Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The first thing that pops into my mind... you really want to know this stuff?

Apparently, Jenn does, because she tagged me with her Four Word Meme. I have to tell you what comes to my mind with these four words she's given me: encumbered, lofty, exaggerate, and bowel. Yep, bowel.

Encumbered: Is it just me, or when you hear or read certain words, do little pictures come into your mind that kind of illustrate that word? When I think of "encumbered," I think of a wizened man lugging a large, heavy sack up a hill, struggling under his load. I think of something attached to you that makes it hard to get around.

I think of this scripture:

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Doesn't that sound easy? "Lay aside." I think we make it harder than God says it is...and He's always right. If he says I can lay down this sack of sin I'm lugging up the hill with me, then I can.

Lofty: again, a word picture in my mind. "Lofty" makes me think of high clouds--cirrus clouds. My goals are loftier than my execution or results, more often than not. I was talking to a good friend on the phone yesterday about her homeschooling. She was lamenting her tendency to "always want to finish what she starts" with her three boys! I laughed at her, because to me that seems like an admirable trait; I can't seem to finish anything I start. I should get some kind of award for how many things I've started and not finished. Yeah. Do I get a pass because I am almost in my third trimester and am working two jobs?

Exaggerate: I tend to be one of those people who speak very hyperbolically. To me, something was either "just the other day" or "a long time ago." Something that happened two months ago could be one or the other depending on my mood or intent.

This drives Ryan crazy, especially when I say, "I don't know; it was just the other day." That's what happens when a dreamy bookworm marries a software engineer, who must be precise and, well, the opposite of hyperbolic in order to survive in his work. He inevitably says, "Kristen, that was five months ago!" The truth is that he's lucky if I remember any details of anything at all, whether it occurred months or weeks ago. Pregnancy has only made this worse.

And now, the one you've been waiting for:

Bowel: This is actually a great word, and I could talk a good deal about my (or your) bowels. Hope you're not eating right now. I will endeavor to be as delicate as possible when I ruminate, how's that?

I have learned many things about bowels lately. May I share?

1. If Bowel ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
2. Your sweet Bowel is far less likely to be his usual chipper self when you're pregnant. You have to entertain your moody Bowel with lots of Kashi Autumn Wheat, double fiber bread, water, and orange juice. If that doesn't work, the naughty Bowel may be spa nk ed (sorry, don't want weirdos finding this site) with prunes. So far mine has been behaving itself. (Aren't you happy we're having this discussion?)
3. Bowels and probiotics get along FAMOUSLY. You will be amazed at their instant and loving rapport. I highly recommend getting some probiotics to teach your Bowel how to play nice.

I suppose that's enough Bowel rumination for today.

Any questions? What--you never want me to post again?? What did I say?

I don't usually tag people, but if you think this meme is fun, try your hand at knickers, salivate, weep, and aspire.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Breaking News from BHC!

Our church has podcast sermons you can subscribe to!

If there were a way to transmit a joyful shriek across this medium, that's what you'd be hearing from me right now. (Okay, so there's probably a way to do that, but I'll spare you my joyful shriek. THIS time.)

Blessed Hope Chapel Podcasts

Joe Schimmel's sermons were used by the Lord to change our lives in so many ways. I am really excited for others to hear the great preaching that comes out of that little church in Simi Valley.

The Opposite of Proverbs 31?

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about this a few days ago, and in my sleepy state I thought about delving more deeply into it later. Like, not at 4 AM. (Hope you didn't want me to do it right then, Lord!)

We all are familiar with the Proverbs 31 Woman. She's an ideal in some ways--we could discuss whether ALL of her attributes are attainable for one woman with some difference of opinion, I am sure--but she represents, at least in my mind, a beautiful goal for a woman who follows the Lord. I quote the whole passage here, and have highlighted some parts I particularly love or aspire to, and that will apply to the point I'm making in this post:

Proverbs 31:10-31

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.

She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
'Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.'
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

I believe there is a woman in the Bible whom we could examine as the Proverbs Wife's opposite. Sure, there are other examples, and it'd be interesting to look at Jezebel or Michal and contrast them, too.

But I woke up thinking about Job's wife.

Quick refresher on Job's situation: Job is wealthy, prosperous, and righteous, with a large family. Satan gets permission from God to attack Job's circumstances (and eventually, his body), with the caveat that Satan cannot kill Job. Job loses house, herds/livestock, children, and health, and is left with nothing but the boils on his body...and his wife. All this has happened to test Job; he's done nothing against the Lord that has caused his pain.

So what does his sweet, loving wife have to say to him? What words of comfort does she bring at his worst hour?

Job 2:8-10
And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.

Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die." But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Job wonders at the distance that's suddenly between them:

Job 19:17
My breath is strange to my wife,
and I am a stench to the children of my own mother.

Every wife--every woman--will be remembered somehow. What memories of you will your closest relatives keep or your children inherit? A legacy is crafted not just by what I do in the good times, when everything is going well for me, but in the worst of times, when what I truly hold to, be it selfish pride, anger, or the Word of the Lord, will be tested.

The Proverbs Wife's husband could count on her; his heart "safely trusts in her" through the experience that comes with time and, inevitably, hardship as well as ease. That's how (mature) trust is developed. Job's wife demolished any trust he may have had in her with her bitter speech and her angry abandonment.

"She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life."

I woke up struck by the contrast between these two women, and the consciousness that in my reactions to and attitude toward my husband every day, I resemble one or the other. I've seen my negative or scornful attitude crush him, and I've seen my gentleness soften him. Women in any household, married or unmarried, mother or daughter, hold so much responsibility for the household's ethos. Of course, we don't hold that responsibility alone (!), but we can't make others' decisions for them: we must say to ourselves daily, "As for me, I will serve the Lord."

I pray with all my heart that the Lord will help His daughters, who love His name, to be like the gentle and industrious woman whom King Lemuel's mother extolled, and not like Job's angry, frustrated harpy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Major Baby Update!

On Friday, Ryan, both sets of grandparents (yep, you read that right) and I went to the local high-risk OB for my 20 week appointment. It's my OB/GYN's standard practice to send all patients there for a mid-pregnancy 3D ultrasound.

My reaction to this was, of course, sophisticated and nonplussed. Let's see if I can remember what I said:


Or something like that. Cool as a cucumber, that's me.

Anyway, we trooped into the doctor's office with our horde. We truly sounded like a herd of elephants thundering across the plains, I think. I felt sorry for any poor soul who might walk in the door to, you know, go to the doctor. They might have expected a normal, quiet, peaceful doctor's waiting room, and what they would have gotten instead was a carnival. But--and I was thankful--no one but us darkened the door.

In truth, the techs and nurses were extremely kind and accomodating. (I think we weren't the first family to decide to have a family reunion at that location...)

We emerged from the office with a videotape, several regular and several 3D photos, and--let's just say 100% confidence that we have a little Noah Frith coming into our lives in just a few months.

Perhaps you'd like to meet him? I'll spare you the, uh, money shot.

Here he's all scrunched against my side, but you can see his cute little face!

Here are his little feet:

Everything looked perfect and wonderful. Noah was sucking his thumb when the transducer showed the first image of him. CUTE!

We got to see his little four-chambered heart beating (143 bpm); they can even show you the blood flow through the chambers as well as the cord! The grandparents in particular were blown away by the advancement of technology.

I can't wait to hold my son.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Branching Out Again: FOOD!

