Other places I blog

 

 

Search
Stats

web stats

Follow Me on Twitter
Sunday
Sep022018

My Soul Finds Rest

My soul finds rest in God alone,
My rock and my salvation.
A fortress strong against my foes,
And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse,
And lies like arrows piece me,
I'll fix my heart on righteousness,
I'll look to him who hears me.

Chorus:

O, praise him, hallelujah,
My delight and my reward,
Everlasting, never failing,
My redeemer and my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world's temptation;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I'll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don't set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.

I'll set my gaze on God alone
And trust in him completely;
With ev'ry day pour out my soul,
And he will prove his mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death,
And I am his forever.

Saturday
Sep012018

Thoughts from a baby food jar

When I was out walking my dogs recently, I came across an empty, clean baby food jar along the curb. I know the family who lives at the house has an infant, so I assumed that the jar was a remnant from recycling day. I thought about how gross baby food is, and how I was glad I made my own baby food.

After I had my first child, my mother-in-law gave me a cookbook about the benefits of homemade baby food. After comparing a jar of puréed peas with the vibrant green of my own concoction, I was hooked. Learning about nutrition for my children as infants became something I took very seriously. You could say I was vigilant about the possible danagers of bad nutrition. Although I didn't know it back then, but vigilance is a big part of my personality. If you're looking for the possible dangers out there, I'll tell you what they are. Whether it's the risk of poor infant nutrition to the dangers of not doing your homework, that is me.

Part of my success at school is due to my vigilance. I am probably average intelligence, but what I lack in that area, I make up for in hard work. I am both determined and vigiliant. The problem is that vigilance can become hyper-vigilance, and that feeds a tendency to be anxious. Everything becomes a possible threat. Everything becomes something to be managed.

The danger of being too vigilant as parents is that we may begin to rely on our own vigilance to ensure a good spiritual outcome for our children. We may begin to believe that as long as we are doing the right things and saying the right things, our children will do exactly what we expect them to do. Spiritually vibrant children become a product of keeping track, encouraging, and exhorting. Unfortunately, that formula leaves out the Holy Spirit. My vigilance does not engage the Holy Spirit in the lives of my children.

One of the most devastating things for a Christian parent is to have prodigal children. For those who did "everything" they could, it is especially devastating because it makes one disillusioned. Where did I go wrong? What did I not do? Where did I fail to be vigilant? The reality is that vigilance child rearing does not produce disciples of Christ. The Spirit of God does. As parents, we are only vessels of the truth and examples of what we teach. That is all we can do: teach and model, teach and model. And of course, we can pray. 

Vigilance is helpful in many ways. It keeps me on track when I have set goals. It makes me productive. But taken to an extreme, it can be my ruin. Only as I look at Christ and his sovereignty and sufficiency can I resist the temptation to overdo it. Ultimately, I have to be willing to let it all go and cast myself on Christ's love and mercy.

I'm really happy that I made my own baby food. It was cheaper, and it made feeding my children enjoyable. But considering their bad eating habits as teenagers, it didn't produce a permanent situation. And if I had fed them baby food from a jar, I'm pretty sure they would be just as healthy as they are today.

Friday
Aug312018

It's New Year's Eve!

When one has been a homeschool mom, the new year revolves around school; unless of course your school is running all year long. Ours never did, so when I think of the new year, I don't think of January. I think of September 1st. Although it's technically still summer, my schedule is about to change. Next week, I have my first Greek Exegesis class, and the following week, my Synoptic Gospels class starts. 

I've known for a long time that I need to get rid of some things in order to keep myself focused on what's important. And that means my internet time. It's one of those situations that I know I have to do, but I'm procrastinating; sort of like cleaning out the refrigerator. There is always something to get my hackles up or generate my indignation online, and it's a symptom of a distracted mind. These seminary years are important to me, and I know in my head that I need to focus on that, not on the latest crisis, controversy, or charge against the powers that be. As much as I know many (though not all) of those issues are important, I also know that learning to think better, do theology better, and communicate better is more important to me.

Being online, scanning social media and blogs expends a different kind of mental energy; one that isn't entirely helpful for school. It triggers my pride. It tempts me to self-exaltation. It's something that is less work than doing homework. I do it because I'm lazy. I can't be lazy.

