Sunday, November 30, 2008

Something Very Wrong

Something is very wrong with where we live. Yesterday, November 29, I went Christmas shopping for Heather. I drove to the mall where I heard wonderful Christmas Carols over the loud speakers, saw beautiful Christmas trees with lights in almost every store, noticed very warm looking Christmas sweaters, scarves, gloves and slippers for sale, took in the sights of green and red banners wishing everyone a "Happy Holidays" hanging from the ceiling; all the while I was dressed in shorts, a short sleeved polo shirt and flip-flops. The thermometer peaked at 81 degrees. Isn't there something wrong with that? Or is it something that the rest of you who don't live in Southern California are just jealous of?


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Can I help?

It's so wonderful to begin to see and understand the beautiful and unique gifts given to our children. I have often prayed that God would give me insight, to know each of my children as the person He has made her or him to be. Each is so beautiful and I am thrilled to get a glimpse of who they are and whom they may become. This brings me to Acacia, my "Little Love". Acacia's greatest joy is to be by my side, helping me and talking. "Mom, can I help make lunch?" "How can I help Mom?" "Can I put the soap in Mom?" "Can I help?" These are daily, an sometimes hourly, questions from my second born. But as I reflected on this I realized what a truly wonderful question it is and how it shows me Acacia's personality. "Can I help?" What a thoughtful and giving question. I have learned to say "yes" at every possible opportunity. There are times, of course, when a 4, nearly 5, year old simply can't help. But if it's something she can do I try to say "yes" even if it turns out to be more of me helping her to help me. How else can she learn? And how else can I nurture her marvelous gift of desiring to help others? And, why would I ever want to turn away my dear daughter from wanting to spend time with me? It's so much fun to see her get all excited when I say "yes". As I pull out the step stool for her to stand at the kitchen counter with me she sometimes claps her hands and says "This is going to be fun". And you know what? It is! Allowing her to joyfully help helps me joyfully do my job and suddenly it's fun because I did it with Acacia. Who cares if it took a little longer and that she's left handed and I'm right (by the way Mom, how did you help me do anything?)? In the end it's time spent together and I want to take every advantage of my daughter wanting to hang out with me; and every teaching opportunity to encourage in her her love and care for others. Can I help? What a glorious question. May we all learn to say "yes" whenever anyone asks us that question.

Acacia helping to make Daddy's favorite pie for Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Know It's Long, But..

Wednesday I listened to a fabulous sermon by Sinclair Ferguson on the tongue. The sermon was given at the 2008 National Desiring God Conference, hosted by John Piper, and was titled The Tongue, the Bridle, and the Blessing: An Exposition of James 3:1-12. It was a blessing to listen to the sermon, as the tongue has been at the heart of a battle in my own life. As many of you know, and I am sorry that you do, I have been reckless with the use of my tongue. It is a sin issue that blew up in my face about 2 years ago when my pride manifested itself in words flowing out of my mouth that proved to be untrue. It was not the only time that I have sinned with my tongue, it was clear sign that what was flowing off my tongue was exactly what was hidden in my heart. My tongue was running rampant; hurting and damaging others and showing exactly who I was in my heart. I had a big problem and I needed God's help. By His grace, through the study of His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit I have battled that sin issue in my life. By no means am I done with this particular sin issue and listening to this sermon reminded me how far I have to go. Ferguson did a wonderful job unpacking a very popular section of Scripture and explaining the damage that can be done by an untamed tongue. One very beneficial section of the sermon focused on a set of resolutions, in the style of Jonathon Edwards, to put into practice to combat the sin of an untamed tongue. Listed below is "Practical Council from James in Growing to Maturity with the use of my Tongue" according to Sinclair Ferguson. The reference after each resolution refers to the passages used to create this list. I pray that it will challenge you as it has me.

I resolve to ask God for wisdom to speak out of a single-minded devotion to Him. 1:5

I resolve to boast only in the exaltation I receive in Jesus Christ and the humility I receive from Jesus Christ. 1:9,10

I resolve to set a watch over my mouth. 1:13

I resolve to be constantly quick to hear and slow to speak. 1:19

I resolve to learn the Gospel way of speaking to both rich and poor. 2:1-4

I resolve to speak in the present consciousness of my final judgment. 2:12

I resolve never to stand on anyone’s face with the words I employ. 2:16

I resolve never to claim as reality in my life what I never truly experience. 3:14

I resolve to resist quarrelsome words as evidences of a bad heart that needs to be mortified 4:1

I resolve never to speak decided evil of another out of a heart of antagonism 4:11

I resolve never to boast in anything that I will accomplish 4:13

I resolve always to speak as one who is subject to the providences of God. 4:15

I resolve never to grumble, because I know the Judge is listening at the door. 5:9

I resolve never to allow anything but total integrity in everything I say. 5:12

I resolve to speak to God in prayer when I suffer. 5:13

I resolve to sing praises to God whenever I am cheerful. 5:14

I resolve to ask for the prayers of others when I am in need. 5:14

I resolve to confess it whenever I fail. 5:15

I resolve to pray with others for one another when I am with them. 5:15

I resolve to speak words of restoration when I see another wander. 5:19


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Halloween Fun!

