Wedding Chatter...

I very rarely (thank goodness!) set the alarm for a time earlier than 5:00 a.m.  And I almost never (in fact, I'm having trouble coming up with a time in recent history) get my children up before 5:00.  However, this morning I propped my eyes open with toothpicks and crept in to wake Emlyn and Ammah Grace up to watch the Royal Wedding.  Bayley insisted that she couldn't watch, because she is supposed to watch it on video with Kaitlyn tonight, "and I can't watch it without her!"  And Peter was totally uninterested in the whole event.  Emlyn and AG, however, have been completely captivated by the whole thing, and extracted a solemn promise from me last night to "wake us up in time, Mama!!"   And so, I did.  

We had some very good Mama-Daughter bonding time as we critiqued hats, enjoyed the incredible beauty of the historic architecture, and did some serious online people watching.  We also got in a history lesson or two...who says you can't have school at 5 a.m.??? :)  Mostly, we just had fun.  

Our early morning time together yielded some amusing comments by my two youngest daughters.  Some had to do with the wedding; others were of a more random nature.  Here's a sampling:

We were discussing the age of Westminster Abbey.  One of the girls asked if it was older than Abraham Lincoln.  When I replied that it was, they then asked "What about George Washington?"  I said, "Yes, him, too."  Emlyn thought for a minute and then said, "I wish George Washington or Abraham Lincoln were still president."  Ammah Grace responded, "Yeah, they were good guys," just as Emlyn continued with "Or at least the Vice President."  I'm not sure what tickled me most...the thought of Presidents Washington and Lincoln being called "good guys", or the idea of either of these great men serving as the Vice President under any of today's politicians.  :)

I had followed a trail of links to this page about Royal Wedding dresses, and we were reading about the details.  As I read about Camilla's headdress, which was made from "gold leafed feathers that were tipped with Swarovski diamonds,"  one of the girls said, "It sounds like it should be pretty, but when you look at it, it isn't."   Definitely. :)

After the ceremony was over, the girls went back to get a bit more rest before starting chores.  Emlyn wandered back in a bit later and said, in a most pitiful voice, "I'm doomed!"  I asked why, and she started talking about the children's musical, which is scheduled for Sunday night, and in which she has a speaking part and a short solo.  I said, "You did perfectly last night...you'll do great!  Why are you doomed??"  Her reply:  "Whenever I have a solo in front of a few people, I have butterflies, but when I have a solo in front of all those big grown-up people, I have bats!!"   Well...there you have it. :)

"When God Becomes Real"

I got a bit teary as I watched this video this morning, listening to John MacArthur telling about his wife's near death in an auto accident and sharing these thoughts:  

"You know, in that moment, you either know God is in charge of everything, or you don't.  And if you don't think God is in charge of everything, and you don't know why this happened, and this isn't fair and this isn't right and who did this?  Did the Devil do this?  Is this just sort of free-wheeling life without any purpose?  You're gonna struggle to make sense out of it. But the Bible teaches that He's in control of everything, and for His own children, it all happens for good.   And the  Apostle Paul said embrace your suffering, embrace the pain, because in it you're perfected, in it you are matured.  In it you learn to pray more intensely and you draw nearer to the Lord.  In it you're going to find grace poured into your life...
We learn more through the suffering than we ever learn through the blessings of life." 
 ~ John MacArthur, "When God Becomes Real"

Have you had one of those moments?  A moment when God suddenly becomes real?  Not necessarily "moment of salvation real"...that is one kind of "becoming real"...but "rubber meets the road, do I really and truly believe this?" real.  Kind of like becoming a parent....there is the moment that baby is born, when you very definitely become a "real parent", but there is also that moment, often later on down the road during the first crisis situation or illness, when you suddenly realize that you are totally responsible for that tiny little human, and you come to grips with the fact that you are a "real parent" all the way down to your toes. 

As I listened to John MacArthur this morning, I remembered very vividly that time in my life.  I had been a Believer since childhood, and yet for many of those years, it had been easy to believe, even during the hard times.  Suddenly we were facing our greatest crisis ever, and  I hit a period of intense wrestling with God.  I was forced to decide, in that struggle, if I truly believed all that I had been taught all my life, all that I had said for many years that I believed with all my heart.  Did I really mean the things I'd said all those years?  Did I believe that God was totally in control of everything?  Did I believe that God was truly good?  Did I really believe that He had a plan for my life, for our family, for our children?   Suddenly just believing it, just saying it...wasn't enough.  I had to KNOW those things down to the core of my being...or abandon them entirely.  

