Sunday, April 27, 2008

Unwanted Babies? Attitudes of Pro-Life People

As I have become more and more familiar with the pro-choice community and their goals and ideas, the thing that has shocked me most is not the "inside scoop" on how the abortion rights activists think, but rather the similar attitudes that many (probably the majority of) Christian pro-life activists hold.

I don't think that our society (which aborts about 1 out of 3 babies, and over 90% of Downs Syndrome babies) will ever change until the pro-life people themselves grow a different attitude towards children. We will never "fix" the "abortion problem" until we see every child as the most valuable thing that we can ever be privileged to call ours.

Everyone - pro-choice people included- values babies who are wanted, when they fit into our plans, and when they are beautiful and perfect.

What about when they don't fit into our plans? Many pro-life people exhibit the same attitudes towards unplanned pregnancy that pro-choice people do; the only difference is that they do not see abortion as an option.

I have so often found myself chatting with a pro-life activist who makes the comment, "My daughter is pregnant with her fourth kid! What is she thinking? I certainly don't have the time to help her if she's going to go on and on having children!"

Or young men and women who are on the front lines of trying to stop abortion in our nation...
And yet, when marriage and family comes up, they're quick to state, "Well, I'm certainly not planning on getting married and having a family anytime soon! I want to get my degree and then work as the director of (fill in the blank - whatever noble pro-life organization they want to help). Kids would tie me down! Heaven knows I can't stand the thought of wiping runny noses and changing diapers all day. No, I want to do something really important and world changing - like policy reform!"

Or one young pastor who my brother recently met. He's passionate about affecting the world for Christ and making followers of Jesus out of other young people. And yet, over a dinner time conversation when asked if he planned to have a children, he screwed up his face and said, "No big family for me! I will have too many other ministries going on, and kids aren't my thing anyway. I guess if my wife really wants one, I'd be okay with one or two. But that's IT!"

Tell me - what is different about these attitudes than those of someone who also thinks kids are great - as long as you want them? The ONLY difference is that one group believes that abortion is an option when dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. The other group groans with dismay over an unplanned pregnancy and the thought of a child interrupting their grand plans, their career, education, financial status, quiet evenings to themselves, or sticky fingers on their table just the same as the pro-choice people.

Somehow we as Christians have made it okay to not like children, to think they are trouble, a bother, an inconvenience or interruption to our lives, and yet we condemn those around us who mirror our attitudes and groan at the thought of an unwanted baby... and then act upon that attitude.

The true heart and character of a society is reflected in how it loves, respects, and protects the youngest, the oldest, the weakest, and the most vulnerable. How do we measure up?

We often love our careers, success, and money more than we love people. Money can evaporate overnight, our reputation can be gone in an hour, and our career can be gone as quickly as the twin towers.

We, as a society, have become incredibly selfish and short-sighted in our priorities. It's time that we begin to remember that only people last forever.

Do we really believe that children are the world's most valuable resource, or do we just say that? The children of today are the world of tomorrow.

We should re-evaluate whether our own lives exhibit attitudes that value human life. We can't just talk about being "pro-life" and expect the girls at Planned Parenthood to see anything different than their idea of "right." If we want a lost world to have God's priorities, WE must first develop a heart like God... loving, valuing, and wanting all children, not just when they are convenient, part of our plan, or extra lovable.

So often we are too busy to listen to a child, to smile at a child, to want a child. We must learn to love children unconditionally, even when they don't fit our plans, and even when they are not perfect and beautiful.

Why? Because God values them. It's that simple.

God thinks that motherhood (and fathering) is beautiful - something of eternal worth. Why don't we aspire to what HE values, rather than we decide to do to change the world? Wiping sticky fingers may seem trivial, but when one can see God's heart towards that little person, they will see parenting as a high calling and often times a literal way of being a "living sacrifice."

