Friday, October 29, 2010

Change the World, One Child at a Time

I know you've heard me talk before about how much I love the organization Compassion. They do so much good for so many children, and the Gent and I love sponsoring our two Compassion kids, Feven and Sauram. Read this article and you'll see why I am so impressed by the work that they do, for the least of these, in Jesus' name.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Carving 2010





We make a great team. The Gent does all the work. I light the candle at the end.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Morality in a Nation, and What is Civic Religion?

Last week's post on nations and Christianity had the Gent and I thinking along some similar topics, especially the role of morality in a nation and the role of civic religion.

If America is not a Christian nation, does it matter if it is a moral one? Does the government have a role in protecting or advancing a moral code?

To this we say . . . yes. Nations need a moral code (By this I basically mean natural law, in that there are some things we innately know, i.e., lying is wrong. I'm not going to go into an explanation of natural law in detail, but I'd recommend Jay Budziszewski's What We Can't Not Know if you want a well-reasoned explanation and defense). The moral code binds citizens together and provides a shared basis for our laws.

The government has an interest in building stable families because they are the foundation of society. Though of course families are not perfect, and way too many marriages end in divorce, but it is still the best mechanism we have for raising children to be healthy, responsible citizens. For the sake of the nation, the government should encourage and work to strengthen the institution of the family.

The moral code is also the basis for our laws. We innately know right from wrong - our sense of justice is strong. That's why a kid throws a fit when some other kid takes his toy. That kid knows that stealing is wrong. We know that theft and murder will land you in prison, and you'll know exactly where you went wrong and why you ended up there.

So, yes, a government can advance a moral code without advocating a specific religion. This is why the Gent and I classify ourselves as conservatives instead of libertarians. We believe government does play a role in the morality of a nation.

For example, this is why I am against gay marriage - it contributes to the breakdown of the family and is detrimental to the children who are raised in that environment. (I know some people will disagree with me on this, that's fine. This is just an example of my belief - I'm not looking to start an argument.) No-fault divorce has certainly been detrimental to the family, but I don't think we'll ever be able to go back and undo that. We can at least keep from slipping further down the path of tearing the family unit apart.

Changing directions . . .

What about "civic religion?" By this I mean the generic phrases used in our nation every day. The president says "God bless America" at the end of his speech. "In God We Trust" is written on our currency. The Congress opens with a prayer.

I think these inclusive phrases are part of what binds us together as Americans. You're free to believe or not believe in whatever God you choose (Not to mean this is a flippant decision - there are eternal consequences to whatever decision you make. It matters what God you worship, it matters what you believe about Christ.) It doesn't bother me if people invoke the civic religion or not. To me, when I sing "God bless America, land that I love," I am singing to the Christian God. But if you are a Muslim or Jewish or just believe in the idea of God, you can sing the song or not, however you choose to. I won't be offended on whether or not you participate in the civic religion. It can be a unifying experience for citizens, but it isn't important. It certainly doesn't replace the personal relationship I have with Jesus, or interfere with my beliefs in any way.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nursery Sneak Peek

I couldn't find any nursery decor I liked. So Mom ordered a million (slight exaggeration) fabric swatches and we started planning.

So many fabric swatches . . . this is after we narrowed it down from 50 to about 10.

Decisions, decisions . . . what do you think, Mom?

The winners! Now Mom and I have lots of sewing to do.

Cute changing table we found at a flea market/antique mall.

For the record, the Gent approved all our choices. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is America a "Christian" Nation?

It's been a while since my last musings post. This one comes out of a discussion the Gent and I had recently on a football road trip. We were talking about the upcoming election, and then that morphed into "what are we going to teach Lil Bit about patriotism?" Then it became an exploration of what we believe about America, Christianity, our nation's founding and heritage, does God bless and judge nations the way He does people, and so on. Cause we're intellectuals like that and we actually really enjoy these types of discussions. More interesting than a book on cd, anyway. :)

I definitely don't have this all figured out yet. To try to explain the basis of my thought processes, I start with a lesson on the different spheres we interact with in life (courtesy of Dr. Del Tackett, a truly inspiring intellectual). Picture the spheres set up like Olympic rings - parts of them interact/overlap with other parts, but parts of it are separate.

Sphere 1 - God and man. (This sphere only has these two components.)
Sphere 2 - Family. Husband, Wife, Children.
Sphere 3 - Church. Christ, Leaders, Saints.
Sphere 4 - Labor. Owner, Worker, Material Things.
Sphere 5 - State. God, King, Citizens.
Sphere 6 - Community. Christ, Neighbors, Needy.

Here are two presuppositions we decided on.

We believe God, through His Son Jesus Christ, saves individual people (the God and man sphere). (John 1:12)

As told in the Old Testament, God had a special relationship with His chosen people, the Jewish nation. Because the Jews could not keep God's Law, they were separated from Him until God sent Jesus as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, all who accept Christ's atonement on our behalf are one in Him (1 Corinthians 12:13).

These two presuppositions led us to this question: does God save nations?

While we are still studying what Scripture has to say about this, our initial answer is no. Nations are made up of people, but it is people that God saves, not nations. This does not mean that God is not sovereign over the nations.

