Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Ripple Effects of Sin

This week, there have been lots of major news headlines: deaths of celebrities, sentencing of a thief, and indiscretions of a governor. The one that has stuck with me the most was South Carolina's Governor, Mark Sanford admitting his unfaithfulness to the world.

Every time I hear of adultery, it breaks my heart. At one point, both the husband and wife were madly in love with each other, took vows and pledged their lives to one another. And somewhere between "I do" and "I don't" another lover has taken a spouse's rightful place. How can someone carelessly toss away everything so dear to them, and not count the cost of doing so?

As my mom and I watched the press conference (boy am I glad I've never had to do a public confession before!), we were at times ensconced in disbelief, anger, and sadness. Mark Sanford is not the first person to have ever committed adultery, especially not in political office, but for some reason, this particular incident has left me appalled more than usual.

A self-professed Christian leaving his wife and four young sons drowning in the wake of his transgressions...over Father's Day weekend of all times. Lying to his own staff of his whereabouts...from the Appalachian Trail to Argentina. And from an "innocent" friendship of eight years with a woman to a national press conference admitting secret rendezvous with a now lover.

One of Satan's greatest lies to us is that our sin is just that, ours. False! Sin always has far greater reaching ramifications than we can ever know. On this side of Heaven and the other side too. And even if your sin goes with you to the grave in secret, God still knows...and grieves. Randy Alcorn has written a post that covers Sanford's affair, but more importantly he shares a list of "Anticipated Consequences of Immorality." I highly encourage you to read it. It is sobering and demands I cling with all that I have to my wedding vows.

I will say that during the press conference, he truly seemed sincere and contrite. He even mentioned that he "had violated God's Law" and this public confession was "a consequence of my sin." He also recalled several spiritual mentors by name and asked for their forgiveness. What I saw in this man, was someone who had been highly regarded and esteemed become reduced to a weak, humbled lump of clay. Time will tell how all of this plays out, but I truly hope he and his wife will be able to reconcile and move beyond his affair.

Psalm 32:1-5

"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD "— and you forgave the guilt of my sin."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What the heck is a "mezuzah?"

Pop Quiz!

A mezuzah is....

A) an Italian sportscar made in the 80's

B) a Jewish doorpost box holding Scripture

C) a silly instrument made famous in Dr. Seuss books

D) an African headpiece worn in tribal rituals

The correct answer would be....

B! A Jewish doorpost box holding Scripture

Now why exactly am I writing about a mezuzah of all things? Well partly because it all started out with a favorite passage of Scripture, and also because I gave one to Brent as his first Father's Day gift.

Starting with the aforementioned Scripture passage, taken from Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

Not only does it remind us of the First Commandment, but this passage also reveals God's daily design for passing down our faith through generations. Learning about God is not something that only happens on Sundays or in a church building. It is to be a daily occurence that pervades everything we do and say while at home or away. If we are leaving the responsibility of teaching children about God up to the church alone, we are failing as godly parents.

And here is where the mezuzah begins to come into play... the word mezuzah in Hebrew translates to "doorposts." The latter part of the passage mentions "binding them on your hands...writing them on the doorposts and gates of your home." While some may read that symbolically, others have interpreted it literally; hence the physical mezuzah was born.

Mezuzahs come in all colors and all materials. The above picture looks the closest to the one I bought. It's around four inches tall and about an inch across. Often times the Hebrew letter shin (sheen) will be inscribed on the outside. From what I've read, that may be interpreted as Shaddai, meaning "God Almighty." But here's the cool part about's not the box itself that is ultimately special, but what hides on the inside!

On the inside of every mezuzah is a mini scroll with Scripture written in Hebrew aptly named the Shema (shih-mah'). Shema in Hebrew means "hear." If you look back at the Scripture above, it begins with "Hear, O Israel..." The Shema contains the same Deuteronomy passage from above (6:4-9), along with Deuteronomy 11:13-21. Later versions have added Numbers 15:37-41 as well. Mezuzahs are affixed to the doorposts of homes; depending on your practices, they may be placed on one doorpost or every doorpost in your home.

It was interesting to google mezuzah and read lots of requirements that have been established by rabbis. This includes the placement and angle of the mezuzah, along with having it inspected by a rabbi twice within seven years for any damage, to even kissing it as you walk past. Being that my husband and I are not Jewish, the mezuzah to us is a tangible and symbolic way of gently reminding us to keep God first in our lives and to pass our faith down to our children intentionally. We are thankful that we are no longer bound to the law, since Christ has fulfilled it and is our salvation! (Please read Galatians 3:10-29 for a clear explanation of this).

