Saturday, December 19, 2009

In Her Footsteps

When I was little, I dreaded certain things about Christmas. One of them was opening gifts.

Now don't get me wrong, I liked getting gifts, of course! But there was always something other the tree that was either gross, gaudy, or somehow embarrassing. And I found it rather uncomfortable to be greeted with such a present and try to feel (and therefore act) grateful.

I distinctly remember the year my mother gave me bras for Christmas. I needed them, and new ones were insanely expensive. So she had gone to the cheapest local thrift store (it was our favorite), and gotten me three or four wearable bras.

Now, to my probably 12 or 13 year old mind, it was bad enough needing bras, but to get used, ugly bras from the thrift store was a bit too much for me to handle, and I was downright embarrassed.

I've gotten over it.

This year, my little girls need tights. They're insanely expensive at Wally world -- $4 a pair! At only 2 pairs each, that's already $16 dollars. I can't do that! (Now you know how cheap I am when it comes to gifts....)

So I found myself today, at the thrift store. The very same one we loved as a kid. It's still the cheapest in town. And you know what? They had tights. Lots of them. They weren't perfect, nor new, but they don't have runs or snags. I got each girl six pair, and spent less than $2 on all of them combined. I'm thrilled with my purchase.

I'd like to think that I've successfully brainwashed the girls enough that they'll love their new tights.

But if not, they'll eventually get over the embarrassment.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

If you give a Mom a muffin....

If you give a mom a muffin,
She'll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
She'll pour herself some.
Her three-year-old will spill the coffee.
She'll wipe it up.
Wiping the floor, she'll find dirty socks.
She'll remember she has to do laundry.
When she puts the laundry in the washer,
She'll trip over boots and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind her
she has to plan for supper.
She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She'll look for her cookbook
("101 Things To Do With a Pound of Hamburger").
The cookbook is setting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow.
She will look for her checkbook.
The check book is in her purse
that is being dumped out by her two-year-old.
She'll smell something funny.
She'll change the two-year-old's diaper.
While she is changing the diaper, the phone will ring.
Her five-year-old will answer and hang up.
She'll remember she wants to phone a friend for coffee.
Thinking of coffee will remind her
that she was going to have a cup.
And chances are... If she has a cup of coffee,
Her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.

-author unknown (If you know the author, please let me know, so that I can give due credit!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nine ways to treat thrush (mostly) naturally

One of the most painful parts of breastfeeding is thrush. I've had it numerous times, and a friend of mine is currently battling it. Our local lactation consultants are woefully ignorant of the most effective natural treatments for thrush. If yours are too, perhaps this list will help you (and me when it next occurs).

