Monday, December 29, 2008

Snowy Scenes

For those of you who are not happy to see the snow go away, I have many, many pictures of it on my Flikr site:
Just so you know, many of the captions only make sense if you look at the pictures backwards. -I'm not sure how that happened... :)

By the way, if anyone knows how I can get the link to show up on the side of my blog, I would very much like to know!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Never Too Big...

Yesterday, we went to my sister’s house for our Christmas visit with her family. I always have a delightful time with my nephew and nieces, and yesterday was no exception. My younger niece amazed us all with her newfound ambulatory abilities, while my older niece flitted from one activity to the next, chattering all the while. She is a very good hostess, and very kindly shared her “cheese-string” and “dumgrops” (aka string cheese and gumdrops) with us. : )

At one point, my nephew, who is now seven years old, went over to where his Granddad was standing and asked to be lifted up. Granddad halfheartedly protested, and my sister told my pleading nephew that he was getting too big for Granddad to lift. My nephew then exclaimed, “I’ll never be too big for Granddad!” whereupon Granddad did pick him up, after all. : )

Now, as my nephew grows up, there will be a time when he is too heavy for his Granddad, but right now that seems inconceivable to him. His confidence in his Granddad is seemingly boundless, and in his eyes Granddad can do anything.

What a good reminder of what faith in God is to look like lived out! Our faith is supposed to be like the simple confidence of a child. There will never be a time when we find that our burdens are too heavy for God, and when others doubt that God can do what we ask of Him, we can respond similarly, “There won’t ever be anything too big for God!”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Without...

“A Christmas without.” I thought with a sigh
As I wandered alone through the wintry wild
“It’s unthinkable!” was my quiet cry
To the world around me with snowdrifts piled.

“A Christmas without. –What would Christmas be,
After all, without guests to cheer our home,
Merrily gathered ‘round the Christmas tree?”
-Thus I thought as I continued to roam.

“A Christmas without all the things that seem
To make all our Christmases Christmassy?
No church, no caroling, no soft, bright gleam
Of Advent candles, -how can it be?

“A Christmas without…” Then I looked to the sky
And the sparkling stars reminded me
Of the star which brought the wisemen nigh
To the child who was born to set us all free.

“A Christmas without…” I began to ponder,
Remembering why Christ came to earth.
In the snowy stillness I ceased to wander
Stopping to think on my Savior’s birth.

“A Christmas without.” -now I ceased to pout,
For the baby born in that wintry wild
Long, long ago had “a Christmas without”
-Only shepherds came to see the small child.

“A Christmas without –Yes, now I see!”
I said, to the snowflakes beginning to fall
Yet again, “A Christmas without just might be
The best and most blessed Christmas of all!”

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chistmas Joy or Christmas "Oy"?

Mommy and Daddy went out this afternoon to post this year’s batch of Christmas cards, and I think I have finally gotten the taste of envelope adhesive out of my mouth. (Yuck!) I don’t know which is worse, the bitter taste of the glue itself, or the sweet taste of whatever they put in the glue to make it taste better! Nasty stuff. Anyway, with the Christmas cards done and only one person left to buy a present for, there’s only the many, many batches of cookies left to bake and the last-minute cleaning to try to get done before it’s the last minute. : ) So, while I wait for a pan of fudge to cool, I am going to take a break to finally write the post that’s been running around my thoughts all day.

Every year when we put up our Christmas tree, I look forward to opening my box of ornaments and pulling out the familiar collection of sparkly odds and ends to put on the tree. There are the very odd ornaments, (such as a “genuine leather” tag that we hung on the tree last year because it seemed funny at the time) and get thrown out after a year or two of staying in my box during Christmas. Then there are the pretty ones, like the beautiful glass nativity scene which my Grandma gave me last year. And then there are the “Sunday school” ornaments, only put on the tree because they have been there for so long, (such as the juice can lid with my picture on it that I made when I was four.) The ornament that I most fondly look for every year belongs to this category. It is a star, made of popsicle sticks, with pipe cleaners glued on in the shape of letters. The letters used to spell “Joy”, but somewhere along the line, the J fell off, and now the poor thing says only “oy”.

