Monday, June 27, 2011


Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 


Saturday, June 18, 2011

One Week!!

One week until my sister becomes a married woman....

One week until I can finally say I have a brother....

One week until I have to walk slowly and gracefully down the aisle as the maid of honor....

One week and a day until I can crash and not think about sewing again for a while. And then get back to sewing non-deadline doll clothes when I feel fully recovered from sewing those bridesmaid dresses... ;-)

I am so, so grateful for God's grace and guidance in the last several months.  Things haven't always been as easy as they've looked but God has been good and has led Amanda and Alex, and, indeed, our whole family, to this point.  I am so excited!! 
P.S. Prayers would be appreciated as I wrap up some wedding-sewing this next week.  One more dress to go and I'm feeling the pressure. ;-)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Psalm 62:5-8

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Prayer Request

For those of you who aren't on Facebook...

Please pray for my dad's best-friend-since-childhood David...he was hit by a DUI driver yesterday morning, spun across the highway median, and collided with a semi-truck.  He is in critical condition and it's uncertain whether he will make it or not.  Please keep him and his wife and two kids in your prayers.  Pray for healing for David and strength and peace for the family...and for my dad as well, as this is his best friend, and he has so many other burdens on him right now as it is.
Thanks so much!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guest Post : "What is Spiritual Love Anyway?"

Note from Melanie: I've been planning on writing an article like this for a while but my sister got there first and did a way better job than I could have.  Since she has a private blog, viewable by invitation only, I got her permission to repost her article here.  

by Amanda A.

We as Christians know that love is to be the basis of everything we do. We know that we can have true love only as we are abiding in Christ and letting His love control our lives. But what does this love actually look like?

In the realm of conservative Christianity reigns a certain idea about love – that love is faithfully good to a person while the person is performing well, and once the person stops performing to the expectation, the loving thing to do is to cut that person off till they have repented and gone back to performing well. In the name of loving like Christ, we as Fundamentalists have hurt many people. In the name of the love of Christ, we have shunned our friends and cut them off. We have acted on the principle, “I will be your faithful friend as long as I see you as following the Lord.” If we had done it only once, and if we recognized our problem, the issue might not need to be addressed. But cutting off fellow Christians in the name of love has become so much a part of our lives that it can’t go unaddressed any longer. This mindset is dangerously unbiblical.

Look at what the love of God is. It is unconditional, not based on anything we do or don’t do. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Jesus loved us so much that He died to pay our sin debt when we were not following Him, in fact, when we hated Him and definitely didn’t deserve it. “God proved His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus came to the world not to condemn it, but to save it (John 3:17). He came to seek and to save the lost (Matthew 9:13). He remains faithful in His love to us even when we don’t (1 Timothy 2:17).

What God’s love does not do is put people on probation. Think of Peter denying Jesus, and Thomas refusing to believe unless he actually could touch the Lord. Did Jesus pull back from them when they sinned against Him like that? He had gentle words of reproof for them, but He never withheld His love and forgiveness, or even His miracles and companionship from them.

Something that we seem to think Jesus does is put people at arms’ length when they wander from Him, and we do this in our own interactions with people whom we perceive as being in sin. One of the verses we use for this is 1 Thess. 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” However, it would be more accurately translated, “Abstain from every form of evil” – not every appearance. If you think about it, Jesus did not abstain from every appearance of evil. He spent time with publicans and prostitutes. Seriously, if it is wrong to associate with sinners, Jesus was one of the most sinful people alive. In fact, association with sinners was one of the main problems the Pharisees had with Jesus. The Pharisees loved no one but themselves and were more concerned with keeping a good name and keeping ceremonially clean, and they ignored or altered the command to love one’s neighbor, and condemned those who did.

See a connection between that and our practice in Fundamental churches and our own thought processes? We change what it means to love one’s neighbor. What do we do when we see a girl who dresses borderline immodest and bleaches her hair get kicked out of her Christian college and then leave home? We say it is loving to cut her off, and we cut her off. And after we change what means to love one another, we condemn those few people who still show mercy to her who has been cut off by everyone else in the name of love. But what we don’t realize is that if we’re going to condemn those people who have compassion on her, we should condemn Jesus too. Jesus loves those who wander from Him and waits for them with open arms. After all, He didn’t come for the righteous, but for the sinners.

Mark 7 records in detail one of Jesus’ conversations with the Pharisees about this. The Pharisees altered the commands of God to give them more freedom to serve themselves. After all, who wants to honor their parents when they could alternatively give a gift to the church in the name of helping them and be free from any other responsibility? As Fundamentalists, we often apply this passage to Pharisees, to Catholics, and to other religious groups who place a lot of emphasis on works. But we forget to apply it to ourselves.

