"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our Lord stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

31 December 2005

Of God and Penguins

Our family recently watched the “March of the Penguins” on DVD. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the movie, it’s a documentary about the Emperor Penguins of Antarctica that travel great distances and survive harsh conditions to reproduce.

(Now stay with me, I will turn this into a faith-based message).

In fact, the penguins travel a huge distance inland to mate and produce one egg which is then left with the father to incubate while the mother returns to the ocean to eat as she is close to starvation (penguins live on fish and cannot eat when they are inland). From there the parents take turns caring for the chick while walking back and forth to the ocean to eat to stay alive and to feed their new chick. I don’t want to go into too many details, but let’s just say that the conditions are extremely harsh and some penguins don’t even make it through the process.

According to the movie, the area where the penguins breed and raise their chicks is an area of very thick ice which is protected from the constant breaking apart of the ice in that region. If they nested closer to the ocean (where they could feed) the eggs/chicks would likely not survive. The question I had to ask myself while I watched the movie is why would any animal chose such an existence?

From an evolutionary standpoint, why would an animal chose to evolve in such a harsh environment. Why not just stay where it is warm? How did the penguins figure out to travel so far to be able to reproduce successfully? Wouldn’t evolution choose the path of least resistance?

Of course, I know the answer. This whole complicated process and existence was God’s creation. And this isn’t an isolated story in the animal kingdom. There are all kinds of crazy, wonderful creatures out there that have unbelievable traits. Did it all happen by chance? I don’t think so.

As a biologist by training, I often have a front row seat to God’s amazing creation. What you see on the outside is pretty incredible, but if you look at the inner workings of biology, it’s absolutely amazing. But in this movie it doesn’t take a science degree to see the hand of God in orchestrating the complicated reproduction of Emperor penguins. Just some faith in an Almighty Creator.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20

29 December 2005

God's Adopted Daughter

“He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,” Eph 1:5

I recently visited with my father’s family for a few days because my Grandmother was hospitalized. It had been a few years since I had seen any of my extended family. While I was staying at my Grandparent’s house were I had stayed often as a child, it brought up a lot of memories. Sadly the thing I thought about most was how I always felt like an outsider as a child.

See, I was adopted as a baby and was never close to my parents. Growing up I never really felt like I fit in and always looked at myself as not being related to my extended family either. I don’t believe that anyone ever treated me like I wasn’t a full-fledged family member, it was just something that I struggled with myself.

Thinking of all this, I was reminded of the fact that we are considered “adopted” members of God’s family through Jesus. It struck me as odd since finding the Lord was not at all like being adopted but more like discovering my true family. Through the Lord I have discovered the unconditional love and peace that I have never felt my whole life. Everything finally made sense.

Being now a child of God, I didn’t have the same feelings of being an outsider with my family. It wasn’t that I now felt like a blood-relative, but that I didn’t have the need to belong in that way anymore. I was able to look at my extended family as people that I care about, whom I have a history with, and as “neighbors” whom I should love. My desire to belong has been more than fulfilled by my heavenly Father and through his love has come healing from the past.

28 December 2005

Christian Women - MIA

I started The Christian Woman website a little over a year ago to organize all the information I had come across in researching work at home ideas and to address the role of Christian women in general. I’ve been longing to update the site to focus more on topics that are uplifting to Christian women and to promote frugality for giving, but as a working mother who is “domestically-challenged” I can’t seem to find the time. However, I have been doing some researching and brainstorming here and there and have been disappointed by the lack of literature available on historical Christian women.

Now maybe I’m just not looking in the right places. My problem is that I don’t know too many names of great Christian women in history, so perhaps if I looked for information on particular women, I would have more luck. However, I have found some website listings and I must say, the pickins are slim. Is it that the roles that women usually take are out of the spotlight or that the lives of great Christian women just haven’t been documented well? I’m guessing it’s a combination of both.

I was happy to find a devotional type book that spotlights women from the scripture and provides insight into their lives. Not quite what I was looking for, but it will do for now. Once I start the book I hope to have some things to share. Ultimately I hope to highlight more women and women’s issues on my website. I have to stick with that kind of stuff since no one would appreciate my advice on cooking or cleaning.

