Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bible Doctrine - Study of Systematic Theology

I left off without completing the last of four reasons we should study systematic theology last time so here it is:

4) We should study systematic theology because it will help us grow as Christians. We will learn more about God and his Word and how he relates to man which will enable us to trust and then more completely praise him and even be more likely to obey him. This will mature us as Christians. Doctrine is necessary for true Christian maturing

Review Question #4: Name six attitudes or activities that should characterize or accompany the study of systematic theology:

When we study systematic theology we should always pray because we need the Holy Spirit to give us the ability to understand scripture. We also should study with humility and avoid pride. It is appropriate to employ logical reasoning from the scriptures, but we must make certain not to draw conclusions that go beyond what is being taught or contradict other clear teachings of the scripture. If our reasoning brings us to a conclusion that contradicts other scriptural teaching we must realize that what we thought was a valid conclusion is in error and not conclude that the scriptures are in error. We should study with help from others - both teachers and books as well as through talking to other Christians about what is studied. Systematic theology must be studied by collecting and understanding all relevant passages of scripture on that topic by using books books like this one. If you want to study a topic on your own, use a concordance to look up verses with words related to the topic and find many verses with the same key words. After studying those passages, make notes to summarize points made. Once study is complete, the teaching should be summarized into a small number of main points stating what the Bible teaches about that topic. It's also useful to then study other theology books to see the topic from various perspectives that will either strengthen the position stated or make you realize that further research is needed. A study of systematic theology should be accompanied with rejoicing and praise since it's a study of our living and true God and what he did in redemption and as we understand more of God, we won't be able to help but to praise Him.

Picasa and Peru Pictures

It's amazing what one click can do to improve a picture. Picasa2 is a great free program that is great for editing picture colors and removing red-eye. Other programs are more expensive and perfect for more technical or detailed changes, but Picasa is wonderful for quick amazing picture updates! There is a cool button called "I'm feeling lucky" which changed the picture from dull to vibrant. This is one of the pictures the Peru team took on their way to Huarez this year. It's such an amazing change that I've spent the last two or three hours modifying most of the 800+ pictures that a couple of the people took. Tomorrow after work we hope to finish the slide show. I hope the slideshow falls together easily tomorrow.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Great Sunday

Today was a great day! Great is just not descriptive enough. I was smiling just now driving back from church. I can't explain all the resons now, but it was good in many ways. We were able to hear from many people in the morning service how God was a work in their two weeks in Peru. We heard how he answered specific prayers that were prayed and fresh realizations many had of what's truly important in this life.

I was able to eat lunch with my family then spent an hour or so reading Hudson Taylor and Maria (I found some more interesting quotes that I hope to type in here sometime). I uploaded the video I put together before church this morning to both youtube and godtube. I've been wanting to start puting church videos online for some time and am glad to have finally done uploaded the first one. Hopefully, I'll be able to upload some more Peru videos in the near future.

While in the middle of uploading the video, twelve-year-old Toy from across the street came over to ask if I would play capture the flag with them. I thought, why not - I've been sitting around all day. We ended up playing kick-ball instead and after an hour were so hot and sweaty that we had to stop. After a stop at McDonalds for a McFlurry with my neighbors family and another neat new family from church, we went to the night service. After the service, I was able to talk with some people that I've been meaning to speak with for some time. I had an idea and found that what I decided to do while not knowing if it was a good idea or a God idea was a direct answer to someone's prayer. That was fun! I guess God can use each of his clay pots in the most unusual ways - PTL!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Girl, Lady or Woman?

Rob brought to my attention yesterday that I had described myself twice as a "girl" instead of a lady or woman in what I wrote in my blog profile. I had not noticed the use of "girl" and had thought nothing about it. Writing a profile is not easy. I don't often have to describe myself to others and wasn't sure what to say so I just wrote something at the time knowing that it probably wouldn't sound quite right. I just wanted to get something written to put on the profile.

If you're like me, you probably have an age that you always kind of think of yourself as being. I don't remember a lot of my early childhood. My more vivid memories really don't start until I was about twelve, and even those are a bit sparse. Maybe it's partially because I stopped growing taller at that age, but for whatever reason I still kind of think of myself as still being a 12-year-old kid. It's amazing to me that I am now a working adult that a company has hired. Where did the time go?

