Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Be On Guard

One of the things that Scripture is very clear about is guarding the deposit of the faith (II Timothy 1:14), testing the spirits (I John 4:1), and keeping a close watch on your doctrine (I Timothy 4:16).  Unfortunately, since moving back to the Midwest, I've noticed how most evangelical Christians are not discerning in what they read, the pastors they sit under, or the studies they attend.  I was shocked when one retired evangelical pastor told me he had no doctrinal convictions regarding what church he was now going to attend - as long as it was "Bible believing."  I was shocked when a Reformed woman said she goes to a non-Reformed church in the summer just because they hold the services outdoors.  I was shocked when the MOPS group in Forest City endorsed Rachel Held Evan's new book A Year of Biblical Womanhood.

It scares me to think that evangelical Christians are no longer discerning; they willingly trust any Bible study or pastor or author as long as they use the word "God".  We have fallen so short of guarding our faith as Paul told young Timothy, and no longer keep a close eye on doctrine.  People are too trusting.

I am not trusting.  And there is a struggle that comes with that distrust.  When a friend invited me last month to MOPS which is held at First Baptist in Forest City, I was torn.  On the one hand, I'm all for meeting other young moms who love Jesus, getting out of the house on these cold days, and enabling Aidan to have some structured social time.  But on the other hand, I hate not being able to go and soak in teaching - I'm always on guard.  The evangelical community has become so undiscerning and spread their wings to accept everything as long as they mention "God."  The MOPS speaker that day (sorry, I don't even remember her name) endorsed A Year of Biblical Womanhood before she gave her talk, and I was disturbed.  Now, I know better than to read what she writes, but what about these young moms who don't have pastor-scholar husbands like mine?  They eat up everything these speakers say.  How can we teach our communities to become more discerning?  I don't want to come across as this all doctrine guru, but I also want women to be careful and to fill their minds with solid food that will satisfy and enable them to endure when the hardships come.

Why do we need to be careful about Rachel Held Evans?  Let's take a closer look at this woman who, as one of Christianity Today's 50 Most Influential Women, has a blog that daily draws thousands of "highly evangelical" readers:
Firstly, her degree is in English literature.  Check out this interview at 1:30:
So why does she write about theology?  Who knows, but she does.  The question is why are women so eager to purchase her "Biblical Womanhood" book?  If you wanted to know about Biblical womanhood, wouldn't you purchase a book about the topic from a Biblical scholar?  I'm all for asking questions; the concern lies in where you go to find the answers.

Additionally, Kathy Keller (who holds a Masters degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) wrote a valuable critique of Rachel's book:

Desiring God also wrote a review that I highly encourage you to read:

So my plea for you and me:
Please be on guard.  Guard your faith  and keep a close watch on your doctrine - "persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers," (I Timothy 4:16).
We sing, "Oh Be Careful Little Eyes (or Ears)..." with our children; why, then, are we so quick to forget our own advice?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Fun!

Garner held Treats on the Streets today; it was our trial run with Aidan in his parrot costume.
Since it was 30 degrees when we left, I bundled him up - he could hardly move and the parrot head wouldn't come up over his head due to the hat and two hoods.
Poor kid!

Kurk, Jenn, and Abs were there too!

So were Nikki, Blake, and Carson:

Off we go!

Aidan walked about half a block before we started to hold up the line.
Thankfully, Mr. Kurk held Aidan "up so high!" to each storefront.
 Sometimes Aidan tested out his wings...

 Yay for fun friends and Trick-or-Treat!

Aidan dumped out all of his candy the moment we got home.
He was in sample mode: Take one bite, open another piece, take one bite, etc.
We finally convinced him the candy would last longer if we placed it in a Ziploc and kept it in the cupboard.
Surprisingly, he agreed!

Then we carved Aidan's pumpkin.

He was no help separating the seeds from the goo - "No hands dirty."
 "I done wif pumpkin."
 "I see Leo."

 But he was back at it when Daddy asked if he could use Aidan's markers to draw the eyes, nose, and mouth.
 Wonderful pumpkin, Aidan!

The parrot is invited to a Halloween party Monday afternoon, and we look forward to Trick-or-Treating with friends on Wednesday night (followed by a soup supper & games at church).  I can't tell who's more excited: Mommy or Aidan?!
Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Favorites from Nancy

Author Nancy Guthrie has been my favorite lately.
I've been absorbing all she has to say in her books on suffering and chewing over some powerful quotes.  

The following quotes are from her bible study, The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms & Wisdom Books.

Regarding Psalm 42:
"[The Psalmist's] feelings of drowning in his difficult circumstances are not what define his reality but that God's covenant love is his security in the storm."
"Rather than listening to his own desperate thoughts, he speaks the truth to those thoughts.  Rather than trusting his feelings, he defies them.  Rather than talking about the truth of the gospel as something out there for other people, he applies it to himself personally.  He prays to God, and he preaches hope to himself in the midst of his desperate dryness and despair."