Sadly, that is what happens to many people at Christmastime. Christmas is indeed a time of great joy, but all too often in the midst of the stress and busyness of the holiday we forget to be joyful. The week of Christmas is usually “crunch time” for many people who, like my family, tend to put everything off until then. Thus, stores are crowded, lines are long, time runs short, and from many hearts the exhausted cry goes out: “oy!” where once a song of joy was heard. Grumbling rises up to take the place of “Merry Christmas!” on one’s lips, and, while joy is often quite contagious, a bad mood is doubly so.

So how may one avoid the dreadful Christmas “oy”? It is very simple. Take the time to remember why we celebrate. Despite what every “holiday special” on T.V. would try to tell you, Christmas is not about presents or dreams or loved ones or (gasp!) even cookies. : ) Nor is it solely about peace, joy, hope, or love. As wonderful as those things are, Christmas is not about food, friendship, or feelings, it is about a Person.

Christmas is about Jesus. Without Him, there would be no Christmas to celebrate. It is Jesus who is the source of everything lovely that accompanies Christmas. He is the only one who can truly give peace, joy, and hope, and in Him is found the highest and truest love –the love that caused Christ to lay down the glory and splendor of Heaven to be born, a helpless baby, to a poor family. He left the sinless perfection of heaven to live sinlessly among sinful humans so that He could give His life for us, taking all our sin upon Himself and dying on the cross. The precious little baby in the manger causes us to remember the reason He was born – to lay down His life for us, paying the penalty for our sin that we might be reconciled with God.

Christmas, indeed is the season which celebrates the greatest joy of all – the joy of salvation!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stop and Look...

Mommy and I went for a walk in our favorite park yesterday.

The sun was shining, making the snow sparkle like diamonds. The winds the night before had blown the snow into graceful drifts, leaving little left on the branches of the tall trees. The wind was blowing less that afternoon, but now and then a gust would come up, sending stinging bits of icy snow blasting against our faces. The snow had turned into ice in places, so we had to walk very carefully. I of course forgot this often as I looked around, enjoying the scene, and after Mommy and I had both slid a little several times, we decided that we should be careful to "stop before we look". : ) So as we cautiously picked our way around the park, we would look up often and when there was something especially pretty, we would stop to look at it.

As we walked, I began to think about the benefits of stopping to look. The park was so beautiful, we stopped often, and having to stop and look made us appreciate the smaller details of the scenery. Instead of taking one glance as we walked by, we paused to enjoy it before moving on. We both exclaimed at times, "I never noticed that before!" as we took the time to really look at what was around us.

The snow was very dry that day and gave a satisfying crunch with each step. Our crunching was very loud, however, drowning out all the lovely sounds around us. Once, when we stopped longer than usual so Mommy could take a picture, I noticed a bird, singing in a tree nearby. I stood quietly, and soon I noticed a whole chorus of birdsongs, that I would not have heard otherwise. It made me realize the things I miss the most about not walking to "work" anymore. I used to love to walk those ten blocks early in the morning during any season, but especially in the winter. Something about the winter makes everything seem still and quiet -except the birds. The birds sing no matter what the weather, and often as I would be bundled up against the cold, stinging rain and blustery winds, I would be cheered by a robin sitting on a branch overhead, singing his song so happily!

-But that's another post for another day.

As I thought more about it, I realized that stopping to look is sometimes helpful, not just in walking in the snow, but in walking with the Lord as well. Christmas is an especially busy time of year for many people. It is easy in the rush of cooking, cleaning, planning, and buying or making presents, to forget to take time to stop and think. Perhaps this snowstorm is meant to give those of us affected by it some time to "stop and look".

