Father’s Day Cards

I thought I’d show you the cards I made for this last Father’s Day.

This was for my step-father, adapted from an idea seen on Pinterest.

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I love that it’s simple but still makes for a nice design. The buttons were made on the Cricut machine. I toyed with using real buttons and thread, but I was afraid they might fall off in transit.

This was for my son. My grandson likes super-heroes, so I thought it was fitting for a super-dad. 🙂

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This was from one of the Cricut Design Space’s “Make It and Take It” cards, but I tweaked it a bit from what they had – they didn’t have the “Super” at the top, and their whole card was the size of the blue frame.

For my husband, I wanted something to do with grilling, so I searched the Cricut Design Space’s files for “grill.” Both this grill and the little man showed up, so I used both of them. The design kind of evolved as I worked. I cut little snippets with scissors in the “grass” so it would look like grass blades. I started to stick the figures in the grass, but we grill on our patio, so I used the textured-looking grey paper for the patio. I was going to put “Well done” at the top (a play on the idea of well-done food and well-done fathering), then decided I would put that in a cloud. I had everything centered in the middle but thought the cloud looked odd centered right over the figures as if it was about to rain on them. So I moved it to the side and added another for balance, cutting them both out freehand (I had typed the “Well Done” and printed it on cardstock, along with the inside sentiments of the cards). Then the bottom corners looked like they needed something, so I looked up flowerpots. This flower design actually had a couple of other layers on the flowers and leaves, but they were so tiny they didn’t come out well. I decided the flowers looked ok as is.

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That was it for this time. I think everyone liked their cards. 🙂

Book Review: Though Waters Roar

Though Waters RoarIn Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin, Harriet Sherwood is a young woman in the early 1900s who has just landed in jail for defying the Prohibition’s liquor laws – but not for the reasons you might think. As she spends the night in jail, she contemplates how ironic it is that she’s there, given that her grandmother spend much of her adult life fighting for Prohibition. Trying to trace how she got to where she is, she reminiscences about the women in her heritage.

Her great-grandmother, Hannah, helped hide slaves and smuggle them to the Underground Railroad. Her grandmother, Bebe, stepped out of the conventional role of her new marriage in upper-class society to help those less fortunate, participate in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and fight against “Demon Rum,” landing in jail herself for taking an axe to whiskey barrels. Her mother, Lucy, though having a very different personality and upbringing, eventually stepped out of her shallow lifestyle to try to help others as well. Finding that the means to appeal to civic authorities for needed changes was blocked by those authorities because she was a woman, she fought for women’s right to vote.

Harriet “didn’t want to be like my fiery grandmother and end up in jail, any more than I wanted to be a dutiful wife like Mother or a virtuous siren like Alice [her sister]. But how was I supposed to live as a modern woman, born just before the dawn of the twentieth century? What other choices did I have? That’s the question I was endeavoring to answer when I ended up in jail.”

The story of Harriet’s ancestors takes up most of the book and is told in flashback. With each mother-daughter pair, the mother tries to teach eternal truths to a daughter not always willing to listen, at least at first. But eventually each finds her own way, and Harriet is reassured that “Someday…God is going to give you a task to do in your own time and place. Then you’ll have to put your faith in Him as you follow your conscience.”

A few favorite quotes:

Thank goodness you’re such a plain child. You’ll have to rely on your wits.

Grip the rudder and steer, Harriet. Don’t just drift gently down the stream. If you don’t have a map, you might run aground somewhere or end up crushed against the rocks. Always know where you’re headed.

Bitterness is like a weed. Remember how hard it always was to pull out thistles once they take root? Remember how deep those roots grow, and how if you just snapped off the end of it, the plant would grow right back? You have to dig down deep inside. Let God search your heart. Let Him show you what’s there and help you root out all that bitterness.

There’s no shame in changing direction, Harriet. In fact, once you’ve seen the warning signs, it’s always wise to turn around.