What could be more fulfilling than being a parent - a life-giver? Those who built the Effiel tower or wrote the Constitution or ruled ancient Greece never were given such an awesome responsibility - to bring forth an eternal soul, a person made in the image of God!

Our children are the future. We must learn to see them as more than inconveniences that disrupt our careers, cost money, and cause too much trouble. We must learn to love children and to value them for what they are - treasures of infinite, eternal value!

Unwanted Babies and the Pro-Choice Debate

Does anyone open a newspaper or listen to a political conversation without being faced once again with at least some thread of the pro-choice/pro-life debate?

It seems that abortion has become one of the hottest political issues of the 21rst century, and rightly so. It is a big deal. It devastates many womens' lives, is a billion dollar industry, and has become one of the largest factors when it comes to who gets elected and who doesn't.

I get emails and letters from all sorts of groups, constantly putting a new spin on the abortion debate, or telling some heart-wrenching story. I've read the books by survivors of abortion, former abortionists, and other people who passionately spend their life working for the pro-life cause. Abortion has effected their life forever, and they cannot be silent.

Feminists for Life, an organization based near Washington D.C. attempts to straddle the great divide and be both "pro-woman" and "pro-life." Their mantra is, "Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion." I appreciate their approach to focusing on what is good for women AND babies.

Nearly all of my friends are passionately on one side or the other.
They all sincerely want to make the world right, and they go to great lengths to change things politically. I find myself in a unique position that very few other people with my viewpoint on abortion get to have... an inside glimpse of how pro-choice people think.

Until a few years ago, basically all of my friends were pro-life, and there wasn't that much to discuss, other than activism for pro-life causes or the latest stats, stories, or laws. Now, as I know and love some of the pro-choice activists and movers and shakers in the state, I have found myself having candid conversations with them about how they think and how they justify abortion.

I've learned almost nothing shocking from the people who work for Planned Parenthood and NARAL, except that they think an awful lot like many of my Christian and pro-life friends. Yes, that wasn't a typo. I'll elaborate in Part II of this post.

For the most part, the pro-choice people I have met fully accept the reality of the baby who is being aborted. Off the record, many of them refer to the unborn baby as a baby, not a fetus. They don't believe that they're talking about "blobs of tissue" being aborted... they know we're talking about live babies with the only difference being that they are smaller and still inside their mothers.

One of my friends, a Planned Parenthood volunteer and huge advocate of abortion on demand, was recently expecting another baby. About midway through her pregnancy as she was spending the day with me, she commented on how her baby kept sticking her feet under her ribs and how she must be stretching and sucking her thumb, etc. Then, looking at her stomach, she cooed, "Baby, when are you going to start behaving?" In the next breath, she talked about the wonderful work that a good friend of hers is doing, helping Dr. Tiller in Kansas (the doctor who is known nationwide for his willingness to do late-term abortions). It was obvious that she acknowledged the humanity of her unborn baby as she spoke to her 25 week baby. And yet, it was obvious that she thinks that Dr. Tiller is doing good deeds for people when he performs a late term abortion.

Many pro-choice activists get excited about having babies and being pregnant and mothering. They find pregnancy a fascinating topic, and are always asking me questions about it. In fact the other day, a Planned Parenthood activist was discussing a staunch pro-life Catholic man's family and the fact that he has 6 children.
"What is it with him? Is he trying to take over the world?!" she growled.
Then her eyes lit up and she looked at her friend: "What if us liberals took that approach? We could all have big families and take over pretty soon! That's a new thought. I just might do that."
Then she looked at me and smiled, "Even though I'm all about abortion and contraception, I certainly don't have a problem with people having as many kids as they want. That's the key word - as many as they want!"

Pro-choice advocates think that babies are wonderful... when you want them.

The majority of pro-choice folks talk about abortion as a sad decision that every woman has to make for herself when she is in a difficult situation. I've heard them say, "I've always prayed that I would have courage to give birth to any baby that I became pregnant with. I personally couldn't feel good about ending the life of my baby just because it wasn't the right timing, or the baby wasn't perfect. But I can't make that decision for another woman. She might not have the courage to face the difficult situation or to put aside her plans for a baby that she never wanted in the first place..."

