Sunday, January 31, 2010

Daybook Entry, 1.31.10

Borrowing again from this site, A Simple Woman's Daybook, to spark a post:

Outside my window...sunshine and five unpredicted inches of snow, now melting

I am thinking...I wish I'd made a better effort to go to church. The message was to be on Stephen, the first martyr, for whom I named my second son.

I am thankful for... my friend and second-favorite hairdresser, Ruth

I am wearing...pj's--and it's 1:09 in the afternoon. Pathetic.

I am remembering...most of Habakkuk 3, but struggling with the last few verses.

I am going... to shower sometime today.

I am currently reading...the latest issue of Real Simple.

I am hoping... someone brings me the flowers that I bought for myself yesterday and accidentally left in the van

On my mind... homeschooling again after a 2-year hiatus

Noticing that...I need much more time on the treadmill.

Pondering these words... "Ask not what you can do for your children, but what your children can do for you."

From the kitchen... when Paul gets home with bread machine bread--I'll make French bread to go w/ our broccoli cheese soup for dinner.

Around the house... new sheer curtains waiting to be hung in the dining room

One of my favorite things~ having my hair done by my baby boy

From my picture journal... my very favorite hairdresser and I

Friday, January 29, 2010

Gratitude List, January 15-29

Here's my 5-Thanks-a-Day List for the past two weeks.

ability to breathe easily
fruit smoothies
Haitian relief aid workers
afternoon of playing games
hot showers

scented candles
fluffy towels
ability to organize
freedom to fly the flag

worshiping with other saints
God's rhetorical questions to Job (and me) in Ch. 42
Icy Hot
refreshing sneezes
mental health

Mama's safe return from NM
my parents' love for each other
blue skies
Birds & Blooms magazine

artistic expression
petroleum products
children's smiles
comfy shoes
God's steadfast love

a day off
friendly, not-pushy carpet salesman
our care group

construction papers
a caring school principal
Paul's intelligence
Steve's new boss, a true servant

toilet paper
quiet house in early morning
phone call from a loving friend
promises of God's provision
generosity of fellow believers

BB's grocery store
spontaneous fellowship on Friday night
Steve's safety while snowboarding
gospel-preaching pastors in India

Holy Spirit helping me do a "U-ey"
presentation of Craig's trip to Burma
sign language
college for the kids
people who excel in their gifts

waking up from bad dreams
Mondays are clean slates
pleasure of starting and finishing projects
adoption, both physical and spiritual

having a veteran's perspective of homeschooling
Squeezable jar of strawberry jam
scarf from Barb
intricate graphic of twigs against sky

friendship with many people
feeling of getting my hair done
having someone compliment my new "do"
fun-to-carry tote bags
tasting real Belgian chocolate

teaching geography with field trips
Sizzling Bombay restaurant
desire to love people of other cultures
Ben's accounting internship equals 3 credits
Sarah's liking her first 4 days at TU

calming effect of floating tea lights
figurative language in Proverbs 5
sweet, happy chatter of little children
God's mercy on a very sick student
no fear of my own death

Monday, January 25, 2010

For All You Shoppers Out There

Posted by Betty over at It's Boopchile :

"I see you went crazy at the big summer clearance sale," Wanda comments, as
she looks at all the bags of merchandise her friend, Carol, just brought home from
the store.
"You got that right.....I almost bought their elevator because it was marked 'down' "

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Holy Spirit Humor

Paul and I have the privilege of being part of the teaching team in children's church once a month. Today during the assembly, Mr. Jared held up a U-turn sign and asked the kids what it was.

"It's a U-ey!" said one of the youngsters.

A little later, Mr. Jared held up a card with the word "REPENT" on it. He explained that it means to turn around and go the other way: if you're going this way sinning, turn around. Miss Beth, his wife, reminded the children that Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to help us repent.

"Yeh!" called out a little boy. "He helps you do a U-ey!"

Friday, January 22, 2010

I Wasn't "Called" to Homeschool

People have always asked how I knew I was "called" to homeschool (back when I was doing it with three kids). My answer? I don't think I was called. The truth of the matter is, I woke up one day to realize my oldest child was about four months away from kindergarten and I wasn't emotionally ready to let him go. When did I blink and realize he was five years old? Oh, yeh! It was when I was busy having other children, wiping their noses and hineys, playing store, and reading books with them. I was not an eyewitness to the earth's revolutions that affected the growth of one Benjamin Paul.

This may surprise some people, but really I am one of those "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" kind of gals, waiting till the last minute or eleventh hour to plan. (I've improved out of necessity and painful losses of opportunities, and sheer conviction at times, but my natural tendency is to procrastinate, not to plan way ahead.)

