Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Doing Church

I've been intrigued lately by a new approach to "doing church". It's called the family integrated church. Have you heard of it? Is this the approach your church takes to worshipping?

My friend Shawna has a post about it at her blog We Lift Our Eyes Up. The Accidental Pastor's Wife has also recently reviewed a book called Family Driven Faith that has generated a lot of good discussion in her comments. I believe the book (I haven't read it yet) talks about the family as being the first place we learn to worship and disciple other believers (ie. our kids).

The idea of the family integrated church, from what I understand, encourages family Bible reading, worship, and prayer all week long at home in preparation for the corporate (I really don't like that term but it will have to suffice for now) body worshipping on Sunday. On Sunday children do not attend Sunday School, the whole family sits together, sings together, hears the Word taught together, takes Communion together, and prays together.

What a concept! Instead of dropping your children off in seperate areas and then going into "adult" worship stay together as a family. You hear God's word together as a family. Think about it....I mean really think about it. Instead of trying to discern from a Sunday School coloring page what your child might have heard during Sunday School you know for sure. You can go home as a family, together and discuss it, answer questions, apply the word to your lives, together.

I love the idea. And I would love to see how it is worked out practically because, of course, there are questions. What about babies and toddlers? What about early school agers getting bored? What about (gasp) youth groups? (That's another post and another soap box...youth groups I mean.)

This concept of "doing church" also begs the question, "What is the purpose of the church?" Is it there for unbelievers seeking God or is it there to grow and strengthen people who are already believers? Is Sunday School just a tradition of man? Is it what we see in the early church as described in the book of Acts in the New Testament?

A decade ago there was a lot of talk in philosophical circles, business and in the media about a paradigm shift. The American Heritage Student Dictionary (hey it was handy...we're homeschoolers ya know) defines paradigm as "an example of how something should be done or treated; a model." Is it time for the church to make a paradigm shift? Is this the shift it needs to make? Will it better equip the saints (especially our younger saints) to go out into the world and be salt and light? Will it help give our children the solid foundation of a Biblical world view? Will it help us as parents give them that solid foundation?

I know, I know, your saying to yourself, " Good golly she has a lot of questions! Does she have any answers?"

Uhhh, answers. I have opinions. That usually goes without saying...I always have opinions. However, on this occasion I am more interested in hearing your thoughts, opinions, ideas and experiences. So take a look at some of the questions I've asked here and tell me what you think. I only ask that you please be kind and use nice language. (This is, after all, a respectable establishment.)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday Psalm

Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
~Psalm 37:4
Contentment comes when God's will is more important than our wants.
This quote and more on delighting in contentment can be found at Our Daily Bread, January 27, 2008
God bless you today as you seek your delight and contentment in Him.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Reality Check

I just received my March issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

It really is a lovely magazine. The cover picture is inspiring and spring-y. The colors are lovely. The headlines enticing.

But it also gives me a horrible case of the "I wants".

I want crisp, white cove molding in all the rooms of my house. I want a room with a little nook for a comfy chair, reading lamp and cute little side table. I want silk draperies in my livingroom. I want an outdoor entertaining room. I want a gazebo and a cute little tool shed. I want to be able to find all the ingredients to just one recipe at my local grocers. Oh, and I want brand new cabinetry in my kitchen.

Oh yeah, and I want a beautiful colonial/ranch home with the beautiful yard and woods. And a brand new crossover vehicle with all the bells and whistles.

Honestly. Are these homes for real? Are the people in them really as happy as they seem? And just how much do you have to net a year to afford to live like this? And why is this held up as the norm. As if everyone has the time and money to afford all this stuff? And why do we feel we ought to have it all? Why do we feel entitled?

My friend Jen at Grace and Glory recently wrote a very insightful post about our expectations as Americans and material wealth. It has really gotten me to start examining my own battle with covetousness and what I think I deserve out of this life.

Reading BH&G is really not helpful in this examination process. Neither is watching HGTV or going to my favorite store (um...that would be IKEA). It's really a form of temptation that leads to dissatisfaction with the blessings I have. That then leads to being unthankful. Whoa....we're getting awfully close to sin here.

