Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Victory of the Mundane

Then Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth and he has been a warrior from his youth." But David said to Saul, "Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him and rescued it from his mouth.... Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them" from I Samuel 17

God prepares us for great deeds in our private acts of courage and faith in mundane daily tasks. My mom calls these "lion and bear stories."

The Lord "does not despise small beginnings."

"Peter, do you love me? Tend my sheep."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Not Alone: Plenary and Breakout Session Summaries

God with Us (cont.)

The Christian Counseling and Education Foundation’s (CCEF) conference two weekends ago centered on the theme, “Not Alone.” The mission of CCEF is to “restore Christ to counseling and restore counseling to the church.”

In this age (as in every other), despite twitter and telephones, people find themselves feeling isolated, lonely, and adrift from God and their community. This is true for married and single people, men and women, children and adults.

But God is a personal and intimate companion; he came right alongside us in his incarnation. The force and focus of the weekend was for us to reach out and model Christ’s companionship to others (family, friends, co-workers, clients).

David and I attended all but one of the main sessions and many of the breakout sessions, so I thought it might be best to just share a paraphrase of each session I attended. (I attended Winston Smith's talk -- he has a delightful, dry sense of humor -- but I didn't take notes so his talk is not summarized.) After the conference, I felt spiritually and emotionally refreshed from hearing experienced biblical counselors teach and exhort us about relationship – God’s relationship with me and my relationship with others. (I was also physically refreshed by the Cajun food truck, but that is another blog.)

For me, the conference called to my mind Isaiah’s description of the coming Messiah as “Immanuel: God with us.” Indeed much of the conference centered on the person and work of the incarnate Jesus Christ. From him we understand ourselves and others, so that we can counsel and minister personally and effectively.

We enter into others' lives as Christ did in the following ways:

We are builders (David Powlison): “Every relationship is intentional.” Every interaction we have with other image-bearers -- whether that interaction is small or great, light or deep, glancing or permanent -- is either building bridges or building walls. How we speak to people, even in casual and light conversations (which are not bad), either sends the message that we wish to build a bridge to someone or that we wish to wall them off. (And don't do that thing we all do, where a person opens up about something, and your response is to tell them a story about yourself. You feel you are connecting...but you are shutting people down.)

We are Christ-modelers (Elyse Fitzpatrick): Christ entered into humanity, laboring and living in an obscure “hick town” before his public ministry, pleasing his Father in all of his daily activities, from the most mundane daily labor to his glorious resurrection. He did not despise his body, but he joined in the human experience, yet without sin. We are called to be like him: to enter into the lives of others, to listen, and show them Christ. Do not scorn the mundane, but embrace it by serving God even in the everyday, as Christ did.

We are dialoguers (Julie Lowe): As parents, do you value compliance more than engagement with your children? Are you daily seeking to be in dialogue and conversation with them? Do you speak of and reflect on the delights of living as much as the disciplines of living? Finally -- Do you require of yourself what you require of them?

We are listeners (Ed Welch): Do you seek to ask meaningful and probing questions in order to enter into the lives of others, both their triumphs and joys and their failures and sufferings? Our demeanor and perspective, in the joys and the trials, should be, “Tell me more. Give me the details. How can I pray for you?” 

We are reconcilers (Cecilia Bernhardt): God uses conflict to foster character in his saints, and he intends for conflict to draw us closer to him and to each other. We tend to begin conflicts with an eye towards self-service, but, if we see Jesus, we can change that to having an eye towards God’s reality in the situation. If we are interested in God’s truth, we can face conflict with humility rather than self-service.

We are affirmers (Aaron Sironi): The model and command of Scripture is not to flatter, but “to be alert for what God considers good.” (Eg: Jesus with Nathaniel and the centurion, Proverbs 31, Romans 8.) If we only see and verbalize what is wrong in people and situations, we need to repent. God himself condescends to commend a motley group of saints in Hebrews 11 (Gideon, Samson, etc). It is not enough to think and notice good things; we must verbalize those things.

In closing, this conference was replete with wise counsel, challenging our perspectives and exhorting us to truly engage with people in their need.

The basis and foundation of all of the teaching was Jesus Christ’s finished work in life and death and resurrection, and his example of how to enter in and truly love others intimately and personally.

How do we know that we are not alone? By looking at him and his incarnation.

How do we know how to love others and come alongside them? By learning from him, who entered into humanity and who intercedes for us.

