Psalm 121

“I lift my eyes to the hills —

    where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,

    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip —

    he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you —

    the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,

    nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm —

    he will watch over your life;

the LORD will watch over your coming and going

    both now and forevermore.”

I’m using a new (to me) devotional this year — The Heart of the Matter. The short entries are written by various CCEF writers. I really appreciated today’s entry written by David Powlison. Here is what he wrote concerning Psalm 121:

The peace of God guarding and watching over us is a theme that runs through the entire Bible. In Psalm 121, for example, David says seven different times that God is watching over you. Who is watching you? The Lord, the Creator of the whole universe, and the one who has ultimate power over every circumstance. And when is he watching? By day and by night. Nothing that happens during the day or the night can harm you, because the Lord, your Good Shepherd, is on guard. When the Good Shepherd is present, his peace is present. Paul says, “The God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9) When you read about David in the Bible, the constant refrain is that the Lord was with him. His life was blessed because the Lord was with him. He failed, he sinned big, he often blew it, and yet the Lord was with him. He grew very frail, and yet the Lord was with him. His life was a picture of living faith — a faith that faced trouble squarely and still knew the peace of God because he knew that God was with him.

I am so thankful that God is not only not surprised by all the twists and turns in our lives, but He also has control over every circumstance. And not only does he have control over every circumstance, He also will always be with us. Not going it alone. ALWAYS with us. Thankful.

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Let’s change the statistics

I have been noticing quite a few articles and news reports about children in the States. And adults as well.

It seems that the reports show that a high percentage of American children do not even engage in moderate exercise for an hour a day. Really? Oh my goodness. I’m living with two children who NEVER STOP moving. Running. Dancing. Climbing. Jumping.

Other articles are pointing out that many people stop reading books of any sort once they are out of school, whether that be at completion of high school, college, or grad school. So very sad. I’m thankful to be living in a home with FULL bookshelves and adults who regularly read these books. No wonder the little ones here love books so much — such great ones to choose from.

Aunt Anna reads to Milan and Alek

I’m not reading as much as I’d like to be — that is of the books that I purposefully ordered to be here when I arrived — but I am definitely reading many books over and over and over again. The boys’ books. And how sweet to have a 3-year-old ‘read’ them to his little brother, his grammy, and his parents.

Parents and grandparents, read to your children. Read for yourself. Talk about the books you’re reading.

And get out there and MOVE.

If we want the trends to change, we all need to be about changing them.

Put down the remote.

Close your laptop.

Ignore your phone.

And engage your families!!

Morning routines

Give thanksThankful for morning routines. I truly love that Jim and I have for years now met together each morning for 90 minutes or so before the workday begins at 9:00. We spend about 30 minutes simply comparing our calendars and discussing whatever comes to mind.

At 8:00 we read together. Typically I am the one reading out loud, but that has been known to change…rarely. First we usually read an agreed-upon devotional of some sort — this calendar year we opted to go through Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, spurred on by a facebook group that provided a reading schedule and also some discussion. Jim and I feel free to stop our reading at any point to ask each other questions or to simply agree or disagree with what we’re reading.

Following our devotional time we read another book…whatever we’d like to read together. Currently we’re reading once again Michael Horton’s book entitled Putting Amazing Back into Grace. We have read soooo many books together over the years. This plan keeps us literally on the same page.

Then we take some time to pray together. For our day. For our family. For our ministry. For the church. For our friends. For whatever comes to mind.

By 9:00 when Jim’s assistant rings the doorbell, we’re ready for the rest of the day.

Love mornings. And love our routine.

The incarnation

“The incarnation is the entrance of God into human life at eye level. Because of his own humiliation, the Son can plead our case with compassion and understanding. He has been where we are, yet without sin. He has earned his right to represent his brethren in heaven, just as he represented his Father on earth.”

From Putting Amazing Back into Grace by Michael Horton

Amazing grace

Jim and I are once again reading Michael Horton’s book entitled Putting Amazing Back into Grace. I love this book. I love its richness. I love its simplicity. I love its message. And I love to read it together with Jim…out loud each morning. What a wonderful way to start our days!!

I could write an excerpt on this blog every day, but I’ll spare you that. Although I WILL be quoting from it from time to time.

Like today. Heh.

