Friday, March 28, 2008

Computers, Health Food and Other Musings

I'm back... but not for long! Our regular desktop computer is still having problems with connecting to the internet, so I'm stuck with a rather ancient, dilapitated laptop for the week that sometimes connects and sometimes doesn't... Rather, most of the time it doesn't work!
Suffice to say, I won't be blogging much or adding any new pictures till we get a computer working better. Hopefully, that will be soon!

Meanwhile, the lack of a decent computer translates into me having much more time to do other things... like cleaning my office which has recently begun to look like a tornado went through (it didn't help when my family decided to stack the contents of the schoolroom in there, too!) and doing housework (we managed to thoroughly clean the whole house in two hours today - lovely!) and catching up on thank you notes and paperwork. It's nice, but also a bit disconcerting to have things piling up in my inbox that really need to be dealt with soon!

Yesterday was a lovely spring day. We transplanted hundreds of little romaine lettuce plants to the garden in the afternoon. It was a nice chance for Mom and we older girls to catch up on everything happening in our lives and just talk.

Then, last night we attended the seminar put on by the New York Times Bestselling author, Jordan Rubin. (Perhaps you've read his books, "Patient, Heal Thyself" and his more recent one, "The Maker's Diet.") Last night Jordan was promoting his latest book, "Perfect Weight America" as he's on a nationwide tour, trying to get Americans to eat for health and wellness.

I've always like Jordan Rubin and his message. He was one of the first "health food fads" that I felt had a balanced approach to health and wellness and food. He didn't advocate vegetarianism and soy burgers, or all raw foods, or apple peels or sesame seeds three times a day to stay healthy. Perhaps I was a bit biased to start with because I was already a fan of Weston Price and his decades of research into native tribal diets and the need for a lot of high quality fats (butter, fish oils, etc) in the diet, which seemed so contrary to everything people were promoting in the 90's.

Anyway, Mr. Rubin always inspires me every time I hear him speak. Even though he's now the head of a huge and growing alternative health supplement company and a best-selling author, every time I see him, he seems just as genuine and humble as ever. One of my friends introduced me to his products back when he answered his own phone and packed the orders himself in a garage. When I first met him in person, his wife was a week away from her due date with their first baby. Their "baby" is now four years old! Time flies!

Last night his message was tinged with desperation, as he talked about America's health going down the tubes, and almost every unhealthy habit and disease trending the wrong direction each year. He begged everyone attending his seminar to go home and change their own lifestyles, but also to spread the message to other people.

Jordan threw out all kinds of interesting new studies and pieces of research on diet, food, and lifestyle choices. He rattled off all kinds of numbers about America's health going in the wrong direction. I guess the one that really hit me was when he stated that it is expected (following the current trend) that by the year 2015, one out of three children under the age of 8 will have Type II Diabetes! Wow!

I think I've even heard or read that statistic before, but hearing it combined with all the other information he presented made me ponder, What is this world coming to?!
Really. That statistic is unreal! One out of three kids giving themselves insulin shots? Pricking their finger before a meal?!

And that's only the tip of the iceberg. About five years ago in a CPR class, I remember being told that when checking for a carotid pulse (on the side of the neck where the carotid artery runs) in a child over the age of 10, to always check both sides if you don't find a pulse on one side. Why? Because, many of them have arteries so plugged by the age of ten, that you can only find a pulse on one side!

I better not get I'll quit now, before you hear me ranting about diet soda, vegetable oil, and macaroni and cheese! (For those of you wondering, I don't eat perfectly all the time - far from it! But I'm working on it, and try to make concious decisions to choose good food!)

Hearing Jordan Rubin speak again renewed in me a desire to see people care about their health enough to *do* something about it. And it reminded me of how grateful I should be that I was raised on fresh Jersey milk and butter, homeground wheat bread, and vegetables out of the garden! I have a lot to be thankful for!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

When We Fail to Praise

When we fail to praise a man that deserves praise, two sad things happen; we run a chance of driving him from the right road for want of encouragement, and we deprive ourselves of one of the very happiest privileges, the privilege of rewarding labor that deserves a reward.

