Friday, August 3, 2007

Give me a Break!

Oh parenting. The joys and the trials. Sometimes I just need a break. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who understands this and thus I have taken up the hobby of scrapbooking and am also furthering my level of education. However, the much needed break from my family also many times brings with it a sense of guilt. Guilt that I'm not home. Guilt that I should not feel I need a break. Guilt that I should be doing more for my children and husband. Yikes! Is this guilt justified? I do love my family dearly. I do miss them and after only a few hours away I want to be with them again. But, why do I feel guilty about needing time for myself? I believe this sense of guilt has many working mothers overgiving "stuff" to their children. Because, we can't be with our children during the day, somehow if we buy our children "stuff" it will help appease the guilt and let our children know how much we love them.
"Stuff" just doesn't do it! The end result if this path is followed is over-indulged, spoiled children. I must say that maybe some of the guilt I feel is justified. However, I would also say that much of this guilt is not from God. As mothers, especially working mothers, we are pulled in a million different directions every day. We must be productive at work and once home each evening start our second position as wife and mother. It's exhausting. And no matter what the women's liberation movement might have accomplished, the equity of the work load in the home is not a 50/50 division. Thankfully I do have a husband that helps around the home. But, even with the most helpful of husbands, women still take on the majority of the household chores.
And thus, I need a break! Should I feel guilty? Maybe if I was out every night of the week and never spent any time with my husband and children. However, if the break is a once-in-a-while sanity break, then guilt needs to take a back seat!

Monday, July 30, 2007


Why does parenting have to be so hard? Sure, there are many moments of ease when your children are being model citizens and require little if any attention. But, many moments of parenting are very hard. Of course my children are still very young (five and seven), so I'm sure that there are many more difficult moments ahead. Tonight was no exception. My young daughter did not want to do what mom asked of her. After repeating myself many, many times, I was so angry inside I wanted to burst. However, I kept my cool and just calmly kept repeating myself until she did the required task at which point the punishment of instant bedtime was applied. This of course started a deluge of tears which even after being completely frustrated the moment before made me want to go back on my resolve. Not only were there tears but then there was "I'm sorry mommy" and a tiara was placed on my head. I calmly re-enforced the punishment although inside I wanted to give in immediately.
My thoughts go to my Heavenly Father. How hard being a parent to me must be! I have many times not done as He has asked repeatedly through His word and through the Holy Spirit speaking to me. Does He get angry with us? I believe so. But He calmly meads out the punishment with much love.
If we look to examples in the Bible, there are examples over and over of God's love for His children. Look at David! He wanted what he didn't have and murdered to get it. Yet God calls David "a man after mine own heart". Look at Paul! He murdered saints of God (ironically he is now called a saint by many). Yet God has used him mightily over thousands of years through his writings.
I know I am not the first parent to struggle with disobedient children. For thousands of years I would dare to say, parents have had the same struggle - across cultures and languages raising children is much the same because of our human nature.
How I wish to become more like my Heavenly Father- He is so patient. There is consequences for our actions (look further at the previous examples). However, our Heavenly Father loves us so much He sent His Son down from the heavenly realms of glory. How can my love for my children begin to mirror this great love? Paul tells us in 1 Timothy that he the worst of sinners was shown grace so that "Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life".
So this must be our goals as parents: try and imitate as well as we can in our weak human state God's unlimited patience so that our children and those around us would receive eternal life!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Pop Christianity

I'm not sure why I do this to myself...I started listening to a radio show of a well known Christian radio personality (whom I won't mention by name as not to offend others). What I'm finding is what I call "pop Christianity". Really, this is little sound bites of advice that are supposedly based on some theology. Supposedly, I say because consider this recent bit of advice. In speaking about prayer "if people really get active in prayer, pray about everything and anything "you have not because you ask not", then they will begin to see answers and their faith will increase to pray more and more. If you pray about everything you are bound to see answers sometimes for certain ones and every time you see an answer it will bolster your faith". What! Is this the lottery? Do we need to see prayer answered in order to have faith? We need to pray. And yes, we should be praying ourselves through the day as seen in Paul's letter to the Thessalonians. But what about our faith. It does not come from seeing prayers answered. It comes from hearing the message which comes through Christ.
It just scares me that well known radio/t.v. Christian personalities can take a little verse like James 4:2, and take it completely out of context and and then have Christians believing that the only reason they have not it because they did not ask for it. This is ultimate "pop Christianity".

Friday, April 20, 2007

Salvation for Children?