Having just finished a very challenging term of school, I am very thankful for the extra time I have during Christmas break, but I'm so used to doing homework every spare moment, I'm not quite sure what to do with my time now. I was ready to jump into anything and everything Christmas, filling up all my time again as I had this fall, but then the snow hit, and everything was cancelled, at least for a while, and I was left without quite as much to do. I have been forced to stop and learn again to enjoy the details along the way. Not having specific things to do each day has given me time to really think about what I read in God's word each morning, instead of rushing through it as it is tempting to do when I am busy. I have time to enjoy the view out the kitchen window as I wash dishes each morning. -I am even beginning to learn to enjoy grocery shopping by seeing it as extra time with whoever is driving there and back with me! And now that I am more or less resolved to the idea of the snow's prolonged presence, I am beginning to enjoy that, too... a little.

I am also hearing afresh the beautiful sounds around me as I pause and let the noise of life's busyness die down. The soft, wet thud of snowflakes against my window, the sound of the birds' trilling songs outside, a distant train's low and mournful whistle, Mommy humming as she works in the kitchen -All of which I would have never heard had I not taken the time to stop and listen.

It is the same with that still, small, voice that God often uses to speak to His children. One cannot hear if one does not listen! It is very important, therefore, to take time to "stop and look".

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Cold Outside!

This morning, I went outside to take some pictures of our yard with the sun shining on the snow. I was only outside for a few minutes, but when I came in again, my hands were numb, even though I had been wearing gloves. I don’t remember it ever being this cold out, but Daddy tells me that before I was born, there were several winters when it was colder for long periods of time. Thankfully, we have a brand new heating system and two wood stoves, so our house has been quite warm.

In our backyard, there is a four or five inch layer of snow, crusted over with ice. Unfortunately, it’s too powdery to make snowballs or snowmen. Somehow, our neighbors managed to get their snow to compact enough to build an igloo. It’s pretty impressive. Really, the only thing this kind of snow is good for is sledding. (Too bad we don’t have a good place to sled here.) As I was doing dishes this morning, I noticed that two of the kids from across the street had brought their little sled over and were trying to sled down our driveway. It must not have worked very well, because they each tried it once, and then went away. It was fun to watch, though.

It is so nice to be done with school and able to help around the house again! I baked the first two batches of Christmas cookies today, which made my brother very happy. –I think they are almost half gone. : ) We don’t have a mixer that works right now, so I spent some quality time with a mixing bowl and my favorite wooden spoon. I shall have very strong arms by the time Christmas is over!

My family went for a walk in the little park near our house yesterday. We took lots of pictures, until the camera ran out of batteries. At one point, while we were waiting for Mommy to finish taking a picture, Tristan (my brother) came over to where I was standing, quite innocently, staring off into space. Tristan reached over and deftly shook the little tree I was standing under, neatly dusting me with snow. Later on, I tried to retaliate by throwing a snowball at him, but it fell apart mid-air so he barely felt it. –Oh the helplessness of being the youngest! : )

The wind blew so hard last night, even the woodbox doors rattled! Between the cold and the wind, we discovered that our house can make some very odd noises. : ) But none of our huge trees fell over, for which we are very thankful. (Being squished like a bug doesn’t seem like it would be very pleasant.)

The snow is very pretty, and is especially beautiful on all the trees we have in our yard, but I do wish it would go away. Snow is nice for a day or two, but here it inevitably turns to ice, which shuts everything down. I shouldn’t complain, though, because the storm saved me from having to play an offertory that wasn’t quite ready. : )
Perhaps snow can be useful, after all!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Last Tuesday, I found myself dreading having to teach. I don’t know why. I love teaching, but sometimes I wake up in a funny mood as my heart tries to fool my mind into making me think I’m tired of being a teacher. I know that there is only one thing in the whole world I would prefer to teaching, but once in a while, I just don’t feel like doing it any longer. It is on those days that God always gives me something wonderful to encourage me and to help me remember that I really do love teaching.