- Ruskin

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Beneath the Cross of Jesus

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way.
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.
Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of one who suffered there for me;
And from my smitten heart with tears two wonders I confess -
The wonders of redeeming love, and my unworthiness.
I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss.
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.
Elizabeth C. Clephane

Monday, March 24, 2008

Love that leads to God

I've been loving John Piper's book, A Godward Life.
It's so full of good snippets (and longer chapters) that I don't know which ones to share with you. Since it's late, I'll leave you with a short thought....

Our love to others is not making much of them, but our helping them find eternal satisfaction in making much of God. The only ultimate love is a love that aims at satisfying people in the glory of God. Any love that terminates on man is eventually destructive. It does not lead a person to the only lasting joy, namely, God. Love must be God-centered or it is not the greatest love; it leaves people without their deepest need and only hope.

Spring Break!

This past week has been lovely...Maybe not weather-wise, but it's been a time of refreshing for my heart.

Typically, when the legislators take a week off at the Capitol for Spring Break, I go home and work harder than ever. Making sure that everything is falling in place with our bill for the day they get back to the Capitol. Last year, Spring Break was one of the craziest, most hectic weeks around our house. So, I didn't expect much of a vacation this year either. I was pleasantly surprised.

I went home with our bill in a stalemate situation and there wasn't a lot I could do about moving it. But I still had hundreds of emails that I had been placing in various folders to deal with as soon as I had a chance. And I needed to update our database, our email alert list... We needed to raise money, and a lot of it fast, to pay our legal bills that never stop coming.
Needless to say, I had more than a full week of work cut out for me.

I'm so glad that sometimes God has other plans for our days than we do. He turned my week's plans upside down in a flash when the rain and flooding hit Missouri on Tuesday. I soon found myself with no internet. And it's been that way all week, till this evening.
I loved every minute of it. This year, Spring Break really was Spring Break. I didn't spend the week on the phone and in front of the computer.

I did laundry, washed dishes, cooked dinner with my sisters, and got to spend the evenings laughing and talking with my family instead of staring at a computer screen. I've discovered just how much I miss my old life... I have many times wished that I could have it back, but I didn't realize how wonderful it was till this week. : )

Now, as I prepare to head off to the Capitol in the morning again, I will cherish the small moments that I do have before I leave, and I will remember that everything God does is good. Not because I like it, but because I can trust Him to know more than I do what's good for me!

Life is good.
God is merciful.
I am blessed!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

All the Men You Don't Marry...

There was a day last summer when a young bachelor called my Dad and bluntly said, "I'm so-and-so, and I'm friends with so-and-so, and he suggested that you have three daughters that are nice young women. Do you think any of them would be interested in marrying me?"

We all laughed when Dad told us about the conversation. We all three looked at each other and said, "So, he just wants 'a wife'... any one of us who will marry him? He doesn't really care specifically who it is?" For a number of reasons, none of us were interested in pursuing a relationship, (our parents didn't think it was wise, either) but we wished him the best, and prayed that he would find a good wife.

My sisters and I frequently joke that all the guys we would marry never ask, and the guys we would never consider marrying ask too frequently for our peace of mind. Sometimes it's annoying to be pursued by a guy who just can't seem to "get it"... that you aren't going to marry him, and long patience isn't going to change things.

As a single person, "helpful" friends, relatives and acquaintances like to ask who there might be and why you would or wouldn't marry these "potentials".

It is easy to get in the habit of explaining to people why you don't want to marry him. Friends often say, "Really, I don't know why you wouldn't. He really seems to like you and your family. He seems like a decent guy to me... Why not? What if you loose this chance? Do you want to be single forever?"

It's easy to launch into a defense of your position (lest they think that you're just letting wonderful opportunities pass you by!), stating his serious character flaws, lack of moral purity or self-control in his life, his poor judgment with finances, his personality traits that drive you crazy... the things he's said that have made you absolutely certain that he must be put on the list of "would never marry" guys.

But is this really the right way to deal with all the men that you don't want to marry?

I was challenged in this area when I read Carolyn McCulley's excellent book,
"Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God With a Hope Deferred."

I found a lot of thought-provoking passages about living single womanhood to the glory of God. I found a lot of practical wisdom about attitudes and actions. I found a lot of encouragement to trust God's sovereignty even if I find myself single at age forty (as Carolyn has).