It has greatly saddened, worried, and frustrated me to find recently that several well known educators do not believe that children can be truly saved before the age of accountability. This implies that before the age of accountability, children can not be held accountable for their sins. This also implies that children can not enter into the blessings of God if they can not obtain salvation. By extension, because children can not obtain salvation, they can not have spiritual gifts.
First, what is the age of accountability? One professor believes that age is about thirty years of age. Are you kidding me? I have read others who believe it is the age of twenty based on Numbers 14. Still others feel the age of accountability is at conception based on Psalm 51:5. Psalm 58 and Romans 5: 12-14. There is such discrepancy among Christians over what the age of accountability is, how in the world can we hold to the belief that children can not have salvation?
Second, seeing how Jesus interacted with children, leads me to believe that children can enter into God's blessings through salvation. In Matthew, Jesus refers to faith of children several times (Mt. 18, Mt. 19, Mt. 21).
Third, anyone that has children of their own has witness to their unadulterated faith! My son, though only six years of age, states without any doubt that Jesus is in his heart. Not only is he sure of his salvation, he knows exactly when his moment of salvation took place. Who are we to judge this faith? Shame on us who would cause a child to stumble because of our own agenda's whatever they may be!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Too Much Knowledge?

How much do we really need to know in current events? As ministers for Christ, do we need to keep abreast of all the current tragedies as they unfold in our country and world? In light of the terrible events at Virginia Tech on April 16th, I am wondering how much is too much knowledge? I have had to take the news off my Google homepage because the travesties that occur to children give me sleepless nights. I start worrying incessantly about my own children and their safety and well being. So how much is too much?
In John 17 when Jesus prays for his disciples, he prays not they would be taken from the world but that they would be sanctified by the truth of God's word. To sanctify is to set apart. If we are set aside by the truth of God's word, why would we fill ourselves with news of destruction and despair?
In Philippians 4, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to think on those things which are true, honest, right, pure, lovely and admirable. If we think of these things, then the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. Does this mean that we should not watch the news then? Most news reports are not pure, lovely and admirable for sure. They may have truth and honesty. But do these reports of tragedy give us peace? I think not!
So then, I am caught in a quandary. Do I keep up on events so that I can be informed and thus help those I minster to try to understand tragic events? Or do I choose to think on only those things that are pure, lovely and admirable and shut out the news?
I would like to shut out the news. Much sadness, sleepless nights, and worry has been on my mind because of news reports. But if we are not up to date, how can we effectively minister?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Decision Making 2

No matter how much volition, affection or intellect we use, sometimes our decisions are made by others. Sometimes this is actually prayed for as we are unsure as to how our decision should go- a clear answer from God is always found with a closed door. That doesn't mean that it makes it any easier when the decision is made for us by others. It still can smart. It still can make us question God. Why God? Why this decision? I did pray for a clear answer but why this answer? I'm quite sure we will not understand God's answer to our prayers here on this side of eternity. I can only trust that our gracious and loving Father has our best interest at heart and knows when the decision we would make would be wrong and thus has someone else make the decision for us.

Decision Making

A good friend Laura has told me that three things are needed when making a good decision: volition, affection, and intellect. Funny, these are the recognized three primary human psychological faculties.
Volition is will, choice, decision. "Choice is the familiar, and volition the scientific, term for the same state of the will" according to Wikipedia. Volition has to do with our desires. Volition can be external or internal depending on whether the desired change is the surrounding world or inside ourselves.
Affection is feeling or emotion. However, in decision making affection really goes beyond emotions to values and propensity (natural inclination).
Intellect according to Merriam-Webster is:1 a : the power of knowing as distinguished from the power to feel and to will : the capacity for knowledge b : the capacity for rational or intelligent thought especially when highly developed. Intellect leaves out emotion (affection) and will (volition).
This is why in decision making it is important to use all three human faculties! Making a decision on desire alone could prove to be financially disastrous. Making a decision on affection alone could make one happy for the moment until the long term sets in. Making a decision on intellect alone could be financially great but emotionally miserable.
Making decisions in any area of our lives really should involve volition, affection and intellect! This is true even when pursuing a "calling" to ministry. Many I fear enter ministry "callings" using only the faculty of affection. As my good friend Laura commented on my previous posting "Called", one must use our intellect as well to ensure our skills and experience fit with the ministry. One can not rely only upon feelings! Volition is involved as well. The desire of our will must be to love the community in which we are being "called".
To make any decision without volition, affection, and intellect can only result in unhappy persons, in unhappy situations. God gave us a heart, soul, and mind to be used in conjunction with one another.


