away from the world I knew into a bigger, stranger, harder one..." (The Hiding Place)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot heal

My heart is heavy today. After a long struggle with cancer, Denise Sproul has gone to be with the Lord. Pray that the Lord will be near to the Sproul family in this difficult time and that they will feel his tender, loving embrace and the comfort of our heavenly Father.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thoughts on Music and Worship

We've been discussing church music as a family, for quite some time. Recently, it's been a fairly central topic due to a research paper that I wrote for my college music history course (which I shall post later). The paper was on Martin Luther, and his impact on music. The whole subject lead to different areas of research in the area of reformed music and the principles which the reformers held. I have been pondering this list (below) of principles written by a present-day pastor, which I found on another blog. I think there are several excellent points which all reformed churches should consider in order to enable each body of believers to worship God heartily. Would love feedback. (Sarah, perhaps this shall enter into our "talkin' about the issues" conversations ;)

God-Centered Orientation: The service in general, and the songs in particular, should point people to God, not self.

Gospel Focus: The service and songs should remind participants of the gospel—that they are sinners saved by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

Theological Richness: Songs should not only be doctrinally true, but theologically rich. Preference will be shown to modern hymns, and shallow, repetitive songs will be avoided.

Historical Connection: The great hymns of the faith should be sung, either with their original tunes or with modern revisions of them, allowing today’s worshippers to be connected to their brothers and sisters of the past and their depth of expression.

Modern Expression: The best of today’s worship songs should also be used,
allowing for modern expression of ancient truths, while still preferring God-centered, gospel-focused, and theologically rich songs.

Indigenous Style: The “feel” of worship music should suit the place in which the church is found, allowing the people of that community to give appropriate voice to their praises.

Liturgical Flow: The structure of the worship gathering should have a certain flow, ushering people through the gospel to the throne of God. To say the gathering is liturgical speaks more of the thought put into the service than the feel produced by it.

Diverse Instrumentation and Involvement: Diverse instruments and different believers (ethnically, generationally, etc.) should be utilized to lead all the saints in praise, while keeping a stylistic “center” to the gathering.

Participative Nature: The goal of worship music is to engage and lead the saints in worship. Therefore, arranging, playing, and mixing of music that encourages a
performance-spectator mentality will be avoided. The voices in a worship gathering should be the main instruments.

God-Glorifying Excellence: The music leader and team will strive to lead in such a way that God is glorified, and that the saints will not be distracted either by their mastery or by their inability. This will be accomplished partially through weekly rehearsals.

Musical Beauty: God-glorifying lyrics must be matched with fitting, beautiful music that images the beauty of the Creator God who invented music.

Non-Negotiable Importance: As singing is commanded throughout the Bible and serves as the most supreme voice of amazing truths, its importance must be taught and modeled by church leadership. “I don’t like to sing” is an unacceptable statement for a believer of Christ.

Lifestyle Understanding: Worship encompasses all of life—certainly more than Sunday morning, and especially the Sunday singing time. Singing is just one aspect of a worship service, and calling it “worship” confuses the people of God.

Gifted Leadership: As the song leader sets the tone for the gathering of God’s people, he must be a gifted musician, passionate worshipper, and loving servant who can plan and lead God-glorifying singing times.

Elder Involvement: The final responsibility for the songs sung during the worship gathering falls to the elders, so they must be involved closely with the planning of services. They must not completely delegate this responsibility due to the critical teaching component of corporate singing.

Believer Orientation: Singing in corporate worship gatherings should be geared to facilitate the worship of believers, not appeal to “seekers.” Worship can only be truly done by believers in Christ.

Multi-Generational Appeal: A diversity of songs should be sung that appeal to all of God’s saints, not just a certain age group. However, a congregational “center” should be ascertained, enabling for an indigenous expression of worship by the bulk of the congregation.

Multiple Settings: Small groups, family devotions, and youth groups, just to name a few, are other venues that should encourage musical worship.

Corporate Emphasis: Believers should be encouraged to worship God primarily as a corporate body, not as individuals, during the weekly corporate worship gathering. This will affect songs chosen (preference for “we” songs over those “I”) and prayers uttered (“God, forgive us,” over “God, forgive me.”), as well as numerous other aspects of the meeting.

Passionate Expression: Christians must be taught to desire strong affections in worship. Hypocritical, heartless singing is to be avoided, while heartfelt passion is to be pursued.

Loving Deference: Church members must put the desires of others above themselves, not fighting to see that their musical preferences are honored as best.

Unified Praise: The unity of the local body must be pursued in worship gatherings. This is achieved, first of all, by having all the believers gathered in one room, with one voice. Multiple worship gatherings, and multiple, different-styled worship gatherings will be avoided.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

To Sarah

A very Happy Birthday to Sarah!

It gives me great pleasure today, to take a pause from the ordinary demands of life and reflect upon the Lord's mercies and grace which are new every morning. His blessings are numerous, but today I want to focus on just one: friendship. What a privilege it is that God should place people in our lives - fellow pilgrims, traveling saints - and that we should find strength and encouragement in one another. Today, I am thankful for twelve years of friendship with Sarah. Twelve years of growing. Twelve years of phone calls, emails, pillow talk time, summer visits, book discussions, sermon sharing, laughter, celebrations, and close fellowship. We've been through so much together. Nothing can ever change our love for each other. Our dedication to each other is not based on external likenesses, but on internal convictions and shared desires.

On another note: Today, Sarah is two decades old! That's right. Twenty!
After all those years of being teenagers is the close of a chapter. I pray the Lord's blessing on the years to come, that each day might be another step heavenward.
Thus nature has no love for solitude, and always leans, as it were, on some support; and the sweetest support is found in the most intimate friendship.- Cicero

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why I Joined Facebook (For Now) today I joined the masses on facebook. Why? I don't know if you're asking that question, but I certainly am.

The reasons are several. Allow me to bore you. (I suddenly sound like Ben Miller...I don't really know why).

First of all, let me say that since I have joined (some 4 hours ago) I have not enjoyed my experience and may delete the account at any moment. Maybe I should give it 24 hours? Ok...I'll do that at least.

Secondly, I, for the first time in the long history of "Sarah needs to get facebook" assaults, felt that I'm missing something. There have been lots of events planned in recent months that have been involving me, and yet I can't see who's coming (not that I care that much), I don't know who's bringing what (glad no one else was planning to bring chips and salsa), I don't know the details of, etc., etc. Ok, so maybe that's a lame reason.

I also sense (and maybe I'm just a little slow on the uptake) that this is the way of things in my generation. People facebook. It's a noun, a verb, whatever part of speech it needs to be. And while I have resisted the trend for a long while (despite the "Get Sarah to join facebook page" on facebook [how counterproductive is that?]), this is what's going on in my world right now. And just because this is what's going on does not mean that I have to "conform to the pattern of this world." I can take this "thing" and use it as a gift and a tool. It doesn't have to demand of me things that I'm not willing to give (time would be a good example).

Other details: my friends are real friends. Like, I know them. Like, I would walk across the parking lot to say "Hi" to them. I would give them a hug if I hadn't seen them in a month. I would visit them in the hospital. I don't do fake friends. I'm sorry...maybe I'm just not cut out for the facebook world. We're finding out together.

Also, not that you need to know, and please don't take it as an insult, but I don't care that you had grilled cheese for lunch. I'm glad it was the best grilled cheese sandwich you've ever had, but I'm not going to comment on your post about it. And I won't be updating you on what I had for lunch. If you want to know, please come join me some afternoon...I'll make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we can sit and talk for a while. Doesn't that sound lovely?

