Thursday, October 23, 2008

Say Cheese!

Well, we've finally gone and done it - family pictures. In the past I've felt too overwhelmed by the task of getting everyone in for pictures, looking nice and smiling well, and having it turn out nice enough for the cost involved. Being pregnant different times through the years I honestly didn't want to have a family pictures without the newest member present. So now, forced into family pictures by our new pictorial Church directory, we've actually made it happen and it was a great thing for us. We were all coordinated in our cute clothes and the kids were well bribed with a promise of ice cream cones if they had a good session.

We made it through the family portion of the pictures and then the photographer had the kids sit to the side and had Andrew and I sit together for a couple picture. This was unexpected, but how nice, we haven't done that for years either. But, it was then that things began to break down. He had us move to sit in this odd straddle pose, legs all entwined and hugging and tipping our heads just so. It nicely arranged our upper bodies for a close up but had me feeling like we were in a little too intimate position for the public display.

I made it through the first couple of pictures but then he had to go and say, "Now look into each others eyes." That did it. I was a giggle bucket. We haven't just sat that close and looked into each others eyes for quite some time, let alone doing so in public with our three little kids and some stranger with a camera looking on. From there it just got worse. I was laughing so hard I was crying and trying to compose myself to look like a doting wife for this silly picture. Now, this might seem like enough pressure for one photo session but noooo he's got to up the ante. "Ok," he said, "Now give her a big kiss." Are you kidding me? Right here in public? Our last public kiss was July 6th, 2006 on our wedding day.

What is so strange is that I am very comfortable with public forums, like speaking for example or playing sports. Andrew, on the other hand, prefers to operate more behind the scenes. So why was it so easy for him to follow a complete strangers direction and lay one on me in public? Also, had it been my suggestion, I'm sure he would have had more hesitation, if it would have happened at all. Weird! So there we were, all intimately entwined in public as directed by some stranger, and that stranger was there to capture it all on film. I didn't order the kissing picture but the other one was actually really cute. At least it's over with and we've finally got a family picture or we will in 3-6 weeks.

On another note, to follow up on the marriage break downs that are happening around me, my Proverbs 31 daily devotion by Lysa Terkurst came today with the same focus:

Chasing love outside the will of God invites the exact opposite of love
into our lives. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 is picture of God's perfect love. It
patient. It is kind. It does not envy... it is not self-seeking... it
does not
delight in evil but rejoices with the truth... it always
protects... it always
perseveres. Love never fails. The things we
chase in this world are
opposite from God's love. False attempts at love
will make us impatient, unkind,
envious, self-seeking, resistant to the
truth, reckless and temporary.1
Corinthians 13 is not a description of what
is inherently ours when we fall in
love with another person. It is a
description of God's love. This kind of love
can be ours as we become more
Christ-like. It is never focused inwardly. It is
never about what I'm going
to get from another person. It is deciding that this
is the kind of love I
will give away. I am challenged by this. Because our souls
were designed for
God's fulfilling love, if we aren't staying closely connected
to Him
everyday, our hearts will start to feel empty. Restless. Unfulfilled. Let
never get to the place where we think we are strong enough to not be tempted
in this way. If we are all completely honest, we are only a few bad
away from the same kind of mess my sweet friend is now trying to
herself from. While I have complete hope in God's ability to
restore her, the
consequences of her chase for love will be severe on many
levels. The kind of
love our souls crave will never be found in the things
of this world. Lasting
and perfectly satisfying love will only be found when
we stop chasing the wrong
kind of love and start living out the truths of

Dear Lord, help me rest in the security of Your love.
Make me
wise in how I guard my heart. May I never get lured into any
kind of
worldly, fake love. But if I ever start to get drawn away, God
surround me
with people who are bold enough to speak truth into my life. In
Jesus’ Name,

Yes Lord!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Guess What? Chicken Butt!

I don't know why that is the title that kept coming to me as I prepared to introduce the newest members of the minifarm, but I couldn't shake it so lucky you!

