Category Archives: Thoughts

Part 4, Principles: Keeping the End and the Means in their Proper Place

As we approach any undertaking we should always pause to consider what the principles or end we’re after verses the methods or means we’re using  to get us there.  When we get these mixed around we can become slaves to our methods and free to stop short of our goal.

Let’s say for example that you want to have a healthy heart.  One principle component of a healthy heart might be exercise.  You could choose from dozens of methods to achieve this principle, jogging, swimming, dancing, etc…  Say you chose jogging, it’s cheap and you can do it anywhere and it requires less coordination than dancing.  After a while you forgot why you jog, but you just knew you had to check it off for the day.  Next you start becoming an evangelist for jogging.  You have to do so should everyone else.  But then one day you start getting shin splints and then you have knee problems, pretty soon you find that you have to give up jogging.  Now you feel like failure, but you’ve long forgotten about why you started jogging in the first place, so you sit on the couch and mope.  You’ve become a slave to a method.  Methods Continue reading

Part 2, Posture: We Come Hungry.

After my testimony about God’s word in my life, I came up with 3 P’s.  Posture, Principles, and Practicalities.  Our posture meaning the way we come to the Bible.  We need to come hungry and rightly.  Today, I’ll post the hungry part:

Posture:

We come hungry. The Bible refers to itself as food many times: sweet dripping of the honeycomb (Ps 19),  we “feed” on Christ whom all the Scriptures bear witness to (John 5:57, Luke 24), we should desire to grow on spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2) and then onto solid food (Heb 5, 1 Cor 3), so we’ll use that metaphor as well.

Fundamentally, just like we need food we need God’s word.  So eat.  Every day will not feel like a feast.  Some days we eat peanut butter and jelly and some days we eat turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes.  Our Continue reading

Part 1, The Double-Edged Sword

I was honored to be asked to speak at a women’s Bible study tonight at my church.  In case you missed that I said, s-p-e-a-k.  I write.  I don’t speak, um, well.   One of my well-spoken  friends told me to use the nervous adrenaline to clear my head and push me through it.  I think adrenaline must have a reverse effect on me.  One time I had a  kid in the ER, and all that adrenaline did for me was make  me forget my own child’s middle name.  I never recalled it the whole time we were there.

But God was kind, to his name be the glory, to calm my nerves and help me faithfully give testimony to some riches of reading his word.  Since I write, I first typed up 7 single-spaced pages to make my outline.  I thought I might as well share it here in bits and pieces.  If you’re like me a blog post loses me at about 3 paragraphs, maybe 4 if the picture is good, so I won’t post it all at once.   Hope you find a helpful nugget!

Part 1:  My Testimony to the Double-Edged Sword

My relationship to the Bible has been tumultuous at times, really a double edged sword.  I was raised in a Christian home, memorized verses Continue reading

Thoughts on Fallen Trees (Riveting, I Know)

Fallen Tree

Fallen Tree (with camera distortion)

First thought: God is kind.  That tree did not hit the window, the roof, or even the little center piece tree in our garden.  Only the Lord could providentially thread such a small space with such a huge object in a seemingly chaotic storm.

Second thought:  But why did the tree fall at all? Couldn’t the same amazing providence have kept the tree upright, fallen the other way, made a dead tree grow new roots?

Third thought:   The tree fell for the same reason that God led the Israelites’ to the edge of the Red Sea and hardened Pharaoh’s heart to pursue them.  He orchestrated the trouble and brought the deliverance that displayed His glory, power, and care for his people.

Last thought: God is kind. And it is  rich, deep, weighty kindness.

Redefining Success

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Everyday, when Chris asks how it went,  “Good,” just sticks in my throat. Not because it’s not good, but because I want good to feel good.  And it rarely does.

I have a successful day in my head that looks something like:

Everyone wakes,  after me, smiling, and well-rested.

Chores are speedy, well-done, hygiene is a felt need.

Meals are contained to tummies and plates, conversation is pleasant, clean-up is swift.

School is a time of voracious excitement to improve our minds and hearts to the glory of God.

We read wonderful stories aloud on the couch all snuggled up in such a way that everyone is cozy.

Creativity is orderly and sustainable.

We get plenty of exercise outside in the fresh air.

Quiet time is quiet.

Family worship is still bodies, robust singing, and inquisitive questions.

People stay asleep in their own  beds, all night.

In reality:

Everyone wakes,  after before me, smiling, and well-rested ravenously hungry.

Chores are speedy, well-done half-done, hygiene is a felt need nobody seems to be bothered by the fuzz on their teeth.

Meals are contained to tummies and plates on the floor and hidden under napkins, conversation is pleasant mixed with whining, interrupting, and  entreating, clean-up off to play is swift.

School is a time of voracious excitement commitment to improve our minds work ethic and hearts to the glory of God (and to mom’s pride).

