Jesus, Our Light - Day 12

The call to "walk in the light as He is in the light" (I John 1:7) is the invitation God has spoken to mankind since the beginning when He said "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3).  It was never His plan to leave us in the devastation and darkness that sin caused--praise His Name!

He is building a kingdom of light-transformed people who love Him and will spend eternity with Him, enjoying Him and everything they were created for.  That little baby in Bethlehem was the Father's promise of perfect and restored life for us.

And the best is yet to come!  Listen to what Isaiah prophesied centuries before Christ came:

"The sun shall no longer be your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you;
But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light,
and your God your glory."
(Isaiah 60:19)

He was not only referring to Jesus being the Light of redemption, but also the Light of heaven.  Just as we see God commanding light to shine at the beginning of the Bible, at the end we see him declaring what our eternal home will be like after the end-times events.  The apostle John, in Revelation, describes the new, heavenly Jerusalem:

"The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it,
for the glory of God illuminated it.
The Lamb is its light.
And the nations of those who are saved
shall walk in its light...
There shall be no night there:
they need no lamp nor light of the sun, 
for the Lord God gives them light.
And they shall reign forever and ever."
(Revelation 21:23-24, 22:5)


Thank You, Jesus, for being willing to come and be our Light, for being our "promised mercy" when we could not help ourselves.  We can never thank You enough or praise You enough!  Help us to welcome Your Light today as freely as You have given it.

Merry Christmas!


Jesus, Our Light - Day 11

One of the hardest things for our human nature is to let the Light shine in our darkness.  Those deep inner places we don't want God to mess with.  Weakness, fear, bondage, things we loathe and things we like and don't want to give up.  Yet to enjoy all the promised goodness and freedom of God's love, we have let it be on His terms.

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in
all goodness, righteousness, and truth)...
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,
but rather expose them...
But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light,
for whatever makes manifest is light.
Therefore He says: 'Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.'"
(Ephesians 5:8-14)

 The great gift of the Incarnation is that in accepting Christ's light, we are changed!  Daily set free from the damaging works of darkess.  There's nothing in the way now between us and God--unless we want it that way.  

My prayer today is that we all will have a fresh revelation this Christmas of the incredible work He came to do for us.  We are Light-bearers in this very dark world, and every word or deed is an opportunity to dispell darkness. 

"You are the light of the world.
A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden,
nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand,
and it gives light to all who are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in Heaven."
(Matthew 5:14-16)

Let the Light shine!


Jesus, Our Light - Day 10

Paul the apostle had a startling encounter one day with the Light.  In prison for preaching the gospel, he recounts the amazing story to the king, hoping to persuade him to see his need for Jesus.

On his way to arrest Jewish Christians in Damascus for heresy, Paul reports, "At midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me" (Acts 26:13).  He falls to the ground, blinded, and hears Jesus Himself speaking to him, charging him with the mission to preach salvation to the Gentiles:

"...to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light,
and from the power of Satan to God,
that they may receive forgiveness of sins and 
an inheritance among those who are
sanctified by faith in Me."
(Acts 26:18)

Here's that wonderful symbolism again--Paul, who thought he knew the light (righteous in his own self-righteousness)--is plunged into blinding darkness that he might have his spiritual eyes opened to the Truth.  He receives his sight back three days later--a changed man, with God's Light in his heart, the revelation that Jesus died to give him God's own righteousness.

How fantastic that God seeks to reveal Himself to us personally, wanting so much for us to 'see' His heart, His invitation, the complete deliverance from darkness that He's provided through Jesus.  I love these words in I Peter 2:9-10:

"But you are a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
His own special people,
that you may proclaim the praises of Him 
who called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light;
who once were not a people
but are now a people of God,
who had not obtained mercy
but now have obtained mercy."

Marvelous light.  What an invitation!  


Jesus, Our Light - Day 9

Interestingly, my study today 'happened' to coincide with the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, which is also called the Festival of Lights. This story is from the extra-Biblical Book of Maccabees in the Apocrypha.  Though an entirely Jewish holiday, we see some wonderful symbolism in it that speaks of Jesus, our Light.

In the years before 165 B.C., the Jewish nation had been under the rule of the Greeks.  A pagan king named Antiochus Ephiphanes had defiled the Temple and forced the Jews to abandon their faith.  But a brave group of young men under the leadership of Judah Maccabee revolted and successfully overthrew the pagan rule. Judah headed up the work of cleansing the Temple and rededicating it in 165 B.C.

But when they restored the temple service, they found they only had enough holy oil to burn for one day, the rest of it having been defiled by the Greek invaders. This oil was a symbol of the eternal Presence of God, the Light of the World, and had been commanded by Him to never go out (Exodus 27:20-21).  It would take a week to prepare and consecrate more oil.  By faith they went ahead and lit the flame, and God miraculously kept it burning for eight days until more oil was prepared. Thus, the miracle of Hanukkah, which the Jews have celebrated ever since.  It's interesting to note that Jesus Himself was present in the Temple on this day; the account is in John 10:22-23.

The beautiful picture above is the menorah, the lampstand in the Tabernacle where the holy oil was burned.  It was made of pure gold and was the only light in the holy place.  What a picture of the promised Messiah!  Matthew speaks of Jesus as that fulfillment, referring to the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14:

"'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son,
and they shall call His name Immanuel', which is translated,
'God with us'."
(Matthew 1:23)

Hear Jesus' words again about Himself:

"Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you;
he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.
While you have the light, believe in the light,
that you may become sons of light...
I have come as a light into the world,
that whoever believes in Me
should not abide in darkness."
(John 12:35-36, 46)

Jesus is the Light of the World!


Jesus, Our Light - Day 8

We have seen what the prophets said about the Light that was to come, and we've seen what Jesus' followers had to say.  Later, Jesus Himself boldly declared that He was the Light.  He not only revealed what darkness looked like in the human heart, but showed the power of His Light to transform it.