I was explaining an assignment to my last student of the day, and the metaphor I usually use to describe it was not helping her at all. Suddenly, a better one came to mind, and when I explained it using that one, my student’s eyes lit up, and she said “Oooh! Now I get it!” –That is music to my ears! (No pun intended) : )

It is those moments that really encourage me. As I was thinking about how delighted I was to hear my little student say that, it occurred to me how delighted God must be to have His children finally get what He is teaching them. Having had several “Oh!” moments recently myself, it was nice to think that God does not meet them with an impatient “Finally! It took you so long!”, but with an exclamation of “Yes! Now, let’s take it further.” I am so thankful that God is a perfect and patient teacher!

~ “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”James 1:5

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Sonnet

Fear Not
~I John 4:18

In this world so full of uncertainties,
With winds of worry blowing all around
As all, so it seems, grows worse by degrees,
Where is a place of safety to be found?
Where indeed! Not in this dark world of woe
-Filled as it is with sickness, sin and strife.
Where is found peace from the buffeting blow
Of the winds of worry? Where are hope and life?
‘Tis only in Christ such peace may be found,
For He alone is Lord of wind and wave.
In Christ our Shepherd life and hope abound,
For Jesus alone has power to save.
Yea, one need never fret when God is near,
For His perfect love casteth out all fear!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I was reminded today of how thankful I am for my family. This year, we only had my two grandmas over for Thanksgiving dinner. I usually love to have a full house for any holiday, but it was good to have some time with my grandmas.

My day began with good smells from the kitchen and the sound of pots and pans being quietly moved about. It was a half an hour before I was to get up, but as much as I wanted to sleep longer, or just enjoy listening to Mommy working in the kitchen, I decided that it would be better to get up and help than to sleep in and feel guilty for not helping. : )

By the time I got to the kitchen, Mommy was about to start working on the turkey. It was still partially frozen, and we had quite a time trying to get the neck and giblets out. Due to much experience with frozen chickens, (Every time I try to get a chicken in the oven on a Sunday morning, it's always partially frozen.) we were able to get it thawed in time.

Thanksgiving Day in my family is very much centered around food, specifically pie. Mommy and I usually make at least five kinds of pie, but because there were less to feed today, we only made three. After everyone leaves, we all watch Charlie Brown and eat more pie, then have pie for breakfast the next morning. -my family likes pie just a little bit. : )

Mommy and I spend nearly the whole day cooking. I think that is my favorite part of Thanksgiving. I enjoy cooking to begin with, but cooking for a holiday with Mommy is especially nice because it gives us extra time to spend together. Since I started school, I have not had very much time to spend helping Mommy, so today was really a treat.

Daddy and Tristan usually spend the day cleaning and fixing things. Invariably, Daddy decides to fix something in the kitchen, and we all run into each other and get in each other's way. The kitchen in the new house is bigger than our old one, so that wasn't a problem today.

One thing I missed this year was my aunt and uncle. They usually come for every holiday, but they had somewhere else to be this year. My uncle is always bright and cheerful, and makes everyone smile. My aunt was especially missed at the end of the meal tonight, because she always washes the dishes for us. I think every family should have an "Aunt Carol". : ) I suspect that I might end up being the next dishwashing aunt in my family, because I usually end up doing the dishes when my aunt is not there. I am very thankful this year for our dishwasher, which did much of the work for me!

I am so thankful for my wonderful family, and the blessing it is (usually) : ) to spend time with them!

I hope you all have had as wonderful a thanksgiving as I have!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Knowing the Truth

I just finished a paper today for school. (for those of you who are sick of hearing about my various and sundry school assignments, that's all I'll say about it.) : ) Because my topic was Judaism, I have been reading a lot about that lately. In the course of my reading, I was astounded at how little Jews in general know about their scriptures. This may be in part because so many branches of Judaism do not believe that the Old Testament is inspired, but I believe that the problem is very simple -they do not know it because they do not read it.