Our daughters aren’t the same people we are, nor are they extensions of ourselves. They are unique individuals in God’s eyes, responsible to Him for the choices they make, not to their mothers.

As much as our communities might need it, and as bad as things are, imposing our morality on others isn’t the answer. It doesn’t work. People may be forced to give up alcohol, but they are still going to hell. That’s our calling—to bring people to Christ—not to force them to behave the way we want them to or to solve all their external problems.

I had not known until fairly recently that there were different waves of feminism and that when it first started, it fought for good and necessary ways to help others. It was later on that other agendas and prejudices crept in. So it was interesting to read how this first wave came about. Even in fighting for good causes, though, there were problems with balance in being away from home so much, leaving children to others to raise, and occasionally defying husbands. I don’t think the author is saying those things are necessary or right, but that it’s always a struggle to maintain the right balance. Even Grandma Bebe (speaker of the last quote listed) comes to realize in the end that her life would have been better spent in eternal pursuits.

I actually didn’t like Harriet very much, but I think her personality was indicative of both having been left to herself too much and trying to find her way. When she does seem to be finding it and some pieces start to fall together for her, some of the rough edges smooth over.

I did enjoy the story and the look into the lives and journeys of the women. I was about to say which one I identified most with, but then found I couldn’t really name one – there was much to glean from and identify with in each woman’s life.

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Why Study Doctrine?

Doctrine can seem like a cold, dry concept, something stuffy theologians fuss over when they should be trying to reach others. We’re more excited by a group study on relationships or parenting or womanhood or just about anything rather than a doctrinal study. We don’t usually approach our time in the Bible or church rubbing our hands eagerly anticipating what doctrine we’ll learn about today. We’re usually looking for help, encouragement, affirmation. We want to feel something. But feelings don’t last. If I get a warm fuzzy spiritual feeling in my devotions, that can dissipate in seconds when someone crosses me or something goes wrong. Winsome sermons and books may inspire me for a short while, but unless there is meat to them, that inspiration won’t last.

But doctrine is vital. You can hardly read a NT epistle without coming across a mention of doctrine and warning against false doctrine. If we think of sound doctrine as a manifestation of God’s truth and character, we can in turn worship Him by knowing and sharing the doctrines of His Word.

A.W. Tozer once wrote that “there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.”

So what are some advantages to studying right doctrine in the Bible?

Doctrine leads us to true worship. When we don’t worship God for Who He truly is, then we are worshipping a god of our own making, and that is idolatry. Now, of course, all of us are imperfect in our knowledge of Him and are, or should be, ever growing in Him, and He’ll correct our understanding along the way. But that is different from not knowing Him for Who He is due to neglect or misapplication of the Word.

Doctrine increases our intimacy with God. We can’t know Him aright apart from what He has revealed of Himself in His Word. As we learn more of Him, we love Him and worship Him more, and what seemed like “dry doctrine” then does become something that warms and thrills our hearts as the Holy Spirit brings that truth to mind.

Doctrine protects against error and therefore the wrong path. For example, years ago when cult leader David Koresh was in the news, I watched an interview with someone from his compound. I was shocked to hear her say that she was impressed that he knew his Bible so well. Nearly everything he brought from the Bible, he twisted. Knowing doctrine would have kept this person and others from being deceived by him and others like him.

Doctrine bolsters our faith and confidence in God.  Recently I was troubled by a question I had no answer for that cast doubts on God’s character. I still don’t have an answer for it, but I rested on the previously studied truth that He is good, righteous, kind, and merciful.

Doctrine meets our deepest needs at the most basic level. If I am feeling lonely, what most helps except the truth that God is present everywhere, even with me? If I am afraid, what helps most but meditating on God’s power? When a trial comes and people feel forsaken, what most comforts but the precious truth that God will never forsake us? If I am feeling ashamed, sinful, and unworthy, my only help is turning to the only One who can wash away my sin and remind me that I am in Him and beloved by Him.

