Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I Will Hide Your Word in My Heart

My brain has a whole lot of useless information rolling around in it, that's for sure. But by the grace of God, there's some great stuff in there, too. Over the past few months, He's been powerfully writing His Word on my mind and heart--it's one of the few goals/growth strategies that have actually stuck.

For years, I've kind of pooh-poohed the idea of deliberate, methodical Scripture memorization. It's not that I didn't believe it was important to know God's Word. I just never got on board with sticking index cards everywhere, or repeating a verse every day so you could recite it at Sunday school. I did have a lot of God's Word in my heart, but it was from years of regular reading and studying, not from using flash cards. I maybe couldn't tell you the exact chapter and verse, but I could tell you that the end of Ephesians talked about the armor of God--and I could find it pretty quickly if I had my Bible. Or I may not get every word precisely right, but I could tell you the gist of it and again, verify it with my Bible. And, along the way, I did absorb lots of verses word for word.

I don't know what changed my heart, but sometime last fall I decided I to try being more intentional about memorizing God's Word. I could see the benefit of knowing large chunks of Scripture, rather than a verse here and a verse there, and I remembered a method John Piper had outlined in one of his books that he claimed was incredibly effective. So I decided to give it a shot.

I was astounded at how God used it in my life. But I'll leave the details for another post--as I've said before, I'm afraid you don't always plod through the long ones :) More to come...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The other night Steve was reading a news article that used the word "genera," and he paused and asked me to translate. (My husband is a brilliant man, and writes much more skillfully than he would lead you to believe, but math/science is still his forte and English is mine :) In context, I could tell it was the plural of "genus," and in making a quick explanation, I said, "It's the word genus--you know, like..." Thinking out loud, I rattled off, "Kittens Pee 'Cause Odile, something, something. Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. You know, the classification of animals and plants."

You may be wondering what kittens peeing has to do with anything, and who in the world Odile is. It's the beauty of mnemonic devices. When I was in ninth grade biology, I had a friend who LOVED cats. Her name in French class was Odile. And thus, somehow in the warped minds of high school freshmen, a ridiculous sentence for memorizing animal classification was born. Hey, it works--even if I don't remember the last two words.

We were first introduced to mnemonics in sixth grade, where we learned from our math teacher that Kellie Martin and Her Mother Drove A Mercedes to Millers and bought Dog Meal, Cat Meal and Mouse Meal (the metric system) and from our social studies teacher that HE (some anonymous Central American driver) Nicked-a-Car and Coasted to Panama (geography: the locations of Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama).

The social studies teacher was especially adept at these. We spent the year learning world geography to the point that by the end of the year, we could draw--from memory--North and South America, Europe and parts of Asia. How else would this have been possible except by knowing that Yugoslavia is shaped like a Yugo car, and that Switzerland's border trickles down over Italy like melted Swiss cheese? Half of it useless now, of course, after the Communist countries broke up, but that's beside the point.

Of course, the devices aren't always so effective. When we were seniors, a group of us routinely spent the last ten minutes of our fifth period class together cramming frantically for our sixth period government class. We were fond of mnemonic devices--the more bizarre, the better. But although I can tell you that "Little Purple Stones Cover Jungle Floors," I have no idea what that means anymore, just that it has something to do with constitutional principles. My brain retained it for just enough time to spit it out for the exam. And I know we had a great one for the Bill of Rights, but it has long since escaped me. Alas, no method is infallible.

So there ya go--you learned something today. I guess it's Random Week here at Lavender Sparkles--just miscellaneous brain clutter, dumped with love from me to you :)

What were your favorite mnemonic devices in school--not the standard ones we all learned (My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas) but the ones you and your brilliant friends made up?

Monday, January 29, 2007

I'm Ba-ack...

...with nothing particularly profound to say today, except this: In a perfect world, Sunkist would make their fruit snacks in a package that included only the strawberry and orange.

What would happen in your perfect world?

Thanks for checking back. I'll try to come up with something more interesting later this week, I promise--but I'm busy with freelance work again, so I need to keep the blogging to a minimum. I have a long way to go with this whole time management thing...