In the chapter on Job regarding God's purpose in suffering:
"What allows us as his children to endure it is that while it's painful, we're confident that it's purposeful.  Never punitive.  Never random.  Never too harsh.  Always out of love."

And when God finally spoke to Job in the last chapters:
"...rather than revealing all of the answers to Job's questions or explaining the spiritual battle going on behind the scenes, God revealed himself.  Rather than telling Job what he might have wanted most to hear, he told Job what he needed most to hear...and the message became clear to Job: God is Creator and I am the created.  He can do anything with me that he wants to do with me."

"And when God revealed himself to Job, Job came to realize that the more he knew about who God is, the more he could accept what God gave - even when he didn't understand it."

"The wisdom of God...moves us from demanding from God what we think we deserve to thanking God for all that we've received that we do not deserve."

And more quotes from her devotional, Be Still My Soul: God's Purpose & Provision in Suffering:

"God recompenses outward losses with inner enjoyments" (see II Cor 1:5).

"Our comfort lies to a great extent in the choice of our main happiness."

"God uses chronic pain and weakness, along with other afflictions, as his chisel for sculpting our lives."

"Trust is not a passive state of mind.  It is a vigorous act of the soul."

"Trusting God is first of all a matter of the will, and is not dependent on my feelings."

Whew - SO many good quotes - these are just a few!

I'll leave you with a pic of the boy:
 Last night we did a craft with Aidan (since it was too cold and wet to play outside).  We made the ABC turkey in the background - Aidan ended up getting bored so it's more like Mama and Daddy made an ABC turkey last night.

My cute lunch dates yesterday:


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Male Bonding

This is what I found when I walked into the playroom one evening last week:
My favorites all in one (close) space.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Two-Year Picture Flop

We hired a photographer to take Aidan's two-year pictures last Friday.  I'd spent so much time coordinating outfits and preparing props (his favorite books, red ball, painted a metal "A" red, borrowed an antique Dude Racer from a friend, etc.) so things were supposed to go perfectly...just as I had planned!
Yeah right.

When we first arrived at the park, I unbuckled Aidan from his carseat and thought Brian was coming around the otherside of the Jeep to get him out.  I proceeded to get Leo out of the back, leaving the front passenger door open so I wouldn't forget the diaper bag.  Suddenly I hear the photographer (a young, sweet gal who doesn't have toddlers yet) scream.  I look to see Aidan tumbling out onto the ground from the passenger seat.  Thankfully, I caught him just before he hit the ground head first, but he was still very shaken up.  We calmed him down and proceeded down the trail for "just a few" family pictures (because, this is Aidan's two-year shoot).

By the time we were done with those (just 15 minutes later), Aidan decides he's done altogether.  His cooperation, smile, and happiness are gone.  What about my props?  ALL the props that fill the back of the Jeep!?  I had planned and prepared, but alas, God had other plans for our photo shoot.  Aidan spent the rest of the time either clinging to Brian or screaming & crying (this is so unusual because 99% of the time he's the happiest, most content, agreeable child).

We were so disappointed.

On our way home, I remembered the list of poses that I'd seen on photography blogs and realized we hadn't done any of them.  I also lamented the fact that we hardly got any with Leo in them, none of Aidan & Leo, and none of Brian & me (all of which I'd wanted but forgot about when our son started melting down).

So sweet Brian set up the camera when we got home to take our picture (Mr. Fuss was napping peacefully at this time).  Unfortunately the tripod didn't work:
Gotta love thick theology books!

 Best husband ever and me.
 There's my Leo-man!
(He chased down a senior girl getting her picture taken while we were at the park earlier that day...I've never run so fast in my boots OR seen a senior girl jump up so quickly.  It was so embarrassing...oh, and this happened because we forgot his leash.  Yes, we had all the props and outfits for Aidan but no leash for Leo.  What. A. Day.)
(We totally crashed after this picture.)

Although God deemed it best not to grant us a cooperative two-year-old, he did give us warm(er) weather, sunshine, and just a tiny bit of wind (for Iowa).  Now I'm praying that the photographer got a few good ones...

I'm lovin' my mums.
 This is the first fall I've purchased mums, and I LOVE them!
The pumpkins are from Ms. Margaret (church organist); she let Aidan pick all these from her garden!  Doesn't she grown amazing ones!?
Here's the boy peeking out to see what Mama's doing with the camera.
(Yes, he was in a much better mood this day - back to normal now that pictures are over.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Favorite Chore

Aidan loves to feed Leo.  It's become his favorite chore (not that he has many!).  Yesterday, he enlisted some help.
 I was surprised to see that he scooped the food onto the floor instead of the dish...
until I saw what he was up to.
 "Johnny Tractor help feed Leo," he'd say.
 Oops - when Johnny had filled the dish, we started the process over again.
See the patient dog in the background?
Yay - Leo.  You're the best.

