She's Here!

What a joy it was to check Sallie's blog over at A Gracious Home, and discover that their long anticipated baby has arrived! I haven't been reading Sallie's blog long, but long enough to understand how much they have waited for this baby and how richly God has blessed them. She was born on Thursday, Sept. 28th and is named Caroline Elisabeth. She's a cutie! Check out Sallie's blog and rejoice with them! God is good.

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Humility and the Prodigal Son

It was several weeks ago when I found out about the "arrangement". In my line of work, you have to pay close attention to details in order to avoid mistakes. (That's probably true for any line of work, but especially in graphic design.) A misspelled word on an ad that's printed 150,000 copies isn't a good thing!

I am very detailed-oriented - that's one of the gifts God has blessed me with. I love my job because I don't have to be a big picture thinker. My boss a few months ago complimented me by saying that she appreciates my carefulness, that our company has never had a credit relating to one of my jobs.

One of my coworkers isn't as blessed to be detail-oriented. Not to say he's a bad worker, but he just struggles in that area more. That's when I learned of the arrangement that my boss made with him. If he went x amount of time without any mistakes, then he would get a (desirable) prize.

I burned with envy. I've gone months without making mistakes! Where is my prize? Should you reward someone for doing the bare minimum? Should I just do the bare minimum so I can get a prize too? What about going "above and beyond"? Is there no reward for that?

Now before you think this post is a rant, let me say that these thoughts didn't consume my time. I knew immediately that wasn't a very good attitude to have, but I wasn't sure why. Yes, I mulled over the idea of an employer rewarding their employees. However, more I wondered why wasn't my attitude correct?

The story of the prodigal son kept coming back to me. One son did everything wrong, ran off, squandered his inheritance, then came back to his father on his hands and knees. It's a beautiful story about forgiveness and of Christ's unfailing love for us no matter what we do. Yet there's another part of the story that's puzzled me - the part of the older son. The one who did everything right, who didn't make the mistakes, who stayed by his father, and who wasn't honored. That wasn't fair either! His father should have done something for the good son too, right?

Last night at Bible Study, we were talking about humility when the answer hit me. The problem was the older son didn't have humility. He was looking at himself and his own accomplishments, and comparing him to his wayward brother. The prodigal was proud, too - but was forced to swallow the pride when he found himself feeding pigs. The prodigal went back to his father humbled. The older brother's pride kept him from truly rejoicing over the return of his brother. His pride kept him from acknowledging that his Heavenly Father might have other, more wonderful plans in store - and it's not for us to judge who is "rewarded" here on earth.

With these thoughts, I think back to my coworker. I should be overjoyed that he is working to minimize the mistakes he's made, and that our employer is gracious and understanding. It's my own pride that keeps me from having peace and happiness. I pray that God continues to grant me humility as I stop comparing myself or be jealous!

"A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.... When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Proverbs 29:23, Proverbs 11:2

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When I Wander

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

--Robert Robinson, 1758

For years, my heart has been wandering in a desert so arid and parched that I never thought I would be able to find the oasis. I walk aimlessly in search of life, but all I can feel is the hot sand beneath my feet, and the blinding sun beating down on my weathered face. A glistening mirage comes into view. This is what I have dreamed about! I've finally found what I've been looking for! But then I realize that it's only more sand, only heat playing with my eyes. Water and life seem within arms' reach at times; other times it is impossible to see through the blinding heat. I can do this on my own, I would tell myself. Many have survived through this desert on their own, right? I am strong enough.

After many hours, days, or even months, I cannot take the suffering any longer. In my wretchedness, I fall on my face in the sand, panting for water. I cry out to God, my Shepherd. Like a bleating sheep, He lifts me up and carries me in His arms to the garden of His goodness. He takes care of me. But I become unrestless, unsettled. I don't trust my Shepherd's place for me. Thoughts of doubt fill my head. Surely I can find my own way. Life seems so much better out there. My desires are out in the desert. Surely I can find them! I've forgotten the pain I had endured. I've forgotten that my way is not best for me. And so I wander back out into the desert, trusting in myself to see me through. Only to be sought after, found, and taken back into my Shepherd's arms.

This happens time and time again, but I don't want it to be this way. Lord, hold me in Your arms, and never let me go! I cry to You--keep me from my doubts and fears that guide my heart away from You.

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All My Tears

Last week, I picked up a copy of Jars of Clay's newest CD, "Good Monsters". Jars of Clay is my all-time favorite music group; I've followed them since their first CD. I love the style of music and I love their lyrics, and in my opinion their new CD does not disappoint!

