Monday, April 30, 2007

As We Blithely Go Our Way

American prosperity teachers tell us we can have health, wealth, and wonderful self esteem. They are a travesty to the Body of Christ. Meanwhile this is what happened in Turkey recently to Christians. Maybe you have already read the news reports. It was hard to take it in at the time because the situation at Virginia Tech had just happened. Plus, news reports left out quite a bit. Please pray for the families involved in this tragedy, and ask that God be glorified in the midst of it all. Letter from the Church at Smyrna

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Iris blessed me with a Thinking Blog Award even though I think I am lazy, lazy, lazy in posting. I love reading other blogs and think they state things much lovelier than I do, so I tend to post about my wanderings. I am catching up today by posting on a number of things I have been thinking about.

  • Howdy! I have been so busy. I just got a new job doing billing at a chiropractor's office and am not used to the hours yet. The chiropractor is a Christian, and it was not quite the job I expected but I am very thankful for a friendly atmosphere in which to work. Hey! my husband and I get free chiropractic care! My husband and I want to pay all our bills and then see what God has for us. We are expecting some changes in where we might live...but that is way down the road. We really want to be a part of a Sovereign Grace Church and even though I keep emailing people who could make it happen, we have not been able to have one start up in my town.
  • My son lent me a DVD about an indie Christian group called Danielson Famile. It consists of a family of siblings who play music and sing together. I have to admit that the lead singer has the weirdest voice. He also dresses up as a tree with hanging fruit to symbolize the Fruits of the Spirit. They hang out with Sufjan Stevens who I really like. I was so surprised that my son totally loved this DVD because he really doesn't want anything to do with God. I am just curious. If you knew you had a 25 year old child who was really cynical about God and yet he liked a DVD of Emergent Christian singers, would you be happy that he responded to something at least or would you be dismayed that he was being drawn to Christians who are part of the Emergent Church? I am as concerned as the next Christian about the trend in Emergent Christianity, but what if my son was drawn to that lifestyle, and God eventually brought him around to a more Biblical way of thinking? I myself was into what I now see were some unhealthy viewpoints of Christianity for a long time, and God still drew me into a deeper understanding of theology and a Reformed stance in my Christianity. I have to confess that I get hopeful over even a glimmer of appreciation for something Christian from my son. I liked parts of the DVD. Actually I liked watching Sufjan Stevens sing most of all. I am thankful my son dropped the DVD off so that I could watch it. I am glad he thought I might enjoy it. My son is getting more artsy all the time, just like me. :)
  • If you haven't watched the video of Together for the Gospel, Reflections 2006 ,you should check it out. I hope my husband can go next year. T4G video
  • If you go to the Sovereign Grace Ministries music page, you can click on the right side where it says Sovereign Grace Radio, and listen to the Valley of Vision CD while you browse on your computer.
  • The baby owls are growing by leaps and bounds. Their grayish/white fluffy faces are turning into brownish outlines around their bright yellow eyes and it is fun to watch them perched on the edge of their large twiggy nest staring at us staring at them. They whistle and mom is perched nearby keeping watch over them and who-hooing ever so often. There is also a nest not that far away with a couple of Red Tail Hawks. I love Spring and the twittering, busy birds feathering their nests and flying all over the place.

). What characters do you wish were real so you could meet them.

  • Atticus from To Kill a Mockingbird and can't think of anyone else.

2). You would like to be.

  • Mowgli of the Jungle
  • Huck Finn
  • the girl from Island of the Dolphins
3). Who scares you.

I am with Rebecca. The witch from the Wizard of Oz, movie version

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New Residents in the Canyon: They are a Hoot!

My husband and I like to take walks at a nearby park. In the park is a grove of cottonwood trees in a small canyon where the trail loops around and goes through a tunnel below a busy road. I love the canyon because it is a spot of wilderness on the edge of houses. There are some good hills to climb that overlook the city, and some nice wetlands in the canyon. By far, the highlight of our walk is to check up on the Great Horned Owls. Last summer I lead nature hikes with schoolchildren and families and we always spotted the owls. Last year, there were two parents and two babies. They stuck together as a family while the parents taught the youngsters how to hunt. Around December the parents made the youngsters leave to discover their own territory. Recently new baby owls have been spotted. In fact, three baby owls observed my husband and me closely yesterday afternoon from their nest high in the tree. Nearby, Mom owl stood watch. The baby owls emitted sharp whistles, and Mom hooted now and then. I wish my camera had a good zoom lens, but I borrowed a photo from the internet instead to show you how cute the babies are. Right now the babies have grayish, whitish fluff and bright yellow eyes. They are starting to get their brown and white feathers. It will be fun to see the different stages the owls will go through in order to reach adulthood.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spring Bird Migration