Doctrine is stabilizing. “So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14, ESV). I’ve known women and read women who do just this, float around with whatever is popular with little discernment. 2 Timothy speaks of “silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” who are “lead captive” by a whole host of wrongdoers in the “perilous last days” (2 Timothy 3:1-7, KJV). By contrast, Titus 2 exhorts us to “speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (v. 1, KJV).

Doctrine determines deeds. Our beliefs affect our behavior. When a lie seems the only way out of a tough situation, what keeps us from it but the knowledge that it will displease a God whose essence is truth? Even the Titus 2 admonition to older men and women is couched in the context of sound doctrine.

Doctrine honors God. He is the one who determined what sound doctrine us. If we love Him we should want to know what He says and live accordingly. It’s so important to Him, He inspired John to write, “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works” (1 John 1:10, ESV).

Doctrine is not an end in itself. If it is, then it does become dry and stale. The point of doctrine isn’t to line up our beliefs in neat, orderly systems and leave them there. The point is to know God better, serve Him in the ways He desires, and minister His truth to others.

People concerned about right doctrine can seem pesky and picky, and, true, it’s too easy to be that way. We shouldn’t be nitpicky just to be so. But we should “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, NASB), and as kindly and gently as possible bring His truth to bear in our conversations and interactions. We have to remember to let our speech be always “with grace” (Col. 4:6) and to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). We don’t need to “pounce” on every comment or reference another person might make, but graciously seek what the Lord might have us say. We also have to distinguish between clear doctrine and those areas where good people can differ or personal preferences.

II Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (KJV). We “behold Him” through His Word. And, the more we behold Him, the more we are changed into His likeness.

So, don’t be dismayed by that word “doctrine.” II Timothy 4: 3-4 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” That is a warning to us not to turn away from sound doctrine, but also possibly an admission that sound doctrine needs to be “endured.” Learning doctrine may not always feel warm and fuzzy, but the Holy Spirit will use it in our lives in blessed ways.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Wise Woman, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday)

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

I usually start my FFF posts on Thursdays, but this week I was drawing a  blank. It wasn’t a bad week, but nothing really stood out at first for this week’s post. But, as always, once I start to think about and look for blessings in the week, I find them.

1. A quiet week. Just the fact that it was an uneventful week, spent mostly at home, was a blessing, especially after last week’s ER events.

2. Zaxby’s Grilled Cobb salad. My errand-running usually occurs later mornings, culminating in my bringing home something for lunch for Jesse and me. One of our occasional lunch places is Zaxby’s, and I love their chicken strips, fries, toast, and sauce. But I’ve been trying to make better heart-healthy choices lately, so I got their grilled Cobb salad. It was wonderful! I can’t wait to have it again. I’ve been trying to choose grilled instead of fried at restaurants, with mixed results, but this was so good. The calorie count, which they helpfully put on their drive-through menus, was still pretty high, but I have to believe the choice was still a better one with all the fresh veggies. I’m not usually one to have a salad for a meal – I tend to think of them as appetizers or side dishes, even with meat in them. But this lasted me until dinner.

3. Timothy’s “playground,” as he calls the set we got for him. It took Jim and Jesse, with help from Jason as he had time, a couple of Saturdays to put it together. Timothy was taking a nap when it was completed, and we couldn’t stay til he woke up, so his parents filmed his first reaction to it and sent the video to us. Priceless! When he climbed up to this little perch, he said he was “so high in the sky!” And then he wanted to FaceTime with us so we could watch him play on it.

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4. Surprise visits. Sometimes when Jason, Mittu, and Timothy are out in the evenings, they ask if they can stop by to visit. I treasure living close enough to have that happen!

5. Naps. I don’t know why I seem to be unusually sleepy this week, but I’ve been grateful for naps in the daytime to give me enough energy to then get something else accomplished.