God was gracious to keep that intense period of struggle mercifully short, and to give the calm assurance in the end that only He can give.  There are still days that I struggle with the circumstances and how we are handling them.  There are still days that I get very discouraged.  There are still days I grieve what I *thought* life was supposed to be.   Those days, for the most part, are way fewer and further between than they used to be, for which I am so grateful!  But they've by no means been totally eradicated. We've been in a period of relative calm this year, with no major crises, and even gotten to take two trips in as many months to get away as a family (something completely unheard of for us before the past year!)   And yet, as I told a friend the other day, I've struggled more in the last few weeks than I have in a long, long time.  I don't have an explanation for that....it really doesn't make much sense.  

I've realized something recently though...that every reminder of the struggle is also a reminder of the things that God has taught me through it, the things He has shown me about Himself, and the work He has done already through it.  Every reminder is a reminder that  He IS real, He IS in control of it all, and He HAS poured and IS pouring grace upon grace into my life.  And that is all good.


Worth Reading...

I hope to post a "real" post soon, but in the meantime, here are some links worth a look...

On Forgiveness...Tim Challies posts an excellent article on forgiveness based on Lou Priolo's book Pleasing People.  The kids and I used this today during our Bible time as we discussed the difference between apologizing and repentance.  

On True Change...Some of you may have seen this article on Jack Eckerd, founder of Eckerd Drugs, when I posted it on Facebook last week, but I thought it worth posting here as well.  Bro. David used it as a sermon illustration last Sunday when we were in Conway.  Really powerful picture of what God can do in one person who truly repents and follows Him. 

On Being Ready...David Wilkerson, author of The Cross and the Switchblade and founder of Teen Challenge, was killed in an automobile accident last night.  This is his blog post from yesterday...Wow.  What amazing last words from a faithful servant.  

On Real Love...One of what I'm sure will be many more stories of heroism in the wake of the horrific weather of the past few days.  Beautiful but heartbreaking story of a father's love...here. 


Lessons from a Lakeside Getaway...

Fourche LaFave River at Y City

We were blessed with the opportunity to make a quick trip to Hot Springs/Lake Catherine this past weekend.  We spent some time with Billy's parents, had an Easter egg hunt with our niece and nephew (and a cute little "neighbor" boy...:)), and mostly just relaxed and enjoyed fun family time and soaking in God's beautiful creation.  I'll be posting (I hope!) more about the trip throughout the next week or so, but thought I would share a few random "lessons" I learned (or perhaps more appropriately, realizations to which I came) along the way...

Cabin kitchen at Lake Catherine

I no longer care for non-stick cookware.   {Insert shocked-faced smiley here. :-O}

I was a diehard Teflon lover up until just a few years ago.  I really didn't think I could cook without it.  Then my favorite nonstick chicken fryer (huge skillet essential for a family of six or more :)) got a big nasty gouge.  I couldn't bring myself to replace it for a couple of reasons....(1) Good ones were expensive, and I had a perfectly good stainless steel one hiding in the back of the cabinet.  Frugality demanded I get the stainless one out and try to make it work, and (2) I had read way too much about the dangers of Teflon (and other non-stick coatings) by then, and while it was one thing to "use what I had", I couldn't really justify going out and *buying* the stuff.  

So...with much trepidation, I chunked my trusty old scarred nonstick chicken fryer, and pulled out the stainless one from under the counter.  It took a few attempts before I became comfortable with it, but, wonder of wonders, I decided I actually *enjoyed* cooking in it...and LOVED the fact that I didn't have to worry all the time about scratching the surface and poisoning us all!  

From there, I gradually transitioned to all non-nonstick.  The only nonstick item I still use on a regular basis is my electric skillet.  Someday I'm going to splurge on a stainless electric skillet...but for now, I'm using what I have there. :)

But back to the trip...

One of the {many} things we love about the cabins at Lake Catherine is the fact that they all have fully outfitted kitchens.  We cooked more this trip than we have any other.  Almost all of the cookware in the cabins...maybe all of it, come to think of it...is nonstick.  I was about 2 minutes into cooking a "big breakfast" of bacon, eggs, and biscuits (but sadly, no gravy...:-( )  when I realized..."this nonstick stuff is driving me crazy!" 

I had to laugh at myself a bit at that point, remembering how long I put off the transition (before finally being "pushed" into it :)), and how much I dreaded the thought of the change.  It made me wonder what other things I am avoiding that could turn out being so much better in the end.  What other things cause me to react with an "I could never do that!", when in reality, I just need to bite the bullet, step out of my comfort zone, and make the transition?  

"The one I almost got."

The "perfect photo op" almost always arrives the moment you put your camera down.