Awww Easter! Such a wonderful celebration! This year I decided to put some of my training from seminary into practice. Instead of the usual classrooms, I created a tomb, such as it was, as part of a large classroom. Lying in the tomb was a sheet to represent the linen cloth wrapped around Jesus. I used the resurrection eggs, but this time handed them out to the children to bring up at the appropriate time in the story. This, I felt, would keep the children actively involved in the "story". What was surprising to me about the morning was how little the children knew of the story of our Lord Jesus and His death and resurrection. True, some of these children have not heard the Easter story every year or maybe ever. However, some of the children have been raised in a church setting from birth. I passed around vinegar and asked the children what it was. Many guessed glue! Some even were brave and tasted the vinegar but were uncertain as to what it was. After opening the egg w/ the spear, I asked what flowed out of Jesus side. They guessed blood but couldn't get the water. I even gave them hints like "it's something you drink". Then I got blood and wine, as the response. It was eye opening to me to think that this most important foundation of Christian theology, it not known by our children! When I asked why Jesus had to die on the cross, it took several attempts to come up with sin. Wow, Jesus death and resurrection is the basis of our faith! This Sunday just served as a critical reminder to me that our children don't need to just learn stories! They need to be pointed to God through every lesson that is taught! It's great if they can recite the story of Noah and his ark. But if they do not understand how this story fits into the big picture of the redemption story, then as teachers, we have NOT done our job! Many curriculum's today do not have a bible story but instead contain a moral truth. Even there, we must be ever so careful. If our children understand that they must serve others but don't understand why, then they have no foundation to stand on! We certainly have our work cut out for us as ministers of Christ! We need to remember that we do not want children that can recite bible stories and moral characteristics without understanding the why behind them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Being Assertive

I recently attended a training seminar on assertive communication. I thought great, maybe I'll learn how to better stand up for myself or learn how to fight for my children when needed. The speaker did ask us what we thought being assertive meant. The replies varied from being strong, direct, having guts, character, compassionate, clear, bold, confident to being confrontational. How is being assertive played out in our lives? We must: identify the issues, confront the problem, speak the truth in love, be strong and courageous, focus on God's ways, have confidence, smile, take risks, realize that sometimes you may need to compromise. What is holding us back from how assertiveness can be played out in our lives? The speaker identified three things that hold us back: "if only...", "yes, but...", and "what if..."
Then she proposed a radical idea based on the scripture in John 6 where Jesus feeds 5000 men (and who knows how many women and children). What if the little boy looked at his lunch and looked at the 5000 men and said "if only...I had more". Or what if he said, "yes, but...this was my lunch, I don't want to share". Or he said, "what if...I give you only part of my lunch". Then the miracle Jesus performed would have been thwarted! Based on John 6 what will release us and stop holding us back?
1. what you have is enough...if you let it go. Who we are right now is exactly how assertive we need to be right now in our sphere.
2. What you have is ordained (appointed)...if you consecrate (set apart for a high purpose) it. Jesus already had in mind what he was going to do when he asked Philip where bread could be purchased (v. 5). My strengths and my weaknesses are exactly what God has ordained for me. God "already has in mind" what he is going to do with our strengths and weaknesses. We need to give thanks for it (thank you for making me) and then give ourselves to Jesus.
3. What you have is needed...if you share it. We must bring what we have to the table. We should not try and move ourselves out of who God has made us to be.

This seminar was a breath of fresh air. I always am feeling inadequate because I am not more assertive and stand up for my self more. This is not to say that we let people walk all over us or abuse us! The speaker just wanted to bring home the point that the three things that hold us back from being assertive in our lives "if only...", "yes, but...", and "what if..." no longer need to hold us back! We can be released to be exactly who God has made us to be! That means that it is o.k. for me not to be overly assertive. What I have at any given moment is enough if I am willing to let it go. If statements imply there is a movement on our part! If you let it go, if you consecrate it, if you share it... These statements all require something from us. However, these statements also release us and help me to no longer be held back.
Five loaves and two fishes. That is all Jesus needed to perform a miracle!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Gratitude by Henry Van Dyke

"Do you give thanks for this? -- or that?"

No, God be thanked

I am not grateful

In that cold, calculating way, with blessing ranked

As one, two, three, and four, -- that would be hateful.

I only know that every day brings good above

My poor deserving;

I only feel that, in the road of Life, true Love

Is leading me along and never swerving.

Whatever gifts and mercies in my lot may fall,

I would not measure

As worth a certain price in praise, or great or small;

But take and use them all with simple pleasure.