So here it was the spring of 1993 and people were noticing I had a five-year-old and what was I going to do with him for school? Strangers assumed I'd say the local public school (which was hideous in our district). Neighbors, close friends, and extended family thought we'd opt for Christian school (but it was too expensive and smacked of legalism). I had only one option left, but knew only one person who was doing it. Thankfully, she was doing it well and knew others who could advise me also.

So the equation of "I'm not ready to let him go" plus "What could be so hard about teaching kindergarten? I've taught him everything else he knows so far" plus "I'm the adventurous type" plus "my other options have 'Road Closed' signs over them" --all of those equalled "Let's Homeschool."

I hate to admit this, but I didn't put much prayer into it. I didn't ask for much counsel. I even balked Paul who was against it but finally relented to letting me try it for three weeks. (That was my idea: "just give me three weeks and see if it works". )

Well, after Day One, I was sure Paul was right. HE was sure he was right. Homeschool was not for me. It made me whine, cry, and run for the hills from whence cometh my strength. It made me think, "What WAS I thinking? Being smarter than a five-year-old doesn't mean I have a stronger backbone than one!" And I also thought, "Whatever doesn't kill me, makes me stronger." Not exactly Godward, biblical mindsets.

My own competitive nature propelled me into Day Two. I would win the three-week challenge, even if I ended up on Valium. The "I can do this, no matter what anyone thinks!" attitude prevailed. For the record, my parents supported me 100%, and for that I am eternally grateful. I had close friends who politely but judgmentally noted that I didn't have a teaching degree. No, I didn't, but it wasn't necessary for potty-training, so I think I can handle shapes, colors, and single digit addition, thank you very much. Besides, I had a degree in something, which proved to me I could stick with something for at least four years.

The Three Week Challenge went so well, I forgot I was a competitor. Each day got better than the one before (at least in my memory) , especially when I stopped threatening Ben/kidding myself that the Big Yellow School Bus was truly an option.
It wasn't; we lived two blocks from the elementary school. Paul admitted on Day 21 that Ben was actually learning and that it was good stuff.

I was loving the close contact with my children. I loved their questions. I loved the "aha!" moments I got to witness. And most of all, I was right beside Ben when he read his first sentence from Hop on Pop. To me, that's priceless. It's like watching your child take his first steps. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

So was I called? No. At least I didn't hear a "calling." Did God use my sin of procrastination for my good? Yes. Was I patient and loving and kind and organized and all that? No way. Did He forgive me, my children, and my husband for our many sins against one another? Oh, yes. Was I confident that I was in God's will? Yes, once I realized that my hindsight was his foresight.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Homeschool, Day One, 1993: A Memoir

Homeschool, Day One, Take One:

It was in late August of 1993 and we were starting kindergarten for Ben, our firstborn, then five years old, and I had a little pile of preschool books right next to his for Sarah, who was four. Our curly-headed blonde two-year-old, Stephen (whose name Sarah couldn't pronounce, so it was "Fegan,") had toys and books and other things to play with in the living room, so as to not disturb our "classroom." He was not a demanding child at all, so that should have been easy.

But he wanted to be right there at the table with us. Drawing, "reading," being a cute distraction.

I wanted everything to look like a school on Day One. The kids were bathed and in fresh, clean clothes, hair just so, pencils sharpened, books stacked neatly at their places on the dining room table. (Our kitchen was too small for a table.) I had decorated a bulletin board with a fall theme above the stereo cabinet (which held--oh my goodness--LP's and cassettes). There was a bookcase, of course, and a server for art supplies. The piano stood duty along the north wall, begging Stephen to bang on it like a drum. Ah, yes, I can still hear it. I remember thinking, "Lord, I will give him piano lessons, but Heaven help me if he ever begs for drums in the house!"

That right there makes me chuckle. I should have seen it coming, but I digress.

Since it was 1993, homeschooling was still a new thing, a new and odd and seemingly-illicit thing. I felt all eyes on me when people asked where my pint-sized child would be attending school. When I said, timidly, "I'm homeschooling them," it was as if I I had just decided to burn my bra, eat tofu, and grow my own alfalfa. (Wearing a denim jumper while maneuvering stair-step kids through clearance racks didn't help my defense.)

Hippie or pioneer, it doesn't matter; the label is immaterial. Grit and Determination fueled my rookie tank. The problem was, my first child had been born with the same kind of fuel--except his I would have called Stubbornness and Rebellion.

It was Day One, and I was going to be not just an average mom, I was going to be stellar. Ben would start with English grammar in kindergarten, know Latin by third grade, French by fifth, and Greek by graduation. So would I. Somehow.