God has given me soooo much. Much more than I deserve. I mean to say that a generation ago what I have would have been considered to be living at the top of the middle class heap. How much more do I want? He has given me all I need and a little more. For all of that I need to be thankful.

I think I will be letting my subscription to BH&G lapse. I want to be happy with what I have. It may not be all coordinated just so. There may be unfinished spots here and there. But it is all that I need and more.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Beans, beans, that flavorful fruit....

You didn't really think I was going to finish that little lyric did you? Hee! Hee!

But all jesting aside I just wanted to share a tasty little bean recipe with you that I call Calico Beans. Don't worry no soaking and no crunchy beans. I've taken my bean guru's advice, "Canned beans are cheap!"

So here you go! This is a great side dish for a Mexican themed meal or (as I'm doing tonight) it's a great dish to take to a pot luck.

Calico Beans

1 - 16 oz. can Black Beans

1 - 16 oz. can Navy Beans

1 - 16 oz. can Kidney Beans

2 - 16 oz. cans Pinto Beans

1 white onion chopped

3 cloves garlic minced

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano

1 teaspoon chili powder

Salt to taste

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil for about five minutes or until onions are tender and things are smellin' good then add two cans of beans (your choice which ones) with liquid, drain off the liquid of the rest of the cans of beans. Add seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce heat so that beans are simmering, let them do that for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to really come out. Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Few New Things

I am finding it increasingly difficult to find the amount of time I would like to have to do all the blogging I would like to do. That includes trying to write posts.

That is why they are so far and few between.

I'm trying, don't give up on me!

Anyway....I have found time to add a couple of blogs to my favorites list. These blogs are not only among my favorites but they happen to be written by a couple of my favorite people in-real-life.

Shawna who used to blog As Simple As Two Plus Two shut down that blog and started a new one. It's called We Lift Our Eyes Up and true to her wonderful organizational abilities, it is also well organized. It also promises to be a wealth of information for anything from how to cook beans (she is my bean guru) to homeschooling.

My other dear friend Jen is blogging over at Grace and Glory. She and her husband recently adopted three wonderful kiddos from Liberia. They, along with their brother already in residence are truly a joy to be around.

Both Shawna and Jen have recently written posts that have really challenged my thinking on what Christianity looks like in action. Be sure to go and check them both out!

I have also joined a forum for homeschoolers called Homeschool Hackers. If you scroll down a ways you will see the button there on the left of the page. It's brand new, I think the site just went up today. It promises to be a great place for encouragement and ideas for all you homeschoolers out there. Click on the button and check that out!

Yeah, okay, this wasn't the most inspiring post of all time but I hope you have fun checking out the new stuff.

And please....please....keep visiting!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Roses are Pink....

Oh honey loves me.
The roses are actually a deep pink color even though they appear red here. I love pink roses.
You know, some would say....what a waste of money, but I have to tell you that I love it when my honey shows me love this way. Isn't this why God made roses?
I hope you all had a wonderful Valentines Day.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. -John 3:16

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Call To Serve Selflessly

Well, I finished a book on my list.

The book I finished (obviously) was Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. It is a book I was more than ready to read and embrace.

This book is a call to service. Biblical service. Service to husbands and service to children. Most importantly service to God. Not only a call to service, but a call to selflessness. A call to follow the example of Jesus Christ. The example of laying down my life for another.

This book was encouraging to me right now because the Lord has been leading me in this very direction for several years now. He's been asking me to follow Him even when those around me may question what I am doing. He's been asking me to follow Him even when folks make valid sounding arguments about not losing myself in others, not being a doormat, about letting others control me. He's been showing me His life and asking me if I could live like that, selflessly, as a servant to His sheep.

I have taken a small step toward that in saying yes. Yes, I can serve others, I can be selfless toward those I love. Toward my husband, toward my children.

It's counter-culture. Even, dare I say it, in the church.