I know that Halloween was a while ago, but I thought you would all like to see the fun we had at the Lycklama's house. For several years now we have been going to James and Emily's house, good friends of ours, to celebrate Halloween. This is a fun way for our kids to dress up, yet not get scared to death by the gruesome costumes that other kids wear around the neighborhoods. We have dinner, do a craft, make desert, go on a treasure hunt and watch a movie. It really is a great time. Enjoy the Pictures.

The boys watching Charlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Cross

This morning I was challenged to consider "what I think about when I ponder the cross?" It is an interesting question. Over the years I have thought a lot about the cross that Jesus boar for my sins. As I have done that I picture the crown of thorns, the severe beating Jesus experienced at the hands of the Romans, the arduous journey from Jerusalem to Golgotha, the driving of the nails into his hands and feet, the hours of exposure on the cross, the other crucified man who cursed Jesus, the other crucified man who believed in Jesus, the men casting lots for Jesus' clothes, Jesus asking the father to forgive them, Jesus crying out to the Father, Jesus actually dying and the sword in the side to see if he is dead, the earthquake and the tearing of the curtain in the temple.

When I get real theological I start thinking about Christ being my substitutionary atonement. I think about that glorious passage in II Corinthians that describes the Great Exchange: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

Those thoughts are all right and good. But today I was challenged to think along a different line. Steve Lawson in his book titled "Made In Our Image" says the following:

"Towering over mankind, the Cross is the most comprehensive revelation of God's glory. At the cross, Christ, 'the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature,' poured forth the very essence of the glory that belongs to God alone. To look upon God's Son willingly dying in our place is to gaze at the fullest disclosure of God's divine attributes. We see the unveiled glory of God fully revealed in Jesus Christ's crucifixion."

While I am still chewing on this one, I must admit that I have had a blessed day thinking about how God's holiness, justice, love, grace, mercy, sovereignty, transendence, immenence, patience, kindness, greatness, goodness, omniscience, faithfulness... were all on full display that day when Christ was crucified.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

That's My Boy! Part II

Just is case anyone is worried about the picture in this previous post, rest assured James will now have the scar to prove his manliness. Check this picture out!

For those that don't know: James cut his back last Monday out in the backyard. We have no certain idea of how he did it, but the cut was 2 inches long, went down to the muscle and required 7 stitches to close. On top of all of that the urgent care doctor put that horrible tape on his back to hold the gauze on and now wont come off!


Friday, November 21, 2008

That's My Boy!

I have a question for you all: When do we start caring about the clothes that we wear? It seems pretty clear from the picture below that James is not at that point yet.

At least he has a Handy Manny shirt on!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Relief for the Scorched Soul

My recent blog posts have been much about the trials of life. I don't mean to depress or use this as an avenue to complain. The last four months have been some of the hardest for us as we have worked through various trials and seem to continue in that direction for the time being. I read recently and was reminded once again about how we are to rejoice in our tribulation as God holds us "worth such testing". In the end I can become a woman who clings to my God and His word. This said, the following is just another meditation on the work God is doing in my heart and how He is working to draw me to Himself. It is meant as an encouragement for all who read it, to remember to turn to God, who gives to all generously and without reproach.

I was reading Psalm 63 this morning and specifically meditating on verse 1 which states "O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You; My soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You; in a dry and weary land where there is no water." As I mused on this verse I pictured the hills around me the past few days and the "fall" that we have been experiencing here in Santa Clarita. Most of October was dominated by temperatures of the upper 90s and into the 100s. November has cooled off ot the upper 80s and into the 90s. "Is this fall?" I've been asking myslef for the last two months. Along with such temperatures have come extreme winds whipping through our valley, drying everything up even further and wreaking havoc on our yards. Here is a vivid picture of a dry and weary land. I am so tired of heat and dry and wind; I long for the cool relief of gray clouds in the sky, rain falling and refreshing this dry ground and cleaning the air of the dust and debris.
On the hills surrounding our home for the past three days fires have been burning. We are able to see smoke billowing out over the valley, patches of earth smoldering as we drive by, helicopters flying over dropping water in order to put out the flames. Thankfully, we have been spared any damage and the winds have proven helpful to us in blowing the smoke away from us, although damaging to others as it blew both smoke and embers the other direction. Can there be a more vivid object lesson for understanding Psalm 63:1? David too was in the wilderness when he wrote this Psalm. He was hiding. He, the king of Israel, was hiding in the wilderness from his own son, Absolom, when he penned this song of desperate need for the LORD. All around him he was able to see a dry and weary land, where there was no water and here was a picture of his soul. I sat this morning reading this and thinking on this and realized that Santa Clarita is a picture of my soul: dry, weary, thirsty, tired, scorched by the flames of trials.
And then I read it again and learned about how David refreshed his dry, weary and scorched soul. He didn't complain, he didn't even ask God to take it away. No, instead he turned to God, his God and earnestly sought Him until He was found! He knew that refreshment was only found in seeking God. He longed for God as I have longed for rain. He knew that by seeking God he would find a downpour of grace to wash over his soul and soak him so thoroughly that he would become saturated in the Spirit of God; and then he would find relief. That is my prayer. Today I will seek God earnestly. And this leads me back to a verse I was memorizing some weeks ago - "Be still and know that I am God". Today, I want to be still and let the Spirit of God pour down upon me, and saturate me with His grace, to soak into my heart and refresh my dry, weary and thirsty soul. It is that thirst for Jesus that is felt but not realized until you meditate on a verse like this one. Suddenly, this morning, I realized my thirst and that it wasn't necessarily for the baby to sleep or Isabel's work load to lessen or life to simply be easier, for for Jesus - for Him to carry my burdens, for Him to fill me with Himself and wash over me with the comfort of His Spirit.
And I pray for Santa Clarita too, for the clouds of relief to roll over our valley and pour out cool rain upon the scorched hills and the dry and weary land of our town.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Isabel's Busy Week!

