Protecting Children, Part 3

Those who know me well at all know that two of my "soapbox issues" are child protection and the dangers of pornography.  A couple of friends posted the first link below on Facebook today.  I found the others while researching a bit.  We tend so much to think, regarding issues such as these, that "it won't happen to us"...or our kids, or in our family. It is precisely at that point...as I told my Sunday School girls yesterday...that we are in the most danger. No matter what it is...it *can* happen to us, and to our families. And we so need to get serious about protecting our children and our families from these and other similar dangers.   We need to be aware...particularly if our children have cell phones.   And we need to *act* to protect them...realizing that NO child with a camera phone is safe.  Pornography of any kind is dangerous. Child pornography is unspeakably so. And this puts it right smack dab in the hands of our children at anytime, anywhere.   

A Criminal Defense Attorney Speaks Out on Sexting


Happy Birthday, Emlyn Olivia!!

Nine years ago today, we welcomed our Emlyn into the world.  The first thing we noticed was a shock of straight black hair that stood straight up on top of her head.   Very soon afterward, though, we noticed her calm, contented personality.  After two children with very strong personalities, Em's laid-back personality was quite a change (and a blessing to parents who now had three children under four! :))

After spending more time than planned trying to upload photos for this post due to "technical difficulties" of various kinds, I don't have time to write what I had planned at the moment, so I'm going to go ahead and upload the photos and write more after church.  For now...Happy Birthday, Emmie!!


In "Other" Words...When Adversity Strikes

"Only when we understand that God has ordained our suffering can we begin to make sense of it.
Only then can we be certain that He has a purpose in it. 
When tragedy comes, when adversity strikes, we will not be shaken
Yes, we will cry.  Yes, we will grieve.
But we will move on confidently knowing that God is on His throne
that we are in His hand,
that our circumstances are His doing
and that He is working them for our good."

~ Terry L. Johnson, When Grace Comes Home

Quite some time ago, I ran across this article (through a link on a friend's blog, I believe.)  The article is actually the fourth chapter of Terry Johnson's book When Grace Comes Home

Due to circumstances in my life at the time, and the things that God was teaching me through them, this article spoke to me very deeply.  Today's quote is the ending of that chapter. 

When I selected this quote for today's IOW weeks ago (at Loni's suggestion), I didn't realize how much I would need to be reminded of these words this week.  God is good that way. :)  

I don't usually do this, but let's pick today's quote apart by section...

1.   "Only when we understand that God has ordained our suffering can we begin to make sense of it."

I can so give an "Amen" (Tom Stuart style, for my friends from Conway :)) to this.  When I was wrestling through the greatest suffering I had ever experienced several years ago, God's sovereignty was the first battle in the war.  Once I finally acknowledged that not only was God not surprised by the horrifying situation we were in, but that it had, indeed been part of His plan from before the beginning of time, I was able to begin to work through the other issues that needed to be worked through.  

I read just this week an article in which the author said that when her father died, a well-meaning adult in her life told her that God had nothing to do with her father's death.   At that point, she decided that if God had no power in death, He must have no power in life, and therefore, He couldn't be trusted.  Her life spiraled into a disaster of drugs, alcohol, and finally the desire and plan to end her own life.   God mercifully saved her from that, but only after much pain and sorrow.  

2.  "Only then can we be certain that He has a purpose in it."  

Once we realize that He planned it, then we realize that it isn't just chance or happenstance.   Not only did He plan it, but He planned it for a reason.  He is not playing "Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe" with our lives and futures.

3.  "When tragedy comes, when adversity strikes, we will not be shaken.  Yes, we will cry.  Yes, we will grieve.  But we will move on confidently knowing that God is on His throne,  that we are in His hand, that our circumstances are His doing, and that He is working them for our good."  

When we know that He has a plan and a purpose, then we are able to stand firm in the knowledge of His sovereignty, His goodness, and His care, even in the worst of storms.  That doesn't mean we won't grieve...sadness, even deep grief, is normal...but we will not get stuck there.  We will move forward.  When we trust that He is working for our good in every situation, we will not get stuck in bitterness and despair.  When we realize that it is all part of His plan for good and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11), then we are able to heal and look forward to that future with joy and hope, even in the midst of sadness and grief.  