25 December 2005

To Be or Not to Be Funny

Last week I was inspired to add some humor to my post when I wrote A Cupcake Christmas. So far I think most of my posts have been very serious and borderline brooding, and I’m not sure if that’s how I would like to write. Certainly I take my faith very seriously and have a rather matter of fact attitude, but I also love humor (reading it and making it) and wanted to try and incorporate that into my last post. Any opinions? (I ask as if the one or two people that visit my blog may actually answer – now that’s funny!).

The inspiration to incorporate humor came after I thought of creating a second blog about my occupation as a scientist. Prior to being saved I was quite cynical (okay, still am) and I still see a lot of humor in my menial position in the scientific world in a sort of Dilbert way. I think I could write up some pretty funny stuff, but the humor content would be cynical enough that I think it would be “inappropriate” for a Christian. Goofing on my superiors and whining about my inferiority are sinful behaviors that as a Christian I am trying to rectify, not glorify.

After reading some other Christian blogs that incorporated humor and I realized how much I love to read humorous writing. And of course, since I think I’m so funny, why not try to incorporate more humor in my Christian thoughts rather than pursue a humorous secular blog . On the downside, perhaps I’m the only one who thinks that I’m funny, except my husband, but he’s obligated by marriage.

So, I guess my point is…well, I don’t really have a point. Since this blog is fairly new, I guess I really haven’t found my niche yet. I’ll just keep writing as things come to me and see where it goes. Feedback is very welcome!

17 December 2005

A Cupcake Christmas

As I was driving into work this morning I was thinking about how we should celebrate Christmas in my family. Since my oldest child is 3.5 years old, we’ve managed to get away with virtually no tradition up until now. But now my daughter is old enough to enjoy and remember traditions, so I guess it’s time to do something.

I remember telling my husband that I didn’t want to do the whole “Santa thing” when my daughter was a just a baby. I felt it would be a distraction from the true meaning of Christmas, which is of course, the birth of our Lord and Savior. My husband was not happy with the idea at the time as he has a hard time letting go of childhood memories and traditions. Whatever. She was only a baby so no point in debating at that time.

Ah, but as I have noticed through my years of marriage, my husband cannot resist the draw of my overwhelmingly clever logic and ideas. He may put up a fight at first, but resistance is futile. No seriously, maybe he’s just been busy with other things, but so far I have not heard my daughter say anything about Santa. I’m almost afraid to ask, but I think maybe we’ve come to an agreement about not doing Santa. Not that I think there is anything inherently wrong with Santa, so no offense meant here if you “believe” in Santa in your household.

Anyway, where was I going with this? Okay, back to my daughter. As I said, she hasn’t mentioned Santa yet but in talking with her the other day she did mention that it would be Christmas soon and that it was also Jesus’ birthday. Yeah! I’m always so happy when she remembers what I want her to remember. So I said, yes, maybe we should make Jesus some cupcakes or something, as she loves cupcakes.

It was just something I said to try and hold up my end of the conversation, but as I thought about it more, I think it would be a great new tradition for us. What if every Christmas morning /Christmas Eve we made some cupcakes for Jesus. We could even put a candle on one and sing “Happy Birthday”. A bit corny, but kids like that stuff. Now, if I could really get my act together we could take them to our larger family get-together and make it a witnessing opportunity.

So, it’s just something small but I think it’s a start. My daughter and I can make cupcakes together and talk about Jesus’ birth. Later we’ll sing “Happy Birthday” and thank him for coming down to Earth to be our Savior. A tradition is born, the meaning of Christmas is confirmed, and Jesus gets some cupcakes.

I just hope he likes chocolate.

13 December 2005

Christmas with Compassion?

It’s funny, I started this blog about two months ago because I had a lot of thoughts and opinions swirling in my head that I wanted to get down in writing. But for the last week or two, I’ve basically had nothing to say. Guess I’m just preoccupied with the holiday season and busy at work.