In their minds, it all boils down to allowing each woman to deal with the tragedy of getting pregnant at a less then ideal time in whatever way the pregnant woman feels is necessary. If that includes abortion, many they believe it is a sad, but necessary evil. …Kind of like shooting your pet dog who is dying slowly. They want those women to know that they are supported and not condemned as they bear the grief of such a difficult decision.

Pro-lifers are quick to condemn the pro-choice attitudes of a woman's desires for her body, career, and future as being far more important than whether her unborn baby will live or die. They are quick to sneer and say, "How cold! How hard-hearted!" Pro-lifers are quick to talk about "baby killers" and how those who condone abortion must have blocked all natural human sympathies from their corrupted minds.

Yet, some of these very same pro-life people, perhaps unbeknown to them, exhibit the very same attitudes towards "unwanted babies."

That troubles me far more than the ideas of Planned Parenthood or NARAL activists.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Visit From Suzanne

Our long time friend, Suzanne, came and spent a few days with us. We all had so much fun together! Suzanne is one of those people that just makes you laugh and enjoy yourself even on the worst days! Suzanne has lots of brothers, and only one sister who has been married for a number of years, so she enjoys the chance to join we five girls as another sister for a few days.
...And we gladly add her to our circle as she fits right in!

Liz and Suzanne try out the double seater bike...

Who takes more pictures - Ruth or Suzanne?? I'm not sure, but if you know either of them, you know that it's a LOT of pictures! At times, Suzanne's visit seemed like one long photography session. : )

Come back soon, Suzanne! We miss you!

Shem... Sam's Puppy

Isn't he cute?

I didn't know what an English Shepherd was... until Sam and I were walking into the grocery store a few weeks ago and saw pictures of free puppies on the bulletin board. Sam had been looking for a puppy for months, but the rest of the family didn't usually agree with the dogs he wanted to get.

Sam: "I found this hound advertised..."
Us: "A hound?! No way! We don't want to hear a hound chasing rabbits through the woods waking us up every night."

Sam: "I found a St. Bernard..."
Us: "Sam! Do you know how much food a dog that size will eat?!"

These puppies looked medium sized, cute... and they were free. So, we copied down the phone number and Sam immediately called about them. He was so excited to have the family finally sanction his choice. The next day when he brought home his English Shepherd puppy, I discovered that I really, really liked him.

I like dogs... sometimes. Well, as long as they don't jump all over me with muddy paws and lick me every time I step out of my car and never stop yapping, licking, jumping, and nearly tripping me. Shem doesn't do that. He's really the first puppy I've ever met who wags his tail and bounces up and down happily, but doesn't jump ON you or get in your way! Amazingly, he doesn't chase the chickens or torment the cats or bark incessantly either.

Shem's such a pleasant little feller... I have to say, I've decided that I really like the personality of English Shepherds. They're friendly, calm, intelligent, and kind to other animals and little people.

-- Mary

A bit more about the breed, gleaned from sources on the internet...

The English Shepherd is an extremely versatile breed of working dog, developed in the United States from farmdogs brought by the settlers from England and Scotland. The English Shepherd is a highly intelligent, practical all-around farm dog, being used as a herding dog, watch dog, hunting dog, vermin eradicator and child's companion. It was possibly the most common breed during the 1800s before fancy pedigrees became en vogue around the turn of the 19th century. Many farmers appreciated the breed for their versatility and not for their flash or strict conformation to a standard of appearance. These dogs were bred to do various tasks around the farm and not for show.

Unlike some other herding dogs, as a breed English Shepherds have not been specialized to work one species of livestock. English Shepherds have primarily been used on small diversified farms that have a number of different livestock species, including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, and fowl. English shepherds both herd and protect livestock.

