Saturday, December 31, 2011


1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might while I do live.
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s.

46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye: and to be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.

53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer.

58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation; but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity.

70. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak.*

Ok, I didn't come up with these resolutions.  A man named Jonathan Edwards did in 1723. 
He was the president of a little school called Princeton, a brilliant and humble preacher whom the Lord used to touch countless lives.  He wrote seventy resolutions, but for the sake of my small, untrained 2011 brain, I have only included a handful.  Something to aspire to in 2012, eh?  And we thought losing weight and saying thank you more were good goals... 

*Taken from The Life and Diary of David Brainerd. Edited by Jonathan Edwards, including a biographical sketch of Jonathan Edwards by Philip E. Howard, Jr.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Scandalous Present

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

I thought about it during Christmas time.  God - condensing Himself into a human baby.  The Maker of the universe somehow fit His immensity into mere molecules.  That should have been one dense little baby :)  The One who created life became fragile, breakable life.
I find it awe-inspiring.  The stuff of tinkly, twinkly Christmas music.  Ephemeral, mystical, fairy tale-ish.

Immortal, all powerful God became helpless flesh.  But, He shouldn't.  He couldn't.  Could He?

Ruth Bell Graham - Billy's wife - said somewhere in a book I read (and now can't find) that it is a holy thing to have a Christmas time baby.  You feel some of the awe young Mary must have, struggling through very immediate and tangible labor pain reality to birth the supernatural Son of God.  The closest I've come is to have a January baby, so I can only commiserate by having been "great with child" around the end of December, looking like I could quite feasibly have squashed a little donkey under my girth.  (For the record, though this has nothing to do with my point, I've often wondered if Mary had to walk.  Would a poor couple really have had a donkey at their disposal?  I don't know, its not in Luke 2, just a thought.  Take that donkey out of the nativity scene and shake it up a bit.)

A baby is a miracle.  How is it possible life could come out of me?  There are fingers, toes, a personality - through me, but separated from me, complete apart from me.  Aside from the science of the birds and the bees, it really seems like something comes from nothing.  There was no life.  Suddenly, there is a beach ball kicking my ribs, then labor, then a squalling child.  A mind, a beating heart, a life.  A miracle.  I cannot comprehend this.
How could I understand then, the miracle on top of this miracle?  Supernatural life became human life.  The world didn't put up Christmas trees and buy extra scotch tape and eggnog when any of my babies were born, miracles though they were.  Jesus' birth was extra special.  Incomprehensibly special.
If I were just into Christmas for the stocking stuffers and pretty decorations at the mall, I would translate this miracle as ridiculous.  Foolish.  One commentary translated it "scandalous."  The message of the cross is utterly scandalous - God, in the flesh, born to die so we might live with Him.  Crazy.

Unless, I suppose, I grasp that He did it because He loves us.  He loves me.  Because He wanted me, God of heaven stopped at nothing to get to me on earth.  He pushed aside the flesh and blood barrier between us, not simply for fun.  He wasn't bored in glorious heaven so decided to sleep in a stinking manger on a whim.  That would be ridiculous.  He changed the foundational laws of spiritual and physical worlds so He, King of heaven, Son of man, could know us in both.  He changed the laws of physics (He made them, after all) to be with us.  To save us.  That's power.  That's love.  Scandalous love.  

P.S.  Talk about scandal - this was our tree this year.  Documented, in all its glory.  It was chosen and cut by my five year old in Grampy's back yard.  They thought it was the most beautiful tree ever.  Defeated the moment it came across the threshold, I let them have their way with it.  It was a wonderful Christmas.    

Monday, December 12, 2011


Woke up disgruntled.
I'm not ready for Monday.
I'm not ready for next Monday either.
By then, I'll still be behind on all the everything I should have done for this Monday.
This whole housewife-homeschooling-mom-to-four-boys-five-and-under life isn't hard.
It's impossible.