Check out this map of migrating birds. I guess radar reflects birds and clouds within a 30 mile radius, so the dots represent birds within a locality of a radar station. This is large scale Spring migration.
Bird Migration Map

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Prayers and Thoughts about Virginia Tech Tragedy

I, like many, are saddened and burdened from the events at Virginia Tech. The overwhelming losses of loved ones and the senselessness of the shootings is mind staggering. I trust in a Sovereign God who will use his people to minister in this situation and for God to be glorified in the midst of this tragedy. Sometimes it seems like God is lifting His hand of restraint upon the world and as the world gets darker, His people shine brighter. We are to remind ourselves that God is sovereign and will bring good out of this awful situation. Here are some thoughts from John Piper as well.

Following are excerpts of a (paraphrased) prayer from the book Valley of Vision that I hope will comfort others:


Soveriegn Commander of the Universe,
We are sadly harassed by doubts, fears, unbelief,
in a felt spiritual darkness...

Help us, O Lord,
to throw ourselves absolutely and wholly on thee,
for better, for worse, without comfort , and all but hopeless.
Give us peace of soul, confidence, enlargement of mind,
morning joy that comes after night heaviness...

In our distress let us not forget this.
All-wise God,
Thy never-failing providence orders every event.
sweetens every fear,
reveals evil's presence lurking in seeming good,
brings real good out of seeming evil,
makes unsatisfactory what we set our hearts upon,
to show us what short-sighted creatures we are,
and to teach us to live by faith upon thy blessed self...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Serving the Homeless in Santa Cruz

Elm Street Mission

When I traveled to Santa Cruz to visit a friend last week, I was able to participate in her Wednesday night ritual of serving food to the homeless and cutting their hair at the Elm Street Mission. Many churches in the area get involved in serving food at the mission, and the night we participated, we served about 500 people. First we spent time preparing a plentiful table of sandwiches, spaghetti, salad, chips, mashed potatoes, ham, gravy, and cupcakes. The homeless also received "Bible bags" consisting of Bibles, sleeping bags if needed, and hygiene products. My friend Star and another lady provided haircuts for anyone who wanted one. What a special ministry!

Server at Elm Street Mission

One of the things that struck me the most while serving food, was the number of homeless kids. Many 13 and 14 year old, mostly goth girls, went through the line. There were some Jerry Garcia clones, old Vietnam Vets, young and old hippies, and lots of kids. There were babies in strollers, and even a woman who seriously looked like the neighborhood librarian. I have worked with homeless people before and understand that some homeless people are homeless by choice and others the result of bad decisions. A few are in their homeless situation due to bad circumstances, perhaps the loss of jobs and homes. Some are mentally ill, and some are homeless due to alcoholism or drug abuse. I hated seeing the young girls the most. Santa Cruz is not a place to wander around at night as a young girl. My friend Star assured me that there are many shelters to house the kids and I felt comforted by that. It was an interesting experience because I love to people watch and Santa Cruz is certainly a place to observe people.

I was told by one of the servers that various churches serve during the week, and the pastor of Elm Street Mission states that the homeless who eat at the mission must attend a service as well. Wednesday nights draw the largest crowd because a service is not required. Figures. The man next to me told me he attends a couple of churches in the area, one of them being Dan Kimball's church, The Vintage ( I think it is called). Interesting in light of my return home, only to read posts centered on the Emergent Church and Dan Kimball himself on Pyromaniacs. I wanted to ask the guy what drew him to that particular church as he was a much older man. I was just curious I guess.

Serving homeless people was a highlight of my trip and I found that I miss being involved in that kind of a ministry. I am seeking God for something I can be involved with, as I am seeking a new job and wondering how much time I will have to get involved with something. Of course I must not forget my foremost ministry is to my husband, which in my case involves lots of foot rubs.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Thinkin' About Blogs That Make Me Think

Miss M over at Regaining Paradise
has bestowed upon me a Thinking Blog honor and you really should go over to her blog for a thoughtful essay on her reaction to receiving the same honor. She articulates how I feel. I, in turn, am to bestow this honor upon blogs I feel worthy to receive such an honor. All the blogs I would have picked (and read daily) have already been well chosen by others so I will include three that I peruse daily and get blessed by.