May facebook never replace the real conversations, really hearing your voice; real meals together; real laughing rather than emoticons; real doing life together; really seeing you, face to face. And thus my first facebook status:

"I had many things to write to you, but I am not willing to write them to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak face to face" (III John 13-14).

So, I'm not sure how long I'll be on facebook. I would guess until my 20th birthday and then I'll be done. I'm not sure. I guess we'll all find out together. Thanks for listening. I constructed this post in my head this afternoon while I was fixing my hair. Thought you might like to know.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Another Friday

Might you please forgive the lack of Fitness Friday posts in this place? I was going to write a post for today and then found myself very unmotivated. It's been a slow workout week. Some weeks are just that way, when nothing lines up, making time for the workout. And then there's today. I slept late this morning because I wasn't feeling very well, and still, not feeling so well. Maybe just allergies? So maybe I'll slip in a workout tomorrow before the week's out, but it's not been a very inspiring week for this Friday post. Perhaps Lily can write about her buying new running shoes experience? That might be asking too much.

Thank you for grace. Maybe back here tomorrow with Weekends Are For...? should this body feel up to it and the schedule give a little room. Blessings to you, friends.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fitnes Friday: More on Snacks

I was going to comment on Lily's post, with more snack ideas, but then I thought I'd just make the comment into a post: Part Two.

greek yogurt
almond butter on anything (english muffins, fruit, toast, etc.)
celery and peanut butter
peanut butter smoothies
cheese and crackers
fruit (and some fruits are really yummy frozen, like grapes)
small salads (there are so many things you can put in a salad to make it yummy and interesting)

There are so many good snack ideas. We might be back on another Friday with Part Three, but for now, I'm signing off. Back tomorrow, perhaps? with a weekends are for... post.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekends Are For Just a Bit of Grace?

(Just late on a Saturday night, might you please forgive? The days have been wild and crazy and messy here, so thank you for grace. I haven't been posting much lately as I'm running to catch loads of laundry and siblings at math classes and a snack for the hungry ones and a sewing project just finished late and a friend to see here and little ones to watch there and oh the rush keeps me always running, always finding grace in the messy business of place. So might I try a fresh start on Monday morning? A little of the Gospel trickling into this hard soul...softening a spot in the desperately parched places? All this on His Day. And how He sends us into the week with fresh views of the Savior. How He loads us up with shalom, just enough to get us to the table again next week. So with the feast coming, thank you for grace. If He wills I'll be back on Monday morning, counting the ways He loves...never-ending grace! And maybe...just maybe...a little more regular posting this next week? All's grace!)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

One Year Ago Today

Well, I'm not quite sure how to write this post, but I feel that I do need to write something...

It's been a whole year, today, since I first left for New York. 

Well, I'm not really sure how to write this post, but it has been fun to remember that day and all the ways the Lord arranged for me to go and blessed the time that I was there.  I really do have some of the sweetest memories from that trip.  I wish I could say in words what is felt in the heart.  The whole trip was so outside of anything I've ever done before and it was fun and wonderful and the Lord began building friendships and He let me hear sermons from that pulpit in Franklin Square and He brought great conversations (ones I still think about often) and lots of laughs, and chocolate and children and trips to the beach in jeans.

So I suppose I found something to say...thank you for listening as I remember that special day.  Thank you for grace.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fitness Friday: On Snacks

...a bit late!
The running has gone well my first two weeks of school. Of course, I do not have time to run, but everyone must make little sacrifices in order to do what is needful. :P

I thought it would be a good idea to bring the topic of snacks to the tea table! In a very fast paced environment, finding healthy on-the-go options is rather difficult. It's easy to become imbalanced and give into cravings or quick fillers. So let me share a few snacks of my own and please share your own in return!
Sliced apple and almond butter
Trail Mix*
*Here's what I put in my trail mix. (I know! Not all of it is healthy, but it's better than opening a package of Pringles!)
Mixed Nuts
Honey Nut Cheerios
Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
White Chocolate Chips
Peanut M&Ms
Nuts are very filling, and adding a bit of sugar (chocolate!) helps give me a quick energy boost as well.

Hope to get some more snack ideas!

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Bit Late...

A dear sister sent this to me on Wednesday, but in the wild and crazy this week I haven't gotten to post it until now. Perhaps we'll miss Fitness Friday this week in favor of just this?

Good morning beloved,
Thought of you and wanted to celebrate the anniversary of this saint's passing into glory. A day like this do we all long for; when we shall see him as he is!

The day before his death, Owen wrote to a friend...

I am going to Him whom my soul has loved, or rather who has loved me with an everlasting love—which is the whole ground of my consolation…I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm; but whilst the great Pilot is in it, the loss of a poor under-rower will be inconsiderable. Live, and pray, and hope, and wait patiently, and do not despond; the promise stands invincible, that He will never leave us, nor forsake us.

The next day, William Payne, a Puritan minister of Saffron Waldon, arrived to tell Owen that the first sheets of Meditations on the Glory of Christ had passed through the press. With uplifted eyes and hands, Owen replied...

I am glad to hear it; but, oh brother Payne, the long wished for day is come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever done, or was capable of doing, in this world.

328 years ago today, (August 24, 1683) John Owen met his Savior face to Face. He was buried in Bunhill Fields beside many of his Puritan contemporaries.

Few there are that die so well.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fitness Friday!

Welcome Friday!

I am currently sipping a morning cup of tea in a bright and sunny kitchen getting geared up for another day. This week is almost over and so is my summer holiday. On Monday, things (school) will be again as normal. It's been a fabulous holiday: Trip to England, Cassie's wedding(!), visit with the Blairs, and our 6th annual Edisto family reunion were just a few of the highlights. Meanwhile, I've worked through a couple of books: Passion and Purity, by Elizabeth Elliot; The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis; The Chestnut King, N.D. Wilson; Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be, by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck; One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp.

AND...the moment you've been waiting for (or "for which you have been waiting" to be grammatically correct)!!!

...I started a new habit of exercising! SarahB can tell you that for years I have been untouchable on the subject: disinterested and unmotivated. In a little over two months I've gone from no exercise to jogging/running a couple times a week.

I began by walking our dog (Tebow) and adding a few jogging intervals to keep him paced with me. (He's a Jack Russel /Greyhound mix.) It worked tremendously well. And, it was good for both of us! After that, a friend of mine, Brianna, suggested that we run together. Now I had a partner! (Which helps a lot in the area of motivation.) After two weeks of running together, we ran a 5K. It was hard! However, it felt really great to work so hard and feel so good afterward. Since then, we've been training to run a 5K on Labor Day.

This morning, we ran a flat course and timed ourselves. In the next two weeks we will be running the entire 5K distance to practice leading up to the event.

That concludes this Fitness Friday update! Have a marvelous weekend!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sports Announcing

*Danelle, this post is written with you particularly in mind*

Over the summer (actually for the past four summers) my brothers have played rugby here in Charlotte. Our family has enjoyed learning the game and Daddy has found a treasure-trove of games on You Tube (some as far back as 1994). After lunch we've started watching 20-30 minutes of rugby before we get back to the school and work, etc. This was a "conversation" that the boys had while we were watching the other day – just a little peek into personalities:

Noah: "Oh yeah, come on! Do your stuff! Nail it! Drive it!"
Ethan: "I don't really care what you do, just make a point."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Still Counting How He's Always There in Grace

"How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings."
~Psalm 36:7

#598-621 ...of the thousand, endless gifts...numbering His love...

