Saturday, December 25, 2010

Draft: Merry Christmas 2010

So this never got polished to the point of sending, but as it was shaping up. . .

He is not merely the Reason for the season, He is the Reason for everything. As Colossians 1:16 succinctly puts it, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him."

It is my hope that you will come to realize that you are included. The Lord Jesus Christ created you for Him. But He did not stop there. He became one of us more than two millenia ago at the very first "Christmas". About 33 years later, though sinless and holy, He sacrificed His life's blood to pay in full the sin-debt of those who had, did, and would believe on Him. Then He victoriously rose again from the dead, spent many days with His disciples, and ascended back to Heaven promising to return one day not as the Lamb but as the Lion. My friend, are you ready to face Him who gave His all to save your soul from sin, death, and Hell? He created you to live and fellowship with Him, who loves you more than words can convey. He bridged the gap between our fallen state and Heavenly bliss with the unspeakable gift of His own substitutionary death on the cross.

Of course, "...the gift of God [being] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23b) is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, God's greatest gift to believers. However, one does not have to wait until the afterlife to begin fellowshipping with Christ and enjoy His blessings. As Romans 8:32 states, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" The Lord's blessings in this life are manifold although sometimes different than what one would expect.

For instance, as I reflect on this year I thank the Lord for the birth of one of my children, a promotion in my career, and a "new" car. However, I also thank the Lord for directing me by not allowing me to purchase additional real estate or send another of my children to private school. How are these latter items blessings? The first may have kept my family and I out of a messy dispute with our neighbors, whom I am glad to say are still our good friends. The second has facilitated my family and I being more involved in our child's education than we would otherwise have been and helped us to avoid a financial burden that may have overly strained our family. I could cite many other examples, but I am sure that you get the point.

I am not saying that I or my life are perfect. What I am saying is that there is a certain assurance in knowing the One who guides it, relying on Him, and developing a deeper relationship with Him. Even "little" things in life take on new meaning when you know the Savior. For example, when my newborn focused on me and cooed to me for the first time I understood a little better why God delights in our praying to Him. When my child asked about Santa Claus, I was challenged by God's honesty and realized how important the truth is. Christ put it best in John 8:31b-32, "...If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

[Baby] Hits Like an Atom Bomb

Most folks who know me IRL and have spent any length of time at my house know I love listening to Chanticleer. And until this past weekend, if you had asked me my favorite Chanticleer song, I would have said Shenandoah . . . but . . . our new baby changed that.

As my husband and I are long time Chanticleer fans, we had tickets for the November 8th concert at the Brooks Center in Clemson. Row B seats, mind you--front-n-center. Alas, I started having contractions Sunday afternoon. Realizing they weren't going to stop (and) I would have to give up Monday's concert; I consigned myself to listening to Chanticleer on iTunes while labor got kicking into high gear.

Irony? The first Chanticleer song in my iTunes was their "[Jesus] Hits Like an Atom Bomb." The . very . first . song. Less than an hour later, BD#4 was here. So yeah, I have a new favorite Chanticleer song. LOL (But I would rather have been at the concert. Believe me, I'm MUCH more upset at missing Chanticleer than that "her" name is Peter, LOL.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to you, Savage!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Irony of Ezzo and AP, Part 3

Back when this was originally to have posted, in April of '09 when BD#3 really was just 3 months old, there was a great post/conversation going on at SortaCrunchy. Still worth going to read!! And now, a whole year and 3 months after beginning this series, I'm prompted to finish up by TulipGirl's 7th Annual Ezzo Week 2010. Go, read, learn, share.

To recap my own mini-series, we sorta did BW with BD#1. Mostly ignored BW with BD#2. Now we're 3 months into life with BD#3. BW hasn't been off the shelf in 2 years (other than to fact check for a couple of blog posts). And life with BD#3 is going just fine without BW thankyouverymuch.

~~~~~~~~~~ 15 months later ~~~~~~~~~~

You know what? I've realized some things over the last 5 years (and 3 kids).


Babies LIKE sleeping with their mommas. They've just come from 9 months of CONSTANT contact. D'oh!! Would you want to go from sleeping snuggled up in a hot-tub to sleeping alone in the dark on an only-warm-if-you're-swaddled slab?? Really? You would??? .... /end sarcasm. *sigh* I need to be nice, don't I??

Seriously, it occurred to me (after we had such success part-time co-sleeping with BD#2) that it really is natural for babies to want to sleep with their mommas. If for no other reason than that it's what they've been doing for the last 9+ months. Why would I want to immediately take that away from my newborn?? He's just been through the "trauma" of complete environment change... wet to dry, warm to cold, dark to light, soft to scratchy, quiet -or at least muffled- to noisy.... Why not give him the gift of co-sleeping?? He's not going to be little for long. Soon enough he'll prefer to sleep on his own where he can flail and squirm to his hearts content, why not let him snuggle for now?

This really hit home to me when I realized how BD#3 clearly (strongly) preferred sleeping with me, on his left side, facing me. (Quite conveniently in the middle of our bed where I didn't have to worry about him rolling out of bed.) Hmmm... like a good Bradley mom, I spend most of my pregnant sleeping hours on my left side. So if he were head down in vitro, why... he'd have been sleeping on his left side too--just like he preferred doing after he was born!! Go figure. ;-)

Little revelations like this just floored me. Things I'd never thought to notice before b/c I was concerned with "getting the baby to sleep by his/herself." Made me wonder what else I'd been missing--'cause there's nothing quite like waking up with a baby blissfully sleeping in your arms after you got plenty of restful sleep too!!


Then there was BD#3's feeding and napping "schedule." For background, my babies don't really "take off" gaining weight til they hit 9-10 lbs. BD#1 came in at 7# 3oz and BD#2 at 8# even, so they both had a bit of gaining to do before they really started packing on the baby fat rolls... err... pounds. (BD#2 had a *bad* reaction to the RotaTeq vaccine which stalled her weight gain drastically, but that's another post for another day.) But BD#3?? He came in at 9# even, and has gained weight to match his linebacker build ever since.

With BD#'s 1&2 I pretty much did the Ezzo recommended eat-wake-sleep cycle, and the BDs took appropriately lengthy naps... 1 1/2 hours or so each time they went down. Not so Mr. BD#3!! Oh no, he was not having any part of a long nap, or any nap at all. He ate well when he woke up, played heartily and cheerfully, and would consent to being laid down in his crib but... no nap ensued.

Since I was already co-sleeping with him at night and my mid-wives recommend resting when the baby rests, I decided to try laying down with him for his naps. Remember, I wasn't just dealing with a newborn. I had a not-quite 4 yob and a just-turned 2 yog to chase also, so I was needing rest!! ;-) Napping with BD#3 worked for about the first month, at least til I got caught up from my pregnancy insomnia & the older two settled into the routines of life with a newborn.

