Friday, December 31, 2010


photo © kari mcgrath 2008

I have been re-reading what I consider to be one of the best books I have ever read...Spiritual Depression by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. This book is a collection of sermons he preached on consecutive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London, where he was preacher. He was also a medical doctor. D Martyn Lloyd-Jones retired from Westminster Chapel in 1968 and died in 1981.

I have not been reading through it chapter by chapter this time, but rather just referencing it at various chapters. These sermons cover such topics (dealing with depression) as temperaments, feelings, false teaching, being weary in well doing, dwelling on the past or the future, chastening of the Lord, trials, contentment and everything in between. He goes over reasons a Christian may be spiritually depressed and then gives you ways to deal with that particular area of struggle. It always culminates in preaching the gospel to yourself, rather than listening to yourself. I highly recommend this book to anyone, whether you struggle with depression or not. My temperament is such that I do struggle off and on with mild depression. I am very introspective. It's been a great help to me at various times in my life and one I'm sure I will reference for the rest of my days.

This morning I read the chapter on "Feelings." I leave you with these last few paragraphs from this chapter:

"...If you want to be truly happy and blessed, if you would like to know true joy as a Christian, here is the prescription-'Blessed (truly happy) are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness'--not after happiness. Do not go on seeking thrills; seek righteousness. Turn to yourself, turn to your feelings and say: 'I have no time to worry about feelings, I am interested in something else. I want to be happy but still more I want to be righteous, I want to be holy. I want to be like my Lord, I want to live in this world as he lived, I want to walk through it as He walked through it.' You are in this world, says John in his first Epistle, even as He was. Set your whole aim upon righteousness and holiness and as certainly as you do so you will be blessed, you will be filled, you will get the happiness you long for. Seek for happiness and you will never find it, seek righteousness and you will discover that you are happy--it will be there without your knowing it, without your seeking it.

Finally, let me put it this way: 'Do you want to know supreme joy, do you want to experience a happiness that eludes description? There is only one thing to do, really seek Him, seek Him Himself, turn to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. If you find that your feelings are depressed do not sit down and commiserate with yourself, do not try to work something up but-this is the simple essence of it-go directly to Him and seek His face, as the little child who is miserable and unhappy because somebody else has broken his toy, runs to its father or its mother.

So, if you and I find ourselves afflicted by this condition, there is only one thing to do, it is to go to Him. If you seek the Lord Jesus Christ and find Him there is no need to worry about your happiness and your joy. He is our joy and our happiness, even as He is our peace. He is life, He is everything. So avoid the incitements and the temptations of Satan to give feelings this great prominence at the centre. Put at the centre the only One who has a right to be there, the Lord of Glory, Who so loved you tat He went to the cross and bore the punishment and the shame of your sins and died for you. Seek Him, seek His face, and all other things shall be added unto you."

(p. 117-118, Spiritual Depression, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Suffering as a Christian

photo © kari mcgrath 2008

"..It was no exaggeration when [John] Bunyan wrote, 'Our days have been days of trouble, especially since the discovery of the Popish plot, for then we began to fear cutting of throats, of being burned in our beds, and of seeing our children dashed in pieces before our faces.'

What, then, would he say to his people to prepare them for the probability of their suffering for Christ? Would he say, with the old-fashioned liberal, 'I believe that pain and suffering are never the will of God for his children?' Would he say with the modern day open theist, 'Christians frequently speak about 'the purpose of God' in the midst of a tragedy caused by someone else...But this I regard to simply be a piously confused way of thinking?' No, this would have been biblically and pastorally unthinkable for John Bunyan, whose blood was 'bibline.'

He takes his text from 1 Peter 4:19, 'Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their soul to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.' Then he explains the text with these observations:

It is not what enemies will, not what they are resolved upon, but what God
wil, and what God appoints, that shall be done...And as no enemy can bring
suffering upon a man when the will of God is otherwise, so no man can save
himself out of their hands when God will deliver him up for his glory...We shall
or shall not suffer, even as it pleaseth him...God has appointed who shall
suffer. Suffering comes not by chance or by the will of man, but by the will and
appointment of God.' "

(from The Hidden Smile of God, John Piper)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

"...Oh, how surprised angels were, when they were first informed that Jesus Christ, the prince of Light and Majesty, intended to shroud himself in clay and become a babe, and live and die! We know not how it was first mentioned to the angels, but when the rumor first began to get afloat among the sacred hosts, you may imagine what strange wonderment there was. What! was it true that he whose crown was all bedight with stars, would lay that crown aside? What! was it certain that he about whose shoulders was cast the purple of the universe, would become a man dressed in a peasant's garment? Could it be true that he who was everlasting and immortal would one day be nailed to a cross? Oh! how their wonderment increased! They desired to look into it. And when he descended from on high, they followed him; for Jesus was 'seen of angels', and seen in a special sense, for they looked upon him in rapturous amazement, wondering what it all could mean. 'He for our sakes became poor.' Do you see him as on that day of heaven's eclipse he did ungird his majesty? Oh, can ye conceive the yet increasing wonder of the heavenly hosts when the deed was actually done, when they saw the tiara taken off, when they saw him unbind his girdle of stars, and cast away his sandals of gold? Can ye conceive it, when he said to them, 'I do not disdain the womb of the virgin; I am going down to earth to become a man?' Can you picture them as they declared they would follow him! Yes, they followed him as near as the world would permit them. And when they came to earth they began to sing, 'Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men.' Nor would they go away till they had made the shepherds wonder, and till heaven had hung out new stars in honor of the new-born King. And now wonder, ye angels, the Infinite has become and infant; he, upon whose shoulders the universe doth hang, hangs at his mother's breast; he who created all things, and bears up the pillars of creation, hath now become so weak that he must be carried by a woman! And oh wonder, ye that knew him in his riches, whilst ye admire his poverty! Where sleeps the newborn King? Had he the best room in Caesar's palace? hath a cradle of gold been prepared for him, and pillows of down, on which to rest his head? No, where the ox fed, in the dilapidated stable, in the manger, there the Savior lies, swathed in the swaddling bands of the children of poverty!....