Colossians 1:3-8 “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.”

Monday, October 14, 2013

God with Us: CCEF Conference "Not Alone"

Last weekend, David and I attended the CCEF conference on biblical counseling entitled "Not Alone" with a group of about 30 people from our church (men, women, married, single, widowed people). Our marriage and family pastor urged and encouraged people to attend, and our church even provided scholarships.

The goal: love of one another, Christian community, and wise and equipped discipleship. I am so thankful that our pastor values these things enough to make this a priority.

Speakers and Topics:
We were privileged to hear Ed Welch, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Winston Smith, and David Powlison discuss how they bring the truth of Christ's presence to bear upon various counseling situations.

We participated in smaller discussions, where counselors discussed such topics as "How to Affirm and Encourage Others" and "How to Build Bridges to Your Children." I will include notes from each in blogs to follow.

But...we had the greater privilege to fellowship with dear brothers and sisters in our local church, seeking to preach Christ to themselves and model Him to their families, and others.

Theme and Reflection:
In retrospect, the purest biblical short expression of being "not alone" is found itself in Isaiah's name for the Messiah: Emmanuel, God with Us.

God. With. Us.

How do we counsel others and ourselves when we find ourselves in the dark and lonely places? Whether we are inhabiting the dark night of the soul or stopped up short by the occasional flash of loneliness or feeling "outside," how can we gain, remember, and model the simultaneously cosmic and intimate perspective that God Himself is with us?

And how can we truly be with others, like He is? How can we be like Christ and love them and be with them when they are alone?

And how can we hold on to this perspective in the mundane, everyday labors of life as well? In all of this, I am reminded of one of my favorite little books, The Practice of the Presence of God, written about a kitchen monk named Brother Lawrence, hundreds of years ago. Brother Lawrence labored to find and then found joy in scrubbing the pots, and his joy was so infectious he became renowned in his circle for his transforming joy in the mundane.

The way he served God transformed the scullery to the sacred. God with him in the kitchen.

So, I purposed to transcribe the notes I took in brief form so that I wouldn't forget the perspective that the conference encouraged in how we contemplate "God with Us" and "God with Others."

First Topic:
First appropriately, the conference began and ended with a musical meditation on the hymn "St. Patrick's Breastplate." (Credited to St. Patrick but actually written by a saint in, perhaps, the 800's.)

This first blog will be the text of that hymn, but first, here is the refrain.:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

St Patrick's Breastplate
I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;

His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.

The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard
Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;

Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

CNN post on classical schools

Classical and University Model Schools

Our family is associated with two classical schools.

This year,two of our children will attend what is called a "university model classical school." Children attend a brick and mortar school 1-3 days a week depending on age and courses they are enrolled in. They study on the other days independently -- with guidance and help from parents. Emphasis is placed on history and reading, math classes are on an escalated schedule,dialogue is encouraged, academic rigor is standard.

The price is half (or a little more than half) the cost of a private school education, funds are handled efficiently, teachers are paid well (breadwinners can support a family), parents and teachers work as partners, and we believe the educational and social "value" we receive is high.

For this to be do-able, one parent must be intimately involved in course work (more or less, depending on age and strengths and weaknesses of the child), and that usually ends up being the mom. But because of the part-time nature of the university system school, many of these parents are able to hold down other jobs as well (mothers at our school are realtors, educators, hair dressers, small business owners, etc). Children score well above average in standardized testing, regardless of the educational background of the parents.

Educational laws and the culture in Texas encourage freedom and innovation in education, and schools, teachers, and families are enriched by the resulting choices that spring up.

For years our children were exclusively homeschooled, and one will be exclusive home schooled this next year. I frequently get asked, "Why did your family make that choice?" The Christian mom in the post below explains why her family chose to home school -- an articulate post at The Gospel Coalition.

I appreciate that three educational options are thoughtfully explored in various posts at this website. I will include them here.

Home school mom:

Private school mom:

Public school mom:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Special spot for Bookworms

Shanghai on Vimeo

First portion of the video, with tall round ball of the purple Pearl Tower, are of Pudong (Poo-dong). Pudong is on one side of the Huangpu River, which is the snaking river you see in the foreground.

When we lived there, we lived on that side of the river in a high rise. The government prepared the Pudong side as a testament to China's new modernity, evicting all of the long time residents, demolishing all of the apartment buildings, and building shiny new ones in it's place. Shiny high-rise gravestones. Incidentally, this is how change happens in China. Since the Cultural Revolution there ethic of advancement over people.