In the familiar story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8), we see Jesus' forgiveness and mercy to a sinner.  This was played out against the iron-clad, law-enforcing Pharisees who would stone her on the spot.  But after Jesus granted her forgiveness, He turned and spoke to the Pharisees:

"I am the light of the world.
He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness,
but have the light of life."
(John 8:12)

An interesting wrap-up to that drama. Implication? Their merciless self-righteousness actually came from darkness.  Jesus was showing the heart of the Father--His deep desire to bring His loved ones back to Life.  Mercy, grace, second chances. The path back is Jesus.

He says it again in John chapter 9, where we see Him healing a man born blind--another beautiful picture of God's illumination of human darkness and misery.  This poor man had literally only ever known 'darkness' and was gloriously healed. Jesus explains to His disciples:

"I must work the works of Him who sent me ...
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
(John 9:5)

One small detail, though--Jesus had healed on the Sabbath.  An unforgivable offense in the eyes of the Pharisees.  Instead of glorifying God for His mercy to the blind man, they create a furor trying to trick the healed man into condemning Jesus.  Their unbelief and hard hearts made them blind to God's mercy, the "peace, goodwill toward men" sung by the angels the night Jesus was born.

The Father's mercy to us is Jesus. Thank You for opening our eyes, dear Lord, and for setting us free to walk in Your Light!


Jesus, Our Light - Day 7

It's the start of a new week and the second half of my 'take' on the twelve days of Christmas...hope these reflections bless you as much as they have blessed me! The study in the Word has been wonderful.

The apostle John seems eager to communicate to his readers in his New Testament writings this whole idea of Jesus=Light=Life.  In his gospel, he starts right out in chapter 1:

"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men,
and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it...
This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light,
that all through him might believe."
(John 1:4-5, 7)

Again, in his first letter, he starts right out:

"This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you,
that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all."
(I John 1:5)

"Darkness" here in the Greek is the word scotia, which means gloom, evil, sin, night, moral depravity.  It also has the implication of everything that came to us from the fall of man--enmity with God, our sinful nature, and every kind of demonic work in mankind.  All the trouble in our lives is some manifestation of the curse of darkness at work in the world.

I remember as a child pondering once on the curious circumstance of 'waking up' born into the world, not having had any say about when or where I would live, which family I would belong to, etc.  It struck me how unbelievably fortunate we were to have discovered that our Maker was benevolent, that the universe ran by His love, that we didn't find ourselves the victims of some cruel experiment of a malevolent god.

Then, when I discovered that this terrible thing called 'the fall' and sin had happened to us, and that the good God had already taken care of it by the time I arrived on the scene through Jesus--well, I knew I wanted to belong to Him.  If it took that kind of a price to fix me and the world, I could never honor Him enough, thank Him enough.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and comes down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."
(James 1:17)

Thank You, Father!  Thank You, Jesus!


Jesus, Our Light - Day 6

It's interesting to see how God used light to reveal Jesus when He was born--by a star.

The wise men who came from somewhere in the east had an understanding that this unusual Star meant that the King of the Jews had been born (Matthew 2:1-11).  In obedience to that revelation (prepared hearts!), they kept at their quest to find this baby King until that same star actually led them to the very spot. I love how God uses the symbolism of darkness and light here--stars don't shine during the day.  It was in the darkness that the wise men found Jesus.

Centuries before, a prophet named Balaam had actually called the coming Messiah a Star:

"I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out Israel...
Out of Jacob One shall have dominion."
(Numbers 24:17, 19)

And the apostle Peter, writing years after Jesus' resurrection, uses the same symbolism to call us to the Light of Christ:

"And so we have the prophetic word confirmed,
which you do well to heed
as a light that shines in a dark place,
until the day dawns and the
morning star rises in your hearts..."
(II Peter 1:19)


Jesus, Our Light - Day 5

Within days of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, his parents Joseph and Mary obeyed what all Jewish parents of firstborn sons were to do:  present him to the Lord in dedication at the Temple a few weeks after his circumcision.

Meanwhile, God was watching the heart of a certain elderly man in Jerusalem--nobody special--whom the Bible says was "just and devout."  This man Simeon was not only a passionate seeker of God, but he was waiting for the "Consolation of Israel," a beautiful phrase describing the Messiah.

Now I find it surprising that the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders were not on high alert at this time.  It is not hard to calculate by the prophecy of the coming Messiah in Daniel 9:25-26 that the Messiah was going to appear any minute. (That's a great Bible study right there.)

So I wonder if maybe Simeon had figured this out, had maybe been asking God about it, pouring out the longing of his heart to see God's promise come to pass.  Luke 2:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit gave him a very personal revelation--he would get to actually see the Christ before he died.  Then he was directed to go to the Temple.

What a scene!  There he was at the Temple, waiting, and here came Joseph and Mary to dedicate their new little son.  Simeon sees the baby and knows--this is the One!  Like Zacharias in our story yesterday, Simeon bursts into prophetic praise:

"Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
according to Your word;
for my eyes have seen Your salvation
which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of Your people Israel."
(Luke 2:29-32)

What I love about Simeon's words is the direct promise that God's salvation would not only be for Israel but for the Gentiles--just what God had promised Abraham at the beginning.  He's never left us out.  His light is for everyone!

God, may my heart be like Simeon's, prepared for You.


Jesus, Our Light - Day 4

Picture this scenario:  a few hundred years have gone by since Isaiah's prophesies about the coming Messiah, and Israel is still waiting.  One day in the Temple in Jerusalem, one of the priests, Zacharias, is chosen by lot to burn incense before the Lord on the golden Altar of Incense, which stood at the doorway to the Holy of Holies.

While busy about his work, suddenly the angel Gabriel appears to him with an astonishing message from God.  (There were a lot of angels in the Christmas story.)  God was going to give Zacharias and his aged wife a son in answer to a long-time prayer, a boy they were to call John (which means "the Lord has shown favor").  John would be a prophet whose job would be to help prepare the hearts of God's people for the soon-to-appear Messiah.

Prepare their hearts?  Why?  Hundreds of years with no prophetic messages from God and a history of national subjugation to foreign powers had dulled their zeal for their God.  Sin, darkness, and unbelief had crept in.  (Sound familiar?)  A hard heart is like hard soil--it can't receive seed or water to nourish it.