I've read that typically first and second born children look up to their parents and from a small child desire to be grown up like them. Children further down in the birth order are often being told they are too young to do what their siblings do. They look up to their siblings and just desire to be "big like them." In my case, I think this is partially true. While growing up, I could never really imagine being an adult. I guess I didn't really think I would live that long, or maybe I just didn't like to think about the great unknown world of adulthood.

Here are a few definitions of girl, lady and woman.

girl: a female child, from birth to full growth; a young immature woman;

lady: a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoke; a woman of high social position or economic class; any woman; female; feminine

woman: the female human being; an adult female peson; female

Based on these definitions I don't wish to be called a girl since it could indicate immaturity, I am a woman, and I guess I wish to be a lady.

I have always tended to think the word lady indicated someone who is conceited and feels she is above someone else. I think of a woman as being someone older or larger than me. I think of a girl as someone who has energy and probably someone who is single and likes to have fun. Apparently my definitions don't exactly match up with correct dictionary definitions. I guess I should go back and write a better blog profile!

Romans 8 Summary

I've been going through the book of Romans since February 12th. I don't read it every day, and when I do, I'm going slow so that I think about the verses more. I tend to read too fast and miss a lot if I read at my normal pace. Anyway, I'm reading a paragraph at a time and summarizing each segment in my own words and writing the summary in an excel sheet. Then when I have finished a chapter, I go back and after reading the chapter for a few days, I write summaries of the chapters. This morning I just finished summarizing Romans 8. I'm a bit hesitant to post this as it's nothing spectacular, just something I write to help me think about and rephrase some of what I read. But, since I don't have time to post anything else this morning before work, I'm posting it anyway just as it is.

Romans Chapter 8:

Now, no condemnation exists for Christians. Christ set us free from from the law of sin and death by dying for us so that we would be able to live by the spirit instead of by the sinful nature. How you live will determine how you think: living by the spirit brings life and peace, and living by the sinful nature brings death. A sinful mind is opposed to God and can in no way please him, but a person controlled by the Spirit has a body that is dead because of sin (and yet life will come through the Spirit) and a spirit that is alive due to righteousness.

So, we are obligated to live by the spirit and put to death the sin of the body. You who are led by God's spirit are a child of God so you can call him Daddy and are will receive an inheritance of God and with Christ. If we share in his sufferings we will also share in his glory.

To me, the suffering we face now can't even be compared with the glory that is coming. All creation is frustrated and eagerly waiting for freedom from decay and to see the sons of God revealed. Creation groans as we do too as we anticipate the completion of our adoption and having a redeemed body. The Spirit helps us in our weakness in not knowing what to pray for by interceding for us according to God's will with groans that can't be expressed in words.

We know that for those who love God and have been called by his purpose, God works in all things for their good. God chose those he knew before, to be made like Christ. He called them, made them righteous, and glorified them. So our conclusion must be that no one can be against us since God is for us. God can do nothing but give us everything since he gave us the best in sacrificing his own son. Who would dare to bring a charge against people God chose since God made us righteous and Jesus is speaking up for us? No amount of hardship or pain can separate us from God's love in Christ Jesus, for in everything we are victors.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Rob, you were right! Rob, who doubles as our resident diet and exercise consultant at work in addition to being my engineering manager, told me that I would achieve my goal of 24 minutes the day I broke up my goal into short one or two minute segments. That way I would know where I needed to be throughout all of the run instead of only finding out how close I was to hitting the goal at the end (when it's too late to speed up).

On Sunday afternoon, using the measuring tool on Microsoft Streets and Trips (also available on Google maps), I found out how many yards it was between every street that I pass on my route. The distance actually worked out to 2.92 miles when measured that way instead of 2.8 miles so I might actually be running a little farther and faster than I thought. Then I applied a rate to each segment - a faster rate for my first 3 minute segment as well as a downhill portion leaving all the other segments the same. Then I found out how many minutes it should take to get to each street as well as what my halfway to that street time should be.

I run while listening to music on an mp3 player and have used audacity to make custom length segments to use when doing the couch-to-5k running plan this spring. Listening to music to tell me when to switch from running to walking is much easier at 5 am then pressing a stopwatch and remembering how long you're supposed to run. Anyway, using audacity, this Sunday I recorded notes for myself for the halfway mark "halfway to __ street in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1" as well as street notes of "to __ street in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1" for each street (17 streets in all). Then I arranged those notes on my 24 minute music segment. On Monday, I ran with these notes for the first time. All was going ok (though I was behind my notes for most of the time) until my shoe got untied when I was .5 miles from the end. I paused the time and tied my shoe and then took a minute (or so) to catch my breath and decide if I should run and finish the route. I finally decided I would go on and restarted the time. I did end up finishing in 24:03 but wasn't sure if I could have without the break. So, today was the real test. I put a fresh battery in my mp3 player, tied my shoes tight and was off!