He would give Einstein a run for his postmortem money. He would sing like a Polish Pavarotti and write like William Shakespeare.

We would sign him up for t-ball, for "socialization and physical exercise," but (in my heart) I said, "God forbid he actually becomes a sports nut."

I would be revered as a mother by my kindergartener. He would rise up every day and called me "Blessed" for all my sacrifices on his behalf, for disciplining him in mind, soul, spirit, and backside. He would thank God every day (over tofu and alfalfa sandwiches) for the privilege of being schooled at home, under my tutelage.

Homeschool Day One, Take Two:

We have prayed to open our day and that we'd do everything to the glory of God. We have turned to the first page of A Beka K Arithmetic. Ben takes his careful time on the first page to write neatly, and declares how easy that was.

Can I go play now?

MAY I go play now? I correct him for the 188th time since last week.

Play? I say. No, honey. We don't play in school. This is work time.

He dropped his pencil on the floor. "Adults work, kids play," he said.

Okay, so maybe there was a greater lesson to be learned than 1+1 = 2.

The morning which I had so romantically inclined my heart to, looked nothing like
I'd fantasized. Ben dropped his pencil no fewer than fourteen times in a half hour, retrieving it each time as if blindfolded and crippled, and he complained that page 2 of math was way too hard (you know the pace A Beka keeps!) and that I should have let him get on the big yellow school bus and go a "real school" and have a "real teacher."

About 45 minutes into it, I was in tears.

I called my dad. That's right, my dad, not his dad. I needed comfort.

"What's the matter, Zo?" he asked.

"Oh, Daddy, I just didn't picture it ever being this way?"
"What way? What?"
"Homeschool. It's only the first day and I want to quit!"

I do believe my dad stifled a laugh. It was so typical of me: Get a notion, run with it, declare defeat at the first sign of trouble.

"How long has Benjamin been sitting still?" he asked.
"Not even an hour," I said.
"Well, that's an awfully long time for a little guy to sit still. I think he needs to get outside and run around."
"Run around?! But Daddy, this is school time, not play time!"
"Zo, a little boy needs to wiggle and run. You send him outside and tell him to run around the house ten times. Then you watch. He'll come in ready to sit still again."

My dad's advice had seldom failed me before. Why doubt him now? I thanked him politely, and told Ben that Pappaw said to run around the house ten times. I really did it so that I wouldn't get social services called on me.

And he did. He ran all right.

But, as he ran circles, in broad daylight, in our Dundalk neighborhood, around the weird Christian/hippie house, he yelled and panted, yelled and panted, "I hate my mother! I hate my mother! I hate my mother!"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Getting Goofy

So I was up late one night wrapping presents for my students. No one else was up. It was that bewitching hour of about 12:30 a.m. when I get giddy. Real giddy and goofy.

As I was taking pictures of the eight, fun, little gifties I had wrapped and set under my tree, an ornament fell off. When I picked it up, I stuck it in my earlobe instead of back on a branch.

Not to be unbalanced, I removed a similar glass ball and put in through my other earlobe. Who knew ornament hooks would fit through?

If you are going to accessorize, you might as well do it all the way, people. And stick with a theme. In this case, the "I Am the Christmas Tree" theme.
Baby's breath and gold poinsettias for the hair. Lovely, dahling, wouldn't you agree?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Missionaries in India

Once again I find myself, as a teacher, with more ideas and information that there is time to explore in a typical classroom setting. Right now we are studying India, and I so much want the students to read one missionary biography. Amy Carmichael, William Carey, Mother Teresa.

But there is so little time. In a normal week, I am only with them for my subjects (writing, grammar, history, geography, and art) for about 10 hours a week. On paper that looks like plenty, but in reality? No way.

If I could whet their appetites for missions with just one missionary's story,who would it be? Who would you choose?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook 1.18.10

Stuck for a single theme, but with much on my mind, I revert again to
The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window...
is a sky the color of a blue topaz ring that Paul gave me for Christmas. That's quite romantic, wouldn't you say? There is also a pile of dirty kitchen rags hanging stiffly over a mop bucket on the deck, waiting to be washed.

I am thinking...
1) about teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to Burmese refugees in Baltimore with Bonnie.
2) I need to see a chiropractor for compression of my spine.
3) My spine might not be compressed were it not for the computer chair I sit in. Too long. Too often.
4) I need to interview someone who has successfully homeschooled a young "only" child, preferably a male child.
5) how much fun our "Cows on Parade" art project will probably be today as I link it with our study of India.

I am thankful for...
Icy Hot, Oxy Clean, toilet paper, and cute note pads.