...Oh, Son of Man, I know not which to admire most, thine height of glory, or the depths of thy misery! Oh, Man, slain for us, shall we not exalt thee? God over all, blessed for ever, shall we not give thee the loudest song? 'He was rich, yet for our sakes, he became poor.' If I had a tale to tell you this day, of some king, who, out of love to some fair maiden, left his kingdom and became a peasant like herself, ye would stand and wonder, and would listen to the charming tale; but when I tell of God concealing his dignity to become our Savior, our hearts are scarcely touched. Ah, my friends, we know the tale so well, we have heard it so many times; and, alas, some of us tell it so badly that we cannot expect that you would be as interested in it as the subject doth demand. But, surely, as it is said of some great works of architecture, that though they be seen every morning, there is always something fresh to wonder at; so we may say of Christ, that though we saw him every day, we should always see fresh reason to love and wonder and adore.."

(C.H.Spurgeon, "The Condescension of Christ", Spurgeon's Sermons)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Saving Money with After Christmas Sales

Good article HERE! Of course, I'd have to add that the best way to save after Christmas is to stay at home! :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things....

Recently, Shane asked that we turn the TV off Monday-Wednesday nights, when the kids go to bed, so that we can just read.

It's gotten us both back into reading more, and I will tell is something I look forward to lately. When the days are long, and I'm tired, I know respite is coming!

The kids go to bed, the Christmas tree lights are on, with light music playing in the background, drinking hot tea, and reading on the couch with the man who thrills my's become one of my favorite things.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things....

One of my favorite boy in his favorite blue and yellow striped pajamas. :)
(sigh...can I just keep him like this?)

Merry Christmas week (almost!)

Wow! Christmas is next week! How did this happen? This Christmas season has FLOWN for me! Sorry I haven't written in awhile. It's been busy around here, and at times in the past few weeks, my mind has been distracted.

We still haven't sold our house in Kentucky. I realize this is God's will for us, and we continue to trust our God, that He has a greater purpose for us in NOT selling it at this time. This causes us more and more to rely on Him and humble ourselves before Him. He is in control. We trust that. At the same time, we are weak and frail and struggle through it, reminding ourselves daily of who He is and that He changes not. However, He has given us peace and we know He has good in all of this for us. I'll keep you updated!

This has been a simple Christmas season. And, I'm thankful for that. We haven't been bombarded with 'hustle and bustle.' It's a simple "giving" Christmas..which means, we're not giving alot to our kids and family! :) But, we realize this is good for them. :) So, I really haven't been running here and there buying. So, I guess that's kept it low-key.

We had a some sweet new friends here loan us one of their Christmas trees. Shane brought back four Christmas totes from Kentucky last time he went as a surprise to me. :) He just kind of randomly grabbed a few and made sure to get the ones with our stockings (the only thing I asked him to bring back). He surprised me with our manger, however he left "baby Jesus and His family" back in Kentucky! :) ha!

We decided just to put up some white lights on the tree, a fabric garland I made years ago in California (when we had no decorations!), and make paper snowflakes to keep it simple. I found some green burlap I had bought last year and used as a table runner and used that as our tree skirt. However, I think it's one of my favorite trees we've had. :) Simple is good. I guess it just felt "homey" to me, somehow. With all the snow coming down in Northern Indiana, it's been a very comfy Christmas. We are home. We have each other. We have Christ. I couldn't ask for more.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

1000 Gifts (166+)....

166. not one, but FOUR free Colts (vs. Dallas) tickets. Hubby gets to take the kids. They'll never forget that. Thank you to my Lord and our very giving, kind new friends.

167. patient, gentle husband, who leads me in the ways of the Lord

168. that the dark days are gone and for now I see light

169. snow, glorious snow!

170. a great 24 hours with our dear friends, Jacob and Jama, and sweet boy, Isaac

171. that God is bigger than my pride or jealousy or discontentment

172. a pantry and fridge/freezer full of food

173. that all of our NEEDS are met

174. a free (to borrow) Christmas tree, that fits our living room just perfect! Thank you, J.H.!!

175. for paper snowflakes

176. salvage grocery store...helping me save lots

177. christmas movies

178. knowing you're not alone when you struggle

179. that God knows the plans He has, and His ways are not our ways, so even when we don't understand, we can TRUST

180. the Jesse Tree Advent, reminding me of the whole story

181. that He chose me before the world was formed, in spite of who He knew I was

182. for family...ones that are close, ones that are not-so-close right now (emotionally, physically)..we are thankful for all of them, and love them all dearly, and pray for them all

183. the anticipation of Christmas morning

184. children...I realize that any holiday wouldn't be as fun without them

185. restoration

186. little boy cheek to rest my cheek on...ahhh

187. church is tomorrow

188. freedom from the need to overspend this Christmas season

189. homemade deep dish pizza that hubby loves...I love making him happy

190. clothes on my laundry room floor..means we have more than enough

191. a clean kitchen (thank you sweet hubby)

192. good books

193. my new ESV study bible..thank you honey, merry christmas to me!

