Archive for December, 2007

Today was a blessing

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

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(Image from Snapshots of Joy)

Last Sunday I talked a bit about keeping the Lord’s Day holy. Some of the blessings I took note of today were:

  • It was a privilege to come together with fellow Christians to worship the Lord, and hear two sermons preached from His Word.
  • I appreciated the fellowship of the saints, conversing with them about the sermons, and getting to know one another better.
  • We had the opportunity to show hospitality to others.
  • There was some quiet time to read more from God’s Word, and other edifying writings.

All of this was in addition to the blessings of health, sound minds, strength, safety from harm, plenty of wholesome food to eat, sufficient and warm housing and clothing, reliable transportation that enabled us to go to church, and a happy home life.

Our boys just called, and are on their way home. It will be a blessing to see them again, too, and, on that note, I had better make sure their beds are made. I hope you had a blessed Lord’s Day, too. 🙂

An Introduction to the United Reformed Churches

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

As I was reading through some blogs this afternoon, I came across this excellent intro. to the United Reformed Federation, of which we are members. This article is by Rev. Shane Lems of the URC in Sunnyside, Washington.

Some of our friends here are not very familiar with the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. (This is our background.) It was good to read that:

We also appreciate and agree with the great statements of the historic Presbyterian church – the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms.

On our part, we are becoming more familiar with the other classic summaries of the Christian faith, called the Three Forms of Unity, of which Rev. Lems says:

We also fully confess and acknowledge the truths found in three documents of the Reformation, namely the Belgic Confession (1561), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) and the Canons of Dort (1618-19)

Rev. Lems concludes:

We are churches that vary in race, nationality, location, and even language at times – but we are united in historic Reformation teaching, teaching that emphasizes the biblical truths of sin, deliverance from it in Christ alone, and gratitude for deliverance in biblical worship.

Prayer as an expression of humility and faith

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

After reading my Bible this morning, I turned to Day by Day Grace by Bob Hoekstra. This devotional is published on the Blue Letter Bible site. Our pastor has been speaking to us quite a bit about prayer, and these thoughts tie in helpfully with what we’ve been learning:

Praying Without Ceasing to the God of All Grace

The God of all grace… pray without ceasing. (1 Peter 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:17)

These two biblical phrases are ideal correlations. The only way that we can live as God intends is by grace. Our God is the source of all grace. God’s grace is to be drawn upon by humility and faith. Prayer is the most appropriate expression of humility and faith. We pray, because we need God’s help (thereby, expressing humility). We pray, because we believe God will help us (thereby, exercising faith). Consequently, praying without ceasing is a simple, yet profound, way to relate rightly to the God of all grace.

“Pray without ceasing.” This command is not requiring the incessant reciting of prayers. Rather, it is a call to a way of living: “continuing steadfastly in prayer” (Romans 12:12). Praying without ceasing is an attitude of the heart, as well as an addressing of prayers consistently to the Lord. To pray without ceasing is to have the inner man focused in humble dependence upon the Lord, while consistently addressing actual prayers to the Lord. (emphasis added)

Haiku Friday

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Haiku Friday

It’s the little things

The theme for my Haiku poems this Friday is appreciation of all the little things that contributes to a happy, contented frame of mind.

Trouble a’ plenty

Hear the news, look around you

But, not just at that

Whispers of heaven

Hints of good and perfect gifts

In the little things

Fragrant brew, coffee

Made by my loving Hubby

While I slept in; Mmmm!

Leisurely morning

Read my Bible, read my blogs

Family talking

My girls scrapbooking

Fun times with friends, a present

To be treasured

Time in the kitchen

A special pastry, almond

Share with friends tonight

Kayla and Sarah,

Surprise! They’re home for dinner

A joy to see them

A brisk twilight walk

Do you smell the coming snow?

Invigorating

Now rush through the dark

Meet with friends, hear the children

Joyful music play

Cozy candlelight

Murmuring conversation

Saying, “I love you.”

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the little things

Good gifts from Your hand.

For more Haiku, visit Jennifer over at Playgroups are No Place for Children and Christina at A Mommy Story.