It's funny how my mind plays tricks on me. Within a couple minutes I was sure that I must be running slow and would never make it even to the first street on time. But I actually managed to stay within a few seconds of almost every time segment and finished with 5 seconds to spare! If I'm running 2.8 miles, that's a rate of 7mph or 8.6 minute miles. It's nice to have finally hit that goal! I'm not sure what my next goal with be. I was pretty exhaused when I finished the run so so I think I may just do this route a few more times and chose something new after my trip to Chicago in August.

If any of you want to do the couch-to-5k plan, take a look at this chart. I made it for my use in doing the plan. It was much easier for me to quickly follow a chart then to keep up with the pages of notes on their website.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bible Doctrine

Two years ago at a New Attitude Conference, one of the speakers recommended that we should study Bible Doctrine more and that Wayne Grudem's book Bible Doctrine was a perfect one for us to use. I looked at the book then, the price ($25 at the conference), and the number of pages (528) and decided that since I might not actually read the book I wouldn't get it. Well, after considering it occasionally for the last couple years and wishing that I had purchased it, I finally got a copy at this year's New Attitude Conference in May. Today (two months later), I finally took it off my shelf (or more precisely off the ledge of my window) and began reading.

This looks like a great book for me to study. It looks like it will help to make more concrete many Biblical doctrines. I want to be able to more fully understand and explain concepts that I either should know or do know but don't know how to articulate.

The book is broken into 34 chapters and each chapter contains review questions as well as questions for personal application, special terms and scripture memory. As I enjoy blogging, I intend to post my answers for at least the review questions on this blog. This is mostly for my benefit (so I can have it saved and easily found no matter where I am) though I hope reading what I write may help those who read this site to study Bible doctrine for themselves. I also hope that if I write something that you disagree with or have another take on that you will respond to the post so we can get even more in depth in that area.

So this is the first installment for Chapter 1- "Introduction to Systematic Theology"

Chapter 1 - Review Questions

1. Define systematic theology and discuss its relationship with other theological disciplines (historical theology, philosophical theology, apologetics, Old Testament theology, New Testament theology, and biblical theology).

According to this book, systematic theology is 'any study that answers the question, "What does the whole Bible teach us today?"' It endeavors to answer the question of what God desires for us to know and believe by looking at the teaching of the entire bible to understand each subject studied.

Although systematic theology my overlap other types of theology, there are distinct differences in focus. Historical theology examines how Christians in history have understood the Bible. Philosophical theology doesn't primarily use the Bible as it's text, but looks instead at philosophical tools and reasoning from observing the universe. Apologetics is focused on a defense of the truth of Christianity in order to convince those who don't yet believe. Old Testament or New Testament theology look at topics in the order they were presented in history or in the way a certain teacher or author address a subject in the Old or New Testament. Biblical theology does contain the Old and New Testament theology, but focuses especially on what individual authors taught and to each teaching in the "historical development" of the teaching as well as what the understanding was of the teaching to the original readers.

Systematic theology therefor concentrates on a carefully thought out and organized way on the collection of Biblical theology and "attempts to summarize the teaching of the Scripture in a brief, understandable, and very carefully formulated statement." It will use terms that may not be in the Bible but are useful in explaining things to summarize bible concepts in our current world. Practical application is necessary since systematic theology is looking at what the Bible teaches us today.

2. What is a "doctrine," and how does this relate to the study of systematic theology?

"A doctrine is what the whole Bible teaches us today about some particular topic." It is very similar to the definition of systematic theology, but narrows the systematic theology to one specific topic. So a doctrine is the teaching of systematic theology one topic at a time.

3. Give four reasons why Christians should study systematic theology

1) We ought to study so we can obey Jesus. He commanded his disciples to teach people to observe or obey everything that he told them to do. In order to teach others, we must first be able to collect and summarize what the Bible says on a particular topic so we understand his teachings ourselves. His teachings include the entire New Testament since it was written through the Holy Spirit as well as the entire Old Testament which must be understood in the ways it applies to the truths of redemption.

