Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seriously? You've GOT to be kidding me....

This is the one time I am going to say this.

If you chose to live under supposed democratic rule, you cannot then turn around and say, "majority rule should not set the law.""

That's a complete oxymoron if ever I heard one.
Please notice that I am NOT in any way shape or form casting judgment upon someone's lifestyle. I believe in tolerance. However, I do NOT believe in stupidity. And that statement is purely that: stupid.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rediscovering Quiet

It's been an interesting few days, I'll say that. I'm house-sitting for the Lake Samish branch of the "family" while they are away. And since P and I moved away from the Lake House, life is... rather louder. I am currently living with two girls, soon to be three, and they're ALL roughly 10 years younger than I am. It makes for a slightly louder house than I'm used to. I'm closer to the "5" (freeway) too, so it's a constant background rumble. Not as loud as P's in Seattle, but still. It's noticeable. Or, it was. When I first moved to the new apt, I couldn't sleep because of the noise. Out here at the Lake, the "noise" came from the owls and the other critters... and very occasionally the obnoxious neighbors (youth, what is happening!!!) throwing parties. So now that I'm BACK here, now it's the LACK of noise that's been keeping me awake. Plus the memories of this house, and my best-best friend, and his niece when I was the "nanny". Ah boy, those were the days!

It's very strange to be in a house where all of your memories are with someone you love dearly, or their family, or little ones, or the wonderful dog. Now, the house is silent. And I'm beginning to understand a slight bit of what I had before when I lived alone for so many years. I never felt the silence as much as I do now, and I wonder if this is what widowhood feels like. It never seemed to bother me so much before, just in the odd moments when the silence seemed to be too much and I would seek communion with others just for the simple joy of hearing a voice.

This isn't the same feeling as that desperate call from Mt. Baker, crying out for you to come visit her and smell the scents of the land and just "get away" and "be silent" for awhile. There is something almost desolate, and despairing, of an empty house where once there was laughter and joy and quiet companionship. I wonder if that is why I feel such affinity for old farm houses? I see them, ramshackle and wearing down at the seams, and I want to go play and fix them. Fill them to bursting with children and laughter and arguments and love.

I think this is all brought on by the passing of the dear old dog, late last evening. It's an interesting experience for me to have an animal pass, that wasn't killed for food, or buried on the land where we can go visit. And, of course, he wasn't mine. Mine in a sense of borrowed, as I visited often, and he was a regular fixture at our place, visiting and craftily seeking carbohydrate-rich treats. But not, "mine" mine. I can feel their pain, and I grieve with them, but it's not the same richness, or texture, as when it's "mine" mine.

Which brings me to my next subject. Alastair Begg. I have been slowly getting caught back up on the past week's sermons. Right now, he's going over 1 Peter 5. Amazing stuff. I'm finding myself actually opening the Big Book to the right passage and reading ahead of time, then listening in, and beginning to understand. Or at least, develop a deeper understanding of the Word. (Reminds me, P and I went to Cafe Adagio on his trip-before-last and there is a copy of Matthew Henry's there. We explored Genesis a bit, which is where in the Big Book we're currently at, together.)

Anyways. This particular sermon was very very very moving to me, so much so that I wrote down feverishly and re-listened, and re-listened, and re-listened some more just to make sure I got it all down in black and white!

Here's what caught me so firmly:

"Christian faith does not remove us from the painful experiences of life in a fallen world. It is faulty thinking . . . which finds those who name the name of Jesus Christ, scurrying around, either denying the fact of suffering (thereby making a liar of themselves) or seeking to run away from suffering, assuming that down that street where there is none of this experience (suffering) there will be progress and blessing in our lives. We must be honest with ourselves. (I am paraphrasing here:) We have the gift of Jesus Christ, a man without sin, but NOT without sorrows. Isaiah 53, which says, He is despised and rejected of men; A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: And we hit as it were our faces from him; He was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, And carried our sorrows.".

"Loved ones, if you've been going through your days, and I've been going through my days, deciding on the basis of my own faulty logic, that somehow suffering is never in the purposes of God and that when it comes I should either deny it or run from it, then we are missing the point completely. In actuality, more spiritual progress is made through our tears, than our laughter. Think it out."

Today has just been an interesting day, and lots of changes coming all at once, and I'm learning to stop listening to the devil and his sly words, casting doubt and attempting to drive a wedge between my Savior and myself.
And if I'm all over the place on this post, I will either attempt to correct it at another time when I'm not punch-drunk from being up too late, or I'll just leave be. Most likely, just leave be.

Don't forget!
Praise God today!
And All Your Days!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

God's Word

I am always struck by the importance of the messages that Alastair Begg delivers to us, daily.

"When slothfulness comes, dangers stand thick about us. Peter says, 'Our activity must be self-controlled and alert'".

"Standing firm in the faith. Victory in resisting the devil is not based on our personal tenacity. Rather it is upon the basis of the faith which is ours in Christ. In adhering to the work of Jesus upon the cross where he defeated the devil, and if you like, holding up that standard. Not our ability to hold IT, but our willingness to hold TO it. We resist him, firm in the faith, when we put on the helmet of salvation. So, when the devil comes and attacks us with doubts, we say, I know you're here to make me doubt, but Jesus died on the cross for me, and I am wearing the helmet of salvation, so BE GONE."