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Those of you who know me well know that I am struggling with time management during this season of life. I've made no secret of that fact. The biggest time-sucker during the day? Unsurprisingly, it's the internet. Whether it's clicking through my blog feeds, checking out the latest post at Nashville is Talking, hopping from blogs I read regularly to those of strangers, skimming various informational articles or playing sudoku, I am constantly amazed at (and ashamed of) how quickly the hours disappear.

Shortly before Christmas, I read this post, and it challenged me:

Could I live without my computer for one week?

Maybe the better question is, 'Why would you want to, Sara?'. Well, let me tell you. It's addicting, and I don't like feeling that way. When I wake up in the morning, instead of an intense desire to meet with the Lord, I have an intense desire to check my email. When I have some spare time in the day, I would rather check blogs than read to my sweet daughter. When I should be going to sleep at night to refresh and heal my body, I am editing photos, posting blogs, or just mindlessly roaming the Internet.

...I realized that the Internet, blogging, and computer time in general have become an idol in my life. ...When I start to [waste] energy that could be spent glorifying Him and getting to know Him better, He is saddened. I am in no way saying that computers and the Internet are bad and that Christians shouldn't be using them. ...It's when we let it creep ever so slowly into our lives and take over that it becomes a problem.

After a dear friend issued a similar challenge to me personally last week, I knew it was time to follow through with this. I know I desperately need a week (at least) to unplug--to turn off that cable modem and avoid the "I'll just check my email quick" that turns into an hour in front of the screen.

All of that to say, the blog will be quiet for the next several days. See you next week...y'all come back now, y'hear?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 18

This week I'm thanking God for...
  • my dear friend Maria and the opportunity to have a nice long chat with her yesterday
  • a husband who likes to help with cooking dinner
  • homemade stuffed-crust pizza which leaked all over the stone, leaving lots of burnt cheese to eat...I love burnt cheese
  • a girl in GEMS selling Girl Scout cookies so I can easily get some this year
  • the wonderful ladies whom I get to work with in leading GEMS
  • Heath blizzard...hadn't had a blizzard in ages and it really hit the spot (why do these lists always include lots of food??)
  • electricity
  • a nightlight in our bathroom
  • progress on the remodeling upstairs
  • cheap plane tickets to Denver = mini vacation for me next month!!!
  • writing His Word on my heart
  • a car whose heater kicks on quickly
  • fresh strawberries unexpectedly on sale at Kroger in January, and tasting halfway decent
  • my favorite lotion on sale for half price
  • grace greater than all my sin

You know what to do...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Fresh Reminder of Gospel Truth

"The distinctive and crucial thing about Christian salvation is that Christ accomplished it decisively for us and outside of us and without our help. And when we put our faith in him we do not add to the sufficiency of what he accomplished in covering our sins and achieving the righteousness that counts as ours.

"...Make sure you see this most glorious of all truths: God took the record of all your sins...that made you a debtor to wrath, and instead of holding them up in front of your face and using them as the warrant to send you to hell, he put them in the palm of his Son’s hand and nailed them to the cross."

--John Piper at Passion '07

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 17

This week I'm thanking God for...
  • homemade bran muffins
  • free pizza
  • lunch with friends today
  • our remodeling project getting started
  • Steve's amazing skills for said project
  • hot showers
  • the GEMS girls
  • Christ suffering on the cross in my place
  • His patience with me
  • all the ways Steve serves me and cares for me
  • phone conversations with faraway friends

Add yours below!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hey All You Lurkers

Apparently it's National De-Lurking Week here in blog-land. Time to show your bashful faces!

I know there are a lot of you who read but have never in your life posted a comment. So now's your chance. You don't have to have a Blogger account or anything. It's quick and painless. Just click on the little link below and let me know you're here. Say anything you feel like saying--how you found my blog, where in the world you're reading from...or just say hi. Non-anonymous readers, feel free to comment too if you want.

No time like the present to come out from hiding! Comment away.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Demolition Begins

After lots of brainstorming and scribbling with Steve's architect older brother (SO nice to have that free expertise in the family!) over Christmas break, we decided to begin remodeling the second level of our house. Currently, we don't use the upstairs at all except for storage; it consists of a long, narrow, relatively unusable space we like to call "the tunnel" (see photo: the previous owners billed this as a "third bedroom"...mmm-hmm) as well as a whole other unfinished area. The unfinished part already has floorboards and two windows (that open! as in, aren't painted shut! yippee!), so it could easily be made into more living space.