As a bonus, we found out that some of my family is driving down from up north this summer to visit two of my sisters in SC. We can’t stay overnight because of Jim’s mom’s care, but we’re making plans to at least meet halfway between here and there for lunch one day. There is even a possibility the rest of the family in TX might come – if they did, that would be the first time since my mom’s funeral 11 years ago that all six siblings were together, so I hope it works out!

Happy Friday!

When the Message Isn’t For Me

Courtesy offreedigitalphotos.net

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

A week or two ago I came across a blog post that got me to thinking about how we respond when a meeting, church service, or even a Bible passage seems to apply to someone other than myself. When there is an ordination service or a Mother’s or Father’s Day message or children’s program, do I skip them because I am not a part of any of that?

I don’t think so. Here’s why:

1. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” II Timothy 3:16-17. It is all profitable for me in some way even if the particular passage doesn’t seem to apply to me.

Some years ago the pastor of the church where we were at the time read a few verses from Exodus with instruction about oxen. He asked, “Do any of you own an ox?” No one raised their hands.

He then asked, “How many of you have even seen an ox?” One or two raised their hands.

“So,” he said, “We should just turn the page and skip this passage, right?” No, we didn’t think so, but what do we do with that passage?

He then brought out several applications from the passage. For instance, someone who owned an ox that was known for trying to push people with its horn was more liable if it injured someone. So if we have, say, a dog with a tendency to bite, we are even more responsible to keep it from people it could hurt. Or, to apply it further, if our tail lights are out on our car, we’re liable if someone crashes into us because they didn’t know we were stopped or slowing down to turn, so it behooves us to keep up with those things.

2. It helps us understand our brothers and sisters in the Lord. I may not be a pastor or a husband or a mother, but the passages that talk about them help me understand their roles, not so I can form a checklist and note when they’re not getting it right, but so that I can pray for them, understand their problems, needs, and temptations, and encourage them. The Bible says the church is the body or Christ, and “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (I Corinthians 12:26).

3. Their position is under attack. Satan is not omnipresent, but he does get around, and he seeks to undermine everything God calls good. Any role or function within the church, home, or family as designed by God is under attack in some way or another. The blog post I mentioned at the beginning was complaining, in part, that the focus on married women and mothers in some women’s ministries left single ladies out. I do think that is a valid point: not all women are called to be married, not all mothers are able to stay home, and we need to find ways to minister to the whole scope of womanhood. However, there are particular ways marriage and motherhood are being particularly attacked and undermined in the world today, so we need to help support those roles.

4. I can learn something that applies to me even though the particular focus of the passage or sermon is for someone else. Loving one another as Christ loved the church is something that applies to us all, not just husbands, so I can take an illustration that may be particularly about husbands and learn something I need in loving others. Years ago in college we were encouraged to read a particular book about leadership which I gleaned a lot from even though I was not a leader at the time (and still don’t naturally feel inclined to be now).

This is not to say that I should attend every focus group within the church since we’re all part of the body of Christ. Some of those were created to handle specific concerns in a smaller group setting. But when a Bible passage or sermon or ladies’ meeting seems to apply to someone else, there is still much I can learn and benefit from if I have ears to hear and a heart to receive.

(From the archives)

(Sharing with Faith on Fire, Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Wise Woman, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday)

Stray thoughts strung together

These are some of the random things crossing my mind this week:

I don’t remember which Jane Austen book I was looking up or why I was looking it up in the first place, but in the comments section of it either at Goodreads or Amazon, someone wrote, “I’ve seen all her movies!” That struck me funny – as if she were a movie star rather than an author.

In my Things You Might Not Know About Me post a while back, I forgot to mention a major one: I can’t type. At least, not like you’re supposed to. Somehow I never had a class in it. I developed my own method (using only 2-4 fingers), and it is so ingrained now that I don’t think I could learn the right way. When my husband and I were dating in college, most girlfriends typed their boyfriend’s papers, but in our relationship, he offered to type mine. I also make tons of mistakes and hate when that shows up in my writing, making me look ignorant. I know how to spell – just not how to type. I try to let most of my writing sit a bit and come back and check it later before publicizing it so I can catch more typos that way.