I have to say I can’t wait until Christmas is over. It’s terrible to admit, but I really hate Christmas. I would be so happy if Christmas was simply a celebration of the birth of our Savior and focused on compassionate giving rather than gift giving. Instead of buying another toy for a child that has more toys than they can ever play with, I would rather give that money to a child who has no toys and is happy just to have a meal every night. Instead of spending hours shopping and waiting in lines, I’d rather be giving my time to a soup kitchen.

Yeah, I can still do all these things, but wouldn’t it be great if all of us “fortunate” people gave up a commercialized Christmas for a compassionate Christmas! No more gifts or shopping for ourselves, but gifts and our time to make life a little better for all of those people around the world who have so much less than us. Yes, I know our children would be disappointed without all the gifts, but do they really need them? Wouldn’t the time be better spent teaching our children about compassion and giving while doing some sort of outreach as a family?

I’m sure I’m just a lone voice in the wilderness here. And I must admit that I myself have not reached these ideals that I’m professing. I’d be happy to do away with all the gift giving in my family, I just can’t get anyone else to agree with me. But we do give to other ministries during this time and maybe once my children are older we can start getting involved in some sort of an outreach as a family.

In the meantime, that will be me out there standing in the line at some store with a bunch of useless gifts in my basket and a sadness in my heart.

"If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered." Proverbs 21:13

08 December 2005

Frugal Christian

On my website The Christian Woman, I try to offer some advice on frugality. I think it’s important for Christians to be as frugal as possible to be good stewards of God’s money. I also think that frugality is a difficult concept for many people in today’s world.

I’ll admit, over the past few months my frugalness has slipped as we moved to a new home and I started a new job. Frugality takes time and as a working Christian mother of two small children, time is not something I have in abundance. But now that we have found a church we like and I have started thinking about our giving, I have been inspired to put effort back into cutting costs.

Last weekend I cut the bundle of coupon sheets that have been stacking up and looked over the grocery circulars for sales. I realized that I had recently bought some toothpaste for which I could have gotten a better price and felt disappointed. That’s the fun part of frugality. It becomes a bit of a game to “hunt down” the best price.

I still have a lot of areas I need to improve on. For one, I need a better coupon organizing system and I need to start work on a price book (see my website for details on price books), but at least I’m trying. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point of washing out every baggie to reuse, but that’s okay.

I wonder how many other Christians have a frugal mentality. And not out of necessity but in a desire to do the most with the money the Lord has provided. I wish I was more of a “frugal guru” so I could try and push this idea, but I’m just me.

Maybe someday I’ll have more time to spend on this topic on my website. I could start a movement and call it “Penny Pinching for the Lord” or “Divine Frugalness”. Hmmm.

"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Proverbs 14:31

02 December 2005

Another Great Hymn

Here is another favorite hymn of mine, It Is Well with My Soul. Most probably know the story behind this hymn, but here is an excerpt from www.cyberhymnal.org:

Words: Ho­ra­tio G. Spaf­ford, 1873.
Music: Phil­ip P. Bliss, 1876. The tune is named af­ter the ship on which Spaf­ford’s child­ren per­ished, the S.S. Ville de Havre. Iron­ic­al­ly, Bliss him­self died in a tra­gic train wreck short­ly af­ter writ­ing this mu­sic.

“This hymn was writ­ten af­ter two ma­jor trau­mas in Spaf­ford’s life. The first was the great Chi­ca­go Fire of Oc­to­ber 1871, which ru­ined him fi­nan­cial­ly (he had been a weal­thy bus­i­ness­man). Short­ly af­ter, while cross­ing the At­lan­tic, all four of Spaf­ford’s daugh­ters died in a col­li­sion with an­o­ther ship. Spaf­ford’s wife Anna sur­vived and sent him the now fa­mous tel­e­gram, “Saved alone.” Sev­er­al weeks lat­er, as Spaf­ford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daugh­ters died, the Ho­ly Spir­it in­spired these words. They speak to the eter­nal hope that all be­liev­ers have, no mat­ter what pain and grief be­fall them on earth.”

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

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