One song on this album really jumped out at me. Recently, I've been thinking about our own mortality. First, the tragic accident in Indiana which claimed the lives of 4 Taylor students - all about the same age as me. Then, more recently, the unexpected death of the Crocodile Hunter. When you're young and at the beginning of your life, it seems that death is so far away. We seem invincible, immortal. However, our lives are fragile and we should realize that each day we live is our last. Not to be depressing, but realistic. I have so many thoughts about this subject, but right now I'd like to touch on one: the role of the mourner, the one left behind. When I found out about those two separate incidents, I mourned deeply for the loss of life and for the pain of those who were dear to the deceased. However, I kept forgetting the joy that must be accompanied by a soul returned to Christ! (In the case of the Taylor students, who were all born-again Christians - I do not know where Steve Irwin stood in his relationship with God; that is not for me to know or speculate.) So rather, it is not a "loss of life", but just a transferring from earth to the final Home of Heaven. And the joy comes in that not only do they have the sweet pleasure of seeing Jesus face-to-face, but I also will see them again when it's my turn to go Home! Just some thoughts of mine, right now.

All My Tears, by Jars Of Clay

When I go, don't cry for me
In my Father's arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole.
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed
For my Savior knows my name.

It don't matter where you bury me,
I'll be home and I'll be free.
It don't matter where I lay,
All my tears be washed away.

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven's store,
Come and drink, and thirst no more

So, weep not for me my friends,
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to Him
Who will raise the dead again.
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A Call for Modesty

While neither of us are mothers, both of us hope to be someday and I am sure Beth will agree with me that we desire to clothe our daughters in nice, modest clothing. I have been surprised at how the young girls of today dress - like miniature teenagers, complete with makeup and form-fitting clothing. It makes me sad, because I wonder where they are going to go as teenagers. I may not know the first thing about how to raise a godly Christian daughter, but I do think that the clothes her parents dress her in as a girl has to have something to do with her modesty!

The Moms for Modesty Campaign is over at Everyday Mommy and is directed towards retailers to encourage them to make more modest, yet stylish and fun clothing for little girls. I'm all for supporting this! Here is the mission statement:

Moms for Modesty Mission Statement
  • As a Mom for Modesty I believe in common-sense modesty for girls and young women.
  • I believe in refraining from sexualizing our girls and young women.
  • I believe that it is unwise and unfair to taunt boys and young men by permitting my daughter(s) to dress in an immodest manner.
  • I believe that true beauty comes from within and I strive to teach my daughter(s) this truth.
  • I will loyally shop at retailers that provide girls' and young womens clothing that is modest, affordable and stylish.
If you'd like to participate in this campaign, please go over to Everyday Mommy's site and leave a comment.

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When Trials Come

I have been out the past week or so because I've actually been quite sick! I'm all better now, thanks to the nice doctors in the emergency room. :-) I don't have anything insightful to share from my weekend in the sickbed, except that I have a wonderful husband who sure knows how to step up to the plate and take care of me! He is truly wonderful, and I feel like I can't tell him that enough! :-)

This morning I read the blog post of a friend from college. She had some pretty insightful things to share, something I think all of us can understand and relate to. So please hop over to The Alien Princess and read about "When Trials Come". An excerpt:

So what do we do when the dreams we have of a perfect life fall apart? First, cling to God. There you can find peace and comfort and joy, despite the pain. Second, take a look at the situation, with God and other believers you are close to, and see what happened. Was this your fault? Was it the sinful world's? Was it God's way to grow you? Third, be open to learn whatever God has to teach you, so that you can become more like Him.
Thank you for the reminders, Kristen! I think that is something I am constantly forgetting: that times of trial are an opportunity to get closer to my Father. I just want to struggle and shout "It's not fair!" However, when I let God work in me then amazing things can happen!

EDIT: Be sure to also read a followup post, Trials Part 2.

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Onward and Upward

From Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer:


I pass the vale. I breast the steep.
I bear the cross: the cross bears me.
Light leads me on to light. I weep
For joy at what I hope to see
When, scaled at last the arduous height,
For every painful step I trod,
I traverse worlds on worlds of light,
And pierce some deeper depth of God.

--by John Charles Earle, 1917

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Seeking Fellowship

I am very excited to have had my first women's Bible study at our church. Up until now, my husband and I haven't been very involved with the church community, partially because of our school/work schedules. It's been hard to make friends as a result.

I'm so glad to be starting a Bible study. It currently meets Wednesday nights at 7 at the house of the woman hosting it. Last night I got to meet lots of great women--some single, some married, some older, some younger, most with full-time careers. I'm ecstatic to meet so many encouraging women, who all love the Lord.

Most importantly, it gives me the chance to delve deeper into God's Word. We are doing a study on the book of Acts. I can't wait to dig deeper and learn more about the character of God and the history of the early church.

Pray that God will teach me to more closely follow His ways in the next few months. Pray that I can overcome my nervousness to get to know all these women, all of which I just met last night. Pray that I can find encouragement, and that I will be an encouragement to them.