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men” (vv. 6-8). We worship God with our mouths, but our hearts are far from Him, and that shows in the way we “love” each other. Jesus said, “By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” We say we love God, yet we shun not only the lost He came to seek and to save, but also those who are His people. What’s even worse is that these believers we shun aren’t always as backslidden as we think they are, and that leaves us even less of an excuse to cut them off than we already had.

How do we act toward a family who comes to church only one service a week? We back away from them because they must be very unspiritual if they don’t come every time the doors are open, and maybe we can make them feel their need to come more if we ostracize them. But if we would choose to understand this family instead of pull away from them, we might find reasons behind their choice - maybe the father works hard all week and wants to spend Sundays with his family. That would be a very good reason to attend only one church service. Why do we forsake people for things like this? Think. Is it because these are utterly wicked people who will corrupt whoever spends time with them? Or is it a pride issue, thinking that we are better than they because we go to every church service and they don’t?

“You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition…thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that” (vv. 9. 12-13). Whether we realize it or not, we as fundamentalists have altered the command of God so we don’t have to love people the hard way. It’s easier to operate on the principle that love ignores people “for their own good” than love continues to reach out to them. We don’t want our children to be tainted by association with “the sinner”; we don’t want ourselves to be tainted by association; we don’t feel like getting our hands dirty in trying to understand the person’s reasons behind their actions. We would pull back and say it is none of our business rather than recognize and help a hurting heart. No person sins without reason. Every person has a heart, a soul, and a hurt and a reason buried deep inside. Jesus goes to the bottom of a person’s need – He isn’t afraid to dirty His hands to wash our hearts. If our Lord and Master can set aside the clutter of baggage, the pressure of popular opinion, and even the importance of His own reputation, what is to keep us from doing the same?

Think of the parable of the prodigal son. He wished his father dead, he took his father’s money when it wasn’t his yet, he spent it all on harlots, and he finally ended up taking the most unclean job a Jew could take – caring for pigs. According to Jewish law, he was unclean and a rebel. By the law, he should have been stoned upon entering the town. His father had every right to have him executed when he returned home. But did he exercise that right? No – in fact, he was waiting every minute for his son to return, because he knew what would happen if the village found him first. And when the son did return, his father was so happy that he didn’t even let him finish his apology. This parable isn’t about the need to repent and return to God, though it carries that concept. The real point is the love of God.

Without knowing it, we have fallen into the same trap the Pharisees were in. They may have honestly believed they were serving God by staying away from and condemning the wicked people in their world, but Jesus said to them, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” In our zeal to do the right thing, we skip over what is truly the right thing – to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

You know the story of the Good Samaritan – how the Pharisee and the Levite avoided the hurt man for reasons of their own, and it was only the outsider who had enough compassion to stop and help a complete stranger. We praise him for what he did, and repeat Jesus’ words, “Go and do thou likewise.” Yet how often do we pass by the hurt people in our lives?

Perhaps we choose not to help people and love people the way God loves them because we’re concerned about association. After all, if we let ourselves get involved with these people, then we will be guilty by association and will ruin our reputations. If we’re going to take a side, then we’re going to be silent and side with popular opinion because it’s easier for us. What idiots we are. Did Jesus care about what anybody thought? The only person whose opinion He cared about was His Father’s. He died to free us to follow His Father like He did. What a slap in the face it must then be to Him for our biggest concern to be keeping ceremonially clean.

Another trap we fall into is having a superior attitude towards those whom we feel to be in the wrong. We probably don’t even notice it, but it’s there in this attitude: “You’re wrong, but I’ll extend grace to you anyway.” That attitude shouldn’t even come across on anybody’s radar – your grace should just be there. Jesus was better than everyone else; He was God! But He didn’t go around with an attitude of superiority or condescension – His position was nothing to Him, because His people were what He cared about.

The root of the mindset that we need to “mark the unbeliever” and stay away is pride. In his book, James writes, “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges a brother speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; who are you to judge your neighbor?” God is the only one worthy to judge the law or to judge any person. It is not our place to decide if someone needs to be put out of our lives. Jesus said the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount – “Judge not, that you be not judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you again.” Judging a person’s spirituality is such a delicate business that only God Himself can handle that responsibility. It does not belong to us. What does belong to us is discernment, caution, and true love.