The plan is to put a second bathroom upstairs (right now we only have one in the house, which is also in need of an overhaul, but it'd be nice to have a working toilet and shower in the house before we tear out the current ones) and add two bedrooms. Because of the awkward placement of the stairs, this will also involve moving the staircase north about two feet, adding three winding steps at the top, opening the stairs into the dining room instead of the hallway...oh, and we decided to knock out the wall in the hallway so it's an open staircase. Hey, I'm a Kannel now...Kannel remodeling projects are NEVER simple :)

My fabulous handyman of a husband decided there was no better time to start than last Saturday, so he picked up a hammer and a crowbar and went to work on his favorite part: demolition. Here's how it looked Saturday afternoon...

Since this picture was taken, Steve has moved/added support beams for the roof and is now in the process of building a wall down the middle of the unfinished part (think: directly in the center of this picture, where you see a post now) to divide the two new rooms. This man is talented...AND he looks hot in a tool belt ;)

More pictures to come. This project will give me blog material for the better part of 2007, at minimum.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Prayer for Today

Eternal Father,
Thou art good beyond all thought,
But I am vile, wretched, miserable, blind;
My lips are ready to confess, but my heart is slow to feel,
and my ways reluctant to amend.
I bring my soul to thee;
break it, wound it, bend it, mould it.
Unmask to me sin's deformity
that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it.
My faculties have been a weapon of revolt against thee;
as a rebel I have misused my strength,
and served the foul adversary of thy kingdom.
Give me grace to bewail my insensate folly,
Grant me to know that the way of transgressors is hard,
that evil paths are wretched paths,
that to depart from thee is to lose all good.
I have seen the purity and beauty of thy perfect law,
the happiness of those in whose heart it reigns,
the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls,
yet I daily violate and condemn its precepts.
Thy loving Spirit strives within me,
brings me Scripture warnings,
speaks in startling providences,
allures by secret whispers
yet I choose devices and desires to my own hurt,
impiously resent, grieve,
and provoke him to abandon me.

All these sins I mourn, lament, and for them cry pardon.
Work in me more profound and abiding repentance;
Give me the fullness of a godly grief that trembles and fears,
yet ever trusts and loves,
which is ever powerful, and ever confident;
Grant that through the tears of repentance I may see more clearly
the brightness and glories of the saving cross.

--"Yet I Sin," The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, Arthur Bennett, ed. (Banner of Truth Trust, 2005) p. 70. *My apologies for the terrible spacing. Many of the lines are supposed to be tabbed...if only Blogger would recognize even multiple spaces. I don't know how to do that.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

2006, Line by Line

I still haven't gotten around to doing a 2006 wrap-up. Is there a point where the window for doing that expires?

Meanwhile, saw an interesting little meme over at BusyMom's last week--just copy and paste the first line from your first post of each month. Here are mine...

January: So I'm a little late with the year-in-review post. What can I say. (2005 Year in Review --ah, some things never change, huh?)

February: I've read a few articles recently about the uproar in the Middle East over the cartoons published in a Danish newspaper that caricatured Mohammed (one example portrayed Mohammed with a bomb in place of a turban on his head). (On the Muslim Outrage Over Mohammed Cartoons)

March: I always love a feel-good sports story. (Like Rudy for High School Basketball)

April: As I read Randy Alcorn's newest book, Heaven, recently, I discovered another astounding picture of God's justice and God's mercy intertwined. (Just and Merciful from the Beginning)

May: Children are the most vulnerable people in the world—and God is passionate about them. (Compassion)

June: I would really like to see some statistics on just how many marriages the IWU Chorale has produced. (Match Made in Heaven (or in the IWU Chorale))

July: A little behind on this post...but on a totally unrelated note, thought I'd post a picture or two from our vacation. (Fun in the Sun)

August: To say "she was more than just a pet" is to stamp a tired, overused cliche on a dog who was anything but ordinary. But she was. (Molly)

September: Last Sunday, Steve and I had the privilege of hearing a presentation by Darcie Gill from The Voice of the Martyrs. Incredible. (Remember: You Also are in the Body)

October: Mark Lauterbach is starting up a great series on prayer. He doesn't mince words with today's post. (Why I Don't Pray)