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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"A Day of Infamy"

We can't believe it's been 5 years since that tragic day. Like all Americans, we remember exactly where we each were on that Tuesday morning. We want to share our stories so that no one forgets about this day:

Beth's story:

Sept. 11, 2001
I had an appointment in the Career Center of my college at 8:30 (a requirement for all freshmen), and right when it was about to end, 2 girls came running in to the room yelling, "We've been attacked! An airplane just hit the World Trade Center!" The rest of my appointment was cancelled, so I went back to my dorm. I checked my e-mail on the computers in the lounge, and every headline on Yahoo! was about the planes that had hit the Towers. I remember being in a fog until an emergency chapel was called at 11:00.

Dr. Graham (the chaplin) read off the shocking news--Not only had both towers been hit, but both had collapsed due to the damage. An unknown amount of people were killed or trapped in the rubble. Afterwards, classes were cancelled so the students, faculty, and staff could pray. I remember walking back from that chapel in utter shock. I remember seeing students praying together on benches outside on the way back to my dorm. My hallmates and I gathered together afterwards and prayed. I don't remember much after this. The rest of the day is a complete fog.

I know I must have watched the coverage on TV. I remember watching it, but I have no idea when. I also remember that every radio station in Chattanooga was playing the news stories as they broke out, and many had made montages with clips of the news footage playing over a song. I remember listening while in bed, trying to fall asleep.

Now, 5 years later, I'm so thankful that the Lord has protected our country from another attack. Even if we are hit again, it is comforting to know that God is in control. I continue to pray for the families and loved ones affected by the tragedy, and I hope that many have come and will come to know the Lord through this trial.

The title for this post came from the headline of my college's newspaper, published a few days later.


Ashley's story:

Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.
I was fairly new to the country. I had moved to the States the previous July, and had only started college in Indiana two weeks before. I remember being in the bathroom on my floor of my dorm, getting ready for my first class of the day. It was around 9:00am. I was washing my face and Heather runs in, a look of horror on her face. "A plane just hit the World Trade Center!" What? A plane? I was confused. I pestered Heather for more details, but only got that it was terrorists.

My only comment was: "I thought I left Peru."

We ran downstairs to the TV in the lounge. There were a bunch of us there, I remember. Everyone was glued to the TV. We actually watched live as the second plane hit the tower and made it fall. I also remember hearing about a plane that went down in Pennsylvania. My friend Melissa was working the front desk and I remembered that she was from PA. I ran over and told her, and ran back to the TV to get more information.

I had to drag myself away from the TV when it was time to go to class at 10. It was our Freshman Orientation class, and we were all talking about it. I remember feeling a bit stoic about the whole situation. That may sound bad, but you also have to remember I had just spent 10 years in a country where terrorist activity was almost a norm. I used to fall asleep in bed at night listening to bombs. I remember thinking I should be more shocked than I was. I do remember a moment of panic when I found out they evacuated the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in Atlanta - finally, it hits close to home. I think as the day and following weeks unfolded, I began to feel the pain of the 9/11 attacks much more, especially as I listened to the stories of people who were victims - or supposed to be victims. Such an unknown, scary time. Such a sad time for the deaths of so many.

Now, five years later, I sit back and think about that day, thankful to God that He kept my family and I safe. I thank Him for the strength to get through that tough time. And I pray that He heals the pain that is still present for many family and friends of victims who are still hurting.

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Frugal Fridays

Crystal at Biblical Womanhood is hosting a weekly "column" on Frugal Fridays. I thought it doesn't hurt to jump on the bandwagon, and frugality is an area where I need vast improvements. I figure I will probably be listening more than posting, but hopefully this will help me get better at spending unnecessary money!

My Frugal Friday tip is about avoiding the cost of gas. My husband takes the train to work every morning, even though it adds about a half hour to his trip. We have found that to be an excellent way to save money. It costs $3.50 round trip, which is probably the same as he would spend in gas. It also saves on parking costs downtown, wear and tear on the car, and on routine maintenance associated with driving like oil changes. It is also better for the environment - less emissions, less gas being used, less traffic on the road. Another hidden benefit is that he can spend the entire time in the train in the Word and in prayer!

Once he starts fulltime at the place he is now (right now he's considered contract), he will be given free train passes so that will make it even cheaper! It's been a great situation so far, and I encourage other people to consider public transportation. A lot of people in this area view it as a method for low-income people to travel, which might be true, but that shouldn't make you too proud to use it - especially when it's a fairly clean, reliable, and safe environment.

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More on . . . The Great Closet Clean-up

I thought I'd update everyone on my progress. I've gotten the floor clean, but I still have a long way to go! I eventually pulled one trash bag's worth of garbage from the floor. Unfortunately, I got lazy, and many of the things on the floor were just put onto the shelves in the closet, rather than where they should go. I'll have to work on that. :-)

Now that I've got the floor clean, and I can actually walk into my closet, I'm onto my next project: Shoes!

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