As I was discussing this with Mommy this afternoon, I realized that Christians today have a similar problem. How well do we know the Bible? How much time do we devote to studying it?

I found a few verses on the subject that I thought I would share:

Job 23:12 says: "...I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." Are we willing to skip breakfast to make sure we are spending time with God in the morning? Is feeding our souls more important to us than feeding our stomachs?

Psalm 1: 1-2 "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night."
John Bunyan once said "He who runs from God in the morning wil scarcely find Him the rest of the day." My "bad days" are always those that I have not started out with reading the Bible. (or those days when I merely skim it, not really paying attention.)

Psalm 119:9 "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word." and verse 11 says "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee." It is easier for the Holy Spirit to bring a verse to mind to convict or encourage when we know the verses in the first place!

I Peter 3:15 "But sanctify the Lord God in your earts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear"
This is especially hard, because it means knowing not only what you believe, but why.

And one last verse from the many relevent ones in Psalm 19-verse 24. "Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors." God's word is to be read for guidance and for delight! It should not be a chore, but a blessing.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
-John 8:32

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Midterm Miracle!

This week I had a History midterm. I had somehow done pretty well on the quizzes, and was short on time, so I didn’t study much for it. -Needless to say, I did not do very well on the first part of the test. (It was even multiple choice, which I usually find pretty easy.) I decided to look up what I was supposed to study before taking the next part of the test. (Essay questions…ugh!) Unfortunately, the topics they said to study covered everything we had learned thus far, and still being short on time, I just skimmed the more unfamiliar portions of my textbook before taking the second half of the test. When I looked at the essay questions, I realized I had absolutely no idea what the answers were, let alone how to tell them in 150 words! I had an hour to complete them, so I just started typing. If you asked me right now what the questions were I might be able to tell you, but I have no more idea what the answers were than I did when I wrote them. I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t pass the course if I flunked the midterm. As I pressed the “submit” button to turn in the assignment, I prayed, “Lord, please, just let me pass!” The next few days I was quite discouraged and felt doomed to flunk History. I began checking my grades each day to see if the essays had been graded yet. Thursday, I saw that my test had finally been graded, but when I looked at my grade, I couldn’t believe it! Just to be sure I clicked the button that showed me how many points I got per question. The first essay question got 18 out of 20 points, and the other two got 25 out of 25! Now, I know and you know that I had no idea what I was writing about. Somehow God made my teacher think that I actually knew the answer. I have no idea how that happened. It could only have been God!
-I just hope He does the same with my research paper! : )

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


My family recently moved to a new house. I wasn’t sure at first if I would like the new house, because I had only ever lived in our old house. I love our new house, though. It is much larger than our old house and has room for nearly everything. We have a much bigger yard now, a large part of which we plan to dig up next spring for a garden. The house is surrounded by big, tall trees and we have seen many different kinds of birds. We have a beautiful view from almost every window, and a very nice park nearby. Our house is so much better than our previous one, and at first it seemed I could find nothing wrong with it... until last night.

I was aware that there were raccoons that frequented our yard, but so far they hadn’t been too much of a nuisance. Other than knocking over a flowerpot on our deck, they had been very quiet.

Last night (or rather, early this morning) I was awoken by the sound of something running around… above me. Now, at our old house we had birds that delighted in hopping around on the roof above my room to wake me up, so I was pretty used to hearing that kind of noise. I started to go back to sleep, realizing that it was probably raccoons on the roof, but it grew louder and louder, until I was sure they must be in the attic. I finally went to my parents’ room and woke them up just to be reassured that the coons were actually on the roof, and not in the attic. My parents had also heard the raucous raccoons, and Daddy tried to scare them away by pounding on the ceiling. (Which woke my brother, who sleeps downstairs and thus was still blissfully asleep, undisturbed by the coons.) That didn’t work, but no one could think of anything better to do, so we all just tried to go back to sleep.