We have many animal friends here. I've introduced you to Screamer already and of course we still have Sadie our cat. We also discovered a lizard in the basement and he has now become a pet. His name is "Liz-eerd". Since there are bountiful flies that find their way into the house I'm proud to say that my kids can now successfully catch a fly, remove one wing, and feed our dear Liz-eerd a live meal. He's also enjoyed a mini slug and several types of beetles. Andrew even tried to feed it a bee. I'm not sure what came of that. I was wholly against it, of course, it seemed like a lose/lose situation.

We also have four deer that graze nightly in our pasture. The apples are all gone now, those little pigs! I was sure that would give us at least a week or two of entertainment. Oh well. Two nights ago I did get some pictures of them finishing off the last few apples, unfortunately the kids were all in bed and the pictures are too dark to make out.

As of yesterday, we are home to 8 bantam chickens. Hence the title.I guess bantam just means small but you'd have to ask Andrew, he's the resident chicken expert. They are the cutest little mini chickens and roosters. The kids are pleased as punch to take care of them. They were all up bright and early, dressed and ready to check on our feathered friends. Sadly, I left them alone for too long as I made breakfast and prepared their school work for the day. I realized something was up when I heard the screen door bang, a quick run to the bathroom, and some comment about "the chickens are freezing!" Sierra and I followed the commotion out to the barn and found my good bath towel stuffed into one of the roosts and a little beak poking out the top. All I could think was that this was not good on so many levels. First of all, my good towel! Do we not have enough crappy, ratty, stained, ripped up rags to choose from? Second, why does the chicken need a towel? And third, can the chicken even breathe? I took care of the breathing issue by pulling out the towel and it was then that I discovered why the chicken even needed it and why the kids were saying that the poor bird was freezing.
I guess they had decided that all the chickens were a little dirty and of course when you're dirty you need a bath. Why that thought process doesn't naturally correlate to their own bodies I'm not sure. But at any rate, they doused them all with water and the little yellow one (the one I love) was actually given several baths. He's been called out as Mia's chicken and when she does a job she really does it well. Poor thing. He was soaked straight through his feathers. Still, he wasn't getting my good towel. I fluffed up the hay in his coop a bit and set him back down. The only other thing I could think to do to help him was to leave the light on out there as it might give some extra warmth to the place. Hey, desperate times require desperate measures.
Of course I gave the kids a very stern speech and described how chicken's feathers work with water and how they aren't meant for a soaking, especially in October. I really laid it on heavy when I told them that this chicken might actually die. Their eyes were as big as saucers and their faces all full of fear. I know it was a little harsh but I also know that the hardest part of adding animals to our lives isn't the animals but actually training the kids how to behave and take care of the animals properly.

After lunch I let them go back for a few minutes and check on them. They were so relieved that everyone was still alive and they were thrilled to find that their feathers had dried and fluffed back up.

"That was a close one," I said in a very serious voice.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wouldn't You Know It!

Almost as soon as I finished typing up the last post, Andrew walked into the room. He said something that bugged me and was quite a bit later than I wanted him to be. Long story short, my tone with him was snotty, my face pinched in mild disgust and frustration. I was all but respectful. Pitiful. Didn't I just type the words RESPECT YOUR HUSBAND. Haven't I learned the key that respect is to his heart. I kind of had a feeling it would come up in my face again.

Then we arrived at Church about 15 minutes late, after some mild bickering on the way over, in order to join our shepherding group on a discussion of what makes a healthy family.

The irony is just amazing. Praise the Lord!


This morning I watched Andrew walk down our lane with Josiah to go get the paper. I've seen him walk with the girls, too, but today Josiah was the first one up. It's so romantic to see the man you love nurturing and including the children in his life, even in this small task. Last night I was heart broken to hear further news of marriages destroyed or at least badly beaten up by wayward husbands. How many Christian men are going to fall? Each time I'm blindsided by the news. Each time I've said, "No, not them? I can't believe it." I can't. Satan wants the root of our families and the main route to which tomorrow's Christians travel, to be destroyed. He wants the destined leader of the family unit distracted. He wants the nurturer to be overburdened. In too many cases he is succeeding.