194. the freedom to homeschool my children..even when it's hard..especially when it's hard, because it pushes me to grow past my impatience and selfishness

195. encouragement

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Gospel and my relationships

"By preaching the gospel to myself each day, I nurture the bond that unites me with my brothers and sisters for whom Christ died, and I also keep myself well-versed in the raw materials with which I may actively love them in Christ."

(Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians)

The Gospel and my sanctification

"..Hence, it could be said that 'sanctification' is merely the lifelong process wherein I joyfully surrender myself to God's imputed righteousness and then do whatever this righteousness directs me to do. Indeed, God has clothed me with his righteousness. Now He wants this righteousness to master me. "

(Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians)

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Gospel..not just for new Christians

photo © kari mcgrath photography 2009

"...On my worst days of sin and failure, the gospel encourages me with God's unrelenting grace toward me. On my best days of victory and usefulness, the gospel keeps me relating to God solely on the basis of Jesus' righteousness and not mine."
(Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians:Learning to see the glories of God's love)

We are Rich!

Shane sent me an email today with the subject of "We are rich!", then it had this article below linked to it. See, Shane and I both have really been struggling lately. Yes, we live in a lovely furnished lakehouse in a darling town, and are part of an amazing church. But, our house in Kentucky still hasn't sold yet! (don't you feel sorry for us?) We know God's word, we know we are blessed, we know we have it good, but still we worry and struggle. Yes, there are legitimate reasons for us to struggle, and I'm not undermining those, but in the light of human suffering and the situations many people find themselves in today, we are by no means "suffering."

Yesterday at church, Marc reminded us (me...he was talking to me, I know it!) that not only could things be worse, but things should be worse! So, maybe you're thinking he doesn't quite have the gift of encouragement?! But, just the opposite, it IS encouraging. What do I really deserve, in light of the gospel? I DESERVE hell, judgement, condemnation. But, God's grace came and because of what Jesus Christ did, I have so much more than I deserve. THAT is truth. And, further, I KNOW (not always feel) that God has a greater purpose in our home not selling right now. What is that purpose? I don't know, but I suppose it could be: to keep hammering into our stubborn heads that this world is not our home, to keep us humble, to keep us relying on him for our needs. I remember a quote from CS Lewis, that goes something along the lines of: God allows us little glimpses in this life of what is to sunsets, holding hands with a lover, walks in the woods...but He never allows us to get too comfortable, lest we forget that this world is not our home. I think of that quote (or at least my paraphrase) often. He doesn't want me to get too comfortable. And, I like to be comfortable. One of us is going to win...and I fully expect it won't be me! :)

Anyhow, here's an excerpt of that article Shane sent me, with a link to the full article. Be challenged, be convicted, be reminded of God's grace in your own life, and then go bless others.

"Have you ever thought about why you were born into your particular
circumstances? If you are reading this blog entry you are most likely a
Christian whose life has been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
You are also likely relatively wealthy, at least compared to most people living
in the world. If you have the ability to eat three times per day and have
shelter over your head, you are better off than many people in the world. If you
earn $25,000 per year, you are the richest 10% of the world. You are rich. In
fact if you earn $2,200 per year you are the richest 15% of the world. If you
reading this you are literate and likely had several years of education. If so
you have received more education than hundreds of millions of people around the

...You could have been born as an impoverished child in an unreached nation. Perhaps as a girl born into a Muslim family where you would be forbidden to show anything beyond what can be seen through the eye slits of your veil and could be beaten if you disobeyed even the simplest command of your father. You could have been born in a remote village in Vietnam with little food or education and no opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You could have been born as a girl in Africa who will eventually be sold by your parents into sexual slavery. That could have been you.

But it's not you. Instead you were born into privileged circumstances. Blessed physically, educationally, financially, and spiritually. Why? Only by the grace of God. What is our response then to such blessing and grace?

Certainly God calls us to be thankful. But too few of us are. We take for granted the blessings that we have received from God. Instead of thanksgiving for what we have received, we complain about and lust after the things that we don't have. We covet what our neighbors have. We idolize material things. We are surrounded by clear,
tangible, practical blessings from God that should be so easily recognized and
enjoyed. But our eyes and hearts are too often and too easily diverted toward
what we don't have by the power and persuasion of advertising and social
pressure. Lord, forgive us for our lack of thanksgiving!..."

read whole article here

Friday, November 26, 2010


I found this link and I LOVE this idea! Wouldn't this make a great gift for the grandparents?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ode to Walgreens!

Happy Thanksgiving, first off! We had a lovely day. Went to Indy and had a fabulous lunch at my uncle and aunt's place, with my parents, sister, cousin and her family, grandma, and the biggest surprise of the brother and his wife and two boys came up from Kentucky! I didn't know til I got there! Haven't seen them in over a year, and it was nine? years before that since I'd seen him. So, it was a lovely day, and I am SO thankful for a wonderful family and good food and a God who loves me and POURS His grace on me daily!