The second portion of the video is of the Puxi (Poo-shee) side of the river, where some of the older architecture has been preserved. the tourist market is there.

Christ in the Old Testament

Here is a Gospel Coalition video of a panel discussion on Christ in the OT (including my brother, Scott Redd, President of Reformed Theological seminary in DC and professor of Old Testament)!

Grace Trumps Karma: Bono Discusses Salvation

My husband is a U2 fan and over the years he has won me over to an appreciation for this band and it's earnest attempts in song to call out out our soul's need. (And he has taken me to some amazing concerts.)

I think the band does a good job writing on the state of the soul, and their lyrics are full of aching and poignant themes that make a person question, as they should, what is down deep. I do wish they were less cagey about sharing the Answer at times. But for what it's worth, in this interview, with all of it's modern-day cliches (when in Rome...), Bono does just that, expressly.

Monday, June 3, 2013

1979 Book of Common Prayer, Holy Eucharist, Rite II

I spent many Sundays as a child going through this particular Rite at Church of the Apostles in Fairfax, Virginia (led by Rennie Scott and Rick Lord) and Truro (also in Fairfax). 

We sang the Nicene Creed and the song of praise and other elements -- at Truro often led by the radiant, white-haired, vibralto tenor, Joe Kitts. 

The Confession of sin can serve as a guide for personal confession in private devotion.

The beautiful and true words of Rite II are a poignant example of God using flawed men and women to worship him with words, and the words are so deeply part of my early spiritual memories. 

Sisters, each time you eat the bread and drink the wine, "Feed on Him in your hearts by faith with Thanksgiving"

Link to Rite II online

The Word of God

A hymn, psalm, or anthem may be sung.

The people standing, the Celebrant says                Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
        And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever.

In place of the above, from Easter Day through the Day of Pentecost
Celebrant     Alleluia. Christ is risen.
         The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
In Lent and on other penitential occasions

     Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins;
People         His mercy endures for ever.

The Celebrant may say
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known,
and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our
hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may
perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

When appointed, the following hymn or some other song of praise is
sung or said, all standing

Glory to God in the highest,
    and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
    we worship you, we give you thanks,
    we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
    have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
    receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
    Jesus Christ,
    with the Holy Spirit,
    in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

On other occasions the following is used

Lord, have mercy.Kyrie eleison.
Christ, have mercy.
Christe eleison.
Lord have mercy.Kyrie eleison.
or this

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

The Collect of the Day
The Celebrant says to the people
              The Lord be with you.
People      And also with you.
Celebrant  Let us pray.

The Celebrant says the Collect.
People      Amen.

The Lessons

The people sit. One or two Lessons, as appointed, are read,
the Reader first saying

A Reading (Lesson) from                                       .

A citation giving chapter and verse may be added.
After each Reading, the Reader may say
                The Word of the Lord.
        Thanks be to God.

or the Reader may say    Here ends the Reading (Epistle).
Silence may follow
A Psalm, hymn, or anthem may follow each Reading.
Then, all standing, the Deacon or a Priest reads the Gospel, first saying
                The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
                according to                             .
         Glory to you, Lord Christ.

After the Gospel, the Reader says
                The Gospel of the Lord.
People         Praise to you, Lord Christ.

The Sermon

On Sundays and other Major Feasts there follows, all standing

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one Being with the Father.
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy Spirit
        he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
        and was made man.
    For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
        he suffered death and was buried.
        On the third day he rose again
            in accordance with the Scriptures;
        he ascended into heaven
            and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

    He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
        and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
    He has spoken through the Prophets.
    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    We look for the resurrection of the dead,
        and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Prayers of the People

Prayer is offered with intercession for

The Universal Church, its members, and its mission
The Nation and all in authority
The welfare of the world
The concerns of the local community
Those who suffer and those in any trouble
The departed (with commemoration of a saint when appropriate)
Confession of Sin
A Confession of Sin is said here if it has not been said earlier. On
occasion, the Confession may be omitted.

One of the sentences from the Penitential Order on page 351 may be said.

The Deacon or Celebrant says
Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Silence may be kept.

Minister and People

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

The Bishop, when present, or the Priest, stands and says
Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins
through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in
eternal life. Amen.

The Peace

All stand. The Celebrant says to the people
                The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People        And also with you.