Proverbs 6:23-29 For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a
light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to
life, keeping you from the immoral
woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward
Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her
captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of
bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.
Can a man
scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?
Can a
man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?
So is he who
sleeps with another man's wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.
It's amazing that these intelligent men ended up so far down such a dangerous
road, willing to risk and lose everything of value. The Bible says that a
woman who fears the Lord is to be praised, her husband has full confidence in
her and lacks nothing of value. What a contrast to a woman who will reduce
you to a loaf of bread and prey upon your very life! How is there a
comparison? Yet somehow the newness, the captivation of secrecy, the bold and obvious availability of whatever might pique your curiosity is too much.

Proverbs 9:13-18 The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without
She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest
of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on
their way.
"Let all who are simple come in here!" she says to those who lack
"Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!"
But little
do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in
the depths of the

And with the ease of access to pornography, and the short lived thrill that one can find even by accident, yes, she is sitting at the highest point of the city and calling out to all who pass by. "She" is right there and they have forgotten the death and stench that follows time with her. Death of a standard, making it easier to go farther the next time. The numbing of what real love feels like, and the long lasting joy of a committed relationship versus the short lived, empty thrill of a fling.

I want to fight against this decay, Andrew and I do fight this in our own marriage, you can not walk through marriage, or life for that matter, and not have these temptations. But, I feel so much like a Warrior, dressed for battle, sword in hand, adrenaline pumping and I can't find the battle field. I feel powerless to stop this obvious destruction.

Sex has always been a topic that I felt was under discussed in the Christian community. As a young person, navigating my dating relationship with Andrew, it seemed like we were mainly on our own to figure out specific boundary lines. I came with ideals and a no sex before marriage commitment, but received very little openness or encouragement as to how to put those ideals into practical action. I wanted to encourage the young people I spoke to at youth groups to set boundaries early and experience the blessing of waiting for more than just sex. I wanted them to know from someone with experience that it's so much easier to set boundaries early than to trip down the road a ways and then try to put on the brakes. All it took was someone saying, "This is what the Bible says, this is how your body works, this is how your mind works, all this is designed by God for a beautiful marriage relationship not for a passionate, hormone flooded moment."

Really, it's the same general message for married couples. I suppose the only way to burn off some of this pent up energy is to make some proclamations and to commit to prayer and seek opportunities to encourage other marriages.

Women: Respect your husbands. This fills their tanks more than we'll ever understand. Respect them with your tone of voice, your facial expressions, and the words you choose. Respect does not come naturally to most of us, it will be an act of your will to behave in this manner. Pray for God to open your eyes to when you are disrespectful and slowly you will be able to make some progress in this area and the amazing thing is it can make an immediate difference in your relationship. For my marriage this has been then magic bullet, the "secret" I was looking for over the years, and I'm so far from perfect in this area. Also, pray for your husbands, they are in a war!

Men: Believe what the Bible says: that easy, seemingly secret path of instant pleasure will destroy you, you will lose everything of real value. Seek out other men who are open and honest, be bold in being the first one to share about your failures and struggles. I guarantee you are not the only Christian out there who has lingered too long at the lingerie ads or pop up soft porn on your computer, or even sought out pornography while you were alone. You are not the only Christian who has masturbated, or struggled with your thought life. I also guarantee that if you think you can fight that battle alone, you are mistaken. Satan has mistaken you. Together you men are strong in this fight, alone you are vulnerable. You were designed to battle side by side, you need people who've got your back. If you do not, in this day and age, you are taking a serious gamble.