So Zacharias, responding like perhaps many of us might have, said, "What?!  I'm too old for that!  (Ahem.  As a priest, he would have been well aware of the story of Abraham, their forefather, who had a miracle son at 100 years old.)  Gabriel replies, "Okay, because you didn't believe me, you'll not be able to speak until the day this comes true--and it will come true."

And of course it did.  Zacharias had to write notes and use sign language for many months to communicate.  But in that silent time, he had a chance to prepare his own heart.  I imagine he searched the Scriptures to see if this could be true, and you know what he might have found?  The last message from God to Israel four hundred years earlier promised that God would send a prophet to "prepare the hearts of the people" (Malachi 4:5-6).

Those long months Zacharias had to ponder did their work in his heart.  Little John was born and Zacharias' tongue was loosed.  But instead of fear and unbelief, the words poured out of his mouth in a prophetic song of praise. His first words were of the Messiah:

"Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
for He has visited and redeemed His people...
as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets 
who have been since the world began...
To grant us that we, being delivered from the 
hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
before Him all the days of our lives...
To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death
to guide our feet into the way of peace." 
(ref. Luke 1:67-75)

Not many months later in a town not far away, John's cousin Jesus was born, another miracle baby, but this one, The One, was He whom John would one day say, "He is preferred before me, whose sandal I am not worthy to loose."  (John 1:27)

Just think--we don't have to wait like Zacharias did or Israel did.  We can prepare our hearts right now and let our praise and thanks be to God for this incredible gift of salvation, our Jesus.


Jesus, Our Light - Day 3

And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, 
and deep darkness the people;
But the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
Isaiah 60:1-3

Here it is again, that sharp contrast between darkness and light.  Doesn't it perfectly describe what we see everywhere?  Darkness, 'deep darkness,' blinding and crippling and imprisoning people everywhere.  Hopeless, helpless, and desperate—that's what darkness produces.  How that must have grieved the heart of the Father to see those created in His image and intended for kingdom-sharing to be so destroyed.

But He had a plan!  Jesus, because He saw our need and subjected Himself to our 'deep darkness,' can now share His glory with us, on us, over us!  Restore to us the privilege of Kingdom living; a glory and light so real as to be seen by others.  The 'increase of His kingdom' we read about yesterday is echoed here, His light rising upon us just like the sun in the morning.

How astonishingly blessed we are!  Today may you sense in a new way the freedom that His glory is upon you.  And if you find yourself in 'deep darkness,' cry out to Him.  He came for you.


Jesus, Our Light - Day 2

“... By way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles.  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined … For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called 
Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace.  
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end...”  Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

This glorious prophecy is one of the very moving passages in Handel's Messiah we hear at Christmas, which clearly declares the person and work of Jesus, our Light.  He is promised as the world's Messiah and Savior, Son of God and Son of Man, God Himself as part of the Trinity, the reigning King for all eternity, and bringer of Peace and perfect leadership for “us”--the ones He came for.  This is is what we celebrate!

In these troubled times, I often find myself praying the words of this passage.  I need the Lord Jesus as my Peace.  I need Him as my perfect Wisdom.  I need Him to govern my life and the world around me.  I need Him to carry the daily burdens of my life for me.  I need Him to be the Light on my path.

“Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end...”!  I can't say what comfort that brings to my heart.  He is on the increase!  His kingdom will prevail—in this world He loves.


Jesus, Our Light - Day 1

One of my most favorite things about Christmastime is the lights--twinkling on the tree, sparkling on homes and streets and buildings.  The world doesn't even know the vast significance of it, that Jesus came to be our Light, to shine on our darkness.  Without the Light we are blind and the darkness rules.

So I offer you my version of the "The Twelve Days of Christmas"--a devotional thought each day from the Word, a thankful look at the beautiful gift the Father of Lights has given us.
"Behold!  My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights!  I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles...I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house..."  Isaiah 42:1, 6-7
From the time God gave Abraham the covenant that in him "all the families of the earth would be blessed" (Genesis 12:3), He meant everyone--the Jewish people and the Gentiles.  It was His plan from the beginning to redeem all mankind, all those who would accept it.  So in this passage from Isaiah, written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, we see His promise to give His Son as a covenant to us, our eternal Light.

In the years after Jesus' death and resurrection, the apostles initially preached to the Jews, proclaiming that their Messiah had come.  But with broad rejection of that message, Paul, in obedience to the revelation of the Isaiah passage quoted above, declared that the message was for the Gentiles, too.  In Acts 13:47-48, he says,
"...For so the Lord has commanded us: ' I have set You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'  Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord."
 Hallelujah!  Today I am glad and glorify the word of the Lord!


Pain and progress

While I'm held captive in the kitchen tending food on the stove, I have a few minutes for an update.  My poor blog(s) have been on the back burner (no pun intended).  My poor hubby's back has been the front-and-center issue in our family life the past couple of months, and continues to be that until we get the issue resolved.

Turns out he has a herniated disc, the culprit of his intense pain.  We have a couple of options before us now, including that of surgery, so we're seeking the Lord's wisdom what direction to go.  I'm thankful for the good help we've had with physical therapy, chiropractor, and the counsel of professionals--and the sustaining mercy of the Lord.  We're trusting Him for complete healing and restoration.  We'll all be glad when this is done!

SweetPea has managed to stay on track with school and make good progress through it all--and has had a special blessing sent her way in these recent weeks, ice-skating lessons.  It's really a dream-come-true for her.  She's not a sporty person but she seems to really have found her thing and is making rapid progress.  Couldn't be easier for Mom, too--an ice rink a mile from the house and early Saturday morning lessons (yawn!) that don't interfere with school and free time schedule.  God is good!

I'm in school, too--publishing school!  We're making progress on finalizing my mom's book manuscript for publication with a self-publisher, getting excited as we see the whole thing coming together.  I had a phone interview last week with the publisher, talking through the process and learning all that goes into both creating a book and marketing it.  I used to do this back in my single days, but the whole industry has changed dramatically with computers and internet.

Had to share some of our fall pretties, though after a heavy, wet snowstorm a couple of days ago, there's not much left of our autumn color.  Glad we've got pine trees to keep us company over the colorless winter!


Whose side am I on?