Thursday 13

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

13 things I did on Wednesday

  1. Exchanged gifts with some of the teachers and paraeducators at the middle school
  2. Played Blokus with Rebecca and two of her friends (I did not win.)
  3. Bought a Little Caesar’s Supreme pizza for dinner
  4. Talked about music with Rick. Does anyone else love the Tannehill Weavers?
  5. Went to the library and checked out some good young people’s fiction (“Adult” fiction is usually too morose/bloody/gutter-dredging for me.)
  6. Made coffee several times
  7. Drank hot cocoa, too
  8. Ate some of the delicious goodies made by the friends at school
  9. Found out that a student who I thought wasn’t listening AT ALL finally did well on a math test, completely on his own, without ANY prompts to stay focused. Yay!
  10. Worked in three 6th grade math classes
  11. Read the Bible online
  12. Made Sloppy Joes and coleslaw for my husband and me for a late lunch
  13. Changed the filter in the fish’s aquarium (Our lone guppy and miscellaneous little snails need a fresh plant, though.)

I am feeling very relaxed and thankful at the prospect of a couple weeks off from work to be domestic and spend lots of “down” time with my husband and kiddos.

Thirteen Things about Joyce’s Wednesday 😛

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A song remembered

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Rick started singing a line from a song that brought back lots of memories. Does anyone else remember this song? You realize, of course, that this will date you? Let’s see; I was 19 when this was popular. 😛

Nice To Be With You

– Artist: Gallery as sung on “Super Hits Of the 70’s-Have a Nice Day-Vol. 8”
Rhino R4 709218
– peak Billboard position # 4 in 1972
– Words and Music by Jim Gold

CHORUS

Oh, it’s so nice to be with you
I love all the things ya say and do
And it’s so nice to hear you say
You’re gonna please me in every way
Honey, I got the notion
You’re causin’ commotion in my soul

Baby, you and me have got somethin’ that’s real
I know it’s gonna last a lifetime
Aww, ya better believe it, girl
At night I call your name
Darkness fills my room, I’m only dreamin’
About the time I’m gonna be with you

CHORUS

When I’m feelin’ down
You’re there to pick me up and help me to carry on
Aww, little things mean a lot
When you need a shoulder to cry on
I’m there to ease the pain and chase away the rain
Aww, darlin’, I just gotta say

Oh, it’s so nice to be with you
I love all the things ya say and do
And it’s so nice to hear you say
You’re gonna please me in every way

Oh, it’s so nice to be with you
I love all the things ya say and do
FADE
And it’s so nice to hear you say
You’re gonna please me

Transcribed by Robin Hood

These lyrics were transcribed from the specific recording mentioned above
and do not necessarily correspond with lyrics from other recordings, sheet
music, songbooks or lyrics printed on album jackets

Another blog recommendation

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

I very much enjoy reading ALL of your blogs, my dear readers. But maybe you don’t know about ALL of the blogs that I enjoy reading?

Today I read a post by Randy Alcorn on his Eternal Perspectives blog that really spoke to me.

At our church our pastor and elders have been emphasizing how important it is that we care truly care for one another. Randy Alcorn speaks of caring for those who cannot defend themselves: unwanted unborn babies:

Unborn children in America are our equivalent of Jews in Germany sixty-five years ago. The church’s indifference to them, and failure to stand up in their defense, is a shame of huge proportions. Self-righteously we decry the German church’s failure to stand up for the Jews. Meanwhile we fail to stand up for the unborn. We shake our heads in disgust at the German church’s tolerance of one holocaust while ignoring our own tolerance of another.

(This quote is from a post about Dietrich Bonhoeffer.)