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, 
but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: 
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward 
in Christ Jesus."
~Philippians 3:12-14

We would love to hear your thoughts on today's quote!   To join us for In "Other" Words, share your thoughts on today's quote on your blog, grab the In "Other" Words graphic below, and then post the link to your IOW post (not your main blog link, please! :)) in Mr. Linky.  (If you don't have a blog, feel free to share in the comments below!)  For more information about In "Other" Words, and to learn who is hosting each week, visit Loni at Writing Canvas.  

In the Night My Hope Lives On...

Earlier today I ran across a video of a song by Andrew Peterson.  I was intrigued by the video and unfamiliar with Andrew Peterson, so I did a bit of  "exploring".  In the process, I came across this song.  The story of Jacob wrestling with God has meant much to me in the last few years.  I love these lyrics...

In the Night My Hope LIves On

I am weary with the pain of Jacob's wrestling
In the darkness with the Fear, in the darkness with the Fear
But he met the morning wounded with a blessing
So in the night my hope lives on

When Elisha woke surrounded by the forces
Of the enemies of God, the enemies of God
He saw the hills aflame with angels on their horses
So in the night my hope lives on

I see the slave that toils beneath the yoke unyielding
And I can hear the captive groan, hear the captive groan
For some hand to stay the whip his foe is wielding
Still in the night my hope lives on

I see the armies of the enemy approaching
And the people driven, trembling, to the shore
But a doorway through the waters now is opening
So in the night my hope lives on

Like the son who thought he'd gone beyond forgiveness, 
Too ashamed to lift his head--but if he could lift his head
He would see his father running from a distance
In the night my hope lives on

I can see the crowd of men retreating
As he stands between the woman and their stones
And if mercy in his holy heart is beating
Then in the night my hope lives on

I remember how they scorned the son of Mary
He was gentle as a lamb, gentle as a lamb
He was beaten, He was crucified, and buried
And in the night, my hope was gone

But the rulers of earth could not control Him
They did not take His life--He laid it down
All the chains of earth could never hope to hold Him
So in the night my hope lives on.

~Andrew Peterson


Sunday Night Song...

  1. We sang a new hymn tonight in church.  Actually, not a new one...it was written in the 1700's. :)  But new to me.  I love that after almost 40 years of being in church hearing and singing hymns, there are still "old" hymns that are new to me!  And I am so thankful for the care that Lyndel puts into selecting our music every week.   God so often speaks so clearly through the music we sing on Sundays and on Wednesday nights.  

The words to this hymn are just incredible.  Our hymnal only contains verses 1, 3, 4, and 6 as listed here, but when I looked up the lyrics online, I decided I really love the additional verses here, too.   The first two lines of verse four (as listed here), stuck out to me especially tonight.  How often do we see that in today's world (and do it ourselves)??  Judging God by our "feeble sense"...how ridiculous, when we look at it that way.   And yet, every time we say, "My God wouldn't do....." or "How could a good/just/loving God do....?", that is exactly what we are doing.  Ouch. 

I had already decided I had to come home and blog on this hymn, and then when I sat down at the computer, the top item on my Facebook newsfeed was this quote posted by Scotty Smith...

‎"Music... will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So very true!  I have seen that over and over again, especially through all the difficulties of the past 6 years.  Today has been a day of "perplexities"...a situation I'm rather at a loss as to how best to handle, a suggestion that rather unsettled me, and being just plain exhausted (and a bit behind) headed into a really, really busy week.  And once again, God has sent a song to "keep a fountain of joy alive"...

  1. God Moves in a Mysterious Way

  2. 1.God moves in a mysterious way
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants His footsteps in the sea
    And rides upon the storm.
  3. 2.Deep in unfathomable mines
    Of never failing skill
    He treasures up His bright designs
    And works His sov’reign will.
  4. 3.Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
    The clouds ye so much dread
    Are big with mercy and shall break
    In blessings on your head.
  5. 4.Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
    But trust Him for His grace;
    Behind a frowning providence
    He hides a smiling face.
  6. 5.His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding every hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flow’r.
  7. 6.Blind unbelief is sure to err
    And scan His work in vain;
    God is His own interpreter,
    And He will make it plain.
~  William Cowper

You're Invited....