I've been pondering in recent weeks about the subject of criticism/judgment/accusation.  Seems like there is so much of it out there, either flying at us from others or doling it out ourselves, whether overt or subconscious, just or unjust. 

If you are a recipient of this unlovely trio, you know how painful it it, how it can paralyze you with insecurity and hurt.  We feel misunderstood, our hearts race to our defense, and we might lash back, fight for justice and dig in to maintain our position.  Or we might simply cave in, believing that we are really that bad and buy the whole package of "I'm not worth much."  The net result is usually that we distance ourselves from the source and go into protectism mode, avoidance.

The other side of the coin is when we dish it out.  "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks," so whatever we've been secretly thinking about someone might come out in a 'justifiable' situation, usually when we've got a sympathetic audience or directly at the target when the moment is right. 

In one of those moments recently--when I was giving rein to my accusation of someone--the Lord spoke to my heart and in essence said, "Did you know that you're helping the devil do his work?"  Ouch!  The Word says that he is 'the accuser of the brethren," one of his main job descriptions.  He's busy all the time working to tear us down, render us useless from within because we have to agree that we're not...whatever.  So my critical and accusing words are working beautifully into his plan against that other person--and I feel right and righteous in my 'position.'  After all, isn't my judgment right?

I see another whole realm of reason that God calls us to LOVE others (the second commandment, remember?).  When we look past the sins and shortcomings of others, entrusting them to the Lord's (effective) working, we are participating in His work of healing, blessing, restoring--to His righteous standards.  We can look past their faults and see their need.  It cuts them the slack they need to continue on their own path of deliverance and healing.  Don't I want that kind of mercy from others?

Another perspective the Lord has reminded me of is that everyone thinks they're right.  If that weren't the case, they'd be doing it differently.  Either that or they just didn't think about it, think it through, in which case they'd probably change if they knew they were wrong and could change.  Seeing it that way diffuses the missiles I'm ready to hurl their way (which is because I think I'm right).  Track that whole process back to its root, and I see that it's pride at work, a desire to control.  It's really about me, not correcting the other person or helping them to grow.

Well, needless to say, I'm working on it!  Having seen a fresh perspective from the Lord on this, I'm asking His help daily both to see where I'm operating in the wrong camp and get back to the right one, from my heart.  I'm so glad for His mercy.


A snapshot of today

If you came to my house today, you'd see...

Me...in the kitchen, frying chicken and cooking broccoli for supper, scooping handfuls of small garden tomatoes into a serving dish, and spooning marinated yellow bean salad into a bowl. What a beautiful palette of colors to enjoy--red, green, yellow. Makes it such a pleasure to cook.

My hubby...just home, resting his hurting back with a heating pad after a long day at work. He really did a number on it it while getting ready for our camping trip a few weeks ago, reinjuring an old trouble spot, and it's been quite a siege of pain, ice packs and massages, pain pills and chiropractor visits, physical therapy and lots of prayer. Thankfully, we're seeing daily improvement and yesterday got the good report that it's not a disc involved.

SweetPea...in the kitchen preparing the broccoli, helping pick up the house for a friend's visit this evening. She's had to do school pretty much on her own since we began four weeks ago since I was quite distracted taking care of Dad, but she's done a super job and is right on track. (I think I'm working myself out of a job here. Sniff.)

Mysterious jars labelled "rice, hay, egg, soil" sitting on a family room table...a biology experiment in process. We took a lovely little field trip the other day to collect pond water and see what would grow in those cultures. Pretty gross, smelled bad after a few days so I made her do her microscope work out on the patio.

A mess on our dining table...at least three sewing projects in process: 1) A skirt SweetPea needs to hem so she can wear on Sunday, the fruit of our summer's sewing class; 2) a quilting project I'm trying to work on--two pillow shams to match a quilt I did years ago for our guest bed (problem: new pieces look pretty vividly colored next to the faded quilt; I'm thinking I need to run them through some hot-water & soap cycles in the washer to force-fade them); and 3) several little fleece jackets for our little black dog--her short hair just doesn't keep her warm and she's already huddling in her bean bag to keep warm.

A lovely pile of watercolor supplies in my workroom...new paints and another brush to round out a nature journaling kit I'm putting together, sitting alongside a stunning how-to book from the library, The Watercolorist's Essential Notebook--Landscapes by Gordon MacKenzie.  And to further inspire me, I'm loving a garage-sale find, The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden.  Not sure when I'll find the time to dig very deep into this stuff right now, but it's such a refreshing pasttime that I think I need to work it in. While on my current sewing roll, I'm going to make a denim field kit with pockets and ties to carry everything in.

A wilting pile of squash plants in my garden...after a heavy rain last night and some too-cool weather for them. I'll have to clean them out this weekend. But I'm happy to still be harvesting beans, collards, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, and kale. Hope that first frost won't happen for a while!

A very cute little black dog called Sadie...bumping my leg and wondering why I'm not paying attention to her. 

A pile of books, papers, and notes on my desk...no, not homeschooling stuff--writing stuff! I came home from our summer trip to Arizona with a new and very exciting project to work on, helping my mom get a book published! We are going the self-publishing route, which is now a direction many authors are going, given the publishing environment (hurting). If you are interested yourself, I'd highly recommend the book, The Indie Author Guide ("indie" stands for independent)--a fantastic resource for DIY publishing.   We're going with a self-publisher who also handles a lot of the marketing. In case you haven't heard, marketing is something that authors have to do themselves now, no matter which way your book gets published, traditional or self-published.

More books, papers, and notes on my other desk...yup, homeschooling stuff. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm still working on SweetPea's grades from last year, but it conveniently fits the "later--much later" pile, so I keep ignoring it. My goal is to keep up with all the record-keeping and transcript stuff for this high school thing and not panic in her senior year because I was derelict in duty, but I don't have to do it today...

In the basement...no, sorry you can't go there. That's The Place where no matter how hard I try to keep it organized, it defies me. Today a search for some yarn and a turtleneck wrought some chaos that I can't get back to 'til the weekend. Beside, there an irritating cricket that somehow got lost down there, and we can't find him. He seems to give voice to the general mockery of my noble attempts at order. He, too, might win--I can't stand squishing a cricket.