598. long Monday conversations with dear friend – so good and He knows how to cheer us on our way

599. moderate workout...modifying it for the sick days

600. yes!...Cassie's house today

601. late night prayer times and He hears and oh, how it rejoices and soothes quiet this faint-weary, struggling heart

602. just this: how He takes all that's broken and sin-wracked – all this ugly and makes beautiful. Just how He takes the black and broken notes of this life and turns them into the beauty-song of grace

603. knowing enough of Him to trust...on cloudy days the sun's still shining

604. "ya know, the Lord's not really concerned about our comfortableness"...and how it rings true today

605. hard thanks...still good and so faithful and oh, how He helps us to trust until that day – oh for the faith to melt into sight

606. pearl earrings

607. all the laundry folded and stacked neat so late on Saturday...still good

608. fifty-six pairs and twelve strays and the feet that they hold

609. sweaty workout clothes and prayers on the run – how He loves to hear

610. just this morning

611. waking the boys up gentle, whispering of His Day in the dark

612. all this joy spilling over on His Day

613. fellowship and eating together

614. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity."

615. ice cream with chocolate sauce and friends on a hot afternoon

616. how He provides a cool place to worship on so warm days and us all cheerful and working hard to carry books and bulletins and cups of water

617. singing so loud – how it cheers the heart

618. red hymnals

619. the way good friends can just talk with each other

620. curtain rod getting hung

621. chocolate chips

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fitness Friday

Well, I was going to write a post about running shoes but.... I decided to write my workout schedule instead. It seems logical to begin the Fitness Friday post venture with my fitness routine. Hopefully (!) Lily will write hers next week and then... maybe a post on tennis shoes.

So, here's my normal, when everything goes as I plan, fitness schedule, without explanation (for now) or apology:

The Lord's Day. It's a taste of Heaven: we don't count carbs; we don't read how many grams of sugar are in anything; we don't jog or sweat (except for church clothes reasons) or strengthen and stretch. Really? Do you think we'll be doing all that in heaven?

running (usually, but sometimes I just do resistance training and no cardio)
legs and lower body muscle strengthening

jump rope for 10 minutes, run for 10 minutes and bike for 10 minutes
arms and upper body muscle strengthening

STEP aerobics (sometimes...I haven't been able to get a STEP yet so this is a bit tricky and it depends on how motivated I am. But when I do it, I do it on Wednesdays and when I don't, I bike)
legs and lower body muscle strengthening

off day

arms and upper body resistance training

legs and lower body resistance training

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ten Followers and Tuna Recipe

This recipe is the result of some follower envy and comment love today. A friend of mine (yes, I'm privileged enough to know this hilarious, godly lady in real life) asked for the recipe that I mentioned here (#282). It's been a fun round of comments today resulting in this recipe. Enjoy! It's one of my most favorites.

Sesame Seared Tuna

4 (6-8 ounce) tuna steaks
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup sesame seeds
wasabi paste
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, honey and sesame oil. Divide into two equal parts. Stir the rice vinegar into one part and set aside as a dipping sauce.

2. Spread the sesame seeds out on a plate. Coat the tuna steaks with the remaining soy sauce mixture, then press into the sesame seeds to coat.

3. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot. Place steaks in the pan, and sear for about 30 seconds on each side. Serve with the dipping sauce and wasabi paste.

This serves 4-6 people (depends on the gender ;)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fitness Friday Picture

Introducing my new best workout friend.
(Ryka Revive 2)

They're with me every step of the way ;)

(more on shoes next week, Lord willing, if I can pull the post together early enough in the day)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fitness Friday Kickoff

While Lily and I were together one of the things we did, somewhat regularly (never as regularly as I'd like, but I'm pushy (and getting pushier), especially when it comes to the area of fitness) was to workout together. I love to workout. I have since I was a little girl. And Lily has loved to workout before and has recently become quite a faithful runner (with some cautions from the workout fanatic, here). I believe her plan is to run a 5K tomorrow morning. Rock on, Lily!

While we were together we went running, did some resistance training and stretching, and I threw out the idea of Fitness Friday on the blog. Lily said she would actually post if we did that, so I said, "Deal. Done."

So we kick it off this week with this introductory post. We may not post every week, but if we do it'll be on Friday. We might even use Mr. Linky so you can link up to your own fitness posts (which, in my book, includes nutrition, etc., etc.) So....Welcome Fitness Friday! Next week: a picture.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Highlights From Our Summer Together 2011

Well, as you know, Lily and I (and our sisters) spent our summer week together last week, at Lily's house. Here are some of the highlights (pictures coming soon)...

worship at Geneva OPC
song night
pickled okra with lunch

running in the morning with Lily
reading together on the back porch with a cup of coffee
Bible study

tuna and white bean salad for lunch
Lark Rise to Candleford
key lime pie
funny videos and we laughed so hard together...tears just streaming!
Starbucks with Lily and reading together
running together at night and making sure all the stretching, etc. was in proper form ;)

up early and wearing our coordinating outfits
curling hair
quiche in the oven and the table set so beautifully for brunch
Bri (a photographer friend of Lily's) taking over 700 pictures of us (I can't wait to show you!)
flowers in our hair
brunch together
picking fresh zinnias from the garden to replace the dying flowers in our hair
tea time at Tea Leaves and Thyme and the older ladies stopping to notice that we were all dressed up and the flowers in our hair
running errands together getting a gift for the photographer friend
piano, cello and viola hymn arrangements together and Leah taking the videos
prayer meeting (still matching)

orange french toast
Lily and I having another cup of tea at Tea Leaves and Thyme and reading together
Pride and Prejudice...the whole thing...and it brings back so many good memories of watching that movie with them so many times
talking for a few minutes before bed

orange french toast because it was so yummy the first time
some words on Friendship before we scattered to gather our things
driving to Greenville and listening to all of our favorite music that we listen to every time we're together
lunch at Whole Foods

It was a lovely week together and I'm looking forward to posting some pictures when the photographer is done with them. I hope you've been enjoying your summer as much as we have!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Just A Small Break

(I'm taking another week off from my counting of the gifts from His heart. Getting back from my time away these past two weeks and adjusting to life here again with all its routines that are so different and people that rub up close and uncomfortable sometimes has been right hard and so very full of sin. So I'm taking this day off to fall in love...again...with the Giver of all the gifts...trying to learn how to count again. Thank you for grace. The gift journal is slowly opening again and pencil to paper numbering His love...taking moments to look and see and revel in the surprising joy of grace....every where! All's grace, friends.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Week in Quotes, Day Five

“He has brought me to his banquet hall,
And his banner over me is love.
~Song of Solomon 2:4

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Week in Quotes, Day Four

"What shall I say? there is no end of His excellencies and desirableness;–'He is altogether lovely. This is our beloved, and this is our friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.'" ~John Owen

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Week in Quotes, Day Three

The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom's face;
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of grace;
Not at the crown he gifteth,
But on his pierced hand:
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel's land.