Purple Cellar is a very thoughtful and theologically sound blog that speaks to my deepest struggles and questions. She posts on contemporary issues, trials, temptations, and offers practical biblical advice. She even posted on insommnia, a particular thorn in my side. I truly get edified.

Between Two Worlds. Justin Taylor posts links most of the time, and his links provide information to current events and theological issues around the blog world for my growth.

Al Mohler's Blog Ah, what can I say about this blog except that Al Mohler tackles issues that pertain to culture and Biblical responses to contemporary issues. Plus, I like the fact that he reads so much.

It's All About Me Meme

Miss M over at Regaining Paradise has asked some questions which I will answer to the best of my ability.

1) I know you like art so, if you had the ability to paint as any artist in history who would it be and what would you paint?

One of my favorite artists is Albrecht Durer. He was also a naturalist. He is probably most famous for his praying hands picture. I would paint meticulously rendered plants, flowers, trees, mountains, rivers, oceans, clouds, which is what I usually paint anyways.

2) What is your fondest memory of your childhood?

I playacted most of the books I read and loved. I was Mowgli of the jungle, Huck Finn, or Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird most of the time. I was mostly a solitary kid with my nose in a book or exploring the outdoors. One aspect of books I loved is the fact that these characters were always on adventures. I have always loved a good adventure. I wonder what is around the bend or over the next hill. I was perfectly content during these times of my childhood.

3) If you were down to your last $10.50 what would you spend it on?

Probably food staples. Probably a bag of beans or something that would last to my next windfall.

4) Can you share a moment in which you felt so happy and content that you would not have changed a thing?

Not a specific moment but similar moments of being on a mountain summit with the Word of God, a good picnic, and a beautiful day. Or, perhaps, an ocean beach with the Word of God, a good picnic, and a beautiful day. about out at Pyramid Lake (a local turquoise lake in the middle of high desert) with the Word of God, a good picnic, and a beautiful SUNSET! During these times, cares and worries seem to melt away.

5) Could you please tell us which plant you think best represents your life and why?

I tried to think of beautiful flowers or gorgeous trees, but I have to face reality and be honest. I thought of Lavender, common looking but with such a beautiful aroma, and I actually thought of something more accurate. I am a Nevadan and even though I love green, lots of green, we live in a sea of sagebrush, canyons of aspens, and willows, and it is a tough land. I am like a sagebrush I think. Sagebrush is common, but rub the leaves and a fresh, pungent odor emits. The wood is rough and gnarly, multi-colored, and quite resiliant to all but fire . There is an oil in the plant that is bitter and flammable, but can be medicinal and healing. It can survive in little water, and stands strong and endures against wind, bugs, and disease. It has lovely dusky gray/green leaves that are soft in color and intensity, not as noticable as more flamboyant bright green plants. We as Nevadans might crave more green but when we move elsewhere where no sagebrush exists, it is the one plant we miss the most. To come back home and experience a desert day after a rainfall is to experience the most heavenly of scents.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I Am A Great Sinner, but He is a Great Savior

Tim Challies has posted a request for testimonies from bloggers. Go check it out and get to know some folks a bit more in depth.

When I was a young girl, I liked to sleep under the stars in the backyard. My two brothers, sister and I would pile a bunch of blankets between a large canvas tarp and they would be asleep long before I was even tired. I spent a good part of the night gazing at the stars watching for satellites, and wondering about God and the Universe.

It seemed I always wondered about God. I was raised in a home that had no recognition of God and in fact, my mother despised any ideas about God. My step-father was a traditional French-Basque Catholic from France, who carved a cross in our french bread before slicing it and attended Mass on Christmas or Easter in odd years, more like rarely. The neighborhood kids were asked by their parents to invite us to church since we were a wild and wooly bunch and in need of "religious instruction". We were invited to the Catholic church by a large Irish Catholic family down the street, to the Mormon church by a large Mormon family up the street, and even to Jehovah Witness meetings by a family many blocks away. I even participated in Catechism classes and got the highest grades. I learned about the miracle of the locusts and seagulls from the Mormons, and was mystified by Communion with thin white wafers from the Catholics. To be honest, I can't remember a single thing from my visits to the Jehovah Witness Hall.

