Sponsor a Child Today!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Emma's Horse Show

What a weekend! I have definitely been educated in the world of Horse Shows.
Here's a few tidbits of what I know...
1. These are Peruvian Horses, and Peruvian Riding. It's Western riding, but I think there are some things unique to Peruvian riding, like the type of saddle, and the strange enormous panchos and hats people wear. I'm not so sure about the weird panchos...if I were making decisions about her riding style based on fashion, this would be out! But I really enjoyed watching the show and learning.

2. When a horse stands on your foot, it freakin' hurts! Yep! Really sore big toe. But everyone has to learn the hard way, right?

3. Not everyone loves the idea of you painting a $20,000 horse. For our costume parade, we painted Cohete Indian style. Mr. Brad had approved it, but his wife was quite skeptical. It is pretty crazy, when you think about it! We don't own our own horse, so they were letting Emma ride the best horse of all. I was grateful! They made an amazing team! The paint washed right off when I gave my first bath to a horse ever. I knew how to bathe kids, so I just used what I knew and attacked this task best I could. Thank goodness for the people there to help me!

4. Horse people are not in a hurry. Everything runs late, and at a leisurely pace. Now I know.

5. My daughter has a natural talent with horses. We knew this, but it was awesome to watch! I didn't even think about her placing, but she did! She even beat all of the girls in her age group in the Parade class! She got fourth place in that one, and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place were all grown-ups!!! We were shocked and pleased! We didn't stress winning or placing at all, we just kept saying "Do your best, and have fun." She did, and that worked well for her. I have to admit, it was fun! But all the girls did well, and we cheered them on all weekend. I realize a lot of this has to do with the horse they ride also.

6. I also learned that being a Mom means you will adapt to things you never dreamed of. I never even imagined being a Horse Mom. If my kids were interested in music, and we were doing any sort of music competition, this would be my total comfort zone. That was the life I lived. But horses...there I was, saddling horses, bathing a horse, mucking stalls, and giving her riding tips. What??? How did this happen? But this is what being a Mom is about. I love following their passions and seeing where they lead us. Any talent God gives them can be used for his glory, and I can't wait to see how He uses us in this world to share Christ with others and bring Him honor.
Col 3:17
17 And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father.

I feel like the Lord has given us a brand new mission field, and I will be honest...I'm shaking in my boots, nervous about how to move forward in sharing the Gospel with these people. But excited, too, that God is giving us an opportunity here. And what fun!!!
Okay, here are the pictures:

This is Emma and her sweet instructor, Mr. Brad. This man is 72 years old, and still going full steam, all day everyday, in his work. Isn't that awesome? I so want to be like that! He loves, loves, loves teaching these kids! He gave them all these fun baskets after the competition, and then took them on a hayride around the Expo Center for fun! He's awesome!

This is Emma in the Parade class. After they all finished, they lined up for the judging. I think they deliberated for about three and a half hours. That's what it felt like to me. Thank goodness she was on a pro show horse, and her horse stood perfectly still as she waited. Not all of the horses did. She looked professional. I was so nervous I wanted to throw up. When they called out her name, she didn't go get her ribbon. I couldn't figure out why? Later she told me they didn't say her last name right, so she didn't think it was her! Ha! This girl better get used to having her name butchered. That's part of life in the Bacak Nation!

Here's our little Indian. That's not very politically correct, is it? Here's our little Native American.

My husband said "when I married, you I never would have thought I'd see this..." Well, me neither. I'm used to cleaning up human poop around here, so what's a little horse poop? I actually didn't mind cleaning the stalls a bit! Emma and I had fun doing it together. I think it's like kids. When you love your kids, of course you'll clean up their poop! We were loving Cohete, so of course we would clean out his stall for him!

That's it! Thanks to Pop-Pop, Jess, Amanda, and Matt & Erin for coming out to cheer her on. It made her feel very special. Also thanks to those of you who asked about it. It was a very special weekend for Emma!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What are the odds?

What are the odds that we would have two children, completely unrelated BIOLOGICALLY (related in every way that counts in this family!) who are speech delayed?
I don't know what the odds are, but here we are...
Some of you remember what this road was like for us and Justus.
We are still walking it, but his progress has been tremendous, and had we not started signing with him, we might have all gone crazy!
Well Treston is officially at least 6 months behind in speech.
This may seem like a strange coincidence.
Well, it's not.

Quick Recap: Justus' Story
God's hand is sovreign in the children He gives us, by birth and by adoption. It's not a random process. God gave us Justus, a child who had almost no words until he was close to 3, because He had already equipped us to deal with it.
My undergrad at Baylor is in Communication Disorders/Speech Pathology. I didn't pursue my Master's in that, but followed my passion in working with the Deaf. I became a licensed interpreter in ASL, interpreted on the college level for 2-3 years, and then taught Deaf Education to Pre-K and Kindergarteners!
Does that give you chills, to realize how He prepared me in advance for my baby boy?
It did me, when I stopped feeling frustrated and sorry for myself and Justus long enough to be incredibly thankful for His provision for our family!!!
Justus could NOT communicate with words. The frustration this creates can only be understood if you have experienced this! Justus learned to sign, and he became a fluent signer before he was three years old. By the time his speech started coming, he was able to express himself, and we have no doubt that Justus flourished in speech and language development only after he had access to language for a while through ASL. God was incredibly good to us! We didn't have to stop our life and learn to sign. We already knew how! Everyone who loved Justus started learning too! Our family, our friends, and even his nursery workers. It was amazing!
Justus' language has caught up to nearly average, but his speech, though miraculously improved, scored in the 3% on a scale of 100% upon his last evaluation.
But after he started signing, we realized how stinkin' smart he was! None of us really knew until he had some language. He scored through the roof on intelligence scores, and now he's starting Pre-K at home way ahead!!! God has been good to us! His plan for Justus has been so good from the beginning. It overwhelms me to think about it! He has never forsaken us, even though the road has been tough, because He's a good and faithful God.