You might have an amazing spiritual gift. You might be powerful in your presentation of God’s Word. You might be the most generous person in the world. But if you don’t have Christ’s true love, it is worth nothing. The world can be amazing and powerful and generous – what do you have that they need? The love they need to see is a love like Christ’s. Love that is patient - Jesus was patient with the disciples (and is with us!) when they didn’t understand His words, no matter how many times He explained to them. Love that is kind – Jesus fed the multitudes, healed the sick, and provided wine for a feast. Love that isn’t arrogant or jealous, that behaves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, that actively seeks the good of other people. Love that continues to reach out and doesn’t let people get under its skin, love that doesn’t hold grudges or require penance of people. Love that isn’t afraid to speak the truth or rejoice when it is spoken, upheld, and lived. Love that works and waits for change – doesn’t push it, doesn’t neglect it, but does its work and waits. Love that acts on and believes in the power of God in people’s lives, and has a positive outlook, knowing that God is powerful enough to change hearts; love that hopes, and in hoping has the strength to keep on working to make a difference in people’s lives. No matter whether the people refuse help, or whether love feels like they don’t deserve help, love endures it all and never gives up, because God is love, and love never fails.

The answer is never, ever to leave someone to their own devices. That is God’s business, not ours. Jesus left us on earth to be Him to His people. How sad do you think He is when He sees us trying to usurp the Father’s place of judgment instead of doing what He told us to do? “This command I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”

We are the body of Christ. “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one spirit.” We are all equal in Christ, and all a part of Him. We are one, like all the parts of our body make up our body. By the same token, when we love each other as Christ wants us to, the body is made stronger. But when we cut off different members from ourselves, it’s the same thing as cutting off one of our hands or feet – the body is hurt, wounded, bleeding. This is more serious than just choosing not to be friends with so-and-so anymore “for their own good” – this is like ripping up the body of Christ with a knife that doesn’t even belong to us. It is harmful and it is wrong.

What I’m trying to say is that Jesus is the standard for our actions, including when people appear to be sinning against us and against the Lord. When people receive our treatment of them, what do they see about Jesus? A superior attitude, probation, shunning, attacking and cutting down, ignorance of pain? Or do they see help, friendly contact, unpretentious forgiveness, the second mile?

I’ve been writing mainly with the theme of our actions towards unbelievers and towards believers who have sinned against us. But if it is so wrong to treat in an unloving manner those who have sinned against us, how much more wrong is it to treat in an unloving manner those who have not sinned against us – those with whom we just don’t agree? It is presumptuous of us to assume that someone is unbiblical when their opinion on or application of something not specifically addressed in Scripture doesn’t agree with ours. God is the one who knows the hearts. We don’t, and to assume that we know exactly what God is doing in their hearts is to in effect say that we know God’s will for them better than God Himself does. It is bad enough that we put ourselves in God’s place of judgment towards those who have sinned against us, but it is even worse when we condemn someone for following God’s will in their own lives. God leads us all individually, and we each are responsible for our own lives and our own stands on issues. We answer to Him individually. When you assume that someone is wrong and then try to actually punish them or make them change, you have stepped out of that realm of personal responsibility before God by meddling in other people’s lives and trying to take responsibility for people other than yourself. This is dangerous.

If someone else is doing something differently than we are, or takes a different stand than we do, it doesn’t mean that he is wrong. We can ask them about it and try to get a feel for their reasoning behind their choices, but in the end, whether or not we agree, we need to let them follow God for themselves. True love will continue to accept them, not cut them off because of a disagreement of opinion.

I am not saying that we don’t love the Lord, or are terrible Christians, or aren’t trying to honor God; after all, God is the only one who knows the hearts. But living in this world, we have a huge range of influence. Every day, we see people, we interact with people. With so many lives in our reach, we need to have a clear understanding of the love of Christ. We must seek for the truth about this, forgetting what we have been taught and going to God’s Word as though we’ve never seen it before. We will find the truth if we look for it, and the truth will set us free to love like we never knew we could.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Man in the Arena

"It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt
P.S.  With that said:  To those of you who feel it your sacred duty to criticize, slander, and shun people who have been in the arena of a certain trial and made decisions you may not fully understand, maybe even fallen once or twice... you can really stop right now, because you weren't in the arena so what you have to say doesn't really count.  Perhaps, instead of throwing dirt, try extending the healing balm of grace or giving a cup of cold water to refresh the weary fighter, for a change.  That, after all, was Jesus' sacred duty, and aren't we called to be like Him?  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


"Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intensely it seems, beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure by foes, and a pressure from friends.
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.

"Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured."

The pressure of hard places makes us value life. Every time our life is given back to us from such a trial, it is like a new beginning, and we learn better how much it is worth, and make more of it for God and man. The pressure helps us to understand the trials of others, and fits us to help and sympathize with them.

There is a shallow, superficial nature, that gets hold of a theory or a promise lightly, and talks very glibly about the distrust of those who shrink from every trial; but the man or woman who has suffered much never does this, but is very tender and gentle, and knows what suffering really means. This is what Paul meant when he said, "Death worketh in you."