  1. Catch it right away. After dozens of times around this block, I can finally recognize the early signs: shooting pain in the breast - it may or may not be associated with feeding or pumping, but it's shooting pain. This is the time to start treatment. Don't wait until your nipples are cracked and bleeding, or until you have a pink yest ring and your baby has white on his cheeks. It's a lot harder to get rid of once it's established.
  2. Sterilize things that touch your breast. Yeast loves plastic. Sterilize your pump and your bottles regularly. If you have thrush, do this every single time they're used. If not, once every 7-8 uses is probably enough. Buy the bags to sterilize your equipment in the microwave if you're pressed for time -- they're made by Madela, and our local Target carries them. (If you're using plastic nursing pads, stop.)
  3. Take probiotics (acidolphilis). Not only will they help yours and baby's digestion, they actually eat the yeast in your body. Baby can take them too -- just put a little probiotic powder on your finger and have him suck it off before nursing. If you don't mind being really sticky, sprinkle probiotic powder on your nipples after nursing.
  4. Rinse your nipples. At the first signs of thrush, start rinsing your nipples with apple-cider vinegar after nursing (not white vinegar, that will feed the thrush). Yeah, it's stinky. The smell goes away once they dry. If it stings, you know you really need it. When thrush is a bit more established, you can try rinsing with diluted tea tree oil (a few drops in 1/4 cup of water. Stronger if your nipples will tolerate it), or with diluted grapefruit seed extract (one drop in 1/4 cup of water). Tea tree oil is about the best anti-yeast substance around, but it'll dry out your skin, so use it carefully.
  5. Skip the sweets. Yeast eats the sugar that we eat, and grows by leaps and bounds when we eat sugar. Starve it out by skipping anything sweet. If you're really having troubles, skip just about anything white -- white flour, all sugars, and starches and sweetened drinks. As a side benefit, you'll lose weight. But you might go insane without the sugar. We're more addicted than we realize.
  6. Genetian Voilet. I haven't really had much luck with genetian violet, to be honest. But it's highly recommended around here, and I know it's helped some of my friends. Spread it on your nipple just before nursing, and let baby turn purple too. Be careful, it'll stain everything.
  7. Garlic. It's good for practically everything. If you can get a nice juicy clove of garlic, and just spread the juice right from the clove onto your nipple, that's terrific. If you can't, press the garlic and spread it on. Or just eat a bunch of it. My MIL inserts a cut-open clove of garlic "down there" for her vaginal yeast infections (she "sews" a piece of dental floss through it, so she can pull it back out later), and claims that nothing works better. I've had good success taking garlic capsules too -- the soft-gels seem to do the trick without making you stink quite so bad.
  8. Get relief. When it really gets bad, putting plain yogurt on your nipples after nursing feels really good. And it helps kill the yeast, as long as you are using it unsweetened! Another helpful relief is to buy lotrimin (you know, the cream for vaginal yeast infections, jock itch or athlete's foot). It's safe to spread on your nipples after nursing, feels good, and really helps kill that stuff off. It's not very natural, but I thought it worth mentioning here anyway. Skip creams and gels that are for relieving sore nipples. Yeast likes most of them.
  9. Wear cotton. Yeast likes moist, warm and dark. You can't really help the "warm", I don't think. But keep your breasts out in the open when possible (maybe sleep without a bra) and keep them dry. The most breathable bras are cotton -- it's worth the investment to have at least one cotton nursing bra. Hang it out to dry in the sunlight to kill yeast, or boil it every once in a while. (Personally, I find that my bras are fine when they're just good and dry, but technically only sunlight or high heat kills yeast in clothing).

Am I missing anything?

Decorating Pumpkins

I was too much a scaredy cat to actually get out paints to decorate pumpkins.

It was just easier to use sharpies. (That was scary too).

Everyone got their own to decorate (they gave them out at church last Sunday, yipee!)

Orange didn't show up very well on the pumpkins.

Red did though.

Yellow didn't show up well either. Jo was innovative, and colored her stem purple.

Paper under the pumpkins was intended to protect the table. It sortof worked.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Considering that it's cold now, very cold, we decided to save our lemongrass. We didn't have the time that night to properly harvest it, so Chester brought it inside.

With it came seven grasshoppers. The kids were pretty excited about the new "pets". So we're trying to be discreet about killing them off.

The smell of the lemongrass is wonderful. I can hardly wait until we chop it up!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Candy Love from Scrap Fabric

Even in a project that starts out using scraps (like this dress I made), there's scraps left over.

What to do with small scraps of a fabric? Especially fancy fabric?

Last week was our anniversary, and my husband's favorite candy is Dove chocolate. I took the opportunity to make custom dove wrappers.

The supplies:
small scraps of fabric
scissors and/or pinking shears
tiny rubber bands (I got these at the dollar store, they're for kids hair)
Dove chocolates, or any candy to wrap
mailing label stickers (unprinted)

Cut the mailing labels into squares. On each square write a message. Since it was my anniversary, my messages reminded my husband of things I love about him.

Cut the fabric in 4.5"x4.5" squares (I cut mine in 4x4, and they were just a tad small for the chocolates). Pink the edges if you wish. I did on some, and didn't on some.

Stick a mailing label square in the center of each, rotated so it's like a diamond in the center.

Place the candy over the message.

Gather up the four corners and secure with a tiny rubber band.

Repeat until you have nothing else to say, or run out of candy.
Place where they'll be found. (Or make a scavenger hunt!)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We have bees!

Oh, and pears.

Too bad the bees aren't producing honey for us. But they are providing entertainment.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

because I have too much free time....

As you might imagine, with five kids, one being a new infant, and the oldest being six, I have a lot of free time. Add to that a part-time job (20 hours a week), which I went back to this week, a Bible study that actually requires me to work at it, playing piano for church and getting ready for our big conference at work.... well, I really need a hobby.