Here we go again...:
Thankfully, He's the same God of Treston's life.
I have no idea what Treston's story will be. He may catch up all of a sudden. Who knows? But I'm not waiting another minute to provide communication that he needs when I CAN.
We are in the screaming and pointing (so loudly!) phase, and his frustration is growing.
So is mine.
So we are starting the more intense signing lessons with Treston.
He is not picking them up super fast, so you can pray for that.
But we are definitely in need of some communication, so let's gear up again for some hand-talking people!
We are starting lessons again on www.aslpro.com and they have functional lists we will be working from this summer. I am combining them with the necessary verbs we use in sentences.
Such as:
like/ don't like
want/ don't want

These "functional lists" are cool because once you learn the signs, you can turn it into a quiz. So fun! The kids love it!
So when you see Treston, keep Treston in the nursery, play with him at the park this summer, or whatever role you may have in his life, get your hands warmed-up!
I am ready for the screaming to STOP and real communication begin!

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm a Horse Mom

I have entered a new world, in which I am an alien.
the Horse Show world.
My daughter Emma, who I have mentioned is "one with nature", was born in love with horses. I have discovered there are many people like this. She's not alone. We weren't around horses. We didn't live on a farm. This was not an environmentally cultivated interest. It is built into her DNA. She loves horses. She has been as comfortable around them as she has been people since she was a toddler. Not kidding. She's never EVER exhibited fear of these enormous animals in her whole life.
She started riding at the age of four. We had gone to Camp Ozark for our summer visit, and since we couldn't tear her away from the horses all week, and she had such a nack for it, we decided to follow her passion.
She has been taking lessons at Carousel Acres since then, and they have been leisurely, enjoyable western riding lessons. (The picture above of the horse jumping is NOT what she is doing now, but I thought it looked cool.) We love watching her. She is incredibly beautiful, in her element, trotting her horse around. It's a joy. We pay the nice horse man, and we drive away.
BUT...she has entered a new phase. The competition phase. She is going to be in her first horse show this coming weekend, and preparing for it has been a whole new world.
Our formerly laid-back weekly lessons became super intense! We practice with the group of girls competing, some for the first time, like Emma, and some who are veterans.
In competition, everything is quiet. (I've never been to a horse show, so this is what I'm learning.) She has to listen to her instructor at all times, and I'm responsible for having her on her horse in the right place at all times.
I had no idea how to even lead the horse, I'm ashamed to admit. I was pulling it by it's lead rope, like an idiot. I have felt pretty stupid on a weekly basis.
This is what else I found I was responsible for...

-tacking the horse (I'm pretty sure this means getting the horse from it's stall and typing it up, with this special knot that I'm still trying to get the hang of, to the post in order to saddle it).

-Putting on the saddle and bridle. It's more complicated to me than it looks.

-Grooming the horse. This is where they threw me. This includes brushing it, which I like, but also picking it's feet. You heard me. I have to convince the horse to pick up each hoof while I use a very sharp tool and get all the rocks and dirt out. This scared me. A lot. But I did it for the first time last week. Hooray for me!!!

-I also learned last week that for the costume parade they are doing on the horses, I am also supposed to dress up the horse!!! I had no idea!!! I am finding these things out in passing coversations with the other Moms while I try very hard not to look retarded.

-I am also responsible, at the show, for feeding, watering, and mucking our horse's stall. Wow.

The problem is, everyone else knows what they are doing. They either rode horses themselves growing up, grew up around horses, or have already been trained in this stuff. Literally, everyone is doing this stuff without any instruction, and I'm completely overwhelmed and at a loss.
So like a good amateur horse Mom, I jumped in there. I am asking for help. The other Moms have been very nice and obliging. I am doing stuff I'm scared to do. But I'm doing it!
And Heather though being a soccer Mom was a different world! Come on! I have to pick a horse's hooves and put a costume on it! What the heck!
I'm trying to learn all the rules and look like I belong. Hopefully, I will pull it off.
We are super excited to see Emma in the show! She's going to be great! She is only participating in two classes. The costume parade, which I don't think is judged, and one competition class. Some of the other girls who are first-timers are doing up to six classes! Last week, when they offered to Emma to try a more difficult competitive course, she tried it but then declined. The thought stressed her out, and I was glad she realized one was enough for her. For our first time around, I prefer that as well.
If anyone is interested in coming to watch her, it's here in Bryan this coming weekend. I can give you the details. We would love to have a cheering section for her (when I figure out when we're allowed to cheer.) This will be my first horse show to watch. You can also come by and laugh at me trying to be a horse Mom. That might be etertaining too.
So soccer Moms, be thankful. Cutting up orange slices doesn't look so bad now, hu?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Goodbye Mrs. Gruner

