Thursday, September 27, 2007

This picture goes with my last post. He really likes the vest, until 6 o'clock on Monday night when it is time to leave for Cubbies. By the way, those are Dan's toes, and yes, I sewed the patch on all by myself. My mom should be proud.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Why We Choose AWANA

About 2 weeks ago, Elijah started the AWANA program (specifically, Cubbies) at a church nearby. Our church does not offer AWANA, which never really affected me until I had a child old enough to participate. I have read varied opinions on AWANA clubs and others like it and their use of awards and such, and I can honestly admit that I see both sides of the debate. So here is our reasoning in allowing Elijah to attend (in no particular order):

First of all, I kinda like that it is at a different church. The church that holds the club does things a little different than we do, and I am sure that we disagree on some finer points of theology and practice. But I enjoy introducing our children to other believers who are unlike us. I want them to realize that Christians are similar in faith, but we may differ in how we apply our beliefs to our life. I desperately want them to understand that "our way" of doing things does not equal absolute truth and to be patient in trying to discern why other true believers may make decisions contrary to our own. And I like introducing my kids to other teachers and friends besides the ones they see every week at our church!

I like that AWANA Clubs stress the importance of memorizing Scripture. I am fully aware that at this point, Elijah is memorizing verses as an unbeliever. I know that if he continues in his unbelief, he is likely to become a pharisee. That fact alone terrifies me. I think I would rather have a child who openly rejects the grace of Christ than a child who rebels only in his heart and "looks" good on the outside. That is a dangerous place to live. But I also understand that it is Dan and I's responsibility to introduce our children to Christ, and I am obliged to all teachers who aid us in that endeavor.

We discussed this last night at our small group and I was explaining my belief that parents must constantly acknowledge that memorization does not equate to true, saving faith. I made the point that Elijah could win the Timothy Award, yet still reject Christ, and I hope we are always faithful to encourage our kids toward repentance, regardless of their awards in AWANA. One of the guys in our group said, "I won the Timothy Award." to which I replied, "Were you a believer at the time?" And he promptly answered, "Nope." My point exactly.

When, and if, our children come to Christ, which we pray fervently that they do, we hope those verses they memorized will be an aid to greater understanding of God's Word and an encouragement in their faith. After all, I remember verses I memorized before I fully embraced Christ, and they aid my walk today.

As to the charge about frivolity and "entertaining at church," I do concede that a lot of that takes place these days in fundamentalism and evangelicalism. This is a valid concern. I worry our kids will grow up expecting to be constantly entertained with silly song-and-dance shows and will develop the idea that church is not so much about God, but about me and how it can relate to my needs. I understand this argument.

My defense is rather simple. The tide of entertainment in church neither rises nor falls on the shoulders of AWANA. Once again, no program can replace solid teaching at home and, I believe, teaching at home will not be derailed by a once-a-week club that incorporates some fun activities. Balance is the key - and that saying is overused for a reason!

So there you have it, my friends. Those are just a few of the thoughts that jumped around in my head when we decided to utilize the AWANA club at the church nearby. I am convinced in my own mind, but completely open that others may be convinced differently. I think it is vital to our spiritual well-being to think these things through and come to a conclusion, and to fight the urge to just swim in the same direction that other Christian fish are swimming.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


This has been a crazy week. I got a call on Tuesday that my 37 year old brother had a heart attack. After a few hours of phone calls and arrangements, Dan and I and the kids left for my hometown where my entire family resides. I am grateful our life allows us to pick up and go when necessary.

It is now Thursday afternoon and things are looking ok. I don't want to say things are "fine" or "good" because a heart attack changes everything. It affects his entire life, and affects his family, his wife and 2 daughters, also. The artery that caused the heart attack had a stint placed in it immediately, and a second artery that was 90% blocked was stinted (is that a word?) this afternoon. I am grateful for the wisdom God has granted to doctors.

Kevin has had constant visitors in the hospital, both family and friends. Probably hundreds of people are praying for him, and indeed, my whole family. I am grateful for the prayers of righteous saints.

Health scares have a way of making us stop and think about life. What is important and what doesn't matter in the long run. Our food intake is one of those things. Food is a gift from God, but often becomes an idol in my own life. Obsession with health and lengthening your life easily becomes an idol, too. I'm grateful that God can give us balance, if we ask for it.

I'm grateful for a lot of things, but most of all, I am grateful for a God that is in control. He has numbered my brother's days and I am confident that His grace will accompany any trial that lies ahead.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Trip to Cabellas

My parents were here for an extended visit last week and we tried to cram in as many activities as possible! We visited the zoo and then decided to take an evening trip to Cabellas. We can spend hours in this store looking at all the sporting goods and the beautiful animals. Here are just a few of the snapshots we took:

Alli really enjoyed looking at all the animals, although she acted a bit reserved when we got too close.
Even Alli found something to buy! We had to strategically divert her attention while we put the hat back on the shelf, she loved it so much.