Then the Ministers and People may greet one another in the
name of the Lord.

The Holy Communion
The Celebrant may begin the Offertory with one of the sentences on
page 376, or with some other sentence of Scripture.

During the Offertory, a hymn, psalm, or anthem may be sung.

Representatives of the congregation bring the people's offerings of bread
and wine, and money or other gifts, to the deacon or celebrant.  The
people stand while the offerings are presented and placed on the Altar.

The Great Thanksgiving

Alternative forms will be found on page 367 and following.

Eucharistic Prayer A

The people remain standing. The Celebrant, whether bishop or priest,
faces them and sings or says

                The Lord be with you.
People        And also with you.
Celebrant    Lift up your hearts.
People        We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People        It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Then, facing the Holy Table, the Celebrant proceeds

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and every-
where to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of
heaven and earth.

Here a Proper Preface is sung or said on all Sundays, and on other
occasions as appointed.

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and
Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever
sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

Celebrant and People
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
    Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    Hosanna in the highest.

The people stand or kneel.

Then the Celebrant continues

Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us
for yourself, and, when we had fallen into sin and become
subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus
Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human
nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the
God and Father of all.

He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself,
in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole

At the following words concerning the bread, the Celebrant is to hold it,
or to lay a hand upon it; and at the words concerning the cup, to hold or
place a hand upon the cup and any other vessel containing wine to be

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our
Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks
to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take,
eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the
remembrance of me."

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given
thanks, he gave it to them, and said, "Drink this, all of you:
This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you
and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink
it, do this for the remembrance of me."

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Celebrant and PeopleChrist has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

The Celebrant continuesWe celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in
this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death,
resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.

Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the
Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new
and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully
receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy,
and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints
into the joy of your eternal kingdom.

All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ: By him, and
with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor
and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. AMEN.

And now, as our Savior
Christ has taught us,
we are bold to say,
As our Savior Christ
has taught us,
we now pray,

People and Celebrant
Our Father, who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy Name,
    thy kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those
        who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
    and the power, and the glory,
    for ever and ever. Amen.
Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your Name,
    your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
        on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
    as we forgive those
        who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
    and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
    and the glory are yours,
    now and for ever. Amen.

The Breaking of the Bread
The Celebrant breaks the consecrated Bread.

A period of silence is kept.

Then may be sung or said

[Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
Therefore let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]

In Lent, Alleluia is omitted, and may be omitted at other times except
during Easter Season.

In place of, or in addition to, the preceding, some other suitable
anthem may be used.

Facing the people, the Celebrant says the following Invitation
The Gifts of God for the People of God.

and may add   Take them in remembrance that Christ died for
                   you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith,
                   with thanksgiving.

The ministers receive the Sacrament in both kinds, and then immediately
deliver it to the people.

The Bread and the Cup are given to the communicants with these words

The Body (Blood) of our Lord Jesus Christ keep you in
everlasting life. [Amen.]

or with these words

The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven. [Amen.]
The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation. [Amen.]

During the ministration of Communion, hymns, psalms, or anthems may
be sung.

When necessary, the Celebrant consecrates additional bread and wine,
using the form on page 408.

After Communion, the Celebrant says

Let us pray.

Celebrant and People
Eternal God, heavenly Father,
you have graciously accepted us as living members
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,
and you have fed us with spiritual food
in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
Send us now into the world in peace,
and grant us strength and courage
to love and serve you
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

or the following

Almighty and everliving God,
we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food
of the most precious Body and Blood
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ;
and for assuring us in these holy mysteries
that we are living members of the Body of your Son,
and heirs of your eternal kingdom.
And now, Father, send us out
to do the work you have given us to do,
to love and serve you
as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

The Bishop, when present, or the Priest, may bless the people.

The Deacon, or the Celebrant, dismisses them with these words

                 Let us go forth in the name of Christ.
         Thanks be to God.

or thisDeacon      Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
        Thanks be to God.

or this
Deacon      Let us go forth into the world,
               rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.
       Thanks be to God.

or this
Deacon       Let us bless the Lord.
        Thanks be to God.

From the Easter Vigil through the Day of Pentecost "Alleluia, alleluia"
may be added to any of the dismissals
The People respond     Thanks be to God. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Think Globally, Act Locally

I enjoyed this and some of it resounded with me (the co-sleeping, not so much. But who am I to say?)