Tonight I decided to head to, because I LOVE the store and two, because I didn't want to have to fight the crowds tomorrow since their deals started today. I figured it was easier for me to go out tonight while I was dresssed, then get up-on a day off and get ready and get out at a good time! :) Good thing, b/c at least one thing I wanted was already out! Had to share my newest Walgreen's success story again. (sorry, no picture of my deals this time...too lazy!) :)

First transaction:

Covergirl mascara

Gillette Venus Razor

Secret Deodorant

Revlon Lipgloss

Gum Floss Picks

Dial Men's Body Wash

Oral B Indicator Toothbrush

Secret Body Spray

Olay body wash w/creme

Crest 3D whitening toothpaste

Colgate total toothpaste

Fiber Choice tablets

Gilette men's moisturizer

Advil PM caplets (4 count)

2 liter Dr. Pepper

Herbal Essence shampoo

Scunci rubber bands

Nivea Shave gel (men's)


Total before sales/coupons: $85.56

Total after coupons/sales: $53.78

Register Rewards Received: $48.73

Total Spent on above items: $5.00

*Considering tax alone on the items above was $4.24, I'm thrilled!!! :)

Transaction #2:

Viva cloth-like paper towels 6 count

Sylvania 10 cup coffee maker

Prarie Farms 2% milk-gallon

Planters Cashews 9.75oz

Puzzle book (stocking stuffer)

(3) boxes M&Ms (theater size)

(2) Coffee Mate coffee creamers-liquid

(2) 50 0z. Arm & Hammer Laundry Dtgnt.

Pkg. of 3 rolls Scotch tape

(4) pkgs. AA batteries (walgreen's brand-4 ea. pkg)


Total before coupons/sales: $74.05

Total after coupons/sales: $36.09

Register Rewards Used: $33.98

Out of Pocket: $2.11 (basically for taxes)

Plus, I got two rebates printed out for $6.50

***So, at the end of the day, I spent a total of $34.59 out of pocket for all the above items (both transactions). Had I payed full price, I would have spent $159.61. That's a savings of over 78%!!! It is well worth my time to stack coupons/sales ladies!! :) An hour and half of planning/shopping saved me $125 ...that averages a pretty good per-hour pay! :) I know none of these are typical "black Friday" items you'd buy, but they were good deals, and I'm too practical. :) Anyhow, several of these will go in stockings at christmas time. So, I can technically say I did some christmas shopping today. Don't you wish you were my family member? :) Forget the my house, you get toiletries! ha!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Conversations with my 4-year-old

my 4 year old boy: "Mom, know how many kids me and my wife will have when we get married?"

me: "How many?"

boy: "Eighteen."

me: "Well, how are you gonna get that many kids? Where will they come from?"

boy: ", He can do anything."

me: "Well, why didn't He give me eighteen kids?"

boy: "Because your house is too small, mom. "

(me: smiles all day long!)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sometimes I get tired...

"Those [moms] who wait for the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." Isaiah 40:31

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Week

"It being the indispensable duty of all Nations, not only to offer up their supplications to ALMIGHTY GOD, the giver of all good, for his gracious assistance in time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner to give him praise for his goodness in general, and especially for the great and signal interpositions of his providence in their behalf: Therefore the United States in congress assembled...

...Do hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe, and request the several States to interpose their authority in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the twenty-eight day of NOVEMBER next, as a day of solemn THANKSGIVING to GOD for all his mercies:...

...and they do further recommend to all ranks, to testify their gratitude to GOD for his goodness, by a cheerful obedience of his laws, and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness. ..."
(excerpts from The Declaration of Celebrating Thanksgiving, By the United States Congress, 1782)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

One Thousand Gifts (145+)....

145. friends who understand....and love you anyhow

146. comfy blankets to snuggle up on the couch with

147. cheesy Christmas movies, just b/c they make you feel good

148. hope

149. warm baths

150. good books

151. the library

152. the Starbucks peppermint mocha hubby brought home to me today

153. big, strong arms to hold me

154. the ability to feel "mushy" after 16 years together

155. hot tea and good conversation

156. just knowing we're not alone in this race of life, having friends to encourage us along the way to "keep pressing on"

157. my two nephews, who gave their lives to the Lord last night

158. christmas music

159. getting to know family members again

160. gluten free chocolate chip cookies

161. a day of refreshing

162. a fabulous date night with the man who melts my heart and always makes me laugh

163. children to cuddle with

164. homemade popcorn

165. TWO cars that work

Praise, not Perfection (Anne Voskamp)

Once again, Anne's blog post melts my heart and makes me glad that she is REAL and authentic, because I can relate, as many of us can....(full post here)

She says:
"...I remember what the Farmer said when I first met him and asked why he was so quiet and he quoted Proverbs, that in many words are many sins, and I have spoken too much of late, said too many things, and I question them, wonder, and why not joy instead of a thorn, wallflower instead of brimstone, and I think about this: the making of an ambition of quietness and the way of grace…

I lay on our bed and I liquid murmur that I am not smart enough for any of this, that I fail miserably and everyday and I’m getting so much wrong, and how do you really invest just one life and what about the laundry? And the Farmer he draws me onto his chest and he strokes back my hair, wraps one strand around a finger… and he is quiet. Because sometimes it’s only silence that simply waits that can hear God.

The man is a farmer. He feels wind and he knows rain. He breathes prayers. He pulls me close.

