Friday, September 29, 2006

In Celebration of Fall Break

I've definitely been under the weather this week, so I think it's safe to say that Fall Break has come at the perfect time! While I will still be working next week, I have requested a day off, thus making the break from school a little more official. On this Friday before the week of rest from midterms, quizzes, and research papers, I decided to do a little something random during my slow day here at work. It's called "Complete the Thought," and while my answers aren't terribly excited, maybe you'll still find it at least somewhat amusing...

Never again in my life: will I be a Spice Girl.

When I was five: I was still trying to break my thumb-sucking habit, and I met my first best friend, Amber Shae.

High School was: a rollercoaster I'm glad to be done with. Although it was a significant time of growth, it was a chapter I closed with a sigh of relief...

I will never forget: mine and Bob's first date. We went and saw "Finding Nemo" and then I spent the night throwing up in his endearing.

I once met: a few singers you may or may not recognize: David Phelps, Michelle Tumes, Andrew Peterson, and Rhythm.

There’s this girl I know who: is moving to Indonesia for 6 months in December.

By noon I’m usually: antsy, ready to get another caffeine kick and wondering how I'm going to make it through the rest of the afternoon at work. By noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays though, I'm usually meeting my man for lunch at school.

Last night I: watched the season premiere of "Smallville", complained about all of the retarded new CW commercials, and fell asleep at 9:30.

Next time I go to church: will be the Sunday of Fall Break, so I'm guessing a lot of people won't be there.

What worries me most is: my personal finances.

When I turn my head right, I see: my other computer monitor, a picture of Nali, a picture of Bob and I (we're a rather handsome pair!), and my kleenex box.

When I turn my head left, I see: my cup of hot tea, headphones, company phonelist and regional map. Oh, and the evidence that I'm obsessed with cool pens that write pretty...

You know I’m lying when: I won't look you in the eye when I'm explaining myself, or rather trying to justify myself. I get defensive in a rather senseless way, and am quick to get offended when you try and call me out on what I'm saying. (Oh, the joys of questions that make you hold the mirror up to yourself...)

If I was a character written by Shakespeare I'd: be a really silly, aloof character who walks around some enchanted garden singing to herself.

By this time, next year: I'm not gonna say it, I'm not gonna say it! Because what I want by this time next year hasn't been revealed as His will just yet :) But I what I DO know is that, Lord-willing, I will be that much further through my masters degree. Oh, and Nali will be almost 4 years old, and little puppy Maia will be over a year old!

A better name for me would be: Bob likes to call me "Old Man" because that's how I move around when I'm tired...

I have a hard time understanding: 1) myself when I studder, 2) anything related to science

If I ever go back to school I’ll: be calling myself crazy for being in school for so long!

You know I like you if: I make it a point to call or email you, saying how/why I appreciate you (and if I REALLY REALLY like you, you may get a REAL letter in the mail!)

Three people who bore me are: Greta van Susteren (if you're a Fox News fan, you'll hopefully understand), Barefoot Contessa (I don't even know her real name, but she's on Food Network), and the guy who played Napoleon Dynamite (I'm just not amused...)

Take my advice, NEVER: despair. "As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death." *2 Corinthians 7:9-10

My ideal breakfast is: I'm a Southern girl, so take a guess! I looooove breakfast!

A song I love, but do not have is: There are a few: "Arise and Be Comforted" from Watermark's A Grateful People CD, "May it Be" by Enya from The Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack

If you visit my hometown, I suggest: purchasing a map of the Dallas/Fort Worth area...

Why won’t anyone: whisk me away on a vacation, and bring me back to the surprise of someone having painted my apartment for me???

If you spend the night at my house, DO: expect one 65-pound dog and one 20-pound dog to climb up into the bed with you. AND they'll be your best friends for the rest of your life :)

The world could do without: spiders and skeeters (I was tempted to go political on this one, but I refrained)

I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: give blood or take part in any other activity which requires a needle

My favorite blonde is: Jana Cotton and Reese Witherspoon Paperclips are more useful than: staples. You can remove paperclips, but if you remove a staple then the paper is inevitably imperfect. There's no going back...(from the mouth of a school nerd)

San Diego means: the land of the devil? Oh wait, that's "Diablo"...yeah, I didn't do well in Spanish.

Friday, September 22, 2006

So this comes as quite a surprise! I simply responded to the question asked by the ladies at GirlTalk, and they posted what I wrote:

From Modesty to Vanity

I bought new makeup last weekend. Now, I know most ladies would read a statement like that and wonder why in the world I would devote my time and energy to writing something that is pretty standard for a woman's list of necessities. When my mom was visiting this summer, she recommended a line of makeup that I try. This is my mom who used the same brand of makeup for about fifteen years, and even she was convinced to make the switch. So after much debating, I decided to throw my cheap products in the trash and go with something totally new. As I said, this may not be all that intriguing to your average individual, but for me this was a significant move on a number of levels.

I tend to be what some would consider almost too frugal when it comes to buying clothes and makeup for myself. I've just never been a big shopper for such things. You will often find me deciding on new books or scrapbook materials to buy before deciding whether or not to purchase a new shade of eyeshadow. The same makeup has been sitting on my dresser simply because it is inexpensive, not because of it being of significant benefit to the look or health of my face. I go into stores like Ulta and have a feeling comparable to dizziness as I don't even know where to begin looking for specific products. Well, when my mother was in town, we had this discussion about my skincare, and I was convinced by the end of our talk that it was time to invest in skincare and makeup that was really worth my money. I've been using this new makeup now for just over a week and while I am not one to advertise products, I must say that this is one of the greatest purchases I have ever made when it comes to any kind of cosmetics. It is so fresh and illuminating, I oftentimes forget that I am wearing makeup at all.

There is something to be said about products that can give you full coverage, but still let you be comfortable in your own skin. This is particularly significant for me due to the skin problems I have had and will have for my entire life. Due to the nature of my condition (tuberous sclerosis), I have an assortment of issues with my skin. The most noticeable areas to the public eye are those on my face. Rather than being comfortable in my own skin, I have often tried to mask the problems. As an adolescent, even my clothing choices often reflected just how modest I was. I was so concerned with my own opinions of how my skin looked to the outside world that I covered up. I was concerned about how any article of clothing would cover me, from bathing suits to the pants I chose to wear. Looking back now, I think I was defined by how modest I was in my choice of clothing, and I saw it as some great virtue held throughout my adolescence. But when does modesty become vanity? The concern with young girls is often immodesty, but when does the extreme of that become just as great of a concern? I was more than defined by my decision to dress modestly: I was consumed.

When you look at the pattern of idols in our hearts, even modesty can become vain. Something initially desired and viewed as good can quickly turn into a form of self-worship. Modesty becomes vain when I am defined by such while simultaneously shaking my head when another woman tells me the truth that I am a child, a daughter, of the King. "'Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.'" (Matthew 23:25-26, ESV) The Lord was gracious in showing me over time that my heart is what people see. No matter how modest I may appear outwardly, others will know whether or not I truly possess a spirit of gentility and grace. If there are heart issues consuming me, such as constant concerns with my skin problems, no measure of external modesty will mask the real me. This pertains to my face as well. No amount of makeup will cover up the real blemishes--the lies regarding how I look to others, the lies that tell me that how I look outwardly is essential--those idols sitting comfortably on the throne in my heart.

PRAISE HIM that I am wonderfully made, bought with the precious blood of Christ and not based on my own choosing, but according to His glorious grace and sovereign will! Praise Him according to His glorious grace, for we are made new, forgiven, redeemed, and intricately created in His image.

Make me over, make me new ~ Make me a mirror, a reflection of You ~ Take me all apart ~ Take me to Your heart and pull me closer ~ Sweet Savior, make me over ~ I am only made of Your imagining ~ I'm dust and clay on the wind ~ Wash me in the river of Your sacrifice ~ Until I'm changed, purified ~ Take me all apart ~ Take me to Your heart and pull me closer ~ My Jesus, make me over (N.G.)

"Those who look to him are radiant,and their faces shall never be ashamed." (Psalm 34:5)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Daddy's Little Girl

Drift off and dream in your paper-doll world
Play with the presents from the boys and the girls.
Your big day is over. The cake is all gone.
We sang you to sleep with the birthday song.
No, you'll never be one again.
The two's are tumblin' on in.
Daddy's little girl is growing up in the world.
You'll never be one again.
The toy piano is quiet in the hall
as Kermie the frog sits watching it all.
And soon your legs will grow and make the tricycle go
and take you away from us all.
No, you'll never be one again.
The two's are tumblin' on in.
Daddy's little girl is growing up in the world.
You'll never be one again.
(Never Be One - Alabama)

Regardless of the band given due credit for writing this song, I will always hear my dad's voice when these words come to mind. He sang this to me, whether while tucking me in at night or cleaning house together on a Saturday afternoon. His soft, meek voice is the one I will always hear singing this familiar melody, remembering how he used to twirl me around the living room as if such a tune had been written just for me. He had priceless traditions and memories with my brother as well, but this one...this memory is ours.

All of us daughters have memories of our fathers; whether he was present or absent, consoling or cold, interested or preoccupied, we all have distinct associations with our own fathers. One of mine just so happens to be a song that the majority of people I know have never heard. Beyond such memories, though, I have recently begun pondering the lasting impact fathers have on their daughters. There have been numerous resources, particularly in the area of theological education, pertaining to mothers training their daughters, but what has been observed regarding fathers? Here is a rather brief list of considerations for taking a closer look at such a crucial relationship:
  • effects of the father being present and engaged in his daughter's life;
  • effects of the father being distant either due to other priorities or in the event of divorce;
  • how single fathers engage their daughters and create a safe and loving environment in which to raise her;
  • ways in which the father can set a standard for the men his daughter will meet and potentially date in the future;
  • the father protecting his daughter from emotional, physical, sexual harm;
  • the father reflecting the Father's love and discipline for His children;
  • how the father can encourage and train his daughter toward biblical womanhood
I know that the bond between fathers and daughters is crucial, but I also know that I am still young and inexperienced. Looking further into the effects and impact of such a relationship I know will strike a chord with me, and I pray earnestly that whatever I glean will be rewarding both now and in the future.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. ~Romans 15:4

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. ~Hebrews 3:12-13

How else does one expose an unbelieving heart? How else does one expose a heart hardened by the deceitfulness of sin? Psychology will not tell me that the root of my idolatry is sin, nor is such counsel provided that produces true hope and sanctification.

In 2002, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution entitled "On the Sufficiency of Scripture in a Therapeutic Culture." There is a deep conviction for God-glorifying, Christ-centered, Bible-saturated counseling evidenced in such a resolution. Anything less is insufficient and falls short of the real solution to the human condition.

  • WHEREAS, Southern Baptists are committed to the authority, sufficiency, and relevance of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15-17); and
  • WHEREAS, The Bible teaches that human beings are created in the image of God—made by Him, like Him, and for Him (Genesis 1:27-28)—and that because of sinful rebellion against the Creator, our entire being suffers from sin's corruption (Genesis 3:6-19; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Romans 1-3); and
  • WHEREAS, All aspects of our lives—including our spiritual, moral, and psychological conditions—are to be informed and governed by the application of and obedience to Holy Scripture (1 Corinthians 10:31); and
  • WHEREAS, In this therapeutic culture, physicians and counselors often ignore human sin and its effects, neglect our most fundamental human and spiritual needs, and therefore, misunderstand our condition, mistreat our problems, and sometimes unintentionally do more harm than good; and
  • WHEREAS, An uncritical acceptance of the therapeutic culture too often has infected our pulpits, ministries, and counseling (Colossians 2:8); and
  • WHEREAS, Our churches often have neglected our God-ordained responsibility for the care and cure of souls, becoming practically ineffective, both marginalizing ourselves from the culture and being marginalized by the mental health establishment; now, therefore, be it
  • RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, June 11-12, 2002, affirm Christian counseling that relies upon the Word of God rather than theories that are rooted in a defective understanding of human nature (John 17:17); and be it further
  • RESOLVED, That we affirm that any method worthy of the name "Christian counseling" must address the root of our problems and reveal the crux of God's solution—the redemptive work of Christ and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, by which the depths of sin and the fullness of grace are made known (Hebrews 4:12-16); and be it further
  • RESOLVED, That, while we affirm that there are real conditions that warrant legitimate medical treatment, we reject the assumptions of the therapeutic culture that offer a pharmacological solution for every human problem; and be it finally
  • RESOLVED, That we call on all Southern Baptists and our churches to reclaim practical biblical wisdom, Christ-centered counseling, and the restorative ministry of the care and cure of souls.
(A Resolution Adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention-St. Louis, Missouri-June 2002)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where were you?

My mother and father can both recount the hour, the place, the moment when they were told about President Kennedy's assassination. Such an event was a defining moment for that generation and for our country... I awoke that morning, September 11, 2001, to a beautiful day in Abilene, Texas. All of my friends and I were quickly getting ready for the inauguration ceremony for the new president at Hardin-Simmons. We were all in choir and had to report to the chapel by 9:00am. I remember hurrying downstairs and through the dorm lobby the small huddle of girls, when everything froze. Time seemed to stand still as we walked past the lobby, saw the faces of those staring at the big screen TV, and then directing our own eyes to the breaking news. Everything was a blur, and there were still just pieces of information being reported as 9:00 Central Standard Time meant 10:00 Eastern: an hour right in the midst of the horrific, breaking news. No one could speak as we walked outside and down the sidewalk toward the chapel.
When we arrived at the chapel and up the stairs to the balcony, the din of noises and fear was almost more than I could take in. As the ceremony commenced, the new president, Dr. Craig Turner, came to the podium in tears. No one knew what to say. What was originally anticipated to be a beautiful, celebratory day in September had, in a moments notice, drastically turned into a blurred day of fear and confusion. All the president knew to do was pray. Pray and plead for mercy.
The remainder of the day was eery. How do you accurately describe a cloudless, bright, sunny day as the worst ever imagined? I remember just wanting to be with people. The few times I left the comfort of companions in the dorm, I noticed that no one in view was alone. The scarce amount of students walking around campus were never by themselves: no one wanted to be alone on such a day. I spent the majority of the day and into the evening across the hall from my own dorm room in the presence of close friends. We didn't want to leave. We didn't really know what else there was to do, or what we could do. So we just stayed together, watching and wondering. September 11 was on a Tuesday, and Grace Bible Study resumed as scheduled over at the Civic Center. An evening which is normally characterized by bustling college students, excited and glad to be together in worship and Bible study was a night of clinging to one another as never before. I look back and I am still incapable of describing the mood of the evening. As with the earlier hours in the day, no one knew what to do. We were weak, helpless, vulnerable, and confused. That night at the Civic Center is a blur, but there is one song I remember us fighting to sing in the midst of blinding tears.
Help us, our God, help us, our Savior
For the glory of Your name, for the glory of Your kingdom
Deliver us, and atone for our sins
Deliver us, and forgive all our sins
Help us, our God, we come to You desperately needy
Help us, our God, may Your mercy come quickly to meet us
Help us, our God, help us, our God,
Help us, our God, for Your namesake
Help us, our God

Five years have now passed, which is somewhat unbelievable. So many lives were lost, so many wives and brothers and friends are missed terribly, and I still find myself unable to muster up the words. I don't know how I would respond if I were given the opportunity to visit Ground Zero and behold the aftermath of the event. I have visited the Holocaust Museum in Israel, and remember not being able to stomach the pictures and testimonies of that horrific time in this fallen world's history. Many questioned (and may still) where God was during all the chaos of September 11. While in many respects I am still speechless, one thing I do know is that God is sovereign. He's never absent, never out of control, never in need of our sinful, weak selves. He is sovereign, and His ways are not our ways.

If you are reading this, or come across this post at a later date, I pray that you know that truth and cling to Him as your only comfort in the face of such indescribable suffering. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 ~ "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

Friday, September 08, 2006

In Honor of Mr. Sad Spoon

I remember his face so vividly, and my apologies if I don't have the order of his appearances correct. The times I most often saw Mr. Sad Spoon were when he was traveling around in a purse. He would stay quiet and unbothered unless the child he was traveling with decided to disobey. After the second warning from the boy's parent, Mr. Sad Spoon would discreetly poke his head out and keep his eye on the boy to make sure he was obeying his mom. If the boy continued to act out...well, then he and Mr. Sad Spoon would evidently have to have a little meeting. I don't recollect Mr. Sad Spoon having to impart his wisdom too often, but there were definitely occasions.

I remember looking on at such times wondering as to the effects of Mr. Sad Spoon's particular form of discipline. Was this an effective means of correction? After my many visits to home where Mr. Sad Spoon was kept safe and sound, I was convinced that the answer to my question was "yes." I often looked on from a distance, wondering what was so distinct about this family's approach to discipline, their philosophy of raising their child, and how they came to know that this was effective. Even as an adolescent, I could see that there was appropriate correction going on. They were clearly doing something right, but at the time I didn't know how to articulate my observations or how to really dig deeper into why their means of discipline were so effective in raising up a child to love and fear the Lord. I didn't understand, and any form of discipline was completely foreign to me, so I simply assumed that they were really good parents. Don't get me wrong--they were great parents, but it was so much more than that, the reasons for which I have only recently been able to wrap my heart and mind around.