~Samuel Rutherford from The Sands of Time Are Sinking

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Week in Quotes, Day Two

Perhaps I've posted this one before? It's one of my most favorite quotes. What a sweet foretaste of heaven the Lord gives us in wedding days and marriages. I'm so glad He lets a taste a little to keep us longing for the glory! "Oh Well-beloved, run, run fast!"
"O for the coming of the Bridegroom! Oh, when shall I see the Bridegroom and the Bride meet in the clouds, and kiss each other! Oh, when will we get our day, and our heart’s fill of that love! Oh, if it were lawful to complain of the famine of that love, and want of the immediate vision of God! O time, time! how dost thou torment the souls of those that would be swallowed up of Christ’s love, because thou movest so slowly!...What would I not give to have time, that lieth betwixt Christ and me, taken out of the way, that we might once meet! I cannot think but that, at the first sight I shall see of that most lovely and fairest face, love will come out of His two eyes, and fill me with astonishment. I would but desire to stand at the outer side of the gates of the New Jerusalem, and look through a hole of the door, and see Christ’s face." ~Samuel Rutherford

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Week in Quotes, Day One

I have a very, very dear friend who is getting married on Saturday and so every day this week I'm sending her a quote. I thought I would also post them here. Enjoy the week in quotes!
"How heart-cheering to the believer is the delight which God has in His saints! We cannot see any reason in ourselves why the Lord should take pleasure in us....But we love to dwell upon this transcendent truth, this glorious mystery: that as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so does the Lord rejoice over us." ~C.H. Spurgeon

Friday, June 24, 2011


As you know, I recently went on a trip to England with my friend Brianna (and my Dad who was on business). Pictures will come! But first, I thought I'd write a brief synopsis of our time there.

Monday, June 6
Finish packing, piano lessons, etc.
Leave for UK!

Arrive in Heathrow at 10am
Hotel check-in
Orientation to the city, tube, etc.
Walk to Westminster square
Evensong at Westminster Abbey
Dinner at Sofra (Turkish)

Check into Hilton Park Lane (Hyde Park Corner)
St. Paul's Cathedral
National Gallery of Art
After dinner coffee in Hyde Park
Daddy leaves
Part 1-2 of Cranford

Breakfast at Costa
Walk to Buckingham Palace - accidentally in time for the changing of the guard!
Tower of London (exterior) and Tower Bridge
Jubilee Walkway along the Thames
Lunch at Borough Market (Pasties and Pies)
Millennium Bridge
Shopping (I bought a pale pink trench coat on sale for 28quid)
Les Miserables at Queen's Theatre
Part 3-5 of Cranford

Breakfast in Hyde Park
Gun salute (the Queen's horses gallop across the Park, and cannons are fired)
British Library
Lunch at Pret a Manger - Hot soup and hot chocolate!
London Eye
Victoria Tower Gardens (behind Parliament)
Daddy back
Check into Kensington hotel
Dinner in Covent Garden at Jamie's Italian

Walk through Kensington
British Museum
Cycling in Hyde Park
Dinner at Moroccan restaurant (spectacular!)

Cambridge Presbyterian Church (Rev. Ian Hamilton)
Lunch at Hamilton's
Blessed by the evening sermon

Daddy gone
King's College Chapel
Round Church
Wren Library
Lovely stroll through the town!
Marketplace (we bought Turkish delight and Jelly Babies)
Grantchester Orchard (Tea and scones with clotted creme in the apple orchard)
Drive to Lincoln
Dinner at Brown's Pie

Lincoln Castle (built by William the Conqueror)
Drive to Oxford
The Eagle and Child - (the Inklings met here: C.S. Lewis, Tolkein, etc.)
Fish and Chips/Bangers and Mash - typical pub grub
Drive to Heathrow

First class seats!!!

Highlights in London were St. Paul's and Les Miserables. It took us four hours to explore the cathedral. Climbing the dome was fun! The whispering gallery was amazing! We had a great view of the city from the top. The engineering/architecture was fascinating. Les Miserables was absolutely spectacular! We wore formal dresses :-) The play was so moving and well done. The theatre was small and intimate - we had a great view (even from the very back row!)

Cambridge was also a highlight of the trip. It was such a nice change of pace after so many days in London! We enjoyed just walking around and taking in the small, college town atmosphere. The river Cam was beautiful, lined with willows and lush greenery. The best part was tea in the orchard. It was warm and breezy and relaxing!

The Lord blessed us with so many surprises and delights beyond what we could have hoped for! Even the opportunity and ability to go was due to His providence. And I was so thankful to share the trip with such a compatible friend! We had a marvelous time!

More to come...


Thursday, June 23, 2011

"I Know."

This quote from Ann's book, One Thousand Gifts nourishes deep when the mess is climbing high and the words snap sharp and oh, to remember the gift of this moment...of One who is in all our moments, in our hurting-pain, in our sadness and ache-longing and tears running liquid. Just-right reminder in the middle of the week...all's grace:
"...The Word has nail-scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, 'I know. I know.'"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Motherhood as a Mission Field

This came up in my News Feed on Facebook this morning...thought I'd share!

Also, being that Sarah is a huge fan of Ann Voskamp, I thought you should know that she wrote a column for (July 2) World Magazine. It was excellent, and convicting!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Christ and Sanctification

I know of some who are in deep affliction today, and reading this last night made me think of them, and long for the day when all of our tears will be wiped away and oh! no more of this breaking and hurting and faint-weary heart ache.

(this is right long, but where to cut it short? Such precious words from Octavius Winslow, and thinking of those just hurting today, and my heart hurting with them...just wanting to pour in this balm. So might you bare with all the words today and drink in the comfort? And oh, for those aching, (no doubt you know some, too, maybe you are one?) might you just offer up some heart-longing words to that great throne of grace? Thank you.)

Christ and Sanctification

"By simple, close, and searching views of the cross of Christ, the Spirit most effectually sanctifies the believer....

The intercession of our Lord Jesus pleads for and secures the sanctification of the believer. In this sense, it may be said that He is 'made of God unto us sanctification.' The Christian reader may be but imperfectly aware how closely connected is every spiritual grace and blessing that he receives with the advocacy of Jesus at the right hand of God. (Lord, increase our faith in this great and sanctifying truth!) While yet upon earth, our dear Lord commenced that work of intercession for the sanctification of the church, which He ascended up on high more fully to carry on. This was the burden of His prayer; and it forms, as John Owen observes, 'the blessed spring of our holiness'–'Sanctify them through thy truth' (John 17:17). And not only would He leave it, as it were, as a model of the intercession of His exalted priesthood, but for our encouragement He would provide an evidence of its success. To Peter, about to pass through a sever temptation, He says, 'I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not' (Luke 22:32). Nor did his faith fail. It was sifted, it was severely shaken, it was powerfully tried, but it failed not! Not a particle of the pure gold was lost in the refining, not a grain of the pure wheat in the sifting. Why?–because Jesus had interceded, and His intercession was all-prevailing. O the vast and costly blessings that flow into the soul from the intercession of Christ! Never shall we know the full extent of this until we pass within the veil. We shall then know the secret of our spiritual life, of all our supports, consolations, and victories: why it was that the spark in the ocean was not quite extinguished, why the vessel in the storm and amid the breakers did not quite become a wreck; why, when temptations assailed, crosses pressed, afflictions overwhelmed, and unbelief prevailed, our faith still did not fail and our [little boat] was not driven from its moorings; and that 'out of the depths' (Psalm 130:1), we were enabled to cry, 'Thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ' (II Corinthians 2:14). The secret will then disclose itself–the intercession of Jesus our great High Priest.