So I tried putting BD#3 down for naps in his own crib again. He'd go down willingly enough (jolly happy baby that he is), but just would NOT go to sleep. So I thought... hmmm... my kids don't gain well until they hit the weight he came in at. And he's past that weight. Bet he just needs to eat more and more often because he's BIGGER. Logical, right? *grins* So I tried nursing him before his naps (thus eat-wake-eat-sleep), and it worked, sort-of. After nursing he'd fall asleep easily enough, but would wake up peevish around the 45 minute mark every time.

Hmmm... :-/ ... One thing I tend to agree with Ezzo on is that babies need sleep. And I don't call a 45-minute cat-nap "sleep." So... what to do? If I tried nursing BD#3 at the 45-minute minute mark, he'd go right back to sleep without bothering to eat so hunger wasn't an issue. But, when I went to lay him down, he'd wake right back up again apparently peeved that I was so obviously planning to leave him alone for his nap. (Smart kid!) So he wouldn't nap alone, but he needed to nap. Clearly we needed an alternative. And, being the big person in the relationship, I figured it was my job to find the alternative. :-)

He needed day-time sleep. I needed to get my work done. Neither were happening because I abjectly refused to let him "cry it out." Not at bedtime especially, but not for nap-times either. Went there and did that with BD#1. NOT interested in going there again. Why go there at all?? (Barbara Curtis has a *great* post that's applicable here.) BD#3 obviously felt he still needed mommy-time while he slept, why not try to accommodate him? *gasp* So.... enter the sling!!!

Me? A "marsupial mom"??

Hubby and I took the Bradley child-birth classes in preparation for the birth of BD#1. Our class instructor for those 12 weeks was a die-hard AP mom. (And I do mean die-hard!) One of the things she encouraged us to consider purchasing was a sling or wrap of some kind; because we all know while babies like to be cuddled, mommas need their hands free!! Being the impressionable good student that I was, I ordered myself a cool MayaWrap. Yeah, we took the Bradley classes before I read Ezzo's BW. :-D

I don't like my personal space intruded upon, and I'm hot-natured. I struggled with the sling with BD#1. Wound up only using it 2 or 3 times total. Ezzo would have approved. *chuckles* Tried again with BD#2. Managed to use the wrap for about a month, but still not consistently. While I did get a bit more comfortable with the idea of a sling, BD#2 was born in late October and all those layers of clothes got bulky and interfered with utilizing my ring sling properly. So by the time BD#3 came along I was more or less determined to conquer the beast (the sling, not my baby) and get my money's worth out of the sling. After all, I was already planning to junk most of the rest of Ezzo's ideas, and the sling cost more than BW, BW2, and ToddlerWise put together. ;-)

But back to my non-napping BD#3. I figured slinging him was worth a shot. So when nap-time came the next day, I popped him in the sling. He let out this *HUGE* sigh, relaxed, laid his head on my shoulder, and went soundly to sleep. Like "Finally Mommy--this is where I belong, right where I used to be." And he looked like it. Or rather I did--look pregnant all over again with BD#3 all snuggled up in my MayaWrap. And the most incredible thing? He slept for 3 hours. Straight. Day after day. And woke up fully rested, contented. Happy and hungry. :-)

Bottom line?

The real "irony of Ezzo and AP" that I've experienced with BD#3? When I did exactly what Ezzo's BW said not to do (i.e.: all that nasty AP stuff: co-sleep, sling, demand feed), BD#3 did the "BW schedule" to a "T." In other words, I got exactly the "results" that BW claims to produce (easy 3 hour day time schedule & early through-the-night sleeping) by doing precisely the opposite of what Ezzo recommends. Ironic, huh??

And all without charts, scheduling hassles (like having to be *home* for BD#1's bedtime), cry-it-out (a.k.a. heart-break for momma), or early loss of milk supply. Woot!!

Thus ends my mini-series (only 15 months late, LOL).

Once again, here are a few informative links from others that I've compiled over the years, assuming you're interested in more information on Ezzo...

From the horses mouth:
Growing Kids God's Way

From those who jumped off the wagon:
Jenn's story
TulipGirl's files and story.
ChewyMom's files
KatieKind's files
Camille's adventures becoming an attachment mom and her research on Ezzo.
Laurie Moody's Case Studies as a GFI lactation contact

Deconstructing the wagon:

On the Parenting of Toddlers: Advice from KatieKind

In clearing out my drafts folder, trying to avoid working on my last "Irony of Ezzo and AP" post that I started last April, I ran across this comment left by KatieKind on an old post from my old blog about grace-based parenting and what it looks like with toddlers. From a mother who's been there and lived to tell about it...

I agree with the commenters above although I think the Shepherding book is too impressed with spanking as a disciplinary tool and I would skip over those parts, especially where he's talking about spanking babies. I don't think parents should ever do that.

I think you already know the answer in your heart, since you have wisely disparaged the mental checklist or one-size-fits-all approach. I know they are incredibly appealing. I remember feeling the exact same way when my older children were toddlers. There's a certain amount of chaos and naughtiness that goes on at those young ages and you wish there was a silver bullet to make them always behave the way they do in their best moments.

I remember being pointed to "How to Really Love Your Child" (Ross Campbell) as a good book on discipline. Taking it home and reading it, I could not see anything helpful in it. I wanted a "But what do you do when..." set of directions. A collection of silver bullets.

Years later I was asked to speak to a church group on Loving Your Children, and I wondered how best to collect my thoughts on that so I reread that book. This time, since my children were grown up or nearly so, I saw the book in a new light. His book distilled the essence of good parenting, and in my opinion, the heart of Christian parenting. It's basically what I would say if someone asked for the most important things I could tell them about parenting.

First comes relationship. All your childrearing happens within the framework of your home's atmosphere and your relationship with your children and husband. So smile at your children when they toddle up to you, make eye contact with them, touch them gently on the shoulder while you're telling them to pick up the blocks. These things build a warm cooperative family environment.

Instead of thinking in terms of "that deserves a punishment," think about the behavior as a sign that the children need to be equipped and taught to make a better decision. If they are whining, show them a better tone of voice. If they are hitting, show them how to negotiate for what they want or take turns.

And then there are the times when the instruction just needs to be enforced calmly, without rancor. You walk in your authority. Say your child doesn't want to leave the nursery when it's time to go home from church. You tell her it's time to go and she acts like she didn't hear you. You did the whole 5 minute notice thing like a good parent and still she won't leave. Well then, you pick her up and leave. You don't need to threaten, you don't need to make a scene, you don't need to give her a mini-lecture. You just be a parent and do what needs to be done. (She's probably a little strung out from being in a small box of a room with 6 children for an hour and a half. Wouldn't you be?)