That's our snapshot of today.  "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox." (Prov. 14:4)  Lots of 'oxen' here...but I love the promise of much increase!


A Sunday afternoon

We've had a spectacular shot of fall this weekend...much cooler, crisp clean air, the stillness that breathes rest into your very bones.  I don't think we're done with summer yet, but it's sure been a treat.

After church today, the loveliness beckoned, so I grabbed my much-neglected nature journaling set and parked myself in the backyard to observe our late-summer flowers.  Several last-minute stragglers still flourished and I had to capture their colors.  I'm learning to work with watercolor pencils and need a lot more practice...but it was satisfying nevertheless to sit still and really observe the incredible artistry of our God.  Have you ever noticed that every flower He made is perfect??


Need some strength today?

I do...lots on my plate right now.  I bet you do, too.  Summer is winding down, fall and a new set of demands face us all.  So here's the "supplement" I'm taking today--encourage yourself with a dose, too!

  • "The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace."  Ps. 29:11
  • "Your God has commanded your strength; strengthen, O God, what You have done for us."  Ps. 68:28
  • "The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people."  Ps. 68:35
  • "Let the weak say, 'I am strong.'"  Joel 3:10
  • "...the joy of the Lord is your strength."  Neh. 8:10
  • "I am anointed with fresh oil."  Ps. 92:10
  • "As for God, His way is perfect...It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect."  Ps. 18:30, 32
  • "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."  Ps. 27:14
  • "Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them."  Ps. 89:9
  • "He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength - causing it to multiply and making it abound...those who wait for the Lord...shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint or become tired."  Is. 40:29, 31 (Amplified)
  • "As your day, so shall your strength be."  Deut. 33:25
  • "The way of the Lord is strength and a stronghold to the upright."  Pr. 10:29
  • "God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect."  II Sam. 22:33
  • "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous hand."  Is. 41:10
  • "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped."  Ps. 28:7
  • "Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord."  Ps. 31:24
  • "...that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."  I Cor. 2:5
  • "I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me--I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me [that is, I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]."  Phil. 4:13 (Amplified)
  • "The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like a deer's feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills."  Hab. 3:19
 Have a blessed day in the mighty strength of our God!


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A wonderful week

Wow, VBS week was great!  God blessed us with a good turnout of kids, good weather, a terrific team of volunteers, and the very evident work of the Holy Spirit bringing peace and ordering all the details of a packed schedule. 

I had a wonderful group of 6 & 7-year-olds, fifteen or so absolutely precious little lives.  As a homeschooler, I get so surprised when I'm leading a group like this--most of whom are public-schooled--at how quickly and obediently they line up for any and every reason.  ha!  Great crowd control technique and a blessed surprise when we had to move from station to station quickly and efficiently.  I've heard someone say that organizing a group of homeschoolers at an activity is like herding cats.  I agree.

My class
A large percentage of my class had already asked Jesus into their hearts before this VBS, but on the last day when I put the flannelgraph piece on the board of Jesus being crucified, a gasp went up.  It wasn't a particularly graphic picture but it did show the stripes and nails.  One little boy blurted out, "What did they DO to Him?"  Wow, talk about a teachable moment!  The SAW what it cost Jesus to pay for our sins and, as a group, were very moved.  Then we saw Jesus coming out of the tomb, resurrected and showing us His new and perfect body, what theirs would be like one day if they belonged to Him.  Finally, we saw Jesus on His heavenly throne and talked about the glories of our life to come (a wonderful reminder to me!).  I could sense the Spirit really connecting with their hearts and felt that He had sealed the week with His witness to them.  What a privilege to be part of a life-changing moment in these young lives.

"He's got the whole world in His hands..."
More fun this week...we're off to our state homeschool conference tomorrow.  Yay!  Fresh inspiration, seeing old friends, fresh fuel for the year to come--I need it all.  SweetPea will be with me this time, a first for her.

Then I think I can safely say that my summer really begins next Monday!!  :-)


Catching up

Summer, yay!  Feels like summer, looks like summer, calendar says it should be summer...I think it is, finally.

A peek into my garden...the "before" picture
(hopefully I'll share a great "after" one in August!)
I'm enjoying the privilege of some time at home after our marathon spring and getting caught up on all sorts of things.   My dearly beloved helped me get my late garden in on Monday--a huge relief that I was able to still squeek in under the proverbial wire.   Lots of home projects to tend to now that the weather is warm and our schedule has relaxed (oh, I love that word!).   Can't wait to set up my sewing machine again, teach SweetPea how to can, work on some landscaping ideas, and read some non-homeschooling novels over iced tea in the shade of the maple tree.  :-)

Most importantly, I'm enjoying the space for reflection and sorting out the cacophony of thoughts whirling in my mind over the past couple of months.  I've been needing quality time with the Lord to gain His perspective on my friend's death and how it has impacted her family, our little church, and myself; analyzing how this first high school year went in our homeschooling and getting God's wisdom on the areas we need to modify or improve; praying over our short and long-term goals for the last three years of SweetPea's home education; revisiting my own personal goals for the summer--in short, I need my cup refilled.  He is so faithful, He will do it.

Sorting flannel graph pieces

Monday starts VBS wherein I get to test-drive my writing efforts with a live class of wiggly 1st and 2nd graders!  SweetPea will be my flannel graph assistant and I have a lovely lady helping me with crowd control.  The sanctuary and main classrooms have been decorated with black plastic "space" with planets hung and the sun, moon, and stars providing the background for "The Power and Majesty of God."  It's going to be a lot of fun--and hopefully, the kids will go home with a new sense of awe and wonder at this mighty God who has called us to be His own.

Thanking God for the meaning and beauty He's brought to my life!


A sad day

"You look so lovely today."

Those were the last words my dear friend Kim spoke to me, last Sunday in church.  She passed away suddenly yesterday morning from a recurrance of cancer, taking us all by shock.  She taught Sunday School and led worship Sunday morning, full of joy and anointing, with not the least hint that by the end of the week, she'd be gone.