It’s after a long quiet that he whispers it into my caverns,

“Remember? He asks for Praise not Perfection… Grace not Grindstone…”

With a smile and a kiss, that bulk on my shoulders slips, ice to vapor, and I sink into the mattress and sleep comes, tattered relief."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Thousand Gifts (131...)

131. grace, grace, God's grace
132. fleece pajama bottoms..I could live in them!
133. forgiveness
134. conviction of sin..that way I don't stay stuck
135. help with the household chores..I don't have to do it all alone
136. quesadillas and smoothies
137. flavored coffee creamer
138. a great visit with a dear old friend yesterday
139. backrubs
140. cuddle time with Myra in bed last thankful she opens her heart to me
141. chilliness outside, warmth inside
142. date night with Shane tonight
143. the ability to read...and good books
144. God's word that brings comfort

Grace, Grace, God's Grace...

"If God's supernatural, undeserved, sovereign grace is to flow through you, you must be willing to maintain a right relationship with God by confessing your sins the moment you become aware of them, and as you do, accepting God's free grace... the power to acknowledge that He has forgiven them. Christian groups have done a reasonably good job of imparting the need to spend time alone daily, usually in the morning, with God. Some call it a "quiet time". (Those are the folks without small children). Some call it "time in the Word". That's a misnomer, unless all you do is study. Some call it their "devotional time". It is a vital part of maintaining your relationship with God, and if you don't do it, you're missing one of the great opportunities to introduce enough discipline in your life to free God to work.

But remember, your time with God in the morning is not your meeting with God for the day. It is the beginning of an all day relationship. So often, we pray, ask God for grace, ask forgiveness of sins, make our needs known, and press on into the cruel world that awaits us, with a "So long, God, that was neat, see you again tomorrow" mentality. Your "quiet time" (or whatever you call it) is simply God calling the meeting to order. The meeting never ends. And while it is vital to begin the day with God and realize that "His compassions fail not, they are new every morning," it is just as vital to realize that as you venture out into the world, you will sin countless times against a holy God, either by commission or omission, and the very moment you do, your fellowship is bruised. Don't wait for the next day's meeting to be called to order. Stop whatever you are doing, and ask God to forgive you. No one need know but you. In fact, no one should know but you. But the secret to power in the Christian life is the constant renewal of grace that comes when you confess your sins, and a God who is faithful and just to forgive those sins cleanses you of all unrighteousness. However, when we sin, and it is a whole day until we meet with God again, we tend to ignore it or enjoy it until the moment of reckoning comes. If we're really enjoying it, we may just happen to skip our time alone with God for a day or so until we're ready to confess.

That is quenching the grace of God. God has arranged free, unmerited cleansing for us at a moment's notice, and we deliberately choose to postpone appropriating that grace, either by specific choice or by willful apostasy. In either case, God is offended and we lose power. Begin practicing the process of immediate confession. If you offend someone, stop what you're doing and deal with it. If you offend God, stop what you're doing and deal with it. Grace greater than all your sin is yours for the taking; but unless you receive it, it's all for naught." (R. Kelfer)

Press on

"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb..and they loved not their lives even unto death." (Revelation 12:11)

"...The greatest things are always hedged about by the hardest things, and we, too, shall find mountains and forests and chariots of iron. Hardship is the price of coronation. Triumphal arches are not woven out of rose blossoms and silken cords, but of hard blows and bloody scars. The very hardships that you are enduring in your life today are given you by the Master for the explicit purpose of enabling you to win your crown."

"It matters not how the battle goes,
The day how long;
Faint not! Fight on!
Tomorrow comes the song."
(both excerpts from Streams in the Desert, Cowman)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Grocery List

Earlier today,my "grocery list" on the whiteboard on my refrigerator said:

1. Black tea

...Later tonight I noticed someone had added:

2. junk food

3. waffles

4. nothing healthy

ha! My poor, deprived children! :)

Ick..Ugly Mama

I was an ugly mama this afternoon/early evening. Yep. Ugly. As in, not attractive emotionally. I don't know what really happened. I had a great day. Got to see my dear friend and her kids today. Nothing was wrong. Then...3 o'clock hit and I was done for. I felt like I'd been hit by a truck, felt all the life and energy had been drained from me, and yet there were these three little ones...needing me, asking of me. Didn't they know I had nothing left? Didn't they know I was about to blow? Didn't they know I needed a break?

Right about that time, Mr. husband called me and reminded me he would be gone tonight to a church meeting, and oh yeah..could I cut his hair before he left? What? Didn't he know I was empty? Didn't he know I was stuck in a moment of self? Didn't he realize the world was revolving around me at that very moment? I don't think he did, but I have a feeling my FATHER did. And, as I seethed in selfishness and sin and fatigue, the world seemed to crash in around me. I cried, I pouted, I might have even stomped my feet in a tantrum. (MIGHT have)

The children went for quiet reading time, I finally opened my Bible. ahh. Could that be it? Was I not walking in the spirit because I had not taken time to fill my empty cup yet? ahh. Breathe. Pray. Repent. Lord, fill me. I am empty.

Well, the night got better and worse and then better again. Hubby came home, said he'd stopped to get me flowers but they were all wilted. Sigh. He thought of me, even in my ugliness. He rubbed my shoulders. Sigh. He loves me in spite of me. (makes me cry even now) He never asked me to cut his hair. I didn't offer...still stuck in selfishness. He didn't hold it over me. He loves me unconditionally. Humility.