I've got both syllabi from my classes, and I'm going to be busy. I want to do more than "okay." I know something's got to give.

Thursday
Aug302018

The world of chicken little

Every morning, while my coffee is brewing, or my tea is steeping, I check my email and I check the news. I have my regular blog reads, and I read those, too. Some mornings, I hear good things, but more often than not, it's a litany of "the sky is falling." Parents are enlightened to the many dangers confronting their children; married couples are warned about letting the fire die; and there are myriads of other warnings that if something doesn't change, all is lost. It can put the focus on fear over all else. 

I love Psalm 46; it's one of my favourites. I love the calm, confident opening.

God is our refuge (v1)
God is our strength (v1)
We don't need to fear in the face of change and chaos (v2)

We are assured that God is in the midst of the chaos and he will not be moved (v5). The Lord of hosts is with us (v7).

This is my favourite part of the psalm:

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the sprear in two;
He burns the charios with fire (v8-9)

All of this power displayed by God is followed by this often misused line (v10): "Cease striving and know that I am God." We don't need to run around like chicken little because God is in the midst of whatever situation we find ourselves in, no matter how desperate it seems.

The glory of God is seen in many ways, and his power is visible in the big and little things. But his glory is not always evident in removal of chaos, but in the reality that he is in the midst of chaos. We do need to be aware of dangers, but we must not forget that God is in the midst of chaos. I love that line "He breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in two." The NIV and the ESV both say he "shatters" the spear. God can and will destroy chaos and conflict.

I tend to fear more than I should. In fact, my tendency to fear the unknown, to fear change, to fear failure, to fear rejection, has been the thing I have stumbled over the most. How thankful I am that as a young married woman with small kids I was not able to feed on the fear that is often generated online through blogs or social media. I would have been more of a basket case than I was. I would have needed this psalm desperately to remind me that God is with us in the chaos. While we need to have a healthy fear, we need to remember that "The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold."

Wednesday
Aug292018

I have no scientific proof for this

A number of years ago, my husband had a friendship with a young man who was on the austism spectrum. At the time, Asperger's Syndrome was the term used to describe this young man. On the autism spectrum, he was on the extreme end. After getting to know him and reading about austism, I came to understand that it is indeed a spectrum. And sometimes, my husband confesses that he sees himself on that spectrum in very mild ways.

I was thinking about the principle of a spectrum could be applied to anxiety. I have anxiety issues, and because I have had experience with it, and I know the shame associated with it as well as the often careless way people speak about it, I'm sensitive to the topic. I'm learning more about it by reading about it, and that helps. I can't help but wonder if anxiety exists on a spectrum, too.

We all have moments of anxiety. We all have stress which can set off anxiety. We all have ways of dealing with stress. Why does one person handle his stress better than others? Many Christians will tell you that it's because the one with anxiety isn't trusting God enough, or isn't praying enough. That's bunk. I think people are far more complex than we believe, and the physical, intellectual, and spiritual elements are interconnected in ways we don't understand. I wonder if some people are simply more prone to reacting intensely to stress.

I am particularly sensitive to smell, and it really bothers me if the laundry detergent I use carries a scent after the clothes are dried. I don't want to smell Tide all day. So I try to get unscented detergent. I once threw out my husband's new deoderant because I couldn't stand the smell of it when he stood close to me (I bought him another one). He is not so sensitive to smell; unless it's cat urine, and in that case, he could hire himself out as the guy who can tell you where your cat peed.

I would love to have the time and expertise to investigate the possibility of anxiety on a spectrum. As Christians, we are tempted to think that unity comes from behaviour, and that includes having a temperament that never struggles. We assume that the woman who is always smiling, hosting people in her home, and never gets angry, worried, or upset is the prototype of the Christian woman. The woman who is a little more scattered and may feel panic at the thought of having to go out in public to a large gathering of people certainly can't be godly. We talk about the diversity of the church at the same time as we wish everyone was the same. I don't know if we should be assuming that everyone's temperament is the same.

I'm hoping that some psychologist out there thinks about this possibility, does research, and shares it with the world. I'd read that book.