2) We should study systematic theology because it will "help us overcome our wrong ideas." It's easy to take something out of context and incorrectly apply that verse to many areas or to simply ignore teaching when it doesn't line up with how we prefer to think. A study of systematic theology will show us what the whole Bible teaches in a particular area.

3) A study of systematic theology will also help us to "make better decisions later". Questions may come from new controversies due to culture or from new situations we face in live due to life changes such as marriage, children, witnessing, or money. Since the Bible is useful in every area of life, an organized study of the topics will provide building blocks to base decisions on in the practical areas of life.

Question 4 to come sometime in the future.

Hudson Taylor and Maria

I am just about always in the middle of reading a book. It seems I have to read at least a few pages of either a book or a World Magazine before I go to sleep at night. My mom is always supplying me with books to read - usually faster than I can finish them. Right now I'm reading a book called Hudson Taylor and Maria, Pioneers in China by J.C. Pollock. I've not yet finished the book, but just wanted to write down these quotes before I forgot about them (or my book marks came out).

" The C.E.S. [Chinese Evangelization Society] was in debt. Taylor believed no Christian, certainly no Christian mission, should live and work on borrowed money. "To me it seemed that the teaching of God's Word was unmistakeabley clear: 'Owe no man any thing.' To borrow money implied, to my mind, a contradiction of Scripture-a confession that God had withheld some good thing, and a determination to get for ourselves what he had not given." although deep in debt the C.E.S sent the Johnes, with four small children, to China, and sent them so ill-provided that to get to Ningpo they had to depend on the missionaries at Shanghai, which rocked at the scandel." [page 75]

"Maria Dyer, she of the squint, wrote to her student brother Samuel in London concerning these autumn days: "I met a gentleman and, I cannot say I loved him at once, but I felt interested in him and could not forget him. I saw him from time to time and still this interest continued. I had no good reason to think it was reciprocated, he was very unobrusive and never made any advances." She said she was led to take the matter at once to God" [page 81]

"Maria prayed secretly that "if it was God's will, if it was not wrong, we might have an interview." She was tempted to concort an encounter "but I preferred that it should be of God's over-ruling and not of my arranging" [page 87-88]

1st Siblings Breakfast

This morning I had breakfast with my younger siblings before work. I had been thinking of the best way to see my siblings more often and thought that having them over for breakfast might be a lot of fun. Lydia and Elijah are home from college for the summer and though I usually go to the parents house once a week, read blogs and occasionally see them at church or play practice, I thought we could use more time to just catch up on each others lives. Especially with Lydia working the 3 PM to 11 PM shift, going over there on evenings wouldn't really help me see her more.

Anyway, the kids (as I've always called them) came over at 6:45 this morning and I had a great time eating with them. I have awesome siblings so it's nice to hear their unblogged stories in "real time!"

Thanks guys for coming - especially to Lydia for getting up early after working so late. Lets make this a habit. See you next Tuesday, bright and early!

Oh, by the way, if my other siblings (Luke, Michele, Maria and Ron) want to come with your children (my niblings Daniele, Alex, Zach, Nate, James, Sara, and Lisa Beth), you're more than welcome! Just let me know you're coming and I'll make extra food!

We learned something else this morning - a 2 second time delay on the camera is too short (see 1st picture) and a 10 second time delay is a bit too long (second picture)!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pure Joy!

Pastor Tony has started preaching a series on the book of James on Sunday nights. I've always enjoyed the book of James, and I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say. The following are taken from my notes from his sermon. I think summarizing my notes here on the blog might be a good way to reinforce to myself what was taught. Writing them here will also allow me to find the notes later!

The first few verses of James 1 do (as Pastor Tony said) have to do with attitude. We're supposed to consider affliction, trials and testing to be pure joy (or to count it all joy as other translations say).

Tony reminded us that as Christians we're in one of three states: about to go into a storm, in a storm, or coming out of a storm. There are lulls at times, but the storms will come.

Our response to those storms reveals where we are in our spiritual life. I don't really like what it reveals about me because I tend to complain (though mostly to myself) when I'm in a storm or confusing time.

It's a comfort to be reminded that God is allowing us to go through trials to accomplish something as verse four says that "perseverance must finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." So these trials are not for no reason. They could be a gift to us so that we won't lack something in our lives. We're reminded of Romans 8:28 and how in all things God can work for our good and his glory (if we're of the ones who love him and have been called according to his purpose).