You're invited to join us right here on Tuesday for In "Other" Words...a weekly quote meme where we share our thoughts on a quote selected by that week's hostess.  I'm excited to be hosting this week, and to read others' thoughts on the quote below (as well as share my own!)  To participate, post your take on the quote at your blog, grab the IOW graphic below, and link back here.  Then come post the link to your post in the Mr. Linky that will be provided here Tuesday morning.    

If you don't have a blog, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments of Tuesday's post!  

See you Tuesday!

Only when we understand that God has ordained our suffering can we begin to make sense of it. Only then can we be certain that He has a purpose in it. When tragedy comes, when adversity strikes, we will not be shaken. Yes, we will cry. Yes, we will grieve. But we will move on confidently knowing that God is on His throne, that we are in His hand, that our circumstances are His doing, and He is working them for our good.”
~Terry L. Johnson, When Grace Comes Home

For more information about In "Other" Words, visit Loni at Writing Canvas.  While you're there, check out her book reviews, too!  I always appreciate her honesty and detail.


Happy Birthday Bayley!!

My Sweet Bayley-Girl...

Hard to believe...almost impossible in fact...that you are 11 today.  You are growing up so fast!  It seems like just yesterday that I was dressing you up in your long smocked dress and bonnet (and those SIZE 2 shoes we had to make two trips to Dillards for because the saleslady wouldn't sell us such big shoes for a newborn the first time!  You had the longest, daintiest toes I'd ever seen. :))  And now you are becoming a young lady.

I miss the little baby you used to be, and I'm a bit sad to see your "little girl" years fading away...but I am so excited to see what God has in store for you from here.   You have already been through some strong storms at your young age.  God's grace in your life has been so evident as those storms have built faith, courage, and a strong sense of hope and trust that He has a plan for your life, and it is good.  

You are your daddy made over again...those big brown eyes, your seemingly endless energy, the precision and orderliness in all you do, that amazingly diligent work ethic.  And yet, you remind me so much of your namesake, Granny Kitty, in SO many ways.  Your sweet tooth is the most obvious...when you say, "I need something SWEET to eat", I can almost hear her voice!  Your love of shopping, clothes, and shoes...that hard work ethic and diligence...that stubborn streak that I first noticed only hours after your birth.  How many times have we said, "Bayley, you are SUCH a Katherine!" because you remind us so much of Granny Kitty?!  

Speaking of names, we had no idea how much the meaning of your name would fit you!  "Bayley" means "bailiff", which means "one who is charged with keeping order" (in a courtroom).  What a fitting name for one who is known for being an "organizer"!  We knew that your name would include Katherine from the moment we knew we were expecting you...we found out we were expecting the morning after Granny Kitty died, and I said, "This is going to be a girl, and her name will be Katherine."   Katherine means "pure", and God has given you such a strong desire to be "pure in heart".  

I love you, Bayley-Kate!  You will always be "My Girl"...


Thankful Thursday..."Hither by Thy help I'm come"


There are few things more frustrating than typing for over an hour, pouring your heart into a blog post when you are practically propping your eyes open with toothpicks, and then in one freak glitch of the computer/Blogger/your trackball/or a combination of all the above LOSING the entire post.  Ugh!

There is no way I can re-construct the whole thing at this point, so I'll try to remember the high points.

Just the other day, the kids and I were discussing something in our Bible time in school, and one of them piped up with "Mom, have you noticed how this topic has been coming up a LOT lately...in school, at church, everywhere??"  I replied that yes, I had, and then asked, "What do you think that means?"  More than one child immediately said, "That God really wants us to get this??"  I think so. :)

Although sometimes it is a bit scary, it is also exciting when God begins to hit me with something from all directions.  And it seems to be happening more often these days...not sure if that is because I am paying better attention in my "middle age", or if it is because my often-foggy brain is more dense than it used to be. :)

It happened again tonight.