It’s on a section about election and predestination. And I appreciate his warning to some of us Reformed folks:

“Sometimes, when one learns about election for the first time, the new discovery swallows everything in sight. The sovereignty of God is sometimes so emphasized that other attributes responsible for our election — God’s mercy, his love, his kindness — are neglected. This creates a doctrine that is less tender, less compassionate, and less biblical. Furthermore, because our knowledge of God the Father is so scant these days, having our eyes opened to his majesty in election is almost overwhelming. And yet, election is Christ-centered, and we must never use such a magnificent doctrine as a vehicle for understanding God the Father without locating its reference point in God the Son. Apart from Christ, any concept of election or predestination is bound to lead to despair rather than joy.”

Thankful that it’s not about me and what I’ve done, but about Him and what He’s done!

How amazing is that??!!

Books, books, books

Books make great giftsI have a love for books. Actually it’s a bit of an addiction…take one look at our stacks of books leaned up against overstuffed bookcases and you’ll see what I mean. Thrilled to have passed this addiction on to our children…and they are passing it on to their children. So it seemed like a no-brainer to jump at the chance to help a friend begin her Usborne book consultation business, especially when our ministry is the recipient of a portion of the sales! Win-win. Our daughter Jeanne is listed as the hostess because she is located in the states, is the administrator for Ukraine Medical Outreach, Inc., and is the mother of two of our grandchildren!

Here’s the deal: We’re hosting an online book CELEBRATION! From now until October 5 all books purchased through this link will benefit UMO. Why October 5? Well, that’s my birthday…and I’d love nothing more for my birthday than for OTHERS to join my book addiction and also help our ministry.

If you have ANY questions, please feel free to contact our friend and awesome consultant Lisa Tucker…her contact info is listed at the CELEBRATION site.

Orthodoxy

OrthodoxyJim and I have joined with an online group to read through Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. (The book is currently free for the kindle edition, if you’re interested to read along.)

We owned it, but had not read it yet. This was the perfect kick that we needed to get started. The online discussion takes place on Wednesdays, and yesterday we completed the introduction…which is actually Chapter 1. The discussion and comments give us much to ponder…

I encourage you to join us! Click through to the site to learn the schedule (read chapters 2 and 3 for next week) and enter in to the discussion. It’s good for the soul.

Anything!

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I am once again facilitating a “Good Morning Girls” online Bible study this summer. We will be engaged in a book study — “Anything” by Jennie Allen — as well as digging into the Word each day. My group meets via facebook using a specific reading plan, and we are scheduled to begin again on June 3 for eight weeks. (For those of us not near English language bookstores, the book is available for your e-readers!)

If you are interested in joining a diverse group of women who get excited about God’s Word — and how He speaks to our hearts — let me know and I will add you to our group!

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

14741290The book came highly recommended. And then it showed up in my kindle…shared for a short time. I had a limited window to complete reading it and I was up for the challenge.

I started to read the book on Friday night and finished it today — with many full days in between. So, what did I think of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield.

I really didn’t know what to expect…I knew the author was a leftist lesbian professor who despised Christians. And then she became one. So how did that happen?

It didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen without counting the immense cost…or what seemed immense. The power of the Scripture got inside her as she read the Bible several times quickly to be able to better attack the righteous right.

Thankful for a local church who acted like a church should. And a pastor who didn’t attack her, but created a safe environment for discussion. And who invested quality time to meet with her and her friends.

Following her conversion she eventually married a pastor. They adopted children and provided foster care. Loved her chapter about adoption, both spiritual and physical.

And then she home-schooled her children. Again, her perspective on home-schooling … why one should or why one shouldn’t choose the option of home-schooling.

All in all, a good read. With lots to ponder.

Shutterfly

Okay. This post will ruin a surprise, but I need to post this while it’s on my mind.

We have seen numerous shutterfly.com photo books put together by adopting parents to show their new children all about their home, siblings, pets, extended family and whatever. Sturdy and creative. Something the waiting orphan can hold onto until the day of rescue from the orphanage.

This Christmas our daughter-in-law put a book together featuring our three grandsons — one belonging to her and two belonging to one of our daughters. What a joy to pull out that book and smile. And smile again. Those little faces are just priceless.

Well, I officially caught the ‘make-a-book’ bug and just ordered my first one…to be sent to the grandsons. I can’t wait to hear how they like them. The theme is the alphabet and each picture features SOMETHING beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Pretty easy when shutterfly provides templates!

I encourage others to consider permanent books to be homes for your precious pictures.

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Click here to view this photo book larger

Photo Book Tip: Create an adventurous travel photo album at Shutterfly.com.

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(The first link takes you to my actual book — please dont’ let Alek, Lydian or Milan see it ahead of time. Thanks.)