We are grieving today.
Our precious Mrs. Gruner died early this morning.
I just got back from Crestview, and her bed is empty. On it was laid her funeral clothes, and Mr. Gruner sat in the recliner.
We were surprised to find her very sick a week ago today, and this week, it seemed she deteriorated quickly.
This week has been hard.
We fell in love with the Gruners, as you may know by a previous post about them.
In this post we shared how we had a birthday party for her, and we were able to make her last birthday a special one, for us and for her.
To be honest, I really am surprised it was her last.
I was not prepared for this.
How silly does that sound, when we are doing Nursing Home ministry?
I knew all of our friends there would die, and it would be sad.
But I still was not prepared for how difficult the grieving would be.
There are many people at Crestview who have given up...are ready to die...they are openly waiting on death to relieve them.
But not Mrs. Gruner.
She was the most positive person I think I've ever met.
She was somehow, still enjoying life recently, with her sweet husband of 65+ years, even though she suffered MS and was bound to her bed.
She would smile as soon as she saw us, even to the end!
She welcomed the children on to her bed, and let them rumple her covers, and stand in their chairs, looking for the squirrels that would ravage their bird feeder. They named him Sammy the Squirrel.
She would tell me stories of what it was like to meet Mr. Gruner as a girl (at a football game) and fall in love. They married, and Mr. Gruner, like so many others, went off to face World War II. Mrs. Gruner, a young bride, awaited letters, with huge gaps of time in between, not knowing what would happen. I would love to read one of those letters.
She talked about how she had to go to work, and she rode her bicycle to work each day with her baby in the basket. She had to take him to a sitter so she could help provide during the war.
She was a young woman once who feared and loved God.
She chased her children around the yard, like me.
She wiped their noses and taught them their school work.
She loved her husband and served in her church.
She was beautiful. The black and white photo of her and her 5 sisters is stunning. She was the prettiest one of them all.
She suffered from MS, like her mother had.
Her husband never left her side. She needed full time care, so when they moved her into Crestview, Mr. Gruner rented a room in the retirement housing there and just lived in her room every waking moment.
He waited on her, loved her, nursed her, and hardly ever left her.
I visited them many times over this past school year...weekly...and he was only not there one time. He had a doctor's appt. We have visited morning, noon, and evening, and he was always there.
I said before and still say, I want Rusty and I to be them.
Last Saturday, I went and sat with her while Mr. Gruner took my kids into the courtyard to chase squirrels and climb trees for his entertainment.
I read from her old worn Bible, help together precariously with packing tape.
She asked me to read Psalm 23, the Lord is my Shepherd, and I did.
I read other passages to her about heaven.
I wiped her nose and brushed her hair.
It was my privelege to do anything to care for this wonderful woman.
I couldn't sleep last night, and stayed up crying thinking about her leaving Mr. Gruner behind.
I rejoice for Mrs. Gruner. She is with her Savior! What joy!
The kids and I have petitioned the Lord that one day, when we are reunited in heaven, we might be allowed to live next door to the Gruners. We want to share a yard with them, we decided.
I am learning a lot about myself in this.
I have not had to lose many people close to me.
I don't do well with people leaving or dying. I need the Lord to show me how to do this, because more death will come. This is inevitable. It's life.
I am learning that I have not given enough thought to the reality of ETERNITY and that this life is like a weekender. Our real life awaits us. A forever life, worshiping our God around his throne, forever!
I realized that I can't allow one more person in my life to die without knowing for certain what they believe about Jesus. How would I feel right now if I wasn't certain of Mrs. Gruner's salvation? What if I hadn't asked?
I want to be bolder with everyone in my life. The road to salvation is narrow, and the path to destruction is broad. I want to know that I've done all I can to bring people to the narrow path.
We are sad today.
Emma is crying too. She really loved Mrs. Gruner.
I am thankful, beyond words, for having the opportunity to know her.
She's changed me.
We started going to Crestview to bless the lonely, hurting old people.
I had no idea that I would be going to receive a blessing from such wonderful people as she.
Before I left there today, I talked to Mrs. Ramsey.
She can't stop telling me how lonesome she is. She said "every inch" of her hurts. She is so desperate for companionship. She told me she just needs a mother or a daugther. I told her I would adopt her. I would be there for her. She says she has no one. She has a son who visits once every two weeks or so. I've never seen him there. She feels utterly alone.
If anyone else is interested in doing this with us, let me know!
This week I realized how very hard it is, but pretty much everything God has specifically called me to has been hard. The Bible is real clear about this walk not being easy.
But the reward is eternal. What else can we give our time to and say that?
We love you Mrs. Gruner. Hope you're enjoying your welcome home party.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

TV Fast

About three weeks ago I read this post by Aaron Hendrick, and it got me thinking about TV.
He encouraged everyone to join them in a 2 week TV fast. Why? Because it makes our heads stupid. I could say it smarter than that, but I've been watching too much TV.
So I started asking God, what do you want to say to us about TV?
I wasn't really ready to listen I think, but I told my kids about it, and they wanted to give up TV...not for 2 weeks, but for 2 days.
I was flabbergasted.
I thought, let's start there and see what happens.
So we had a 2 day detox.
But let me trace backwards in what God has taught us about TV.

Young Motherhood
I was all too excited to quit my teaching job (although teaching little deaf kids was awesome!) and trade it in for my real job of Mommy in 2000.
But there are a few things I didn't anticipate about that transition.
One being the absence of communication during the day.
I went from being in school, constantly communicating all day with kids and grown-ups alike, to being at home...with no one...not one person (that could talk) to communicate with all day.
Rusty would come home during lunch and after work, and I could talk his ear off if I wanted to, but that was definitely different.
So when Emma was born, I turned on the TV. I hadn't watched too much TV during college and when I was working. But now I was at home, alone, loving my baby, but desperate for human voices while I sat there nursing her, wearing my spit-up t-shirts, tethered to my house. Don't take that as discontentment with my new job! I loved it, but I didn't know how to navigate through the transition well.
I watched some great classic TV. Anybody ever watched St. Elsewhere? Loved it.
My late night show on Nick at Night when I was up with baby Emma, who didn't sleep, and still to this day barely ever does, was Charlie's Angels. Wow, that show was funny! Discos, feathered hair, lip gloss, and guns. Love it!
But it started a very bad habit. The TV became the background noise for my life, I hate to admit.
I discovered that Emma, who never stopped moving, crawling, climbing, and getting into everything, at the age of 12 months would STOP- and watch a video!!!! She would go into a trance. She was mesmerized with Elmo! Wow! This was a super cool trick I didn't know about!
So Emma started watching shows. Sesame Street. Barney. Caillou, the most annoying cartoon kid ever made, Blue's Clues, etc.
This was NOT a wise decision on my part! I so regret allowing her to watch so much TV!
By the time Emma was 2, and Jax a baby, and we moved here, we made the change. We went cold turkey on daytime TV. We decided we would turn the kids shows off during the day ENTIRELY and watch what we wanted after they went to bed.
We did that. The house was quiet, and it was good. God filled the air with the noises of our home, not the meaningless buzz of TV dialog, and it was so good.
We never looked back, and God showed us how important it was to not let TV take that place of importance in our day and our children's days again.