We were watching America’s Got Talent one night, and whenever the “danger” acts come on, someone always says, “Don’t try this at home.” Recently I thought, “But…all these people started out by trying this at home.” Nevertheless..don’t try this at home! Those acts are not my favorite anyway – I don’t enjoy seeing people risk life and limb for entertainment.

Dontcha hate when someone calls and then doesn’t leave a message?

It seems that one of the current decorating trends is open shelving in the kitchen. Am I the only one who doesn’t like it? It just seems busy to me, plus the shelves would be constant dust magnets. I’m not a big fan of subway tiling, either – that also looks too busy to me. I’m not a fan of tile in general: the times we have had it, keeping the grout clean was a major frustration. I wonder if I’d be thought of as the “difficult” client in those shows. 🙂

When people talk about having accountability partners, it seems to me that it’s easy for that to cross over into doing things because you know you’re going to have to face that partner about it rather than doing it as unto the Lord (Ephesians 6:5b-7: “in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.”) I’ve heard people say things like that. For instance, a friend who was memorizing verses with another friend mentioned that she needed to work on her verses so she wouldn’t be ashamed when it was time to say them to her friend. I do think the Bible teaches that as Christian brothers and sisters, we’re accountable to each other, but personally I don’t know if these partnerships are the best way to work that out. I know that they seem to be a help to many, so there are probably ways to do it with a right focus.

Mittu asked me recently what I had on my “bucket list, which, if you’re not familiar with the term, is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” I had to think about it. I don’t travel well, so going exploring and seeing sites aren’t on my ideal list of things to do. The only two places I can think of that I’d like to see some day are the “Anne of Green Gables” house in Prince Edward Isle and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Rocky Ridge farm, her last home. But I don’t want to see either of them enough to make the effort at this point. I’d also like to visit where my son lives in RI some day. We were just talking about that last night. My one overarching thing I would like to do is write a book. Or two. I thought when all the kids graduated and the busy school years were over, there would be time for more writing. Not so far, at least not in wide open swatches like I thought there would be. So I struggle with how to arrange my time and whether that desire is from the Lord or a personal ambition. Most of the things I’d like to do someday involve learning something: how to play the piano or cello, how to quilt, how to use Photoshop, taking voice lessons. Except for Photoshop, I don’t know if I’ll ever delve into those. I have often thought that the practice it would take to be able to play music enough to enjoy it would probably be more than I want to put into it at this stage. That’s another aspect of “middle age” that I should have mentioned in a recent post: when you know you only have so much time left, you become selective about how you it. But I do want to keep challenging myself and my brain with new things, and from time to time I do entertain thoughts on those possibilities. For now, most of my ambitions are quiet ones: finishing some of the projects that are in the back of my mind to do, spending time with loved ones, reading, blogging, etc.

How about you? Do you have any burning ambitions to pursue with the rest of your time on Earth?

Laudable Linkage

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Here’s some interesting reading discovered recently:

What Is Inductive Bible Study?

How To Be a Friend to Someone Who Has Breast Cancer. The tips here are great for a friend with almost any illness.

I Got Pregnant. I Chose to Keep My Baby. And My Christian School Humiliated Me. “My school could have made an example of how to treat a student who made a mistake, owned up to it, accepted the consequences, and is now being supported in her decision to choose life. But they didn’t.” This is a difficult situation. I understand Christian schools not wanting to appear to be condoning certain behaviors, but I think a girl in this situation needs to be affirmed for doing the right thing in having her baby rather than having an abortion.

A Theology of the Home, HT to Challies.

Check Your Privilege, HT to Challies.

A Patient Perseverance: a mother’s prayers for a wayward son.

And finally, this is me. 🙂

Or this is even more my style, minus the spa.

Happy Saturday!