That's all I got right now. Please, feel free to share your comments on this subject.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fall Days

I've assigned Mia the job of collecting fallen apples in a bucket and allowed them to be used to feed the donkey. There's just a few a day but it keeps them from just sitting around and rotting as well as becoming a yellow jacket attraction. I noticed she must have done a particularly great job the past couple of days and was examining the tree to see how many were left when I noticed several hoof prints in the soil around the base of the tree. Ahhh... no wonder the job was so well done. Our Mia had help from the local deer. I called all the kids over and showed them the prints. Suddenly all hands were on board for the collection of as many apples as possible, not only for feeding the donkey but for baiting the deer into the light in the front of the house. They been spotted around there but just out of the light. We'd like to see them even closer (isn't that always true).
Sierra was wise enough to keep her helmet on during the whole event as hundreds of crab apples were dropped from the tree using many different methods: picking, shaking the tree, beating it with a long stick, etc. Several piles were made around the front of the house where the lights beam down but, unfortunately, the enormity of the task prevented them from actually collecting all the apples. Ya for Mia still having a job and for Screamer (the donkey) having plenty of snacks left. Boo for the potential of rotting apples and deer sneaking around to eat where we can't see them very well. So far our lures have not been effective but we'll see... maybe in time.

On another note, tonight on our way to AWANA Sierra shouted with joy as we passed another vehicle, "Hey mom, we're a race van. Go race van!!" I didn't know those two words could go together: race and van. What a concept. What would I call our race van? The Teal Racer. Greased People Mover. Lightning McMama. Two years ago I was actually embarrassed by our vehicle. Now function trumps form any day and this van is a trooper and gets the job done. I've even warmed up to the teal color - something that once touched off a bit of the gag reflex. Unfortunately now I have my eye on something even more practical... a 15 passenger van. There's many reasons for this but what I find interesting about the whole thing is how much I've changed in the past several years. My driving desires have gone from fancy to functional and the more people I can fit the better. Of course I have to be able to park in a normal sized parking spot so don't go suggesting a bus. I have my limits.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

We've moved into the rental house and are wrapping up the final details with the old place. It's always great closure for me to clean the house we are leaving. It gives me time to reflect and say goodbye. It was nice this time to get to do so without the kids. Thank you Grandpa Davis! While I cleaned I considered where we've come from these past 3 years, how the kids have grown up and we've all just grown, the things we've endured, and the way we've been changed. It was sure a blessing, even through some of those outrageous trials. I took some pictures of how we'll be leaving it and I'm looking forward to seeing the planned remodeling of the new buyer.

As we move on, unpacking box after box at this new place and we're actually beginning to get settled in, I'm amazed at how God has blessed us in this home. So many details are a perfect fit for our family, more than I ever realized when we first decided to move here. Praise the Lord for his kindness to us.

We've already had a chance to host a few people over night. I love it! First, Andrew's parents came down to help us with the settling and to bring a few more things down from Spokane. They are always so helpful and even in the midst of all the turmoil and chaos of moving and the first days of settling, they were flexible as always. It was a nice shot in the arm to keep us going strong.

Then my Aunt Marcia and cousin Katie came through just briefly. I was so glad we had beds for them to stay in thanks to some kind "donations" from friends and family. It was fun to hang out and catch up with them. Those times always go too fast and I'm thrilled that we had a place for them to stay a while.

I am tired now, but it is that good tired from efforts put toward worthwhile things, not like when you stay up too late watching mind numbing TV or surfing aimlessly on the internet. It's not like when you're pulled from obligation to obligation or are exhausted from overcommitment or imposed deadlines. It's that healthy tired of personal choice and good strong effort, of time spent with valuable people and working on projects and actually accomplishing something. Needless to say, I did stock up on those bottles of Starbucks mochas... just in case.