From the kitchen...
Fiber One Banana Nut "bread". They were supposed to be muffins, but I don't like all the "paper" work of muffins, nor the clean-up. I am so happy about having organized my kitchen pantry, Lazy Susan, fridge, freezer, chest freezer, and garage pantry on Saturday and came up with two weeks' worth of meals. Also feeling mega-blessed and humbled by God's provision.

I am wearing...
mismatched pj's. The top is missing two buttons and has been for an embarrassingly long time. Strategically placed pins do the job.

I am creating...
a poster-sized cow template.

I am going...
to clean house in preparation for singles' care group here tonight, and maybe some homemade lemonade.

I am reading...
Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free and Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce.

I am hoping...
that my son, Stephen, changes his mind about snowboarding tomorrow. He is supposed to start a new job on Wednesday and a new semester next Monday. He and extreme sports haven't been a happy combo in the past. He has a long scar on his leg to prove it.

I am hearing...
the shower running and the dog breathing.

Around the house...
are myriad projects calling out to me.

One of my favorite things...
is getting my eyebrows waxed.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
to find new carpet for the family room (per Paul's request--how cool is that?!) on Wednesday, a day I have off this week.

A picture thought I am sharing...

This is how I, a truly Impatient Gardener, grow cherry tomaters. I go to the store, buy some, and plunk one alongside each teeny weeny tomato plant, then snap a photo, and wish it were that easy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Stench in Haiti

Thinking of the death, devastation, and despair in Haiti moves me to tears every time. I am deeply affected, as I'm sure you are if you're reading this.

Listen to this video from Duane Zook of Global Aid Network (GAiN), the humanitarian arm of Campus Crusade for Christ. (Sarah, Sacha, and I were privileged to be part of one their missions in 2007. I have great respect for the way they deliver practical items to needy people, and make it quite clear that the supplies are coming in the name of Jesus from His people.)

I thank God for the way He provided some stored food for Haiti before it was needed. Take a listen and be encouraged.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Mom Looks at Education through a Microscope and a Telescope

The school where I've taught for only a year and a half has been around for 30 years, but, because of the economy, the school has to close at the end of this year. Many people are in grief; they've had a long history and thousands of memories with folks at our little institution.

I confess, the news did not shock me, but I cried a bit when we were told. Not a sob fest, but I cried --mostly for the people who had not schooled any other way and were (are) sensing fear with the thoughts, "What next? What are we going to do? This is all we've ever known."

Perhaps the reason I didn't fear is that I had already begun to hear God about schooling differently next year. Emotionally I was missing Joel. Yes, I was glad to see him every day just across the hall from my room. Yes, I always gave him a hug when we saw each other. Yes, we talked about school on the ride home or reviewed his math facts for homework (plus a lot more because he soaks up numbers and numeric concepts). But it wasn't the same as what he and I had at home for kindergarten: leisurely mornings after breakfast, snuggling on the sofa, reading first the Bible and then a book of prose or poetry (Falling Up being his favorite) . I've missed having his company when I decided to bake a dessert in the mid-afternoon. I've missed much conversation. Seven and a half hours a day, times five days a week, times 36 weeks a year. That's a lot of missing his little voice, his blue eyes and soft skin, his wit and laughter. I've missed the spontaneity of being able to take off days when his daddy had a day off, or being able to visit grandparents during the day when they have energy. In short, I've missed him. I have three grown children in my home as living proof of how quickly the time goes! Can I please just sit and enjoy my seven-year-old for a little while longer?

So these past few months I was thinking I don't have to miss him. I can homeschool him again. Granted, he won't have the social life he thrives on, but then again, he won't have the social life that's been spent mainly with equally immature people as himself. I guarantee I won't be playing tackle football with him, but I'm confident he can "tackle" more science, math, and reading when he isn't having to keep a certain pace. I won't have as many other eyes on him in the course of a week to see his growth in godliness (or lack thereof), but I will see him more, and train him with the firstfruits of my energy, not the leftovers. I guess that's my main regret: pouring more of my energies into the education of other peoples' children at the neglect of my own for these past fourteen months or so.

My first three children, who are now between the ages of 18 and 21, were all homeschooled--Ben until his senior year, Sarah all the way, and Stephen through tenth grade. I can honestly say I do not regret those 15 years. (Parts of them, yes-- who doesn't? If you're a sinner, you have regrets.) I think they've all turned out well (because of God, not because of our choice of schooling). They belong to God, they walk with Him, they are ambitious in school and work, they love the church, they have social lives in overdrive, they are respected by peers and adults alike, they get along with each other, they sharpen their dad and me. I don't pine away with thoughts like "I wish I'd spent more time with them."

