Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thankful Thursday, Take 90

Thanking God this week for...

  • the beauty of simple things, like the swirled pattern on the top of my latte
  • the gift of sleep
  • a husband who gladly watches Elijah so I can take a nap when I desperately need one
  • the flaming orange glory of a dying maple tree
  • a crisp, clear blue sky
  • the ability to breastfeed Elijah
  • oldies love songs
  • getting to reconnect with a friend at last weekend's women's retreat
  • Junior Mints
  • highlighters
  • meeting me in Psalm 107 this morning
  • His unfailing love
  • His sovereignty, whatever happens in the election

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

One Thousand Posts

I saw it coming and tried to remember, but somehow I missed the milestone--last week marked my 1000th post here at Lavender *Sparkles*. Goodness that's a whole lot of posts.

To celebrate, I'm gearing up for another year of NaBloPoMo. Care to join me? Start collecting your post ideas now and we'll jump in on November 1. More details coming Saturday!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

It's that time of year again!

Yesterday I did a kickoff presentation at our church for Operation Christmas Child. I began with a story that nearly brings me to tears, one I read in my packet of materials from Samaritan's Purse (this is an abridged version):

It was a cold winter morning in war-torn Bosnia, and several inches of snow lay on the ground. This was not a welcome sight for a young girl who had no shoes to wear. For months, eleven-year-old Lejla had been wearing a ragged pair of sneakers that her older brother had outgrown. Her toes protruded out of the gaping holes at the front of the shoes, making it a never-ending battle to keep her feet warm and dry. Her parents wrapped plastic bags around her socks for insulation and covered the bags with another pair of socks before she pulled her shoes on. Then they fastened the torn ends of each shoe with steel wire and sent her on her way.

As she trudged to school, drawing her coat tightly against her, Lejla wondered when the cruel war would end. Did God care? Did He even exist? With little work to be found, her parents struggled to buy food and clothes for their four children. Many nights they went to bed hungry.

“I didn’t see any purpose for living,” she said. “If God loves me, why does He make me live like this? Why doesn’t He just let me die and end the suffering?” she wondered.

Lejla arrived at school and saw a man handing out colorfully-wrapped boxes to her classmates. She did not know how to react when the kind stranger handed a box to her. But that was just the beginning of the surprise.

“I thought I was dreaming when I opened the box,” she said. “Inside was candy, the first I had tasted in four years, and pencils and a notebook for school. But best of all, there was a brand new pair of white sneakers!”

Lejla was the only child in her class who received shoes in her box. And the shoes fit her feet perfectly! “I knew that God had answered my prayers. I was so overwhelmed, I started to cry. I no longer felt lonely because I knew that God, my real God, was watching over me.”

The man told her that the Christmas present was packed by people in America who were sending it in the name of Jesus. Lejla wanted to know more about Jesus, and she later invited Him into her heart. Now she had two wonderful gifts—a new pair of shoes, and most of all, a Savior who would never forsake her.

That’s what Operation Christmas Child is all about. A simple gift-filled box is a tangible expression of the love of God, bringing hope and breaking down barriers to share the Good News of the Savior with all people. In countries where Christians are persecuted and traditional evangelism is prohibited, shoeboxes can help to advance the Gospel.

May I encourage you to participate in this fun and exciting ministry? National Collection Week is November 17-24, so you've got about three weeks to shop. Visit the website to print labels and view a list of packing guidelines as well as search for a drop-off site near you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thankful "Thursday," Take 89

Thanking God this week for...
  • the wonderful extended family I married into
  • Steve's granny, a woman I love like my own grandmother
  • getting to go home for the birthday celebration we had for her last weekend
  • meeting our new niece, Olivia
  • Elijah's dance moves
  • cappuccino
  • our new Klean Kanteens, purchased at a deep discount
  • the beautiful colors of autumn
  • pumpkin cake
  • Steve's high level of involvement as a father
  • Jesus' patience with His thick-headed disciples
  • His continued patience with continually thick-headed people like me
  • including flawed and broken women in the genealogy of Christ
  • His supremacy over all things
  • His astounding creativity and imagination
  • His sustaining power and authority

Friday, October 17, 2008

Saying These Small Words Forever

A postscript to Thankful Thursday...