I made Chicken Picadillo from a recipe I got from Cooking Light the other day. More on that in a minute.

*Shameless Plug for Cooking Light*
If I could buy a magazine for every newlywed, it might be this one. Especially newlyweds who, like me, had a rather limited repertoire of dishes at which he or she is an expert. (Mine consisted of Pop Tarts, spaghetti--I was proud of that one--a mean batch of brownies from a mix, and Lean Cuisine pizzas.)

Enter Cooking Light. And no, I'm not on their payroll (though if they'd like to give me a free lifetime subscription, I am all ears.) I would really say that this magazine taught me to cook; I blossomed, in about a year, from Pop Tart Queen to Ardent Recipe Disciple. Now that's progress!

CL just draws you into becoming a foodie. As you experience new tastes and aromas, and as you see how wonderfully one spice or dish can complement another, you join the ranks of folks who are no longer just diners: they're Epicureans (not in the sense of 'devoted to sensual pleasure', but in the sense of 'one with sensitive and discriminating tastes, especially in food or wine').

One of my favorite CL features is their travel section, in which the writer details a trip you could take, giving dining and sightseeing suggestions for your itinerary. The photography and reviews make you feel as though you have a real sense of the place, the community, being described.


I made Chicken Picadillo (except that mine was turkey). Here's the recipe, but you can also find it here.

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast [I used lean turkey]
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup bottled salsa
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)

Place chicken in a food processor; pulse until ground. [That's for the birds! Buy it ground and save yourself time!]
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken, cumin, salt, cinnamon, and garlic, and cook for 3 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring frequently. Stir in salsa and raisins. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in almonds and cilantro. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

CALORIES 257(26% from fat); FAT 7.5g (sat 1g,mono 4.2g,poly 1.5g); PROTEIN 29.6g; CHOLESTEROL 66mg; CALCIUM 74mg; SODIUM 762mg; FIBER 3.2g; IRON 2.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 19g
Here's the review I wrote for the website:

"This was simply of my favorite recipes, ever. I made it with ground turkey and upped the amount of raisins and almonds. The cinnamon is a KEY ingredient and lends excellent flavor! I served the dish over brown rice with garbanzo and black beans, with a generous dollop or two of reduced-fat sour cream. My husband asked me to double the recipe next time so we'll have tons of leftovers! Very easy to reheat."

Let me reiterate that part about the sour cream. USE LOTS. MMMMMM.

Anyone think this would work with beef? I'd like to make it for my mom and dad, but dad has some kind of poultry grudge.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It Can Make All the Difference

How you say something can matter as much, or more, than what you say.

Take, as a case in point, the couple who is trying to conceive. One of my dearest friends, Katie, has started her blog, and one of her first posts, Where is Baby #2?, hits the nail on the head.

It's so painful to want a baby and not have one. Period. I don't care if you have five children or none, an ache is present in the heart of a couple who hasn't conceived when they wished. With that ache, though, can come valuable growth and lessons from the Lord, which Katie expounds upon.

I was thinking, though, after she and I talked on the phone last evening, that people don't think much about asking these questions that cause pain; they mean to be conversational:

"So, when are you guys going to have kids?"

As though we can snap our fingers and--*POOF!*--a child is born! But for so many people who conceive easily, or seemingly at will, it's not an inane question. If people perceive it's been too long and a baby SHOULD BE on the WAY BY NOW, woe to the couple who is bombarded with well-intentioned but increasingly nosy questions! And if you already have a child, everyone assumes you are putting off having another one on purpose.

"When are you giving Johnny a brother or sister?"
"I heard that only children ________________________!" (can't share, are selfish, freak out when their mothers are two feet away, grow up to kill people...)

And Kate's favorite,

"Where is Baby Number Two?"

What is the proper answer to that query? (Multiple choice test!)

A. "Um, I don't know, maybe I left him at Wal-Mart."

B. "Did she roll under the sofa again?"

C. NO WAY! I had a KID? COOL! Tell me all about it!


I kind of like "C." "D" is tempting, but too manic.

My point, before I got lost in my own snarkiness and sarcasm, was that the subject isn't a forbidden one, but like all personal issues, it should be couched in genuine love for the human being you're addressing, and consideration for circumstances you may not have considered.

Don't assume that everyone can conceive when they feel like it. "When are you having another one?" should be banished, verboten verbage. I wouldn't even bring it up unless the person was a good friend--and if she was, I might ask gently in an intimate moment of sharing, "Do you and (husband) want any more children?" Give her the opportunity to tell you what she's feeling without being made to feel like there's a deadline she hasn't met or a general expectation she hasn't fulfilled.

And give Kate's post a look. It's filled with wisdom and confidence in the Lord that I find really refreshing.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Some Posts of Interest

I would hate for anyone to miss Rachel's incredible series at Home Works Best. She reviews a book I've never read, Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin. A cautionary note was always struck in my heart when I read/heard about that book. Rachel's posts are well worth checking out:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

In other news, everyone's favorite Molly and the talented Blest with Sons have thought-provoking posts about discernment: sometimes, what you think is exactly right, ain't. Oh, how we need the Holy Spirit to help us know when to shut up, when to warn, when to wait, and when to rethink our own perspectives! There's a time for ALL of those things, and more, but it takes discernment (har!) to know when to exercise which action. You all KNOW that I heartily believe in calling a spade a spade--not calling that which is evil, 'good', and that which is good, 'evil.' But with that responsibility comes a temptation to judge unrighteously. Boy, God doesn't like that a whole lot.

Dave Black included this picture in one of his recent posts, and it stole my heart and went straight to my desktop wallpaper.

Dave writes,

We've had lots of interest in our Bible memory program in Ethiopia, and some of you have asked us for the specific passages a person has to memorize before he or she can get a Bible in Amharic. Here they are: Psalms 1 and 23 (whole chapters), 1 Corinthians 13 (whole chapter), John 3:1-21, John 14:1-21, Romans 8:28-39, James 1:2-6, and 12-25, and Philippians 4:4-8. How many have completed the program, you ask? Between August and December, 2005, in the Burji district alone 800 young people (between age 7 and 18) completed it; then we opened the program to include adults and set a deadline of Sept. 10, 2006 (which is the end of their calendar year). We were told in May that 1,132 had completed it by then. We're expecting between 2000 and 2500 will have completed it by the September deadline. Each person is required to recite the verses to a church elder. In the Alaba District the numbers are much smaller because the Christian population is much smaller; this area is 99 percent Muslim, and especially the rural congregations are under severe persecution. Recently the church has had to take some of the young people who have come to Christ and put them into hiding to prevent their being murdered (as other young people have already been), so the situation is serious. For this reason, we have extended the deadline for the rural areas to Sept. 10, 2007. So far, we have distributed 450 in the Alaba district. It is a great joy to see these young people when they receive their very own Bibles.

Lord, I never want to take your Word, or my freedom, for granted.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Small Rant about Housing

We interrupt our regularly scheduled baby updates and exegesis to bring you this

My father's an economist by education and was an Auditor for the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office, a much more accurate name) by trade, so you'll have to excuse me if I get a little amped about things like this.

Markets go up and come down with regularity. It's to be expected. Housing is no different, and just because some bubbles are bursting around the country, it doesn't mean the sky is falling. Please, don't descend into your bomb shelter just yet.