Pulled myself out into the kitchen.  The stove was cold.  So was the floor.  So were my feet.
Got banged in the head with the toilet seat when helping a toddler wrangle his pants.  My eyebrow hurts. I hope it doesn't bruise.  I don't want to explain it to any concerned citizens.  

There's a mountain of laundry.  I want to avoid it, but the kids have no underwear in their drawers.  They realize this after flinging off their pajamas.  We rummage together through the dryer, their unashamed little bodies diving in to claim personal items.  "Mom, the floor's cold!"  They wail.
"Put your clothes on!" I order, impatient as they are to get out of the cold laundry room.

My husband and I sit together briefly over lukewarm coffee.  There's syrup all over the table.  He works in retail; this is the busy season.  "Do I know you?" We joke, finishing the boys' half-eaten french toast.  I can't wait for January when we can introduce ourselves to each other again.  We've switched on survival mode autopilot.  I wish, today, we could just stop flying for a moment.  No.  We can't.
He goes off to work.  I feel alone.  The Proverbs 31 wife isn't showing up today.  At least she had servants to help, I think.  Blah.  Sighing is so destructive.  This pity party has to stop.  But I think I'm having too much fun being miserable.

There is dirt - and milk splatters? - on the walls.  I need to wipe those.  There are bathrooms to clean.  There is laundry.  Always laundry.  There are dishes.  Oh, and there are kids.  I need to do some school.

I read, then Gavin reads.  Shiloh and Henry fight loudly over firetrucks.  They call a truce to yell at each other through the baby monitors.  I can't seem to explain "one-way" to toddlers who grasp cell phone usage.  They are noisy.  The baby has learned to roll, but doesn't use his legs.  He flips until he hits a wall, then pushes backwards until he gets stuck under a bookshelf or sofa.  Then he hollars.  I rescue him so he can help us eat the school books Gavin's trying to decipher.

Lunch.  I start a movie to enjoy the ensuing relative calm and heat a pot of water.  Boxed macaroni and cheese; they'll love it.  Maybe I can start blogging while the water heats... Today's mail is taunting me from the keyboard.  I need to get the Christmas cards out.  The water boils.  I'll blog at naptime.  I say that every day, hoping.  The baby throws his cucumbers off the high chair.  Cucumbers are slippery.  Watch your step.

Sweet four year old spends longer than usual quietly not-napping in his bed.  "How nice of him to stay there so quietly when I know he's not sleeping," I think.  He appears a few minutes later, announcing, "I pulled all the feathers out of froggy!"
I smile wanly.  "Really, Honey?  All his stuffing?"
"Yup." He grins innocently.  "Now it looks like a big white garbage mountain!  And Froggy didn't have babies in his tummy."
So glad we resolved that question.  We go upstairs and find the big stuffed frog quite deflated.  His polyfill "feathers" are indeed heaped in a big pile.  Someone is ordered to re-stuff his fluffy pal and I add vacuuming to my list.

Gavin asks curiously, "When are we going to do those Christmas projects you said we have to start?"
"Maybe never," I think a bit frantically, "Or maybe after Christmas, when I can breathe again."  I shove a book of mazes at him instead.  It placates him; he loves mazes.  The two year old dumps crayons out to find the perfect blue one.  I set up an appointment for the baby for the next year while they squabble in the background.  I need a calendar up for January already.

I change the nappers.  Nurse the baby.  He humors me until a strand of my hair chances into his view.  He yanks that to his mouth instead.  I stop nursing.  Time to start supper anyway.
The beets stain my fingers.  Now its too hot in the kitchen with the woodstove and oven and witching-hour-fussing all raising my blood pressure.
They get the table half set.  I bring the food and the baby in.  Their plates get food.  We pray.  I cut meat.  I yell at the two year old to get back in his chair.  I forgot to pour their cups.  Don't attack the beans with that end of your fork.  Get back in your chair.  Eat!  Yes, you may be excused.  No, you eat your beans.