I finished dinner, got grumpy at child at dinner. Sulked up to my room. Tried to read. Spirit wouldn't let me. Repented again to my FATHER. Grace washed over me. I then was able to extend grace to same child. She cried, we held each other. Our hearts opened up to one another. Ugliness gone. (for today) Hubby left for church. Haircut tomorrow. :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Menu Plan for Nov. 15-21, 2010

Well, here's my menu plan for this next week. I like to make my menu plan out a week ahead, so I don't have any last minute planning to do. I find that, otherwise, I'm too tired in the afternoon and it takes twice as much work to figure out what to make. Anyhow, here's my plan for this week-I noticed that some days the kids' snacks are heavy on the carbs, so I will probably switch those up some. I also have lots of cereal and snack foods stocked up from sales, so I'm trying to use some of that up this week. I'm still doing good keeping my grocery budget down. Trying not to spend alot this week, but use up what I have on hand mostly.

(B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner, am-am snack, pm-afternoon snack, N-night snack)



am: pears


pm: crackers and peanut butter

D-Salmon cakes, rice, veggies

n: granola bars (have a few boxes left from (2) B1G1 free coupons)


B-homemade muesli or oatmeal

am: apples

L-leftover soup, grilled cheese or grilled pb&j, cottage cheese

pm: crunch n much

D-Tuna Fettucine, broccoli

n: crackers and pb or cheese



am: carrots

L-mac and cheese for kids (Owen's had Annie's organic on sale for .49/box..I bought ten!), leftovers


D-Pork burgers, cole slaw

n-homemade soft pretzels




L-quesadillas on rice tortillas, smoothies

pm:granola bars

D-Turkey (on sale this week for .69/lb at Owen's-this will feed our fam. several meals), mashes sweet potatoes, veggie

n-leftover soft pretzels


B-mexican egg scramble, sausage (from local farm)


L-turkey cobb salad with cranberries

pm:pirate booty

D-butternut squash soup, salad

n:granola bars


B-gluten free pumpkin pancakes w/homemade syrup (made with sucanat, not hfcs)


L-gluten free spaghetti with sauce, organic ravioli (sale item)


D-turkey hash, veggies

n:homemade popcorn


B-yogurt, fruit

L-turkey sandwiches, fruit and veggies, cottage cheese

D-snacks, homemade popcorn (Sundays we don't eat dinner, we just eat leftovers and snacks)

Daily Pledge

**(By Russell Kelfer, taken from Choosing Gratitude, Nancy Leigh De Moss)

"Having been born into the kingdom of God, I do hereby acknowledge that God's purchase of my life included all the rights and control of that life for all eternity.

I do further acknowledge that He has not guaranteed me to be free from pain or to have success or prosperity. He has not guaranteed me perfect health. He has not guaranteed me perfect parents. He has not guaranteed me perfect children. He has not guaranteed me the absence of pressures, trials, misunderstandings, or persecution.

What He has promised me is eternal life. What He has promised me is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, meekness, and self-control. He has given me all of Himself in exchange for the rights to my life.

Therefore I acknowledge this day the relinquishment of all my rights and expectations, and humbly ask Him by His grace to replace these with a grateful spirit, for whatever in His wisdom He deems to allow for my life."

Signed, Kari

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Common, Unpoetic Life

"The colored sunsets and starry heavens, the beautiful mountains and the shining seas, the fragrant woods and painted flowers, are not half so beautiful as a soul that is serving Jesus out of love, in the wear and tear of commoon, unpoetic life." -Faher

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Thousand Gifts (121+)....

121. thankful today that the flu does NOT last forever-God's grace for sure!

122. a sweet little 4 year old boy who took care of the rest of us yesterday when we had the worst part of the flu (he was the only one who did not)

123. my daughter...she is away from us this week, and I realize how much I miss her when she's gone

124. gf chicken noodle soup..thank you, Sara. It's all I can eat right now.

125. great friends who bring us food when we're sick...I love being a part of the body of Christ

126. a sweet time of communion with my Lord this morning...revealing to me His grace and mercy

127. a God who provides all our needs

128. my lovely new "K" mug that my dear friend, Jama, brought me..along with a yummy candle and some chocolates. More than that, I'm thankful for my time with Jama. Thank you for giving me a day, which I know is precious, when there is always so much to do. I love you.

129. free butter and organic tea and a kombucha scoby and live kefir grains from my sweet friend, Beth (if I get shunned by everyone else, at least I will have you!) :) ha!

130. sunny days in the middle of November

Prayer for Heart of Hospitality

(from Karen Burton Mains, "Open Heart, Open Home")


Thank you for having given your self in intimate,

inexplicable hospitality.

You have been the Host to all creation.

Without a dwelling, You have contained the

whole word and habited Yourself in the winds,

the corners, and the depths, inviting us to be

at home with You. Beneath the shadow of Your

wing You bid us hide, and in the depths of Your

Being You shelter and refuge us.

Without meat You have nourished us.

Without beverage You have refreshed us.

By Your very Word came sustenance.

On bread and water without price have we been fed.

You have been manna in the wilderness of our lives.

Without a table You have banqueted us, inviting us, yea, to be married unto you.

Over our heads flies the banner of Your love.