The English Shepherd temperament is the defining characteristic of the breed, with great intelligence and often a unique type of kindness for those in his home, both animals and people. The English Shepherd is often an independent worker. English Shepherds are adaptable and learn routines quickly. Some can be watchful of strangers and are more one-person dogs. However, once he accepts people or children or stock as his own, there are few better caretakers than an English Shepherd.

While very happy on a farm with chores to do, the English Shepherd makes an excellent family companion. Because of its working background and devotion to family the English Shepherd makes a great companion for an active family committed to involving their dog in their daily life. They want to be part of the family and remain a working dog. The English Shepherd is happiest when he has a job to do; watching the kids, escorting the family to the park, and guarding the property from the UPS driver are all tasks the modern English Shepherd excels at.

Jemima Creations

Jemima (affectionately called her childhood nickname of "Mice" most of the time) is always creating something... whether it's dinner, a story, a portrait, or a new decorating theme... We all wonder what we will ever do if she doesn't live at home forever to keep us inspired!
Here she has found a quiet place to think and journal - on top of our stack of hay bales.

Her latest project is this oil painting of a little girl at the ocean. This photo shows it only half finished... it will look much better when she's done adding all the details!

A Visit With Rachel

Jemima, Mary, Ruth, Rachel

We girls always enjoy seeing Rachel and her lovely sisters. But our visits (mine anyway - I feel like I'm always rushing through, just saying "hi" and "bye"...) are always too few and far between.
Here we managed to meet Rachel's family at a grocery store, half way between our homes for a short visit! : )

Rachel is becoming a prolific writer, and if you subscribe to "The King's Daughters" magazine, you probably recognize her name as a regular contributor. Keep up the good work, Rachel!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mudding and Flooding

These photo posts are rather late because of computer problems, but I hope that you'll enjoy them just the same!

In recent weeks the Ozarks have received more rain than I can ever remember since we moved here nearly 23 years ago! Repeatedly creeks have swollen making roads impassable, homes have flooded, and our driveway has washed down the hill! In spite of the weeks of endless rain, muddy boots, washed out roads, and gray skies, my siblings have been having a blast!

Four wheelers and mud make an excellent combination. Especially if you don't mind getting throughly soaked and covered in mud on a cold, rainy day!

Bekah came to visit us for a few days before she headed back to China for the summer. She borrowed an old barn coat, and some mud boots, and plunged in with the rest of the kids!
Above: Ruth, Liz, Bekah back from the first mudding adventure on the back roads

A usually tranquil scene - a valley full of grazing cows - has become a muddy lake!

Above: The three "little girls" lead the way - Joanna, Ruth, Christy. Bekah and Liz are in the rear. Hoods, scarves, and sunglasses are essential gear to keep ones eyes and hair from being caked with mud!

Some very wet and muddy girls, back from a ride through the biggest mud puddles to be found on the dirt roads...

Most days, a lazy creek with a few minnows flows through the weeds about 12 feet below this bridge. Here, the water has been rushing over the bridge, and on the far side, the now roaring river covers the road a quarter of a mile down the road! A couple of the boys take a closer look, and wonder if the bridge will hold if the water gets much higher.

And am I in the pictures? No, I stayed home and did boring stuff like update spreadsheets and then listen to all of the exciting tales when the "mudders" came home. : )


Contentment is not the absence of desire.

As Fairlight Meyer wrote,
"We like to make contentment a tame thing, a house cat - better yet, a guinea pig... Possible only when desire is so dead, imagination is so small, that nothing else is worth bothering about. A sort of dull indifference..."

Contentment is not the absence of desire, but rather the Mind of Christ ruling in our hearts. It is a state of complete trust in the One to whom we have committed our souls... The belief that not one hair can fall from our head without His notice, and that not one of our desires will escape the notice of our loving, all-wise God.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Holiness is not...

Holiness is not exemption from conflict,
but victory through conflict.
Holiness is not freedom from temptation,
but power to overcome temptation.
It is not inability to sin,
but the ability not to sin.
Holiness is not the end of progress,
but deliverance from standing still.