We read start and stop wonderful stories aloud on the couch all snuggled up in such a way that everyone is cozy arguing about where to sit and not being able to see the pictures or not liking other people’s smelly feet,

Creativity is orderly and sustainable  messy, sometimes sinister, sprawling, and abundant.

We get plenty of exercise outside in the fresh air sent outside screaming for all the neighbors to hear because we’re afraid of bugs, until we remember that the hose is out front…

Quiet time is quiet  asking if we can be done yet.

Family  worship is still rolling, wiggling bodies, robust singing a joyful noise, and inquisitive sometimes very strange questions all to the soundtrack of some giggling and some crying.

People stay asleep in their own beds, all during the night.

And reality is a line outside the blue bathroom (i.e. discipline room), forgiveness, and fighting the good fight over and over and over.

When I define success as ease, comfort, or lack of trouble we are bound to fail.  But when I see that success looks like repentance, mercy, training in righteousness, and pressing on, I can honestly answer “good,” most days because in reality our life is a whopping success.

Breached Dam

http://blogsensebybarb.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/dam-breached.jpg?w=500

Some days this image of a broken dam runs through my head.  Chris and I will work hard to build a good sturdy wall of routine, discipline, and comfort for our kids. But when that wall is holding strong, I tend to neglect the maintenance, forgetting what power lies dormant if that wall bursts.  Until it does.  And when it bursts with 6 kids under 9…

Well, this morning I traded the child-drawn flower on the back of my slipcover for a rip down the front.  I received a valentine heart that read, “I hate math.”   I spent a significant chunk of time de-salting my computer keyboard.  I’ve thrown away yet another pair of poopy underwear owned by a certain 3-year-old who does not seem to be appropriately grossed out by anything.  We’ve been over the wild horse of emotions conversation for the ????  time.  And it looks like a tornado has come down our chimney to swirl juice and crayons, banana peels and little cut up pieces of paper all into one colorful abstract piece of art.

The real problem isn’t an isolated bad moment or two or five, it is the continual force of sin naturally following the path of least resistance.  It never relents for repairs or rest.  As John Owen said, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.”  In my little day dream  then, I imagine that I can just jump into the chaos and put it all to rights, after all I kind of like fighting sometimes.  But it only takes one step into the rushing water to realize that I will be drowned.  These forces are far too strong for me.

They are not too strong for the one who can make walls with water, cause storms to cease, and turn children of wrath into children of mercy.  So this afternoon calls for grace.  For grace that hems us in, repairs our breached walls, and ends in obedient worship to the immeasurably kind Christ who killed sin for me and my little rushing waterfalls of chaos kids.

When Opportunity Knocks

opportunity

I was recently asked a question along these lines:

What do you do with your family/kids to teach Christ and who He is and who He is for them?

Parts of my Response:

In general, our family worship time looks like singing a hymn, reading or telling a bible story, and then praying together.  But the material we’ve used has varied a ton, mostly based on age.

Good resources are helpful and family worship is essential, but when Chris and I talked about it, we both agreed that the times we’ve really seen light bulbs go off and application sink in is in the midst of discipline. We try to view our kids’ sin as an opportunity to teach the gospel. When their misery is potent, they are most ripe to understand the comfort of Christ for them in particular. I also think the many “opportunities” I have every day to ask their forgiveness of me for my sin against them and for them to see me repent to the Lord has been very helpful.  Basically, it seems to take lots of talking, asking heart probing questions, modeling, prayer, and patience while we wait for the Spirit to open their eyes and ears. Simple; but not at all easy.

God is Not Mocked

Our women’s doctrine study is working through the book, “Easy Chairs, Hard Words: Conversations on the Liberties of God.”  It’s a unique treatise of the doctrines of grace in that it is set in a fictional setting as a conversation between a young man with questions and an older pastor.  Instead of working through the usual TULIP acronym, the conversation starts where it seems it might more naturally begin in the mind of a sincere evangelical unfamiliar with historical orthodoxy.  On the logical heels of the “free-will” philosophy (by that I mean the idea that man possesses the ability to choose Christ from his natural state) the question deserves to be begged, “Can a christian, who has secured his own salvation by his one good choice, in turn, by a bad choice (either in mind or action), lose that same salvation?”  The question naturally leads to either watering down holiness to an attainable level or dreading the condemnation that an honest look at the heart quickly reveals is the only possible outcome.

And yet, the student of the Scripture sees that Jesus does not lose any of his sheep and that our God is faithful to complete the good work he began in our hearts.  And so there are sparks of hope for the fearful and soothing truths for the broken sinner in plain sight which keep him in the fight of faith.  But what if he backed up further to ask a different question altogether.  He could ask, “How can it be that the stone dead heart of a willful sinner has the desire to make the wisest of all decisions to lay down his self-believed autonomy in order to submit his life to a savior and Lord?”