To the contrary, I have not had enough one-on-one time with Joel. While sending him to school was what we believed right and good for first and second grade, I've been sensing that, regardless of the school's future, Joel and I need more together time during our best hours of each day.

It's been a blessing to see education through both a microscope and a telescope. Both are beneficial; neither is wholly right nor wholly wrong. Just different. As for me, I'm going to miss the telescope of the classroom style of teaching, but I wouldn't regret setting it down. I might easily regret, however, viewing my son and his studies from across the hall--the distance of a telescope.

So, while our decision is not set in stone, I feel God calling me to examine this treasured specimen of DNA under the microscope. When he's 21, he might only be visible with a telescope. And how well I know that the span of years from 7 to 21 feels like just fourteen feet.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gratitude List, January 8-14

Five Thanks a Day for the past week:

casual days at school
our new mattress
friendship of two Bonnies
bright, hardworking students

Chesapeake Quality Traders
Stephen's passion for the Bible
wonderful night's sleep
pastoral leadership

Paul's & Ben's trip to playoff game
Ruizes' hospitality on game day
Sarah's care for a friend
Kenneth Moresco's encouraging sermon to parents
the sound of wind chimes

pretty, printed envelopes
Pilot Easy-Touch pens, med. pt.
hospitals/ medical community
God's comfort in parenting

having singles' care group here Monday night
small and large appliances
Jesus is my Warrior King
joy of teaching
godly heritage

emergency roadside assistance
the Youngs' baby boy, Joshua
Truth that counters lies
uplifting email from friends
hair clips

plenty of food
fresh water
peace with and from God

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Explain Whale to Me

I love this Doctor!

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
A: Your heart only good for so many beats, and that it...don't waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiency. What does cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So steak is nothing more than efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef also good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And pork chop can give you 100% of recommended daily allowance of vegetable product.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: No, not at all. Wine made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Bottom up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No pain...good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU NOT LISTENING! Food are fried these day in vegetable oil. In fact, they permeated by it. How could getting more vegetable be bad for you?!?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. You should only be doing sit-up if you want bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy?!? HEL-LO-O!! Cocoa bean! Another vegetable! It best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming good for your figure, explain whale to me..

Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

And remember:
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what a ride!!"


For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat
and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat
and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine
and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine
and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats
and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.


Eat and drink what you like.

Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Under Attack

Make no mistake. Scripture memory is a trumpet call to Satan's army to swing into battle. I have been under attack since January 1 when I started thinking about serious
memorizing. It was the number one reason that I was reluctant to start.

On the one hand, it's quite euphoric to know you're taking up arrows against him. On the other hand, it's no picnic to feel you're filleted like a piece of venison on the ground while hearing the whoosh of his arrows shooting back.

The typical areas where I'm vulnerable, where he heaps gobs of guilt on me are:

-my weight and failure to lose in the past few months, having come to a standstill and then putting some back on. I have been too ashamed to post pictures of myself.
-my relationships--I am hypersensitive to lies about being unlovable.
-my skills -- I suddenly feel I can't do anything worthwhile, not in my home, my school, my church, the world.

And I battle it with more scripture and then rejoice in the God of my salvation again.
He tells me He is for me, He loves me, that no matter what I hear, the truth is that some people love me and others even like me. And he reminds me that all I have , even skills, come from him, and that I need to be faithful with the number and kind He has allotted me.

I'm just sayin'.

The memorizing is going well, but I am feeling like shutting myself off from everyone when Satan flings his dung. So please pray.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Making a Habit of Habukkuk

Okay, corny title. What did you expect?

Just wanted to give an update on my scripture memory of Habakkuk 3. I can say I was tempted to cut the full 19 verses down to a more manageable chunk --like four-- but I was making excuses. Yes, it's a challenge, but I have had some wonderful times alone in my home, pretending to be Habukkuk recounting God's mighty acts that He performed in and around Mt. Sinai.

What makes it easy to remember (compared to other parts of the Bible) is all the personification and the action-packed imagery. Flashing rays, glittering spears, speeding arrows. The head of the house of the wicked being split open from thigh to neck. Clint Eastwood, have you thought of directing a major motion picture from a minor 'motional prophet?

Sunday morning I was awakened by Ben at 5:15. He was leaving for the Ravens playoff game in Massuchusetts six hours away with his dad. From that moment on, I couldn't sleep, though I surely wanted to. God had other ways for me to steward the morning: meditating and memorizing more!

I found myself fairly zipping through the verses, peeking now and then, delivering a soliloquy to an audience of One. Even if it's not word perfect (I'm trying), I find the "meat" of it so powerful I just applaud God. He has done so much for us. He went out for the salvation of His people, for the salvation of His anointed. (It harkens to the question from the NT, "If God be for us, who can be against us?") The vindication is scary and comforting all at once.