Since last Friday Isabel has:

1. Enjoyed watching Gavin James' adoption

2. Played with her friends at a party celebrating Gavin's adoption

3. Fell off a trampoline and broke her arm

4. Visited Urgent Care on Saturday Morning to get x-rays and a temporary cast

5. Been doted on at church because she broke her arm

6. Visited the orthopedist on Monday to have hard cast put on

7. Lost her front tooth

8. Went to a class at the Master's College that Daddy was a guest teacher in

9. Went to Bible Study where all of her close friends signed her cast

1o. Went back to school and showed everyone her new cast

11. Had a pirate party in her classroom

12. Recieved get well cards and money for breaking her arm

(By the way, I am little short on cash right now, could I break a few bones and be blessed by you all)

13. And finally she went to the dentist this morning for a cleaning.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Joys and Trials

Yesterday was a day of happiness and tears. We were privelaged to get to attend the adoption hearing for Gavin James, the son of our good friends Jeff and Christine James. He was born last February and has been in their home since coming home from the hospital. His adoption was finalized yesterday to everybody's joy. We thank God for placing him in Jeff and Christine's home as a blessing to them and an opportunity for him to grow up knowing Jesus. After the hearing Jeff and Christine invited us all over for a dinner celebration for Gavin. Our kids all had a blast playing outside in the park like back yard at the James' house. A most favorite item to play on is the trampoline. Thus, the tears: After many fun hours of jumping and playing on the trampoline there was a little accident and Isabel fell off, landing on her arm on the ground. She was quite upset, understandably, and we took that as our cue to head home. We debated as to whether we should take her to urgent care on our way home or wait it out. We opted to wait it out, but wound up having a rough night with Isabel waking up often complaining of the pain. With the coming of the morning we noticed a little swelling and so Jason took her off to urgent care first thing this morning. It was discovered that our brave little girl had broken her wrist. Isabel's first broken bone and the date will never be forgotten, Gavin's adoption day! And so we move forward with joy for the James' and a trial for us.

Sometimes it's easy to get overwhelmed with our circumstances. I was reading Deut. 8:2 recently which states "You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." So here we are, in a little wilderness of our own , wandering through the difficulties of a new born who doesn't sleep, fatigue, and now a 6 year old with a broken wrist (did I mention it's her right wrist, the hand she writes with, she will have a cast for 6-8 weeks and first grade has proven to include a lot of homework?) These are the times we are commanded to remember the ways that the LORD has led us. Will our hearts prove to be true? Will we keep His commandments or not? His commandments to trust Him, to place our burdens on Him, to cease striving and know that He is God and so many others. He humbles us to cause us to remember our need for Him and to allow Him to be exalted in the earth. May He be exalted in us, and in Isabel, today.
Isabel has been very brave and a little "Hannah Montana" sticker and breakfast with Daddy at McDonalds helped make things a little brighter. Another good thing is that she has a four day weekend with no school on Monday or Tuesday of next week, giving her some good rest time before returning to school next Wed. Thank God for the little blessings that make the trials a little more bearable.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Love My Wife

Our girls kept asking Heather what she was going to dress up as for Halloween. She struggled and struggled to come up with an answer. I think it turned out to be quite beautiful! (See for yourself)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Love is not Rude

I am reading through Alexander Strauch's book "Leading with Love." The book encourages leaders in the church to make sure they are leading with hearts full love. However, the book is applicable to all who would read it, not just church leaders. Strauch uses as his main text I Corinthians 13, the classic chapter on love. I was struck silent, no doubt at the thought of doing the very things mentioned, at the following paragraph:

"Christlike love is to influence all behaviors, and Scripture tells us that love is not rude; it does not 'behave with ill-mannered impropriety.' The verb for 'rude' conveys the idea of acting disgracefully, contrary to established standards of proper conduct and decency. Thus inappropriate dress, inconsiderate talk, disregard for other people's time and moral conscience, taking advantage of people, tactlessness, ignoring the contributions and ideas of others, running roughshod over other's plans and interests, inappropriate behavior with the opposite sex, basic discourtesy and rudeness, and a general disregard for proper social conduct are all evidence of a lack of love and have no place in the local church."
(Strauch, 59)