So I took one up.

I've always liked to sew, In truth it's been a hobby for several years. I just go back and forth on whether or not I have the ambition for it. Right now I do.

I got the ambition last week, when I spotted a contest. It was for a new Bernina sewing machine.

Bernina is my favorite brand of sewing machine. I don't really need a new one, because I love the way mine works. But it's older than me, and well, I wouldn't mind some of the newer features.

And the contest looked easy: sew two squares of fabric (scarves) into a tube and use elastic thread shirring to make it into a dress. Then embellish, etc to make the dress your own.

Now, I haven't really entered sewing contests before, but I've seen enough of them to know that it's not the garment that wins the contest so much as the photo. So I mentioned it to Chester. He was totally on board.

I spent date night looking for inspiration, and decided on a sheer flowey white floor-length dress. I originally wanted to paint flowers on the back (that got nixed in the end).

We hit a rummage sale the next day, and bought a set of sheer light blue curtains for $2. At the same sale, we bought a small stack of taffeta scraps for 50 cents. Then I went to work.

Did you know that shirring 10 feet of curtains down to, say 32 inches or so, isn't really what elastic thread was meant for? I learned something.

The dress was done in two evenings (which included cutting off places where I screwed up). Then Chester designed and I made another front piece out of the taffeta to wear over the dress. They looked good together.

Now to find some popsicle-stick shaped young ladies to model.

I asked two friends. Both agreed. Chester shot the photos and played with GIMP to photo edit. Here's the results.

40 dresses were entered in the contest. There's some really nice ones there. But I honestly think that mine could win. So if you don't mind, please vote for me! I'm currently just barely ahead of another really nice dress, so I need all the help I can get if I'm going to get the new machine. Voting is open until Wednesday, September 30th. Thanks!

Now I'm excited about sewing again. Started a pair of booties for Tommy this evening. Maybe I'll finish the diaper covers I have cut out too :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

A scribble art primer

This week's art project: scribble coloring.

My family did this when I was a kid, and I realized this week that my kids had never done this. So we learned.

First, you scribble loosely on the paper.

Then you color in the spaces, all different colors.

Josephine was very careful to color in all the spaces.

Bennet had his own interpretation of the scribble picture, and it looks great!

Grape Jelly for the severely preoccupied

Our grapes were ripe on the day I went into labor. Which do you think took my attention?

So, the kids (and Chester) picked.

Chester piled them into the roaster, added a cup or two of water and put it on low.

Several hours later (this is fine for up to 12 hours or so), they were all cooked out -- the only lumps remained were seeds. Then Chester strained the mixture through a pillow case into ice cream buckets and froze the juice.

Monday (three weeks later) I felt somewhat recovered and ambitious, thawed the juice, and made up 21 jars of jelly. Yummy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Sweet Namesake

Last Sunday was a Family Holiday: Sweet Sunday

Years ago, the Davises lived in the city, and were somewhat impoverished. One year when they had practically nothing to eat, someone dropped by with a truckload of corn, and just gave it to them (the corn, not the truck). They celebrated by inviting over a couple of friends and eating an entire meal of sweet corn that night. Thus, the birth of Sweet Sunday.

The next year, they celebrated Sweet Corn season again, by inviting a couple of friends over and having a meal of sweet corn. And a tradition was born.

Sometime along the way, Sweet Rolls were added to the mix. And now, there's usually a rebel or two who feel they need protein in a meal, and bring sliced meat or something.

But each fall, we gather as a family, to remember and celebrate God's provision in the harvest of Sweet Corn.

This man is a mainstay at Sweet Sunday.

He was the best man in our wedding,

and is Tommy's namesake.

The meeting of the two was Sweet indeed.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Back-to-school nature walking

Our first nature walk in a good while.

And baby's first nature walk! He looks like a baby kangaroo. I should call him Joey. Or Roo. It's a good thing he was bundled, because it was just a tad rainy and chilly, and we locked ourselves out, so it was a nice long nature walk.

Matt is dressing himself these days! He's all ready to go.

Our mission: To notice berries.

And to go exploring.

Instead of berries, we found a dandylion.