When I presented the small gift-wrapped box to Brent for Father's Day, I had already warned him, "I don't think you'll know what it is when you see it." Talk about curiosity! It's not every day you could say something to that effect. He said upon first seeing it, he thought it was a whistle :) Good guess, but notsomuch. He truly enjoyed hearing all about the meaning and significance behind it. It was definitely a special and timeless Father's Day gift, and we look forward to teaching little Caleb about it in the future. More importantly, we desire for Caleb to learn about a wonderful Heavenly Father who loves him infinitely more than we ever could.

Friday, June 19, 2009

33 weeks and counting

It seems like I feel bigger and bigger than the week before, which I'm sure is truly the case. It is hard to believe that we only have 7ish weeks until Caleb arrives. Some friends have said, "You've been pregnant forever!" while others have said, "Wow, only 7 more weeks?!" I feel the same way, my mind agreeing with both ends of the spectrum. More and more I just look forward to meeting him and seeing his little face.

This past weekend my Bible Fellowship class threw me a baby shower along with another pregnant gal, Kristie. We are due about a week and a half apart. I am in awe of everyone's generosity when it comes to welcoming babies with gifts! Truly, every bit helps a mom-to-be and her baby.

Holding the "Wee Block" which was made precisely for little boys during changing. It says "Lil Squirt" on it :)

Evidence of my very practical nature: a Space-Saver high chair

A group shot of all currently pregnant mommas

I have been super busy this week, baking, cooking, and errand running. Wears a girl out, especially now that my feet are becoming easily swollen if I'm not careful or paying attention. It's been dreadfully hot here, today the high is 97. Thank you Lord for air conditioning!

On a serious note, as much as a mom-to-be daydreams and tries to prepare for this momentous life-changing event, one never truly can. Last night I experienced my first panic attack, and my poor husband was witness to it all. I'm not sure who it freaked out more. It was a culmination of thoughts about being a good mother, a good wife, and a good Christian. Combine that with the realization that our lives will never be the same again, and it became a nicely wrapped up package of anxiety. It was surreal, feeling myself get to a breaking point. There I was, feeling extremely overwhelmed before our little boy has even arrived. Poor Brent thought I might start going into labor at any second. I can only imagine how Caleb was feeling at the time! I calmed down after about fifteen minutes and tried to compose myself. I know that God's Word tells us to be anxious for nothing, but through prayer and petition and with thankful hearts, to let our requests be known to God (Philippians 4:6).

It is moments like those that force me to realize how small, weak, and fragile that I truly am. More importantly, I see God more clearly for who He is: immense, mighty, unbreakable.

I am beyond grateful that the God I serve has conquered all, and can never be conquered by anything or anyone. He is. And when I am weak, He is strong.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Make your own Freezer Jam

It's really actually quite simple. Don't be intimidated, it only took about 30 minutes to go from fresh strawberries to strawberry jam ready to be frozen (no canning required). This jam is best kept refrigerated and used within 30 days or frozen for up to 1 year. I chose smaller jars to accommodate the 30 day usage.

All you need:

  • 4 lbs. of fresh strawberries
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar or Splenda
  • a packet of no-cook fruit pectin
  • plastic or glass jars
Jars, tons of strawberries, and the pectin packet

I used the Ball-brand No Cook Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin (purchased at KMart). Easy instructions on the back for making your jam.

Mixing the sugar and pectin

Hulling all those sweet-smelling strawberries

Pureeing them just until crushed

Mixing the strawberries, sugar, and pectin together for 3 minutes

The fruit of my labor: 64 oz. worth of fresh strawberry freezer jam!

Friday, June 5, 2009

My middle name could very well be Helga

Okay, so the most random thing happened mere minutes ago. While I was sitting in this very spot, perusing blogs and such, I heard a loud Craaackk followed by crashing. WHAT THA?!

Strangely enough, it happened right near my head...and no, my brain did not fall out and break.

Instead, one of my beautiful china plates just up and decided, "Today is the day I want to break in two." The poor plate is now lying pitifully in two very large pieces. Thank goodness in its failed attempt to run away with the spoon that it didn't take a precious teacup and saucer down with it too. I am glad my china sits on shelves behind closed glass doors, else that thing could've pushed several pieces on top of me!

Okay, so here's where the story really gets interesting. The Sherlock Holmes in me begins to use inductive, or is it deductive reasoning, to try and figure out why this happened:

  • So, we've had lots of rain, could the china somehow become affected by high humidity?? But we blast our frigid A/C nonstop, so I'm not sure that's it. Plus, this Waterford china is allegedly dishwasher safe. Temperature variances should not have broken this plate.
  • Perhaps a manufacturing flaw...a hairline fracture of sorts that finally gave way? It is bone china after all, maybe it had osteoporosis?...tee hee hee

And then I remembered something highly, and I do mean highly ironic that took place a few hours prior.

