Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Expectant Waiting...

**I wrote this post before Christmas...but I just got around to posting. Sorry. :-)

It is defined by Wikipedia as "a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas." The term comes from the Latin meaning "coming." "For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming." (Quoted from Wikipedia)

During the month of December, we take the month off from our "regular" school and opt for "Holiday School" instead. We have many traditions during this time, but one of my favorites is the advent calendar. Every year, we do a brief overview of the Old Testament, as we see Jesus in each story...waiting expectantly for his coming. We remember the simple and humble coming in Bethlehem. The manger.
And we look forward with great joy...because He is coming again. This year, reading Jotham's Journey alongside and lighting the candles...I found myself on Christmas morning with eyes full of tearful thankfulness. We had been reading and waiting. There was so much anticipation. And even though we knew the ending, we couldn't help but wonder anew at the God who draped Himself in human flesh. Two songs have been my favorite around this time of year. I have written before about "God With Us" by Casting Crowns. The other song is by Chris Rice, and it's called "Welcome to Our World." There are two phrases from that song that I have been meditating on:
"tiny heart whose blood will save us..."
Especially carrying a little one, thinking about this small and tiny heart....and with the complications of the pregnancy...well. This phrase is just so real to me this year. And the other:
"rob our sin and make us holy..."
When you think about that wording... It's almost violent. Rob our sin. That was what our Rescuer had to do. God knows us so well, He knows that our wicked hearts cling to our sin and wickedness as though we need it to live and breathe. It literally took a Savior, willing to drape Himself in flesh and steal the sin that we love so dearly, and then transfer righteousness to us in order for us to see and recognize the beauty of our Great God.
And so. During this season of "expectant waiting".... We wait for the Coming One, the Beginning and the End, and we wait with hope.
Merry Christmas!

Pages of History-Book Review

Having used Veritas History cards and resources for the last few years, I was overjoyed to receive a copy of their new book for review. My kids and I are really enjoying this book! It is a fun, fictional tale of two boys who end up discovering a notebook, which sends them traveling through time on an overview of God's story throughout history. Now, I will say that this book would not, in my opinion, be able to serve as a main resource or spine (such as say, Story of the World, or the Famous Men...series).
However, in our experience, this captivating and fun story book serves as a perfect in-between. As a whole family studying a certain time period, you may have older students who are ready for the meaty, hearty books that Veritas recommends (which is one of my favorite things about them!!). However, for your younger, or in-between students (I am thinking early elementary, all the way up to junior high), this book is a great "gap-filler". It can easily draw the children in to an overview of the major events covered by the history cards, while still capturing their attention and not overwhelming them with too many facts and dates (although those are in here too). And along the way, there are many useful and helpful charts, maps, and helpful tools to help make the information more easily understood.
All in all, this is a great resource, and a fun addition to any family's study of chronological history. You do not need to be using the Veritas history curriculum or cards for this book to make sense. It is appealing as a stand-alone addition to any chronological study of God's work throughout history.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Quiet time.....

Everyone handles pain a little differently. Usually when I'm pregnant, I have this weird inclination to watch birth videos, or old episodes of "A Baby Story" on the Internet. Kind of a funny little thing I do, especially considering I have given birth five times myself. I will occasionally see a woman in so much pain, maybe screaming or writhing...and I scare myself thinking, "Is that how it is? Because I can't do that!"
It's so easy to compare ourselves with others. It's so easy to watch other people doing and living and think, "Oh, that's how it is supposed to go." And you know, it's not just that everyone handles pain differently, it's that we handle different types of pain differently.
We have experienced some different types of pain lately. Although, all at the same time. And as I think back on my labors with the kids, I tend to just go "radio silent." Quiet. Not that I never utter any whimpers of pain, or writhe around in it. But for the most part, I stay pretty quiet. And I think maybe, that's where I have been lately. I don't know if it is just my way of processing through it all. My brain has been frantic in its attempt to "figure things out." And I haven't felt as well, so I can't do the normal amount of reading or studying that I normally do. And that's how it is with my labors. Sometimes, I just have to be still, and wait for the next wave of pain to come. And it's painful! I don't understand the pain of the next contraction any more than I did the pain of the one before. But I have the big picture. These "light and momentary afflictions" are ACHIEVING something...something glorious that far outweighs the pain.

I have a large "bleed" in my uterus. If it remains, things become dangerous for this sweet little girl that I already love so much, and they become dangerous for me as well. I'm more than halfway through this pregnancy, and the kids have prayed faithfully everyday for this sweet baby girl.
There are other pains....physical, emotional, relational, financial....
And in the midst of each wave that comes, I don't understand and it certainly doesn't feel "light and momentary." BUT IT IS.
I wasn't promised a healthy baby girl. Oh, I do HOPE for one. But my hope is not IN that. I wasn't promised relational ease, or physical comfort, financial ease, or emotional stability (think hormones!!!).
But I am confident of this.... It is all ACHIEVING something. Something glorious.
I'm always afraid to talk about my own suffering...because there's always someone, somewhere suffering more than you are. Today, I just lay it before Jesus, who is a faithful High Priest, able to sympathize with my weakness. And in my spirit, I feel my weakness give way to His strength bit by bit. I feel my body tired, worn out....and I feel it's weakness give way to God's power. I feel the pain, and it gives way to what God is achieving in me. I will not be the same. A dear friend said to me the other day, how she was loving the gift of entering God's court with praise and thanksgiving. So maybe, in these "quiet times", I am learning that I don't have to hunker down and be strong and figure it all out. Maybe, in the quiet moments, I am learning to give thanks for a God whose power is made perfect in my weakness.

"[God's Word] reminds me that my life need not be imprisoned by my own rebellion, defeated by my own foolishness, or paralyzed by my own inability. God's grace is most powerful and effective at the moment of my greatest weakness."--Paul David Tripp

"We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." (2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 14-18 NLT)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Hair cuts again....

Man! These boys all have hair that grows sooooo fast!