My heart is so heavy for the family.  She and her husband have five lovely children whom they've homeschooled from the beginning, the first to graduate next month and the youngest just seven.  Her dad is pastor of our church and I can't imagine how difficult it will be for her folks to carry on the ministry without her very gifted and loving presence.  Ours is a small church, so she leaves a very large hole.

Kim and I hit it off the first time we met years ago in our homeschool support group.  Later, when she left the group, we would run into each other at conferences or fairs, and always it was as though we'd just seen each other just yesterday.  It was at one of those times she invited us to their church.  We did, and from the first day it was 'home' for us.  One of the highlights of these past two years for me has been the reconnect of our friendship and warm fellowship in Jesus.  But more significantly, her spiritual strength, radiant joy, and amazing faith has lifted me time and again when I've been discouraged over the long course of healing from health issues of my own.

I've been privileged to know a truly lovely soul and been blessed by her love and genuine, caring heart.  We will miss her terribly, but the Word promises that all of this is working together for good, and that we sorrow not as those who have no hope.  Thank the Lord, it doesn't end here--she's in our future.


This 'n that

This breathtaking sight greeted us earlier this week, a Colorado spring snow in the morning sunrise.  We dashed out so as not to miss our chance with the cameras, knowing that in just a few hours, it would be melted and gone.  It was.

Just as the ups and downs in our weather, so it seemed to go with other things this week.  My two sweeties were both sick with colds, which made it hard to get anything significant done.  School was choppy, events cancelled, and surfaces disinfected...over and over. Thankfully, the patients are mostly better, and I had the joy of cleaning and setting our life to rights again today.

We've just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird in our literature study.  Wow, I'd forgotten what a powerful book that is!  It prompted some wonderful discussion, not only the issues of prejudice and injustice and so on, but also Harper Lee's incredible, funny, moving writing. To top it off, we checked the movie out from the library and watched it last night.  That has got to be one of the greatest movies ever made!  SweetPea says, "That's in my top three!"  I think I'd have to agree.

I had the delight of having a little dream come true this week...a netbook!  I've been saving my pennies for a while to get it, and on Wednesday the FedEx truck made my day.  (The estimated delivery time--from China--was 10:30 a.m.  The doorbell rang at 10:16.  I told the delivery lady that they were really good--Shanghai to my door, with 14 minutes to spare!)  I've envisioned how handy this little mini would be for my on-the-go life and writing-when-the-inspiration hits me.  Feels like Christmas.  :-)   

And in case you noticed that very cute mug next to Minnie in the pic, that was my thrift store find this week...a set of four for $1.50.  I have a thing about mugs (especially when they're filled with tea) and I'm sure my family groaned when I eagerly displayed my new wares, but they indulge me and for that I'm grateful. When Momma's happy...

SweetPea's drama production of "Robin Hood" is only a couple of weeks off, so we're adding extra practices and a costuming session to our school week. It's a wonderful group of kids, very focused, attentive, and giving it their all.  And the play is hilarious!  This past week they had the first full run-through and it was a delight.  SP's role is the dim-witted, klutzy daughter of the Sheriff of Nottingham and she has to deliver a number of curtsies that end in a sprawl on the stage.  No easy task to pull off and not color yourself black-and-blue!  She'll look back on this as the highlight of the year, I'm sure.



Some thoughts from a high school seminar

We ended a very busy week with a full day yesterday attending a homeschooling-high-school seminar put on by our state organization.  I'm a semester late on it, but c'est la vie.  Better late than never!

Thankfully, I'm not too far off track in what I've been doing for record-keeping, grades, etc.  However, we got a lot of new information about after-high-school options, testing, etc.  Right now I'm overload about all the stuff you have to do for a college degree, but at least we have a lot of choices now as to how to get that done.  I'll cross that bridge a bit later.

In no particular order, these were some of the points about high school I thought noteworthy:
  • All the same reasons you chose to homeschool for the elementary years still apply.  Don't give in to fear.
  • Don't let 'college' drive your life or your homeschool.
  • Don't be driven by the calendar--consider a 'gap' year after high school.
  • At Ivy league schools, 1% identify themselves as born-again Christians.  If you send your children to Rome, don't be surprised if they come back Romans.
  • Character is pre-eminent!
  • Whatever character flaws your child has will come out even more in high school.
  • Any tendency to laziness and other character flaws in your child really show up in math.  (Good heads-up.)
  • Education is discipleship and all of life is education.  Do as many field trips as you can.
  • Don't spoon-feed them.  Make them take responsibility for their own education, help make them to be a self-motivated problem solver.
  • In public schools, they cover only about 80% of the math textbooks--so don't feel you have to complete a book in a year.
  • There's a huge dearth in America of students headed for STEM--S=sciences, T=technology, E=engineering, and M=mathematics.
  • Enrollment of students in military service academies who were homeschooled is 5-10%.
  • Attach the Word of God to everything we teach.
  • To quote Vodie Baucham, "If you need to go to college, do it fast, cheap, and close to home."
  • We need to teach our children how work; we need to change our definition.  When you work, you bless someone and bring glory to God.
  • CLEP test scores are good for 20 years.
  • Kids will rise to high standards if you set them high.
  • Colleges look for students to have had American, British, and World Literature.  Always teach literature in the context of history.
  • Outlining, timed essays, and research papers are important to learn.  Homeschooled students are typically not good at taking notes--make 'em learn!
  • Engross your children in the book of Proverbs.
  • In a study, millionaires said their reasons for success were 1.) honesty, 2.) supportive spouse, 3.) self-control, 4.) hard-working, and 5.) gets along with people.  Having a college degree was #16 on the list.
Well, there was lots more.  I came away filled with thankfulness once again that we have had the privilege of homeschooling, and with a renewed sense of 'God is with us'!  I don't have to do this in my own wisdom.

Onward and upward!


Jesus' secret

For the longest time I've pondered a question about the incredible way Jesus had with people--how did He do it?  What was His secret?

Obviously, He healed them.  When you're hurting, sick, and desperate, that would drive you to someone with a reputation for 100% success, whether or not you understood His mission or message.