Live TV
We NEVER watch live TV with the kids.
Rusty and I banned live TV for the kids years ago. We can't predict what will come on the screen. No matter what the program, we still have commercials to battle. With regular channels, you've got images flashing on the screen I don't want, for us or for them. (Don't you love DVR where you can skip the commercials! Score 1 for us!) But on kids' channels, you often have the toys and junk commercials, feeding the greed machine in them. No thanks.
I used to really like to watch Good Morning America. I watched it when I had a job, before I left home in the morning. I loved those people. I loved knowing what was going on in the world, mixed in with some weather, fun recipes, and celebrity interviews.
The last time I tried to watch GMA with my little ones in the room a few years ago, they, without warning, showed a clip from an awards show the night before where Madonna kissed on the mouth both Brittney Spears and Christina Aguillara. I leapt at that TV like a crazed woman! That clenched the no live TV deal.
Short of being psychic, we cannot protect their eyes, or our own.

Movies at Night
A couple summers ago, we started letting our kids pick out a movie at night to watch. It started on vacation, and they loved it! So when we came home, we thought "Why not?" They didn't have to be up early for anything, so it seemed like a fun summer thing to do.
Then we started homeschooling, and while we do start our day at 8:00am, they don't have to get up early to get ready. We do school work in our pj's. So that seemed like a perk to homeschooling! Why not let them watch a movie at night? They didn't watch any TV during the day. We didn't see any harm.
But the harm came in when they grew to be addicted to TV at night. Skipping it became a time for pouting or fits. They were dependent on the nightly TV ritual.
That was not good.

Insomnia and TV
At the same time, I had become dependent on nightly TV watching.
Rusty gets in bed, his head hits the pillow, and he's fast asleep.
That is probably just an indication of how sleep deprived his life is, but I have envied it still.
Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep. Insomnia is far too extreme a word. I just can't stop my brain sometimes. If this has ever been a problem for you, you know that often the fear of not being able to fall asleep is ever-present. It really doesn't happen to me that much, but I HATE it when it does!
So I was watching TV at night to help me not think about being awake, and dull my brain into going into sleep mode.
But this had virtually erased my reading time. That was bad. I had traded reading for TV. It was making my head stupid.
That was not good.

So when we decided to detox ourselves from TV for a few days. It was so great! We extended it to all week! At night, instead of movies for the kids, we played UNO. We read more books. We always did our Bible Study time with the kids at night, but this time was lengthened and sweeter. It took more effort at bed time, but we were really enjoying it, and everyone was falling asleep earlier! Glory!
The TV fast brought us to a new solution of no nighttime TV during the week. On the weekends, they can get a new Netflix movie and enjoy a movie night while we have date night. They will have more freedom to watch during the weekend, but during the week, we have erased the TV time. (Minus a 30 minute educational show in the morning while I finish my Bible Study and prepare their school work from 7:30-8:00am.)
I, too, am seldom watching TV during the week. We have saved our American Idol and The Office for the weekends, which is just as good. (So don't tip us off to what's happenning on American Idol!)
It has been great! I'm about to finish two great books! (I read fiction and spiritual books simultaneously sometimes, so I get both.)
This has been a great thing in our house! We have broken an addiction in our house. TV is certainly not worthy of such devotion and commitment. Only God is.
So there's the good, bad, and ugly of our TV journey.
Now, onto the sugar addiction.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Get a second opinion!

Everybody loves going to the dentist, I know.
I never feel lovelier.
It may be worse than my yearly pap. (Sorry guys. All three of you who read my blog.)
Getting work done seems to me to be a civilized form of torture. You know, something they'd do on Alias, but with TV's to watch and a potential co-pay.
I had an experience last week I HAVE TO share!
I went to a brand new (to me) dentist here in town, by referral from a close friend.
She loves the staff, and has had a lot of work done there.
(Maybe that should have been a clue.)
I went there for a cleaning, and they truly were very nice.
But by the time I left, the nice man told me I needed three crowns and five fillings!! Take that in for a moment...crowns are multiple visits and incredibly expensive.
Three of them. And five fillings.
That's bound to be atleast $3,000, if not more. Right out of our pocket.
I think he basically wanted to re-do everything in my mouth, and then some.
I was fighting tears as I blindly made my appt. for the first torture visit.
But as I pulled out of the parking lot, I called my dentist at home. These are people I've known almost all of my life and I still know their office number by heart. They are amazing, sweet Godly people who live in my hometown, Magnolia.
I told them what he said and that I thought I needed their second opinion.
She squeezed me in for the very next day, and told me this happens all the time.
There are plenty of dentists doing superfluous work on us innocent victims.
So I drove an hour to see my beloved, honest dentist, and you won't believe it...
He said he didn't recommend doing ANYTHING to me! Not one thing.
I was apalled. And relieved of course.
I can save about $3,000. I think we'll take a vacation.
Now let me say here, I know there are different schools of thoughts within dentistry.
The call as to whether or not to mess with a tooth is far more subjective than I think we realize. The only reason I am not putting this first dentist's name on here is because I am giving him the benefit of the doubt, that he is part of an extremely perfectionist school of thought within his profession, and this is not motivated by greed.
But it might be.
(E-mail me if you want to know if he's your dentist.)
All this to say- GET A SECOND OPINION.
Or just drive to my wonderful dentist in Magnolia in the first place.
That's what we'll be doing from now on.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Oprah Day 3: A New Earth