One section titled, "All the Men You Don't Marry" was something I'd never before seen in a book on singleness, but it hit home. I hope that you will find it relevant, regardless of your marital status.

All the Men You Don't Marry - Book Excerpt

(By Carolyn McCulley)

I was once told - by a man - that if a man didn't treat me like a queen, I should kick him to the curb. As well meaning as this advice was, not every man is going to treat me like a queen. Most men are going to treat me like a sister or a friend. So either I kick a lot of men to the curb, or I had better come up with a plan for all the men I don't marry - the third point in the heart issue list.

Ironically, it was a man who showed me how. Years ago I was critically evaluating a man in a conversation with my friend and small group leader, Doug. I explained the cryptic actions of this other man, which I then pronounced as "creeping me out." I thoroughly expected Doug to agree and even to laugh with me. But when I finished the end of my long tale, there was a customary pause at the other end of the telephone. I waited, my smile fading.

"I'm wondering," he said kindly, "how you would define 'creeping me out' in biblical terms."
"Ummm," I replied cautiously, "I guess I mean I'm irritated by him. I don't understand his actions or motives."
"Uh, huh," he said, waiting for me to put two and two together.

"I'm not the only one who feels this way though," I added. "A lot of other women feel this pressure from him, too."

Hellloooo! Now you've added gossip to self-righteous criticism!

"Uh, huh,"
he repeated.

I had better shut up.

I was digging myself into a hole in this conversation. As always happens when we sinfully judge others, we end up condemning ourselves. After Doug patiently revealed to me my self-righteous attitude (and I repented of it), he asked me another memorable question.

"One more thing - I'm not hearing where you are concerned about this brother being conformed to the image of Christ," he said gently. "Have you thought about that? If he is offending you or these other women, why hasn't anyone kindly brought that to his attention so that he can grow up and change?"

Doug has always been good at asking me the tough questions! During our conversation, he not only helped me see my sinful, critical attitude, but he also revealed to me my worldly way of thinking about single men. His question ultimately revealed that I was thinking of single men in three categories: Potentials, Just Buddies, and No Ways, with each meriting different treatment. That's too many categories. There's just one for believing single men: Brothers, and consequently, they all deserve the same treatment. Maybe one day a Brother will initiate a relationship to find out if the Lord would be moving him into the Husband slot. But until the words "I do" ring out from the wedding altar, he's still my Brother and potentially someone else's husband.

My job as their sister in the Lord is to encourage and support these men, not to categorize them and treat them accordingly. James 2:2-4 reveals our tendency to show partiality:
"For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?"

My paraphrase is: "For if a fine-looking young man without a wedding ring comes into your assembly, and an awkward, plainer man in outdated clothing also comes in and you pay attention to the good-looking man and say, "You sit right here in a good place...." while you say nothing to or cut short the conversation with the less attractive man, have you not then made distinctions among them and become proud women with self-centered ambitions?"

We will stand out from our culture if we are consistently kind to everyone we meet, not just the Potentials. Not only that, we will stand out to a truly Godly man who observes this impartial kindness in us. In doing so, we reflect our Saviour....

Matthew 12:46-50
"While He yet talked to the people, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, they mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak to thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."

The first concept I note here is the humility of Jesus in calling a broad range of sinful people His family. We have been adopted into His family because we are fellow sinners reconciled to God through what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. Thus, by grace we are enabled to do the will of our Father in heaven. The second concept I take away from this passage is that this is how I can relate to each of my brothers. I can point them back to the will of our Father, thereby helping them bear fruit that glorifies God. I've found that I can apply this concept in three ways:

~ Observe them. In order to be intentional as a sister, I must take note of the men the Father has put into my life, from colleagues to Bible study members to church friends. It's fun to observe the men we're interested in, but it takes effort to study and take note of other men. If we resolve to observe all of our brothers, then we easily can do the next two steps.

~ Encourage them. It's not always effortless to do the will of the Father, especially in our current culture. But how refreshing to the soul it is to receive a word of "well done." There's a fine line between encouragement and flattery. If you are faithful to encourage many men, especially in the hearing of others, you will not confuse anyone about your intentions. For me, these two steps require that I shut my mouth in group contexts and sit back to study what God is doing at that moment in the men around me. Often I will find many things to comment on later - from hearing a more reserved man bring up a good point in a Bible study, to seeing a busy man offer to help someone move. Encouragement keeps people from growing weary in good deeds. Let's be faithful to look for these reflections of God's grace in these men's lives and to comment on them as we see them doing the will of the Father.