Today was the 1st anniversary of our pastor's 16-year-old son's death.  We had a special prayer service at church, cancelling all other activities, and our associational missionary, Bro. Jeff, who filled in for Bro. Kent for a month this time last year, spoke again tonight.

I had to smile when he began asking questions about the meanings of "Ebenezer" and "Ichabod".  Our youth Sunday School lessons this summer have been in 1 and 2 Samuel, and just a month or so ago, we had learned the origin of "Ebenezer" in 1 Samuel 7....the "stone of help" commemorating God's help in winning a decisive victory over the Philistines.  And just a few weeks before that, we had studied the story of "Ichabod"...the poor baby boy of Eli's daughter-in-law whose name meant "God's glory has departed from Israel".

As I've mentioned before, these lessons in 1 and 2 Samuel have been wonderful.  God is teaching me so much through them, and they have all been very timely for me...almost scary-timely!   Where we have studied the chapters in greater detail, Bro. Jeff's sermon tonight pulled together perfectly the journey of Israel from Ichabod to Ebenezer, and demonstrated the parallels in our lives during times of grief.   Not only was it just what many of us needed to hear in relation to Aaron's death, but it also was exactly what I needed to hear on an even more personal level regarding the situation our family has been dealing with for the last four years.

Bro. Jeff pointed out that the key to whether we cry out Ichabod or Ebenezer is in where our focus is...Is our focus on the circumstances that threaten to overwhelm, or on the God who saves us?   He also gave the much-needed reminder that when grief overwhelms, choosing to fix our eyes on Jesus is not a one-time thing, but a constant choice.  HOW I needed to hear that today!

I came home from church tonight totally awed once again by His faithfulness, goodness, sovereignty, and grace.  And so thankful...

*I am thankful for Bro. Jeff's ministry to and support of our pastor and our church this year.  I am thankful for words God gave him this time last year that have stuck with me throughout the intervening months, and for the words God gave him tonight.

*I am thankful for the sweet sharing and prayer time with our youth after tonight's service.  And I am thankful for Andy's words and prayer during that time.  I had thought earlier today that Andy was in a somewhat difficult position, needing to minister to our youth during this time, but not having known Aaron or been here during last year's difficult days.  It was a special thing to see God give Andy just the right words, from a heart hurting along with our pastor, our church, and our youth tonight.

*I am thankful for Lyndel's leadership and support this year, and for God's grace and glory seen in the way he has carried that burden.

*I am thankful for Bro. Kent, Mrs. Sarah, and the boys, and the impact they have had on my family and our church.  I am thankful for Bro. Kent's ministry, and for the deepening God has done in it through this year.  God's grace and glory have again been displayed in amazing ways through the Sweatman family and Bro. Kent's ministry.

*I am thankful for the gifts of God's Word and of music.  I am so thankful for the balm that the Word and song have been throughout this year.

*I am thankful for our church, which while it is certainly not perfect, is truly a family.  When one member hurts, the body hurts and comes together to minister and encourage.

*I am thankful for our youth, and for the bond and passion God has grown and is growing in them.

*I am thankful most of all for our sovereign, sufficient, good, faithful, loving, gracious God, and the ways that He has revealed His glory in the midst of tragedy and sorrow.

*And I'm thankful for the opportunity to look back at my Thankful Thursday post from this time last year and reflect on all that God was doing then, and all He has done since.

 Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

 Come, thou Fount of every blessing, 
 tune my heart to sing thy grace; 
 streams of mercy, never ceasing, 
 call for songs of loudest praise. 
 Teach me some melodious sonnet, 
 sung by flaming tongues above. 
 Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, 
 mount of thy redeeming love. 

 Here I raise mine Ebenezer; 
 hither by thy help I'm come; 
 and I hope, by thy good pleasure, 
 safely to arrive at home. 
 Jesus sought me when a stranger, 
 wandering from the fold of God; 
 he, to rescue me from danger, 
 interposed his precious blood. 