Sorry it's taken me a while to find time to watch each of these shows, and then write about it. This show in particular needed my full attention, and devotion to scripture.
Wow. This stuff is crazy. If any of you, like my friend Laurie who commented in the last Oprah segment, are finding yourselves in discussions about the validity of this cooky stuff, get out your Bibles.
Let me first say, if you are watching these shows, and you are not a mature believer, grounded in the Word, certain of what scripture says about salvation and living life, you should not be watching this.
It's deceptive. It's tricky. You can watch these real, live people give testimony as to how it's caused them to be better people, lose weight even (that will draw your attention!), stop your sinful behaviors, and think...Wow! This is good stuff.
It's not.
I understand how lost people get sucked into this. If I were lost, I might.
But as believers and followers of Christ, we ough to know better!
We need to know the God we love, we have given everything up to follow, and know what His Word says about this junk.
So if you've been watching this, and you are not mature in your faith, and you don't have your Bible in your hand, completely on guard against this, you are being like the "weak-willed woman" in 2 Timothy 3:6, who allow false teaching to "worm it's way into our homes", and "are swayed by all kids of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth."
So what is the basic message of this New Earth business?
Their advertisements say "Learn who you really are...awaken to your life's purpose...your place in the universe...only for those who are ready."
On the show, and also on the website, they assure you this will NOT intefere with your religious beliefs. It will only add to it, sweeten it.
Let's pause it. God's Word and Jesus don't need to add this little hobbit's guy teaching to sweeten it or add to it. (Rusty thinks this guy Eckhart Tolle, the author of the book, looks like a hobbit.)
Jesus' sacrifice for our sins and full teaching will stand alone, thank you very much. Not only did He take care of our sin problem once and for all on the cross, but then He gifted us with God's Word and His Holy Spirit, telling us everything we need to know in how to follow Him with obedient lives. What else could we possibly need? If you're a Christian, you certainly don't need this peculiar guy's book to "add to" your belief system. We don't need "A New Earth", we don't need the Book of Mormon, or any other book to add to His Word.
Let's start with one major deception: Being better people
Every good deception has a fragment of truth woven into it. It wouldn't hook us if it didn't. The objectives in this teaching sound good, and like some of our own objectives as Christians. I'm trying to catch the lingo they are using in this teaching...egos (pride)...pain bodies...that's our favorite. I tell you, this has provided for some hilarious jokes among me, Rusty, Heather and Aaron this week. Good fun.
But here are some of the objectives I heard in this one show:
-Breaking down of egos. We could find the theme of getting rid of our pride, as in passages like Phil. 2
-Breaking attachments to material things, similarly found in 1 John 2:16-17 and Luke 12:34
-Being present in the moment. This is the major theme! Something that might sound similar is in James 4:13-17 and Luke 12:28-31, teaching us not to presume upon God's future plans for us, and not to worry about tomorrow.
-Letting go of what we would call sinful thought patterns, like bitterness, unforgiveness, obsessive eating. etc. You will find that in passages like Ephesians 4:31, Col. 3:8, and Phil. 4:8
Let me be clear- their objectives are not founded in these scriptures, but they make it look like our goals are the same. It can be very deceiving.
Then they differentiated between the difference of spirituality and religion.
They defined spirituality as-the longing in each of us for MORE, for a higher purpose, and eternal journey.
Religion was defined as-what we use to answer these questions about eternity. Religion is meant to FILL that longing.
There's this idea in the world that you can be a spiritual person or grow spiritually outside of the knowledge and relationship with Jesus Christ.
We know we cannot separate these things. Everything about us, our spirits and bodies, are meant to glorify God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 6 tells us that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, meant to glorify God, if we are believers. Paul's who life and goal was to be poured out like a drink offering (Phil 2) to further His kingdom.
If we are just trying to better ourselves, making us kinder, more "present in the moment", less bitter, more forgiving, whatever, it is in vain if it is to please ourselves and not to please God.
2 Cor 5:15
15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them.

With God, and the Holy Spirit in us, we have the power to please God.
Phil 2:12-13
you must be even more careful to put into action God's saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him. Without God, we are powerless to do this. When we are lost, we are enslaved to sin. Ask anyone who's ever been addicted to any sin (which is all of us.) Only God's power sets us free once and for all.
Rom 6:14
4 Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God's grace.

Be your authentic self.
I don't know about you, but my authentic self is pretty gross.
The me, before Christ, is sinful. Yucky. Selfish.
Without Christ, I wouldn't know how to be any other way.
Without the standard of God's holiness, what would I be? Whoever I want to be?
I don't want to be her. She's not nice. She's all about herself.
This idea of connecting with your inner self is faulty to the core.
If our inner selves were nice people, we would not live in a world of sinful, evil, people. But we do.
Romans 3:23 says "For all have sinned; all fall short of the glory of God's glorious standard." We are guilty, on the fast road to being condemned for eternity without God. But the good news- the verse right before this one- Romans 3:22 "We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are and what we have done."
We are in need of a Savior, no doubt about it. We are not good enough, and our "authentic selves" will never be good enough.

Being present in the moment and eternal life.
This is the last thing I will try to tackle today.
It seems the overriding theme of this teaching, outside of being our "authentic selves" and being better people, is what I heard them say over and over...being present in the moment. This moment is all we have. Jenny McCarthy said "The only peace we can find is in the present."
One of them said "The NOW is where our power resides."
Wow. Where do I begin?
Living for the now goes against everything Christianity is about.
The NOW is not all we have. Eternal life is promised to those who trust in Jesus. John 3:16. Our home is really in heaven as believers. We are just aliens here, passing through. Our lives are fleeting here on earth.
Margit-a guest and Catholic minister said she had her "Aha moment" (if I hear that term one more time, I'm going to scream!) when she really got that Jesus didn't come to die on the cross for our sins- but to show us how to do it, how to live.
Wow!!! At this point, Oprah says "Yeah, you know I'm a Christian too...Jesus came to show us "Christ's consciousness." I'm not even sure what this means, but this is the most dangerous lie of all!!!!
We already saw in one of the clips from that video I previously posted that Oprah has denounced Jesus as the only way.
Jesus himself said "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." John 14:6
Oprah claims Christianity, but does not believe in his whole purpose for coming to save us! He DID come to die on the cross for our sins! I'll let scripture speak for that.
Rom 3:25
25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.

1 Tim 1:15
15 This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners

1 John 3:4-6
4 Those who sin are opposed to the law of God, for all sin opposes the law of God. 5 And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, for there is no sin in him. 6 So if we continue to live in him, we won't sin either. But those who keep on sinning have never known him or understood who he is.