Bathtime.  Pajamas.  Close the gate so the baby doesn't roll down the stairs.  Don't take the fluff out of Froggy again.  We can sew him tomorrow.  Yes, sleep will make you grow.  Yes, you will be bigger than me.  But not tomorrow.  Go to sleep!  Aren't you tired?  I am.  I love you.  Good night.

Dishes.  Handwash that sweater.  Why must I "lay flat to dry"?  There is no "flat" to lay it on in this house!  It ends up on the floor.  I must remember to move it before the boys step on it and why did I buy a handwash only garment anyway?  Its as close as I've gotten to the sweaterdress I've wanted for about six years now.  Its becoming an obsession.  I've been either pregnant or nursing every winter.  Maybe next year.  If its machine washable.

I'm so tired.  Tomorrow is coming so quickly.  The boys wake up excited to start their day.  I woke up this morning excited for the moment it would be bedtime.  I should take lessons from the little whipper snappers.  Glad not everyday is a Monday.  Today sure was.  Mercifully, tomorrow is new.  I look forward to it.  I hope its not another Monday.      

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Because I love you...

1. ...I will finish your half-eaten soggy cereal.

2. ...I will take you back inside and change your stinky diaper even though it will make us late.

3. ...I will discipline you.

4. ...I will tell you "No."

5. ...I will be awake when you are.

6. ...I will brag about you to my friends and Grandma.

7. ...I will let you stomp in mud puddles.

8. ...I will cuddle you sometimes even when I am overwhelmed with housework that you created.

9. ...I will dress you, feed you, keep you warm and safe even though you pull off your clothes, spit out your food, leave the door open and try to play in the road.

10. ...I will tell you that Jesus loves you enough to live and die for you.  I will try to be a small example of Him to you every day so you can learn to love Him too, though it takes me to the end of myself... Because He first loved me.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Joy to the World

There is constant music in my house.  Well, OK, there is constant noise.  A hum of activity fills our background.    It is our normal.  In fact, the baby cries when it gets quiet around him; he finds the hubbub delightful and comforting.  Its not always happy noise.  But even when the bickering and fussing quiet, I often hear a child by himself singing (his version of) a familiar song.  They know choruses from Sunday school, melodies that accompany their Bible memory verses, and songs their Daddy wrote while perched on a stool in the laundry room with his guitar.  I can't imagine life without them singing through the day.  (Oh, I try to imagine it, sometimes.  Silence.  Golden silence.)  But their songs are so joyful, their singing so natural, the music is sweet.  If God is pleased by a joyful noise, (and He is) then He is honored by their songs.

In the 1600's, the only songs allowed to be sung were poetic versions of the Old Testament Psalms, rigid and unnatural.  Isaac Watts was born in 1675 to an English Dissenting father who had already endured hardship and jail for his differing views from the Church of England.  Isaac complained about the quality of their music one day after a church service, and a fellow member challenged the teenager to see if he could improve on it.  He could.  He wrote so prolifically that Watts is now known as the Father of English Hymnody.  Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, a collection of his songs putting New Testament fulfillment to the Psalms, was published in 1719.  It contained a song he based on Psalm 98 called  Joy to the World.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
   And wonders, wonders, of His love.      

It wasn't meant to be a Christmas song, simply a celebration of Christ's birth fulfilling verse that was written hundreds of years before Jesus came.  Watts wrote over 600 songs, many of which are sung today.  

I love hymn stories.  The words of these old songs are so rich and purposeful, they can stick in your head and be pondered.  Joy to the world - the Lord is come!  Let every heart prepare room for Him.  The wonders of His love!  What a great excuse modern Christmas tradition is that we can have meaty thoughts filling our ears throughout the day.  Not that I'm opposed to little ditties about Rudolf or partridges in pear trees, but I like a good steak meal more than a handful of candy.  Same with music.  How sweet to have it fill my house and mind.   Even off-key in high-pitched children's voices, God loves the noise of praise.  Most of the time, I do too.