We're to pray that God will let each trial have it's perfect work. That's a hard prayer, especially if you're in a trial right now. But, if you and I want to be made more like Christ, isn't that what we really want? We just don't realize that it takes trials to make us who we want to be.

God, please use these trials in my own life to make me more like you.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hand and Foot and Family

Last night I enjoyed pizza at my family's house along with what's become a usual tradition of playing a game after we eat. After much debate, we settled on Hand and foot which Dad always tries to make it sound like a new game by coming up with new names for it like "Nuts and Bolts," or "Knees and Elbows."
Hand and Foot is not Jubilee's favorite game, but she suffered through it by occupying herself with twist-tie creations when it wasn't her turn. She made cute little guy on a tire swing and I decided that I would use a picture we took of me and her creation as my profile picture since I hadn't posted one yet .

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rob in Space!

Extra! Extra! Late breaking news today! Rob has just posted his very 1st ever blog post on his new site at http://robbinspace.blogspot.com. It's a great post about the value of sports and competition and how many aspects of character can be formed through participation in athletics. It's well worth reading and I look forward to reading more of Rob's musings in the future!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Grass is Always Greener

Whatever your state, it is easy to fall into the mentality that "The grass is always greener on the other side." I tend to focus at times on the negative aspects of being single instead of remembering the good aspects. Loneliness and a lack of focus can tend to get me down at times. I was thinking the other morning of advantages and goals that I as a single girl should be more focused on and striving toward. This is not a list that is all-inclusive or absolutely applied to everyone, but something that I was thinking about and decided to get on paper.

1. Serve God. 1 Corinthians 7:34 says ". . . An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. . . " I don't know if Paul thought so highly of Christian singles that he couldn't imagine an unmarried person in any other state, but notice that this verse doesn't say that she "should be concerned about the Lord's affairs" but that she "is". There are doubtless many things that the single people can do in the church to build up the church or to simply take a task that would otherwise of necessity be done by someone who needs to spend time with their children or spouse. Wisdom should still be exercised in choosing what to get involved in and boundaries must exist in a person's life so they can say no to things that they should not get involved in. But a focus on devotion to God in what they do should be a big part of a Christian single person's life.

2. "Train yourself to be godly 1 Tim 4:7b." While there is a danger in a person making the Christian life into rules rather than relationship, that doesn't mean that a person should not strive to grow more Christlike. In order to become something that your not, there are steps that are taken. If you want to become an engineer (like I did), while in high school, you must do that math lesson regularly, then you must go to a college and study being faithful in the little things such as homework, then you must get a job. These are actual steps that take you from being a kid in school to an engineer. Similarly, to become more like Christ, there are steps a person can take which will get them in a position to change. These steps are not just for the single person, but due to the fewer demands on a single they are much more easily implemented when a person has time to spare. I also think that many of these things are habits that will be easier to do if a person is married if the person has already taken the time and effort to make these things a habit. There are many things that can train you to be godly, but I want to highlight just a few of them: read and study the Bible, memorize and meditate on scripture, and pray. These things take time and are more useful in a person's life if they are done consistently. Doing these things doesn't make God approve of or love you more. He sees you through the lens of what Christ has already done. But, these things will help you change. Our desire should be to change and grow more like Christ. Reading and studying the Bible will make you understand God's character and his desires better. Memorizing and meditating on scripture will help you to dwell on things that are good, right and true. Your mind will be so full of that stuff that when you fall asleep or wake up you will be thinking about Bible verses or aspects of God's character. Praying can be come a habitual response to anything that goes on in your life, and turning things over to God is the best first response to events.

3. Give money away. A single person will likely be able to live less expensively than those who are married with kids. We can live with family or have roommates to offset costs or simply live in a small apartment since we don't need extra space. Though saving money is also a good thing, I have found it fun to give. Giving is another way that you can serve your church or missionaries.

4. Save money. If you're single, now is the time to save before all the expenses of a family are upon you, or if that never happens, save now so that you will have the ability to get through tough times if you loose a job or have health problems. Saving a little for a long time will be much easier than trying to save a lot later on. Compound interest is amazing on paper and as I'm saving, I'm seeing that it works in real life too. We don't know what the future holds and should not get our focus off of God's provision and think that we can handle things ourselves. But if God has given you a good job, don't spend everything now. Read proverbs and other biblical passages about money and you'll see that saving money is definitely not against Bible principals.