Without knowing this, and accepting this sacrifice, trading our life for His life, we will never know eternal life.
Except this is what they had to say about eternal life...scariest part of the show hands down.
This poor woman, Penny, who is nearing to death due to cancer, says she has found great peace in knowing she now will have eternal life based on reading this book. Tolle (hobbit guy) explains eternal life by saying we all have "energy", our life, and energy can't die. It goes on, but our "form" our bodies, will disentigrate.
Doesn't that sound simple?
And he says "This is Jesus' teaching."
No...no, it's not. He uses Jesus' name and supposed teaching in the book to weave into this treacherous lie.
Yes, eternal life exists. Of course. But you will spend it in hell if you don't surrender your life to Christ and follow Him!
Yet Penny says now she has no fear in death. Eckhart Tolle says he has absolutely no fear in death. I am fearing it for them.
As Jesus put it:
Luke 13:5
5 No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will also perish."

A lot of the quotes they give sound like double talk and "deep thoughts" that used to be on Saturday Night Live. Really, this is weird stuff.
Finally, Be very careful when you hear any teaching, with Jesus' name on it or not, that never mentions SIN.
1 John 1:8-10
8 If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
We all have a sin problem. All of us.
It can't be solved with breathing, better space, living in the moment.
It can't be solved with ANYTHING other than accepting Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and dying to our "authentic selves" to follow Him.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Day 2 of Oprah

Today's show was about friendship.
Martina Navratilova and Chris Everett were on first. Unlike Heather, I did know who they were. I remember watching them, or my brother's watching them rather, on TV.
I seriously want to be a tennis player now. I've always thought the outfits were cute, and tennis fans seem so dignified. But now I really want to be one! I want to go to Chris Everett's tennis academy. Except for the fact that I'm not 15, and there's nothing more pathetic that a grown person trying to learn something new that 5 year olds can whoop you at.
Okay, back on track.
I read Heather's post already, and she wrote something great on friendship. Go there and read it. She also reiterated that we are not trying to evaluate lost people's thoughts and actions and decide if they're okay. Our only goal here is to evaluate what we as Christians are taking into our homes and minds, epecially for those who are worshiping at the Oprah church faithfully.
Is Oprah's show entertaining? Yes. I was entertained so far this week.
This is my brief two point sermon, because as soon as I finish this, Rusty's going to fix us sundaes. Yes!

Point #1: This is a continuation from yesterday's post. Monday's show featured celebrities. Oprah regularly interviews celebrities because she knows everyone there is to know that's famous. She's Oprah.
There is definitely a ridiculous fixation on Hollywood in our country.
I wonder how many millions of dollars are spent each WEEK on magazines and shows and internet news JUST ABOUT CELEBRITIES.
Isn't this kind of strange, when you think about it?
I used to follow stuff like that a little, and now I don't.
I don't even want to get hooked into a People magazine front page. Why? We ought not idolize Hollywood stars for many obvious reasons, but as a woman, it makes me feel yuk about myself. When I see perfect bodies and perfect clothes and hair and make-up, how can I stand up against that?
I can't.
Weight is an issue for me. I think about it too much. I have written about this before. I gave up weighing myself more than a year ago. I haven't gone back. I've been so tempted a few times when I was in someone else's house, alone with a scale...no one would know. God would know and He's brought me too far on this issue. I have no idea what I weigh right now. I can't handle knowing what I weigh.
I know that when I am disappointed with that number, it will ruin my day, my week really, and it will ignite in me an obsessive thought pattern about my weight.
I can't have that.
I need to be fixed on Christ, on the eternal, not on what I weigh.
Nor should we be so fixed on things like clothes and glamour. These things will evaporate in the end. Meaningless. Completely worth nothing in the big picture.
I need to "set my mind on things above." Col. 3:1
So as Christian women, how can all that silly stuff be so important to us?
If you're like me, guard your mind. Be very careful about magazines, TV, whatever it is that sets your mind to work criticizing yourself. It's a discipline of my mind, and a true test in our contentment. God has been faithful to change me and the way I think over time in trusting Him on this.

Point #2: Vivian Stringer was the second guest, and she seemed like a very nice lady.
She had certainly faced a great deal of adversity, as a child and as a grown woman. She is the coach of the Rutgers women's basketball team. This is the team that was vicitim to the racist remarks of a sports radio host's remarks that make national news.
Ms. Stringer seemed to handle that with class. She seemed to be a very strong woman, despite the tragedy of a disabled daughter, losing her husband, and breast cancer.
The message was that we can turn to our friends in these times.
We can turn to ourselves. We can stand tall, which was the title of Ms. Stringer's book.
I just kept thinking, how sad to endure all these things and not know the Lord.
Vivian Stringer didn't speak of the Lord, and of course I haven't read her book, so I don't know. But when we watch people and hear their painful stories, though they seems quite corageous and victorious sitting on the Oprah stage, what does it really feel like to go to bed at night without hope?
If our hope is in ourself, I don't think I could bear that. I am sinful and destined to fail without the Lord.
When we lose a person close to us, what must that feel like? Where is your hope outside of knowing you will see them again for eternity?
Where is our comfort outside of knowing the Holy Spirit, who is called the Comforter in scripture?
We can turn to our friends. Friends are a blessing! God is good to me in His gift of friendship. But friends will fail you. They can't always be there. They will hurt you from time to time. They're human. Outside of our relationship with God, we don't really know how to be good friends anyway.
This is the reality for lost people. Their eternity will be damnation.
When need to pick people up and show them that our only hope is in Jesus.
We can't be brave enough, strong enough, classy enough, or good enough to save ourselves.
Sermon over. Bring on the sundaes.
I haven't watched Wednesday's episode yet, but I'm nervous. How weird is this New Earth stuff going to be?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Day 1 of Oprah Show

Just to recap, Heather and I are watching Oprah for a week. Heather asked me if I would participate in checking this new stuff out on Oprah, but also to see what it is about her that draws millions of viewers, so many women, Christian and non-Christian, to her 5 times a week. Heather pointed out that many Christian women will defend her to the death, and are more faithful to watching her than they are to church or Bible Study. Anything that is that big of a deal, we should probably carefully evaluate what we're thinking.
So this week I am watching and evaluating. I have NOT read Heather's post about Day 1 yet. I want to give my honest thoughts, and then we'll see what both of us are taking from this.