~ Seek to see them conformed - not to your preferences but to the image of Christ. This is what Doug was encouraging me to do. It's not so much of an active process, but an active concern. Our motivation should be care and concern when someone is not doing the will of the Father and to humbly bring what we've observed and our questions about it (not judgments) to our brothers.

It's tempting as singles to simply avoid the people who irritate us or whose sin or weaknesses always seem to spill out whenever we're around. But that's not carrying a concern to see our brothers (and sisters) in the Lord grow and mature in Christ. If there's something we don't understand or that offends us, we should ask kindly about it, motivated by an understanding that we don't know or see everything related to the situation. We should also trust that the Holy Spirit is the one who brings conviction for change; so our observations should be initially and continually in our prayers.

Galatians 6:1 says, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."

-- Excerpted from,
"Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God With A Hope Deferred,"
by Carolyn McCulley, Crossway Books, 2004

Friday, March 14, 2008

Those little eyes watching me

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders,
but they have never failed to imitate them.

James Baldwin

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Yesterday and today Spring has seemed to proclaim itself from every direction.

A warm breeze is blowing, the daffodils are poking their little green heads out of the earth, and the robins are happily building their nests. Our new puppy is waddling his fat little self around and Mom is planting hundreds of onions sets in the garden with the "little" girls. Sam's baby goats are nibbling on the sprouting bits of green in their pen, and the horses are kicking up their heels and snorting with delight.

I've been enjoying just breathing in fresh spring air and wearing short sleeves and flip-flops. Cleaning the flower bed out sounds so inviting on this beautiful day!

I'm so glad to be home today! That said, I don't want my day wasted on the computer!
I'll update my blog on a rainy day or a cold day...
I'm heading outside to celebrate the arrival of my favorite season!

Me with one of Sam's babies (taken on a cold day)

Sam's baby goats... Aren't they adorable?

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Few Favorite Quotes

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Theodore Roosevelt

Unless a man undertakes more than he possibly can do,
he will never do all that he can.
Henry Drummond

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care
who gets the credit.
Harry S. Truman

Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.
George Halas

To see them through God's eyes...

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring,
in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing,
and say to him, Sit thou in a good place;
and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

Hearken, my beloved brethren,
Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith,
and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
But ye have despised the poor.
Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
Do not they blaspheme the worthy name by the which ye are called?

If you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture,
Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself
, ye do well:
But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin,
and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

James 2: 1-9

A scripture that hits home every day with reminders
to live as my Saviour lived and loved.


It's nice to think of ourselves as obedient...
to God and whomever our earthly authorities may be.

It's easy to feel smug about a lack of conflict, and remember all the things that we are doing that we have been asked to do, and all of the things that we avoid because they won't please someone who we are called to obey. We can call to mind so many sacrifices for the cause of being obedient. All the times we stayed home or went somewhere because we were asked to. All the times we served cheerfully. All the times that we took God's Word seriously and acted upon it. We can mentally add up our brownie points for all the times we were compliant.

But if those times didn't require sacrifice and struggle on our part, those really don't count as anything to be proud of. Sure, they were good and right things. And, yes, if we had done the opposite, we would have been disobedient. BUT, when our authority's will is the same as ours, we are giving ourselves credit for doing what we would have chose to do anyway! It's easy to remember these times when obedience came easily, and then dismiss the occasional times our conscience nagged us, "You're doing your own will, not what you should be doing to obey those that God has placed over you for your good and growth..."

It's easy to feel like I'm obedient. But am I really?

A convicting quote hung on our bathroom wall for several years:

"Obedience is only tested when we confront
something we don't want to do."

~ Obedience is accepting "no" as the final answer.
No asking challenging questions, delaying discussions, no whining, no groans, no frowns, no murmurs.

~ Obedience is finding ways to overcome obstacles.
No negative thinking, no failure to be creative, no "I can't," no giving reasons why I can't do a job.

~ Obedience is doing what you're told,
even if it seems "stupid" and understanding the reasons later.

Monday, March 3, 2008

By Thy Grace We Will!

