29 January 2009

Out with the Old, in with the New, part 4

It has been a while since I’ve written about New Years Resolutions. I understand that January is almost over, and that subject matter is already old, but still—I’ve been meaning to write about it, and since it’s not February yet, I give myself permission.

A little over a year ago I was too overcome with dismay over having just turned 35 to even think about any new year’s resolutions. All I wanted to do was eat chocolate and have regular pity parties because I was 35 and still not rid of some of my most hated bad habits. And instead of making token new years resolutions that I had no intention of keeping, I just made none. Well not this year. This year I’ve made a couple of resolutions, but I became even more aware of my natural tendencies in the process. You see, recognizing that I have no intention to follow through with my decision is one thing, but hating that about myself and being willing to change that about myself is something entirely different. I have become way too comfortable with my bad habits (even hating them)—and I know that I need to change. James 4:13-17 says,
“Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.' Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (italics mine.)
Did you know that this verse was not recently added to the Bible? I didn’t just come across it for the first time in my life, either! It’s been there all along. (Along with other verses that I know are there but I have allowed myself to not pay close attention to at times when it was an inconvenient truth.) I’ve been basically allowing myself to be comfortable with sinning because I was comfortable not doing those things that I know I should do.

I'll give an example: Finances. It has been years since I've actually balanced the checkbook. I don't regularly overdraw our account (although it has happened a couple of times), and I pay all of our bills (mostly on time). We have a good credit score, so it's not that big of a deal, right? Wrong. God says in Psalm 50:10-12,
"For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains."
And in Haggai 2:8, "'The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,' declares the Lord of hosts."

So it all belongs to God, and I have been given the privilege of taking care of His belongings. Even if no one else really cares whether or not I balance my checkbook, God does. The attitude of my heart is the issue. It doesn't require calculus or even division to be able to balance my checkbook, but I have developed a bad habit that I have become comfortable with. “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

He commands in Proverbs, "Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations." (27:23-24)

So the buck stops here. This year, as we work on our financial goals to pay off our debts as quickly as possible, I have as a goal to balance the checkbook every month and carry the balance down as I go. It's a small change that won't be noticed by the people to whom I write checks or who read this blog, but it is an exercise in faithfulness and diligence on my part that will be noticed by the Owner of it all.

How about you? Are there areas of your life that you know need to change, and you have been unwilling to face them? Maybe you balance your checkbook and clean your house regularly, but you watch TV shows or movies that you know you shouldn't. Perhaps its your tendency to feel entitled to your selfish desires, whether it be to eat whatever you want, or to hold a grudge, or to break the posted speed limit. Well...

Out with the old! Let’s not take it lightly any more! Let’s do battle with our sin. Let’s go to war against those bad habits in our lives that drain us and essentially cripple us from truly glorifying God. I, for one, know I need to change in some areas, and this year on this blog I’ll be writing about some of them.

And my hope is that as I become faithful with the things God has entrusted to me, that He would be pleased and that others would glorify Him as a result.

Happy New Year!

25 January 2009

Out with the Old, in with the New, part 3

You know, I learned something from my experiences of blogging every day in November: If you have a good working title, why mess with it? So we'll continue in the series, "Out with the Old, in with the New," until it gets old, and then I'll come up with something new.

So, what is new? All kinds of things. Where did I leave off? Let's pick up with the kids.

Julien is doing well in the first grade. Starting this month, he began attending a Learning Enrichment Program at school, where he gets to do book reports and a research project. Unfortunately (for me) he chose the topic of dinosaurs for his research project. I'm not a huge fan of the large reptiles. Since we accept the truth of the Biblical account of creation and the origin of life, we're faced with some interesting challenges in terms of research, as a majority of the research makes references to evolution and millions of years, which is just plain wrong. I admit that I've managed to avoid this topic pretty much throughout my life as a "student", but I know that's not the place to be. So we're looking for some good and reliable sources that deal with the facts of the evidence, and not with the theory of evolution. It is possible to report on what we know about the T-rex without delving into all the creative speculations that are out there, but this will be a challenge for me to help him with this.

Tristan is doing well in kindergarten. He was on a roll this month with his reading, almost averaging 10 books a night. His favorite part of school is gym class, and he seems to have an affinity for "drumming" constantly when he's at home, and is often found playing "pretend guitar" with his light saber while we listen to music. He loves to laugh, which sometimes gets him in trouble at home when he can't get himself to stop. He just lost his second front tooth, and he is getting taller and leaner by the day. And he's looking forward to hopefully playing soccer again this spring.

Rosalind is growing up so fast. She started trying to dress herself a couple of months ago, and can successfully put on pants about 75% of the time. She discovered a pair of undies in her drawer back before Christmas, and was so thrilled she did the jump-jump dance and tried to put them on herself. So she got a whole pack of undies for Christmas, and after the new year, we decided to give it a try, and I can count on one hand the number of accidents she's had since then. She even has dry nights pretty regularly. So we just significantly reduced our demand for expensive disposable diapers! Yay!

And while Tristan is losing teeth, Brendan finally got his first one this month. (Sigh.) The arrival of the first tooth is always a sad moment for me, as it marks the end of the new baby status in my mind. Plus there are three (almost four) newer babies at church now, and he's big enough for the exer-saucer and jumpy-toys. We've also started on the baby cereal. While Brendan looks a lot like his siblings did at his age, he has distinguished himself as the one who spits up the most. Maybe it has to do with more distractions while he's feeding, or less time for burping. Whatever the reason, even Rosalind knows where to find the wipe rags to clean up Brendan's spit-up quickly. Despite the fact that he smells like sour milk most of the time, I can't keep myself from snuggling and smooching on him whenever I get the chance. As Rosalind likes to say, "He's so pweshuss!" I try to be impartial, but I have to agree with her.