Try telling that to Avery Shenfeld and some other Chicken Littles of the financial world (link):

July home sales will be the chief focus of the markets, and the news probably won't be very encouraging. "The upcoming week will be a reminder that all's not well in the USA," said Avery Shenfeld, senior economist for CIBC World Markets.

Stu Hoffman, chief economist at PNC, says the housing data will be "ugly."

The slump in housing "has gained momentum in the past few months," said Mickey Levy, chief economist for Bank of America.

Sales of new homes are projected to fall about 3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.10 million in July. The data will be released on Thursday. Except for February, when the weather didn't cooperate, 1.10 million would be the lowest sales rate in two years.

Um, let me get this straight. Because we're entering a totally normal, cyclical time of correction in the housing market, "all is not well in the USA?" Do we constantly have to GROW GROW GROW and BUY BUY BUY (or in this case, SELL SELL SELL) for things to be going well?

As for me and my house, boy howdy, we thought that $800,000 (on the low end) for a 3bd/2ba in California's Ventura County was just a bit steep. Funny that a few markets that are relatively reasonable, like Atlanta's, have still been seeing growth.

At least there are some voices of reason:

Nearly everyone agrees that housing is slowing. The debate is over how far housing will fall and what the impact the decline will have on the economy.
Some economists say housing won't fall too much further. "We look for evidence of a correction, not a collapse, in the housing market," said Drew Matus, an economist for Lehman Bros.

Thank you, Drew! Someone who isn't just looking for a headline!

The main concern is that consumer spending has been strong in the past few years only because of the gains in the housing market. Once wealth stops growing, consumer spending could slow sharply. And since consumer spending is about two-thirds of final sales, it'd be hard for the U.S. economy to boom without consumers.

Gee, somehow I don't think the US is going to have a dearth of consumers anytime soon. Could be just me.

Seriously, I know that consumer confidence can affect the economy, blah blah blah. But barring some horrible terrorist attack on American soil, I don't foresee the sky crumbling around our ears anytime soon. The housing market was due, I'd even argue overdue, for a correction, and here it is. No big whoop (except for those poor souls who overpaid for their houses and now may suffer loss as they try to sell in a falling market. That is not fun).

Can I have my honorary economics degree now? ...Hello?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Perfect for a Blogger...

...especially a dorky one like me! (I lifted this from Valerie, who, incidentally, had the same top "major" as I.) Perfect for a blogger that English and Journalism tied, eh?

You scored as English. You should be an English major! Your passion lies in writing and expressing yourself creatively, and you hate it when you are inhibited from doing so. Pursue that interest of yours!





























What is your Perfect Major?
created with

Eternal Life and the Supremacy of Jesus

It seems like a question you wouldn't need to ask: what is eternal life?

I think if you asked anyone on the street to define it, they'd say something like, "Eternal life is life that goes on forever; it never ends." And granted, that's the literal definition. But from a Biblical standpoint, is that it? Is there more to it?

We know that the children of God, those who follow Jesus Christ, are given eternal life as an inheritance:

Matthew 19:29
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

Matthew 25:46
And these [the unrighteous/disobedient] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

It seems to me that the Jews were aware that eternal life could be inherited:

Mark 10:17-22
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'" And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth." And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

(I love that passage, by the way. It rips my heart out to think of that man walking away--from eternal life, really--but it shows us such a deeply exciting look into who Jesus is. He looked at him and loved him.)

When I read about eternal life in the New Testament, certainly the idea of "life that goes on forever" is a correct interpretation, but it's not a complete one. I'd say it's "abundant life that goes on forever and is connected intimately and wholly with relationship to the Messiah." This is the heart of the meaning of life in a New Testament context, as I read it.

John 10:9-10
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 3:14-16, 36
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life....He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

In fact, eternal life is actually explicitly defined, a couple of times, in this New Covenant!

Jesus said, "I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me" (John 12:50). Peter said to Jesus, ""Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." The very words of God ARE, and GIVE, eternal life. Interestingly, Jesus is called the logos, or Word, of God in John 1.

Jesus is the only way to this eternal life because He IS eternal life. He is the Source, the never-ending Spring of living water! It is through relationship with HIM that eternal life exists for us!

Heb 5:8-10
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

That was actually the passage that made me think of John 17, and in turn, this topic, this morning.

Think of how many people have searched for eternal life throughout human history. Many, maybe most, myths and ancient legends have to do with the human desire to attain eternal life and to be like God or the gods. The answer to all those quests and desires is so simple. It's not found through spelunking through ancient caves, looking for documents or chalices. It's not found through killing a twelve-headed monster or saving a virgin from a gruesome death.

It's found by simply trusting in, following and obeying the Lord Jesus Christ, the originator and giver of life.

What is eternal life?

John 17:3
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

For me that one passage could sum up every other scripture quoted here. Eternal life is, quite simply, knowing God and knowing Jesus. The opportunity to know them (in a way man has never known God before) is the opportunity to experience, and to continue to experience, abundant, joyful life, outside of the boundaries of time and space: for eternity.

Jesus is central to this eternal life because it COMES from Him! 'Jesus' and 'eternal life' cannot be separated as concepts or realities. Eternity outside of the presence of Christ isn't life; it's eternal death. We're eternal creatures, one way or the other. But that's another post.

John 4:13-14
Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."

The human body can go much longer without food than without water. Jesus is necessary for spiritual life in the same way that water is necessary for physical life to continue.

John 5:39-40
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

The Bible only gives life insofar as it presents the Words of God. It is these Words that give life IF the hearer's heart is penetrated by them, and the eyes opened by the Spirit (John 6:63).

John 6:27, 39-40
Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal....And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them to eternal life at the last day. For it is my Father's will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life--that I should raise them at the last day.

Notice that it is Jesus, the giver of eternal life, who raises His people on the last day--raising them to eternal life.

And the bottom line for us is this: we are striving for a prize, and that is abundant life with Jesus that goes on forever. We must not grow weary in pursuing it.

Romans 2:6-8
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Romans 6:21-23
Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Well into the Second Trimester!

Well folks, I'm almost 16 weeks.

(resounding applause)

We went to the doctor earlier this week and had another ultrasound; I thought you might like to thrill to the sight of Baby's Frith's spine, skull, arm, and hand.

Check it out!

BACK VIEW--See the spine? Little tiny bones!

SCRATCHING HEAD (A little more difficult to see. This is a front view.)

The morning sickness hasn't completely gone; evenings are the worst, usually, and dinner is still iffy. I couldn't eat the spaghetti I made last night, for instance. But such occurrences are, at least, not daily anymore.

Monday, July 31, 2006

California Trip and Update, with Pictures

Hello all!

I am currently in sunny California (okay, overcast California, but with the heat wave they've had lately, I'll take it). I'm on a much-desired vacation while Ryan works a little bit this week.

In baby-related news, I am happy to report that I have FINALLY emerged from an 8-week bout of almost constant nausea. When you're in the thick of it, it feels like you'll never feel really well again!

We were supposed to leave Atlanta for Los Angeles on Friday evening. Our flight was delayed no less than 153 times before they finally cancelled it. That's right: yours truly, 14 weeks pregnant, spent the night in the ATL airport. I can hardly complain about it even though I got a total of 15 minutes of sleep: that night marked the first 24-hour period that I didn't feel nauseated. I cannot stress enough what a miracle that seemed to me. The ATL airport, I assure you, is not the place you want to be constantly heaving.