If the naughtiness is at a particularly high level, think about that behavior as a sign. What's it a sign of? Yes, yes, I know all about sin natures and such. But what's the behavior a sign of? We SIN because our bent is to answer a basic need the wrong way. That's always our tendency. So what's the behavior a wrong answer to? Is the child hungry? Is he tired? Is he over-stimulated? Is he feeling misunderstood or overlooked? Have you been dragging the kids from pillar to post on errands and they really need to get home and back into their own routine and their own environment?

The fact that we are so much older and wiser than our children means we need to put our greater life experience to work on their behalf. If they could simply tell you, "Don't listen to me, I know I'm being irrational about this, I'm totally exhausted and not thinking straight" like a girlfriend would, things would be different. You have to piece that together from the information you can pick up. Of course if your girlfriend said that to you, you wouldn't "not listen to her." You'd calm her down, encourage her to get some sleep, administer chocolate, whatever. You'd "not listen to her" in terms of not reacting to the drama, but you'd continue to be her friend and try and help her. Same with your kids. They can't tell that they are overly hungry or overly tired. They're just striking out in their misery. We have to see that, and fasttrack the root solution--get their blood sugar back up, or get them down for the badly-needed nap, or get them home to their own environment. Do it gently and mercifully, not angrily and punitively. They're just kids.)

In other situations, the parental thing to do is set a boundary and then unemotionally enforce it. "I know you don't like your carseat, honey. Up you go. I know you hate it. Let's get that buckle fastened. Ok. Here's your juice." [Child is feeling uncooperative and inconsolable and bats it away.] "Oh--you don't want your juice? You can tell me with your words. I'll put it away." [Matter-of-factly put the juice cup away. You don't need to be pulled into the drama here. These are just feelings being handled immaturely. Toddlers are, by definition, immature. Now, as you get yourself settled in the car, change the subject, help your child not dwell on what's not negotiable.] "Who will we see at the store? Will we see Mr. Steven there?"

A squall about getting into a dreaded carseat doesn't need to be punished. They outgrow that kind of stuff. You just handle it. Think about all the stuff you hate to do...God doesn't punish us for hating to face that mountain of laundry. But by our ages, we have strategies for getting through it. Young children don't have strategies yet.

So there's some thoughts for you.

And phenomenal thoughts they were too. Thanks again, KatieKind!!! The Lord knew I needed to re-read them this morning. :-)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

All ready to go!

Some 12 hours after getting set up, the backing, batting, and top are all sandwiched and ready for pin-basting.

By the time I got done basting the quilt, re-assembling the church's fellowship hall, and dragging everything back into our house; it was 2 AM this morning. Merely 15.5 hours after first arriving at church.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

On Gentle Parenting

Through a set of comments on ThatMom's blog, I found this delightful series of posts on BabyDustDiaries relating to "gentle parenting." While I haven't gone and read all of the articles/blogs mentioned, the ones I did read were well worth the time. Go check it out!!! :-)

Monday: What is Gentle Discipline?

Tuesday: False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy

Wednesday: Choosing Not to Spank

Thursday: Creating a "Yes" Environment

Friday: Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Defense of Calvinism

The Sheep Dog posted an abbreviated version of this document on his blog, predicated only with this verse: The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun." -- Ecclesiastes 1:9 (And the Savage smiles.) In looking for the text he'd used, I found a longer version which I'm posting below.

A Defense of Calvinism
by C. H. Spurgeon

It is a great thing to begin the Christian life by believing good solid doctrine. Some people have received twenty different "gospels" in as many years; how many more they will accept before they get to their journey's end, it would be difficult to predict. I thank God that He early taught me the gospel, and I have been so perfectly satisfied with it, that I do not want to know any other. Constant change of creed is sure loss. If a tree has to be taken up two or three times a year, you will not need to build a very large loft in which to store the apples. When people are always shifting their doctrinal principles, they are not likely to bring forth much fruit to the glory of God. It is good for young believers to begin with a firm hold upon those great fundamental doctrines which the Lord has taught in His Word. Why, if I believed what some preach about the temporary, trumpery salvation which only lasts for a time, I would scarcely be at all grateful for it; but when I know that those whom God saves He saves with an everlasting salvation, when I know that He gives to them an everlasting righteousness, when I know that He settles them on an everlasting foundation of everlasting love, and that He will bring them to His everlasting kingdom, oh, then I do wonder, and I am astonished that such a blessing as this should ever have been given to me!

"Pause, my soul! adore, and wonder!
Ask, 'Oh, why such love to me?'
Grace hath put me in the number
Of the Saviour's family:
Thanks, eternal thanks, to Thee!"

I suppose there are some persons whose minds naturally incline towards the doctrine of free-will. I can only say that mine inclines as naturally towards the doctrines of sovereign grace. Sometimes, when I see some of the worst characters in the street, I feel as if my heart must burst forth in tears of gratitude that God has never let me act as they have done! I have thought, if God had left me alone, and had not touched me by His grace, what a great sinner I should have been! I should have run to the utmost lengths of sin, dived into the very depths of evil, nor should I have stopped at any vice or folly, if God had not restrained me. I feel that I should have been a very king of sinners, if God had let me alone. I cannot understand the reason why I am saved, except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine grace. If I am not at this moment without Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have His will with me, and that will was that I should be with Him where He is, and should share His glory. I can put the crown nowhere but upon the head of Him whose mighty grace has saved me from going down into the pit. Looking back on my past life, I can see that the dawning of it all was of God; of God effectively. I took no torch with which to light the sun, but the sun enlightened me. I did not commence my spiritual life—no, I rather kicked, and struggled against the things of the Spirit: when He drew me, for a time I did not run after Him: there was a natural hatred in my soul of everything holy and good. Wooings were lost upon me—warnings were cast to the wind—thunders were despised; and as for the whispers of His love, they were rejected as being less than nothing and vanity. But, sure I am, I can say now, speaking on behalf of myself, "He only is my salvation." It was He who turned my heart, and brought me down on my knees before Him. I can in very deed, say with Doddridge and Toplady—

"Grace taught my soul to pray,
And made my eyes o'erflow;"

and coming to this moment, I can add—

'Tis grace has kept me to this day,
And will not let me go."

Well can I remember the manner in which I learned the doctrines of grace in a single instant. Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul—when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron, and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown on a sudden from a babe into a man—that I had made progress in Scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God. One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher's sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment—I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, "I ascribe my change wholly to God."

I once attended a service where the text happened to be, "He shall choose our inheritance for us;" and the good man who occupied the pulpit was more than a little of an Arminian. Therefore, when he commenced, he said, "This passage refers entirely to our temporal inheritance, it has nothing whatever to do with our everlasting destiny, for," said he, "we do not want Christ to choose for us in the matter of Heaven or hell. It is so plain and easy, that every man who has a grain of common sense will choose Heaven, and any person would know better than to choose hell. We have no need of any superior intelligence, or any greater Being, to choose Heaven or hell for us. It is left to our own free-will, and we have enough wisdom given us, sufficiently correct means to judge for ourselves," and therefore, as he very logically inferred, there was no necessity for Jesus Christ, or anyone, to make a choice for us. We could choose the inheritance for ourselves without any assistance. "Ah!" I thought, "but, my good brother, it may be very true that we could, but I think we should want something more than common sense before we should choose aright."