Across the scope of the Scriptures, he would find that it cannot be so.  And here would he begin to find not only a little hope to hold on to, but swim in an ocean of  self-forgetfulness, assurance, and worship of the God who has turned his heart from stone to flesh .  He could pour out adoration and thanksgiving to Him who has set on him the desire to be holy, saved, and owned and secured the fulfillment of that desire with His own Son’s blood.

I know that true Bible-believing Christians are not willfully seeking to rob God of his glory (that would a contradiction).  The tension is usually pushed aside into the category of mystery or unimportant confusion.   But it is important.  God deserves the maximum amount of glory and he initiates real freedom.  In nearly all our prayers, we ask for perseverance and for his name to be glorified.  Why would we make such bold petitions of one who does not give it?  Consider the following words from Augustine (writing in 426 A.D. lest you think this is some new notion).  The dead guys are usually better at telling it like it is.  Pretty sobering words.

But why is that perseverance asked for from God if it is not given by God? Is that, too, a mocking petition, when that is asked from Him which it is known that He does not give, but, though He gives it not, is in man’s power; just as that giving of thanks is a mockery, if thanks are given to God for that which He did not give nor do? But what I have said there, I say also here again: “Be not deceived,” says the apostle, “God is not mocked.” O man, God is a witness not only of your words, but also of your thoughts. If you ask anything in truth and faith of one who is so rich, believe that you receive from Him from whom you ask, what you ask. Abstain from honouring Him with your lips and extolling yourself over Him in your heart, by believing that you have from yourself what you are pretending to beseech from Him.   -Augustin, Bishop of Hippo

A Blog About My Blog

ducksinarow

I’m on an organizing push around my house.  Call it nesting if you like, but I’ve always liked things to have homes.  Are there really people out there who don’t?  I know not all of us are always organized or sometimes we are too overwhelmed to get there; but really who doesn’t like the finished product?  So along with closets, toys, schedules, and meals, I thought I’d add a little organization to my blog.  It’s still a “get to” not a “have to”; but without some planning in my life, I’d never” get to” do anything but the things that I “have to,” (which actually through sanctification are becoming the things that I “get to” do.  Oh dear. )

I’m thinking something like:

Monday: Tips, Tricks, or Treats

Wednesday: Encouragements, Meditations, or Thought Ramblings

Friday: Assorted Content- Q and A (feel free to send me your questions!),  Guest Posts,  General Silliness, Anything Else that Sounds Fun to Pass On

As with all of my organizing attempts, I’m sure this will be tweaked and there will always be that one thing that doesn’t fit neatly in the box with the other like items, but it’s a start.  I love to write, to organize my thoughts, and I’m especially blessed whenever along the way, I can be used as a stepping stone to see the Savior.  Thanks for reading!

How I Do It

I was humbled to be asked by someone I respect very much how I do my life homeschooling 6 kids.  If you’ve wondered, here was my response…

Hi …,

Thanks for the encouraging words.  It’s very humbling to be asked how I do it.  My first response was going to be something like:  I don’t do it.  I suck at my life and I’m really discouraged too.  But that was a bad moment and wouldn’t have been the whole truth.  I do get pretty overwhelmed on a regular basis.  Most of my blog posts are me trying to speak truth to myself rather than listening to my circumstances or fickle emotions.  It’s hard to think about how to explain my day to day life without going into minutia, but a few noteworthy thoughts came to mind.

  1. There is no one solution that will suddenly make life into the ideal that I can imagine in my head (I’ve only started to come to terms with this idea recently).  I’ve spent a lot of time trying a new technique, a new routine, a new curriculum, and while there are definitely benefits to better methods the principal of dying to myself, giving freely, loving my kids when they are needy and naughty is just going to be hard, always.
  2.  Grace is real.  Jesus already did all those hard things for me.  A good day is a day I repent early and often both to the Lord and to my kiddos.   His forgiveness is efficacious.  If I really understand it I must and want to extend it.
  3. I have to constantly remind myself that I’m the leader.  If things are getting wild and out of control, it’s my job to lead the troops to peace.  That looks like entrusting their consciences to the Holy Spirit, reasoning with them from the Scripture, and setting the example with my own actions.
  4. Shepherding kid’s hearts takes time.  I have had to slow way down, both from a lot of activities and from my expectations of how they will change and grow.  Chris and I remind each other a lot to “take the long view,” meaning that we need to faithfully teach them the ways of the Lord, to discipline them, to keep giving them our love and ourselves freely over and over and over, trusting that in the Lord’s time he will use us as means to bring about fruit in their lives.

Again, these are all my own daily reminders.   I was overwhelmed when I had 2 preschoolers and I’m still overwhelmed with number 7 on the way.  But I can honestly testify to the Lord’s sustaining hand.  We’re still fighting the fight of faith and when I look back 5 years I can see that we’ve been pulled along in the right direction, more sure of our need for a Savior and more sure of the forgiveness of our Savior.

Love,

Danielle