Trials and hard places are needed to press us forward, even as the furnace fires in the hold of that mighty ship give force that moves the piston, drives the engine, and propels that great vessel across the sea in the face of the winds and waves. --A. B. Simpson

"Out of the presses of pain,
Cometh the soul's best wine;
And the eyes that have shed no rain,
Can shed but little shine."

~excerpts from Streams in the Desert by L. B. Cowman

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"?  Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

~Isaiah 40 <3

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Update on Life

I continue to be very neglectful of my poor blog here.  I'm not even sure what to write about, presently, so I'll just give a quick update on life.

Most of you know, my buddy and older sister, Amanda, is getting married in June (WOOOHOOOOO!!!) and I have been commissioned to make three out of the five bridesmaid dresses.  They are made of cornflower blue satin, using McCalls 4491 (views B and C).  I am half-way through the first one (Bethany's) and having a blast.  Amanda and Alex have been busy planning, and bridal showers are right around the corner.  It's so wierd--but totally exciting!! :-D

I'm in the process of purchasing a new "model" for my Etsy shop.... Miss Esther Elizabeth, named after Esther Moore, one of the heroines in MD (and sequels). Unfortunately, with all the wedding sewing I have to do, I don't have time to work on any new doll outfits for the shop right now.  I do have lots in the planning, though. ;-)
Speaking of MD, I've been slowly working on editing it, but more importantly, I've been figuring out the details for the two other books in the trilogy.  In my searching to know my character's better, I found out an astonishing truth: that... well, somebody I thought was dead (can't say who ;-) ), actually isn't dead, and has been popping up throughout the story already, under a pseudonym, and I didn't even know it was...well, who it is ;-) .  So that's been exciting.  I also figured out, with the help of my writing buddy/editor Emily, more piratey names for the two main pirate villains and their ships.  This has been helping me get a better understanding of their personalities, which is very helpful (obviously ;-) ).    Earlier this week I was able to get together with my writing buddies, Emily, Matthew, and Mark, and get in an awesome writers chat... they were able to give some great ideas for MD and sequels, and it was just fun talking my stories and hearing about theirs.  Writers chats are the best. ;-)

Last week my mom and I went to the mall and I got my hair cut and styled.  I'm really excited.... I like it a lot.  It feels much more grown-up.  It also looks a bit like Rapunzel's at the end of Tangled when I blow-dry and flat-iron it the right way.. ;-) (I'm working on it. ;-) )

This next week I'll be going out of town to stay for a week or two with my friend Megan, who just had her first baby and needs help around the house and such.  I'm very excited about that!  It'll be a whole new experience for me.  Please pray that I will be a help, not an in-the-way guest, and that I can help lighten her load as she and her husband take on this new adventure in their lives. :-)

I haven't been keeping to a "Bible-reading schedule" lately... it's been in my mind lately that I too often look at the Bible as an assignment, at reading it as something I "ought to do", rather than taking joy in drinking in its words-- however much I need for the moment-- and dwelling on it and seeing Jesus in its pages, and through Him, the Father.  So instead lately I've been taking my Bible reading in little bits and purposefully looking for Jesus in what I read: what is He like, what did He do, what does this mean for me?  Because Jesus represents the Father and is one with the Father, what does His life and ways tell me about the Father?  I'm reading in John presently, but have always been parked in Romans 8 and Isaiah 40, chapters that speak specifically to needs in my heart right now.

And in case you are wondering, India is still much in my mind and on my heart, and I am praying about visiting a Christian children's home there...eventually (not sure when, especially with all the busyness going on right now).  Until then, I'm planning to set aside 20% of each of my Etsy sales for the children's home (though I haven't been getting any sales lately, so, I'm not sure if that means anything or not right now! :-P )  But yes....please keep praying that I would know God's will concerning me and work in India: part time, full time, at all?  Present there, or ministering from here?  And when, how, where?  Please pray that God would show me His will in His time and that I would follow it.

Okay, so, that's what's going on!  Do you feel updated? :-)  I really don't know how much I'll be posting in the near future... it will probably continue to be very sporadic.  But please do comment.  I love comments.  I am still here, just not always posting. :-)

*waves* :-D

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sitting at Jesus' Feet

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

~Luke 10:38-42

Monday, April 11, 2011

Literary Ball

Last weekend I had the lovely opportunity to attend a ball hosted by my friend Kate. The ball was literary-themed, so everyone came as a character from literature.

My character was Amy Dorrit from Charles Dickens' classic, Little Dorrit. I based my costume on one of Amy's from the BBC miniseries. It wasn't exactly like hers, but it was close. :-)

It was a lovely time of dancing and visiting, reuniting with friends and making new friends.