(I'll have to post some photos later)

20 January 2009

Out with the Old, in with the New, part 2

Why not pick inauguration day to start again, again? Ahem. It's amazing how much stuff can happen in such a short amount of time! I just wanted to get caught up on a few of the things, and we'll see how much I can write while I have no interruptions.

New Year's: It seems like so long ago, doesn't it? We had quite an interesting one. Back in November, I attended my church's women's conference, and was fortunate to win (just in time for our wedding anniversary) a gift certificate for a free overnight stay for two at America's Keswick for their New Year's Eve celebration. If you've never heard of America's Keswick (pronounced "Kezzick"), you can click on their name to go to their website. It's an 111-year-old Christian conference ground located not far from the Jersey shore, and it's primary ministry is the Colony of Mercy, a residential addiction-recovery program for men. The Keswick also ministers to the spouses and children of the men, and they have great facilities and I could just go on and on. Your best bet is to check out their website. What has impressed me most about this organization is it's commitment to the gospel, and the truth that the only answer for the problem of addiction (or any sin problem) is to surrender one's self to Christ and to be made a new creature in Him. I've also been struck by their apparent humility--as they don't seem to be ambitious about becoming some big and important conference center, but to simply focus on the main reason they began in the first place. If this sounds like a commercial, then good--I think they deserve any endorsement I can give them, and I'm happy to do it.

Old washing machine/"new" washing machine. All that said, we pick up the story: a couple of days before the big event, our washing machine gave its last performance, in the middle of a valiant attempt to conquer "Mount Laundry." Wile we were planning to use every last minute afforded us to prepare our home for overnight sitters, we had to include a $50 trip to the laundromat. (Sigh!) But we got our house in good enough order, and nearly all the laundry done before we left, and Enoch (and Brendan) and I enjoyed a relaxing time away to rest and to discuss our plans and goals for the new year (I'll hopefully touch on those in the near future). It would be nice to make this a recurring event. We returned from our brief mini-vacation, and by Saturday the 3rd, we had purchased a "new-to-us" washing machine for the price of two visits to the laundromat. I was back in the laundry business, and had no need to delay putting the new machine to good use.

Old water heater/new water heater. The next day, Sunday the 4th, as we were taking the Christmas tree outside, I noticed some water on the basement floor. Just a little. I wished that it was merely a result of the new machine splashing too much, but touching the tiny puddle with my fingertips confirmed otherwise. The water was warm. The 13-year-old water heater had given its last performance. After assessing and confirming the reality, we drained the hot water into the frozen backyard, and thanked God that I discovered the leak when I did, since we were about to go to bed! Since we had just freshly renewed our commitment to not take upon ourselves any more credit card debt, and we had also just freshly drained our emergency fund on the new washing machine, we decided to tough it out for the week, and wait until payday to come up with the funds for the water heater. By our good fortune, we all had taken baths or showers that day or the day before, and I knew we could boil water for any other hot water needs we would have. So we did it. And you know something? It was joy to do it! I think it was a blessing from God, and we actually enjoyed going through that trial, knowing that we were sticking to our commitment, and trusting the Lord to provide for our needs. And we just had a mindset to not complain about it. And we became so much more thankful for a warm house, warm clothes, food to eat, and running water--all those basic things that we sometimes take for granted--realizing how easily God could take it away from us and how important our hearts' attitudes towards Him are though it all.

So life is hard, but God is good. And life is a little crazy at times (for me right now it seems like most of the time), but God is good. And I'm so thankful for my husband and how God continues to use unique ways to draw us closer to one another while drawing us closer to Him. I'd call that a domestic victory!

06 January 2009

Out with the old, In with the New

Happy New year to all, and to all a...Happy New Year! I'm glad that Christmas break is over so that we can resume our routine and schedule. Now if only I can get in a better habit of blogging again. November seems like so long ago! I can't believe I went from blogging every day to not even once a week to not at all. So much has happened since November, I can hardly keep up myself! The latest news: we have a new washing machine. Ours decided to expire at the end of the year, just as I was nearing the bottom of Mount Laundry. The good news is that our "new" machine has a bigger tub, so I can cram even more into one load than I could before. The settings crack me up, too. There's "Small," "Medium," and "Super Plus." It reminds me of when Starbucks changed from Short, Tall, and Grande to Short, Tall, and Venti, lo those many years ago. Actually, I only go to Starbucks on special occasions with a gift card anymore. These days it's 8'o clock coffee at home. In the afternoons I mix it with chocolate syrup and milk for an afternoon pick-me-up that beats Starbucks' iced mocha 10 out of 10 times when taste-tested by frugal experts. Okay, I'm ramblin' on now--it's obvious that I'm a little rusty. So I'll just do what I know my most faithful readers really want me to do: post pictures of their cutest little relatives in Pennsylvania. Okay. Here's the most recent photos.

These reindeer antlers came home from school, and didn't last long. But we had fun passing them around and posing. (I re-used the jingle bells on them for homemade ornaments.)

Rosalind sure likes sharing Brendan's new blanket with him. He seems to be enjoying himself--for the most part!

Christmas dinner and French braids. (I am a bit jealous of my daughter's hair.)

(Random cheezy photos.)

What a MESS!

Out with the old, in with the new; it's good to be back.