--G. Campbell Morgan, 1863-1945

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

There's All a Guilty Sinner Needs... In Jesus

I've tried in vain a thousand ways,
My fears to quell, my hopes to raise...
My soul is night, my heart is steel -
I cannot see, I cannot feel....
(Written on the deathbed of an infidel...)

I checked the online news this morning and saw that last night, federal agents had arrived at a lobbyist's house, preparing to arrest him for various charges when they heard a gunshot from inside. They stormed the apartment and found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
That sounds like everyday news... But it was a weird feeling this morning to KNOW the guy in the news...

I immediately thought back to an evening in a resturant with this very lobbyist when he took a couple of my friends and I out to dinner not too long ago... Another conversation with him in a Capitol office where he spent much of his time. I remember distinctly thinking over that dinner, "This guy is miserable.What do I say to turn the conversation to things of eternal importance? He wants what we have, but he doesn't even know what it is that he wants..."

The conversation was goofy as David ordered exotic seafood for everyone. One of the representatives who had come along kept thinking of outlandish things to report as lobbyist gifts - like 5 gallon buckets of fresh asparagus and blueberries. It wasn't a bad conversation, just dumb and pointless.
I wanted so badly to say something of value to David, but it never seemed appropriate with the conversation, and I barely got a word in edgewise. I didn't say anything.

Little did I know that David would be in eternity less then a year later. Little did I know the last time I talked to him that I would never see him again until I see him standing before the Great White Throne. If I had known, would I have acted differently? Would I have said something else? Would I have interrupted the goofiness at dinner to ask everyone what is most important to them in life? Of course, we can play those guilty questions over and over again in our head as we think of a thousand, "If onlys."

I cannot change the past. I cannot have one last conversation with him or drop a book in the mail to him, or... But I can change the way I live my life this minute and in the future. I have new opportunities tomorrow. Not just people who are busy, depressed, happy, famous, poor, lost, popular, smart, annoying... They are all souls that will spend eternity somewhere. I could wake up and find any of them in the newspaper tomorrow. And God may have put them in front of me because I know the truth, and it is my responsibility to share it, rather than hoard it.

If only David could sing this hymn. But he can't, and he never will. But there are other David's in the world who need the truth so that they can sing this song and know in the very depths of their heart that though their "soul is night, [their] heart is steel... There's all a guilty sinner needs forevermore in Jesus."

I've tried in vain, a thousand ways
My fears to quell, my hopes to raise;
But what I need, the Bible says,
Is ever, only Jesus.
My soul is night, my heart is steel -
I cannot see, I cannot feel;
For light, for life I must appeal
In simple faith to Jesus.
He died, He lives, He reigns, He pleads,
There's love in all His words and deeds;
There's all a guilty sinner needs
Forevermore in Jesus.
Tho' some should sneer and some should blame,
I'll go with all my guilt and shame;
I'll go to Him because His name,
Above all names is Jesus.
--James Proctor, an infidel, wrote this
on his death bed as he became a Christian.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Smoking Dryers and Oven Explosions

I've had this post in draft form for a couple of weeks, and just tonight have a chance to finish it up.
You'll have a sneak peak at a couple of scenes from my wonderfully exciting life.

First a bit of background... My parents have always been frugal, well maybe more than frugal. They certainly aren't stingy when it comes to giving away what they have to others. But when it's about home life, they enjoy surviving on a shoestring budget. It meant living on lentils and rice for dinner every night for a year when I was younger. It meant buying everything at thrift stores, garage sales, and just doing without if we couldn't find the needed/wanted item in used condition. "New clothes" were when a friend sent over a big black garbage bag full of her kids hand-me-downs. That was as good as Christmas, when we pulled sneakers, sweatshirts, and dresses out of the bag!