We are entertained with the mysteries of faith,

the songs of the Spirit, holy laughter.

You have garmented us in festal righteousness.

As we wandered in wastelands,

You sought us before we called.

You extended eager welcome

though we had scarcely knocked.

You embraced us when we were filthy

and oppressed and undeserving.

You are the Samaritan who passes not by,

Who finds lodging for us in the warm inns by the way.

You bake fish over coals, waiting for us,

though we have forgotten to wait for You.

With broken hands You break the loaf of blessing.

Those same wounds caress our leprous spirits.

You do not fear to openly accept the intimate worship

of our harlot hearts.

You are the Host of all mankind.

Lifted up, suffering, without breath, You yet

extend greeting to all the masses,

'Come unto me....



You give us the mystery of Your presence

in this supper of the ages, this remembrance of

Your ultimate hospitality

O Lord,

Make my hospitality as unto Yours,

Be forever my archetype of endeavor,

My firstfruit of harvested goodness;

Love for the battered, misused child,

Grace to bind running ulcers of flesh and soul,

Eagerness for the wealthy without servility,

And for the poor without superiority.

Through eternity You have been and will be

utterly hospitable.

Help me,

poor, faltering, unfeeling me,

to be like you,

with breath-beat and soul-heart

poured out



Help me,

to be given to hospitality."

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

More on Hospitality...

"...The to do more than is required. It is easy to spend days in elaborate preparations which have nothing to do with ministry, but a great deal to do with demonstrating one's own abilities. One must look carefully at those hidden motives and ask, 'Am I really seeking to serve, or am I trying to impress?'

A good thermometer as to whether pride was rising in me was to ask two good questions: Am I nervous? Am I fussing? These were pretty good indicators of the true nature of my intentions. If I was nervous, getting jumpy before that sit-down dinner for eight, I could assume something had gone awry within. Was I afraid the new recipe would flop, or that someone might wander into an unclean room-and people would think less of me? For me, nervousness stemmed from nothing more than pride.

What did it matter if the centerpiece was less than spectacular, if the rolls were slightly more brown on the bottom, if the door to the little boys' room was closed because to enter was to take one's life in one's hands?

If I found myself fussing too much about spots on the glasses, getting upset because I had to clean the bathroom sink again, going wild because someone had walked on the freshly vacuumed shag-what did it mean? Who was coming that I was trying to impress with all these efforts? Didn't my over-concern indicate that I was depending on my human efforts to make the evening a success? Hadn't I forgotten that undefinable spiritual quality which found its source in the Holy Spirit? Again the answer was pride, pride rearing it's subtle and manipulative head, forcing me to think self..." (Karen Burton Mains, "Open Heart, Open Home:How to find joy through sharing your home with others")

True Hospitality

A couple months ago, not long after we'd moved back to Indiana, I met one of our pastor's wives one day at the park nearby. Afterwards, she asked if she could walk back with us, because she wanted to get the exercise. I was glad for the company...until we neared my home! See, that morning, we had finished school when my friend dropped off her child so she could go to the doctor's office. We left the school stuff on the table, the blankets unfolded on the couch and the sink full of the days' (and possibly the night before's?) dishes. "I'll get it it later, I thought. It's too beautiful to be inside. We're going to the park!" You must understand that those thoughts are not often in my head. Too often I am weighed down with all that needs to be done and feels left undone. I'm always one step behind in my own head.

When I arrived at the house with this dear lady and her grandbaby, I realized it was only nice to ask her in, but found myself inevitably saying "oh, sorry for the dishes. Sorry for the school mess...(all while I'm folding the blankets on the couch quickly!). " I was very uncomfortable, because here's how I'd rather it have gone...I'd rather have had the house all together, clean and dust free, smelling like cinnamon (my comfort smell), cookies freshly baked on the table....yes, that's how I'd rather have had it. That way she could see the "real" me, right? That's what my pride likes to tell me. Rather, she DID see the real me. And, she saw my struggle with my pride that day. In her graciousness, she asked if I'd ever read, "Open Heart, Open Home." I suppose she wasn't surprised when I said I hadn't. :) She said her favorite line from that book was something along the line of "Always keep your home open to others, even if you have to write 'welcome' in the dust." We had a good laugh, and I had a decent dose of conviction that she was not offended by real life.

Well, seems the Lord wanted me to really see what was going on in my heart, because she "just happened" to find the book the next day at a garage sale. I have been reading this book, and have been convicted, challenged, and encouraged. Mostly convicted, though. I have always opened my home to others, always felt 'hospitable.' God is showing me, though, that I have always had more of a heart for entertaining...focusing on things and my own abilities to impress than a true heart of serving others. Can I be that real with you, my friends? I think God gave me a gift and heart's desire, yes, but I have misunderstood what that really looked like. I do love to serve, but I must look back at all the times my own heart was angry that a child just left toys where I'd just cleaned up...didn't they know people were coming to my home and would judge me for those toys on the ground? I mean, what kind of a mother would I be? Pride. Fear of man. Ugly. Ugh!

So much of this book has stuck out to me. So much the Lord has opened my eyes to. So much He is changing. So much more He needs to change. I'll be sharing more in the days to come...but one 'funny' story of how God allowed me not only to read and nod my head, but practice what I am learning....