The baby is doing well. I am fairly certain that I felt some tiny kicks yesterday in church (we were so blessed to be reunited with our Blessed Hope Chapel family! How dear to our hearts they will always be!), last night, and this morning. The baby seemed to particularly like Pastor Joe's preaching.

I'll leave you with a few shots from Leo Carrillo State Beach yesterday. We spent the evening with Ryan's brother and his fiancee, Lisa, with whom I am pictured. I included a gratuitous belly shot to quell the cries of the masses.

Ryan captured this shot of the fantastic Leo Carrillo waves:

Kristen "I think my face is expanding" Frith and Lisa:

Burgeoning Belly Shot:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Meme from Kim (that almost rhymes...)

Don't worry; this isn't going to be a blog where I only post memes. But how can I refuse Kim's tag? She's a dear friend I'm so glad to have back in the blogosphere. Blogworld. Blogdom. Whatever.

5 Things in my Refrigerator:

Um, I have been a sick pregnant woman for a few months now. Do you want to know the answer to this question?

1. Noodles (which I heat up and eat with ketchup)
2. Fruit, usually strawberries, watermelon and peaches
3. 1 and 2% organic milk (MMMM!)
4. Plain organic yogurt for smoothies
5. Rotting lettuce, since I can't bring myself to eat a salad right now.

5 Things in my Closet:

Oooh! I can make this list even shorter if I amend it to "5 Things in My Closet that Actually Fit."

1. Maternity pants that my husband rather unaffectionately termed "The Parachute Pants."
2. More Parachute Pants.
3. Balloony maternity shirts. YES, THEY ARE TOO BIG. NO, I DON'T CARE. They're COMFY. NO, I AM NOT HORMONAL, WHY DO YOU ASK?!
4. Tennis shoes, the only things that don't hurt my feet right now. YES, I WEAR THEM TO WORK EVERY DAY. SEE ABOVE.
5. Um...old jeans?

5 Things in my Purse:

1. The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality by Mary Pride. My plan is to let her re-inspire me. I have fond memories of reading this book right after I got married.
2. Zone bar. Only a little melty.
3. Raisinets and a couple of small dark chocolate squares (shhh!).
4. Phenergan (nausea medicine).
5. Wallet.

5 Things in my Car:

1. A sun shield (indispensible at this time of year in Georgia!)
2. Various bits of trash. I am such a car slob.
3. Three or four car chargers. I have NO IDEA what phone or device they belong to.
4. Sermon tape.
5. Jumper cables.

I don't tag peeps, but let me know if you complete this meme on your blog--I'd love to read it!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Can you stand another baby update?

Here are the latest pictures of the wee Baby Frith. :) Please do not sue me in a court of law if your drool ruins your keyboard! I can't help how adorable the baby is!

Okay, so at this stage the head looks like a triangle. True. But it's a CUTE triangle.

His/her knees were up and feet were crossed; arms were moving; heart rate was 171.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Primer

Lately I've been feeling nauseated, tired, listless, and dizzy--all the time.

I know what's going on.

I believe there is a point to this, and I write that even as I count the minutes until 8PM so I can go to sleep (my only refuge from the sickness).

Look at the facts: I am wholly separated from what was my normal life. Every moment of the day is, in one way or another, consumed with pregnancy. I am sick, I am emotional, I am unable to forget my state. I am inconvenienced and uncomfortable most of the time.

I am not complaining, just stating the facts about where I am right now.

In fact, I think this experience is expressly meant to prepare me for motherhood. I realize that motherhood is not all inconvenience and discomfort (thank God!), but I also realize that where I was once concerned with myself and my husband, I will now be responsible for much more than my own well-being, amusement, and edification. Existence will be necessarily much less about what I want and more about what another needs. That's not quite the case with a household that contains only two adults. We think of and accomodate one another, to be sure, but neither of us requires constant attention!

I realized this morning, though, that I will always be a child. I don't want to lose that in all the mental hubbub about 'responsibility' that can easily fester into worry and anxiety--two plagues that will rob me of the joy and wonder that should come with motherhood.

I see, too, an opportunity for a second childhood, of sorts. I thought of it this morning as I walked among the dewy plants, breathing in the still cool air and remembering how exciting it was to take a simple walk as a child. Each one was a wonderful adventure...and I can feel that again as I walk with a little one of my own.

I'm in a nine-month boarding school that trains new mothers, and the first classes are really, really tough.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Baby News

We went to the doctor today and were overjoyed to see Baby Frith's little self! The baby wiggled quite a bit (must have been that Chinese I had for lunch).

Heartbeat increased to 178 this time. My mother thinks this means it's a girl...what do you think?

Maybe a picture will help:

Definitely my chin and nose, right? ...Right?

Praise the Lord!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

God's Role in Jesus's Death

This is one of those topics that seems a little absurd to me, but maybe I am just too much of a lightweight (wink, Kim!). For some reason, in some circles there is a "Did God Kill Jesus?" controversy.

Huh? I find this an issue that is easily addressed with a few scriptures. I see no reason, really, to make it too complicated.

Quick background: Kim at The Upward Call was reading a controversial post about this subject the other day, and an incident in the comments box sparked an interesting discussion on her blog. I didn't go and read all the original arguments; frankly, I don't want to.

Why did Jesus die? Did He want to? Did He willingly lay down His life, or did God "kill" Him? Did people kill Jesus, incurring guilt upon themselves?

Well, at one point He hoped there'd be another way, and who can blame Him?

Matthew 26:39
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."

But He went to the Cross willingly. He knew His mission.

John 10:15, 17-18
'I lay down my life for the sheep. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.' (Isn't the oneness of Father and Son wonderful?)

Matthew 16:21
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

His death was not a surprise to Jesus. He was willing to be the Passover Lamb.

Hebrews 2:9-10, 17
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering....Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Yet, yes, it pleased God to do things this way. As Jesus said in Gethsemane, it was God's will.

Isaiah 53:6, 10-11
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all....
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;

he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

But some humans did bear guilt for their parts in the crucifixion of God's only Son. I believe this is because they had "free will", so to speak, and chose to do wrong, but I know many will disagree with me on that point. They sinned against God when they condemned His Son, an innocent man, and more than a man. God alone knows the degrees of their guilt, but it cannot be stated that they did not sin just because they didn't realize the great extent of this sin.

Matthew 26:3-5, 63b-68
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, 'Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people'....And the high priest said to him, 'I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.' Jesus said to him, 'You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.' Then the high priest tore his robes and said, 'He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?' They answered, 'He deserves death.' Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, 'Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?'

Matthew 27:24
When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, 'I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves.' (Of course, he wasn't innocent of Jesus's blood...but that's another story. Isn't it interesting that his wife was given a dream?)

Matthew 27:25
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

Interesting that Jesus said this (below) as He was being crucified, though; He knew that no one there knew all of the implications of what was happening that day:

Luke 23:34
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Why are questions so often posed as if there is one answer? "Did God kill Jesus?" Um...that's not the right question. It presumes all the wrong things and leaves out lots of important things.

It pleased God to provide atonement for our sins this way. He foreshadowed it throughout the Old Covenant, and Jesus, as part of the Godhead, was in on that, all the way. One of the things I love most about Bible study is witnessing all the seamless ways the Lord has written His plan into the Word, over and over again, in pictures, in allegories, in prophecy, and in historical recording. Nothing caught God by surprise; He has never been foiled by a plan of man.

My ten cents.