Eva, Kate, and me, the day after the ball. :-)

Photos by Brandon P., Patrizia F., and Christopher L.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Homeschooling Pride

The thoughts in this post may possibly go against the grain of some people's mindsets.  I don't usually write controversial posts on my blog because I'm far too worried about people's opinions about my opinions.... but it's been on my mind so I decided to write it anyway. :-) Here goes, and no offense intended towards anybody.

Have you ever been in a conversation with other homeschoolers or homeschool graduates, and all of the sudden start hearing all sorts of statistics flying (and as you know, 76.5% of all statistics are made up on the spot ;-) ), about how much smarter homeschoolers are than public schoolers (to use the homeschool term :-P ), about homeschoolers going on to far more successful careers, knowing more practical skills, getting better scores on their ACTs, and actually having a better social life than public schoolers (because all homeschoolers know public schoolers don't know how to socialize with adults, right?)? (And then, almost inevitably, someone makes a comment about having graduated at sixteen!)

To answer the very long-winded question... Yes, I have been in conversations like that.

Let me make something clear before I move on. I love homeschooling. I by no means regret being homeschooled, and there is a very high possibility of me homeschooling my own kids one day. Homeschooling is very often a safer environment than public school, and there is more freedom to focus on the particular aspect of study the child is most interested in or needs most help in. You may not get snow days, but you do get to take off school and go on vacation any time of the year. Homeschooling also provides an opportunity for the parents to be there for their kids more and mentor their children to know Christ (though that is not always the case). Homeschooling is great. This article is not to prove that homeschooling is bad. I am not against homeschooling. And I'm glad my parents homeschooled me. :-)
Okay. Got that cleared up.

The thing I am against is the really disgusting spirit of pride often carried about by people in the homeschooling movement-- parents and children alike. The scenario I presented above is very similar to a conversation I was listening in on recently, which triggered the train of thought that led to this article being written. But before I start pointing fingers and talking about how disgusting other people's pride is, I need to remember... I have been there myself, and it's very easy to be there even now, if not about homeschooling, then about other matters.

Growing up homeschooled, I had a very homeschooled mindset. Anyone who was not homeschooled was known as a "public-schooler" (as was referenced in the opening paragraph). Homeschooling, in my mind, was always and only the best choice for anybody and everybody, parents who sent their kids to a public (or even private) school were bad parents who didn't care about their children's spiritual needs, and homeschooled children were inevitably smarter and more successful than other children. When people would bring up the argument of "How can your kids have socialization if they don't go to school?" I would wave it off as an inapplicable argument, even though for several years the only friend my age that I spent time with on a regular basis was a fictional character in a book (Millie Keith, to be specific :-) ).

As I've grown older and seen more beyond the realm in which I grew up, I've begun to see that many of my pre-suppositions about how much better homeschoolers were than other children were incorrect or warped. I am not saying that homeschool graduates aren't successful, but I am saying public school graduates can be successful too. I am not saying that homeschoolers don't know how to socialize, but I am saying that public schooled know how to socialize too! And I am saying that just because someone graduates at sixteen doesn't mean they are smarter than someone who graduates at eighteen.

We as homeschoolers create this idea in our mind that we are so much better than anybody else, that because we are homeschooled, we are somehow holier, smarter, and closer to God. But I am going to be radical (for a homeschooler ;-) ) and suggest that God couldn't care less whether we were homeschooled or not.

In Philippians 3, Paul looked back over the list of qualifications about himself that seemed like they ought to give him pretty good status before God. "If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh," he wrote, "I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless...." ("Graduated at 16, from a family of ten, a conservative Republican of Republicans; as to religion, a Protestant and anti-Satan's-Claus; as to theology, Reformed; as to fashion, dresses only; as to relationships, I never dated and I didn't kiss before I was married; a stay-at-home daughter and an ideal homeschooler...")*

Impressive list! It's easy to look at a list of qualifications and think those things made a person more holy, more nearly Christlike. However, Paul continues, "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."

A person can be the most upright person in the world, keeping to all the standards, an ideal homeschooler, but if that person has missed what it is to know Christ, to lay aside any faith in his own accomplishments and rest completely and solely in the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, he has gained absolutely nothing.

Don't take me wrong. Standards are a good thing. Homeschooling is often a great choice for families. If you graduate before 18 and become the town mayor by 20, good for you. But these things don't make a person closer to God or better than anybody else. In fact, most people aren't really impressed by what ultra-conversative homeschoolers consider accomplishments. (Most people don't really seem to think of going through 99 months of pregancy as a wonderful accomplishment to be praised... in fact, that's kind of an awkward piece of trivia to flaunt around people :-P ).