That wasn’t easy, though, because every time they would quiet down and I would start to fall asleep, they would come back noisier than ever, and startle me awake. I know that they probably weren’t actually being malicious, but it sure seemed like it at the time.

So, there I was at 2:00 in the morning, wide awake, listening to the raccoon football game going on above me. I started to get irritated. Why couldn’t the coons have played over the living room? Why did it have to be over my room? I needed to be sleeping. Then I realized, maybe I was supposed to be awake. Perhaps God wanted me to pray about something. I started to pray, and after a while I didn’t notice the raccoons so much. It was so nice to have some (relatively) quiet time to be still and talk to God. I think the coons were sent to wake me up just for that. I needed it.

It reminded me that “…All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)God can make anything work for our good –even raccoons at two in the morning! : )

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Today I have been learning why God commanded a Sabbath rest. The last few days have been very stressful, and last night I was as close to "stressed out" as I have been in a long time. Usually, I'm not one to let worries or pressures get to me, but last Thursday I found out that I had three fairly large projects coming up for school. One -a timeline and six paragraphs explaining it- was due tonight. (Thankfully, God enabled me to get that one done yesterday.) The next one is a summary of the Old Testament, which is due next Sunday, and the third one is a research paper which is due the following week. The summary is do-able, but will be very time-consuming. The research paper, however, will be harder because I have not done a college paper before, and have not even started the research yet.

-If you think of me the next few weeks, please pray that God would give me grace and the time and mental acuity needed to get all this done in addition to my regular homework.

Anyway, all this combined with my upcoming lack of time to work on things made me feel quite exhausted by last night. I had no idea how I was going to get everything done, (and still am not sure if it's possible) but I decided that, today being Sunday, I would take a day off from schoolwork and rest. It has been so refreshing to be able to do something other than schoolwork for a day, without feeling like I should be working on it! It also has given my brain a chance to recooperate and for the first time in a week, my mind doesn't feel so busy! :) It made me really think about God's wisdom in commanding a rest. He didn't suggest it, He commanded it. That way there's no getting around it. We have to rest, even if we think we don't have time to.

My "rest" day also gave me extra time to get alone with God and get a proper perspective. God knows all the things He has brought into my life, and He has given me enough time and strength to get it all done. This morning the Holy Spirit brought to my mind a verse that I cannot find the reference for at the moment. "As thy days are, so shall thy strength be." I have all I need, it's just a matter of using what God gives me wisely. Besides, it's only schoolwork. A bad grade won't be the end of the world. (though it may seem so at the time.) :)

In short, I have learned anew today that God knows what He's doing. :)

"Faithful is He that calleth thee, who also will do it."
I Thessalonians 5:24

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Lesson From A Coal

How brightly glow the burning coals
As I stoop to tend the fire;
And as the coals are drawn in close
The flames grow ever higher.
But as I stir the fire, I see
One small, bright coal alone.
It must have dropped and rolled away
and now it's on its own.
And as I watch that ember lone
Its color starts to fade.
-For coals cannot survive alone;
each needs another's aid.
'Tis thus we need each other, too;
We cannot, though we try
Shine brightly in this world without
Another's warmth nearby!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Of Princesses

All my life, I have been called “Princess” by those around me. It is not a nickname my family calls me, but as long as I can remember, there have been those who have called me princess. In fact, the name Gwendolyn is actually a Welsh equivalent of Guinevere. (Or, at least, they both mean the same thing.)

When I was very young, there were always people saying things like; “hello little princess!” My best childhood friend and I always used to play dress-up as princesses. Then, as I grew older, I had certain friends who would send me letters addressed to “Her Royal Highness Princess Gwendolyn” or something similar.