First, let me ask, must we not all of us admit an over-ruling Providence, and the appointment of Jehovah's hand, as to the means whereby we came into this world? Those men who think that, afterwards, we are left to our own free-will to choose this one or the other to direct our steps, must admit that our entrance into the world was not of our own will, but that God had then to choose for us. What circumstances were those in our power which led us to elect certain persons to be our parents? Had we anything to do with it? Did not God Himself appoint our parents, native place, and friends? Could He not have caused me to be born with the skin of the Hottentot, brought forth by a filthy mother who would nurse me in her "kraal," and teach me to bow down to Pagan gods, quite as easily as to have given me a pious mother, who would each morning and night bend her knee in prayer on my behalf? Or, might He not, if He had pleased, have given me some profligate to have been my parent, from whose lips I might have early heard fearful, filthy, and obscene language? Might He not have placed me where I should have had a drunken father, who would have immured me in a very dungeon of ignorance, and brought me up in the chains of crime? Was it not God's Providence that I had so happy a lot, that both my parents were His children, and endeavoured to train me up in the fear of the Lord?

John Newton used to tell a whimsical story, and laugh at it, too, of a good woman who said, in order to prove the doctrine of election, "Ah! sir, the Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else He would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards." I am sure it is true in my case; I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that great Biblical doctrine. I recollect an Arminian brother telling me that he had read the Scriptures through a score or more times, and could never find the doctrine of election in them. He added that he was sure he would have done so if it had been there, for he read the Word on his knees. I said to him, "I think you read the Bible in a very uncomfortable posture, and if you had read it in your easy chair, you would have been more likely to understand it. Pray, by all means, and the more, the better, but it is a piece of superstition to think there is anything in the posture in which a man puts himself for reading: and as to reading through the Bible twenty times without having found anything about the doctrine of election, the wonder is that you found anything at all: you must have galloped through it at such a rate that you were not likely to have any intelligible idea of the meaning of the Scriptures."

If it would be marvelous to see one river leap up from the earth full-grown, what would it be to gaze upon a vast spring from which all the rivers of the earth should at once come bubbling up, a million of them born at a birth? What a vision would it be! Who can conceive it. And yet the love of God is that fountain, from which all the rivers of mercy, which have ever gladdened our race—all the rivers of grace in time, and of glory hereafter—take their rise. My soul, stand thou at that sacred fountain-head, and adore and magnify, for ever and ever, God, even our Father, who hath loved us! In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn cup; long ere the echoes awoke the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long ere the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was any created being—when the ether was not fanned by an angel's wing, when space itself had not an existence, when there was nothing save God alone—even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, His bowels moved with love for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul. Jesus loved His people before the foundation of the world—even from eternity! and when He called me by His grace, He said to me, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."

Then, in the fulness of time, He purchased me with His blood; He let His heart run out in one deep gaping wound for me long ere I loved Him. Yea, when He first came to me, did I not spurn Him? When He knocked at the door, and asked for entrance, did I not drive Him away, and do despite to His grace? Ah, I can remember that I full often did so until, at last, by the power of His effectual grace, He said, "I must, I will come in;" and then He turned my heart, and made me love Him. But even till now I should have resisted Him, had it not been for His grace. Well, then since He purchased me when I was dead in sins, does it not follow, as a consequence necessary and logical, that He must have loved me first? Did my Saviour die for me because I believed on Him? No; I was not then in existence; I had then no being. Could the Saviour, therefore, have died because I had faith, when I myself was not yet born? Could that have been possible? Could that have been the origin of the Saviour's love towards me? Oh! no; my Saviour died for me long before I believed. "But," says someone, "He foresaw that you would have faith; and, therefore, He loved you." What did He foresee about my faith? Did He foresee that I should get that faith myself, and that I should believe on Him of myself? No; Christ could not foresee that, because no Christian man will ever say that faith came of itself without the gift and without the working of the Holy Spirit. I have met with a great many believers, and talked with them about this matter; but I never knew one who could put his hand on his heart, and say, "I believed in Jesus without the assistance of the Holy Spirit."

I am bound to the doctrine of the depravity of the human heart, because I find myself depraved in heart, and have daily proofs that in my flesh there dwelleth no good thing. If God enters into covenant with unfallen man, man is so insignificant a creature that it must be an act of gracious condescension on the Lord's part; but if God enters into covenant with sinful man, he is then so offensive a creature that it must be, on God's part, an act of pure, free, rich, sovereign grace. When the Lord entered into covenant with me, I am sure that it was all of grace, nothing else but grace. When I remember what a den of unclean beasts and birds my heart was, and how strong was my unrenewed will, how obstinate and rebellious against the sovereignty of the Divine rule, I always feel inclined to take the very lowest room in my Father's house, and when I enter Heaven, it will be to go among the less than the least of all saints, and with the chief of sinners.

The late lamented Mr. Denham has put, at the foot of his portrait, a most admirable text, "Salvation is of the Lord." That is just an epitome of Calvinism; it is the sum and substance of it. If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, "He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord." I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. "He only is my rock and my salvation." Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, "God is my rock and my salvation." What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.

"If ever it should come to pass,
That sheep of Christ might fall away,
My fickle, feeble soul, alas!
Would fall a thousand times a day."

If one dear saint of God had perished, so might all; if one of the covenant ones be lost, so may all be; and then there is no gospel promise true, but the Bible is a lie, and there is nothing in it worth my acceptance. I will be an infidel at once when I can believe that a saint of God can ever fall finally. If God hath loved me once, then He will love me for ever. God has a master-mind; He arranged everything in His gigantic intellect long before He did it; and once having settled it, He never alters it, "This shall be done," saith He, and the iron hand of destiny marks it down, and it is brought to pass. "This is My purpose," and it stands, nor can earth or hell alter it. "This is My decree," saith He, "promulgate it, ye holy angels; rend it down from the gate of Heaven, ye devils, if ye can; but ye cannot alter the decree, it shall stand for ever." God altereth not His plans; why should He? He is Almighty, and therefore can perform His pleasure. Why should He? He is the All-wise, and therefore cannot have planned wrongly. Why should He? He is the everlasting God, and therefore cannot die before His plan is accomplished. Why should He change? Ye worthless atoms of earth, ephemera of a day, ye creeping insects upon this bay-leaf of existence, ye may change your plans, but He shall never, never change His. Has He told me that His plan is to save me? If so, I am for ever safe.