 O to grace how great a debtor 
 daily I'm constrained to be! 
 Let thy goodness, like a fetter, 
 bind my wandering heart to thee. 
 Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, 
 prone to leave the God I love; 
 here's my heart, O take and seal it, 
 seal it for thy courts above. 

        ~ Robert Robinson

To see what others are thankful for today, visit Laurie's blog.  


Moralistic Therapeutic...What?

(I started this post days ago, and have really struggled with it.  I think the more important something is to me, the harder time I have sometimes putting my thoughts on paper...or computer screen.  I've finally decided it's time for this one to go "as is"...so my apologies for any awkwardness or lack of clarity in advance.)

Several months ago I began a series of posts on "Protecting Children".   (Protecting Children, part 1;  Protecting Children, part 2)  That series is by no means finished...in fact, it will probably be ongoing for as long as I am blogging.  I have a couple of posts on the topic sketchily planned on the "To Be Blogged" list that I hope to get to very soon, as a matter of fact.   That series focuses on issues such as child pornography, child trafficking, protection from predators, etc....issues about which I am very passionate.  

However, as important as I think those issues are, and as heavy as they are on my heart, there is another area of "child protection" that is even more important...and that is the spiritual protection of our children's hearts and minds...protection from the dangers of a false gospel.  

When we...I...think of the term "false gospel", I...we...tend to think of cults and false religions...Mormonism, Islam, etc.   However, the "false gospel" that I seem to be getting bombarded with lately is a different one, one which is much more insidious, much more subtle, and so very, very dangerous.  

As I've mentioned before, I recently began teaching the youth girls Sunday School class at our church.  I LOVE teaching this class...I love the girls, I love the discussions, I love everything about it (except the pesky clock that tells me my time is up and I am "yet again" late letting the girls out every week...*sigh*.  I really *am* working on it and *determined* to make a habit of getting out on time. Eek.)   Most of all, I am loving the lessons and the things God is teaching *me* through them.  We've been in 1 and 2 Samuel, learning from the lives of Samuel, Saul, and David.  *So* much good stuff there (no wonder I have a hard time finishing on time! :))  

This past week, we were in 2 Samuel 6...the account of David's decision to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, and the tragic death of Uzzah as a result of disobedience in transporting the Ark.   I'm planning a whole separate blog post around this lesson, especially all the parts I had to leave out! :)   But one of the main points of the lesson was this:  We can be totally sincere, our intentions can be wonderful, but if we are not careful to see what God says about what we are doing, and obey Him in that, we may find ourselves in sin and in grave danger.   

I'm NOT going to let myself get any further into that post here, although it's tempting :), but the girls and I had some good discussion on this Sunday morning, particularly as it relates to people who say, "It doesn't matter what someone believes, or what they call their god, as long as they are sincere."  

I read a book just this week (published by a major Christian publisher and glowingly reviewed all over the blogosphere) that asserted that very thing.  I've been stunned to see this attitude seeping increasingly into the church and Christian publishing.

In his article "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism--The New American Religion", Al Mohler discusses the National Study of Youth and Religion.  As a parent and youth Sunday School teacher, the results of the study, and Mohler's article, are chilling.

According to Christian Smith and his fellow researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill, authors of the study, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism includes the following beliefs:

1. "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth." 
2. "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions." 3. "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself."
4. "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem." 
5. "Good people go to heaven when they die."

Sound familiar?  None of these beliefs are new.  They are thoughts we've seen in the "lost" for years.  However, this study indicates that they now form the belief system of "most religiously affiliated U.S. teens."

The Mohler article is long...four pages...but "must" reading as far as I'm concerned, especially for parents, children's/youth workers, and church leadership.  I'm not going to repeat it all here.  However, there are a few points that I feel are worth particular note.

Of everything in the article, this may have been the most disturbing thing of all. Mohler says,
"The researchers, who conducted thousands of hours of interviews with a carefully identified spectrum of teenagers, discovered that for many of these teens, the interview itself was the first time they had ever discussed a theological question with an adult. What does this say about our churches? What does this say about this generation of parents?"