Pray I use self-control against time-wasters (namely computer) and prize more things of eternal value. "His are the everlasting ways."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Reading List from 2009

1. the backs of cereal boxes
2. the price tags at my favorite stores (Ross, Marshalls, and Target)
3. the menu at every restaurant we went to
4. too many blogs
5. too many Facebook statuses (or is it "stati"?)
6. Birds & Blooms in the bafroom
7. Guideposts (regular font, tragically realizing that "senioritis" is not just for 17 year-olds)
7. my Bob Jones Heritage Studies 6 Teacher's Manual every Sunday night
8. art books for children
9. two personal letters, six birthday cards. and a dozen Christmas cards--the extent of "real mail" in my lonely curbside receptacle.
10. a college essay or two for a child who bribed me to actually write the thing
11. anything that started with the words, "Congratulations, you've won..."
even if I knew they just wanted my money.
12. a few good Christian growth books, a novel for each hand I possess, and a couple of cookbooks (not cover to cover, mind you)--none of which I can really remember. Oh yes, I do. I remember Love to Eat, Hate to Eat (which, for the most part I was convicted by, but which was too wordy in places, which is ironic coming from the Lady of Liberal Locution, which if I were giving stars for rating, would give it 2.5 out of 4). I also read Anne of the Island and can fairly say I don't hold a proverbial candle in the Gift of Gab category compared to Anne Shirley, but I am kindred spirits with her and wish I had her "scope for imagination" at all times.

I know I read other things--honest-to-goodness good books-- but I am a very slow reader and have a poor memory and should've reviewed them as I went. I guess I was too busy reading Facebook stati.

Here's to a more bibliophilic new year .

(I think I just made up that word. It's got a red underline under it. Anne Shirley would be proud.)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I LOVE my new BED!

Can't say it enough--thank. you. LORD! for this new mattress. Thank you, PAUL, for splurging on it. Thank you, Select Comfort, for designing these air chambers that adjust to his-and-her comfort levels. Thank you, UPS man, for not laughing out loud when you saw me rush to the front porch in my purple pj's when I saw your Big Brown truck coming down the street. Like I used to sing in the "Music Man," "oh ho the Wells Fargo wagon is a-coming now, oh please let it be for me." I don't care if a Wells Fargo wagon, a UPS truck , or a Canadian goose brought it, it's here and it's WONderful.

The bed came in four boxes and "we" (you know who) assembled it per diagrams that were actually NOT written in Japanese, for a change. Paul and I worked together ('twas an 80:20 ratio, respectively) to remove the old mattress and make it Sarah's if she wants it. Then we set up the new one ( which had many "snap together" --more like "bash together"--parts. Let's just say, after lots of grunting and heaving, Paul wondered if someone turned up the thermostat. I should've said yes, but in truth I just told him he was working up a good sweat. You know, when you're just standing there by your hot man, you gotta say something encouraging. ) Then he waited for the two sides of the bed to inflate while I did my Bible study. Oh, that looks so bad on paper. But I asked him, and he said, "Sure, go. I don't need you." That also looks worse on paper than it sounded in real life.

(This, by the way, is not a picture of our bed, but the colors of everything in the room are similar.)

Anyhow, I pulled out my favorite cream-colored, Egyptian cotton sheets that I had washed just for the occasion. I ran my comforter and shams through the dryer with Dryel, fluffed up the pillows, turned on the heating blanket to 3, took a hot bath (needed one after all that vigorous cheerleading and Bible study ). No, seriously, if you had seen what "under the bed" had revealed when removing the old mattress, you would've wanted a week-long libation yourself.

And then, after drying my hair and putting on clean pj's, in I crawled, hugged the hubs and thanked him (he was half-asleep but murmured something like "yeh, yeh, you have your own good side now, so scoot over") and that was that. I lay down and pumped my side of the bed up with the handy remote till it read 55. His was 65. (I reminded him it's not a scoreboard, honey.)
The clock said 11:43. I didn't see it again until 6:15.

Man. I can't get over it. I am so used to seeing times like 1:13, 3:39, 5:11, and then 6:15, tossing and turning to get the broken springs out of my hip (and back, and shoulder, and...).

Mmm. It's time for a nap.