"My name from the palms of His hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impress'd on His heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace."

I do not know how some people, who believe that a Christian can fall from grace, manage to be happy. It must be a very commendable thing in them to be able to get through a day without despair. If I did not believe the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, I think I should be of all men the most miserable, because I should lack any ground of comfort. I could not say, whatever state of heart I came into, that I should be like a well-spring of water, whose stream fails not; I should rather have to take the comparison of an intermittent spring, that might stop on a sudden, or a reservoir, which I had no reason to expect would always be full. I believe that the happiest of Christians and the truest of Christians are those who never dare to doubt God, but who take His Word simply as it stands, and believe it, and ask no questions, just feeling assured that if God has said it, it will be so. I bear my willing testimony that I have no reason, nor even the shadow of a reason, to doubt my Lord, and I challenge Heaven, and earth, and hell, to bring any proof that God is untrue. From the depths of hell I call the fiends, and from this earth I call the tried and afflicted believers, and to Heaven I appeal, and challenge the long experience of the blood-washed host, and there is not to be found in the three realms a single person who can bear witness to one fact which can disprove the faithfulness of God, or weaken His claim to be trusted by His servants. There are many things that may or may not happen, but this I know shall happen—

"He shall present my soul,
Unblemish'd and complete,
Before the glory of His face,
With joys divinely great."

All the purposes of man have been defeated, but not the purposes of God. The promises of man may be broken—many of them are made to be broken—but the promises of God shall all be fulfilled. He is a promise-maker, but He never was a promise-breaker; He is a promise-keeping God, and every one of His people shall prove it to be so. This is my grateful, personal confidence, "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me"—unworthy me, lost and ruined me. He will yet save me; and—

"I, among the blood-wash'd throng,
Shall wave the palm, and wear the crown,
And shout loud victory."

I go to a land which the plough of earth hath never upturned, where it is greener than earth's best pastures, and richer than her most abundant harvests ever saw. I go to a building of more gorgeous architecture than man hath ever builded; it is not of mortal design; it is "a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens." All I shall know and enjoy in Heaven, will be given to me by the Lord, and I shall say, when at last I appear before Him—

"Grace all the work shall crown
Through everlasting days;
It lays in Heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise."

I know there are some who think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the merit of the blood of Jesus: if my theological system needed such a limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, I dare not allow the thought to find a lodging in my mind, it seems so near akin to blasphemy. In Christ's finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discovers no shore. There must be sufficient efficacy in the blood of Christ, if God had so willed it, to have saved not only all in this world, but all in ten thousand worlds, had they transgressed their Maker's law. Once admit infinity into the matter, and limit is out of the question. Having a Divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms inapplicable to the Divine sacrifice. The intent of the Divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering, but does not change it into a finite work. Think of the numbers upon whom God has bestowed His grace already. Think of the countless hosts in Heaven: if thou wert introduced there to-day, thou wouldst find it as easy to tell the stars, or the sands of the sea, as to count the multitudes that are before the throne even now. They have come from the East, and from the West, from the North, and from the South, and they are sitting down with Abraham, and with Isaac, and with Jacob in the Kingdom of God; and beside those in Heaven, think of the saved ones on earth. Blessed be God, His elect on earth are to be counted by millions, I believe, and the days are coming, brighter days than these, when there shall be multitudes upon multitudes brought to know the Saviour, and to rejoice in Him. The Father's love is not for a few only, but for an exceeding great company. "A great multitude, which no man could number," will be found in Heaven. A man can reckon up to very high figures; set to work your Newtons, your mightiest calculators, and they can count great numbers, but God and God alone can tell the multitude of His redeemed. I believe there will be more in Heaven than in hell. If anyone asks me why I think so, I answer, because Christ, in everything, is to "have the pre-eminence," and I cannot conceive how He could have the pre-eminence if there are to be more in the dominions of Satan than in Paradise. Moreover, I have never read that there is to be in hell a great multitude, which no man could number. I rejoice to know that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to Paradise. Think what a multitude there is of them! Then there are already in Heaven unnumbered myriads of the spirits of just men made perfect—the redeemed of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues up till now; and there are better times coming, when the religion of Christ shall be universal; when—

"He shall reign from pole to pole,
With illimitable sway;"

when whole kingdoms shall bow down before Him, and nations shall be born in a day, and in the thousand years of the great millennial state there will be enough saved to make up all the deficiencies of the thousands of years that have gone before. Christ shall be Master everywhere, and His praise shall be sounded in every land. Christ shall have the pre-eminence at last; His train shall be far larger than that which shall attend the chariot of the grim monarch of hell.

Some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say, "It is so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself," they say, "to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty." I admit there is, but beauty may be often associated with falsehood. There is much which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins. Once again, if it was Christ's intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Saviour died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!

There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer—I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. But far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none but Calvinistic Christians within her walls, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one "of whom the world was not worthy." I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ as their Saviour, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist in or out of Heaven.

I do not think I differ from any of my Hyper-Calvinistic brethren in what I do believe, but I differ from them in what they do not believe. I do not hold any less than they do, but I hold a little more, and, I think, a little more of the truth revealed in the Scriptures. Not only are there a few cardinal doctrines, by which we can steer our ship North, South, East, or West, but as we study the Word, we shall begin to learn something about the North-west and North-east, and all else that lies between the four cardinal points. The system of truth revealed in the Scriptures is not simply one straight line, but two; and no man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once. For instance, I read in one Book of the Bible, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Yet I am taught, in another part of the same inspired Word, that "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." I see, in one place, God in providence presiding over all, and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions, in a great measure, to his own free-will. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act that there was no control of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to atheism; and if, on the other hand, I should declare that God so over-rules all things that man is not free enough to be responsible, I should be driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other. I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge, but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.

It is often said that the doctrines we believe have a tendency to lead us to sin. I have heard it asserted most positively, that those high doctrines which we love, and which we find in the Scriptures, are licentious ones. I do not know who will have the hardihood to make that assertion, when they consider that the holiest of men have been believers in them. I ask the man who dares to say that Calvinism is a licentious religion, what he thinks of the character of Augustine, or Calvin, or Whitefield, who in successive ages were the great exponents of the system of grace; or what will he say of the Puritans, whose works are full of them? Had a man been an Arminian in those days, he would have been accounted the vilest heretic breathing, but now we are looked upon as the heretics, and they as the orthodox. We have gone back to the old school; we can trace our descent from the apostles. It is that vein of free-grace, running through the sermonizing of Baptists, which has saved us as a denomination. Were it not for that, we should not stand where we are today. We can run a golden line up to Jesus Christ Himself, through a holy succession of mighty fathers, who all held these glorious truths; and we can ask concerning them, "Where will you find holier and better men in the world?" No doctrine is so calculated to preserve a man from sin as the doctrine of the grace of God. Those who have called it "a licentious doctrine" did not know anything at all about it. Poor ignorant things, they little knew that their own vile stuff was the most licentious doctrine under Heaven. If they knew the grace of God in truth, they would soon see that there was no preservative from lying like a knowledge that we are elect of God from the foundation of the world. There is nothing like a belief in my eternal perseverance, and the immutability of my Father's affection, which can keep me near to Him from a motive of simple gratitude. Nothing makes a man so virtuous as belief of the truth. A lying doctrine will soon beget a lying practice. A man cannot have an erroneous belief without by-and-by having an erroneous life. I believe the one thing naturally begets the other. Of all men, those have the most disinterested piety, the sublimest reverence, the most ardent devotion, who believe that they are saved by grace, without works, through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God. Christians should take heed, and see that it always is so, lest by any means Christ should be crucified afresh, and put to an open shame.

