Iraq Journey

Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

Blissdom Conference ~ Nashville ~ February 4-6 2010

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I guess it would be called a “quiet” move

September 30, 2009

I’ve moved.

The blog, I mean.

Nothing big, to the naked eye, being that everything looks basically the same around here. Same old house graphic, same words, same too-busy flowered background. But, believe me, making this move was more work than some of my real life ones have been. Except for the carrying boxes part. I guess I’d much prefer making a move that requires sitting on the couch for a week as opposed to the kind in which you heave furniture up and down flights of stairs for the third time in a year.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

But thanks to the genius of our friend Nathaniel Keifer and the patience of my sweet husband who allows for later-than-usual bedtimes and simply smiles while I scream “I HATE CSS!!!!” while simultaneously pulling out every hair on my head AND my eyebrows, I am now moved over to WordPress. Which, I realize, doesn’t mean much to half the people reading this, but to me? It’s like moving from a cramped one bedroom apartment in bustling Downtown to a beautiful, sprawling, eight bedroom farmhouse in the middle of the country. Complete with blue painted gables, a rooster crowing at sunrise, fresh, foamy milk in my kitchen and a fruit-laden apple tree out front. All cared for by my many farmhands while I make picnics for my little ones and, you know, blog.

Of course, if you dislike the country and a New York City loft is your cuppatea, then just reverse that whole scenario.

The switch to the Wonderful World of WordPress doesn’t really do anything for you readers other than make the commenting section a little different and allow me to respond to you easier. But there are a WHOLE lotta behind-the-scenes upgrades that make my little geeky heart do a Nutcracker Suite of pitterpatters… aaaand also mean that any and all old links are now broken. Just be aware of that if you try to do much clicking around today.

In the meantime, since there’s been a sore lack of substance here this week, I’ll direct you a piece I wrote over on YLCF–part two just went up today–that I like to call either the “Let’s Not Sit At Home Cross-Stitching for The Rest of Our Lives” post or the “I’m Just Feeling WAY Too Feisty These Days” post. Take your pick.

Find it here: “Marriage Is Not My Highest Calling,” Part One and Part Two.

And you’ll find ME sitting here fixing broken links and eating ripe apples from that tree out front.

ETA: I think all the links are good to go now, due to the collaborative brains of me, my John, Nathaniel, and my beloved Gretchen. I updated a few things here and there–mostly adding the Iraq Journey page and updating my About page. But let me know if you see something buggy.

Also, if you’re looking for free hosting for WordPress blog, contact Nathaniel and see what he can do. He does basic setup if you have a design or designer and knows pretty much anything you’d need to know about WordPress and switching from Blogger. That, and the guy is mildly crazy and will probably make you laugh. Just sayin.

So do we call it "courtship," or is it "dating?"

September 20, 2009

A few weeks ago I was going through a big stack of old books brought home from my mom’s house. (Box of books you need to get rid of? Don’t mind if I do.) I sorted through all of them, deciding which ones would be headed to our bookshelves (if we can find room for them, that is–we have five big oak bookshelves and we’re already running out of room) and which were destined for a listing on

Of the ones shown here (which aren’t all of them), only five remained, and even those were, eh, kinda iffy.

I’m not going to tell you which ones. Ha.

I’m an ardent fan of (and believer in!) Christ-centered relationships and purity in such, but I’m not a fan of formulas, plans, or even, sometimes, books giving the so-called “how-to,” unless they are strictly adhering to the basic principles found in God’s Word. I’m especially not a lover of books and articles telling how a “godly relationship” should be conducted written by people who have yet to follow the plan they’re setting forth… or even such missives written by parents of young children, who themselves are often simply telling of what, in their opinion, is a better way than what THEY experienced.

Ever notice that the most balanced and biblical writings on such topics of parenting, relationships and marriage are from people who have lived a long life, are enjoying their grandchildren, and who have already seen all of their children wearing wedding bands? Funny how that is…

My biggest pet peeve lies in the “terms” debate. “No, I’m not dating him,” they say. “We are courting.” Oh, thank you… that’s clear as mud. The very terms mean so little anymore; they’ve been twisted to mean so many very, very different things.