We keep praying for how God may want to use this house and specifically the basement portion, as it is really a finished, and now furnished, studio apartment. In the meantime we're thrilled to have something to offer people for overnight stays. The views from the house are peaceful and the layout of the house accommodating. We have a good size kitchen with a view, 3 larger bedrooms, a nice living room, also with the view and a space behind the couch that will be used as a play area. There's also an office/homeschooling room, still with that view, and it has plenty of outside room to roam, and a barn for who knows what! On top of all that the commute really is convenient. God, you think of everything!

Well, I'm too tired to catch you up on much and I feel like what I am saying is becoming rambling, half thoughts. I do want to say thanks so much to those that helped us move and those that encouraged us or have been praying us through all this.

God you are so good! Through all the bad times and in these good times you are the same, may my faith and hope remain as steady.

Insights From Others

I received this encouraging reminder via my Marriage Moments email. I thought it was important enough to pass along:

October 13, 2008

Responding to Troubled Times
By Dennis Rainey

Last week I received an email from Stephens, Inc., an investment firm in Little Rock, that included a memo written by W.R. “Witt” Stephens after the stock markets fell on “Black Friday” in October 1987. Witt Stephens has since passed away, but the firm thought it was appropriate to revive his memo, saying, “His wisdom and good advice lives on.”

Through the 200 years of American history, this country has been constantly
besieged by bad news. If the early settlers had believed things were as bad as
they sounded they would have given up the fight to settle the new world and
sailed back to England, and the dream of freedom would have perished.
that day to the present the people of this nation have listened to the bad news
for a while, then they turned their backs on that which was bad, placed their
faith in God and faced toward that which was good.
Down through the years,
through a tragic Civil War, two worldwide wars, a series of small conflicts,
recession and the great depression of the 1930’s, we have heard again and again
the words of citizen Tom Paine, “These are times that try men’s souls.” In
every case the people rejected the bad news and overcame whatever obstacle was
facing them at that time.
Once again, we are put to the test. Everything we
hear is bad. We are smothered with a never-ending succession of newspaper, radio
and television reports on ... drug abuse, crime in the streets, decadent morals
and lack of honest and competent leadership. If citizen Tom Paine were alive
today, he could well utter again his famous quotation.
It is impossible to
lock your door against the invasion of the news media into every nook of your
home and office. They don’t make the news, they merely report it. Tell it as it
is. We have the option of acceptance or rejection. We can bemoan what is
happening in our world, wring our hands and cover our heads, or we can reject
the bad and look about us to the good.
When I was a boy on a small farm in
Grant County, news wasn’t as quickly available as it is today and reached us
mainly by word of mouth. A “drummer” would come by or one of our neighbors
returned from a trip to Little Rock or Memphis and we saw the news through their
eyes. Mostly it was about what was bad in big cities or throughout the
After listening a while, my father would say, “That’s enough bad
news for one day. Let’s go to work.” America has heard enough bad news for a
while. Now is the time to go to work. Turn your back on the bad news and look
around you at what is good. You don’t need to look far. Your family, your
children, your friends and neighbors, they are good.
We live today in the
greatest country the world has ever known, filled with opportunities which never
existed before. The highest standards of living, more leisure time, better
health services, better schools, more jobs, finer homes and freedom to enjoy
these wonders.
This is indeed the time to turn our backs on the bad news and
face the future with thankfulness.
W.R. “Witt” Stephens

This email made an impact in many lives in 1987 and again last week because at times like these we need to hear godly wisdom from our leaders. But have you heard much from the Christian community? I haven’t. How are we to respond at a time of crisis like this?

Responding like grasshoppers

Last week my mind flashed back 40 years to the first time I walked into the office of Dr. Bill Bright, who founded Campus Crusade for Christ. As I looked on his desk and walls, I was fascinated to see what he valued. Of course, there were pictures of his wife and family, awards he'd received, and mementos from around the world. But on his desk there was an engraved brass plate with the most unusual phrase I've ever seen in an executive office:
“I'm no grasshopper.”

I asked what it meant. Bill chuckled and started telling me the Old Testament story about the Israelites returning to their homeland after centuries of slavery in Egypt. Their leader, Moses, sent a dozen spies into the land of Canaan. This land was inhabited by others but God said He would give it to the Israelites.