What does it say, indeed?   I pray that no teen with whom I come into any sort of regular contact...and particularly my own children...would never be able to say such a thing.  This causes me to treasure even more the time carved out in our school schedule for this very thing...not to mention the day-to-day opportunities.  I am strongly convicted to make those times even more of a priority.   And I am thankful for a church in which I believe it would be difficult for a teen to make it through the children's and youth departments and be able to say such a thing.  I'm also thankful that my children...and their parents...have the privilege of sitting under preaching each week that is solid "meaty" Biblical truth.  As I told the girls in Sunday School last week...the absolute best preparation they could have for attacks on their faith at college is to listen to and take notes on Bro. Kent's preaching every week.

Another deeply disturbing finding of this study...which won't be a great surprise to many...is that Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is "colonizing" the church itself today...which "seduces converts who never have to leave their congregations and Christian identification as they embrace this new faith and all of its undemanding dimensions."  According to the researchers, "...we have come with some confidence to believe that a significant part of Christianity in the United States is actually [only] tenuously Christian in any sense that is seriously connected to the actual historical Christian tradition, but is rather substantially morphed into Christianity's misbegotten step-cousin, Christian Moralistic Therapeutic Deism."

Whereas we have heard for years that America is becoming a more secular nation, Mohler's article says that isn't necessarily the case..."These researchers assert that Christianity is either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by a quite different religious faith."

What does that mean for us as Bible-believing Christians?  According to Mohler:

"We must now look at the United States of America as missiologists once viewed nations that had never heard the gospel. Indeed, our missiological challenge may be even greater than the confrontation with paganism, for we face a succession of generations who have transformed Christianity into something that bears no resemblance to the faith revealed in the Bible."

More and more over the past few years, I've been convinced and convicted that as a parent and as a homeschooler, I need to be very careful in my priorities...both on paper, and subconsciously.  As I said in a previous blog post...

"My primary goal is not for my children to excel academically...although I do want them to excel academically. My primary goal is not for my children to be well-behaved in public...although I certainly want them to be well-behaved in public! :) My primary goal is not even first-time obedience with a respectful attitude...although that is a crucial foundation stone and a vital goal.
"My primary goal is for my children to love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Only if they truly love Him and have a personal walk with Him as not only Savior, but also Lord of their lives, will they truly be the successes that He...and I...want them to be. No matter what they look like on the outside, no matter how intelligent, polite, and "successful" they appear to be...if they haven't given their hearts to Him completely, it is all for naught."

I've been reminded through many sources lately that a major component of that is making sure that our children are firmly grounded in the Word...that they know the true gospel, so that they will be equipped to recognize and reject a false one...that they know what they believe and why they believe it, but also that that goes beyond head knowledge to heart knowledge...that it is truly "theirs", and not just what their parents have passed down to them.  What a challenge, particularly as we look toward a new school year.  

And what a challenge to any of us who work with youth or children.  Fellowship is a good thing.  Fun is fine and definitely has its place.   But we must never lose our focus on *why* we are there.   Grounding our children and youth in the truth...and not a watered down version...is crucial.  


Thankful Thursday...Everyday Luxuries, and the Name

I've never cared much for summer.  As a lifelong Southerner, summer has always meant heat, humidity, and bugs.  Oh, and snakes.  None of which are happy things for me.  My favorite part of summer is air conditioning...the colder, the better.  Which is why I suppose that it is ironic that we've lived the last 14 years this month in a house without central heat and air. :)   We've managed to make it tolerable...most of the time...though, with window units in various parts of the house, and fans everywhere.  My favorite time of day in the summertime for the past 14 years has been bedtime...those first few minutes, especially, when I would lie down right in front of our main window unit and enjoy *ice cold air* in the minutes before I drifted off to sleep.  

In the wee hours of Monday morning, our trusty bedroom AC died.  We thought later that we had solved the problem...only to have our hopes dashed as we realized we hadn't.  I am SO thankful, though, for God's protection through all of that...we caught the problem just before we more than likely would have had a major fire on our hands.