And white morning-glory flowers.

Beautiful Thistles.

Ants on a Black-Eyed Susan leaf.

A huge white mushroom (about 10 inches in diameter). The kids thought it was a bone.

Deformed peaches.

White flowers.

And, finally some berries.

We took the time to notice that on the berries, the seed is on the outside of the "squishy part", but on other fruits, the seed is on the inside. The kids noticed this difference themselves, once I asked.

The sumac has berries too, and it's starting to turn already -- it's only August!

And our raspberries at home are starting to ripen too!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The announcement!

Our baby (whom we'll call Thomas on this blog) was born Saturday afternoon 3:51 pm. He was 6 pounds, 4 ounces -- pretty hefty for 4 weeks and a day early. He came out absolutely howling, and I got to hold him for about ten minutes before they whisked him away to the NICU for checking over. Once in the NICU his breathing deteriorated quickly, not doing anything unusual for a preemie, but giving me a scare anyway. (Every hour or so, the dr. from the NICU came to tell me he was doing worse, and have me sign another set of papers for treatment, and tell me that I wasn't permitted to see or touch him yet... yikes). He was on life support overnight on Saturday, and got off of it Sunday morning. They ended up treating him for immature lungs and pneumonia.

I went to see him late Saturday night, after they had him on life support and such, and he looked so much better. I was able to sleep pretty easily. Sunday he stabilized and stayed stable enough on Monday that they decided to let him try eating. Of course, he's a Davis so he's already an old pro at eating -- and I got to feed him a bottle! On Wednesday I got to breastfeed him -- he knew right away that this was what he was meant to do -- no training period here. He just latched on and ate the biggest meal of his life. Then he leaned back and belched -- a good burper! (This is not a Davis trait, by the way -- he's the first kid I've had who could figure out how to burp).

Wednesday morning they took him off of breathing support all together, and Thursday morning off of all of his IV nutrition -- he's now totally "breast" fed (though some of the breastmilk comes from a bottle after I pump it. He's off of his central lines, done with phototherapy for jaundice, and just doing terrific. He has to remain on the antibiotics for the pneumonia through Saturday morning, and then will in all likelyhood be released to come home! yipee!

In all this, I really have "seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living". I'm usually an old-fashioned type, and tend to idealize the concept of life 100 years ago -- where people still grew their own food, and could live like that, where neighborhoods were safe for kids to run around, etc. This has made me oh so grateful for modern advances. Even twenty years ago, this sort of prematurity killed kids right and left. I doubt Tommy would have lived more than a few hours. But with the modern technology and the care of this lovely NICU staff, he's doing fabulous, and doesn't have even what they consider severe or scary complications. He's just a bit young. I'm amazed all the time to see how much he's improving, and so grateful for these modern advances.

And just as grateful for the prayers of my friends. I really feel like they moved the hand of God when Saturday night he went from entirely blue-gray (the NICU staff's description, I wasn't allowed to see him) to nice and pink almost right away. And from there on out, it was all good news. Thank you Jesus!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Of all the kids, Lisel is the most like me. This causes her to be both uniquely endearing and uniquely annoying to me. In my totally pregnant, super hot, so achy I can hardly move, the "annoying" side has definitely been dominating lately.

Most of my childhood insecurities, I see in her. But instead of causing me to have compassion and reach out to her in a way that I know is meaningful to her, I'm annoyed and pull back. I know that it's not right to withhold affection from my child in this way. I'm not excusing my actions at all. I'm just wanting to record what life is right now. I don't like the way I'm parenting, especially Lisel.

But in the last week I've been given a really insightful blessing with her. It started out as a "we need money desperately" type thing. At least two years ago, I had submitted Bennet and Lisel's name to the local university for a "Preschool Problem Solving" study (psychology stuff, you know) that paid pretty nicely. Bennet didn't get in, and Lisel wasn't old enough at the time. But a few weeks ago, they called back, asking about whether Lisel was now in the correct age range, and twenty bazillion other questions to determine her eligibility for the current "Preschool Problem Solving" study. She was accepted.

The study involved two meetings -- one at our house, one at their office. Both were long -- about 2 hours each. During them, Lisel was given a ton of different IQ-type tests -- most of which I would consider falling within the math-skills sets. Meanwhile I filled out form after form after form on things everything from how our household works, what my level of satisfaction with life is, how I parent, and health of everyone in our family, etc.