And He delivered them.  He tackled the root causes of devilish oppression, spoke the word of authority and command, and people were set free, totally and permanently.  Fear and torment melted in His presence, destructions were halted cold, and hope sprang to life in the wake of instant restorations.  Yes, I'd join the crowd, too, running.

I think the most compelling quality we'd all say He had, though, was His love.  Somehow, they knew He loved them.  Many's the time I've tried to picture the scene:  His smiles and glad welcome, an open-armed approachableness that made each one in the crowd feel they were special, that it was them He loved.  He must have exuded patience and an unflappable peace that made them feel He had all the time in the world to meet every need.

I've known a few people who love like that.  I'm drawn to them, I want to be with them, because--yes, I'll admit to the selfishness of this--they love me.  They welcome me with unfeigned approachableness, I don't feel like I'm wasting their time with my stuff (even if I am).  I just know that they care.  I want to be like that.

But this morning in church, on a teaching about love, I saw another profound aspect that I think answers my question about Jesus.  Yes, it was Love that drew people.  But a fundamental expression of that Love was no condemnation.  "For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."  (Jn. 3:17)

To condemn means to pronounce guilty, to declare wrong, to be weighed in the balances and found wanting.  Yes, I was guilty and wrong and lost in that, but Jesus, in giving me the gift of no condemnation, showed me what Love really looks like.  No longer are my failures and shortcomings the issue--it's that He wants me.  He loves me.  He has time for me.  He wants to give me everything He has, to meet every need.

The hang-up seems to be really believing that.  I still don't let myself off the hook that easily; I feel guilty over things real and imagined, I blame myself for whatever, and can just hardly accept that God (or a person) isn't holding up a measuring rod over everything I do.  And I know I have an enemy whose purpose is to bring accusation against me in any and every way.  BUT...when I can operate from a position of God's total acceptance and love, I can turn and love others like Jesus did.

What does that look like?  Not condemning...not being judgmental (my way or no way), not being critical (how far below my exacting standards do they fall?), not blaming (then I don't have to change--it's their fault).  It means I can offer forgiveness with no strings attached, no manipulation or retaliation in mind, no effort to control, because I have no agenda other than their best interests and their highest good.

Seems impossible to just live like that, every day, in every encounter.  But I can see that this is what will win the world, one person at a time.  Just letting them know, 'I hold nothing against you, I don't blame you and neither does God.'  That's how they'll see the heart of the Father and be free to come running to Him. 


A pair of mini-miracles

When God does something really BIG in your life, you're awestruck at His power and faithfulness and mercy.  A breakthrough, a healing, an answer to a long-term prayer, they're the memorable milestones of walking with our incredible Lord.

But I find I'm just melted by His love when He does something little.  Something that isn't important in the grand scheme of things, but that means something to only me.  Personal.  Loving.  Oh, my, it's those times I'm overwhelmed to realize how much He cares about me, about every detail of my life.

I had two of those this week, and of all the crazy things, they were about earrings.

A couple of months ago I lost one of a pair of my favorite earrings, french earwires with dainty round pieces of abalone shell.  They went with so many of my favorite outfits.  Not a clue, just gone.  Chagrined, I asked the Lord to help me find it, but after all this time, I was thinking I'd try to get stuff from the craft store to make a new one.

Then a few weeks ago, I received a gorgeous pair of turquoise-and-silver danglies as a gift from a dear friend.  Again, they were instant favorites.  I wore them two weeks ago on a shopping outing--and alas, I didn't realize I'd lost one while trying on clothes in a store until an hour after we'd left.  We drove back and retraced my steps, looked in the fitting room, asked at the service desk, but nothing.  I felt sick at heart to have lost part of a loving gift, and so frustrated to have this happen a second time.  It seemed almost too much to believe it could be found, but I asked the Lord to please find it.

Well, miracle #1...while shoving my sofa across the room this week in my fit of rearranging--there was my abalone earring right on the floor where the sofa had been!  It hadn't been a good day so far, and you can't imagine my joy over finding that silly earring.

Miracle #2, today!  We were out shopping again today, and on an impulse I grabbed the lonely turquoise-and-silver earring and stuck it in my pocket as we left.  Back at that store once more, I showed it to the clerk at the service desk.  She remembered me, said no, it hadn't been turned in.  As I turned to go, she mumbled something and rummaged around in a bin on the back counter.  "Wait!" she cried in surprise, and held up my missing earring!  Incredible.

He didn't have to do it, but He did because it meant something to me.  And I feel so loved!  Just at a time I really needed it, He reminded me that if He can take care of the teeny stuff with such perfection, how can I doubt that He's got the answer for everything else I need?


My keeper!

We are in such an incredible place as children of the King, every day, every minute, in every situation.  I was so blessed to be reminded this morning...

"My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved;
He Who keeps you will neither slumber or sleep.
The Lord is your keeper...
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
He will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore."
~ from Psalm 121



This and that

Every day this week I've wanted to post but it's been one thing or another...and sometimes the 'another' is I-need-to-sit-with-a-cup-of-tea-and-gather-my-brains!

Drama took center-stage this week (no pun intended).  SweetPea's Tuesday afternoons are now filled with her drama class, a neat group of kids she knows doing a semester of dramatics with a Christian outfit, wrapped in a comedy version of "Robin Hood."  My composed and proper daughter will be performing the antics of a bumbling, social-misfit, klutz of girl, the daughter of the Sheriff of Nottingham--complete with a couple of pratfalls.  Should be interesting!  Over the weekend we attended a play by this same group, a fund-raiser starring the leaders themselves.  Pretty funny and quite amazing to see what they could do with good acting and minimal props.

Second on the distraction list this week was a dream-come-true for SweetPea, the acquiring of a DSLR camera.  The treasure arrived on Friday, which was a good thing--she could play with it all weekend and have some semblance of focus (no pun intended) on her studies by Monday.  Right.  Silly mom, what was I thinking?  I'm now trying to think of clever assignments for school that will piggy-back on this Distraction...a compare/contrast essay on manual vs. auto focus?  A report on the acronyms and cryptic vocabulary associated with digital photography--ISO, BSS, raw vs. what, not-raw??, bracketing??  A psalm to the extreme goodness and generosity of the Lord??  Yes!