Christine Gross-Loh: Have American Parents Got It All Backwards?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Allergic Living article on Increase in Allergies

Interesting article, below, on something I've been puzzling over.

Our children have been raised with pets (dogs and hamsters) and have spent lots of time outdoors from their young years. They ride their bikes and play in the dirt and the creek. At home, we are tidy people, I guess, but we aren't Purell devotees. For the first couple years of my kids' lives (Sarah's first 9 months), we lived near a free farm-animal petting zoo, which I loved and frequented with them probably about once a month. The two boys ate traditional baby food, but everything Sarah ate as a baby came straight from my plate (and she is, interestingly, the least picky eater). My children have lived and traveled all over the country and world, including the Far East.

So why do all three of my children have more severe allergies that David and I do (and our parents and siblings)? Maybe we overexposed them. may be that all of this was not really enough exposure. Perhaps this article holds some clues:

"Martinez was intrigued. What, he asked, would happen if von Mutius took into account the sizes of her East German and West German families? The data were incomplete, but it was the less allergic East Germans who clearly had more children per family. She and Martinez followed up with a study comparing family sizes and allergy in Munich and Leipzig (and a neighboring city)."


"[Studies] reveal what’s termed 'the farming effect,' a phenomenon that protects against allergic disease. Von Mutius and her colleagues have narrowed the effect down to three key factors: livestock (specifically cows, pigs or poultry); type of fodder (for instance, whether it’s fresh grass or hay); and drinking of raw farm milk."


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Pro-Choice Advocate Confronts a Picture (not Photo) of a D&E Abortion


Taranto Confronts Gosnell

Well-written, thoughtful, and such an interesting look into the mind of a pro-choicer becoming, more and more, a pro-lifer. HERE

Friday, April 26, 2013

Our Own American Gulag

As my sister-in-law aptly and wryly says, if you are a baby, abortion is like real estate these days, "Location, location, location."

Here is Douglas Wilson on Kermit Gosnell's American gulag:


Thursday, April 18, 2013

What Happens in the Milky Way Matters to the Amoeba

One Mystery and Six "We's"... Hard Questions in Homeschooling

In reading through Genesis this last week with the kids, Ben asked, "Why did God even make the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the first place?"

A good, worthy, and ancient question, which comes rambling down through history. And asked of me, while I lay on the couch, pretty much obliterated by the flu. (Which also comes rambling down through history. Cleopatra, Beatrice, and Laura Ingalls also lay on the couch at some point with the flu.)

My young man is asking the same question men have been asking always, "Why would a righteous God create a world knowing evil would be in it eventually?" In other words, "If God is truly Great, how can He also be Good?"

Our little family circle discussed this and searched scriptures for a bit, and then we rested from that labor, started math, and had sandwiches. We can even rest while we do labor to understand.

How can we rest while we labor? We can rest because we know who Christ is, and we know what He did.

We know we can trust Him. We know His purposes are good. We know this based on what He has done.

We know He personally suffered to make it possible for us to know Him. We know "What wondrous love is this...O my soul, O my soul." (Link here)

And the haunting celtic-bluegrass hybrid of Chelsea Moon and the Franz brothers singing same HERE.

I write those things as a Christian and a mom, not a theologian or a scholar. But I do believe when and while we grapple with the mysterious and hard things to understand or accept about God and life -- good and evil, sovereignty and righteousness, the Trinity and the incarnation, etc -- as homeschooling moms, through Scripture and obedience, we are equipped for every good work.

We can be mindful of several things, so that we can rest and not grow weary or lose sight of our Redeemer. Yes, He was wrathful. And His wrath was His own death.

1. Mystery.

There are things we will know with certainty about our infinite God and yet not understand. If you "signed up" to worship and love an infinite God who was made man, you signed up for some Mystery... in the very biggest and most profound sense of that word. Search all you can, but rest in this: one day you will see Him face to face.

Romans 11:33-36. It is enough.

2. We Read the Word.

The things we know about God from His word are most correctly described using the words He uses. He condescends to explain some things about Himself to us in human language, and I think it wise to use His words and concepts found in the Old and New Testaments when we describe Him, too, when we seek to understand.

I believe is is appropriate for men and women to write about God and to love God using words of their own. And clear biblical truths are given other titles as a sort of theological shorthand ("Trinity" being an excellent example). But when we seek to clearly understand and describe this "Trinity" (or other attributes), we are wise to use the words and examples and narratives He uses whenever we can (eg. not "The Trinity is like a three-leaf clover"). Use what He has told you to understand Him. And if you can't use it to understand Him, use it to know Him and believe in Him as He described Himself. (And Rest.)