**NOTE: I just remembered that my pastor in California did a GREAT article on this when The Passion of the Christ came out. He used a lot of Scriptures that I didn't think of while writing this. A great read.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Special Letter

Dear Friends of My Mommy,

Here is my first picture...what do you think? I'm so glad they caught my good side; I was quite unprepared for a photo today. Mommy didn't warn me at all.

The doctor said that my heart rate is 145. Is that good? I feel fine, so it must be a good number. The doctor also said that "everything is looking perfect." Mommy cried when she said that, and when she heard my heart go "woosh-woosh;" her tummy shook and so did I!

Well, I am awfully tired now, so I think I'll nap. I just wanted to let you know that I am so excited to be alive and I am thankful that you all are praying for me and my Mom and Dad. (They need a lot of prayer.)

See you in a few months!

Baby Frith

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Blogging Survey/Meme Thingy

As part of her Seven Days of Blog, Blest with Sons created a fun survey for her readers. I'd be interested in your answers, too. Here are mine.

Blog Reading

How many do you read regularly?
I try to stop by all of those on my blogroll fairly regularly; but truth be told, I frequent about 21 very regularly.

How many are written by women? By men?
Most are by women, but I do love some men's blogs. Wow, I just did a count. There are 25 blogs by men on my blogroll!

Are they all Christian? How about the same denomination?
They're all Christian, but hardly the same "denomination," since I don't have one. I link to many bloggers whom I love but who have vastly different theology from me.

What kinds of posts do you like the best?
I love posts in which the author ruminates in a lively, witty, thoughtful or interesting way on a topic (preferably something pertaining to God, the Bible, the human condition, or current events).

What kinds of posts are you most likely to comment on?
I am most likely to comment when I have something substantive (in the case of a topical post) or encouraging (in the case of a "personal," here's-what's-going-on-with-me post) to say. Many times I will read without commenting.

What makes you add a blog to your favorites list/bloglines? Or conversely, what drives you away from a blog?
Makes me add: Interesting writing; engaging personality; similar interests. There are SO MANY blogs out there, and so little time to actually read. I like good content, and that's usually what draws me, but if we develop a relationship (as has happened with so many brothers and sisters here!), I am also interested in the minutae of your life in a way I wouldn't be if I didn't know you.
Drives me away: Fighting/arguing (as opposed to discussion); boring writing/topics; politics. I'm just not that interested in politics; so many people seem convinced that the answers are there, or that the end-all be-all of existence is there. It's not.

Blog Writing

What’s your favorite kind of post to write?
I love when I read Scripture or someone else's post, and I feel the inspiration to write something. Many times ideas for posts come in conversation with a brother or sister, or through reading the Word. I'll just think of something--like Is all sin equal? or Let's talk about angels--that I want to discuss with people I now consider friends (or that I want to inform people about who may not know).

What do you think is your biggest strength blogwise? Biggest weakness?
Strength: Ability to write well (or, at least, clearly) to communicate my thoughts.
Weakness: Like I have one! Just kidding. My weakness is probably caring what people think. It doesn't stop me from giving my opinion, but it can make posting emotionally hard at times. I don't deal with that as much now as I did when I started blogging.

What do you want to change, if anything, about the way you blog?
I used to think that I needed to post every day, and in time that added an element of stress to blogging that is totally unnecessary. (From what I have seen, many bloggers go through this at some point. Many blogs are shut down because of this.) I realized that there are no rules regarding my publishing, and now I blog when I want to or when I have something to say.

How many times a day do you say the word blog?
Not many to none! I don't talk about it much, if at all. If Amy and I talk on the phone, we might discuss it. But other than that, it's a private thing. Once in a while I'll mention something particularly noteworthy to Ryan.


How many bloggers have you met in real life – not counting the ones you knew before they started blogging?
Hm. Some of them, like Amy Jeffus, Amy from Amy Loves Books, or Roddy, don't count because I knew them before they started a blog. But I met Amy Scott in Santa Barbara (you can read about that here, see a picture here, and read Amy's "version" of what happened here. It was so wonderful!

AND, later that year I met my dear Rachel. You can read my version here, and pictures are here, here and here. Her version is here, and she has more pictures.

Were they what you expected from reading their blogs? Got any interesting stories? Do tell!
Yes and no. I think my (and their) posts say it all.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Checking In

"Morning Sickness" is not aptly named. I just want you all to know that!

We have our first ultrasound on Wednesday--I'll be sure to update and let you all know how it goes.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Question about Homeschooling

On online friend wrote to me,

"I noticed you are for homeschooling. I am debating between that and sending my boy to public school--yikes, I know. Since you did some study on the topic, what did you find? Any curriculum you liked in particular? I guess this is a loaded question."

It's really late/early right now, and I can't promise that my answer will be comprehensive, but I wanted to address her question at least in brief. I decided to post my answer so that the very experienced moms and dads who read this might contribute other thoughts as well.

First, I'd like to address a couple of common reasons why people seem to find homeschooling objectionable. I really think that with some careful thought and observation, these fears can be allayed.


1. Homeschooling presents a socialization problem for children.

In my experience this is the most common question/concern people have about homeschooling. We tend to have a hard time imagining children not going to a school building and sitting in rows of desks with peers who are all within 12 months of their age. But is that the only way, the best way, or even a really good way to learn? Does it realistically reflect any other real-life situation that the child will face in his adult life?

I say that it is not, and it does not. At no other time in our lives do we limit ourselves to fraternization with people of our own birth year. Rather, "real life," which is one of the preparatory functions of education, is much more likely to bring us into contact with people of all ages, in all contexts. I contrast traditional school with "real life" because school is a false construct. Kids learn to adapt to its ringing bells, 20 minute lunches, bathroom passes, and flourescent lights, but it's certainly not benefiting them socially. They survive it more than anything else. Homeschooling generally gives children more opportunities to interact with people of all ages, in varying contexts that better prepare them for any situation they may encounter as an adult.

2. How will they learn at home? Do I have to make a "school at home"? I can't be a teacher!

When I began to learn more about how people learn, what motivates them, what engages their imagination and intellect, I began to see readily that traditional classroom environments kill imagination and intellect more often than they ignite them. The students who survive with some curiosity and true desire to learn intact are the exceptions; this was borne out in my graduate studies, when I conducted qualitative interviews with people about their schooling experiences and memories.

Children can, but usually don't, truly thrive in a traditional school environment. They usually do learn to adapt to it, but I believe that it's often at great cost to their sensitivity, personality, intellect, relational name it.

I am not of the mindset that one needs to make a "school at home." There's nothing wrong with a desk (I'm sitting at one now!), sharpened pencils, or workbooks; but creating an actual classroom complete with chalkboard and rigid scheduling is, in my opinion, unnecessary, and denies your family the beautiful freedom that comes with thinking outside the box when it comes to learning.

I recommend reading some books on learning while making a decision like this. I really enjoyed reading Learning All the Time and other books by John Holt. When I first delved into this topic, I also enjoyed Mary Griffith's The Unschooling Handbook. Many, many of the texts we read about learning in my education classes served to further convince me that homeschooling was the best option for any student to thrive and to reach his potential as a learner.