How sweet and consoling to the believer is this view of our exalted Immanuel in the hour of bereavement, when confined to his chamber of solitude, or languishing upon his bed of 'pining sickness' (Isaiah 38:12). Too deeply absorbed in sorrow, it may be, to give utterance to his anguished spirit in prayer–His bodily frame so weakened by disease and racked by pain as to render the mind unfit for close and connected spiritual thought–O how sweet the intercession of Jesus is then! How sweet to know that in the hour of the soul's extremity when human sympathy and power are exhausted, Jesus has entered into heaven 'now to appear in the presence of God' (Hebrews 9:24) for His suffering child. And when all utterance has failed on earth, when the heart is broken and the lips are sealed, then to look up and see our elder Brother, the Brother born for our adversity, the exalted High Priest waving the golden censer before the throne while the cloud of His atoning merit goes up before the mercy-seat, bearing as it ascends the person, the name, the circumstances, and the wants of the sufferer belowprecious Gospel that opens to the eye of faith so sweet a prospect as this! When you cannot think of Him, afflicted soul, He is thinking of you. When you cannot pray to Him, He is praying for you, for "He liveth to make intercession' (Hebrews 7:25). But our Lord Jesus is the sanctification of the believer in still another and blessed sense.

View Him as the Head of all mediatorial fullness to His people. 'It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell' (Colossians 1:19). 'And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace' (John 1:16). Here is sanctification for the believer who is mourning over the existence and power of indwelling sin, feeling it to be his greatest burden and the cause of his deepest sorrow. In the growing discovery of the hidden evil–each successive view, it may be, deeper and darker than the former–where is he to look but unto Jesus? Where can he fly, but to His cross? Hemmed in on every side by a host of spiritual Philistines, no avenue of escape presenting itself, the eternal Spirit leads the soul to a simple view of Jesus, opens to him the vast treasury of His grace, and the free welcome to all comers. And what does he find in that fullness? All that he wants to pardon sin, to hide deformity, to overcome unbelief, and [to] break the power of strong corruption; he finds that there is enough in Christ to make him holy, that, in simply taking his sins to Jesus, they are pardoned; in taking his strong infirmities, they are subdued; in taking his wants, they are supplied. In a word, he finds Christ to be his 'wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption' (Colossians 1:30).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Did You Know...

Did you know that Lily has been in England these past ten days?

Did you know that she got to worship at Ian Hamilton's church on Sunday?

Did you know that she didn't take me with her, but she did take another friend of hers who takes great pictures?

Did you know that, as badly as I want to worship in Ian Hamilton's church, I'm really glad she took the other friend because I get great pictures out of the deal...if she ever sends them to me.

Did you know that if Lily would write a blog post either from England or with lots of pictures of England by the end of this week I would either send her a Starbucks gift card or make her a set of note cards?

Did you know I'm trying to bribe her to write on OUR blog?

Did you know, I feel like I'm writing a kids' book?

Did you know that I hope you're having a great day and maybe the next post in this place will be by Lily.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

One of "those" moments

Some of you like these "snapshots of life" posts that I do every once-in-a-while, so this afternoon...

Dishes just cleared from dinner and Leah washing them, Mama clearing off the table, me looking for a burger recipe for Leah to make when we have neighbors over next week. The boys are just outside the open window...can just see the tip of a light saber waving and hear their joy squeals...enjoying sunlight and water and breeze and summer evenings. The phone rings, just like it's rung five times in the past 35 minutes. "Hello, this is Sarah..." It's Daddy, on his way home, almost here, tell the boys to be ready for rugby practice right when he pulls in. He's been gone for almost four time for another meeting in 30 minutes. "Ok, bye." So I pick up the book he needs and the pencil laid on the table for him, the grilling cookbook in one hand, the pre-marital counseling book in the other, I walk down the steps: "Boys, do you have your water bottles? Daddy's coming down the street and he needs you to be ready right away when he gets here." They flurry up the steps (there's just two of them but it seems like five sometimes), light saber flying and they stop at the top to talk. "No, you don't have time. Please run get your water bottles and come quickly." They run inside, come back out with backpacks and water bottles, me still standing there in the empty driveway with an open cookbook in one hand and the counseling book and pencil in the other. I just look down at my feet and laugh...what must the neighbors think of this wild-crazy mess? It's been one of "those" days!

On Fire!

Well, Lily wanted me to post some pictures of the car that caught on fire while we were on our way, so...

(It actually got worse than these pictures show. After the firemen got there the whole front of the car burst into flame, the tires were gone, the metal was melting, the glass was shattered and the antifreeze and other fluids in the engine exploded and shot car pieces across the freeway.)

Also, please might you not share these photos on the internet? They are tucked here in this quiet corner as an exciting part of our vacation. But someone suffered that day and lost that day, so please? might you kindly remember them and not spread their sadness across this worldwide web? Thank you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Little People Thoughts

This was the conversation my brothers were having this afternoon. I was reading something online while they were "taking a grammar test" and "doing their penmanship" and I heard them having this conversation so I quickly pulled up blogger and jotted it down. It's so fun to see how their minds work...what they're thinking about all-of-a-sudden when they're writing out "cat', "car," "cab" in nice, clean scrawl. You just never know what it might be.

Ethan: Noah, if you had a kingdom what would you do?
Noah: How big a kingdom?
Ethan: Huge.
Noah: Well... what do you mean by kingdom?
Ethan: Ya know, a whole country where people pay you taxes and stuff.
Noah: Probably sell it.
Ethan: Sell it?!
Noah: Yeah.
Ethan: To who?
Noah: America.
Ethan: For how much?
Noah: A whole stinkin' bunch.
Ethan: How much?
Noah: Oh, about three billion.
Ethan: Three BILLION?!
Noah: Yeah. (like, of course. What would you do?)

Monday, May 9, 2011

From Pilgrim's Progress

"I looked behind me and saw one coming as swift as the wind–so he overtook me just about the place where the settle stands. Just as the man overtook me he was but a word and a blow, for down he knocked me and layed me for dead. But when I was a little come to myself again then I asked him, wherefore he served me so? He answered because of my secret inclining to Adam the First, and with that he struck me another deadly blow in the breast and beat me down backwards, so I lay at his foot as dead as before. So when I came to myself again I cried for mercy but he said, "I know not how to show mercy." And with that he knocked me down again. He had doubtless made an end of me but I cam by and bid him forebear.
"Christian, who was that that bid him forebear?"
"Faithful, I did not know Him at first but as He went by I perceived the holes in His hands and in His side. Then I concluded that He was our Lord. So I went up the hill."
"Christian, that man that overtook you was Moses. He spareth none, neither knoweth he how to sow mercy to those that transgress his law."

Mother's Day Continued

I read this post over at Girltalk: Conversations on Biblical Womanhood and Other Fun Stuff, and it was too good not to repost. The bold emphasis is mine.

I know, I know, we did that yesterday, right? But let me beg your indulgence one more day, because there was a post last week we didn't want you to miss. Kevin DeYoung issued a humble challenge to Christian colleges and their alumni magazines:

"[R]oughly half of the graduates of Christian colleges are mothers. Close to 60% of the graduates are women and most of them will get married and have children, many of them as their primary vocation for a long season of their lives....I’m wondering why the calling lived out by more graduates than any other calling is so infrequently celebrated?

So here’s my challenge: let me know if you’ve seen an alumni magazine from a Christian college that spotlights mothers, not mothers who also dance in the ballet and spin centrifuges, but mothers who are “just” mothers.

And a bonus challenge, this one for our fine Christian colleges: we’d love to see how proud you are of the half of your graduates putting their education to good use by helping their husbands, raising kids, serving in the church, and doing a hundred other amazing things that don’t look impressive to most people but should look impressive to us."

It's worth the ninety seconds it would take to forward Kevin’s post to your alma mater. But perhaps a more important response lies closer to home.