5. Exercise. 1 Timothy 4:8 says "For physical training is of some value but godliness has value for all things. . . " So although godliness has value for all things, this verse does show that physical training is of some value. Our bodies are temples of the holy spirit and should not be mistreated. Beyond that there are other reasons to keep physically fit that range from the fun (being able to participate fully on outdoor games and sports) to the spiritual (being able to be a part of a mission trip to a hard area of the world). We don't know what our future holds. Taking 30 to 45 minutes each day to keep our bodies active will keep us from limiting our future based on things we can't physically do.

6. Develop friendships. Learning from books is good, but learning from and being able to talk to a friend about a specific situation is invaluable. If there are people whose lives you admire or wish to be more like, get to know them. Their wisdom will be important especially if they are a little older than you. Observe people around you and their families. You can learn a lot just by watching how people interact.

7. Live close to your family. This is not a necessity, but it sure helps. It's nice to be able to drop in and see them once a week. It's much easier to be somewhat caught up on their lives if you live nearby. Another nice thing about living near your family is that if you have car problems or need someone to pick you up from an airport, they are usually more than happy to help. You will also save money because you won't have to travel a long distance to visit them on holidays.

These are things that I need to at times remind myself of and I'm sure there are many more that could be added. None of these things is terribly exciting or revolutionary, but it seems like the boring daily choices are the ones that really make the difference in the end.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Interpretation of Events

When I pray for something specifically and then something in the realm of my prayer occurs, I take note. Sometimes the event that occured should not be taken as an answer to prayer but may indeed be a temptation or just an event to remember and look back upon.

Let me give an example. Over a year ago, while walking one morning I was praying and asking God if He could and would provide me with a husband. I knew that God can do all things, I just wasn't sure that he would or if that was something that he was concerned about for me personally.

Well fast forward about two days. I was at work and a friendly guy, who I didn't really know more than surface work stuff about, asked me if I would go out with him. I completely didn't see that one coming, and was quite rude by responding with the first thing that came to mind which went something like "aren't you a lot older than me?". The rest of the conversation was awkward as I told him no.

Now, as humans it would be easy to take the two events which happened in close proximaty to one another and interpret them into divine guidance that this is the man that I am to marry. It's tempting to do so and so easy in many areas to misinterpret God's will. In the case of being asked out by that guy it wasn't really hard to decide. Although he was nice and friendly, he was older than I, he alreay had children (whether from previous marriage or girlfriends I don't know), I don't know if he's a Christian, and our standards are different. He was not really the kind of guy I want to marry.

My non-inspired interpretation of that event is that God wanted to show me that he can indeed act at any time and in unexpected ways, that he does care for me personally, and that he is not bound by the circumstances of my life. It's almost more that he was reaching down and showing me that he can give me what I ask for, but it's probably not really what I wanted. (I need to be more specific in my prayers I guess!)

But in other situations, other prayers and other times the same question arrises. How is one to know the proper interpretation of what occurs in areas where you pray and something unexpected happens. When a circumstance occurs that answers a prayer in a way that you either want or that doesn't contradict biblical standards, how much should one attribute that circumstance to being an answer straight from God? Am I so warrry of turning a circumstance that God intended to test me or to show me his presence into an absolute guidance by God's hand that I miss his direction? There is a feeling a peace that He gives when one makes a decision that makes you think that it is of God. I wish (like many others I'm sure) that God did audibly speak or write us personalized emails when we pray to tell us what he plans or if a situation is an answer to a prayer. In fact, the emails would be best because then you could print them out and have them for a reference! However, for the time being, I must just trust God's character, rest in confidence of His direction and continue to pray for His guidance and thank God for his providence.

(Side note on providence as defined in Westminster Shorter Catechism Question #11: What are God's works of providence? God's works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing of all his creatures and all their actions.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Subjected to Frustration

Do you ever have one of those days or times when you're just frustrated in general for no particular reason? This verse jumped out at me this morning:

Romans 8:20 "For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope"

What I glean from that verse (and the ones following it) are as follows:

1) Frustration is actually something the God wants for us to feel at times

2) This frustration is felt by all creation so you're not alone in feeling that way and at times there may actually not be a concrete or definable reason for your frustration

3) As a Christian we do have hope since we can look forward to our new bodies

4) However as a Christian, we also still "grown inwardly" as we wait since we don't yet experience all that is to come in heaven.