But in the background, while I filled out forms, I could hear and see the tests that Lisel was doing.

I was amazed. I learned so much about my daughter during this time. (For the record, this was also a paid study -- we earned a $75 Wally World card).

So, more as a way of documenting it than because you'll read it, here are some of the things I noticed.
  • Lisel won't guess at something she doesn't know. The tester demonstrated counting backwards - -3, 2, 1. Then asked her to try counting backwards from ten. She refused to even try. This wasn't rare. In general, she knew the correct answer or she wasn't interested in guessing.
  • Yet Lisel has really amazing math skills (at least, I was surprised). She could accurately solve simple division story problems: Emma and Anna made ten cookies, if they each eat the same number, how many did they each get? She nailed it. Now mind you, the most math I have ever taught her has involved counting -- and she can only count to twelve. This is a way more advanced skill that she has somehow picked up from life.
  • She's fast. Every segment of our testing was done early. This is another trait that she got from me. I was also super smart in school, and the first one done with any exam. In our house now, this "book smart" characteristic is kind of downplayed and unappreciated because Chester is so "handyman smart". He, and most of the other kids, can figure out how anything works, and can fix anything. Lisel and I are left poking our nose into books and knowing things that feel relatively useless. It was nice for her to get validated as "smart". I need to pay more attention to this with her.
  • When she's tired, she quits. This is sort of in line with the first one. And it makes me realize that she has just a bit of a passive-agressive tendancy. The last test in each session was timed. In two of the three sessions (last week, this week before snack and this week after snack), she quit part way through the timed test (before time was up or she was finished), because she was tired of doing it. She wouldn't be persuaded otherwise.
  • Her favorite animals are currently monkey and owl. I was shocked. Last week they were unicorns, and before than kitties, butterflies and rabbits -- all fairly girly. Then today they're monkey and owl. I asked her about this later, and here's how the logic goes: Bennet changed his favorite color from red to blue. So she decided to change her favorite color too. (It had been purple). Bennet wouldn't let her have blue, since that was his, so she chose brown, since her and my eyes are brown (everyone else in the family has blue eyes). Monkeys and owls are brown, so they became her new favorite animal. Several times today after the testing, she played "owl", running around flapping her arms and whoooo-ing. The tester's said they've never had someone pick "owl" as the animal they liked. I wouldn't have guessed either.
  • Lisel has a much stronger tie to rules than I would have guessed, and good delayed gratification skills. In one part of the test, she was given a handful of M&Ms, on the table in front of her, under a clear glass. Also on the table was placed a bell. She was told that she had to stand perfectly still, not talking or anything, with her hands on the table, but not touch the bell or the glass with the M&Ms. She was also told that at the end of the time (which was four minutes), she would get to eat the candy. Then, during the four minutes, the tester had to try to distract her for a couple of minutes (not overtly, just doing things like moving around, dropping a pen, coughing, etc), then leave the room for the last 90 seconds (testing whether the kid would disobey in some way with the tester absent...). I was allowed to watch through a two-way window. I had read about this study (they published results of it a year or so ago, from a different test group), and was really curious what Lisel would do. To be honest, I thought she'd probably eat the candy, but leave the bell alone. But she did pretty much perfectly. She moved very minimally (in her mind, I'm sure she was perfectly still, but the tester said that she wiggled her fingers constantly), she didn't even show signs of being tempted to eat the candy or to touch or ring the bell. She didn't even squirm much beyond the first few seconds, and didn't talk at all. I was pretty surprised -- I'm not sure why, I would have done exactly the same at the age, and she is a lot like me, but I was surprised anyway.
All in all, the time was really special. She got a prize at the end -- she picked a purple notebook with a cupcake on the cover and a flowered pen to write with. She picked them because the cupcake was sparkly. She totally ate up the time with Mom, one on one. It made me realize again, that this sort of thing is really important to the kids. A while back we had tried taking our kids on "dates" every once in a while -- just an hour out with Mom or Dad alone. We tried to keep it simple -- like taking a walk down to the store to buy a cookie together, or going for a bike ride, but it was still too complicated to fit well in our life and only lasted a couple of weeks. But Lisel especially, and Bennet to some extent, still talk about these dates and ask when we'll start them again. Having this time with Lisel, and noticing the new appreciation that I have for her as a unique individual, motivates me to try to start this up again. How, I have no idea. It's not like there's any spare time around here.