What an immensely powerful thing, to hear the Word of God, and to know It is Right.

It makes me consider the events of these past few weeks, and to wonder how I could have acted in order to help resolve issues. The one thing I keep coming back to is, perhaps these things were meant to happen the way they have, that perhaps ears are not open to hear, just as I did not, for years and years, content to react to everything and think that I was, of course, not at fault.

It was always easier for me to react to others, and not look within myself, to see that perhaps it was my actions that were at the root of the conflict. It was always easier to simply leave, without bothering to have a good sit-down and try to work things out. I behaved that way for the majority of my life, thus far. I have run away from relationships, school, my family, and my best friends, simply because it was far easier to cut losses and run, burn my bridges, than to turn and face and take the risk that perhaps things might work out, and perhaps they might not. Fear governs us all, and it's a terrible, terrible thing. To leave oneself open, to try again, to resolve conflict, it's difficult. I know what that is like, and I always ran from it.

But, I have indeed grown, immensely, in these last two years. I have learned what it is, to leave yourself open. It's painful, at times, and also incredibly rewarding. You simply have to TRUST, that all will be well, regardless of how it feels, right then. And if you absolutely have the best intentions at heart, and can communicate, and be willing to hear another side and to compromise, then all things do indeed work out the way they are meant to.

His plan is indeed infinite.

p.s. I just stumbled onto the information about Englishman John Newton, who coined the hymn "Amazing Grace". Here's some information on his life, and God's Amazing gift of GRACE to those who never ever deserved it, including ME.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ask, and You Shall Receive

God Is So Good!!

This has never been more apparent to me than in the last week. God does indeed deliver, especially when you leave the details up to Him.

God has moved things in my direction that I never expected, and knowing that I have Him to rely on is so amazing. I asked, and I am receiving. I picked up an extra two hours/week this afternoon for tutoring. I'm so very, very excited. I need those hours. I also told the asst. mgr. at the college that I'd be willing to work 7-11am, Tues-Thurs to pick up extra hours for them until the end of this quarter, and that I'd be willing to work M-Th 7-12 next quarter. She looked really excited to hear about that, I wonder if the head mgr will go for it. I hope so, but if she does not, then I'll keep looking for extra income. We did a cost analysis equation in my math class today, and for some reason it really struck me that the faster we can get our debt paid down, the easier it will be for us to buy our farm. I knew all this, intellectually, but for some strange reason, it hit me straight in the heart, and I'm filled with this drastic urging to get it done yesterday. I want to be free of these ties.

In other news, I've been listening to more Willie Nelson and crew than I normally do. I know it has a lot to do with the "season". Every October 31st, my mood shifts to appreciating the oncoming snow and winter... Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my father's passing. I always get very nostalgic during this season, and think so much about how much he'd just love P. He would love to see how much I glow when I am with him, how much at peace I am, now that I've recognized Christ as my God and Savior, and he would absolutely be thrilled with our plans for a farm and going back to the way things used to be, homesteading. It's a return to my roots, and I know he would be tickled pink. I also know how thrilled and tickled he would be, seeing my younger siblings doing so well, having babies to continue the bloodline, getting married, and such. One of these days, I will be making a trip to California to see them, before we head to the East Coast.

It's funny how things change, but somehow we're the same. Principles remain, and yearnings still happen.

Oh One More Thing Quick!

Thanks to my wonderful friend M, who brought back several skirts from her recent trip to visit family, I have been able to wear skirts for the last five days straight. I've never felt more feminine, or at peace, than any other time I can remember. It feels WONDERFUL!!! I've talked with P regarding this craving of mine, to return to wearing skirts, and he fully supports it, and indeed says that I look quite wonderful and seem to be happier than ever in doing so, and if so, then to definitely continue. It is so wonderful to have someone in my life who continues to be a huge support, as well as a good shoulder, and a delightful ear.

A Much-Blessed Day.... Memories and Ponderings of November 11

I've not gone to bed yet. I've been reading. Yes, reading. Blogs, actually. Homesteading blogs, specifically. I listened to the Monday Truth For Life Broadcast, read some from 1 Peter, and then got sucked into Mr. Herrick Kimball's blog on cider, and from there, it was just all over.

I went to a fantastic blog on homesteading and rabbitry, then on to goats, and then soap making. All told, I think I've been reading blogs for the last few hours. Lots of information being "stored in that little ant brain of" mine. 10 bonus points for anyone who can guess where that quote comes from. Okay here's a hint: it's my FAVORITE movie. Well, one of the top 50, at least. I used to watch it every night before sleep. Sometimes, while asleep.

In other news, we've lost one roommate. So we were once four, and now we are three. But we will soon be back to four, in February, as the Em returns from Japan. I've been reading her blog postings off and on about her experiences in Japan, and they're quite interesting. I will say this: I'm glad I live here. Even for all my grumbling about the state of our nation and true freedom etc etc... I definitely appreciate my ability to even GRUMBLE.