Tonight I was fretting over all the evil in the world... how it seems that darkness seems to prevail on every hand.

The flesh prevails in my life, and that which I would not, that I do. Christians disappoint me every day. Families that I once looked up to, are breaking apart. People that I admired have fallen to making their lives worthless and wasted. Sin is everywhere. Rampant, the stench reaches it's ugly tentacles into our homes, our churches, our neighborhoods, our government.

On every hand, the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array...

Today as I drove to the Capitol, the bleak grey skies and my dirty, ice-caked windshield wipers reflected my mood. I contemplated all of the things likely to happen this week, and how I ought to respond. It seemed as if there was just too much to deal with, and it all became quickly overwhelming.

After a couple of hours of work in the Capitol, my whirling thoughts were put back on track when I joined one of the senators for a quick stroll over to an event that was going on. He was telling me about a huge disappointment he had in a couple of people who have supported him for years in his campaigns, and how he's fought for bills that he thought were the right thing (which these people always supported). Supporting these particular bills has not been a popular thing to do, and as a result, he has been marginalized and denied many things by the "powers that be." He was shaking his head and saying, "It's hard to believe that they'd just go turn their backs on me now after my long record of doing what was right over what was politically popular. I have given up many political possibilities, simply because I stand firm on that issue."

Then he smiled and said, "Just shows you that you can't put your trust in people. They WILL disappoint you. They will hurt you and malign you and leave you. I've learned that the only One I can and should trust is my Lord and Saviour. When your full confidence is there, it doesn't really matter what all the other people think or do to you."

His comments stabbed me with a pang of gratefulness that there are men like him in government, that there are some who are faithful and true to their Lord. I sighed a quick, "Thank you, Lord, for reminding me that evil has not won the final victory. YOU will!"

On my way back to our rental house near the Capitol, I stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of things. As I went through the aisle full of books, a stand titled, "Best-Sellers!" caught my eye. What, I wondered to myself, is America reading these days?

Of course, there were a few novels and biographies... and... Harry Potter. My heart sank again. Harry Potter is a best seller, after all this time? Well, of course, I should have known that. Our country is a mess.

Then a glimmer of hope - next to the Harry Potter book, were two different paperbacks - containing the story of William Wilburforce's life, the man who freed England's slaves... the friend of John Newton, author of Amazing Grace. Across their covers in large letters, "New York Times' Best Seller!"

Again, I felt humbled. Evil hadn't totally overcome good. Obviously, there was a lot of interest in this excellent story.

I thought of my friend, Christy's words from earlier today - "God's showing me that He doesn't need my help to fix the world, and that He is in control, even if I don't think He's acting fast enough or doing what I would do!"

I breathed a sigh of relief. It's not my responsibility to make sure that America reads good books, or to see that families stay together, or to make our government do what it ought to do.

It's my job to be faithful where God has put me, and to get up every morning and arm myself against the fleshly lusts that "war against my soul."

I shouldn't for one minute get up and forget that I have an enemy just over the hill who is eagerly preparing for battle with me this day. It's a scary thought when I think of the enemy I have to face and how many other soldiers have been wounded and fallen in battle...
It's scary till I remember how big my God is, and how he hangs the world on nothing. I can hang my life, my soul, my everything on His Word with full confidence!

See the mighty host advancing,
Satan leading on;
Mighty men around us falling,
Courage almost gone!

"Hold the fort, for I am coming,"
Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to heaven
"By Thy grace we will."

Fierce and long the battle rages,
But our help is near;
Onward comes our great Commander -
Cheer, my comrades, cheer!

"Hold the fort, for I am coming,"
Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to heaven
"By Thy grace we will."

-Phillip P. Bliss

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I Would Gather Children

Some would gather money
Along the path of life;
Some would gather roses,
And rest from worldly strife.

But I would gather children
From among the thorns of sin;
I would seek a golden curl,
And a freckled, toothless grin.

For money cannot enter
In that land of endless day;
And roses that are gathered
Soon will wilt along the way.

But, oh, the laughing children,
As I cross the sunset sea,
And the gates swing wide to heaven -
I can take them in with me.

-Author Unknown

When We Choose to Obey God

When we deliberately choose to obey God, then He will tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist us with His almighty power.
- Oswald Chambers