(As if anyone is actually reading.....)

Do you have any ideas for 1) fitting a date with kids into a schedule, and 2) keeping scheduled dates with kids maintainably simple?

This is important, and I want to make it happen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Amusing craigslist posts

I've become a bit of a craigslist junkie lately. I've been looking for a few specific items, and the good deals go fast, so I've been watching the local list closely. Most items are more expensive than I would expect at garage sales, but I feel like it pays off in not driving all over town just waiting to find the perfect deal.

As a side benefit, I find the ads rather amusing. Now, I've never had a great sense of humor, and everyone knows that a pregnant woman's sense of humor is weird, so I don't expect these to be funny to you. I just feel like posting some every once in a while. Perhaps because I have nothing more profound to say.

(In reality I have a lot going on in my mind, and it's just not organized enough to come out on the screen in a positive way yet. Perhaps in the next week or two there'll be some worthwhile content. Perhaps not.)

So, without further excuses, The award winning craigslist ad from yesterday (contact information removed). I would love to see this thing, I wish there had been a picture. I wonder the story behind it....






$700.00 OBO

This just might win the cute toy award. I'd never pay that kind of money ($50) for a small metal toy, but that's another topic.

West Germany Tin Litho Duck Friction Toy, paint very good condition, bottom marked made in West Germany, 940 MAMA PAAK, it measures 3 1/2" tall and 4" long, thanks for looking

This is a mystery to me. What is it? How do you use it?

copper clothes hanger for $3

Monday, June 8, 2009

Unplugged Cheese

I have wanted to, for a long time, join in the unplugged weekly projects. I just never seem to get on the ball within the week. But I love that site. Pretty much everything about it jives with me -- reducing "screen" time, no TV, hands-on activity with kids, what's not to love?

So tonight, I go to check out the weekly project, and notice that just the other day, We Chester and the kids did the perfect project to write up and join in. So, here's to what I hope is a future of joining in this carnival. It's totally cool.

We get our milk through a government program for low-income folks like us, called WIC. On WIC, we get a LOT of milk -- more than we could ever hope to drink, since we're not big milk-drinkers. So we often have to get creative to use up our milk before it goes bad. This month we were caught a bit off-guard and ended up with eleven gallons in a week. And we had colds, and were drinking even less milk than usual.

So, I pulled out my normal tricks, making a gallon into cottage cheese, a gallon into yogurt (some of that into yogurt cheese and then cheesecake), a half-gallon into cream-of-mushroom soup for the freezer..... But there's still a lot of milk left.

So Chester, in his brilliance, decides to attempt a more advanced milk-usage project: mozzarella cheese. Last Thursday, he and the kids got everything set up and gave it a try, using a modification of this recipe. (For the record, our milk is homogenized, and pasteurized, and didn't cause any problems. He also omitted the called-for lipase powder and calcium chloride, because he noticed that not all mozzarella recipes include them. We didn't have flaked salt, so he ground some salt in our coffee grinder to make it really fine. It worked great.)

Isn't it beautiful?

It ended up not stringy, though. According to this site, it's probably that the acidity was under-developed.

But it's sure yummy. It's more dry feeling than store-bought mozzarella, but tastes almost exactly like it (which I found impressive). We'll be making it again. And the nice part is that it used an entire gallon of milk to make those logs there (about 8 oz. of cheese, we think)!

The kids talked for days about how much fun it was to make cheese with Dad.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Principals of Scripture memory

Scripture memory is one of those things that makes me laugh at Christians. First of all, we all know we should do this, but we don't. And strangely enough, we don't consider ourselves to be sinning that we don't (what is that verse in James which says "to him who knows what to do and does not do it, to him it is sin...?). (Either that, or we don't care that we're entrenched in laziness and sin for our lack of spiritual disciplines, maybe that's more it....). Like all sins, it has consequences. I'm not sure what the consequences of not memorizing scripture are, but I do know what some of the rewards for memorization are: a sharper mind, a closer walk with God, a more fruitful life, discernment, a greater understanding of scripture, a proper perspective, to name a few of the more obvious ones.