This quote from the book Her Hand in Marriage by Douglas Wilson (which, incidentally, already has a new home thanks to PaperBackSwap–I don’t agree with much of the doctrine this author would claim, nor some of the principles he states, but I’m always a believer in taking the good before tossing the bad) pretty much sums up my thoughts on the whole dating vs. courtship debacle:

We live in a fallen world. One of the evidences of this is that we really have no adequate term to describe the way in which young Christian men and women should get together. Perhaps some time after Christians return to a more obedient practice, we will have been doing it long and well enough to be able to name whatever it is we are doing.

In the meantime, we must use such terms as we have, hence, biblical courtship or biblical dating. We must reject the pattern of abdication, disobedience, and sexual immorality which we see all around us; hence, our rejection of recreational dating, or the modern dating system.

But in doing this, we are bound to use whatever terms we select in a qualified sense. Some couple who “date” are in closer conformity with biblical principles than other couples who embrace the “courtship” model. So in this book I shall routinely refer to courtship, or biblical courtship, and sometimes to biblical dating. If a courting couple goes on a date, we should not all panic and relegate this horror to the same category as nation rising up against nation, or kingdom against kingdom. The end is not yet. (emphasis mine)

Keep in mind here, that, at some point in my life, I’ve said every single one of the silly little things ever to be uttered on this topic. I’ve tossed some of these books at friends and can recite a pretty decent courtship speech. I’m a board member on the website which hosts THE Courtship Story Index. My own story is published there. (Keep in mind, if you click that link, that the story was written a few years ago and sounds, eh… let’s just say… a wee bit immature in places. But what’s new? Heh. It was also written before the changes in my family, and thus doesn’t accurately portray my current outlook on the whole thing. Thus why I took the link off my navigation bar. But, it IS the way it all happened!)

I’m just as much an advocate of godly, pure, Christ honoring romances as ever.

It’s just all the squabbling over the whole thing that, you know, makes my head spin.

Who cares what we call it? And who cares–really–how it all plays out? As long as God is leading, guiding, directing and being sought every step of the way… it’s all good. God doesn’t work by formula. He works by principle.

I know some of you won’t agree. And some will read this and say, “What on earth is she rambling about now?” I’m just feeling a little feisty tonight, so hash it out in the comments.

Tell me what you call it. Dating? Courting?

Or maybe my personal favorite, Dorting.

Maybe a future in church music? Or at least singing in front of Walmart.

September 18, 2009

Every so often (as in, once a week or so) our little family finds ourselves in the middle of an impromptu music night. A guitar or two (or three), the piano, sometimes the saxophone, often a bit of mini-guitar and mini-piano… both of which are played by tiny hands, of course, using music none of us have ever heard before. Sometimes the mini violin comes out, and once in a great, great while, the mandolin, autoharp or banjo will make a guest appearance. But that’s not too often.

We sing our favorite praise songs, favorite hymns (we love our more current music, but we’re still big ol’ fans of teaching our little guys the rich hymns and spiritual songs that have been sung by generations before us), and lots of Patch the Pirate and Sunday school songs. Hand motions are a must. Of course.

But Troy’s absolute, all time FAVE is Mighty to Save, as he first heard it sung by Hillsong. He’s obsessed with this song–to the point of making it WELL known to our church ensembles that “Migh’y to SAY-ve is HIS song, guys! It’s HIS song!” when they’re practicing for a Sunday service. I’m never quite sure whether the appropriate step there is to laugh or be embarrassed or to tell him to zip them lips.

The #1 commodity during our music nights would be (how DID you know??) the microphone.

As evidenced:

Note 1: You will notice Merritt’s complete freak out when he realizes Troy is singing the chorus alllll over again. The sky might fall if we don’t get the words right! Goodness. How ridiculous is that big brother of his.

Note 2: Troy told me, upon seeing me getting this video put together, that he and Bubs were being Daddy and “Mason’s daddy,” who happens to be the music director at our church. I’m not sure if that should be taken as a compliment to either, given the faces Troy’s making when he sings (“Mason’s daddy” is usually the one holding the mic and singing) and Merritt’s, uh, amazing INability to keep the guitar in front of him (Troy and Merritt’s daddy is usually the one with the guitar). We’ll pretend he just meant it in, you know, general terms.