Thankfully we're all well once again and able to enjoy the wonderful warm-up we've had this week.  Monday I had a Valentine from God--birdsong!  That is huge.  Seems early, for which I've been inwardly shouting.  What might they know about spring that we don't?... 

Lots of prayer needs this week that have been on my heart, too, big ones.  Mostly friends and family contending with serious health issues, but also the greater picture of our messed-up world.  How incredibly thankful I am that we have the revealed love and will of God in His promises, and the place of trust that provides for my troubled heart.  Everywhere I'm hearing the call from Christian leaders to press in to the Lord, let our confidence and power come from that never-ending place of intimacy with Him.

I'd love to recommend a wonderful parenting resource for all of you who have teens.  A group of us moms did this as a study together a couple of years ago (thanks, Sandy!) and I dug it out again to refresh myself on what I'm supposed to be doing as a savvy, Christian parent and fall short of.  It's called Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp.  I love how his focus is helping our teens develop a whole heart for God, instilling the fear of the Lord in them, helping them to judge themselves by the Word, and living victoriously in the anti-God world they live in.  He gives a lot of practical strategies and an astute understanding of the inner workings of a teen's mind and motivations.  I've certainly felt the sting of personal conviction where I've failed, yet with renewed hope that the Lord is working in everything--success and failure. 

Pressing on in His grace, thankful for unnumbered blessings.  A good week!


A silver lining

What's white and cold, comes in fluffy mounds, kids love it, and you can have too much of it?

No, it's not ice cream.

I'm staring out at our third 'occurrence' of it this week, piled coldly on top of every tree and bush, looking lovely and seasonal and, well, sort of defiant.  "There's more where I came from!  You just think spring will be here in a few weeks...Punxatawney Phil is only a rodent.  What does he know?  I am the Snow, I cover all."

Ahem.  No, I'm not really morbid, just feeling a bit confined.  The white stuff has defined our life this week--church cancelled, quick-get-to-the-grocery-store before the next round, too cold to walk, not too cold to shovel, and shovel, and shovel.  Daydreams of warm beaches with silky white sand, the smell of green things, and hot sun on my head interfere with school and pots of hot soup.  Flip-flops, sunscreen, iced tea, and crickets...sigh.

But back to reality.  The confinement has actually been really good for me--I've steeped myself in high school planning and praying, a much needed exercise.  I sense the Lord leading us to a more out-of-the-box approach for SweetPea's last three years, so with little distraction I've been able to read or reread some good homeschooling books to lift my vision a bit.  I'm loving Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+La.  Barbara Shelton brings you back to the spiritual reasons we homeschool and encourages you to truly follow His lead--bravely--and not settle for the safety of a pre-scribed plan.  After a semester of frustrations on many fronts, I've concluded that both of us are chafing at the constraints of someone else defining what our studies should look like.  It worked wonderfully in the elementary years, but now that she's beginning to discover some of her God-given interests and abilities, I think it's time to customize the system a bit!

I'm rereading A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver Van DeMille (wow, if you were public-schooled, you ought to read this!), and The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer.  This last one is specifically for the classical homeschool model, but I have found some wonderful stuff in it, not the least of which is a great reading list for high school.

Anyway, I feel a bubbling of excitement in me of new things, of adventure with the Lord, of seeing in actuality the promise of homeschooling at its best for SweetPea's best.  God is able, is He not?  I don't have to pull this off myself, I think I just need to get out of the way and let Him lead.

Yay!  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.



Our adult Sunday School class today included some talk about our love walk with God and each others.  As an exercise, we read out loud together those few famous verses (4-7) from I Corinthians 13 in the Amplified version, personalized with "I" in place of "love".  Wow, powerful:
I endure long and am patient and kind; I never am envious nor boil over with jealousy; I am not boastful or vainglorious, I do not display myself haughtily.
I am not conceited--arrogant and inflated with pride; I am not rude (unmannerly), and I do not act unbecomingly.  I do not insist on my own rights or my own way, for I am not self-seeking; I am not touchy or fretful or resentful; I take no account of evil done to me--I pay no attention to a suffered wrong.
I do not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but I rejoice when right and truth prevail.
I bear up under anything and everything that comes, am ever ready to believe the best of every person, my hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and I endure everything without weakening.
 O, Lord, how I fail You in this, how many times a day do I let my flesh take over.  I'm so sorry.  I want to love without reservation and definition, without "self" tainting any relationship. Thank You for loving me this way!


Plugging along

Yay, it's Friday!  We like Fridays around here, not only because we can wrap up our school week, but because it also means something fun for SweetPea.  Today it's art class where they'll be doing a monochromatic watercolor of a sailboat on the water (blacks and grays).  Monica teaches out of her home and I'm quite impressed with the results of her instruction to this group of teens--and my dad's an artist by profession so I tend to have higher-than-normal expectations!  Her students are having a chance to show their work this month at a local library, so I'll try to get some pics.

And it's Family Night, so that means fun food--maybe tacos--and a movie or games.  Tomorrow is more fun; we're headed to an international snow sculpture festival at a ski town, something I've wanted to do for years. These things are huge and amazing!  I'll post some pictures of that, too.

A couple of mini-breakthroughs this week brought some nice help to our school.  One was figuring out some specific help for SweetPea with her Algebra program, Teaching Textbooks.  Thankfully, the program provides a complete work-through of every single problem, so with some careful review and some help from dad, I think she's on higher ground. 

Another improvement for me was to decide that I should create my own weekly instructor guide.  We use Sonlight, which provides a wonderful schedule and which has always worked for us.  But I've ended up using so much White-Out to customize it this year, I finally broke down and made my own look-alike template and put everything and only what we needed on it.  I can color-code tests or out-and-about events, etc.  It's wonderful!  And of all the silly things...not having those boxes I didn't plan to check off (optional stuff Sonlight puts in), my guilt level has plummeted.  :-)  All you box-checkers out there will know what I mean.  Why didn't I do this before???  I actually think there's been this suggestion posed to the Sonlight people, the option of an online/customizable template, but I don't know where they're at with it.  In any case, what a time-saver.

Time for breakfast and off to art!