For when we gladly eat our daily bread, we bless

The Hand that feeds us;

And when we tread the road of Life in cheerfulness,

Our very heart-beats praise the Love that leads us.

Thank you Father for life! Thank you all the blessings you bestow on us everyday that we are not thankful for! May we live our life in cheerfulness as an example to show others how much we praise you!

Monday, March 26, 2007


1 a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b : a virtue coming from God c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace (Merriam-Webster)

Grace is unmerited favor from God. How far do we as ministers of God's plan for sanctification need to carry out grace? I have been ruminating on grace because recently the subject of sexual predators in the church came up in a seminary course. Many churches struggle with what to do with those that have been convicted and are registered sex offenders.

According to the California Megan's Law website:

"90% of child victims know their offender, with almost half of the offenders being a family member. Of sexual assaults against people age 12 and up, approximately 80% of the victims know the offender".

"Wanting to change is usually not enough to be able to change the patterns that lead to sexual offenses. To create the motivation to change, some offenders need a variety of treatment and corrective interventions, and for others learning how to make the change in their own behavioral cycle of abuse is more effective".

Both of these facts are especially appropriate as churches wrestle with how to deal with convicted sex offenders. As it has been said, you do not have an alcoholic tend bar, and thus by application, convicted sexual offenders should not be around children. What about small groups or home groups? Do all members of a small group need to be made aware that there is a convicted sex offender among them? What about if there are children in the home? What about missions trips? What about the bathrooms on church campuses? The questions go on and on. Many Christians when approached with these questions simply state that we must extend grace. I beg to differ! When does God shower us with unmerited favor? It is true that "there is no one righteous, not even one" and "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rm. 3: 10,23 NIV). In 1 John 1:9 (NIV) it states: "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness". And Paul writes: "this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe" (Rm. 2:22 NIV).

What does all of this have to do with convicted sex offenders? Is it not true that we must confess our sins to have God's unmerited favor showered upon us? Most sex offenders will never admit to doing the crime. In the vast majority of cases, they will give some excuse as to why they have been convicted (for more information read "Protecting your Church Against Sexual Predators" by Glover).

If this is the case and the sin is not confessed, it is actually denied, must we then shower them with unmerited favor as God's ministers? How far do we as ministers of God's plan for sanctification need to carry out grace? This is where I am struggling.

Friday, March 23, 2007


I have been thinking about life a lot. Why is it that we don't really appreciate it until a crisis hits us? In the book entitled Tuesdays w/ Morrie, Mitch Albom has the opportunity to visit w/ Morrie for a period of time after Morrie has been diagnosed w/ ALS. It is a sad book because you already know the ending before even beginning the book. However, Mitch and Morrie spend that last part of Morrie's life speaking on important topics like: regrets, death, fear of aging, culture, how love goes on, marriage, feeling sorry for yourself and the world. Some of these topics are ones that we really don't like to address and thus never speak of them! However, some of these topics are important. We are all going to die, someday, maybe some day soon. We don't know. Shouldn't we be celebrating the life that we have been blessed with every minute of every day? We generally speak of death, when evangelizing, or speaking of eternal life. And this we must do as we are all called to be evangelists (see 1 Tim. 2: 3-5). But don't we owe it to God, our marvelous creator, to celebrate our life here on this earth that he created for us (see Psalm 104 and Psalm 139)?

Why do we get to the end of life and have regrets? That is a very sad thing indeed. "You don't want to squander your wonderful life, to waste your precious life among the hardhearted. Why should you allow strangers to take advantage of you? Why be exploited by those who care nothing for you?You don't want to end your life full of regrets, nothing but sin and bones,Saying, "Oh, why didn't I do what they told me? Why did I reject a disciplined life? Why didn't I listen to my mentors, or take my teachers seriously? My life is ruined! I haven't one blessed thing to show for my life!"" (Prov. 5: 7-14 The Message). But if we spend our days celebrating our life and what God has given us here on earth, we should not have any regrets at the end of life! We can't be caught up with past sins. God isn't! If we have confessed our sins, they are gone- "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. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered" (Psalm 32: 5,1 NIV). If we get stuck on old sins and thus have regrets, we are mocking our Saviour- the One who is an atonement, a reconciliation between God and man, for our sins (See Rom. 3:21-26).

Mitch and Morrie also talk about "the perfect day"- if you had only one day left to spend however you wanted, what would it be like? For me, a vast Thanksgiving dinner with my husband, children, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews present would constitute a perfect day. There would be a bounty of food, laughter, talk, games, and singing. That would be a perfect day! I'm thankful that I have experienced several almost perfect days- not quite perfect because everyone has not been present together because of the pride of believing they are better than another. Ah pride...that is quite another subject. Pride does us no good. It hampers us from celebrating our life here on earth. So, in a perfect day, there would be no pride- just fellowship one with another. I'm not sure if I will experience this "perfect day" here on earth. But one can certainly hope!