I took about 1000 pictures on this trip. I'm really working on learning my camera and building my photography skills right now...and pushing myself to stay off auto.  As a result, I have a handful of fairly good photos, quite a few serious mistakes, and a whole lot of "okay" pictures from this trip.  I also have a whole file in my mind of "the ones I missed"...the cute little bird hanging off the roof a few feet above me, several huge hawks that flew off the perfect perch just as I managed to get my camera out, my oldest daughter falling in the lake :), numerous ducks/geese taking off and landing on the water, etc., etc., etc.  That "file" is a good reminder to take to heart the old scout motto, "Be prepared."  Once a moment is gone, it's gone forever, and can't be recaptured.  I need to remember that not only in photography, but in LIFE.  Those missed moments are easy to see in photography...sometimes I don't realize as clearly the "moments" I'm missing (or squandering) in everyday life...

And one I caught, just barely. :)

Having only one plate (or bowl, or fork, or spoon, or cup) per person motivates you to keep up with the dishes. 

The cabin we stayed in has a maximum capacity of six, which happens to be the number of people in our family.  The kitchen contains exactly six plates, six bowls, six cups, and six place settings of silverware.  If someone gets a snack between meals, their dish(es) must be washed before the family eats again.  I realized that having a very limited amount of dishes really kept me on my toes...and made "doing the dishes" much less of a burden than it seems to be at home.  Apparently less really can be more in this situation...and while I'm not sure we could practically manage in everyday life with just one place setting apiece, I think we could purge quite a bit and streamline our kitchen somewhat.  With six people and no automatic dishwasher, every little bit helps!  I'm working on deciding what we really *need* in the kitchen, and then plan to take a big box (or two or three) to Goodwill soon.  Then we're going to move on from the kitchen to our closets/dressers (eek!), and then (double-eek!!) to the bookshelves and even my craft stash.  We were already on a mission to declutter, but I have extra motivation now. 

TV commercials are way more annoying than they used to be (and the majority of programs even moreso!)

We have been without any kind of TV reception for many years.  We have Netflix, and watch other things occasionally online, but our exposure to the majority of network/cable television and the accompanying commercials is pretty limited.  

The cabins at the Lake have satellite, and it's always a treat for the kids to get to watch a few favorite shows while we're there...and for Billy and I to catch up with a bit of Food Network, among other things.  This certainly wasn't the first time I had noticed it, but it seemed to irritate me more than usual this time....there are just a whole lot of very annoying commercials these days, and even more annoying TV shows.  As we surfed through the channels, I was amazed (and sometimes quite appalled) at several things I couldn't IMAGINE anyone watching (including things targeting children), even as I realized that obviously people *are* watching, or the shows wouldn't be on the air.  And supposedly these were the "family friendly" channels...

But even leaving out the obviously "bad" stuff...there is just so much out there now that is just flat out *annoying*....*junk* that has no real redeeming value other than for {seriously debatable} entertainment purposes.  Ick!

There is really and truly a bond between Believers that time and distance cannot break.

It sounds cheesy and trite, I know.  And I'm cheating a bit on this one.  It's not by any means a new realization, and it didn't occur at the Lake, but on our way home Sunday as we spent Easter at my "home" church in Conway and then had lunch with some long-time family friends.  But it's nonetheless true.  What a blessing it was to walk into an auditorium that hadn't even been built yet when I was there, with hundreds of new faces everywhere, and still be able to feel "at home".  And what a joy to be able to worship with my husband and children alongside dearly-loved friends who invested much in me through the years, and see them loving on my family just as they loved on me!  

And last but not least, I have the best husband in the whole world...

Another thing I already knew, but he proved it over and over again on this trip. :)  I am spoiled.  I am blessed.  I am thankful for a husband who does lots of things he'd rather not do, just because he knows they would make me happy.  


He is Risen!

John 20

The Resurrection
 1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples went back to their homes.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
 11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." 14Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 16Jesus said to her,"Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"—and that he had said these things to her.
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again,"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."
Jesus and Thomas
 24Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."
 26Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." 28Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
The Purpose of This Book
 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


Deep Love...

Romans 5

Peace with God Through Faith
 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Death in Adam, Life in Christ
 12Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam,who was a type of the one who was to come. 15But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
 18Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Power of the Cross...


John 19

Jesus Delivered to Be Crucified
 1Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3They came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands. 4Pilate went out again and said to them, "See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him." 5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Behold the man!" 6When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him." 7The Jews answered him, "We have a law, andaccording to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God." 8When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" ButJesus gave him no answer. 10So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?" 11Jesus answered him, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin."
 12From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar." 13So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!"15They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.
The Crucifixion
   So they took Jesus, 17and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." 20Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but rather, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" 22Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."
 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

    "They divided my garments among them,
   and for my clothing they cast lots."
   So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" 27Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
The Death of Jesus
 28After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said ( to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst." 29A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus’ Side Is Pierced
 31Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness— his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth— that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken." 37And again another Scripture says, "They will look on him whom they have pierced."
Jesus Is Buried
 38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body.39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. 40So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.