Thanks again, LORD. You have been so good to me.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Gratitude List: January 1-7, 2010

Here are my 5 a Day (5 Thanks, that is--not Fruits and Veggies) from this past week:

New Year
good books
strong immune system
peace about schooling Joel differently next year
Mama's sacrificial care serving Aunt Linda
warmth of sun
faith-building Facebook chats
humor in the littlest things
freshly ironed curtains
healthy children
joy of being invited to someone's house
Sarah's refreshing reunion at NLBC
Stephen's fervor for God
electric blankets
refreshing time at Ray and Carla's
body heat
pretty jewelry
that our class can go to Biz Town again
friendly employees at Bed, Bath, & Beyond
fun Jeopardy! review game in class today
Paul's fidelity and moral purity
Joel's voice
shrimp alfredo Sarah made tonight of her own volition, from scratch
metaphoric language
public libraries and the means to pay unspeakable fines because...well...never mind
my father's active, scientific mind
reliable transportation
assorted means of communication
the relative ease with which I'm memorizing Habukkuk 3
the Bible

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Call Me Shigionoth

As if "Zoanna" weren't a weird enough name.

Inspired by the powerful recitation of Psalm 22 by Ryan Ferguson, I've found it easier to memorize Habakkuk 3 by dramatizing it aloud in my quiet time, putting hand motions and inflection that try to convey the emotions. The imagery in this chapter is gripping--vivid verbs, strong adjectives, spot-on similes. (Then again, everything in the Bible is spot-on, huh? I mean, consider the Author and Editor.) The words are getting into me as I am getting into them!

Habakkuk 3: 1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.
2 O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the mist of the years revive it, in the midst of the years make it known, in wrath remember mercy.
3 God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.
4 His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from his hand, and there he veiled his power.
5 Before him went pestilence, and plaque followed at his heels.
6 He stood and measured the earth; he looked and shook the nations;
then the eternal mountains were scattered,
the everlasting hills sank low.
His were the everlasting ways.

My thoughts thus far:

vs 2 --One thing I am praying for this year is to see God revive His church, beginning with me. To love Him passionately, to serve Him wholeheartedly, to believe Him actively. And when change and revival aren't happening fast enough (within or without) and I'm tempted toward wrath, may I remember mercy, too, as God does.

vs 3-- Must look these up because I know God didn't "come from" anywhere. I just am unfamiliar with the Hebrew background. I asked my dad and he said he'll look it up in Stern's. My mom my already know, but she's in New Mexico caring for her post-op sister.

vs 4 -- I picture the rays flashing from His hand, so bright that His power behind them is veiled as if by a solar eclipse. "You ain't seen nuttin' yet" is the phrase I equate with this verse. My Superhero just waiting in the wings to unleash all His powers.

vs 5. Pied Piper, only better. I see diseases and problems marching like little ants, not rats, before and behind Jesus's feet, oblivious to His boots. He is ready to smash them in a single step forward or backward. He either is watching them with the control of a head coach, or is commanding them to stay behind Him. Either way He is watching and controlling.

vs 6 I picture His arms measuring the earth and it's the size of a shoebox. He looked and shook the nations, mountains scattered, hills sank low. His (point your index finger high when you say that!--HIS are the everlasting ways.

God, thank You for Your power. Thank You for Your sovereignty. Thank You for never taking Your eyes off me, for not utterly smashing me like an ant, but for crushing Your Son for my evil, my sin, for putting Satan in his rightful place (which is the Place Without Rights), for having such self-control that You withhold Your wrath from me and instead treat me with endless love and covenant kindness. You would do anything for me because You've already done everything for me! I am weeping with gratitude.

I'll bet Shigionoth wept, too.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Pics from Christmas '09

A week before Christmas we
got all that snow. Here's poor
Molly knocking to please come
inside. Okay, Girl, just let me
take a picture of you. You look
so sad and so sweet.

The boy lives and breathes
Ravens football. Sarah found
him this jersey at a secondhand
store and he wore it for
three days straight.

The hands of my oldest son.

Daddy loved the old wind-up
train I gave him. He has such
fond memories of playing with
an electric train when he was a

Steve joined in making fun
of the size shirt I bought him. After years of underestimating how big the boys had gotten, I now err on the opposite side.

A gift card wreath I made
for my Secret Angel at school.

Christmas Eve, gift exchange.
Jay, Paul, and Ben. Something
must have been funny.

About a week before Christmas, Sarah bought a bunch of clothes for two little girls in need that she'd heard about. She came home from the thrift store with a stack and kept saying, "I had so much fun! Aren't these aDORable?"

Ben and Steve examining coins my mom gave each of the kids.

One photo I had fun playing
around with on Photoscape.
I'd love to paint my walls
like this!

Mama, always the educator.