In the meantime...it's been hot here.  Highs well over 100 for over a week now.  The "pity party" has threatened more than once.  Then I begin to feel like a wimp...thinking of the 20+ years my grandparents lived in this house before they even had a window unit!  I think about all the people who managed in all the years before air conditioning...and all the people in the world today who *still* live without such a luxury.  And I realize that we aren't so bad off after all. 

Tom Davis's post What Are You Grateful For? popped up in my Facebook newsfeed at just the right time on Monday, reminding me of all the things we do have to be grateful for.  Even when we feel "deprived", we are *so* much better off than so much of the world...and that is what I want my children to remember about these days, not how much Mom complained about the heat. (And trust me, I have done more than my share of complaining...but I am working on it!)  So...I'm trying to be intentional about being grateful this week, being thankful for what we *do* have, and realizing how very richly God has blessed us...not only with *needs*, but with *Iuxuries*:  

I am thankful that even though we don't have central air, we do have two working window units we can use in the daytime, and plenty of fans.

I am thankful that although our bedroom unit finally died this week, our house is still standing and our family is safe!

I am thankful that we have not one but *two* vehicles to drive.  Even with "air issues" with them also, it is much cooler to be driving than it would be to be walking!   

And speaking of walking...we've been reading about how many people in the world spend hours each day just walking to carry water for their families.  Talk about hot!   We are so blessed to have clean, running water.  

And ice.  Ice is one of my favorite things on earth right now.  I am practically tethered to my big cup of ice lately.  I had never really realized until this week what a luxury a glass of ice is!   Clean water *plus* the electricity to keep it frozen...and I don't even have to freeze my own..I can buy bags of it at the store.   I can even go to the drive through and buy Sonic ice...which is a luxury indeed. 

A house, with locks on the doors, electricity, and indoor plumbing.  I get so frustrated with this old ramshackle house at times, and the time/money required to do the work it needs...but even with all of it's issues, it's *so* much better than what much of the world lives in, and I am thankful for it. 

An abundance of food.  Food is a great source of frustration for me at times.  People always seem to need to eat just when I am really making progress in another area!  And then there are the dishes.  Always more dishes to wash!  Trying to keep the grocery budget down, trying to figure out how to cook while producing the least heat in the kitchen, racing to use up perishable food before the heat and humidity get to it.   But what a blessing all those little annoyances are.  I never have to worry that I won't have food to feed my family...and *usually* I am even able to cater to the taste preferences of the picky people around here.   More luxury...

And then the real luxuries, totally unnecessary, but how we depend on and enjoy them!...dvd player, cell phone, computer and internet service, and books, books, and more books!  And the list goes on....

Most of all today, I am thankful for the Giver of the gifts.  God has reminded me over and over lately (because I've needed a lot of reminding...*ouch*) of the wonder of Who He is...His faithfulness, His sovereignty, His sufficiency, His goodness, His love, His forgiveness, His mercy and grace...and the wonders that He has shown us of Who He is are just a very dim reflection of Who He *really* is...so much more than we could ever begin to imagine!

We're singing a new song in choir.  It's already become a favorite of mine.  If there were nothing else in the world to be thankful for today, the reality behind this song would be enough.  Wish I could have found a video...the music is beautiful, too.  But these words are just amazingly powerful in their simplicity, even without the music...

Jesus, Your Name

JESUS, YOUR NAME, Prince of Peace, 
Quiets my soul, treasures the least.
In perfect rest You will keep 
All whose hope is in You.
Jesus, Your name can silence the storms
The strivings that trouble our world.
Jesus, Your name reveals You as Lord;
Oh, powerful name!

Jesus Your name, Counsellor,
Wonderful Way, Life's Comforter.
Spirit of truth defending me
Though in me was the blame.
Jesus, Your name has stood in my place
And freed me from hopeless shame;
Jesus, Your name now fathers me; 
With joy I bear His name.

Jesus Your name, Mighty God,
All powerful One, ruling in love.
There is a King upon the throne
Earth cannot overthrow.
Jesus, Your name, great banner of hope
Steadies the knees of the weak.
Jesus, the name all nations will praise; 
Oh, glorious name!

~Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty & Ian Hannah

To see what others are thankful for today, visit Laurie's blog.