Our pastor frequently reminds us that "Jesus is found on every page of the Bible." We can go there and see what He is telling us, in His own words, about Himself and life and the mysterious things of both.

II Timothy 3:14-17. ("Every good work" surely includes the study of God, theology.)

3. We See God.

John 14:5-14. Jesus said, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." When studying God's character and attributes, I think we do well to look intently on the person of Christ as represented in the Gospels and all of Scripture.

In other words, Jesus is the first place we should look to see what God is like, especially when we are confused.

I think it is easy to get so caught up in trying to understand this or that, that we lose sight of our Redeemer as THE Word God gave us about Himself.

During His incarnate life on earth, Jesus Christ interfaced with religious, secular, wicked, loving, ignorant, wise, deceitful, honest, confused, faith-filled people of many ages, both genders, and various vocations. He discussed tragedies, traditions, traitors, and trees (nature). He described God and discussed and did battle with the devil.

How did He interact with evil men and how did he respond to evil deeds on earth? What did he say? What did he NOT say? What did he do? Did He weep or question back... or spit in the dirt and make clay? Does he say why he did these things?

How did He interact with the faithful? With the devil and demons?

What was his role in His own death? What were his views on and reactions to catastrophes, stormy weather, the death of friends, etc.

How did he speak to Pharisees, to Pontius Pilate, to Nicodemus, to the Samaritan woman, to little children?

His recorded interactions give us clues about God.

4. We Fix on the Bright Morning Star.  (Rev 22:16)

Philippians 2.

In our struggle to understand, we must not despair or accuse. I think it is wise, again, to turn our eyes back to our Jesus.

We may not understand (or perhaps we may not like) a given truth. But if we are drawn back to the lovely sight of Jesus and His utter sweetness (not a treacly, Valentines-Day sweetness -- but a mighty, living, pure, vibrant, goodness), I think we will keep our bearings in our search.

This kind of goodness transfixed the Marys and made one pour perfume on his feet and wipe the mucky dirt off with her hair. It bade the centurion to say, "Just say the word..." It bade a hemorrhaging woman to touch his clothes in the street. It drew little children to him. It bade the storm to be still.

Are we captivated by the Bright Morning Star in all our searchings and wanderings? Is He the guiding star for our little ship of homeschool (or personal) theology?

Surely this is One we can love and trust, even as we say "why?"

Can we trust Him with our lives? I believe we can look to Him and find peace, in both hardship and mystery.

He is above reproach. Let us be careful in our questioning not to reproach Him in our ignorance, confusion, distress, or fatigue.

5. We See Ourselves. 

To twist a phrase, "It's not business, it is personal."

LINK To "You've Got Mail" scene (because Kathleen Kelly is right on about 100 levels).

Like business issues (awkward segue alert), cosmic questions are really intimate questions. What I or you or we decide about God is very personal to us. As with all truth, this is true whether or not we like it or believe it to be true.

In nature, what happens in the Milky Way matters to the amoeba. In body and soul, who God is and what He does matters personally to you and me.

It's personal to you and me, because in encountering the mysteries of God, we choose to worship and serve Him -- or not -- as He is. We approach Him either as a trusting child looking for knowledge about Him and ourselves... or an smart-aleck schoolboy with just enough information to make him confident in his ignorance. And everything follows from there.

I'm not saying our applause and approval -- or even our belief -- is what makes Him God. Even in America, He does not need our vote to shore up some sort of cosmic, grassroots, Popularity Campaign.

As He once said, He does not need our approval to pour the earth's hot magma, to cause the white goats to calve on the green hills, or to bound the rim of the gray Atlantic.

But who He is matters to us in the most intimate way, for now and tomorrow and eternity.

6. We Respond

We respond in some way to what we know. We may meet Him and respond like the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27), a religious man who claimed to follow all the law -- yet he actually worshiped riches, not God, and so was not obeying the very first of the commandments.

We may find we are like the Roman centurion (Matt 8:5-13), a successful soldier in what may have been the most brutal pagan army in the world -- who understood and bent the knee to authority and had "astonishing" faith." (Man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart." I Samuel 16:6-13)

Or maybe we encounter Him like this (like me) stumbling between the two, "Oh Lord, I believe, help my unbelief."(Mark 9:24) He is merciful, and He is enough.