Ten of the twelve came back reporting that it was impossible for the Israelites to conquer the land. “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us,” they said. “We became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:31, 33).

Only two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, said the land could be taken. Joshua said there would be nothing to fear because his trust was in the Lord. But the people would not listen. As a result, the Israelites did not attempt to conquer the land God said He was giving them, and they spent 40 years wandering around in the wilderness because of unbelief.

After recounting this story, Bill turned to me and said, “Dennis, when I arrive in heaven, I don't want my life here on earth to have been characterized by viewing myself as a grasshopper. My God is so big, I want to expect and believe Him for great things.”

This financial crisis leaves us with the same choice. Will we respond to bad news like grasshoppers, or will we respond with trust in our God, who is in control of our fate today just as He was in the days of Moses and Joshua?

Timeless truths

We need to remember that God is still in control, even in times of uncertainty and chaos. Romans 8:28 is still in force: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” So is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which tells us, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I am also reminded of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal,” He said. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-20).

And then Jesus goes on to say (in Matthew 6:25-33):
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?... But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

These are the timeless truths we need to focus on—the words we should read together as husband and wife, and the words we should be reading to our children. They tell us that God will provide for our needs. His provision may come in different forms than we expect, but His promise to meet our needs has not expired in the 21st century.

Jesus’ words also remind us that there is more to life than meeting our daily material needs. When we seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, we operate according to His priorities—we’re concerned about building our family relationships, and connecting the hearts of our children to God’s heart, and impacting future generations by proclaiming Christ. That’s what life is really about.

What is God up to?

In recent days I’ve been saying to our staff here in Little Rock and to friends of this ministry that America as a nation can survive a financial crisis, even a Depression. It’s already done that. But you know what America cannot survive? It cannot survive the spiritual demise and the destruction of its most basic unit, the family.
It’s time to return to the basics, embracing what we believe and those who matter most—our spouses and family.

It’s time for men to take their wives hands and pray together and for one another. Not just today, but every day.

It’s time for parents to rally their families together around the dinner table and read how Jesus said we are to respond to fear and then take one another’s hands and pray. Every day.

It’s time for families to huddle up, tell each other we love one another and hug one another. Every day.

It’s time to be a man or woman of faith and not a grasshopper.

For years many of us have said that it may take a financial crisis like the Depression to get our nation’s spiritual attention. Well, my friend, what if we are on our way right now? What is God up to right now in your life? What’s He up to in your marriage? And in your family? Don’t be a family of spiritual grasshoppers.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

In the midst of all that is going on, Andrew took the time to take me out for a birthday respite retreat at the Christian Renewal Center in Silverton. I went knowing I would be blessed and was not disappointed. We met the founders, Allan and Eunice Hansen, who are now in their 90s, they described their roles as simply volunteers. They blessed us with a gift of their life story in a book that Eunice had written 12 years ago. It's titled "When God Gives a Dream". This book, as well as some encouraging prayer time and just the quiet of nature up there, was the best gift I could have gotten. Andrew and I both left feeling refocused yet emotionally drained. I think we were able to let go of a lot of things that we were both tense and stressed about. It's hard to explain but it was good emotional draining. It was also a time to "talk camp" again, which has not been something we've done for a while now. Unfortunately my camera battery was dead and since I was recharging it and it wasn't in my purse, I ended up leaving the whole thing at home. So I have no pictures for you, but trust me, it was wonderful.
God you are so good! In the midst of trials or suffering how much more we long for heaven. Bless our country as we transition from such a great time of blessing and abundance to a time of uncertainty and struggle, may we return to you Lord and once again be one nation under God. Soften our hearts. Forgive our materialism and self indulgence and the way we trivialize some of your best gifts. Strengthen believers to be a light in this dark time, that we might offer the hope that is found only in you.
Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff