Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Just Shall Live by Faith

On this date in 1517 Martin Luther posted his "Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences" (otherwise known as the 95 Theses) on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg. Though there were some who came before him - such as Wycliffe and Hus - who began to re-open the doors to justification by faith alone, it is Luther that we consider the Father of the Reformation. And so began a rich spiritual heritage and today we celebrate Reformation Day.

One of my favorite of Luther's works is his Commentary on Galatians. He wrote it to encourage Christians to hold fast to the newly rediscovered "doctrine of faith" and keep from slipping back into the "doctrine of works and men's traditions." Here's a quote: "For in the righteousness of faith we work nothing, we render nothing unto God, but we only receive, and suffer another to work in us, that is to say, God."

Luther also composed one of my favorite hymns, sung at our wedding: "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." (emphasis mine)

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
does seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great
and armed with cruel hate
on earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
Happy Reformation Day!

Monday, October 29, 2007

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works" Ephesians 2:10
"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." Psalm 19:1

I am not an interior decorator. I am not even particularly artistic. But over the years, I have been convinced by some of my heroes - like Charlotte Mason and Edith Schaeffer - that since we are image-bearers of The Creator, we ourselves have some inborn creativity. God is a God of beauty and we should reflect that in our lives. It's so easy to get tied up in the mundane events of daily life that we push creative efforts - like beautifying our homes - to the back burner.

Several years ago, I was inspired by Edith Schaeffer's book The Hidden Art of Homemaking. She defines "hidden art" as "the art found in the ordinary areas of everyday life." She challenges us to take our own creativity seriously in making our homes beautiful places that reflect our personality and bless those who live in and visit them. Whether we live in a "palace or a tree house, beauty is important." (Hidden Art, p.110)

I have become slack in this area, but lately have been trying to improve. Simple things like cloth napkins at dinner, a new way of arranging pillows on the sofa, finishing some sewing for the home I started ages ago, or cleaning my own bedroom the best to make it a refuge for me and my Sweetie - small things make a big difference in the atmosphere of my home. This weekend I decided to make some more progress in the kids' bathroom. The new paint and accessories look cute, but the walls wanted some art. I have always thought the simple little canvases Pottery Barn sells are cute - but SO overpriced. I can do that on my own, right? So with some good tips from my artist friend, Ginny, I set out to make a couple of pictures for our undersea bathroom. The supplies cost around $10. What do you think? (The close-up of the pictures doesn't show off the pretty color of the walls, but the flash made the metallic blue paint on the "boy fish" look funny.)
Now I challenge you to go find some "hidden art" in your own home!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Looking out over the southern part of Tampa Bay from the De Soto National Monument

Monday, October 22, 2007

She ran with perseverance...

Go give a high five to Wendy at Showered With Grace who just ran a marathon yesterday. I have so enjoyed her posts along the journey -- telling of the hills and valleys of training, with lots of spiritual applications. She's a sister in the Lord and an encourager. Way to go!!

Book Review Time!

As you may (or may not) have noticed, I have a couple of books in my "What I'm Reading" list that have been there quite a while! It's not because I'm not reading, but because I keep getting pulled away from those particular books to read something else - usually for school. I've put Sense and Sensibility aside to catch up to my Sweetie in the Mitford series. (I read the first 5 years ago; he's listening to the audio version and is on book 7!)

I recently finished reading the 6th book, A Common Life. I was somewhat reluctant to get into it, since the story doesn't pick up where book 5 leaves off, but rather goes back to tell the story of Father Tim and Cynthia's wedding. Once I began, however, I couldn't put the book down. When I finished the last chapter, my soul sighed and said, "Ahhhhh."

Jan Karon masterfully weaves great storytelling with spiritual truth. I laughed and I cried. After reading this lovely, short novel, I wanted to love my husband more; I wanted to love my God more. Enjoyable, easy to read, profound.

Don't worry if you haven't read any of the Mitford books before - A Common Life can stand on its own. Ms. Karon works in enough information about the characters and the setting that you never feel lost. I encourage you to find a copy at your library and read it. It will bless your soul!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Life, Psalms, and a Song

Life has been full around here lately. Let me clarify - life is always full around here, but lately it has been more full than usual. On top of the typical activities for a homeschool family of seven, I have prepared for selling in a local consignment sale, attended a women's retreat, and had a visit from my Mom.

Each time I get ready for a consignment sale, I wonder if it's even worth it anymore! The hassle of sorting, ironing, tagging - you know the drill. But this particular sale is low key and I actually enjoy shopping it. I usually find a few essential pieces for each of the 5 kids and make enough money to cover what I spend. So it's a wash - I just think of it as hand-me-downs that I select from perfect strangers. :) Today I actually found coats for 2 kids that desperately need them, an adorable Piglet costume ($2!) for my little one, and some "cool" clothes for my teen and pre-teen boys. I think I can say it was worth the trouble this time.

The womens retreat was last weekend. Any chance for a busy mom like me to have a night away is a treat and this was no exception. "Retreating" from my daily life, even if for a mere 22 hours, nourishes my soul. It was fun to hang out with other women from our church, of all ages, and have "roomies" like I was in college again. The speaker was a godly woman who is a pastor's wife, mother of six boys, and breast cancer survivor. She had so much to say about God growing our faith through suffering and how we can't wait until "life calms down" to start drinking deeply from the Word and serving the Lord with all our heart. It was convicting, challenging, and encouraging all at the same time. The worship services were awesome, too - hearing hundreds of women's voices (there were other churches represented there as well) praising the Lord together - it sent chills up my spine!

My Mom arrived just as I was heading out the door for the retreat and has been here all week. She is a fabulous Grandma and it has been such a blessing to have her around - especially because she likes to play with the little ones and take them outside when I'm doing school with the "Big 3" or trying to get dinner together. We visited a local Pumpkin Patch, where everyone petted Peter Rabbit and his bunny friends; and brought home several pumpkins of all sizes. The kids have had a blast painting the pumpkins with Mimi, who loves anything artistic. We also made a trek to Ikea and enjoyed shopping and eating there. It's been a fun week and I hate to see her go - and not just because she's been doing all the laundry! ha ha! (She did have her own laundry adventure, though, when she accidentally put floor cleaner in the new machine and made bubbles all over the laundry room! A., my 3-year-old said,"Isn't that ah-larious?!")

I've been meditating on Psalm 16 this week. I have found so many applications for its verses in the last few days that I'm considering having us memorize it as a family. I encourage you to go check it out in its entirety, but here are some of my favorite verses:

"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places'
Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance." v.5-6

"I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken." v.8

"You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." v.11

Lastly - I have a new favorite song, thanks to my sister-in-law, Emily. It's called Sacred by Caedmon's Call, off their album Overdressed. (You can find it at iTunes.) It is a song about being a busy mom and how every mundane task we do is "sacred" if we do it for the Lord. My favorite line is "My cup runneth over, and I worry about the stain" Isn't that true? The music is good, too - kind of folksy with some life to it. Check it out!

Have a blessed weekend!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Tiny Talk Tuesday

Mary over at Not Before 7 is hosting a "Tiny Talk Tuesday." So even though most of mine are not "tiny," here goes:

"Hey, C.! It's about time for our leaf pile!" - 8yo M. to her brother - the two built "Mini Mt. Everest" out of leaves last year next to the swing set and jumped off the swings into it. And yes, M., it is time - Welcome, Fall!

"Mom, I gonna take all my buddies down to safety." 3yo A., carrying his "buddies" (stuffed animals) down to the landing on the stairs. Safety from what?? Some manly character in my little guy!

"Hey Dad - this coupon is only worth 1/1ooth of a cent!" 11 yo C. discovering that coupons have "cash value." I wonder how many he'll try to stockpile to redeem for cash....

"Uh" Translation: "up" - 17 mo K.'s new word

And the winner of the Split My Sides Laughing Award...
"Please don't use me as a napkin!" 13yo S., sitting next to A. at the table on Italian night!

Now hop over to Not Before 7 for some more Tiny Talk.