I made (from scratch, mind you!) my great-great grandmother Santalina's (Grandma Lena) potato gnocchi. It was FANTASTIC. The girls really enjoyed it, and while it took me a bit to get the dough right, it all came out perfect in the end. I could only eat half my portion, talk about filling! Whew! I also made a marsala/mushroom carbonara to go with it. Yum, Yum! I think I might try my hand at making a large batch, putting them in a batch of chicken broth and canning them, to see how they turn out. I would hope they would stay firm and tender (is that an oxymoron?) like a good batch of matzo ball soup.

That's been my major adventure for the day, although I did help rearrange one of the roommates' rooms so that she now has an immensely-efficient-usage-of-space in her room, and can now even lay cross-wise on the floor if she so chose. I'm pretty happy about that, too. It's wonderful to feel helpful!

P.S. read Ecclesiastes, and 1 Peter! Great stuff!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

God's Hand....

Hidden at times, but always, always present.
This week, I've been bonked on the head more times than I can remember in recent history. I've begun praying in the mornings again, something I was convicted to do, earlier this year, but as with most things, practice makes perfect and I have been too lazy to make it a habit and practice.
This morning, I felt I had to read Ecclesiastes. I'm very grateful that I did, for I stumbled onto things that are true treasures, things that I'd seen before, but had managed to forget.

Ecclesiastes 9
Everyone Will Die
9:1 So I reflected on all this, attempting to clear it all up.
I concluded that the righteous and the wise, as well as their works, are in the hand of God;
whether a person will be loved or hated –
no one knows what lies ahead.
9:2 Everyone shares the same fate –
the righteous and the wicked,
the good and the bad,
the ceremonially clean and unclean,
those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.
What happens to the good person, also happens to the sinner;
what happens to those who make vows, also happens to those who are afraid to make vows.

9:3 This is the unfortunate fact about everything that happens on earth:
the same fate awaits everyone.
In addition to this, the hearts of all people are full of evil,
and there is folly in their hearts during their lives – then they die.

Better to Be Poor but Alive than Rich but Dead
9:4 But whoever is among the living has hope;
a live dog is better than a dead lion.
9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead do not know anything;
they have no further reward – and even the memory of them disappears.
9:6 What they loved, as well as what they hated and envied, perished long ago,
and they no longer have a part in anything that happens on earth.

Life is Brief, so Cherish its Joys
9:7 Go, eat your food with joy,
and drink your wine with a happy heart,
because God has already approved your works.
9:8 Let your clothes always be white,
and do not spare precious ointment on your head.
9:9 Enjoy life with your beloved wife during all the days of your fleeting life
that God has given you on earth during all your fleeting days;
for that is your reward in life and in your burdensome work on earth.
9:10 Whatever you find to do with your hands,
do it with all your might,
because there is neither work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave,
the place where you will eventually go.

Wisdom Cannot Protect against Seemingly Chance Events
9:11 Again, I observed this on the earth:
the race is not always won by the swiftest,
the battle is not always won by the strongest;
prosperity does not always belong to those who are the wisest,
wealth does not always belong to those who are the most discerning,
nor does success always come to those with the most knowledge –
for time and chance may overcome them all.
9:12 Surely, no one knows his appointed time!
Like fish that are caught in a deadly net, and like birds that are caught in a snare –
just like them, all people are ensnared at an unfortunate time that falls upon them suddenly.

Most People Are Not Receptive to Wise Counsel
9:13 This is what I also observed about wisdom on earth,
and it is a great burden to me:
9:14 There was once a small city with a few men in it,
and a mighty king attacked it, besieging it and building strong siege works against it.
9:15 However, a poor but wise man lived in the city,
and he could have delivered the city by his wisdom,
but no one listened to that poor man.
9:16 So I concluded that wisdom is better than might,
but a poor man’s wisdom is despised; no one ever listens to his advice.

Wisdom versus Fools, Sin, and Folly
9:17 The words of the wise are heard in quiet,
more than the shouting of a ruler is heard among fools.
9:18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner can destroy much that is good.

Ecclesiastes 11

Ignorance of the Future Demands Diligence in the Present
11:1 Send your grain overseas,
for after many days you will get a return.
11:2 Divide your merchandise among seven or even eight investments,
for you do not know what calamity may happen on earth.
11:3 If the clouds are full of rain, they will empty themselves on the earth,
and whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, the tree will lie wherever it falls.
11:4 He who watches the wind will not sow,
and he who observes the clouds will not reap.
11:5 Just as you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the bones form in the womb of a pregnant woman,
so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
11:6 Sow your seed in the morning,
and do not stop working until the evening;
for you do not know which activity will succeed –
whether this one or that one, or whether both will prosper equally.

Life Should Be Enjoyed Because Death is Inevitable
11:7 Light is sweet,
and it is pleasant for a person to see the sun.
11:8 So, if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all,
but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many – all that is about to come is obscure.

Enjoy Life to the Fullest under the Fear of God
11:9 Rejoice, young man, while you are young,
and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.
Follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes,
but know that God will judge your motives and actions.
11:10 Banish emotional stress from your mind.
and put away pain from your body;
for youth and the prime of life are fleeting.