Regarding being a teacher: YES YOU CAN. You are probably the most perfectly equipped person to teach your child. God gave that child to you. If you look at Scripture, you'll find several places where the parents are told to instruct their children, or where a reference is made to parental instruction. By contrast, there is not a single example of a modern school-like phenomenon, where children left home to be taught by someone outside the family, in the Bible. I am not saying it's sin to send your kids to school! But if we are really looking for the BEST option for the child and seeking advice from the Word, I'd have to say that learning at home is sanctioned by the Bible more than any other form of instruction.

Also, practically speaking, many people give teachers too much credit for knowing everything! We may well give them credit for resourcefulness, stamina, and dedication--but these you possess in abundance for your own child. Good teachers prepare for the lessons they give by consulting texts and experts; that's nothing you can't do. You don't have to be the fount of all knowledge. You have to get good at learning where to find answers and instruction: the library, a professor at a local college, or sometimes, your own backyard. Physics lessons can take place as you plant a garden together. Math instruction can take place in the kitchen as you measure ingredients. Many of the lessons that have been relegated to a workbook and desk can find much better media in the stuff of everyday life! (Not that there's not a time and place for the workbook, too.)

3. Homeschoolers are weird and too sheltered.

The answer to this is twofold. On one hand, the world is always going to look at a Christian family and think at some point, "They are SO WEIRD." People say that to me because we don't have TV. So, yeah, some homeschoolers are weird like that.

But on the other hand, this accusation is more a product of some popular media than of reality, I think. Every homeschooling family I've ever met--seriously--has blown me away. Usually the children are well-behaved, able to converse with adults, and (frankly) superior to other children their age in what they already know. The families are usually very closely knit and harmonious (obviously, they're not perfect!). Yeah, that's just WEIRD. Wouldn't want THAT.

Also, I think kids can hardly be sheltered too much, so I am not the best one to talk to about that concern. There is a kind of sheltering--the "you're never getting out of this house" kind of "sheltering"--that is not healthy, but I have never witnessed a family like this and believe that is an exception, to put it mildly. Most homeschooling families take great advantage of community resources and can be found all over the place taking advantage of things every day that public school kids have to take special, infrequent field trips to see and do.

I hope that helps my friend a bit. PLEASE chime in with other thoughts, because I know I have probably left out really important stuff.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Few Points of Interest

You've got to read Sallie's post on childlessness at her new digs, A Gracious Home (formerly Two Talent Living). Sallie's blog looks beautiful, and she says everything I would want to say and more about childlessness/infertility. I could almost have written her post myself, word for word.

Molly and the gang at Choosing Home have been initiating wonderful discussion about Mormonism--handled in their usual deft, kind, forthright manner. Love them. YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST.

Carol is blogging about blogging this week, during the Seven Days of Blog. I think it's a great idea, and I may try to sneak a couple in on this topic, as well. Blest is participating in this, too--she has a couple of great posts up already.

That's quite enough from me...time to go try to distract myself from wanting to hurl now. (Did I say that out loud?)

Monday, June 05, 2006

"Offensive" Faith

One of my best friends, Amy Jeffus, recently started a blog, and I think it's really impressive (not just because she gave me a shout-out. Ahem.). I have loved her passionately ever since I met her: she's dogged in her pursuit of truth, kind in her way of communicating it, and always eager (not just willing) to learn. She's a walking, talking, breathing Berean.

Okay, I am a little biased because I love her so much! Amy is also extremely dedicated to the middle-school aged children she leads as a youth minister at a church in South Carolina. I had the privilege of working with her for many months; every day was a time of rich fellowship for us that I will never forget.

Amy's recent posts have included a series about the "offense" of the gospel: in one of them she lists "Six Keys to Offensive Faith" that I think are brilliant. Here are some excerpts:

1. Know your Opponent:
Romans 12
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

You cannot fight the other team if you don't even recognize them as being against you. You may even begin to look more like the other team then your own and get confused about who you are playing for. You must be able to recognize them as The World and remember that we are called to be seperate from them. How do you recognize them? Fight the World with the Word.

2. Know what the other teams have used the past that did or didn’t work:
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: "The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry."We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

God didn't leave us scripture for our mere enjoyment (although the more you get into it the more you will begin to enjoy least that is my experience). He left it for us as a tool. It is a guide that can help us be offensive in our faith in so many ways. One way, is by looking at the rich history of the Isrealites, King David, the early church, and more. Looking at where people and nations before us have fallen can help us be watchful for traps the World may try to use to gain possession of our ball.

Read more here.

In a more recent post, she writes:

So how do you share an offensive message with people in a way that they won’t immediately shut you out. The answer is not as easy as we would like. The Holy Spirit must work in a person before they will be able to look past the offense to see the Good News. So we have to be sensitive to the working of the Holy Spirit. Cover those you know who aren’t saved in prayer. Pray for opportunities to tell them about Jesus. Pray that their hearts would be softened by what only God can do enough so that they will hear and receive the WHOLE gospel of Christ. I want us to stop being afraid to tell the whole story. I don’t just want Jesus…I need Jesus.


Friday, June 02, 2006


Everything is still going well.

I am trying not to panic about little things--about anything--but it's hard. One second I am elated, planning in my mind, dreaming; and then at almost the next moment, I am terrified, ashamed of imagining the worst, frozen, scared almost even to breathe. I know it's irrational, but sometimes I'm scared that little things will cause the worst case scenario to occur. Being trepidatious goes against my nature, and it's grating.

It's the five years of infertility talking, not Kristen's Faith talking.

I do have moments of Faith Sanity: remembering that God is in charge, that He knows what He is doing, that I am not a statistic. I refused to Google certain statistical data because it would feel like a violation of that knowledge. God is in control. I am not a statistic, so what's the point of looking them up? It would make me feel disloyal to Him.

"Gee, God, I don't really trust you so much after all; lemme see what my chances are of getting to term? I'll ask Almighty Google."

Nope--that's not going to be happening. I've been looking to Google for many things lately, but that won't be one of them!

Regarding the last post: thanks for the support and kind words. You know, I really am excited about the idea of homeschooling. I've been head over heels in love with it ever since I did most of my graduate work on the topic while getting my M.Ed. There are SO MANY reasons to homeschool. I just didn't want any of you guys to think I am getting cold feet in that arena. I can't WAIT!

I trust what God is doing...I just have to keep reminding myself that I do.

Blah. Someone save me from my hormones!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Who, me? Overwhelmed? Nah.

Thank you all so, so much for your well-wishes and prayers. Just when I start to feel lonely in my everyday life, you guys all remind me what a beautiful family I have all over the world! Thanks for being excited with and for us.

Quick pregnancy update: everything's going really well. I am a little over five weeks, and while I have many other symptoms, nausea hasn't thus far been one of them, beyond some slight queasiness! YAY! We are going to hear from the doctor tomorrow about my third beta number (that's the amount of hcg, the "pregnancy hormone," in my blood). Doctors look for the results from each blood draw to double, at least; this shows that the pregnancy is progressing normally. My first number, from last Monday's test, was 194, and the second--taken on Wednesday--was 691! (Yeah, it more than tripled. Yeah, we were happy!) We're expecting another encouraging number tomorrow. Praise the LORD!

I am starting to have to deal with many issues that I never let myself think about before. I called them my "bridge" issues: ways of giving birth, ways of co-sleeping, vaccinations, etc. They're "bridge" issues because I knew there was no point in thinking about them until I was actually pregnant, and it was difficult emotionally to ponder them, anyway, so I'd just "cross that bridge when I got there."

Well, here I am.