My point is that people get so caught up in statistics and trivia and standards that (seemingly) prove how much better they are than others (though it is rarely worded that way), that they lose sight of the only thing that really, truly matters... knowing God. And when I say "people", I include myself, because, as I said, pride in my own standards is no stranger to me either, though I wish it were. (I need to be careful not to make my own Philippians 3 list about being non-denominational and a reader of the ESV....) PRIDE IS DISGUSTING and the whole statistics/comparisons thing makes me want to gag. *gaaagggg*

Really, folks. For how great homeschooling is, it does not make you any better of a person in God's sight, and it does not make you a better Christian than the Christian mom who picks her kids up from the bus stop every afternoon. Are we willing to count all those "accomplishments" as loss? Because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ? "Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law [works], but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know Him..."
Knowing Him. That's what matters. Not what school you went to.

We need to get back to the basics of life:
A heart that is pure and a love that is blind,
A faith that is fervently grounded in Christ,
The hope that endures for all times--
These are the basics; we need to get back to the basics of life.

*revised list of "qualifications" is not particular to me... it was more of a compilation of various points considered ideal among ultra-conservative homeschooling groups

Thursday, April 7, 2011

You are the Light of the World

"You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do people light a lamp
and put it under a basket,
but on a stand,
and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way,
let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works
and give glory to your Father who is heaven."

(Matthew 5:14-16)

Is your light shining to guide those in darkness to the Great Light, or is it hiding under a basket in fear that the wind and the darkness might vanquish it?

Monday, April 4, 2011

In His Hands

I know!  I know!!  I have been absolutely TERRIBLE about posting lately.  Actually, I have my excuses.  So much has been going on lately...some major changes took place and kind of sent me into a spin--stress, confusion, doubt, fear, loneliness ("ceaseless ebb and flow", as the poem below says)... so I really haven't even felt like sitting down and writing a blog post lately.  Sorry about that, folks. :-/

I was looking at my quotes collection on OneNote this evening, for something uplifting that would set my focus on Christ, and came across a little four-line poem that I read somewhere, a long time ago, that was very encouraging.  I decided to google it and see if there was more to the poem, and found four stanzas full of encouragement.  They met me right where I am right now, and spoke to my heart what it needed to hear-- an idea that I've had in mind in recent weeks but was expressed so much more beautifully in this poem than I could have worded it.  No matter my changing emotions, or the days when the clouds block the sunlight... God never changes, and He is holding on to me, keeping me, and helping me through.  He never fails.  He is SO wonderful!!!   

I probably just said more than I meant to say...but anyway.  Without further ado, here's the poem, and I trust you will be encouraged as I was.  


'Twixt gleams of joy and clouds of doubt
Our feelings come and go;
Our best estate is tossed about
In ceaseless ebb and flow.
No mood of feeling, form of thought
Is constant for a day;
But thou, O Lord, thou changest not:
The same thou art alway.

I grasp thy strength, make it mine own,
My heart with peace is blest;
I lose my hold, and then comes down
Darkness, and cold unrest.
Let me no more my comfort draw
From my frail hold of thee,
In this alone rejoice with awe—-
Thy mighty grasp of me.

Out of that weak, unquiet drift
That comes but to depart,
To that pure heaven my spirit lift
Where thou unchanging art.
Lay hold of me with thy strong grasp,
Let thy almighty arm
In its embrace my weakness clasp,
And I shall fear no harm.

Thy purpose of eternal good
Let me but surely know;
On this I'll lean—let changing mood
And feeling come or go—
Glad when thy sunshine fills my soul,
Not lorn when clouds o'ercast,
Since thou within thy sure control
Of love dost hold me fast.

          —John Campbell Shairp

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Too Cute For Words...

 Happy St. Patrick's Day (late!)

Praying that your day is full of sunshine, green grass, tips of daffodils shooting out of the moist dirt, and other lovely reminders of the spring that's just around the corner! :-)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Because I am a Language Snob... ;-)

...I thought I would share a little something I looked up. ;-)  (Hopefully you won't get bored with it... there is a point at the end. ;-) ) (Definitions and quotations come from . )   


–adjective Also, ep·i·cal.
1. noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style: Homer's Iliad is an epic poem.
2. resembling or suggesting such poetry: an epic novel on the founding of the country.
3. heroic; majestic; impressively great: the epic events of the war.
4. of unusually great size or extent: a crime wave of epic proportions.
5. an epic poem.
6. epic poetry.
7. any composition resembling an epic.
8. something worthy to form the subject of an epic: The defense of the Alamo is an American epic.
9. ( initial capital letter ) Also called Old Ionic. the Greek dialect represented in the Iliad  and the Odyssey,  apparently Aeolic modified by Ionic.