Let’s consider: what do we think about mothers who are “just” mothers? Are we proud of them? Do we spotlight and celebrate them? Do we want to be one?

If you are “just” a mother, what do you think about your calling? Do you think you are putting your education to good use wiping runny noses and dirty bottoms, combing tangles and climbing over toys, picking up after your husband and putting down your baby for a nap, creating crafts for your church’s children’s ministry and having new folks over for Sunday lunch?

To ask it another way: Who do we admire and applaud--the woman who is extraordinarily gifted or the woman who is extraordinarily faithful? As Christians, what doesn’t look impressive to most people should look very impressive to us.

Does it to you?

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Mother's Day Quote

"How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about [arithmetic], and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?" ~G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Raising Up Godly Generations

I read this post over at the Girltalk blog, today, and thought it was so sweet, I wanted to post it here. As one who has been blessed by the way one godly, single young woman, in particular, used her singleness in my life as a little girl, and now being that single girl to many other little ones, and hoping one day, Lord willing, to have my own quiver full and letting my godly young single friends be part of my home and my children's life, this story was so sweet and encouraging. May the Lord find us raising up godly generations of those that love Him and keep His commandments, whether we be young, single or married and mothers of many.
I was single until I was 35 (now have 4 year old twin daughters--our double blessing).

As a child we had a friend called Donna who came for tea every week, babysat, and had much godly input for me and my brothers. I am 44 now and still think of her as part of our family and although I rarely see her anymore, I always remember her with enormous affection and some of her advice helps me still.

As a single I had the privilege of being very close to several families with children. I was a young lady whose main aim was (and always will be) to be a Proverbs 31 wife and mother. I found it incredibly hard being single, but found great fulfillment in spending time with the children of my friends. I worked with children, and also went to one friend every week to help her with her children when her husband was working late. I also babysat and spent time with other friends and their children. I adored all of them, and felt enormously privileged when they called me their friend, and when I heard them repeating phrases I often used!

As a Mum with young children now, I have a special friend called Helen who comes for tea once a week and helps put my daughters to bed, prays with us all, reads them stories, comes on outings with my husband, children and me, and babysits. When my daughters talk about extended family, they always include her. She has great input into their lives and I feel privileged to have her as part of our lives.

Just as I called Donna "my Donna" and my friend's children called me "my Caroline," my children are now calling Helen "my Helen." I am truly blessed!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lord's Day Afternoon Reading

"If those frothy, fluctuating, and restless hearts of ours would come all about Christ, and look into His love, to bottomless love, to the depth of mercy, to the unsearchable riches of His grace, to inquire after and search into the beauty of God in Christ, they would be swallowed up in the depth and height, length and breadth of His goodness." ~Samuel Rutherford, Letter LXXXVII
"When we shall come home, and enter to the possession of our Brother's fair kingdom, and when our heads shall find the weight of the eternal crown of glory, and when we shall look back to pains and sufferings, then shall we see life and sorrow to be less than one step or stride from a prison to glory; and that our little inch of time-suffering is not worthy of our first night's welcome-home to heaven. Oh, what then shall be the weight of every one of Christ's kisses! Oh, how weighty, and of what worth shall every one of Christ's love-smiles be! Oh, when once He shall thrust a wearied traveller's head betwixt His blessed breasts, the poor soul will think one kiss of Christ hath fully paid home forty or fifty years' wet feet and all its sore hearts, and light sufferings it had in following after Christ!" ~Samuel Rutherford, Letter LXXXVIII

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Glory of it All

I've been thinking on this for several months, now, and it gets sweeter every time I think about it.
The great thing about heaven will be that it never ends.
Of course the glory of it all will be to finally, at very long last, to be with our glorious Savior, and no more sin, tears, pain, suffering..... Yes, true, no doubt. But, if I might dare to say it, more glorious than all of that will be that it will never end. If we could enjoy a moment of heaven here: a moment with Christ right with us, with no sin, all pain gone, all tears dried, all suffering forgotten, rather, not even a reality, it would be glorious, but it would end 60 seconds later.

Every great thing here, ends. The most joyful wedding day ends - joyfully, yes, but the next day comes and the wedding day is gone, the dress put away, the bride a day older, the sin still very present. Every little foretaste of heaven is marred with the reality that we're not there yet, and the foretaste will end. Every Lord's Day lasts for only those 24 hours, and then it's Monday morning - 6 days from the next one.
The great thing about heaven will be that it will never end.

Christ and Heaven

"I shall not again quarrel Christ for a gloom, now He hath taken the mask off His face, and saith, 'Kiss thy fill;' and what can I have more when I get great heaven in my little arms?" ~Samuel Rutherford

"I know no wholesome fountain but one. I know not a thing worth the buying but heaven; and my own mind is, if comparison were made betweixt Christ and heaven, I would sell heaven with my blessing, and buy Christ." ~Samuel Rutherford
"I bless His great name...who spendeth largely His rods, that He may save me from this perishing world." ~Samuel Rutherford

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Two Towers

I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. ~Samwise Gamgee
I tell you right plainly that I do have a hard time watching movies (a recent post on that, here) but I know what it's like to be in this quote, so bare with me as I attempt at entering into Sam's mind, a bit.

There are times we don't want to know the end because how, in all this crazy, sad, broken world can the end be anything but more sadness and brokenness and loss? How can it be good? How can the diseases that invade our bodies and the hurts that keep us awake at night and won't let us get out of bed in the morning; how can the marriages that we think are strongest, break and shatter into millions of pieces; how can the friendships we treasure and hold dear that are suddenly snatched away and rip out part of our heart; how can the children that we long for, who never take a first breath in this world; how can the job loss when we've fought so hard to provide; how can the plans of a lifetime that suddenly crumple in our grip; how can the wedding day we've longed for and prayed for and looked for and planned for be, in a moment, just another dream, another longing, no longer a reality; how can all that's broken and hurting and lost and won't ever be ours to have and hold again, how can it end in any other way than it's begun? How can the cross be anything but a shriveled up hope for redemption?
"How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?"
It's hard to see, this sunshine we're looking for, through the broken clouds. But, "A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer." Will not some of the wonder of Heaven be that it's so "other" from what we've ever experienced? Because of all this sadness and darkness and brokenness that "new day" will shine out all the clearer.

And what we've lost, it's all restored to us at the cross, and Heaven will be so sweet ("sweet" doesn't even capture it) because we can see He did it all well. Not one stroke was laid on needlessly, even if we be too small to understand it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nearer to Him

I read this precious quote on Jen's blog, Stepping Heavenward. I'm right sure it's worth a repost in our quiet corner.

“Afflictions work for good, as they are the means of making us happy. "Happy is the man whom God correcteth" (Job 5:17). What politician or moralist ever placed happiness in the cross? Job does. ‘Happy is the man whom God correcteth.’It may be said, How do afflictions make us happy? We reply that, being sanctified, they bring us nearer to God. The moon in the full is furthest off from the sun: so many further off from God in the full-moon of prosperity; afflictions bring them nearer to God. The magnet of mercy does not draw us so near to God as the cords of affliction. When Absalom set Joab’s corn on fire, then he came running to Absalom (2 Sam. 14:30). When God sets our worldly comforts on fire, then we run to Him, and make our peace with Him. When the prodical was pinched with want, then he returned home to his father. (Luke 15:13). When the dove could not find any rest for the sole of her foot, then she flew to the ark.

When God brings deluge of affliction upon us, then we fly to the ark of Christ. Thus affliction makes us happy, in bringing us nearer to God. Faith can make use of the waters of affliction, to swim faster to Christ.”