Some interesting links:
A Defense of Calvinism, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), text above
Spurgeon's Defense of Arminians (quick quote from the above)
Are you sure you like Spurgeon? (really good read)
About Spurgeon
The Down-Grade Controversy (J.MacArthur)

Spurgeon on "Questionable things"

(In this particular case, the "questionable thing" is cigar smoking. Emphasises added. For context, read here.)

To the Editor of the Daily Telegraph.


You cannot regret more than I do the occasion which produced the unpremeditated remarks to which you refer. I would, however, remind you that I am not responsible for the accuracy of newspaper reports, nor do I admit that they are a full and fair representation of what I said. I am described as rising with a twinkling eye, and this at once suggested that I spoke flippantly; but indeed, I did nothing of the kind. I was rather too much in earnest than too little.

I demur altogether and most positively to the statement that to smoke tobacco is in itself a sin. It may become so, as any other indifferent action may, but as an action it is no sin.

Together with hundreds of thousands of my fellow-Christians I have smoked, and, with them, I am under the condemnation of living in habitual sin, if certain accusers are to be believed. As I would not knowingly live even in the smallest violation of the law of God, and sin in the transgression of the law, I will not own to sin when I am not conscious of it.

There is growing up in society a Pharisaic system which adds to the commands of God the precepts of men; to that system I will not yield for an hour. The preservation of my liberty may bring upon me the upbraidings of many good men, and the sneers of the self-righteous; but I shall endure both with serenity so long as I feel clear in my conscience before God.

The expression "smoking to the glory of God" standing alone has an ill sound, and I do not justify it; but in the sense in which I employed it I still stand to it. No Christian should do anything in which he cannot glorify God; and this may be done, according to Scripture, in eating and drinking and the common actions of life.

When I have found intense pain relieved, a weary brain soothed, and calm, refreshing sleep obtained by a cigar, I have felt grateful to God, and have blessed His name; this is what I meant, and by no means did I use sacred words triflingly.

If through smoking I had wasted an hour of my time—if I had stinted my gifts to the poor—if I had rendered my mind less vigorous—I trust I should see my fault and turn from it; but he who charges me with these things shall have no answer but my forgiveness.

I am told that my open avowal will lessen my influence, and my reply is that if I have gained any influence through being thought different from what I am, I have no wish to retain it. I will do nothing upon the sly, and nothing about which I have a doubt.

I am most sorry that prominence has been given to what seems to me so small a matter—and the last thing in my thoughts would have been the mention of it from the pulpit; but I was placed in such a position that I must either by my silence plead guilty to living in sin, or else bring down upon my unfortunate self the fierce rebukes of the anti-tobacco advocates by speaking out honestly. I chose the latter; and although I am now the target for these worthy brethren, I would sooner endure their severest censures than sneakingly do what I could not justify, and earn immunity from their criticism by tamely submitting to be charged with sin in an action which my conscience allows.

Yours truly,


Nightingale Lane, Clapham, Sept. 23.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Piecing progress

A big pile o' blocks.... Woo-hoo!!

And here we are sewn all the way from strip #1 to #10... out of 21 strips. Not quite half-way through piecing.

Unfortunately, the sewing's taking me about an extra half-hour per added strip; and the ironing takes just as long as the sewing, almost to the minute. But at least I have a cool new toy with which to console myself!!! :-D

Isn't it cute?? No more steamed fingers trying to get "scant 1/4" seams" to lay open flat!!!

Somewhere in my e-travels ordering quilting supplies, I read about mini-irons. Supposedly great for ironing small things. Since I have like bazillions of small seams to iron open on these blocks, I thought a mini-iron might be a worth-while investment--especially after the first round of steam burns, LOL.

OK, so maybe it's not quite a bazillion seams, but at 150" of seams per square by 80 squares... let's see, 12,000"?? Of which I've finished 3,400" so only between a quarter and a third of the sewing down even though I'm almost half done by strip count... man, a pennant is sounding better all the time!!! ;-)

But the mini-iron is cool. And does the job. And I got it for 50% off from Joann' And I managed not to burn myself on it in the middle of the night last night--always a plus not to go to bed with throbbing fingers!!


All set up for strip #11. Time to quit blogging & get sewing!! Tomorrow... (yawn)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

From "c" to "p" to "little fishies"

So Monday allowed time for one set of strips after all. Well, Monday evening/Tuesday morning. :-) Being a night owl comes in handy when you don't want "help" from little people.

The "c" set

The "p" set

Yeah, there was another strip of white added in between "c" and "p," but the blue is what's making noticeable patterns at the moment...

Maybe I should just give them a chain. It's kinda cool looking on it's own, right?

The "little fishies" set
(yes, I know it's little fishes... but I *say* fishies--sticks out tongue at spell-checker)

For some reason, the blocks as they stand remind me of little fishies. Too bad fishies don't conjure up wedding bells.... (or I'd have given this chain instead, LOL)

And there you have it. Strips 1-9 all sewn, ready for #10.

Monday, May 17, 2010

3 strips down, 18 to go

So this afternoon I started the assembly line, Southern-style. Yes, Duck tape again. Having a solid edge to run my strips against while sewing those "scant" 1/4" seams seemed like a really good idea. At least if they were wrong, they'd be uniformly wrong, LOL. So the 6 1/2" right angle triangle ruler that I bought with no particular purpose in mind came to the rescue once again. The thickness of the ruler makes a great sewing guide.

Here I am all set up to do the first run-through of the last 78 blocks.

Well now, that was fun. Maybe I'll just give them a blue and white chain. Surely they'd be touched!

Actually, the first set went so well, I decided to do a second run tonight. Here they are, all ironed & ready to cut apart.

All set for round four. Might have to wait for Tuesday though. Tomorrow will be busy with the rest of "real life."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

2 block set

Pretty cool looking, eh?

Here are the two blocks together. Can you guess which is which?