Here is one more portion of the post that is SO QUOTABLE. Online “indignation” at the opinions of others abounds, so this rebuke is SO apropros:

I receive a fair number of emails from disgruntled people who descend from Mount Olympus just long enough to fire off their thunderbolts here in the land of lowly mortals, at those of us who just don’t get it. For what it’s worth, I rarely find outrage, name-calling and sanctimonious rudeness (whether it’s from conservatives or liberals makes no difference) to be persuasive. Not in political or theological discussions, or any other kind. It’s also interesting when these attitudes come from people who pride themselves on their tolerance and constantly condemn others for being judgmental. Calling people hypocrites when you don’t know them, and don’t have a clue what they may be doing for the poor and needy, is somewhat judgmental, don’t you think? 🙂

This post covers lots of interesting ground, such as:

  • When does patriotism become idolatry?
  • What is a Christian’s duty when the powers that be are destroying the innocent?
  • How may we properly disagree with others?
  • Who was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and what role did he play in Nazi Germany?

I hope that you will take the time to read Randy Alcorn’s edifying post.

New Camera!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Rick purchased a new camera to take along on business trips. The main requirements for this camera were that it had to fit in his pocket, and be equipped with an optical image stabilizer. The little Canon Power Shot SD870 IS fits the bill. I promise, I will learn to use this camera, so that I will not be so dependent on the rest of the family for photos! Here are some photos of our kitties:

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This is our kitty, Bonnie Boy. He once upon a time lived a few houses away, but decided to adopt us. He especially adores Rick.

percy-cat.jpg

You’ve met Percy cat before. Here he is, indulging his curiosity, following Rick around as he experimented with his new camera outside this evening. Hmmm . . . Percy really likes Rick, too.

lucy-cat.jpg
This is Lucy cat. Now, this kitty likes me. She sleeps by my feet, but then during the night sneaks up near my face and starts purring loudly to let me know she needs a midnight snack. If I don’t oblige, she steps back and forth across my face, which is scary, since she weighs over 20 pounds and has sharp claws.

gigi-with-kiddos.jpg
This is our kitty Gigi with Lydia, Seth and Rebecca. Poor Rebecca isn’t feeling very well. Forgive me for posting this photo, Dearie, but I needed to include all the cats in the post (for some odd reason). 🙂

Authentic Dutch Almond Bars

Monday, December 17th, 2007

This recipe was given to me by some Dutch friends who assure me that this is “the real thing.” As you may know, the Dutch love almond desserts. We do, too! I only make this once or twice per year, though, since almond paste is so expensive ($8.99 per pound at the local supermarket). Oh . . . This is also quite a rich dessert. A little goes a long way!

Pastry:

1 cup butter

2 cups flour

½ cup water

Cut butter into flour, then stir in water. Mix well with fork. Refrigerate several hours or freeze 40 minutes. Roll the dough to fit a 15″x11″ jelly roll pan, plus ½ inch up the sides.

Filling:

2 cups sugar

16 ounces (one pound) almond paste

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Crumble (or grate, if hard) almond paste; add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat well with mixer. Spread on pastry. Trim the pastry even with the top edge of the jelly roll pan, if desired, or simply fold down on filling.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool; cut into bars.

Finding delight in God’s Day

Sunday, December 16th, 2007


If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words:

Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it]. – Isaiah 58:13,14

For many folk, Sunday is simply another day in the weekend. If Sunday is special to them, it is special as a family day or as a day to relax or as a day to enjoy sporting events. Even for many who do go to church on Sunday, the remainder of the day after church attendance they consider to be their time, time to do homework, clean house, pay bills, go shopping, or whatever.

The fact of the matter is that God, who created and who sustains us all, has told us explicitly what His holy will is concerning one day in seven. Just as He has told us that it is wicked to commit murder (6th commandment) and to steal from others (8th commandment), so He has also given us the fourth commandment:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it. – Exodus 20:8-11

In our family, we have used the Westminster Shorter Catechism as an aid in teaching our children Christian doctrine. Some of the questions asked and answered regarding the 4th commandment are:

  • Question 57. Which is the fourth commandment?
  • Question 58. What is required in the fourth commandment?
  • Question 59. Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?
  • Question 60. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
  • Question 61. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
  • Question 62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?

This is the answer to Question 60:

The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the publick and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

Scripture verses are then referenced to substantiate the statements made (which you may see if you go to the online version of the catechism).