Hopefully I haven't taken too much out of context. Those are simply my thoughts on these verse at this point in time.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Miles and Blueberries

This morning started early after enjoying a game night at Kevin and Candi's house with my sisters last night. We had a blast playing a lively game of Dutch Blitz followed by Pictionary and some delicious brownies as well as a game of Balderdash. It was one of those nights that you don't want to see end. But since I knew I was planning to walk early the next morning with Pam, we eventually had to call it a night (or early morning!).

At 5:30 this morning, Pam and I started our walk to Doug and Lori's to get some exercise (and blueberries!). We brought Pam's 1 year-old Joel with us in the stroller which doubled as a great berry holder on the way home. I had walked to Doug and Lori's house alone before, but never with a friend. The time sped by and the miles were quite enjoyable when spent talking to Pam. The mouthful of blueberries from their amazingly abundant bushes was satisfying like nothing else afer our 1.25 hour (4.5 mile) walk to their house. We picked berries for two hours and then headed back. After showering and eating lunch, I crashed - sleeping all afternoon. The weather was nice with a cool morning and cloud cover there for all but the last 30 minutes of the walk back. We are so blessed to be able to pick blueberries each year from Doug and Lori's bushes. We freeze the berries and are able to enjoy them year round.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Time & Catechism Songs

We each have the same number of hours per day though as my sister Maria noted we don't each have the same amount of responsiblities or demands on our time. Using the time we do have wisely is sometimes a struggle. It seems like there's always more to do than there is time in which to do it. Of course we also must remember that ther is a time for everything (Eccl. 3). I have found that one of my favorite "free-times" of the day is driving. It's not that I particularly love to drive, but the drive to and from work is a guarenteed time that I will have each day to do whatever I want. When I first started working after college, I started listening to books on tape (like my Dad does) on the drive to work. That was a lot of fun as you can really get engrosed in a story. Traffic jambs or a long drive just don't matter much if you would prefer to just keep listening.

This past year instead of listening to books on tape, I used the time to learn a little Spanish. I took a class once a week at church and recorded our notes and new words to listen to as I drove. That worked well (except for not learning spelling or accent marks). A couple weeks ago Spanish class ended and I was glad that I would not "have to" listen to Spanish anymore. I was ready for something else.

Well, about that same time, I found the perfect solution in World magazine. There was an add in the back for learning the shorter catechism by listening to CD's with each question and answer put to music. Ever since I went through a Presbyterian Church membership class in high school where they used the shorter catechism but didn't require us to memorize it, I've always thought it would be a good thing to know. Though I had started to learn the questions once or twice, I never followed through long enough to make much progress. Well, the CD's are great. I've been listening to the first CD for two weeks now and it's fun to have the questions running through my head. If you're interested in learning the catechism, this is definitely the way to go. The music is by a lady named Holly Dutton and you can check out her website to listen to sample questions and purchase the CDs here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

All Things for Good

I'm thankful that God can use all things for good to those that love Him and have been called according to His purpose. Sometimes, when faced with one of those decisions that can make your life change in a big way based on what you choose, I tend to freeze. You know, just not make the decision at all. Of course, often not making the decision one way or another really is making the decision not to do what you were considering (at least not at that time). And "freezing" is a good way to waste a lot of time that could be better spent on other activities. Other times, I make a decision and later still think about the "what if's" - how life could have maybe been if I had gone the other direction. Dwelling too much on changes we might have made in past decisions is not very healthy. Some reflection is good, but it is better to be so filled with gladness of heart from God that you seldom dwell on the past.

I used to get real down on myself when I felt I had made a bad decision, but have come to realize that God created me as I am. Being a mistake-prone human who is not yet perfect is what God created. So, a mistake is something that I not only have made in the past, but will definitely make in the future. God doesn't condemn us for mistakes. In fact he looks at us through the lens of Christ and what Christ does and forgives our sins and failings when we confess them to him.

And. . . somehow he can use our decisions and actions that are often reached through strange logic or poor impulse for His good and glory. It's hard to see it at the time, but easier to see from the past. Based on past events in our lives and the lives of those we read about or see around us we can trust God in the present.

I'm trusting God for the future as He not only knows it, but cares about me and will give me strength to face it.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Woke up Laughing!