If I say, yes, I can be a servant toward God's sheep and view the sheep as people outside my family that is looked upon as noble. I am sacrificing great things for the the Lord. But wait a minute...what or who am I sacrificing? I am serving the sheep in the neighboring pastures. But what about the sheep in my own pasture? The kids who just want a book read to them, who need to have the safety and security of Mom being close by. What about just tending the pasture to make sure that there are no weeds growing up in it or other plants that can make the sheep ill? What about the husband who is out in the world doing battle and just wants a safe and sane, warm and secure place to come home to?

I can not possibly get into the depth of explanation here, in a short blog posting, of why my focus at this particular time of my life, needs to be my husband and my kids. There are numerous Bible verses I could quote to you (Eph. 5:21-33, Titus 2:3-5, Proverbs 31 are just a few) and arguments that I could make to try and convince you. However, the authors of this book have already done that.

Suffice it to say, I have been called. I have been called to lay down my life for others. I have not been called to go to deepest, darkest Africa. I have not been called to move across the country. I have not been called to even move down the street. I have been called to serve right in my own home, with my own husband, with my own children.

I may not ever get any recognition. I may not get much thanks. But I will know that I have done what God called me to do.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Winter Challenge

I usually stumble on things.

I'm not just talking about my own feet here. I mean I'm kind of one of those people who have a tendency not to notice something until I trip over it. Whether that is my own feet or less literally, great ideas and opportunities.

So last Wednesday I was wondering around the Works For Me postings at Rocks in My Dryer and I happened upon a lovely blog called A Joyful Heart . Don't you just love the name...A Joyful Heart. Anyway I love it and it made me want to stay and see what all she had going on over there. Of course one of the first things I noticed was the banner you see here. Winter Reading Challenge.

Now, I have to back track a little here because I need to explain that I not only "stumble" a lot, but I'm also a little slow to catch on sometimes.

When I encountered my first bloggy carnival I was, um, kind of confused. A carnival? On a blog? Where's the ferris wheel? Where's the cotton candy? Where's the sideshow? Then, after "stumbling around" a bit, I got it. It's a gathering. A place to meet others and exchange ideas, encouragement, recipes or ...well anyway....I got it.

So last Fall, as I stumbled around the bloggy world, I noticed at a few blogs there were people participating in a reading challenge. Huh? Didn't get it and moved on.

Then, as I said before, last Wednesday I wandered over to A Joyful Heart and the light bulb went on! I got it. A "carnival" of sorts to challenge myself in my reading, be sort of accountable and also find some great books.

And I've needed some challenging of late. Oh, I've been reading, but it's been mostly fluff. Not that there's anything wrong with that but, just like cotton candy, it's not very filling and you find yourself craving more.

So I made a decision to find some more nourishing fare. And here is what I decided on. Some I have already started. And a couple I'll be reading to my kids. Here it is, my Winter Reading List:

The Hermit of Eyton Forest by Ellis Peters (because I like a good medeivel mystery)

The Borrowers by Mary Norton (this one is for the kiddos)

HTML,XHTML & CSS by Elizabeth Castro (because I'm determined to understand how all this web stuff works and how I can make it work)

The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon(I mean Noel) by Ellen Raskin (I loved The Westing Game by the same author)

Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming (I've only ever seen the movie and I wanted to read it to the kids too)

(Not pictured and on order from Amazon):

Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff (Homer's Illiad for kids; it has 5 - star reviews over at Amazon)

Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick (this is another one to read to the kids)

(Also on order from Amazon and for ... ahem... growth and developement purposes):

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald (I can hardly wait for this one to come, I've read sooo many good recommendations)

Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens 2nd Edition by Paul David Tripp (this one is because in about eleven months we will have an official teenager living in our house)

The One-Year Bible by God (I have been reading this since last August so this is a more of a just keep going read)

There it is, what I am going to try and read between now and March 17th. With the weather being what it is in my part of the world that really shouldn't be too hard because it looks like this:

And if I'm lucky and it stops looking so snowy on our roof I'll also have a nice wood stove to sit by while I read. (The man can't put the wood stove in until the snow melts off our roof.) In the meantime I'll curl up underneath my electric blanket and read away the cold winter evenings!