Note 3: Across the board, the first order of business here would be to teach those boys a thing or two about staying on key, but, you know, we’re workin’ on it.

So, you know of any churches in need of a music leader? One willing to wait, say, twenty years or so? Lemme know.


September 16, 2009

A few weeks ago, when I headed to the beach for a week, I had one basic goal in mind.

To get a really, really awesome tan.

I’m not sure why exactly I doubted that eight days of laying on the sand and chasing little kiddos IN THE SUN wouldn’t do the trick on its own, but I wanted to be absolutely positive, so I did what any stupid reasonable girl would do. Which is to, you know, forgo the whole sunscreen deal.

Yes, I am serious. Be assured, my children were slathered hair to toenail with the highest SPF around and wore their rash guards the minute I saw any signs of pink. And believe it or not, even with all that, they still have little (meltingly adorable) tan lines.

I have tan lines too. Serious ones. As you can, I’m sure, imagine.

The second day there, I bought a new swimsuit. The lines and straps on this one were completely different than any of the other swimsuits I’ve had the past few years, which meant there were a few places on my back and my shoulders that hadn’t actually seen any sun to speak of in, well… forever. As in, probably never.

Because I have less sense that a goat and a hefty dose of vanity, I endured the pain that came along with the complete frying of my skin that week, certain that it would all be worth it when I went home a nice, even brown. (Which, I must say, it was. Please don’t hate.) What I didn’t anticipate was the healing process for those few spots of skin which were being exposed to harsh sunshine rays for the first time, ever. Or what would happen afterward.

While the rest of my body simply turned a darker shade of brown than it had been from all of our regular beach-going this summer, those few places took two weeks to heal. And in their place, instead of the nice summery, beachy tan I was after, are left… scars. Sunburn scars.

Didn’t plan for that one. Not so hot when it comes to those sundresses that fill my closet. I’m guessing I won’t be doing that again.

I was noticing yesterday morning that they’re almost completely healed now. The after-effects of a serious burn aren’t visible, and the skin, while not blending in with the tanned area around it, looks almost normal again. But there is one thing that has caught me by surprise. The skin is still a bit tender to the touch.

It’s a funny thing about scars. We all have them, usually from something that was fun until it… well, wasn’t. I have three of them on my knees from when I was a little girl; two from mountain bike accidents and one from a roller-blading spill. John has a big one in the center of his forehead, the result of tripping during a game of tag, back before he was even school-aged. But even though, for most of my scars (except these most recent ones, obviously) it’s been a decade or two since the initial wound, the skin is still tender. It won’t ever be the same or as strong as the healthy skin surrounding it. The scrapes or gashes may have healed and become gradually less painful, but the scar is still there. For the worst of them, I might still wince at close contact.

We’ve all heard the analogies a hundred times. Scars make us who we are. They show where we’ve been. They’re part of healing. We’re told the ugliness is beauty when viewed this way. We need to get over our scars. Get past them. They don’t mean anything anymore.

But we all know the truth.

Scars are ugly. Nobody (except maybe little boys) intentionally sets out to gain a body full of scars.

Nobody wants to have visible reminders of their worst moments–the ones they brought upon themselves, nor the ones others inflicted upon them. But deep wounds don’t heal without leaving a scar. Not ever.

It’s true: we do end up with these places of twisted, maimed skin (or of battered, bruised hearts) as the result of healing. But sometimes, the pain goes on long after the healing, by appearances, is complete.

There is truth to the analogies. Scars do make us who we are. They cause us to remember our weakest and darkest days. They remind us of our brokenness, our weakness. And, to me, they drive me back to my Lord. The One who brought me through those days. The One who did and is doing the healing in my life.

A scar equals a pain. A wound. We can’t simply dismiss it. Can’t pretend it isn’t there. The residual ache… or the healing. Because, in reality, a scar is always a little bit of both.

It might not make sense, but what can I say?

September 15, 2009

The problem with announcing that, hey, I’m going to blog again, is the fact that, once said, one puts herself under a bit of a self-imposed obligation to, you know, actually blog again.