His Word makes that clear. God is sovereign over all nations, and He can intervene in the affairs of a nation. He can extend judgment and mercy over nations, just as He does people.

Psalm 33:12 says "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."
Psalm 2:1-6 says "Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed One. Let us break their chains, they say, and throw off their fetters. The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then He rebukes them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath, saying, I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."
Psalm 99:1-2 says "The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; He sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake. Great is the Lord in Zion; He is exalted over all the nations."

So . . . God is sovereign over the nations. He has designed the "State" sphere. God is a God of order, not disorder. Government is part of His design for order. As Christians, we are called by the Lord to be subject to our rulers and leaders. We are to respect and pray for our nation's leadership, whether we agree with them or not. We can work to change leadership, but our attitude should always be civil.

Which leads us (not really, but follow me, here) to America. Is America God's chosen nation? And is America a Christian nation? We say no on both counts.

Here's what we'll be teaching our little girl: America is a wonderful country and we are blessed to live here. The majority of the people who founded our nation were Christians. They came to America because they wanted to be able to worship God freely, without being dictated to by a king or a specific denomination. They were brave people and they trusted the Lord. They relied on God's teachings when they created America's government. They asked Him for His help and guidance. We are proud of our country and we support it 100%, though we may not agree with every decision our government makes. That's why we work to change some things in our nation - because we love it so much, we want it to be the best nation it can be, the best in the world, because it is our homeland.

Whew, okay, enough for today! Still to come . . . a discussion of America's civil religion, and the role of morality in a nation.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Yard Work

The Gent and I decided to make some low-cost improvements to our yard. We collected the random bricks and broken concrete planners and stacked them behind the wooden fence in the backyard. Now we don't have to look at them. We spread some grass seed in the bare patches of the lawn; hopefully it will root and fill in. I planted pansies and we spread some mulch in the flower beds. The Gent transplanted some monkey grass and if it roots then we will plant more of it to fill in under the big oak tree. Regular grass definitely won't grow there, not enough sun. But our biggest project was spreading pea gravel in the fenced area on the side of our porch, that leads into the backyard. That is where the dogs come in and out and it becomes a mud pit whenever it rains. Which then gets tracked in the house. Hurray, pea gravel!

Before. Lonely baby crape myrtle.

After. Pansies are crape myrtle's friends. We're trying to fill in the rest of the huge bed with grass seed.

Before. Mud pit.

Huck helping.

After. Bye bye mud pit.

Nick approves.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Zeke's Birthday and Dog Training 102

Sunday was Zeke's fifth birthday! He enjoyed his new bone and special treats. (Yes, we are those people . . . the ones who celebrate their dog's birthday.)




In other dog news, we've been going through dog training 102 around here. I decided we were all getting sloppy - I wasn't expecting enough from the boys and was not demonstrating much leadership. Dogs are happiest when they know their place in the pack and what is expected of them. And if the dogs are behaving the people are happier, too. :)

So we've been reinforcing "nothing in life is free" around here. If they want to go out, they have to sit first. They have to follow a command (down, shake, etc) before I put their bowls down to eat. We are brushing up on our leash-walking manners now, before I add a stroller to the mix. (Can you just see me walking down the street, with three fairly large dogs and a stroller?! People will think I'm crazy. That's okay with me.) And in less than a week my dogs are back to being good about 95% of the time. Amazing what a little effort and dedication on my part accomplishes!

Down! Stay! (Ignore the squirrel!) Good dog!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Five Month Photo


Told you I've grown. Lil Bit is growing, too. :)

Time to give in and buy a few more maternity clothes.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Weekend Fun

Last weekend we went to visit the Gent's family. We had so much fun! It was just one party after another. We celebrated Granny's birthday with a lovely reception, had a big spaghetti dinner for all the out-of-town family, enjoyed a surprise baby shower at my in-law's church, and ate even more at the church homecoming luncheon. In between we got to watch a little bit of football and catch up with those we love. To sum it up in photos:

Scrumptious cake

No party is complete without flowers

Telling stories

Granny with her family

See the baby bump?

The boys warming up the spaghetti. They had a system.

Time to eat


Thank you, ladies!

Homemade quilt for baby

Lil Bit's nursery collection is off to a good start

Food sitting in the foyer during church

Time to eat. Again.

It was actually a little bit chilly (what is that, you say? fall weather?!)

The Gent and his Granny

The aftermath

Monday, October 4, 2010

Baby is a . . .

. . . girl!!! She is growing right on schedule and wriggling all around. I haven't felt any movement yet but I sure could see it on the screen! She didn't want to show us her face but she wasn't shy in the important area. :) There are a couple of 4d pictures, too, as a sneak peak. We'll have a big 4d ultrasound at 28 weeks.

Profile - we saw her sucking her thumb but it didn't get captured in this shot
ultrasound 3.1

Spreading her legs for the world to see. We'll talk about that after she is born, ha! But for now we were thankful for the view.
ultrasound 3.2

Here she is!
ultrasound 3.3

Look at those cute little legs. I hope they'll be chubby!
ultrasound 3.4