Lest you think I'm complaining, I'm not. I don't consider such experiences to have damaged me in any way, and really I'm quite grateful that I learned to appreciate the little things in life. It probably improved my life more than about any other factor that my parents could have added to the character building process. We kids all learned that life isn't about having things.

I may even do some of the same things to my kids some day!

But, back to the story.

Our oven recently quit working. I guess its not a big deal if you don't bake a lot. But in our household of twelve, it more than complicates mealtime when there isn't a working oven. We got along without it for a few months (using the stove top, a crockpot, and a little toaster oven on the counter). Needless to say, you can't bake bread in those things, so we kept bugging Dad to fix the oven, get another stove, or figure out some other solution to the problem.

Dad finally found time to work on the oven one day. He discovered the offending part, and then found the same part - in working order - in an old stove that had graced one of our sheds for several years. The day the oven got fixed was a glorious one - we baked bread and cookies and a casserole for supper.

But a couple days later our new found happiness came to an end... and the day of the oven was over once again. The problem was discussed around the breakfast table... Mom talked about getting a wood cookstove for summer canning outside. The girls said that an outdoor cookshed for canning was great, but building a fire to warm up soup for lunch was entirely impractical and would waste more time than the money that would be saved. One of the boys offered to buy another stove if that was the problem. Dad and Mom, wanting to be frugal, opted to say "no thank you" for the time being and try another option that wouldn't cost anybody money, since the boys didn't exactly have extra money.

The neighbor heard about the dilemma somehow and offered an old electric stove that had been sitting on his front porch since 2005. He said that it worked. Dad gratefully took his offer. While the ladies of the house were gone for the day, Dad and his accomplice, Sam (14), moved the beast inside. It's a good thing the girls didn't know what it looked like ahead of time.... it was originally yellow-orange, but had been spray-painted black. Over the years, about 50% of the paint had come off, leaving a splotchy yellow/orange/black stove.

There was a slight problem. Our kitchen had been set up for a gas stove, and had never been wired to supply the correct electricity for such a stove. So, Dad decided that rather than tear the house apart and re-wire at this moment (he was short on time anyway, and what we needed was a working stove, right?), he would simply install it in the schoolroom, where the breaker box is.

The kids who were at home were commissioned to carry the piles of books that needed to be moved and stack them on the floor in Mary's office. The bookcase that was holding place for the stove was moved elsewhere. Dad was making sure that he got everything hooked up correctly. Sam by this time had headed back to the living room to finish his Algebra. Abe was sorting through his mail in the living room, and Isaiah was sitting at the dining room table (directly across from the school room) finishing his cold lunch which had been waiting for him for several hours.

The house was unusually quiet, with the silence broken only by Sam's occasional mumble about his Algebra problems or the sound of Dad's tools clinking against the stove.
It was time to try the "new" stove out and see if it worked. Dad turned the oven to 350 degrees, and then pulled up a stool, watching as the heating element turned red, when...


An explosion rocked the house while the entire schoolroom lit up as though struck by lightening. The oven door flew open, and smoke billowed out, filling the schoolroom, and a few seconds later, the rest of the main floor.

Isaiah, fork halfway to his mouth, sat there dazed in the smoke. Finally, he yelled, "Dad, are you in there?"

Sam, knowing that dad WAS in there, threw his Algebra on the couch and shouted, "DAD?!? Are you okay?"

Then, Dad's voice floated out through the smoke, "Yeah, I'm here."

The boys dashed into the schoolroom, to find dad still sitting on his stool in front of the stove, looking as though he had just witnessed the collapse of the twin towers, but unharmed.
When the smoke cleared and the oven cooled down, Dad declared that the oven coil had burnt out or rather, "blown up."

Apparently, it overheated, and the only evidence of what had just occured was a pile of ashes coating the bottom of the oven.

The rest of us came home to find "the beast" installed in the schoolroom, and Dad picking up his tools. Having mixed feelings about the looks of the stove and the location, but happy that we could bake something to go with dinner, we simply asked, "So, is it hooked up and ready to use?"