World English Dictionary

1. a long narrative poem recounting in elevated style the deeds of a legendary hero, esp one originating in oral folk tradition
2. the genre of epic poetry
3. any work of literature, film, etc, having heroic deeds for its subject matter or having other qualities associated with the epic: a Hollywood epic
4. an episode in the lives of men in which heroic deeds are performed or attempted: the epic of Scott's expedition to the South Pole

5. denoting, relating to, or characteristic of an epic or epics
6. of heroic or impressive proportions: an epic voyage

[C16: from Latin epicus,  from Greek epikos,  from epos  speech, word, song]
epic definition

A long narrative poem written in elevated style, in which heroes of great historical or legendary importance perform valorous deeds. The setting is vast in scope, covering great nations, the world, or the universe, and the action is important to the history of a nation or people. The Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid are some great epics from world literature, and two great epics in English are Beowulf and Paradise Lost.
Note : Figuratively, any task of great magnitude may be called “epic,” as in an “epic feat” or an “epic undertaking.”

(back to moi)  Okay.  Did you get all that?  Did you notice that not a single one of those definitions said "epic" means "cool" or "fun"?  :-P
Okay.  So don't say you had an epic time at your friend's house last night unless a ten-headed monster came and attacked your party and a dashing man of unknown origins burst in and, after a great battle across the whole town, eventually killed the monster and was crowned king... or mayor...and somebody wrote a long piece of poetry about it. (Or whatever.  Something like that.) (But definitely not playing volleyball and watching a fun movie.) ;-)
Sorry for the ramble. ;-D  I get so tired of hearing people use the word "epic" to mean cool or fun (just as I am even more tired of hearing people say "legit" to mean cool.  Look up the word legit/legitimate on too. ;-) )   "Epic" is such a huge word... it brings to mind a greatness and heroism too big for any other word.  I hate seeing it dragged into the host of other perfectly good words that now simply mean "excellent" or "good".    I know languages change over time, but really, we have enough words that mean "excellent" or "good", so let's enjoy using the other words the way they were meant to be used, okay? ;-)

*language snob bows and steps down from the podium* ;-)

Have a GOOD day, everyone!  Maybe take some time to take a break over coffee and a book and immerse yourself in a timeless epic. ;-)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm Back!!! and one of those fun questionairre thingys... ;-)

Hey everyone!
I guess I should say it the way most bloggers say it ("No, I'm not dead!") but that's too typical.  I'm not going to say "I've been busy" either because that's not really it either.  Well, I have been out of town, and last week I wasn't staying at a place with internet so I truly wasn't able to post then.... but besides that, it's not necessarily busyness but pre-occupied-ness that's been keeping me away from blogger.  There's a difference.  But enough of that.

Lynette Kraft is hosting a blog party on her blog.  I'm not exactly joining the blog party because I'm not really interested in the giveaway, but you know me; I can hardly resist questionairres. ;-)  Besides, you all need a post that says more than "Sorry I haven't been posting and this is why".  So here's the questionairre with my answers, just for fun. :-D

How would people describe your personality? (If they could only use ONE word.) Are they right?
Sweet (lots of people say that).  I'm not sure whether they're right or not.  I guess I am sweet when I'm around people, but not all the time.  (Amanda?  Bethany?  any thoughts?) :-P  But who knows, some people may think I'm snobby because I'm very quiet around people at first, and tend to be distant when something weighing heavily on my mind.  How would you describe my personality? :-P

What celebrity/celebrities would create a “Star-Struck” feeling if you saw them in real life?
 Ioan Gruffudd!!!  
(first one that came to mind.... ;-) ) (there are others too)

Who is your favorite blogger? Why?
I decline to answer this question, because I don't need to pick a favorite out of all the wonderful bloggers I know. :-)

What is your comfort food/drink?
Coffee... :-D

Be brave – tell us something very random and weird about yourself.
When I was little (five or six, maybe?) I had the most terrible habit of chewing on pencils and rulers.  Every once in a while, I find a pencil or a wooden ruler with teeth marks all over it, and I know who had a hold of that... ;-)

Do you have a strong desire to do something you’ve never done? What is it?
Two strong desires:  1) To publish one of my novels.  2) To travel to India (and possibly live there, with the purpose of sharing Christ with the Indian people...probably not as a traditional missionary though.)

Movies: Action, Drama, Romantic Comedy, Documentary, Comedy? What are your favorite genres?
Family films, if that's a genre... Disney animated films... Period dramas... action as long as it's not too graphic and makes allowances for girl viewers...

Books: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Romance, Biographies, True Stories, Self-Help, Devotional/Study? What are your favorite types of reading material?
Fiction, biographies, and devotional.