I just gotta laugh about this batch of pictures. If you know me, you know I'm no all that great at multi-tasking if hosting is involved. I can cook OR talk, take pictures OR serve food, but despite my best intentions, I just asked Steve to grab the camera before he sat down and "quick, get some of us together. "

So here are some pics that are more like out-takes except these were "the best" we got. Oh, chuckles. We came back after Christmas Eve service to have a gift exchange with my parents and my sister Jill and her husband, Jay. This was something new, but we did it because snow and ice were expected Christmas Day, not a combo my parents wanted to attempt in the name of tradition. (I got to sit next to Daddy and hear him sing carols and "amen" the preacher, Jim Cannon, who happened to be an engineer years ago at the same place my dad worked on post. My mom stayed back at the house to rest.)

Despite my initial angst over changing plans, I found great joy this year in doing things differently. My mom was too busy to host this year; she was in the midst of planning to fly out to help her sister recuperate from major surgery. Jill --the one person I didn't get a single decent picture of--had just hosted a huge and wonderful T'giv dinner a month ago.
My other two sisters live in TX and AZ. So I was privileged to take the reins on this one, and I had peace about the change of date.

The biggest difference in my attitude came when I realized all the love in the family, and it really doesn't matter whose house we're at, or what the occasion, or the date on the calendar. It was a special Christmas, one of the best in my life.

Friday, January 01, 2010

MMM: Habakkuk 3

Once again, by way of Amy's prompting, I will be joining in the Mega Memory Month. Last January I memorized Philippians 2:1-18.

Both last year and this, when I read about MMM, I dragged my heels, made excuses, and then prayed for grace to tackle a chunk of verses. Oh, if I'd only skip the first two things and head right for the throne of grace.

Memorizing is not too terribly hard for me; I have a photogenic memory:) I mean photographic. I can make up mnemonics for myself and have learned various tricks over the years for memorizing different things.

What keeps me from plunging headlong into memorizing more of the Bible? Fear of attack. It's the knowledge that once I start, Satan will go on the offensive. He always does when God's child wants to scootchy up into Abba's lap and learn more or take up arms against the devil through scripture .

I've decided that, since I am making an effort to ponder God's majesty this year, that I would start by memorizing Habakkuk 3. I will be doing so in the ESV.

Poetic and powerful, it'll be the perfect start to MMM for me.

How about you? Will you join? "Mega" scripture is different for everyone. For me it's more than three verses at a time. Habakkuk 3 has 19 verses, and by God's grace, I can memorize it in a month.

Here it is over at Bible Gateway.

2010: Big Number, Bigger God

Just looking at the number 2010 brings sci-fi images to mind. I remember when I was little, thinking about how old I'd be in the year 2000. Oh my goodness, 34? Ancient! Now I'm ten years past that and think I'm fairly young!

I am a goal maker, I won't lie. But I don't call them resolutions because that's cliche'. Goofy, huh? I guess I don't make more goals on New Year's Eve than any other time, because I feel like I'm always evaluating success and failure throughout the year. I'm an idealist, and I was thinking today "but I'm not a perfectionist." And then I wondered, "What's the difference? Is there a difference? Is it just a matter of semantics?" I think of perfectionism as a sin because it's prideful and there is a sense of one-upping other people who get things done but with flaws, or flaws perceived by the perfectionist. But idealism sounds so, well...ideal. And "ideal" sounds like a good thing.

However, I am reflecting on how many times I got my expectations of people up way too high, and didn't even realize it. The thing with expectations is that, no matter if people say, "don't get your hopes up," my hopes are already up. Is it possible to reconcile the outside (the words) with the inside (the feelings)? I grew up with affirming parents who seldom told us "no" without a really good reason. They weren't rich and they didn't spoil us, and they had backbone, but they didn't give a kneejerk "no" to our requests, so I have ingrained in me that usually what I want is possible to get, to attain, to achieve. I'm not pessimistic, usually. (I have mood swings from time to time, or if I hang around pessimistic people I either get like them or wish they'd snap out of it.)

But nonetheless, my idealism has led to much disappointment in people--and in myself, so it's time to get serious about lowering my expectations of people, and increasing my expectations of God. I don't ask enough of Him. I ask amiss. I ask the same old, same old. I haven't asked "what if?" often enough. What if God saved so-and-so? Would I be surprised? If so, why? What if God healed my loved ones completely --and I don't mean by taking them to heaven. Would I believe it?

So that's my one big goal: behold God's majesty.

The other thing I've been practicing with a mind to continue daily is to jot down my thanks, a minimum of five. I know most days I should be able to fill a notebook with them, but in my humanness, I will have days I can't think of one positive thing. (The mood swing, remember?) My plan is to post a weekly Gratitude List in 2010.

How about you? What's your "big" God-ward goal this year?