You see...I sing. I loooove to sing. Especially when no one is around, which is perfect for this now SAHW.

I was singing "How Great Thou Art" and got to the part at the end of the chorus where the pitch gets a bit high...."How great thou art, how great thou art!" As I hit that particular note, I heard something that could best be described as being startled. I jumped up thinking Cubbie had knocked something over or had gotten surprised by her own gas (which happens quite frequently!). When I found her, she looked comatose as usual, napping in our bedroom.

What I am now pondering is, is that when my precious china plate began to involuntarily crack?! Perhaps that was the surprising sound I heard. Am I somehow responsible for this?!

And then it dawned on me...that familiar quote that conjures up the image of a woman with a viking hat on...

"It ain't over 'til the fat (pregnant) lady sings."

Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case!

Week One of Being a SAHW

It has been a whirlwind of a week around here. It's been raining cats and dogs in our region (don't step in a poodle!) and my husband has been away on business all week. Needless to say, Cubbie and I are becoming quite close. My fears of becoming bored have been unfounded. I am learning to love my little world within the bigger world. These four walls have not felt like a prison cell by any means, but instead, freedom to do whatever I'd like to do.

I have noticed that certain mental habits have shown themselves this week, and primarily they are habits of 9-5 working girl. For instance, I've always meal planned, but as I was doing it this week, I began to plan "quick meals" for those nights when we have routine events. About thirty seconds later, I laughed at myself and realized, "Wait a minute, I'll be home so I can have the meal prepared before 5:30."

Another lesson this self-titled efficiency expert has been learning is that because of no real time schedule, I have the freedom to pace myself and if something doesn't get done completely, I'll always have time the next day to complete it. I really don't know how I was doing it all before, mainly on Saturdays in one fell swoop. Frankly, what I've also come to realize is that I wasn't doing it all before. Sure, I was able to keep a decently clean house and prepare meals and such, but I wasn't able to enjoy or spend ample time on anything. Everything seemed like just another task, and I was working through my to-do list as quickly as possible to simply sit down and exhale. Anyone else ever feel like that?

I still have a to-do list, in fact I have three now (Master, Weekly, and Daily), but the difference is that I'm enjoying them and there's no pressure to complete them immediately. It's interesting to see that this time at home now is training me in flexibility. It is also training me to listen to my 31-week pregnant body. I'm not able to do everything at one time like I used to before, and that's okay, because I have time to do it later in the afternoon or even the next day.

So what exactly has been filling up my time? Aside from the usual things like laundry, dishes, cleaning, and cooking, I've been able to do some things that I hadn't before. So far, I've tried my hand at baking some Honey-Wheat yeast bread (all by myself!), organized all of the generous baby gifts I received from coworkers, made Banana bread, reorganized the linen closet to suit my shorty self, and tried some new recipes from Deceptively Delicious (Jessica Seinfeld), and enjoyed lunch poolside with my sister and her children.

Can I just tell you how utterly cool it was to eat a lunch yesterday that was entirely made from scratch? Chicken Salad on warm from the oven Honey-Wheat bread. It was the best I'd ever eaten. Although making bread is a relatively long process, especially by today's standards, the flavor is unbelievable, and worth every knead.

Speaking of bread, I have finally become disciplined in reading my Bible every day as well as spending time in prayer. I find it easiest to do it after I've had breakfast and before the day truly gets started. One of my problems in the past was that I never had any real direction, I was simply choosing a passage at random (via Holy Spirit, perhaps?) and that was that. But now I am going through the Book of Acts a chapter a day. I've never read it straight through before, so it's nice to have a continuing storyline for a change.

Some of the verses I've underlined this week:

"Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins. Then wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will send Jesus your Messiah to you again." Acts 3:19-20

"The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men who had had no special training." Acts 4:13

"But Peter and John replied, 'Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard.'" Acts 4:19-20

And due to a cross-reference, I read the short (three chapters in all) book of Joel and found this jewel:

"That is why the Lord says, 'Turn to me now, while there is time! Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don't tear your clothing in your grief; instead, tear your hearts.'" Joel 2:12-13a

Okay, so this post has become monstrous! Sorry for that! I'll leave you with a photo of my gorgeous Honey-Wheat bread :) Strangely enough, one of the two loaves came out to roughly the size of an NFL-regulation football. I have no idea how I'll be slicing that beast.