~ All Things For Good by: Thomas Watson

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Posting From Another Corner

I read this over at Pastor Miller's blog, Relocating to Elfland, and thought, "wow! that's a great quote. I should post that, too." Glad he plucked it off of pg. 2,378, so I don't have to!
“[The] self-sacrifice of God in His Son is in fact the love of God to us. ‘He gave Him,’ which means that He gave Him into our existence. Having been given into our existence He is present with us. Present with us, He falls heir to the shame and the curse which lie upon us. As the bearer of our shame and curse, He bears them away from us. Taking them away, He presents us as pure and spotless children in the presence of His Father. That is how God reconciles the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19). We can, indeed, speak of the love of God to us only by pointing to this fact. It is the work and gift of the Holy Spirit that the fact itself speaks to us, that in the language of this fact God says: ‘I have loved thee . . . fear not, then; for I am with thee’ (Is. 43:4ff). No other saying is needed, for this one says all there is to say.” (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, p. 2,378)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Shall I Say?

Last night our family (minus Ethan, who is eagerly anticipating the day that he can read the book) watched The Fellowship of the Ring, in celebration of Noah having recently finished reading the trilogy.

Now be it clearly said that I do not enjoy watching movies all that much. I actually watched it last night (for the first time) for the simple purpose of working on my movie-watching/enjoying/interpreting skills, which are dull and unpracticed. There are exceptions to every rule, such as Pride and Prejudice, but even then, I can enjoy that movie (many times) and by about 3 hours into it I'm just ready for it to be over and can we please not sit here anymore watching a love story? Not because I don't enjoy a love story (I do!) but because I would rather sit across the table from a dear friend who just got engaged and enter into her love story over a cup of tea (or hot water) and enjoy love stories that way, rather than watching an imaginary one on a screen, that stirs up the emotions without satisfying, and then leaves us to turn off the movie and walk away with nothing but the feeling that will be half gone when I wake up the next morning.

There are many reasons for this lack of interest in film which I am still puzzling out in my mind. There's much I'm thinking about and working on and learning about myself and about how to enjoy good film. Perhaps my thoughts will one day spill into a blog post here in this quiet spot.

But as I was watching last night, (without wanting to allegorize the story too much - it's clearly not as strictly an allegory as, say, The Chronicles of Narnia), I do think it's allegorical in some ways, but without wanting to go into all of that, I did want, so badly, to end a blog post this way...

"Let's hunt some orc."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

O the Wonder of Heaven and Earth!

"This is the great mystery of the Gospel; this is that which the angels (as I tell you) pry into; nay, this is that which the angels and saints too shall admire, and bless God for to all eternity; this is that which set the infinite wisdom of God on work from all eternity. If all the angels in heaven, and all the men in the world, had been put to it to find out a way to answer this question, "How shall sin be pardoned, the sinner reconciled, and God glorify His justice?" they could never have done it; this cost God dear, it cost Him the heart-blood of His own Son, and that is a sure sign that God's heart was much in it, and indeed we are not Christians, until in some measure we see and have our hearts taken with the glory of God in this mystery. O the wonder of heaven and earth!...God will have mercy on the man, and He will take vengeance on that sin; the eternal wisdom of God hath found out a way to translate this man's sins on another person who is able to bear them, and to interest this man's person in another's righteousness, which is able to cover him: so that now all is one in regard of man, as if the law had been utterly abrogated; and all is one too in regard of God, as if the creature had been utterly condemned. And all this is done in our Jesus; on Him was executed the curse of the law, by Him was fulfilled the righteousness of the law, for Him was remitted the sin of man, and through Him were all things made new again. The world was in Christ as in its surety, making satisfaction to the justice of God; and God was in Christ as in his ambassador, reconciling the world unto Him again, (O bathos!) "O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out?" (Romans 11:33). You have seen the project and the councils of God for man's salvation, before all worlds; it is but dimly "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor?" (Romans 11:34). ~Isaac Ambrose, Looking Unto Jesus

Ere It Be Long, He Will See Us

"...I will show [you] a privilege that others want, and ye have, in this case. Such as are in prosperity, and are fatted with earthly joys, and increased with children and friends, though the Word of God is indeed written to such for their instruction, yet to you, who are in trouble...from whom the Lord hath taken many children, and whom He hath exercised otherwise, there are some chapters, some particular promises in the Word of God, made in a most special manner, which should never have been yours, so as they now are, if you had your portion in this life, as others. And, therefore, all the comforts, promises, and mercies God offereth to the afflicted, they are as so many love-letters written to you. Take them to you...and claim your right, and be not robbed. It is no small comfort that God hath written some scriptures to you, which He hath not written to others. Ye seem rather in this to be envied than pitied; and ye are indeed in this, like people of another world, and those that are above the ordinary rank of mankind, whom our King and Lord, our Bridegroom Jesus, in His love-letter to His well-beloved spouse, hath named beside all the rest....Go the strength of your Lord...with your face toward Him, who longeth more for a sight of you than ye can do for Him. Ere it be long, He will see us." ~Samuel Rutherford, Letters of Samuel Rutherford

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Homeschool Morning

You know you're a homeschool family when this is your conversation at 10:15 on a Friday morning (no offense to those of you who are not homeschool families. I'm just saying, you probably don't have conversations like this... but try to enter into the humor of it anyway.)

During Chemistry this morning, Leah and I are working through our practice problems. We're reading Mama the questions and then giving the answers and she tells us if we're right or not (in this module, we actually got them mostly right, surprisingly enough!). Noah's at the other end of the kitchen table doing a math test. The conversation (after talking about chocolate ice cream (and the gelato that's on sale at the grocery store this week), flowers to be planted this afternoon, what kind of Lily of the Valley Mama ordered for Leah, cinnamon tea and does cinnamon really help to keep your blood sugar stable?, where Ethan's book is and did he look under Mama's bed where it was the last time he couldn't find it?, can we have warm bread for lunch? will you please make grilled flat breads to go with lunch on Sunday? what are you wearing to Mr. Davenport's ordination tonight and can you wash my skirt this afternoon?, etc.......) after all of that (and a few Chemistry problems sprinkled in between it all):

Mama: Read me number nine.
Sarah: Give the abbreviated electron configuration for the following atoms.
At the exact same time Noah said: Is the area of a triangle half the base times the height?

Making good progress this morning. Noah's still taking his math test. Ethan found his book. We finished our practice problems. And we decided that chocolate ice cream should always be in the freezer; no, Mama hasn't decided what to wear tonight; yes, I can wash Leah's skirt this afternoon; no, we don't know who's preaching tonight - "some guy Daddy's never heard of"; yes, Mama will think about making grilled flat breads on Sunday; no, we can't have warm bread for lunch; and the flowers Leah planted the other day are starting to come up. All very important things to discuss when you're doing Chemistry.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

For My Dear Friend

If you have a moment or two before this crazy busy day begins, might you pull up a chair and share a cup of tea on Lily's birthday?

This is Lily's twentieth birthday. I can't believe I just typed that. Lily and I met when I was 7 and she was 8. We have shared our birthdays in so many different ways ever since. This year, she and I are both running out the door at 8:00 am and won't be back home until late tonight, so I'll call her while I'm driving to the math lesson I have to teach and she's driving to school. No time for tea and a long heart-to-heart about the past 12 years together and what it feels like to be turning twenty, but that's alright. When you share your whole life with someone there's plenty of other tea cup moments to be had along the way.