So, let us celebrate life! Let us have no regrets! Let us speak of those uncomfortable subjects- for we never know when we may be gone- and our loved ones will be left w/ the sadness of no longer being able to converse on life, culture, death, aging, marriage, ...

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Perfection: the quality or state of being perfect : as a : freedom from fault or defect : FLAWLESSNESS b : MATURITY c : the quality or state of being saintly (Merriam-Webster)

Why is there such a need for perfection? Perfection in my home. Perfection in my finances. Perfection in my weight. Perfection in my relationships. Perfection as a mother. Perfection in my dress. Perfection, perfection, in all aspects of my life.

According to Healthline, "perfectionism is socially encouraged by the modern emphasis on accuracy of information and evidence of success in life". How true this is! We judge others on the basis of how good they look, how neat their home is, how their children act, etc. Therefore, why shouldn't we judge ourselves the same way?

So, perfectionism is encouraged by society. That is evident. But could it be that even though encouraged by society, the pressure for perfectionism in mostly internal? Why can we not believe what Charlotte Elliott writes so eloquently:

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Doesn't perfectionism fly in the face of God and say "I don't need your grace, I can look good and do good myself"? Aren't we pursuing righteousness by works just as Israel did?
The Apostle Paul write in Romans: "What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone"" (Rms. 9:31-32).

So, if our head knowledge knows perfectionism is encouraged by society, internally pressured, not coming to Christ 'just as I am' and righteousness by works, how can we get our heart to believe it? That is something I am still wrestling with.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


How do you know that you are being "called" into ministry? After going through several interviews for a ministry position, I've been told by several caring friends that I need to be sure I have been "called" into the position. But when I press further, most I ask can not give me a solid answer as to what a "calling" looks like.
According to Michael Anthony in Management Essentials for Christian Ministries, being called in God's service can include miraculous calls such as Abraham, Moses, and Gideon in the Old Testament. However, this is unusual. In the New Testament, when Jesus began selecting his disciples, he simply told Simon Peter and Andrew to "follow me" (Mt. 4). Some people experience a deep assurance, a firm inner conviction that God has spoken to them, calling them to the work of ministry. For most ministers, however, the sense of call is more ambiguous, more tentative (
It seems God most often chooses ministry leaders based on their inner heart condition. "Patriarchs such as Abraham Isaac, and Jacob were certainly called into a special relationship with God based on little more than the condition of their hearts and the sovereignty of God" (Anthony, p. 22). Look at King David. When God spoke to Samuel he was very clear that although men look at the "outward appearance" God is interested only at what is in the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).
So what does this mean for me? Do I only need to be sure that my inner heart is right w/ God? What about skills? David certainly did not become a King over night. The twelve disciples went through three years of mentoring side by side with Jesus before becoming a "formidable ministry team" (Anthony, p. 23) . Look at the apostle Paul. He also went through three years of "orientation" before "his engagement in the gospel ministry" (Anthony, p. 23). Although Paul was a learned scholar of Judaism, "his Arabian sabbatical was designed to train him in the true meaning behind the prophecies" (Anthony, p. 23). See Galatians 1:17 and Acts 11:19-26.
So I need my inner heart to be right with God but I also need skills and training. That is why I am at Talbot, to learn the skills I need to minister more effectively to children. That takes care of the skills and training bit. But, what about my inner heart? I can only cry as the psalmist David did in Psalm 139-"O LORD, you have searched me and you know me...Search me, O God, and know my heart".

Reference notations:
Management Essentials for Christian Ministry Edited by Michael Anthony and James Estep
Biblical References from New International Version copyright by International Bible Society
The Fund for Theological Education website

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Rumination:1 : to chew again what has been chewed slightly and swallowed : chew the cud 2 : to engage in contemplation (Merriam-Webster).

Why choose rumination as the title of my blog? Because someone else stole my first choice of musings! The idea of my blog is to engage in musing or contemplation of my everyday experiences especially as I engage my mind at seminary.

Seminary has certainly opened my mind to engage in deeper thinking than I would normally do on an everyday basis. I love it! I'm definitely my father's daughter. I love to learn . Keep it coming! I only wish that I could spend more time digesting all that I'm learning. It comes at me so fast that I can't hardly digest most of it.