One of the things that was immediately impressed upon my heart is the great degree to which I will need to rely on the Lord every day, day by day, in order to keep my sanity. I probably mean that literally! When you think about a child, about all of the responsibilities involved, it's overwhelming:

Will I stink as a homeschooler?

What if I can't remember how to do long division? I know I can't remember the Order of Operations!

What about discipline? Will I put my money where my mouth has been?

How are we going to afford this? I have $15 in my UPromise account! That won't buy one college book!

You can see where I am going with this.

I quoted Jesus in my last post: "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

You know the little expository tool: What's the therefore there for? Jesus says that if we seek the Kingdom and the righteousness of God before all else, then what we need will be provided for us in Him--therefore, we won't have to worry about tomorrow, because we can trust in His guidance and provision, our daily bread for that particular day.

And that's good enough for me. I'm so glad to be able to share my anxieties, hopes and fears with the only One who can do anything about them!

Friday, May 26, 2006

My Best Post Ever. EVER.

Do you guys remember this post? The one about deferred dreams? In it, I wrote:

It's still the desire of my heart, and yes, I believe it's a godly one. And honestly, I do think He will grant it....I do think God will make me a mother, somehow, someday.

I am happy to announce that Ryan and I are expecting a child on January 27, 2007.

Actually, happy doesn't begin to describe it! Let's see if I can do better.

I am ecstatic, terrified, amazed, flummoxed, and almost too dern speechless to announce that Ryan and I are expecting a child on January 27, 2007.

Please, please pray for us. You can probably imagine the struggle we're having not to worry after a five-year waiting time! But you know what Jesus said?

Matthew 6:25,27
Do not worry about your life....Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Sounds like a command to me, so there must be a way to get through this without worrying. I have a feeling it's all wrapped up in that whole "dying daily to self" thing. My focus must be on the right Person, the right things:

Matthew 6:33-34
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

I can hardly believe what a miracle this is. This pregnancy is totally unexpected; we weren't pursuing treatments yet. In fact--and I see this as a wonderful testimony--we were scheduled to begin tests next month. It has been my dream since going off the Pill that the Lord would let us spontaneously conceive.

Truly, the work of His hands is marvelous in my eyes.

Little one, I can't wait to meet you.

Psalm 139:13-14
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A God by Any Other Name...

...ain't the same God.

Mary J. Blige, a popular R&B singer, believes that God wants her living in luxury and splendor. Do you think what she's hearing from the God of the Bible?

Mary J. Blige says she has found religion, but she makes no apologies for her earthly materialism. In fact, she says God has willed her to wear bling.

'My God is a God who wants me to have things,' the singer tells May’s Blender magazine. 'He wants me to bling. He wants me to be the hottest thing on the block. I don’t know what kind of God the rest of y’all are serving, but the God I serve says, "Mary, you need to be the hottest thing this year, and I’m gonna make sure you’re doing that".'

Blige also is not modest when it comes to her place in history. 'I do consider myself part of black history,' she told the mag. 'Since 1991, I’m still doing this and I’m successful. And I haven’t hurt anyone in the process.'(source)

I'm not trying to "bash" Mary. Her statements are, however, indicative of a great degree of confusion about who God is, and I think she's not alone in her misunderstanding of God's character and desires for us.

First, God warns His people about the love of money.

1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Hebrews 13:5
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

Matthew 6:24
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

God was not pleased with some of the women in Israel who were proud of their beauty and had haughty hearts. It makes sense to me that He would still feel this way; He doesn't change.

Isaiah 3:16-23
Moreover, the LORD said, "Because the daughters of Zion are proud
And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes,

And go along with mincing steps
And tinkle the bangles on their feet,
Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs,
And the LORD will make their foreheads bare."
In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, finger rings, nose rings, festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses, hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans and veils.

Notice that He is not going to take these things away because they're so bad and wrong. I believe--based on Scripture (see Esther, Song of Solomon, etc.)--that He has no problem with a woman looking beautiful or wearing feminine accoutrements. He will take these things away because of the pride in the women's hearts. They are idols unto themselves.

I'm not saying outright that Mary J. Blige is personally in that category. But if I were her friend, I'd tell her that statements like she made in Blender reveal that she doesn't understand who God is, and she is worshipping the wrong god if her "God" tells her to "be the hottest thing this year." Women, take heed! I speak to myself, too! It's too easy to get caught up in our appearance, or in love of things. What does God really say to women?

Mary's assertion that God wants her in expensive clothing and jewelry is refuted most directly here:

1 Timothy 2:9-10
Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

Proverbs 11:22
Like a gold ring in a pig's snout
is a beautiful woman without discretion.

Again, it's not that your husband can't get you a beautiful ring on your anniversary. It's not that you can't have something nice once in a while. The pertinent question is: where is your heart? Do you think God wants you to be the hottest thing out there?

And who in the Bible usually tempts people with such language as Mary is hearing from her "God"? Who tells people what they want to hear rather than the truth? Liars, and their father.

Genesis 3:4-5
The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

2 Timothy 4:3-4
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

You know, myths like "God wants me to bling!"

The solution to this kind of deception is simple: know the Word, seek to apply it to your heart, and when the enemy says, "God wants you to be the hottest thing out there!", you'll know better. You'll know Him.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Remembering to Be Sweet

I was really touched by this post from Crystal at Biblical Womanhood. She writes,

"During my quiet time this morning, after I had read God's Word and spent time in prayer, I was writing in my journal and contemplating what specific things I could do today to be a help meet to my husband....In thinking about practical ways I could be a blessing and help to ease Jesse's heavy burdens, the Lord put it upon my heart to do everything I can to bring joy into his life by smiling and seeking to make him smile."

Oh, how easy it is to get caught up in being busy and forget to love one another! I don't know about you, but my joyful, happy attitude can be the first thing to go when I feel hurried, stressed, or even just businesslike.

Wives, we must remember that our house is not a business that we run; it's a home we help create. Its ethos will be whatever we make it. In the South, we have a saying: "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." We can influence our households for the better just by being cheerful.

And I'm not even talking about how difficult it is to "act" joyful when we're not (that is, when we're exceptionally stressed, hormonal, etc.). I'm really just thinking about a normal day, when you're focused on getting dinner ready or getting the whites their whitest. God, please, please help me to switch that focus to the right thing--glorifying You, praising You, and tending to the happiness of my household--while still functioning and accomplishing with excellence those things that must be done.

The Proverbs 31 wife laughs, in addition to her many domestic accomplishments. Perhaps that is the best 'accomplishment' of all.

Proverbs 31:10-12, 25, 28-29
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
'Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.'

Monday, April 10, 2006

The "Gospel" of Judas: Making Connections

Guess what?

A "new gospel" doesn't surface after hundreds or thousands of years without some plotting by the enemy. He's not going to let an opportunity go to waste.

I tend to see a great degree of behind-the-scenes spiritual engineering when these sorts of circumstances arise. Hmmm, let's see:

- Dan Brown writes The Da Vinci Code, which is just a modern primer for Neo-Gnosticism and New Age thought. Neo-gnosticism couches its teaching in some Christian terminology, but its tenets (that all matter is evil and that true freedom only comes through diabolical, secret knowledge) are diametrically opposed to the truths presented in the Bible. Brown's book makes egregious claims about Jesus Christ and paints neo-Gnosticism and goddess worship as the secret truth predating Christianity and Judaism.