As I got older, I became the epitome of the Hippie culture. I hitchhiked down to Berkeley California, took hallucinogenic drugs (and pondered the reality of God during each trip), and smoked lots of hash and marijuana. I participated in anti-war rallies, and read the counter culture best seller by Richard Alpert called Be Here Now. I also read many other books that emphasized spirituality and New Age. I participated in a group called Ananda Marga Yoga and learned to meditate. I had some friends from the Bay Area (near Berkeley) who were prominent musicians and New Agers, and once found me passed out in an alley when I was 15 and took me under their wing. They were in their early 20's and I really credit them for saving my life. I had been suicidal, stemming from a bad homelife, and when they found me I had consumed a jug of wine, stumbled downtown, and passed out near one of their friend's homes. I traveled with an older guy when I was 17, got pregnant and had my daughter a few months after I graduated from high school. We got married but that relationship dissolved soon after and I was on my own with a toddler daughter during a bad recession. I worked as a motel maid for a year and eventually found another job at a hospital doing dishes. I met a guy with whom I was attracted, and when I asked if he wanted to smoke a joint with me, he told me he had something better. Something warned me not to ask, but I did, and he shared about his relationship with Jesus Christ. My heart sank within me. I really did not like those "Jesus Freaks"! They were just plain weird and so not cool. Despite my chagrin, this guy and I became friends. He continued to share the Lord with me, and I continued to attempt to share New Age ideas with him. After about a year, I agreed to go to a homegroup meeting with him, and during the course of the evening, I accepted the Lord. I really did have a sense that I was starting on a path and would never turn back. Despite the uncoolness factor of my decision, I had been prompted in this direction for quite some time. I could now look back and see many instances of God calling me to Himself. I even thought back to those nights of gazing at the stars and pondering the reality of a God. I remembered my grandmother telling me about prayer when I was a little girl, and me praying earnestly for a certain pair of shoes I wanted. Hey, what did I know? So I was a little Name It Claim It kid! I remembered the time in Seattle when I came across a tract and while reading it in the car, a lady poked her head in and asked me if I knew Jesus. Since it seemed so timely I responded with a Yes! She then proceeded to berate me for wearing pants. I remember not feeling comfortable in my Yoga group, and not knowing who to choose as a "guru" in my life. Despite misguided information and experiences, God mercifully drew me to Himself.

I married the man who had shared the Lord with me. What followed were almost 20 years of difficulties. We struggled continually with finances, my husband's very legalistic leanings, my rebellion towards him and God, his inability and refusal to accept my daughter, my deep depressions and suicidal thoughts, our frequent moves, difficult jobs, extended dysfunctional families, and frequent disappointments. It wasn't all bad. Bright spots included our two children born during this time, great fellowship with other believers, and our determination to make life work. We had wonderful friends who encouraged us and were devastated when after 18 years, our marriage finally crumbled. My husband married an unbeliever and I was single for 10 years after my divorce.

After dealing miserably with the reality that I was a Christian whose marriage ended in divorce, I decided I needed some changes in my life. I have always loved the outdoors and wilderness so I worked at an outdoor wilderness Christian ministry for a summer and spent an invigorating season debating Arminianism vs. Calvinism with the other summer staff, which got me thinking about what I really believed. I had blindly followed the whole Arminian bent of American Christianity for years without even knowing much about what I exactly embraced. I sorta went with the flow and resented God because I couldn't measure up according to my works, in my thinking. After that summer, I became a single foster parent for a season, floundered and went in debt because of that decision, moved to Texas to work in a ministry with teens, and continued my study of Reformed Christianity. I became convinced of the truth of Calvinism and experienced a renewal in my walk with Christ, which was almost like really being born again. All the resentment towards God because I thought He was a cruel taskmaster fell away and I could truly see his mercy and grace in my life and my wretchedness. My frequent depressions also fell away and I discovered a new passion for God.

In God's good time, He brought a man into my life who believed in Reformed Christianity as well. We got married almost three years ago and have continued our growth in grace and mercy together. Between us we have 7 kids and 6 grandchildren. We pray for their salvation and pray we can be a testimony to our families of God's restoration and healing.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Just Thinkin'

This is how it looks as various theological issues in various blogs play out in the comments. :)