Next: assembly-line piecing the other 78 blocks. Don't worry, there won't be a blow-by-blow accounting of that. I don't think....

Second block done!

Decided to walk another one all the way through. Wanted to try *not* pinning, getting closer to a scant 1/4 instead of a generous 1/8th, and squaring off as needed (gotta keep the Olfa set busy). Didn't take any longer (even though I ripped out a couple of the longer seams to do-over).  I like it better. Not perfect, but better.

*Think* I'm ready to tackle assembly-line production of the last 78 blocks.... *gulp*

Here's the 2nd block.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

First block finished!!

First block done!

Learned a few things:

  • "Scant" 1/4" seams are for the birds.
  • Pinning the strips before sewing seemed like a good idea, but maybe not. Chews up a lot of time to pull them all back out again & my feed dogs canNOT handle pins. Makes for skipped stitches every time.
  • I probably should square up the block every now and again. I don't have a 12 1/2" block, more like 12 3/4". Annoying..... but hey, not bad all things considered.

Trying to decide if I want to take the time to walk another block all the way through the process before starting the assembly line. Probably a good idea, but it'll take all day today. Hmmm....

Friday, May 14, 2010

Looks like a pin-wheel!!

One set of strips laid out in formation. Have to try at least one block start to finish before beginning to assembly-line produce the blocks.

An hour later and it looks like we're making progress...

...but it's time to break for supper.

All stripped & ready to sew

All the strips (all 21 of them, plus those 8- 1" squares per block--yes, I do think I'm nuts) are cut and I'm ready to start sewing. I think.

I do wish you could smell those roses in the background.

1" block strips ready to cut

Cutting 320- 1" blocks each of blue and cream, pre-attached to their various strips. Much easier than sewing 640- 1 1/2" seams!

(And may I mention again, I just *love* my Olfa set!!!)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Finding short-cuts (aka strip piecing)

So I've realized that making a quilt the finished size I want requires a mere 80 blocks. Which means a total of 640 - 1 and 1/2" squares (320 each of 2 colors), in addition to the 21 other pieces per block. And I think that's nuts!!

Even though the directions say "sew a 1" block of contrasting color to the end of strip #'s 5, 9, and 12;" I'm thinking there *has* to be an easier way. Why not sew the 1 1/2" strips of contrasting color together before cutting them into units? For that matter, I could sew the contrasting "single block" strips to the wider strips before cutting *them* and save myself even more tiny seam sewing.

So here we are. Half-way into the "contrasting squares" process...

...getting ready to sew on 1" blocks, 80 at a time. This I can handle. (I think!)

There's a great set of step-by-step strip-piecing directions here. And more helpful tips here.

What's a "scant" 1/4" seam, anyway?

Practicing a "scant" 1/4" seam on scrap.

Why don't they just call it a 3/16ths and be done with it?? BTW, there are *really* helpful tips about successfully sewing those pesky 1/4" seams here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Quilting Southern-style

Decided I didn't want to mess with double-folding the 60" stuff before cutting. But my really cool Olfa ruler is only 6" x 24" long. What to do, what to do?

Duct tape!!!

Works like a charm. (insert self-congratulatory smile here)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Making the first cuts

So I have all my fabric, and the really cool Olfa cutting mat (from Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon) has been joined by a really cool Olfa rotary cutter and (yep, you guessed it) really cool Olfa rulers (that I got on a wicked good sale from Connecting I'm all set now, right???

I am trying to remember why I got a 6 1/2" right-angle triangle ruler though. There are no diagonal lines anywhere in this block--unless I cut something WAY wrong....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Salad anyone??

Look carefully at this picture before you take me up on the offer.

Do you know what this plant is?

Here's a hint. It grows on this bank behind our house.

The bank where the kids like to toss the boomerang so they can go rescue it. (OK, so this is actually the bank sans "salad" ingredients, but you get the idea. It took a while.)

Recognize it yet? It's itchy. And I'm gonna be scratchy in a few days, probably for a few weeks.

But it's gone. All gone. By the root stock gone. One more section of our yard is poison free. Yeah!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Project time

So I'm working on a project. It's meant to be a surprise, and I'm pretty sure the recipient doesn't read here. If so, well... it won't be a surprise after all. But that's OK. The sight of me bald after it's over can be the surprise instead, LOL.

I'm embarking on my first full quilt. Have done exactly two squares before, and hand quilted the top (and binding) of one full-sized quilt. This should be interesting. I looked at the double-wedding ring patterns, but they all say "novices need not apply." Moving on then!!

Found another quilt block that looks interesting. The directions are kinda sparse, but the graphic is cool!! Here's to hoping the paucity of instruction won't be a problem. I guess if you're tackling this pattern, the author assumes you already know the quilting basics.

So, project pattern selected. Now to find out what colors "they" like. And buy fabric. And get going....

Friday, March 26, 2010

Children Learn What They Live

Children Learn What They Live

By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

Saturday, January 30, 2010

things kids say...

I had noticed BD#1 was streching when he came out of his bedroom after his nap, so I asked him if he was still tired. This was his response:

"When I stretch, I'm pushing sleep away. When I was trying not to go to sleep, the nap was so strong that it beat me."
BD#1, age 4.
This afternoon.

Kids!!! Gotta love 'em! :-)

Must read: UNICEF in Haiti

You may have noticed I've added a list of bloggers in Haiti to my sidebar. They are all folks working in Haiti with several small Christian NGOs, and were there on the ground *before* the earthquake.

Apparently the international adoption situation in Haiti is getting... "interesting," due primarily to high-level interference by UNICEF. Read, then write.

Read: No Place for Politics

Raymond Joseph
Haitian Ambassador to US
p 202-332-4090
f 202-745-7215

Kenneth H Merten
US Ambassador to Haiti
Tabarre 41, Blvd 15 Octobre
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
P 509 22 29 8000
F 509 22 29 8028

Hilary Clinton/Dept of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Main Switchboard:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Loving Our Kids on Purpose

Recently, I finished reading Danny Silk's book, Loving Our Kids on Purpose. The author is some sort of family or associate pastor, but he indicates that he wrote the book because of his experience as a foster-parent having to utilize non-corporal discipline exclusively. Despite the stated basis for the book, it appears the only specific examples he cites pertain to his natural children.

His main argument in the book is that parents should love their children without causing them to fear punishment or discipline such as spanking or the rod. His primary, and perhaps sole, scriptural support is I John 4:18 which states, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (NIV)

On the surface, the above verse makes a fairly convincing case. After all, it seems pretty clear that fear and love are mutually exclusive at least in this passage. And although Mr. Silk does not exactly build his case with scripture, he does pull out of his bag of tricks a handy anecdote, which he repeats "ad nauseum", to really cinch the deal. It appears that at some point in time either he or one of his children noticed a picture of a large yellow construction-sized dump-truck crushing a red street-sized pick-up. Upon viewing this picture he seems to have had an epiphany of sorts and concluded that there are no yellow trucks in Heaven.