Her first guest was Jamie Lee Curtis. I like her. I like her children's books. They are not a source of biblical truth or anything, but I like them. She has adopted kids. I like that too.
Here's one of my first thoughts, interjected here:
It's okay to like lost people.
It's okay to like Oprah. It's okay that I like Jamie Lee Curtis. I used to like Rosie O'Donnell and her show way back when. (I was pregnant and on bedrest with Jax, so I watched it daily for a while.) I know Rosie is a lesbian. I know Oprah is an adultress. I know Jamie Lee Curtis showed her boobs in movies. They're lost. I could be any one of those things but for the grace of God. I was a sinner in need of a Savior, just like them. I think it's arrogant of us to think differently.
Lost people are likable too. They can be funny, entertaining, and smart, like saved people.
However, we can't idolize them. We can't be so enamored with them that we start allow their ideas and views to seep into our minds as acceptable and good.
This is a fine line we need to be aware of.
Jamie Lee Curtis had some good things to say about aging, and not being caught up in the outward appearance. I've heard her talk about this before on a talk show. I like that! What a rare message in Hollywood! But she and Oprah agreed that it's all about finding your "authentic self." Be who you are, and whoever that is is okay. Whatever works for YOU, in all the choices you make in life, is part of your authentic self, and that is the god you bow down to. (I don't think they put it quite that way. My interpretation.)
That's not true. We can't say what ever feels right for US is okay. Sin can feel good and right. When we gratify ourselves, it feels good. When we make ourselves the boss and the king of our lives, the world will applaud, with Oprah starting the standing ovation. That doesn't mean they don't do altruistic and wonderful humanitarian things. They do! That's what's tricky about it. But I know enough of the Oprah religion to know that being the best YOU you can be can mean making decisions that don't honor God. We're either for Him, or against Him. If we're for ourself, we're against God. We can't serve two masters. But we as Christians know, He's for us, and that's where our authentic, unique, true self is found. Our identity in Christ, not in self-promotion and being empowered as a woman in the worldly sense. It's an illusion promising happiness and self-fulfillment. It's not real. Our only joy and peace is found in putting God on the throne of our lives.

The second guest was Salma Hayek. It's hard to find pictures of these people without their boobs hanging out! (Hey, I just wrote boobs two times in this one post. That's funny!)
She is so beautiful! I love her accent as well.
She had some things to say about motherhood that I liked and didn't like.
I liked that she was enjoying motherhood.
I hated that she said that it was ideal to wait until you are older and find yourself, achieve things, love yourself basically, first.
That's a lie. We can argue that case on many points.
When the topic turned to marriage (or lack thereof for she and Oprah alike) it bothered me even more.
I've heard this same coversation many times before in past years about marriage on her show.
Salma says being a woman is hard. I think being a woman is great. Let's stop acting like being female is a hardship. In this day, it certainly is not!
This is what I was hearing about marriage:
Marriage, it's so optional. It's far from necessary in their eyes.
We are good enough and strong enough as women on our own, and don't need the validation of a man. One of them said you "keep your power" by not marrying a man.
It's "sexy" not to marry, but once you marry you lose the spark and excitement.
Salma and her fiance live across an ocean from each other, but it's so good, because she has more time to devote to her baby, herself, and her career.
Of course, we as Christians should know the truth about marriage.
But do we? Do we filter this message immediately through the Word of God, or do you allow it to wander around in your brain, look for a weak spot to infiltrate, like a disease looking for a weak immune system. How strong is our spiritual immune system?
The older I get and more I mature in my walk, the better I think. But not rock solid at all times, in every moment.
I remember watching an Oprah show about the evils of spanking when I was a young mother, and it terrified me. I thought I was a child abuser. I called my friend Leanna (Godly counsel) and said "remind me why we do this?" She brought me to God's Word, and I was reminded of what loving discipline can look like in that context. But it shook me up! It confused me! I was vulnerable there. I was a young Mom and I had a weak spot.
Where are your weak spots? Where is your spiritual immune system low? If your marriage is experiencing trouble and you struggle with contentment and satisfaction because of it, stay far, far away from media like this!!! The messages about marriage, self-empowerment and fulfillment, your authentic self, being true to you, will beat down that weak spot until it can't stand it anymore.
God's Word can stand the test! He can give you an answer for what you believe, but if you're feeding your flesh with this stuff more than you're feeding your Spirit with His Word and prayer, then you won't make it!
I was talking with a friend last night about her experiencing a deep depression brought on by a medicine she was taking. It brought her to a crisis in her faith. She felt purpose-less, doubting everything she knew to be true about God. How hard would it be for the Enemy to take a person in this position, and twist their thinking? Not hard.
We must guard ourselves! We must guard our hearts and minds.
I'm interested to see this "New Earth" business on Wednesday, "awakening to life's purpose." I'm scared already.
I didn't get to it today, but I want to write later on about the dangers of celebrity worship.
That concludes my Monday Oprah thoughts. There you have it.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Heather called me today and said "Do you want to watch Oprah for a week?"
I said "okay....?"
I know neither of us are Oprah watchers. I used to watch Oprah.
I haven't in a long time.
If I'm going to watch something when I finally fall in bed at 10pm, it's going to be Gilmore Girls or American Idol.
Watch this short video filling you in on her latest anti-Jesus endeavors. I had heard it was bad, but I just haven't paid much attention to it.
But this is something worth looking into, considering how many Christians are big Oprah fans. In fact, it's pretty obvious the way women idolize her, because from what I remember, the first five minutes of her show, everyone there looks like 16-year-old girls at a Beatles concert. They are screaming like crazy, crying, just trying to reach out and touch her with a brush of their hands! Let's admit it...she is worshiped. She is one of those people who can speak with authority, and no matter what she's saying, you want to believe it. You don't want to oppose her. Who would take on Oprah? I really think if she herself ran for president right now, she would win, hands down. No matter what party she ran with.
I've written on here before that she would be my #1 celebrity pick to get saved. What would happen? But she's not saved. She needs Jesus. And she is the pied piper, playing a very seductive tune, with millions, MILLIONS of people following behind her.
The saddest part of that video was hearing that woman from Illinois, I assume who claims to be a Christian, so confused about how to "reconcile" her faith to this new book and way of thinking. We can't reconcile these things! Light has nothing to do with dark!
I think we need to be VERY CAREFUL what we allow into our homes and minds. It only takes a doubt for Satan to ride the wave and cause a tidal wave in our spiritual lives.
So this is the beginning of the Oprah week for Heather and I. We will write about it at some point. Stay posted, if you're interested.
*By the way, I know this video mentions Obama. This is not about politics, or endorsing a candidate, at all! I am not lumping him in with her in this "New Earth" business.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I had many ideas before I had children about what MY children would, and would not do. (For those of you child-less women who are teachers, this list is long, am I right?)
They would not wear ridiculous outfits and mismatched shoes to the grocery store.
They would never throw fits in public.
They would always wash their hands, with soap.
And they would always flush their poop down the toilet.