“I have often wondered, perhaps in part simply because the term is so rarely used today, what it might mean to ‘glorify’ God forever. It will undoubtedly mean a great many things, but one of them surely must be that we will continually thank him.

We will thank him for his graciousness and goodness to us, and for inviting us into conversation. Along this line, I would think that we anticipate our ‘chief and highest end’ every time we behold something beautiful and find that after we have exclaimed, ‘Ah, how wonderful!’ we are almost compelled to say ‘Thank you!’

Our destiny is to say these small words forever and so experience the gratitude that is the perfection of happiness.”

—Craig M. Gay, Dialogue, Catalogue & Monologue (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2008), 48-49

(HT: Of First Importance)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thankful Thursday, Take 88

Thanking God this week for...
  • my awesome parents who came to visit last weekend
  • our new aqua guest room, painted by my dad and me (Steve finished the drywall just in time!)
  • the fair donuts Mom & Dad froze and brought to us
  • a good long conversation with my little brother late Friday night
  • the date night Steve and I got to have on Saturday
  • chicken lettuce wraps from PF Chang's
  • frappuccinos
  • thoughtful discussions that go beyond surfacey small talk
  • all the cute winter clothes I got for Elijah at the consignment store
  • packages in the mail--even the expected ones are exciting
  • reassurance from experienced mamas
  • being united with my husband
  • taking things others intend for evil and using them for good
  • executing judgment FOR us instead of against us, in spite of our guilt

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't Turn Around

Now that Elijah is a year old and (finally) weighs 20 pounds, several people have asked me when we're going to turn his carseat around. The answer is that having him forward-facing in the car isn't a milestone I'm looking forward to--it's one I'm hoping to delay as long as possible. He'll stay rear-facing as long as it's safe to do so, which for his carseat means when he weighs 35 pounds or when his head is above the top of the seat.

Wouldn't he be happier if he could face forward? Maybe. Wouldn't it be easier for us to give him toys or snacks? Sure. But he's safer facing the rear, and isn't that the main goal? Scandinavian countries actually recommend rear-facing in the car up to age four. And there's plenty of data to support this recommendation. Here's a short video of a crash test showing dummies in both front and rear-facing seats:


"Rear-facing...reduces the risk of death by 71%. ...[In one study], forward-facing children under the age of 2, especially those in side impacts, were 75% more likely to be injured. Why? It's because of the way the rear-facing car seat protects a child. It cradles the head, neck, and back.

"The most common type of crash is the frontal crash. In a frontal crash, the entire back of a rear-facing car seat absorbs crash forces, protecting the child's head, neck, and spine. In the less common, but more injurious side impact crash, the rear-facing car seat again protects the head, neck and back. Since there's almost always an element of forward motion in a side impact—such as when a vehicle is going straight through an intersection when it's struck in the side by a red-light runner—a rear-facing seat does a better job of keeping a child's head contained within the safety of the seat."

Have you ever noticed how gigantic a baby's head is compared to the rest of his body? Their head size is completely out of proportion--a baby can't even touch his hands together above his head. A newborn's head is approx 25% of his/her body weight. If that were true of adults, my head would weigh 32 pounds! But an adult's head is only about 6-8% of his/her body weight. Children are top-heavy, which affects the way their bodies move in a crash. Not only this, but their bones are less rigid than an adult's bones:

"very young children have immature and incompletely ossified bones that are soft and will deform and/or separate under tension, leaving the spinal cord as the last link between the head and the torso. ...the spinal cord ruptures if stretched more than 1/4 inch.

"Real accident experience has also shown that a young child's skull can be literally ripped from its spine by the force of a crash. Yes, the body is being held in place, but the head is not. When a child is facing rearward, the head is cradled and moves in unison with the body, so that there is little or no relative motion that might pull on the connecting neck." (source)

Keep your kids facing the rear as long as you can! That limit depends on your carseat--check the manual for guidelines.

For more information:

(P.S. - Bonus points to the first person who identifies the 90s pop song reference in the title :)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thankful Thursday, Take 87

Thanking God this week for...
  • rain
  • "cheater" peach cobbler
  • Steve finishing the drywall in the guest room
  • fresh, clean smells
  • long walks with Steve and Elijah
  • contact lenses
  • the ability to memorize Scripture
  • making a way for us to spend eternity with Him

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Under Construction

Oh dear, what have I done?