November: I didn't think to liveblog Halloween. But if I had, it would have looked something like this. (Home Repair and Halloween)

December: NaBloPoMo is officially over--and I survived. Forty-one posts in 30 days. (Success)

The list seems pretty representative of my blog: a post about the house, posts about Compassion and Voice of the Martyrs, pictures, and quoting Mark Lauterbach :) Anyway, the real 2006-in-review post might be coming...if I get around to it...we'll see.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 16

I missed a week, so I'll have to be extra thankful today :) Lord, thank You for...
  • Your acceptance of me that isn't dependent on my performance, but on the cross
  • an extended time with family at home
  • a puke-free car ride with Hank
  • opportunities to see old friends
  • pizza subs
  • generous Christmas gifts
  • the joy on a child's face when she opens gifts
  • Christmas feasts
  • strawberry slush made specially for me by my favorite dad
  • bonding time/shopping trip with my favorite mom
  • a brother who makes me laugh
  • in-laws I love spending time with rather than ones I can only tell horror stories about
  • naps
  • new books to read
  • bringing me back with the GEMS last night
  • spare keys
  • Your mercies that are new every morning--so I don't have to wait until January 1 to start fresh
  • removing my sins from me as far as the east is from the west
  • coming to earth as God With Us
  • promising to always be with me, not just at Christmas but every moment
  • a washer and dryer in our house
  • a brother-in-law who's an architect and can help us plan house remodeling for free
  • milk
  • words of affirmation
  • physical touch
  • a husband who shares these love languages
  • unshakeable hope

Want to add to the list? Comment below...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Rethinking a Common Resolution

It's that time of year again, when many of us with the best of intentions resolve to read our Bibles more or pray more. I don't know very many Christians (myself included) who are actually satisfied with their practice of daily "quiet time" with the Lord. We're often inconsistent or apathetic--so certainly resolutions of this kind can be important. But before you make one, head over to Joe Thorn's place for a heart check. His post "The Quiet Time: Not a Cleansing Rite" helps us think biblically and debunks some all-too-common myths when it comes to time alone with God:

...As important as this sort of formative discipline is, your quiet time is not the measure of your spiritual life, nor is it the measure of your standing before God. We need to be careful to avoid these false assessments by keeping the cross at the center of our lives. God loves us and accepts us because of Christ alone. Jesus is our confidence before God, not our performance. And yet, it seems that on some level, at least some of the time, we do not believe this.

To put it plainly, many Christians have bought into a cleansing rite they believe washes away sin and guilt and enables them to approach God. Sometimes we fall into the habit of evaluating “how we’re doing” spiritually based on the consistency of our daily devotions. It is not uncommon to place such an emphasis on this private aspect of our faith that it trumps everything else God requires of us. ...For many of us our quiet time can become a point of pride that provides a false sense of confidence with which we try to approach God.

On the other end of this warped perspective I have found that many Christians (including myself) have no confidence to approach God after a time of rebellion, disobedience, inconsistency or even complacency. It is as if we think, “I have been so far from God, so cold, so selfish, so sinful I cannot now approach him. I first need to get my performance back up. ...This, my friends, is not dependence on God’s grace, but trust in our own performance, in a cleansing rite. This is a form of works righteousness that insults the gift of God’s grace in Jesus.

Check out the whole post--it's only the first in what looks to be a valuable series. I'm headed over to read the rest now:
The Quiet Time: Defined
The Quiet Time: My Failure
The Quiet Time: What Is It Good For?

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Christmas Break Quantified

10: days spent at home in Ohio with family
455: miles traveled to get there
0: times Hank threw up in the car! yay Hank!
2: pills we gave him to ensure a puke-free ride each way (more drugs=better)
0.8: square inches of extra, unused space in our car
6: family Christmas celebrations we attended
37: pounds of bad-for-you food I ate (approximate)
143: frosted sugar cookies we decorated with red and green sugar, sprinkles, red hots
2: pizza subs I consumed
6: books from my wishlist which I received as gifts
1: shopping trips with my mom
9: high school/college friends I spent quality time with
3: games bowled on New Year's Eve
78: highest score I achieved out of all three games
12: minutes I stayed up past midnight on New Year's Eve (what can I say, I'm getting old)
4: actual snowflakes we saw up north
1: Savior whose birth, death and resurrection gives me a reason to celebrate