But as all of us real, live parents know, the long list of things our kids wouldn't do makes us laugh now. It makes us laugh until our sides hurt. It makes us laugh at ourselves, and how prideful we were, and how silly our standards were.
I now don't care what my kids wear to the grocery store.
Many a trip to HEB (or ABC as Justus calls it) has been made in a Batman costume and pink rain boots. I love my kids' creativity!
They do throw embarrassing fits in public, and I've learned to just call out "Who's kid is that?"
But one thing I really WOULD like my kids to do is:
Why is this so difficult?
Are they so attached to their poop, they just can't bear to watch it go?
It's not difficult to flush. It's not physically taxing.
I personally, am happy to see it go.
But my kids, not so much.
I know whose poop I'm looking and who to blame because I am so used to seeing all their poo, I know it's personal attributes. It's bad enough I have to see my own poo. Why must I personally know the poop of four other human beings so intimately?
That's really disghusting.
I need a voice that comes on in the bathroom automatically that says "Don't forget to flush your poo!" before a child is allowed to go. The voice just repeats, and the door locks until they do so.
Who will invent this?
With all of the brilliant minds out there, can't we do something useful like this?
I want to see poo-free potties someday, and someday soon!
Will that day ever come?
Older, wiser women, help a mama out!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

They all leave me...

There are some great things about living in a university town.
Homeschooling is breezy here. We're all about education in this town.
There's always cheap pizza.
Wonderful, over-qualified babysitters abound, keeping the date night in business. Praise the Lord.
But best of all, the college students that fill my life and home.
The sad part...they all leave. Oh some of you are here for a while after graduation. I cheer and clap and jump up and down when you find jobs here after graduation, even if it's at Chic-Fil-A, or choose grad school because you aren't ready to go yet.
But eventually, most of you will go. I cry. My kids cry. Little Justus can pinpoint Colorado on the map for his Bec-Bec, and now also New Mexico for Adam & Emily.
I was laying down with him at naptime today, and he asked if Adam and Emily would be here when he woke-up? (the above lovely, pictured couple.)
I said no.
Because they moved to New Mexico.
I DON'T KNOW!!! I want them back!
Adam and Emily were one of those couples we have not wanted to wave good-bye to.
They have been faithful members at LH and in our Countdown 10 class. Even if people didn't know them personally, you just say "you know, the guy with the dread-locks." And they go "Oh, yeah!"
There were many parallels between us. Rusty and I were kind of the older version of them. Who wants to be the older version? Stink.
One thing we had in common was Rusty and I love to dance.
Emily was an Aggie Wrangler. If you don't know what that means, you MUST click here to check it out! It's beyond remarkable what these dancers can do.
So our favorite ritual before they so cruelly left us was for them to first come over and hang out until late on Friday night, laughing and having fun.
Then we'd hook them in to coming back to make us breakfast.
They'd show up nice and early on Saturday morning, and Adam would make these heavenly Cuban pancakes. How I miss them!
Then we'd work them off by doing crazy dance stunts in our living room until noon that would literally leave Rusty and I wounded for many days.
But so much fun!!!!
Adam is a secret agent man, like Jack Bauer on 24.
He works for the government in nuclear weapons, something or other.
I can't fully understand it. But I do understand Jack Bauer. And Alias. So that's exactly how I picture Adam's job. He leaves town to go on "business trips", but he goes all Sydney Bristow/Jack Bauer on evil arms dealers I think.
Pretty cool.
And he has dreads.
He's bi-racial, and so I decided early on in knowing him that my boys would look just like him when they grow up.
Emily is pure delight. She is a ray of sunshine. I love her! When she's here, I laugh a lot! She SO should have lived in this house. My Justus is in love with her, and she's so laid-back, she handles this crazy house well.
She's coming to stay with me some this month and I CAN'T WAIT!

So what would our lives be like without all of you marvelous students in our house, eating our food, sitting on our couch, jumping on the trampoline with my kids, drinking our pink lemonade?
Our lives would be different.
I think they'd be black and white.
You guys bring color and life and fun to this house.
It's our joy to share our lives and family with you.
When you go, I cry. I feel sad.
I'm in denial still that some of you will go. (Amanda! Bailey!)
But I can't complain too much. We are blessed beyond measure to have you in our lives.
Who knew I'd grow up and want to say- Thank God for Aggies. I love you maroon-wearing crazy cult members.
Just come back and visit me, ya hear?