I was getting so tired of looking at the old something went wonky in the settings and I was unable to update my sidebar, which was frustrating...and when we got our new monitor, I realized it was pretty difficult to read the light-blue hyperlinks. Thought I would do some tweaking, so I upgraded to Blogger's new layouts. And of course I hate it, and don't have the time to fuss with it now. Stay tuned; hopefully I'll get it figured out soon. Oy.

Friday, October 03, 2008


(from; HT: Between Two Worlds)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thankful Thursday, Take 86

Thanking God this week for...
  • the fact that Steve has a job where he is respected, valued and appreciated
  • a surprise dinner out on Tuesday
  • the terribly yummy rolls & honey cinnamon butter at Texas Roadhouse
  • Elijah's love for books
  • the awesome used book sale where we scored great deals last Saturday
  • the Desiring God 2008 Conference messages available for free online
  • nerve endings in the skin
  • the mind-boggling variety of color--have you ever thought about how astounding it is that there can be so many different shades?
  • giant coffee mugs filled with warm drinks on cold mornings
  • soft, fuzzy sweaters
  • weather that makes it possible to wear sweaters and flip flops simultaneously
  • choosing and using dysfunctional people
  • the Savior who bore my sin and reconciles me to Him

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Understanding the Financial Crisis

Yesterday I finished listening to what has been called "the best piece of financial journalism ever." Since it was so helpful to me, I thought I'd pass along the recommendation.

In my insatiable appetite for reading article after article, trying to understand the basics of economics (WAY over my head) and the current financial crisis, I ran across an article called "Five Easy Pieces." In it, Conor Friedersdorf makes the bold claim, "Why is our financial system on the brink of collapse? Believe it or not, I can tell you the whole story in a single page -- as long as I'm allowed help from the easiest to understand stuff on the Internet. Visit these 5 links and you'll once again understand the world."

The first link is to an episode of This American Life which was broadcast back in May, called "The Giant Pool of Money." You can listen to it for free on the website, but it was worth it to me to pay $1.05 to download it and be able to listen on my iPod during a walk. The episode was a special collaboration with NPR News, and it seeks to answer the questions:
What does the housing crisis have to do with the turmoil on Wall Street? Why did banks make half-million dollar loans to people without jobs or income? And why is everyone talking so much about the 1930s? It all comes back to the Giant Pool of Money.

The story was incredibly enlightening--and incredibly maddening. The reporters did a great job of clarifying jargon like "CDO" and "tranches of mortgage-backed securities." It was also helpful to hear from real people all along the chain, from the guy facing foreclosure on his house to the middle-man mortgage broker to the Wall Street investment broker. But I must have actually slapped my forehead in disgusted amazement at least four times as I listened. Just maddening, how people could be so stupid and so greedy. It was a struggle to keep reminding myself of my earlier post on the subject.

Anyway, if you're struggling to understand what in the world is going on, I highly recommend listening to "The Giant Pool of Money."

He Meets Us Where We Are

Yesterday I was encouraged by a reading from D.A. Carson's For the Love of God, Volume 1. In it he writes of Genesis 28, where Jacob is fleeing for his life after deceiving his father and stealing his brother's blessing. God meets Jacob in a vivid dream and makes incredible promises to this sinful man, guaranteeing that the covenant made with Abraham includes Jacob and that the blessings of that covenant will pass through him and his descendants. Yet after all that, Carson, says:
" still the same wheeler-dealer. He utters a vow: If God will do this and that and the other, if I get all that I want and hope for out of this deal, 'then the LORD will be my God' (Genesis 28:20-21).

"And God does not strike him down! The story moves on: God does all that he promised, and more. All of Jacob's conditions are met. One of the great themes of Scripture is how God meets us where we are: in our insecurities, in our conditional obedience, in our mixture of faith and doubt, in our fusion of awe and self-interest, in our understanding and foolishness. God does not disclose himself only to the greatest and most stalwart, but to us, at our Bethel, the house of God."

How thankful I am that God was patient with Jacob and that He treats me, in my stubbornness, self-absorption and lack of trust, with that same patience.