What she tends to forget, when writing said post of announcement, is that she does, in fact, have two young ones running wild with boundless energy through her hallways and she has to actually carve out time to sit down, laptop in lap, and think in complete sentences.

What I’m saying is that I’m a little rusty at this, so bear with me. You might read some posts full of absolutely nothing for a week or two. Just until I get my sea legs back.


Today is the kind of day that leaves a person ready for bed at 8:00.

8:00 AM.

Wait–I think I feel like that every day, don’t I? Eh, such is this thing we call motherhood.

It started sweetly… up early, devotions on the couch while John finished his across the room, coffee sipped from my favorite mug (yes, I’m just that sentimental) and then snuggles with Troy when he woke early. He started asking questions about Jesus and somehow we ended up talking about such weighty matters as salvation and, for the first time, I sensed he was really starting to grasp the basic concept of atonement. It was precious, and I was still floating on a mommyish cloud of “oh my word, that child is a gift from God to teach and what a responsibility and he’s so cute and I love him so much and he’s getting so big and soon he’ll really understand salvation and his little tender heart just melts me and…”

…and then we heard the earth shattering “MAMAAAAAAAA!!!!!!” of the toddler, awake now, in his crib, and READY to be whisked off for snuggle time in the big bed.

It was exactly 3.4 minutes before the first hitting or pushing or whatever it was took place and I tried to hold onto my calm while putting out the fire. It worked. Sort of.

Until 5.6 minutes later when the second altercation began, having something to do with who got to lay on Daddy’s pillow and who got to snuggle in Mommy’s right arm or something like that–hard to tell when the only one who can talk coherently is crying–and the calm? It was ready to take flight.

Come on, children. Mommy is feeling very serene and content and spiritual this morning. DO NOT RUIN IT, thankyouverymuch.

I’d like to report that from that point on, the day went off without a hitch. No more scuffles or strife. No bad attitudes, disrespectful tones or disobedience. And with a Mommy who retained every bit of that early morning quietness of heart.

I’d like to report such a thing, but the Bible says “Thou shalt not lie.”

Which might explain why I’m writing about nothingness rather than typing out one of those fifty five posts of actual substance written on the walls of my brain.

I sat down an hour ago intending to get some serious blog work done here. Write a post, wrap up a couple articles I’ve had sitting in the drafts for YLCF, catch up on email (oh, email, how I love and adore thee… until I neglect thee for a week or two, and then, oh email, how demanding thou becomest upon my attentions!) and maybe, just maybe, do some blog hopping, like in the old days.

(Side note: I’ve been visiting a new blog or two every day the past week–some of you lurkers and even sadly neglected faithful commenters, and I must say how much I love finding new people. I get a little giddy at the comments that start out saying, “I’m a long time lurker…” So come on, people, let me know you’re there. (An exemption, I guess, goes out all you church people hiding in the shadows. I already know you’re reading, even if the only way I find out is when you accidentally mention something I never actually told you face to face. HA! Caught red handed.) I heart lurkers.)

But, the only part of that list that was actually accomplished–if you could even call it that–is the writing of this pitiful excuse of a post. The problem? Facebook. I’ve been a long time Facebook hater. Or, more accurately, a Facebook lurker. (See? The lurking thing? A trend.) But somehow, in the past several weeks, I got sucked into the vortex. Slid down the slippery slope. Jumped off the cliff. Dove into the deep end.

Or not really. But, it is amazing the way that place can drain the time out of a person once you get used to short blips about your aunt’s cousin’s daughter’s friend’s sister-that-you-knew-from-preschool’s life. I’m sure there’s someone around here I could blame for my mindless meanderings into Facebook territory, but I’ll keep my suspicions to myself. And, next time, just tell myself the pictures and quizzes and who-knows-what-kind-of-aqua-farm-mafia-life can wait.

Because when there’s an hour free from the moment-by-moment sparring matches that come from having two boys (it’s mind boggling how quickly a simple hug can spontaneously combust into a wrestling match with boys–just imagine the scene when they’re teenagers) I think I should grab it by the horns.

Or, uh… the laptop.