I had thought that I would outgrow the whole “Princess” thing, and as far as adults are concerned, I think I have. Now, however, it has been picked up by those younger than me. One of my younger students called me “Princess Gwennie” for at least the first month or two of piano lessons because the church I was teaching in looked like a castle. Several of my other little students have called me that as well. –I’m not even sure how that got started.
My favorite “princess” story, though, is from my sister’s wedding last August. During the reception, I was sitting with all the kids at their table, (I somehow became instant “auntie” to all of them, even though most of them had never met me before.) and all of a sudden, the boy who seemed to be their unofficial spokesman said: “I have a question.” Surprised, I asked what his question was. He answered: “Why are you dressed like a princess?” (Apparently princesses always wear dresses with “pink and lace”, like the one I happened to be wearing that day.) : )

Yet, in a way, I really am a princess. In my morning reading today I came across 2 Corinthians 6:16-17:
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

When I got saved, I became a daughter of the King of Kings, thus I really am a princess.

Princesses have a responsibility, though, to represent their father. Another verse I read this morning was 2 Corinthians 5: 20, which reminded me again that I am an ambassador for Christ. I must endeavor to live in such a way that others would not see any goodness of my own, but rather the grace of God at work in my life.

This was a very timely reminder for me, because we have had two workmen at our house for the last week, installing a furnace. It occurred to me that their impression of our family and our home may be, in fact, the thing that defines their concept of what a Christian is. That is a very sobering thought. Please pray for Josh and John, who are working at our house for another day or so, and also for our family, as we try to be good ambassadors for Christ.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pulling Ivy

I recently started some college courses. (four to be exact) I am enjoying each of my classes to some degree, but have realized that I can only study for so many hours in a row without a break. After a few hours of reading textbooks, my eyes begin to glaze over and my mind goes slightly numb. So what does that have to do with ivy? Well, lately, whenever I feel in need of a break and some “real” work, I go out and pull up ivy in my backyard.

I was out pulling ivy in the rain this afternoon –yes, in the rain…I think there’s a three-year-old somewhere inside me that still likes mud puddles... besides, dirt’s good for you, right? : )
Anyway, as I was pulling up ivy, a thought came to me: “This is sort of like what God wants to do in my heart.” The more I thought about the ivy I was pulling, the more it reminded me of the sin God is working to uproot in my heart.

English Ivy (the kind of ivy I have been pulling up) starts out as a pretty little plant, which looks quite harmless. It then begins to creep over the ground, rooting itself as it goes, trying to climb and cover whatever it encounters. It gives a stately and mysterious look to the things it clings to, such as trees and buildings, but if it is left to itself, it will eventually take over completely, destroying the things it covers.
Take trees for example. When English Ivy climbs up a tree, it does not simply wrap itself harmlessly around it as it seems to do. It actually digs into the bark of the tree periodically to anchor itself. That is why one cannot simply pull it off a tree. If you pull it off, the bark comes with it.

Sin is very similar. It starts out small (1 Corinthians 5:6) but if left unheeded it grows and grows until it is a tangled mess. It digs into our hearts, rooting itself deeper over time, making it increasingly painful to remove. It may look good at first, appealing, as with Eve, (Genesis 3:6) to our bodies, (“good for food”) to our sensibilities, (“pleasant to the eyes”) and to our minds, (“to be desired to make one wise”) but as Proverbs 14:12 says “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

The particular patch of ground I am endeavoring to clear is under a stand of tall trees which are so big and old that if you were to pull away the outer branches and walk inside, you might imagine yourself in a very small forest. It would be a perfect place to sit and read or think, but not until the ivy is gone.

As I worked, I remembered that, just as I have a plan for the place I am clearing out, God has a plan for my heart and life, which can only be accomplished as the ivy of sin is cleared.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Why Growlery?

In the Dicken's novel Bleak House, Mr. John Jarndyce (one of the main characters) has a room in his house which he calls the growlery. The purpose of the growlery was to give him a place to vent his mind on matters that he did not think others in his household would like to hear. Well, the purpose behind this blog is to give me a place to vent my mind when it is too full and my family is tired of hearing me chatter. : )

-Don't worry, though. -I don't intend to do much growling. :)