Shane called a few weeks ago, about 15 minutes til 12 noon. He asked if he could bring Mark, our new youth director, home for lunch. Now, I had showered, but put clean jammies back on, since I'd just "be home alone" that day. I had school stuff on the table (again, yes!), sink full of dishes (again, yes!...I'm seeing a theme here of who I REALLY am, not who I want others to think I am...), and then there's the issue of what I'd planned for lunch...
It had been one of those days, towards the end of a paycheck, when I delve into the cabinet to see what we have. Well, we had hot dogs, but no buns, and we had baked beans. So...beanie weenies! Yes, I had homemade beanie weenies on the stove, pjs on, and a messy house and company was coming. My prayers for an angel of God to come clean my house were not answered in those fifteen short minutes...actually, I barely got my clothes on before they walked in the door. I pushed down my pride (which was huge!), opened the door, and said "come on in for some beanie weenies!" And, guess what Mark said? He said, "Awesome! I love beanie weenies!", with a big smile on his face. We ate our "main course", had cut up veggies and cheese on the side, and enjoyed getting to know this man God had brought into ministry with us. There was never a complaint, never a slight look out of the side of his eye to my "mess." There was only greatfulness from his heart. And, though this story makes me laugh, it also brings tears to my eyes. Because God is faithful and kind. He's faithful to point out my flaws and to test me, but not so that he can overwhelm me or throw me down to be laughed at, but to grow me. I grew that day.

I don't have it all together. My dishes are not always (rarely ever) all done. My laundry is NEVER done. You WILL find dust on my furniture. But, you are always welcome in my home, for it is the Lord's home, and my desire is to glorify him by loving and serving you.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Yes, I am flawed...

photo by Kari McGrath

"I don’t open my eyes…. To my dust and my smudges and my grime and my love-smeared mess. Why can’t I remember…the state of my space doesn’t reflect the state of my soul...I don’t have to have smudgeless windows and empty laundry baskets and gleamy toilet bowls! I don’t have to have a perfect life, all problems solved! ......I simply need have a grateful heart to give Him glory.." (A.V) (whole blog post here)


photo by Kari McGrath

This was taken from the Girl Talk blog.....

* When I am anxious about some risky new venture or meeting, I battle unbelief with the promise: “Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God; I will help you, I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

* When I am anxious about my ministry being useless and empty, I fight unbelief with the promise, “So shall my word that goes forth from my mouth; it will not come back to me empty but accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

* When I am anxious about being too weak to do my work, I battle unbelief with the promise of Christ, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), and “As your days so shall your strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25).

* When I am anxious about decisions I have to make about the future, I battle unbelief with the promise, “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).

* When I am anxious about facing opponents, I battle unbelief with the promise, “If God is for us who can be against us!” (Romans 8:31).

* When I am anxious about being sick, I battle unbelief with the promise that “tribulation works patience, and patience approvedness, and approvedness hope, and hope does not make us ashamed” (Romans 5:3–5).

* When I am anxious about getting old, I battle unbelief with the promise, “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4).

* When I am anxious about dying, I battle unbelief with the promise that “none of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself; if we live we live to the Lord and if we die we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose again: that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9–11).

* When I am anxious that I may make shipwreck of faith and fall away from God, I battle unbelief with the promise, “He who began a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “He who calls you is faithful. He will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). “He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

A Thousand Gifts continued....

photo by Kari McGrath

101. our family that joined us this weekend to celebrate Shane and Myra's birthdays

102. Myra's greatful heart

103. Lizzie's hugs

104. Nehemiah's kisses

105. Pastor Nate's ordination today...such a sweet time at church

106. a husband to hold me when I cry (even when a Colt's game is on!)

107. a mother who loves the Lord and continues to speak wisdom to me

108. the greatest dad in the word and for his being alive 62 years today (even though he is not my dad by blood, he's the best!)

109. Cassie's smile, which always lights up a room

110. plenty of food in the pantry, when I know so many are hungry tonight

111. snuggle time on the couch with Lizzie

112. God's grace and kindess, to point out my sin, but not leave me stuck there

113. Jama coming to visit me this past week..what a dear, sweet, old friend (she's not old, just our friendship)

114. humility I see in our church staff

115. gluten free mac and cheese...Sara's recipe of course! comfort food!

116. rainy, overcast favorite (for a short time, at least!)

117. hot coffee and yummy creamer

118. Julie H., my friend and kindred spirit

119. Jen L. and her genuine, giving, thoughtful never ceases to amaze me

120. a washing machine and dryer...though they are always full and never finish their jobs, they keep me from having to wash my clothes in the creek! (or lake!)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

November Giving Challenge

30-Day Giving Challenge

I just saw a link from Money Saving Mom for this 30 day Giving challenge for the month of November. I thought it was a great idea to focus on others and realize how much God has blessed us with that we can give..even if it's just a batch of cookies or a note of thanks.

I find that, staying at home, I am alone alot more than I'd like to be (being such an extrovert) and that can often lead my thoughts to be focused on...ME! Now, I know some of you love me and have nice thoughts of me, but these thoughts I have often start with either how I'm failing in one area or another or they are just thoughts that are not gospel-centered. I often have to stop, remind myself of the gospel, pray, and move on. I also often pray that God would give me someone else to think about so that I get my mind off myself. This challenge fits so well with that prayer! So, I have printed off the calendar to fill in and praying that God would help us to be a family that gives out of a greatful heart of all that He has given us. Would you join me in this challenge?