So maybe the consequences of not memorizing scripture are the lack of these things.

So then, when we decide to memorize scripture, we go about it in such an awkward way. We have all these Christian catch-phrases - things like "Christianity is relationship, not religion". Or, "Christianity is God reaching out to us, not us earning our way to God". Or, "It's about who you know, not what you've done". These are all true and right. Though works have their place and are rewarded in heaven (and on earth, by the way), what distinguishes Christianity is that it's core is about grace -- we don't earn our Eternal Life. It's all grace.

Then we go to memorize scripture. First, We're probably motivated by guilt or by some pastor's motivational speech, not by our honest assessment of the rewards that we will get from this discipline. Things attempted from guilt rarely stick for long. Then second, we forget all the beauty of our Lord and go straight for memorizing commands. Now, yes, all scripture is God breathed and valuable. This of course includes the commands. But in all honesty, it's far more important to understand and love who God is, than to have a grasp on various commands. We aren't motivated by lists of commands. We can't keep them (this was established back in the "we can't earn salvation" bit). And we never will keep them on our own. No, we're motivated by relationship. We need to know a God and be so enthralled with who He is that we want in every way possible to please Him. Then we can delight in realizing that He's even told us exactly how to please Him. What a great God!

(As a digression, this is one of the most beautiful things that I see in most oldest children, they desperately want to please their parents. Almost everything they do, they look for approval and a "wow, that's really neat" from Mom or Dad. They love to spend time with us parents, and they want to grow up to be just like us. Would that be the case if they didn't really know us, but just thought we were a list of rules? Not on your life. Our relationship with God is the same way).

A. W. Tozer, among his many great quotes, says "I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God...." (The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer, Chapter 1. Someday I'll read that book).

I think that quote, besides being brilliant is so very right on the money. If we thought correctly about God, our doctrine would be right, and so would our application of that doctrine.

So, then, I propose that scripture memory should begin with meditating and memorizing those parts of scripture that are directly about who God is, and that lead us to right and noble thoughts of God. It makes sense to me. Does it make sense to you?

Toward this end, I'm beginning to compile sets of verses to memorize - a list for kids, and a list for me (or adults in general). When it gets going, these verses, and my meditations about them will, I hope, be part of my new blog. Because, well, it's fun to start blogs. And I want to make this a continued priority in my life (I've been sort of half-heartedly memorizing scripture about the character of God for a couple of months now, and it is definitely worthwhile).

This blog will continue, of course. I need a place to post funny things my family attempts.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Driving Lessons

Two years ago, when I started my first (now defunct) blog, I opened with a story on how we'd own nineteen vehicles in our (then) 5.5 years of marriage. At the time he'd just bought two-wheeled vehicle number nine, a Honda Nighthawk that I really liked. But I did wonder if nineteen vehicles in less than six years was normal...

Since then we've bought and sold at least a half dozen more. It's not really special any more. At one point there were more than ten motorized vehicles who lived here (and no, we're not dealers or anything. Just junk collectors).

The Nighthawk was sold and replaced with a smaller Nighthawk. The Moped was sold and replaced with a bigger moped. But it was sold to Chester's brother, who also lives here, so it stayed, until he sold it a couple of weeks ago (he replaced it with a Honda Rebel). The van was totaled and replaced with another van, The car was sold in an attempt to minimize, but then replaced with a pickup, which was then sold to another of Chester's brothers (who also lived here) and later replaced with another Honda Civic (this time a hybrid that was wrecked and Chester fixed up). And the saga goes on.

Today, though, we graduated into a new class of vehicle.

And the kids got their first driving lessons.

(If you're wondering why in the world we would buy a tractor, it's for mowing and tilling and the like at our newest house).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Painful Garage-Saling

I think I've done a rather effective job of brainwashing my kids in some areas: They all love to garage sale. Yesterday morning was a special treat -- one of the best church rummage sales I've ever seen.

Bennet brought his own money, and very quickly made the decision to use it to buy a skateboard.

After we had him cleaned up from "trying it out", they gave it to him free.