Music: Funk, Rock, Country, Jazz, Classical, Film Score, Blues, Classic Rock, Crooner, Alternative, Heavy Metal, Techno? What are your favorite types?
I love Celtic, film scores, and ... whatever that kind of music is that doesn't exactly have a name.  The Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team style music... a mix between hymns and...pop?  Yeah...whatever that is.  I also light Contemporary Christian (the more conservative, toned-down branch ;-) ) .  Oh, and Broadway and Disney songs. :-D

If you inherited a million dollars, what is the first thing you would do with your money?
Go to either England to study for my book, or India for a survey trip. ;-)  I think....maybe.

Name one weakness of yours (confession is good for the soul).
Disney...(Disney movies, Disney songs, Disney store...)  and American Girl... you didn't know that, did you ( :-P )  Oh, and buying things on a whim (like the 5 1/2 yards of gorgeous purple polyester shantung for my Amy Dorrit dress, the other day... ;-) ) (I only do that when I have money though. ;-) )

If you could live anywhere at all (and take all your loved ones with you), where would you go?
England or India

Strange Talent? Can you juggle basketballs, put your legs behind your head or perform some other strange feat?
Um... not that I can think of.  I can make really crazy faces, really crazy... is that a talent?  More like a random fact....

What’s something you consider yourself to be good at? (Don’t worry, it’s not bragging, it’s acknowledging a God given gift).
Well, I could say I'm good at writing, but a writer should never say something like that... not because it's bragging, but because it could keep them from becoming a better writer than they already are. :-)  And sewing...

What is one of your favorite things to catch a whiff of? 
<3 apple blossoms <3

When you leave a social gathering, do you wish: You would have talked more or You would have talked less? 
I usually wish I'd talked less, even though I don't talk much in social gatherings anyway.

If money wasn’t a factor, what stores would you shop in?
The American Girl place.  The Disney store.  Kohls.  J C Penneys.  Definitely. ;-) 

What is your greatest fear or strange phobia?
Fire is, without question, my greatest fear.  Always has been, probably always will be.  I'm terrified of the woodstove, the furnace, bonfires, lightning, anything associated with fire, except those who can stop it.  

What is your greatest accomplishment?
I don't know.... I don't really feel like I have accomplished to much as yet... unless finishing a novel is considered a great accomplishment, though I've done it a couple times... maybe writing a 50,000 word novel in one month?

What are your favorite animals?
 Cats:  domestic, tigers, lions, snow leopards, etc.... I also love horses, long-haired dogs, and elephants. :-D

Are you a hopeless romantic?
Get ready for a complex answer. If, by "hopeless romantic", you mean always living in a dream world, then yes.  But I don't know...  I can't stand mush and sap, but I look a sweet, sincere, meaningful romance.  I don't mind if the couple doesn't kiss at the end of the movie.  I don't usually think too much of marrying, unless I like someone in particular (which is very hard to get me to do), or unless I'm thinking of practical things, like "They say single ladies tend to get kind of goofy when they get older, and I already am,  so if I don't get married, I'll become known as the Crazy Doll Lady when I'm old..."  (Okay, so that's not the only reason I would get married.  Like any girl, I long for someone to build my life alongside of and raise a family with and serve God together with and love with all my heart and be loved by... but getting married isn't the top priority of my life.)  But when I do think of getting married, I like to think it will be like in a storybook.  "I am determined that nothing but the very deepest love will induce me into matrimony"... :-P And like I said, I tend to live in a dream world and see things with rose-colored glasses.  So what do you think?  Am I a hopeless romantic or a hopeless non-romantic?

What movie or book character can you most relate to?
It varies according to what's happening in life at the moment.  Lately I've felt quite a bit like Molly Gibson from Wives and Daughters; lots of people confiding in me and relying on me, and me being in positions  in which I could get in trouble either way, and needing to be there for people and listen even if I don't agree with them about everything.  Other characters I can identify with in one way or another are Jo March, Bella Wilfer, Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Violet Parr, Eustace Scrubb, and Rapunzel... in one way or another. :-)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 26

A childhood memory.

I'm sorry I haven't been keeping up with the blog challenge!  I've been kind of putting it off, since I got off-schedule the other week after my wisdom teeth surgery.  And there have been other things to post.  :-)

I have so many lovely childhood memories.  The question is, which to post about??  
Hm.  Probably our visit to Campobello, when I was seven years old.   Campobello is an island off the coast of Maine and Canada and was the site of the vacation home of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  We went with our cousins from Indiana, whose grandparents (on the other side of the family) own a cottage on the island. 

I have some very special memories of this vacation.  We toured Roosevelt's summer home, visited lighthouses, hiked across rocky beaches, had a campfire on the beach, played games, christened and explored little nameless "islands"...and I got teased about the stringy seaweed strung all over the rocks on the beach behind the cottage.  I thought they were so mean. :-P  And yet still I look back on it as a great memory-- one of the most outstanding in my childhood.

I would go again in a flash if I had the opportunity.  Maybe one day. :-)