Lily, I'm so thankful for your friendship and all of the memories we share together. Even though I can't be with you on your birthday, I'm thinking of you and all the times we've spent together; the phone calls every week (can you believe we've probably had 600+ phone calls together!); the e-mails (though they've been scarce lately); the letters tucked in the mail as a surprise drop of sunshine in the mailbox; the book club that we've persevered through even though our video chatting has been somewhat difficult..... There is just too much to say right here. It's been so many years of storing up memories and times together and they're all so special because we get to share them together.

So Lily, I do hope you have a wonderful, very special day. May the Lord bless you and always be drawing you ever-nearer to Himself as you walk along this path heavenward. I'm so glad I get to share the journey with you. I love you very much!

Happy Birthday!

"Blessed be the Lord God, Who daily loadeth us with benefits,
Even the God of our salvation."

~ Psalm 68:19

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Two Thoughts

Two things that were inadvertantly brought to my attention in conversations this weekend (ya know, when I was in New York!):

1. I don't really like tea. I like the idea of tea. Despite the name and theme of our blog, I don't really like tea. I occasionally drink Earl Grey tea and Chocolate Mint tea (my favorite!). In the winter I drink tea more often just because it's something warm to do. But a lot of the time if I want something warm I'll just drink hot water. On Saturdays I'll drink one of the two aforementioned teas when I book club with Lily because...well... it is our book club after all....we're supposed to drink tea, right? So I thought perhaps it was slightly deceptive to have a whole tea-themed blog and not mention that I'm a water drinker. So when I say "so-and-so is pouring our tea today. Pull up a chair to the tea table" I'm probably drinking hot water.

2. I talk about laundry a lot on the blog. I'm not apologizing for that. But I'm also not complaining. If I mention (and sometimes write whole blog posts on) that endless cycle of laundry – folding socks again and ironing clothes for church again and washing sheets and towels again and stacking piles again I'm not complaining. I love doing the laundry. It's like rewinding the tape of the week and reliving it while I fold all the clothes we wore. There are so many memories in one much grace given that can be relived when you're in the moment of folding laundry...faithful in the small things. So if you get bored of hearing about laundry, well.....grab a cup of hot water and live in the moment of your own week's history. It's not going away.

I'm off to fold some laundry and perhaps grab something warm to drink on the way upstairs. If you think I'm kidding because it's a nice way to end this post, I'm actually not. I have lots of laundry to do after my (wonderful) weekend away. Back on Thursday for Lily's birthday!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Gospel ~ What's True Of Us

This is probably the best quote I've read in the past year...maybe longer. I'll just leave the pouring of the tea to Thomas Brooks today. He's got a better brew than me...

“Is not Christ your treasure? Is not heaven your inheritance—and will you murmur? Has not God given you a changed heart, a renewed nature, and a sanctified soul—and will you murmur?

Has He not given you Himself to satisfy you, His Son to save you, His Spirit to lead you, His grace to adorn you, His covenant to assure you, His mercy to pardon you, His righteousness to clothe you—and will you murmur? Has He not made you a friend, a son, a brother, a bride, an heir—and will you murmur?

When you were dead, did not He quicken you? When you were lost, did not He seek you? When you were wounded, did not He heal you? When you were falling, did not He support you? When you were down, did not He raise you? When you were staggering, did not He establish you? When you were erring, did not He correct you? When you were tempted, did not He support you? and when you went in dangers, did not He deliver you?—and will you murmur?

What! you who are so highly advanced and exalted above many thousands in the world? Murmuring suits none so badly as saints.”

Ten Pages A Day, Part Five

Ah....the Part Five that wasn't going to be, and then was.

While I was at the Greenville Conference there were a couple of books recommended that I was able to find online and have added to my reading list, of course.

The Love of the Spirit Traced in His Work by Robert Philip. I've been printing this off about 20 pages at a time. The chapter on Adoption was particularly recommended at the conference, but I haven't gotten there yet. All of what I've read has been excellent, though. So here, go read it for yourself. Quotes coming doubt.
Public Worship Always to be Preferred Before Private by David Clarkson (the successor of John Owen - and you know how I feel about John Owen). I haven't read much of this because I have so many things I'm reading right now, but the first page or so that I've read was good. I'm looking forward to reading more. It's kind-of Saturday reading, don't you think? Here's the link, so you can feast, too. Perhaps Weekends Are For...reading Clarkson on Public Worship before the Lord's Day?

Ten pages a day. There's so much good to be read out there, we'll never get to it all, but at least we can do 10 pages at a time. Baby steps.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Family Favorites

I don't think I've ever really written a book review on the blog, and I don't think I'm going to this time But this post is probably as close as I'll get.

Our family has been reading Detectives in Togas for the third time. When we study Ancient Rome (first Leah and I, then Noah, and now Ethan) we always read this.

So this is the third time and we're still all sitting at the table after breakfast asking Daddy to "read just one more chapter, please?" He reads Ethan's history books in the morning and Noah's history books at lunch and when lunch comes around we're asking him to put Noah's on hold and read another chapter of Detectives in Togas. We have, in the past week, had two extended reading times: school, work, e-mails, phone calls, all gets put on hold and Daddy has read for an hour or two. It's a great story.

The whole reason for this post (which sounded much better in my head at 11:00 last night when I thought of it, than it does written out here) is to share a great point that I heard in a sermon one time. I don't remember who it was who said (maybe G.K. Chesterton?) that the great thing about good stories is not the surprise of them, but the surprisingness of them.

It's like this: we've read Detectives in Togas three times. It's not that we don't know if everything's going to resolve at the end (though it's funny that we do forget how it really ends every time we read it), but it's not that. It's rather that the story draws us in and we relive it again and again. We know what happens. We know who the burgler is. We know that none of the boys get killed. We know the story. But in good stories, it's that we can be drawn in again and again and again and it's like we're hearing it for the first time.

The same way we can read The Chronicles of Narnia a hundred times and every time we weep when Aslan is killed. We hope that somehow the cords can be broken. We long for him to look like a lion again. We're afraid the Witch won't die after all. Of course we know how it ends, but it's the surprisingness that gets us every time.

Forgive me laboring the point, but it's the same thing when you read Goodnight Moon five thousand times. "A comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush. And a quiet old lady whispering 'hush.'" Or when your little munchkins ask you to read the same Curious George story again that you read before lunch, and you read before bed the night before and the afternoon before that and the afternoon before that. "This is George. George was a good little monkey but always very curious." It's not that they don't know what happens. They could probably recite the whole thing. But it's rather the entering into the story again. There's something about it that they can get inside of and they want you to let them get inside again....and again and again.

It's the very same thing when we come to the Gospel. We've read the Gospel hundreds of times. We know the Gospel. We read it in the morning when we get up. We read it in family worship. We read it before we go to bed at night, and along the way. We read it and hear it preached at least twice on the Lord's Day. We know what it says. We know that Christ is going to Jerusalem. We know He's going to ask the Father to let the cup pass and the Father will say no. We know He will suffer and be beaten and hung on a cross and die. We know He'll be buried. And we know that on the third day He will rise from the dead. We know that we're joined with Him and that our sin died with Him and we rose with Him and that we're ruling and reigning with Him now - seated in heavenly places. We know all of this. This is what's true and we've heard it hundreds of times. But do we ever get tired of hearing it? Perhaps the difference between good stories and the best story is that the best story gets better every time we hear it. A little sweeter. A little more precious. And we always need to hear it again and it never grows old. It's far more glorious now than the day I first believed!

What a precious story the Lord has written for us in our redemption. "O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise!"