Elijah is ready for an overnight backpacking trip, even if he won't be able to lift this thing fully-loaded!

We tried to pose with the friendly bear, but you all know how hard it is to get everyone looking at the camera at the same time. Dan is missing because he took the picture!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

More on "The Jesus Storybook Bible"

As if I haven't done enough to promote this Bible, here is one more reason to buy it! This article is an interview with Sally Lloyd-Jones and she gives the reader a glimpse into her reasons for writing the book, how she chose each story and how she views teaching children from the Bible. I loved reading it and thought you might like it, too.

Please go and read the entire article, but if you aren't motivated, hopefully this excerpt will drive you to it:

When I first saw that everything in the Old Testament, is pointing to a child—the one who is coming—it blew me away. Suddenly, here was a way to read the Bible without it leaving you condemned (I’ll never keep all the rules all the time) or in despair (how can I ever be as brave as Daniel? or David?).I found it so moving when I started to discover how the Old Testament is basically one long record of failure—the failure of God’s people time and time again to live rightly, to rescue themselves—and that the stories in the Old Testament are all getting us ready for the One who is coming. They are all signposts to the True Hero, the True King, the True Prince, the True Servant, the greater David, the greater Daniel. The Rescuer.

As a child, I thought the Bible was packed with rules you had to keep (or God wouldn’t love you) and heroes setting examples you had to follow (or God wouldn’t love you). I thought, in short, that the Bible was all about me and what I should (or shouldn’t) be doing. Until I read a Story.

It’s the Story running like a golden stream underneath all the other stories in the Bible: the story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. Suddenly, I realized the Bible wasn’t about me and what I should be doing at all. It was about God and what he had done. And it changed everything.

So, throughout the mapping out of the book and writing the stories, I was resolute in my determination to avoid even a whiff of moralizing in terms of applying the stories. The absolute last thing I ever wanted to ask a child was: “And what can we learn from David about how God wants us to behave?” The story isn’t there to be an example for us to follow. If that were the point, Jesus would never needed to have come. We could have saved ourselves.

The story is there because it’s true and because it’s telling the bigger story—of the greater David who is coming. To do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves, to fight the battle we could never fight. To be the Hero we all need. To be our Rescuer.

I wanted children to know this Story—and to meet this wonderful Hero in the pages of this book. Because rules don’t change you. But a story can.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Preaching the Cross to Myself

I've had a couple of bad weeks. Nothing major, just a week and a half of constant raining, Dan working tons of late nights, and general snarkiness of my kids. I'm sure most of you can relate. My point of this post is not to complain, but I have to set the stage . . .

Now typically I don't lose my patience a ton with my kids during the day. That just isn't my temptation during most days. But when I don't get that break around 6 o'clock that I have come to expect (and I assume, deserve) then that is another story. And I didn't get that break at all 2 weeks ago. In fact, our Friday, which we usually spend together as family time, was packed full of events, and then Saturday Dan volunteered to help a friend work on their house for the day. I was near my breaking point and I kind of cracked. I hadn't been responding in the right way most of the week, but by Saturday I was fed up. I was cranky and impatient with my family, including my husband. So when he finally came home that evening, I was so upset that I didn't want to spend any time with him. What a way to reward him!

I knew I was sinning. I knew in my "head" that I wasn't responding rightly and I didn't care enough to change it. I prayed, but it was more like, "Oh God, you don't know how bad I have it. Make it all better!" instead of, "Change me, work in me, help me respond the way I know I should." That's when 2 friends entered the picture the exact way the body of Christ should operate. One encouraged me by praying that I would respond the right way, and the other reminded me that when things are tough, it is a perfect time to reflect on God and how He can meet our needs. It all sounded good when Sunday came and I was expecting a better week ahead, but the better week never materialized. I had an equally stinky week this past week.

But do you know what the difference was? Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I preached the cross to myself. I spent time in the Word and prayed for the power to respond the right way to life's struggles. After all, isn't that exactly what the Cross purchased for us? And then, to top it all off, our pastor preached on 2 Peter 1 yesterday and it was the highlight to end my week. I still missed my husband last week, my kids still irritated me, I was not perfect every moment, but preaching the cross to myself gave me a God-oriented focus to my actions and my heart, and that made all the difference.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord, help me not become ineffective or unfruitful. Use your Holy Spirit and your Word to remind me that you have given me the power to not sin. Show me the cross before all my actions and thoughts that I might do the same to my family. Amen.