All done!
Yay Johnny and yay Aidan!
What hard workers they are.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Tim Keller wrote an excellent article on The Gospel Coalition site
He begins:
"The church in Western culture today is experiencing a crisis of holiness. To be holy is to be "set apart," different, living life according to God's Word and story, not according to the stories that the world tells us are the meaning of life. The more the culture around us becomes post- and anti-Christian the more we discover church members in our midst, sitting under sound preaching, yet nonetheless holding half-pagan views of God, truth, and human nature, and in their daily lives using sex, money, and power in very worldly ways. It's hard to deny what J. I. Packer and Gary Parrett write:
Superficial smatterings of truth, blurry notions about God and godliness, and thoughtlessness about the issues of living---careerwise, communitywise, familywise, and churchwise---are all too often the marks of evangelical congregations today (Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way, 16)."
So why catetechis?
Keller goes on.
"...catechisms take students step by step through the Apostles' Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer---a perfect balance of biblical theology and doctrine, practical ethics, and spiritual experience."

And what is it?
"Catechesis is an intense way of doing instruction. The catechetical discipline of memorization drives concepts in deep, encouraging meditation on truth. It also holds students more accountable to master the material than do other forms of education. Some ask: why fill children's heads---or for that matter, new converts'---with concepts like "the glory of God" that they cannot grasp well? The answer is that it creates biblical categories in our minds and hearts where they act as a foundation, to be gradually built upon over the years with new insights from more teaching, reading, and experiences. Catechesis done with young children helps them think in biblical categories almost as soon as they can reason. Such instruction, one old writer said, is like firewood in a fireplace. Without the fire---the Spirit of God---firewood will not in itself produce a warming flame. But without fuel there can be no fire either, and that is what catechetical instruction provides."

I pray the Lord would do just that in Aidan's life - take the truths he learns from his catechism and apply it to his heart and mind.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity to learn it along with him.  We're working on question 5 from this book:
 So next time you see our little man, feel free to ask him how he can glorify God and why he should glorify God.  You can ask his mom too - I should know!
Brian teaches the catechism beginning in seventh grade at our church so our goal is to know all 167 questions & answers by the time Aidan is 13!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fun Weekend

Despite the frigid temperatures, the sun was out and we had a wonderful weekend!
On Friday, Brian spent the morning with his boy and I got to shop alone!  Grocery shopping is my least favorite housewife chore, but it's not so bad sans toddler.  That evening we had some new friends over - I'm so thankful for the Tapper family!  They recently moved to the area and it's been fun to get to know them.  Their children, ages 4 & 5, keep Aidan on his toes as he tries to keep up with all that they do!  When Sydney got into the Cool Whip, Aidan was right behind her - "double fisting" it!

Brodi was enjoying some Cool Whip too (and Sydney was eating it out of Aidan's hair!).

Early Saturday morning, Aidan made some Halloween crafts with me.  He's been very proud of them and says to everyone who visits, "I MADE dat!"

Saturday, my sweet friend, Jenn, invited me to Clear Lake's Harvest Festival. We had an absolute blast browsing all the vendor tables, sipping wine, and ducking into stores to warm up (yes, it was only 42 degrees that day).  We drank coffee & Bloody Marys too.  We forgot to take our picture, but here's what I purchased:
These FAITH letters came from Heartfelt Designs, Hampton, IA (you can find her on Facebook).  They match my new living room decor perfectly!
I can't wait to order this birth & name info for Aidan when I redecorate his room.  She'll do any color scheme.
[Oh, while I'm talking room decor, I found this Customized City State Heart that I would love to order for Aidan's room.  I think I'll do San Diego, CA where he was born.]
Thanks so much, Jenn, for the fabulous afternoon!  I needed the girltime!

That evening Gigi and Papa Jake came to Garner and took us out for supper!  It was super fun to see them.

On Sunday after our naps, we visited Lake Cornelia.  Our new friends recommended it to us and it was beautiful!  Due to the frigid temps, we were the only people there so Leo was able to run like crazy.  He had a blast - he even dipped his feet in the water.
 Aidan absolutely loved the playground.  It was nearly impossible to pull him away from it.
 Our son is not afraid of anything.  He always gets too close to the edge, wants to climb way higher than he's physically able (even with Mom or Dad's help), and insists that he'd only get a "scrape" if he fell.

 Aidan also likes the Merry-Go-Round.
However, most of the time he'd rather be pushing it (that means Mama & Daddy are riding on it - ha!).
 Best Buddies

 What a wonderful weekend we had!  Yay!