I know pastors love their illustrations, but this book is a perfect example of how widely misused they are even by the clergy. First of all, I will admit that illustrations do have their place in helping one to understand a difficult concept. However, illustrations are not scripture; nor do they carry the weight or force of scripture. Unfortunately, Mr. Silk relies on this illustration to be one of, if not the primary, source(s) of evidence for his premise. Although Mr. Silk draws some debatable conclusions from this illustration, it really doesn't amount to a hill of beans because he relies on the illustration, not scripture, as proof for his point.

So let's get back to what scriptural support Mr. Silk does use -- I John 4:18. On page 54 of his book Mr. Silk defines the passage by saying, "It means that all the fear leaves your life when love comes in. There is no fear of punishment in love!"

The Greek word translated as "fear" in this passage is phobos, and it means alarm or fright according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Additionally, there are several other closely related words such as phobeo. However, just like many English words, context is important to defining the Greek phobos and its derivatives. Perhaps that is why I Corinthians 2:12-13 gives the following instruction:

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Now, while I concede that I John 4:18 certainly makes a profound theological point regarding the Christian's relationship to his Savior, I am not convinced that it is a universal truth applicable to the parent-child relationship. If, as Mr. Silk puts it, "...fear leaves your life when love comes in," then how does he explain the following "problem" texts to name just a few of the many examples available:

"And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word." -- Matthew 28:8

"And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day." -- Luke 5:26

"There is no fear of God before their eyes." -- Romans 3:18

"Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." -- Romans 13:7

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God....For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter....And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him. -- II Corinthians 7:1,11,15

"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." -- Ephesians 5:21

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." -- Philippians 2:12

"Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear." -- I Timothy 5:20

"And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:" -- I Peter 1:17

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" -- I Peter 3:15

In a word, he doesn't. Frankly, I found this aspect of the book rather alarming coming from a man who identifies himself as a pastor. Perhaps I shouldn't be shocked, but this was a scripturally shallow, if not outright erroneous, book written to scripturally shallow readers. The real tragedy is that Mr. Silk's book is only one of many such "wishy-washy" publications readily received by many of today's Christians and "pseudo-Christians" alike.

Even though Mr. Silk fails to prove his case, his book does have some merits that may make it worth reading. For instance, he does bring home the point that parenting and bullying often resemble each other a little too closely for comfort in the American fundamentalist paradigm. Also, he poses some very good questions about what one's goals should be in parenting one's children. But perhaps the most redeeming feature of the book are the examples he cites with his children. The stories reveal what correction can look like sans spanking.

So perhaps unwittingly Mr. Silk has indeed inspired me with Loving Our Kids on Purpose. Although I am not ready to remove spanking from my parenting toolbox, I am compelled to try other tools first. Even more significantly, Mr. Silk has prompted me to reassess my parenting goals and to utilize discipline in accordance with these goals. Finally, he has encouraged me to use creativity in parenting instead of solely relying on a single method of correction.

The Savage adds: If you want a book review that actually tells you what the book says ;-), try this review on Amazon.

Parenting programs or Jesus?

I like this concept of abandoning "programs" and following Jesus moment by moment. Isn't that what the Christian life is supposed to be about? And no, MU is not me, although there are similarities between her story and my experiences parenting thus far...


What We Learned: Follow Jesus, Not Methods
by M. U.

I read Babywise while pregnant with my first son. At that time, I was a proud, over-achieving, controlling, perfectionist of a mother who was thrilled that I had stumbled upon the "perfect" and "godly" parenting method. I felt that by having control over my baby's schedule, I was setting them up for a solid relationship with Jesus Christ because they would naturally bow to authority.

Everything went according to plan with my son. He was on the schedule and sleeping through the night at nine weeks. I glowed beneath the array of praise we received for our contented child. I was constantly asked for advice from other new moms and I encouraged them to do just as I had done.

But then I blinked, and we had three out-of-control toddlers. What happened? All three had been raised on the schedule, and although each child looked skinnier (with my third being sickly) and more ravenous when foods were introduced, they seemed pretty happy.

I had chosen a method instead of Jesus. My children were not my treasure but something to be managed and controlled. They didn't bring joy but stress, and they only pleased me so they could avoid punishment, not because they delighted in me.

Here's where I am today: I've repented out loud to Jesus, to my husband, and to my children. For me personally, I like the concept of scheduling, as long as there are plenty of feedings in there when baby is hungry - not just once every rotation if that's not enough. There are other little things I can still use from their material, but it is never wise to follow someone who says, "This is the God's way" unless they are quoting Scripture. I also have decided not to cling to another parenting method (i.e. attachment parenting) but instead to live in communion with my Lord Jesus and seek him on each decision.

Now, as I love Jesus more and more, I love my children more and more, and our family is beginning to see a reversal of some of the negative effects of my sins of legalism, frustration, and control.

I believe there is room for many different styles of parenting within our culture and throughout all cultures in history. We are to follow Jesus, not methods. Jesus is life. Everything else suffocates life.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Well that's annoying.......

LOL. How's that for a subject line??

So we took New Year's Day to tool around town, hit the mall for 50% off 2010 calendars, grab a puzzle board, get a new name plate engraved for a desk clock (returned/re-gifted from my dad-to whom we gave it 10 years ago), get a flash drive & bigger SD card for the camera, pick to the state car for hubby's upcoming week in Columbia, etc. We left the house at, oh I dunno, maybe 2pm?? Had our "traditional" Chinese dinner for the New Year. Got home around 8:30pm. Kids were in bed by 9pm--woot--tired out from skipping naps and wandering all over the mall this afternoon.

BUT we couldn't get the desk clock done b/c the gal was afraid she'd ruin it trying to get the old plate off, so WE have to get the old one off then go back for a new one; AND the camera (and a separate card reader) will not take the new SDHC card.... because it's high-density I suppose; AND the guy overcharged me by like 4 bucks for the puzzle mat... how a less than $18 item rings for $23+ with only 6% sales tax... (you do the math); AND because the direct deposit isn't completely set up yet, if I want hubby's check for the last half of December before Monday the 11th, I have to go pick it up ('cause he'll be in Columbia all week). So....

Yeah, that's just freaking annoying, LOL. At least the kids will be happy that they get to go back to that "play place" in the mall... (they have a random spot for kids set up... of course I can't just leave them there while I run all the returns/haggling)... :-\ This should be fun.

And I do NOT want to be in the shoes of the Radio Shack guy who tries to tell me I can't return the memory card because the packaging has been opened & because they only do exchanges if it's defective. Nope, don't want to be in his shoes....... *evil laugh*