Last night I was very tired when I went to sleep. It's been a busy last couple weeks and as I went to sleep, I set my alam with misgivings wondering if sleeping in might be better for me than getting up to run in the morning. Well, I woke up about midnight and decided that I was too tired to get up early so I turned the alarm clock off. Sleeping in was what I needed, who cares about running!

Whenever I wake up, the first thing I do is to look at the time. I think I look at the time before I'm really even awake. This morning I looked at the clock at 6 AM and immediately started laughing. I think it's the first time that I woke myself up laughing. I didn't even realize why I was laughing until I was more awake and remembered that the alam I turned off was set for 6 AM as well. I guess it's good when little things like waking up without an alarm can make you laugh!

Well, I did run my route (2.8 miles that I'm trying to drop from 27.5 minutes when I started it May 30th down to 24 minutes hopefully sometime this month). The picture is from this morning after I finished cooling down by walking another .75 miles while reviewing memlok. I've run the same route 13 times now and have run it at 24.5 minutes once, but today it took me 25.5 minutes. It's still hard for me to run without breaks to walk. I decided to learn to run instead of just walking and half-heartedly jogging a couple months ago when I found the "Couch to 5k" 9 week schedule on a website (http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml). I started that plan on March 20th and by following it, I went from struggling to run 1/2 mile to running to a friends house 4.5 miles away in the middle of May. After finishing that 9 week schedule, I chose to keep the distance that I had worked up to running and to work on improving speed. So that's what I'm working on now every other day when I run. By the way, I did some reading on running versus jogging and found that though some people say that jogging is slow running there really no technical or measurable difference between the two. So a person can call it whatever they want.

Friday, July 6, 2007

July 4th Fun

The Pace family hosted this year's 4th of July part for our church. The weather was absolutely perfect for enjoying the outdoors!

The swing was a big hit for kids of every age. Some thought it was too scary, but everyone who took the risk and jumped off seemed to enjoy the thrill.

Most of us took advantage of the pool which felt especially refreshing after playing many games of volleyball.

We also played Amoeba War in which teams form circles and launch water balloons from the center of their circle into the center of the other team's circles. It was fun, though with a lot of young children, we couldn't move around or aim very well. Eventually only one team had balloons left so it became a water balloon fight. Overall, the day was perfect. I played hard, ate a lot and simply enjoyed hanging out with my church family. By the way, if you would like to see more pictures from this and other church events, check out http://picasaweb.google.com/FountainofGrace

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Why Blog?

As I begin this blog, I ask myself the question: Why in the world start another blog? There are thousands, no make that millions of blogs according to the Blog Herald. I guess having a blog makes one "fit in" our world. I don't typically do things just to fit in so there's got to be a better reason.

It is true that all but one of my siblings already have blogs. So, maybe I should have one since it's become a family thing to do? No, that's not a good enough reason either. However the fact that they have blogs has played a part in my decision to have one as well.

Through the my sibling's blogs, I have begun to read about their lives and learn more about what they think in many areas. I have also linked from their sites to blogs written by many other interesting people, and it has become a habit to check on my favorite blogs each day over lunch. These blogs have me think and consider other points of view. I have always intended to journal and maybe a blog is a better way to do so. The blog will enable my family and friends to be better aware of my thoughts and the things I face in life. Hopefully it will deepen the "real" or "face to face" relationships in my life and spark deeper or less surface conversations between those I know.

Creating a blog is a somewhat self-centered or self-focused endever. As someone who is already an introvert, I hope that blogging doesn't increase my introverted characteristics but possibly makes it easier to express the things I already think in a way that many people will be able to understand.

The name of my blog (Not Her Own) is taken from Jeremiah 10:23 which says "I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps." Since man in this verse seems to equally apply to woman, I chose to call this blog Not Her Own. I don't see my life as mine, but choose to remind myself that this life I live is a life that belong to my Creator. It is to be lived for His glory. My blog posts will most likely be somewhat random in topic, but I pray that the posts will honor God and be used in some way to further His glory and purposes on earth.

So, in the end I'm not sure why I'm finally beginning a blog today. But as I had some time to fill while my pictures uploaded to walmart, this seemed like the perfect time to start a blog. I will find it interesting to see if this will be some passing hobby in my life or if it will be something that will become second nature for me. Only God knows what the future holds for this blog and for our lives. To Him be all the glory.