I am taking a class led by Dr. Stinson this semester on Parenting & Family Issues. This class has ministered to my heart much more than I was expecting. As many will agree who know me well, ministering to the family has always been a deep conviction of mine, so I was particularly excited about this class. Little did I know, however, just how much I would glean from the class discussions and required reading. Things that seemed like distant concerns to me for so long are now grabbing my attention, and I am finding myself meditating on passages of Scripture I would otherwise probably pass over (there's a bit of a confession for you--passing over portions of Scripture simply because they "don't apply.") What has blown me away in this class is just how much work it really is to train up children to love, obey, and fear the Lord. There are so many opportunities for parents to either boast in themselves and their progress, or spend hours awake at night in self-doubt over some poor choice they made either in a decision or harsh word spoken. There is much weight to the reality that parents are given the responsibility of teaching their children godly obedience and authority.

My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. --Proverbs 3:11-12

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. --Proverbs 22:15

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. . . . For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. --Hebrews 12:7-11

In our recent class discussion, the professor emphasized that the goal of disciplining children is not punishment. The goal of discipline is pointing your children to true repentance. Parents are to approach their children with the attitude of, “I am a sinner desiring for my child, a fellow sinner, to know Christ and be cleansed—to experience real sanctification.” Dr. Stinson’s three older children were directly impacted by the discipline implemented in the home when it came to their individual conversion experiences and relationship to Him. The Lord very directly used that in their lives. That is so powerful…that those children will one day be able to say of their father that he displayed God-glorifying authority and discipline in a humble manner that pointed them to Him.

At this point, due to my somewhat rare medical condition, I may not even be able to have children. However, I can look to my own upbringing and see where I either benefited or was hindered by the general approach to discipline in my home. I can also look to families I know and have known, and so much more makes sense. Whether the reality of the particular family dynamic is encouraging and humbling, or discouraging and frustrating, I can better understand why those particular households run as they do. The question of why parents and children respond to one another in certain ways is more clear. Children are under the authority and wisdom and counsel of their parents, and parents are responsible for pointing their children to the authority and wisdom and counsel of their Father. Idols of the heart, whether covert or overt, will inevitably manifest themselves in the relationships between parent and child. Only the Lord Himself can guide and instruct parents on how they are to train their children, and He alone should be glorified in how discipline is implemented.

(Recommended: Peacemaking for Families by Ken Sande/Tom Raabe, and Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

And even when the trees have just surrendered to the harvest time ~ Forfeiting their leaves in late September and sending us inside ~ Still I notice You when change begins And I am braced for colder winds ~ I will offer thanks for what has been and what's to come... (Nichole Nordeman)

Something happens when the fall season arrives, and here in Louisville it really does arrive. One night the sun sets, and the next day you awaken to brand new scenery. The windows are opened to allow the breeze in, the coffee is brewed extra early while there is a still a crisp chill in those first morning hours, and the fleece house shoes are worn after many months of being stored away in the closet. I know everyone has their preferred seasons, but there is something distinct about autumn. I am welcomed outdoors, whether to walk my dogs or find a vacant bench on campus to read, write, or simply gaze at the glorious array of colors. When I behold the changing of the leaves, the arrival of a crisp breeze, I cannot help but be amazed. There is beauty which was spoken into existence by the One who looked upon His creation and saw that it was good. And it is good. The crack of a leaf under your shoe, the smell of pine outdoors and pumpkin spice indoors, the vibrant hues of red and orange splashed throughout the sky as the trees stand in grand display.... Why do I spend so much time reflecting on such details of the autumn season? Because such intricate details draw me closer to Him and cause my heart to proclaim, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge!"~Psalm 19:1-2

These are but the outskirts of his ways and the beams of his beauty.
The glory of God is not a reality that can be transferred merely by words. There is an immediacy in this discovery —a spiritual perception happens, a holy taste is born, a God-given revelation hits home. And no flood of words, no amount of reasonings, no mere arguments could ever impart what the heart sees when it sees the glory of God. It can come through the skies or it can come through the Scriptures (see also 2 Corinthians 4:4-6) or it can come through the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit (John 2:11; Matthew 5:16). But it is always more than the fruit of the Spirit, more than the Scriptures, more than the skies. These are the portrait not the Reality. These are the handiwork, not the Artist. (John Piper, "Do You See the Joy of God in the Sun?")