"Whom have I in heaven but You?" (Psalm 73:25)

God says we will find what we seek. (Jeremiah 29:13) This is very comforting, if you are seeking Him.

If you are not seeking Him, this should be very disturbing.

In my questioning, am I seeking to find God or to do battle with Him? To lift Him up or to lift up myself and my prejudices, presumptions, presuppositions, and opinions?

It's good to know and to rest. He can manage you and your questions.

But can you manage Him?


I have seen this attributed to CS Lewis. I seem to recall reading the source of this quote, but I have forgotten which book or essay it was. 

'The rule for all of us is perfectly simple.  Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did.  As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets.  When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.  If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more.  If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.'

May I suggest two things to read in light of the Gosnell abortion trial in Philadelphia:

1. The short story, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," by the great Flannery O'Connor.

2. This quote, attributed to CS Lewis, is a good reminder for those of us looking upon the revealed squalor and horror of an abortion clinic:

"The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice."

Are you following...

the Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia? I heard about it when it first came out. Then things went dark for a while. Now the trial is in process.

I'm not always in step with World magazine, but they should be credited with being a faithful witness to this and other events.

If you want to read personal accounts of the trial and observations from someone who has attended the trial all along, read Andree Seu Peterson's blog at World's online site HERE.

(Be warned that some of the details are graphic and what Gosnell and his staff did for years was deeply cruel and sickening -- the torture and killing of babies and women -- right behind a regular storefront in the City of Brotherly Love.)

False Teachings, False Teachers, and One Christian Rapper

A Christian rapper, Shai Lynne, wrote a song denouncing false teachings and false prophets in the Church. Here is a letter he wrote defending his approach to one critic. Letter about false teachers HERE

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Christ in the Old Testament

Here is my brother at The Gospel Coalition Blog discussing Christ in the Old Testament. (Scott has a doctorate in Semitic Languages and Literature.)

Christ Is Not Just Another Theme in the Old Testament

For those who don't "process" out loud...

...some practical tips and wise advice here at CCEF

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Difference One Man Made in Holocaust

Article HERE from Huffington Post, Chiune Sugihara, Japanese diplomat who saved thousands of Jewish people.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Can't Resist: Another Beautiful Alison Krauss, One of My Favorites

HERE are Alison Krauss and Vince Gill singing one of my favorites, The Lucky One.

And a few more of my favorites -- hit the song name in all caps for the link:

"Man goes beyond his own decision/gets caught up in the mechanism/ of swindlers who acts like kings/ and brokers who break everything/ but dark of night is swiftly fading/ close to the dawn of day..."

THE SCARLET TIDE -- haunting, and, as I understand, written with the amazing Elvis Costello.

"My Ain True Love" with Sting

"O, sisters, let's go down." A simple song about baptism from that excellent film in which Odysseus rambles through The Depression-Era, American South O Brother Where Art Thou: DOWN TO THE RIVER TO PRAY

"Hurtin' brings my heart to you"... THERE IS A REASON

And my favorite for David...from a long ways back when we were dating... sitting his car after dinner before parting for the night: WHEN YOU SAY NOTHING AT ALL

Such a pretty song about true love for others, I read somewhere that she wrote this about her father...SIMPLE LOVE

And just for the heck of it, a lovely and nostalgic James Taylor and Carly Simon, then married, singing Brown Bannister's CLOSE YOUR EYES.

Another musician...I grew up listening to him (along with Simon and Garfunkel's Concert in Central Park and Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof) on cross country road trips between my dad's jobs with the Navy, and so this is the artist that first interested me in country sounds. John Denver singing COUNTRY ROADS  and, of course, ANNIES SONG

And where would we be without the Judds? One of my favorites from many years ago, Wynonna Judd, SHE IS HIS ONLY NEED.

Shiloh Is a Place of Rest

HERE is a LINK from a short local news clip about a ministry of my friend, Kelley Burgess, and her husband. Some folks in our church also helped her and her husband make this ministry happen, including the man doing carpentry work on the clip. Kelley is an earnest, intentional Christian, one who carefully considers how to apply Scripture to her own life. She is truly a great example for me.

Friday, January 4, 2013

"Sawin' on the Strings"

Allison Krauss and Union Station charm us with a little bluegrass HERE. You know I love her!

Dr. Scott Redd Interviewed after the Election

My brother talks to evangelicals after the election HERE