Dad's face contorted. "Weeellll.... it kind of blew up and I think we'll need to find a different oven. But," he continued more cheerily, "The burners on top work, so we can use it for now."
Only later that day did we discover that the stove can do many wonders. Besides opening the oven door by itself, it can also turn a scrambled egg charred black in less then 10 seconds on the lowest setting. Now we know why the neighbor had it on his front porch for years.

From time to time, the top oven (which didn't blow up) heats correctly, so brave people like Jemima occasionally still try to use it for cooking. Sometimes it produces food, and sometimes it produces charcoal in a very rapid amount of time. So, this afternoon when the grilled cheese sandwiches turned into instant charcoal and smoke filled the house again, while opening windows frantically I was reminded of the story I was writing about the lovely item that graces our school room. Yes, we're looking for another stove. Hopefully, we'll get it right this time!

But if the stove explosion wasn't enough that week, our dryer gave up the ghost at the same time. It wouldn't have been such a big deal, except that we had been having flooding and endless weeks of rain. Hanging clothes outside wasn't an option, and there isn't a lot of unused space in our modest-sized house to hang them, either.

So, as the laundry piled higher, we girls grew concerned. Something had to be done... soon! We started watching the local paper on various online advertisements in hope of finding a cheap, used, but working dryer.

A different neighbor lady who calls us nearly every day was chatting about all of the usual. Liz remarked how much we needed some sunshine to hang some laundry outside. She asked why didn't use our dryer. Liz explained.

"Oh," she said, "I recently bought a new dryer, and I just stuck my old, perfectly good dryer in the garage. I don't have any use for it, so I'll sell it to you for $25."

Dad and Mom were pleased with the answer to their prayers for a cheap, working dryer in such perfect timing. That very morning (the laundry pile was getting pretty bad in a hurry!) Dad hooked up the trailer and headed over to get it. Once again, I missed the scene, but Liz was there to witness it. Dad and Steve managed to drag it up the back steps through the pouring rain and exchange it with our old, non-working dryer. Dad immediatly set to work installing it, which didn't take long. It was time for a test run...

After double-checking the lint screen, Liz threw a load of laundry in. Dad adjusted the dials, and pulled out the start/stop button. Dad and Liz stood back with a look of satisfaction, as the dryer started, wait, something didn't sound good. But, maybe this was just a little noiser than most dryers. Then a familiar scene replayed itself as smoke began to billow out and fill our utility room. Dad's finger darted for the "start/stop" button, and he pushed it in. The dryer kept going. Smoke kept pouring out. Dad punched the button a little harder, but it obviously wasn't stopping. He jerked the door open. The clothes kept turning, and the smoke kept pouring out. The dryer didn't stop. Liz looked on in horror as Dad gasped, "I can't stop it!"
Finally, he jumped on top of the still rattling, smoking dryer and reached behind it. Once he got the power cord jerked out from the wall, an eeire silence reigned and the smoke slowly wafted through the house for the second time that week.

Dryer number 2 was declared no good.
Dryer number 3 was pulled from a friend's barn that afternoon, and it's been working as Sam would say, "Like a charm" ever since.

We're grateful.
Now we just need to figure out the oven/stove thing, and we'll be all set to continue on with our happy homemaking!

On Living the Christian Life

A few gems that I wrote down years ago and do not know who to give the credit to...

Surrender to the Lord is not a tremendous sacrifice, not an agonizing performance; it is the most sensible thing you can do.

Put yourself, your ability, your money at God's disposal. He can do so much more with it that you can.

Little is much when God is in it; man's busiest day is not worth God's minute.

If God has called you, do not spend time looking over your shoulder to see who is following.

What have you done today that only a Christian would have done?
Have nothing in your house
that you do not know to be useful,
or believe to be beautiful.
Designer William Morris, 1880

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Another day in the life of Mary

Blogging seems to be becoming a once a week discipline for me with my crazy schedule and my erratic internet connection. I guess some is better than none.