From the last page of Brown's novel:

Like the murmurs of spirits in the darkness, forgotten words echoed. The quest for the Holy Grail is the quest to kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene. A journey to pray at the feet of the outcast one. With a sudden upwelling of reverence, Robert Langdon fell to his knees. For a moment, he thought he heard a woman’s voice...the wisdom of the ages...rising up from the chasms of the earth.

Really, I shouldn't even have to quote any more of Mr. Brown's writing for you to see the writing on the wall. What he's trying to do is obvious.

- Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, two of the biggest and most respected names in Hollywood, sign on to make The Da Vinci Code film. Uh oh.

- Just before Passover/Resurrection Sunday and just before the film's hype kicks into high gear, a fragment of Gnostic writing, The Gospel of Judas, is "mysteriously" discovered and smugly touted by some "scholars." People start asking one another, "Was Judas a good guy?" and "Are there other gospels out there?"

Um, yeah. Just a coincidence.

I can't do a better job of analyzing the whole thing than Red Giants and Kjos Ministries have. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've also edited an article by Joe Schimmel about The Da Vinci Code for his Da Vinci Con site. I'll let you know when that article has posted.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Newest Search Strings and Other Friday Fun

Not necessarily in that order.

(Quick update: things are going really well here, and I appreciate so much everyone's prayers for Helen, Ryan's mother. The doctors believe they were able to get all of the cancer out when they removed her kidney, and she is recovering well. Please continue to pray for the family and for her recovery.)

I can't help but indulge in some humor after giggling over Muley's 'Escapist Dating' post.

Oh, and before I forget--I am really excited about some blogs out there:

1. One of my best friends in the world, Katie, has finally started her own blog. Try not to get drool on your keyboard as you dote on her adorable son, Gabe! I love the poem she shares in this post.

2. Katie's husband, Roddy, is a youth minister at a large church. He's started HIS own blog, too: check out Pursue This. I think you'll find his posts as intriguing and encouraging as I have. Roddy has a passion for Jesus Christ that comes out in everything he does!

3. I noticed that the folks at Red Giants have started posting again. Challenging, refreshing, well-written, and easy on the eyes. Awesome stuff...please keep it coming!

Can you tell I love lists? Here's another one. One of the strings I got today really tickled my funny bone, so I thought I'd share my newest stash with you:

More Ways to (Unintentionally) Find Me, Apparently

1. Kristen Dream Walking
Not since I stopped my medication.

I don't know, but it's certainly rude.

3. kristen's cookie company -syllabus
So she's teaching cookie classes now? Most importantly, do I get a Kristen discount?

4. watch with kristen on e entertainment
See, but I don't have cable. That's going to throw a wrench in that plan. How about some P&P?

5. What is the spanish version of It's a Small World
You know, I want to think of something smart-aleck to say, but all that comes to mind on earth did that land someone here? Ed--did "drunken bobsled" make any more sense to you? Oh, and I like how they capitalized the song, but not 'Spanish.' It's not a LANGUAGE or anything.

6. Land of the Walking Marriage
Land of the Leaping Weirdness.


7. Jcpenney incontinent
'Nuff said.

Friday, March 31, 2006

More Thoughts on Realism and "Ultraviolence" in Film

I've been thinking a little more about horror/thriller films and how we got to the sadistic ultra-realism I wrote about below. As usual, Satan introduced things little by little, so that people would be slowly deceived.

Think about it: wasn't Rock-N-Roll rebellion much the same? Bill Haley invited teens to "rock around the clock," Elvis shook his pelvis, millions of girls screamed, and a new culture was born, built around worshipping rock idols and subverting authority (okay, it's more complicated than that, but not much). The Beatles didn't venture into America with long hair, Yogis and drugs; they came in suits, pleading, "I Want to Hold Your Hand." The enemy knows better than to bust in yelling, "HEY, who wants to offend God and go to Hell?" Instead, he comes in as a handsome suitor: "You shall be as God!"

In that vein, I believe, the film industry in America has pushed boundaries sexually and psychologically. These posts haven't really addressed the sexual aspect of film history; at this point I'll stick to psychological, since we're talking about horror and thriller films (though, of course, these films often also manage to include disturbing sexual content).

I am not a film scholar; I'm just a former film buff who has worked more years in video stores than she cares to admit. I can't detail the history of filmmaking for you and definitively point to the One Movie that Started it All--but I do want to point out a couple of watershed moments that popped out for me.

1. A Clockwork Orange came out in 1971 (three years before I was born!). has this synopsis by Steven Pemberton:

Alex, a teenage hooligan in a near-future Britain, gets jailed by the police. There he volunteers as guinea pig for a new aversion therapy proposed by the government to make room in prisons for political prisoners. "Cured" of his hooliganism and released, he is rejected by his friends and relatives. Eventually nearly dying, he becomes a major embarrassment for the government, who arrange to cure him of his cure. A pivotal moment is when he and his gang break into an author's home: the book he is writing (called "A Clockwork Orange") is a plea against the use of aversion therapy, on the grounds that it turns people into Clockwork Oranges (Ourang is Malay for "Man"): they are not being good from choice (sentiments later echoed by the prison chaplain). The film reflects this: many bad scenes in a Clockwork Orange are accompanied by jolly music; if we are to experience them as we should, we have to do it consciously, by realising they are bad, and not because the director tells us so through the use of music and images.

A Clockwork Orange has many brutal scenes--horrible scenes I don't want to describe to you (I saw the movie as a teenager)--that are, as Steven describes, accompanied by light-hearted music and performed in a humorous way. (The word "ultraviolence" was coined in this film.) While I see the point that Steven says Kubrick is trying to make, I also think that movies like this cast the villains in a sympathetic light: audiences are inclined to laugh at the horrific rather than have the natural reaction (which would be, uh, horror). They are inclined to like the bad guy and root for him rather than reject or hate him.

This can be said for countless films where the villain is more interesting and sympathetic than the hero, or where the villain is the hero. At the extreme end--the Saws and Saw IIs of the world--the audience laughs when they see terrifying, realistic suffering.

All this makes me think of

2. Quentin Tarantino movies. I was still working at video stores when his movies first came out amidst much positive buzz and fanfare. I saw Reservoir Dogs and part of True Romance--and then swore him off forever. Tarantino has made his name writing and directing films that are ultra-hip, ultraviolent and ultra-realistic. He combined humor, slick editing, quick dialogue and gore to entice audiences and introduce a David Cronenberg-like, macabre filmmaking style.

As a moviegoer at the time, I felt deceived by him; I thought I was getting an action movie with Reservoir Dogs, and I got torture. I thought I was getting a love story with True Romance, and I got violent, sadistic beating scenes (and not much else, since I walked out). I've read enough about his other movies to know they didn't get any better. People praise his originality and flash--but I seldom read any protests or concerns.

Do people really, really think that watching movies like the above don't have any effect on them or on others?

Several of you commented on the last post, wondering aloud about desensitization and the effect of violent programming and film on audiences (particularly impressionable children). On one hand, I do think there are different "kinds" of violence, and I think some ways of presenting it are more damaging than others (e.g., Die Hard versus Saw--there's a difference). The lines being crossed, with even industry insiders labeling films "torture porn", should concern everyone. I don't know just how it might affect the children that watch this stuff for entertainment now, but I can't imagine the effect being neutral.

Psalm 18:48
He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

Prov 16:29
A man of violence entices his neighbor
and leads him in a way that is not good.