And the lack of pictures.... yes, it's because I'm only able to use my laptop right now, and my pictures are all in the other computer which seems to be ill currently.
I really miss updating you all with pictures... There will be a bunch whenever I can access them again.


I've really been enjoying John Piper's book, The Godward Life, in recent days.
A snippet...

Truth is sacrificed on the altar of self-justification. It is an old tale. From Cain (Gen. 4:9) to American presidents, truth has been sacrificed to desire, and the mind has been shrewdly employed by the darkened heart to shroud its passions. This is the point of Romans 1:18: "They suppress the truth in unrighteousness."
Truth is held hostage by the unrighteous commitments of the heart.

I wonder what unrighteous commitments are holding truth hostage in my heart?

I have some very long posts in the works... one on marriage and forgiveness (yeah, right. I know, what do I know? Probably not much), and one on the pro-life movement and where they've missed the mark.
I'll try to finish them up soon and get them posted...


Tomorrow I go back to the Capitol for my last day there till next week. Sometimes it's a discouraging place to be. As my friend who was there with me today put it, "This is a place where nobody really likes anybody else, but they all pretend that everyone else is their best friend."
True. She figured that out pretty fast.

Then a lobbyist cornered me and asked which candidate I was supporting in a particular race. Um... ah... that was an uncomfortable question because of all of the politics going on surrounding this particular race and not something I was exactly planning to explain to just anybody... When I told him that I wasn't officially taking sides, he said, "Oh, well I heard that you were supporting ____ and I totally disagree with that choice..."
Um, no, I never said who I was supporting, but rumors travel fast, especially in the Capitol building. I straightened him out...

Then one of the legislators wanted to fill me in on the latest that he had learned about another legislator who recently committed a crime and hasn't been charged. The first legislator wanted me to rat on the other legislator. I didn't think it was the right time or my responsibility. I tried to explain why I couldn't do it. He didn't understand.

One of my favorite legislative staffers who is always nice seemed to be really mad about something that our group had done. But he wouldn't explain what the problem and was and just shut the door. There wasn't anything I could do because he obviously didn't even want to explain why he was mad at us. I hope I see him tomorrow and can ask him... well, actually I don't want to see him. I hate confrontation, but I want to know why he's upset so we can correct whatever it is.

Then I went to dinner with a lady who is some people might equate with the devil. I disagree with everything that she pours her life into, but she's bitter and hurting and needs Jesus. I love her, but dinner was slightly awkward.

I look forward to the day when I don't go back to the Capitol every week!


And now it's late, and here I sit blogging about nothing in particular instead of going to bed.
I think I'll close up shop for now...


Friday, April 4, 2008


This week I was reminded of the power of gratefulness.

I've actually thought that I usually do a pretty good job of expressing appreciation, but as I sat there listening to how rare gratefulness is in our society, the Lord brought to my mind many, many things that I have never written a thank you note for, never called someone to say,
"Thank you. That meant so much to me."

I have determined to be more grateful.
To write thank you notes when I should,
even if it means later nights or less time for my projects.
To say thank you and smile when someone does something kind.
To notice the effort people put into what they do for me.
To remember the time that others have invested into my life.
To do more than be conciously aware of other's gifts to me --
I must take the time to genuinely thank them, or they will never know that I noticed.
It can make all the difference in the world to someone.

Have you let those around you know how much you value
their investment in your life?

Regardless of whether it was
a simple smile,
a handful of wilted daisies,
a glass of water,
a friendly "hello!",
a lovely gift,
an encouraging word
or everything you'd ever dreamed of.

It deserves a genuine "thank you!"

Do it anyway

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered -
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish or ulterior motives -
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies -
Suceed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you -
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight -
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous -
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow -
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may not be enough -
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see in the final analysis, it is between you and God -
It was never between you and them anyway.

--Mother Teresa