Christian family life, homeschooling, humor, and articles for your encouragement and edification

Christian family life, homeschooling, humor, and articles for your encouragement and edification

Friday, May 6, 2016

Why Your Sin Hurts Me

Why do some Christians even care about the sinful choices of others? Is it really any of their business? Why can't they just live and let live? What is the big deal?
Conservative Christians, like myself, take the Bible literally. We believe it to be the actual Word of God and is to be obeyed. It is not our job to insult, abuse, or force anyone to follow God's doctrine. It is our job, however, to pray, inform, warn, and effect change through the legal, granted means we have been given. Those Christians who claim to be devout but behave in ways outside the parameters God has ordained for His people are heading for trouble. I love God and sincerely pray that "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done", and I seek to serve Him as an instrument to that end. But back to the questions above-

When a nation tolerates, indulges in, and legalizes sin, the Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments warn that the entire nation will be polluted and turned over to judgment. So yes, Scripturally speaking, sin does hurt everyone, and the "freedoms" of a few will eventually turn everyone in that nation over to bondage.Timing of those consequences depends on God. In the Scriptures, judgment seems to begin with a great deception that sweeps over the people and multiplies the wickedness in its frequency and magnitude until their "iniquity is complete"; and then the nation is usually turned over to invading enemies. Romans 1:28 explains that because people did not want to retain God in their knowledge, they were "turned over" to a debased mind to do things that were unfitting - and then the long list of those unfitting things is given.
In addition to punishing those who participate in such sins, God (through Paul) mentions in verse 32 that He will also punish those who "approve of those who practice them". Those who are not renewing their minds regularly by reading the Word of God in faith for themselves, are in rebellion against God, and/or are enjoying the world far too much are more vulnerable to this deception - and of course so are nonbelievers. The Scriptures reveal that God cares about whether or not you are actually grieved about the sin around you. In the book of Ezekiel chapter 9, verse 4, God tells an angel to "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it." 2 Peter 2:6 states that God used the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as "an example to those who afterward would live ungodly"; but "delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)." Finally, in the book of Malachi, a comparison of the conversations of the ungodly and the godly are made. It is written in chapter 3, verses 16-18:

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, 
And the Lord listened and heard them; 
So a book of remembrance was written before Him 
For those who fear the Lord 
And who meditate on His name. 
"They shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, 
On the day that I make them My jewels. 
And I will spare them 
As a man spares his own son who serves him. 
Then you shall again discern 
Between the righteous and the wicked, 
Between the one who serves God 
And one who does not serve Him."

What you think and feel about the sin around you matters to God. If you don't care - there are consequences.
It is a common criticism that the conservative Christian is unloving, but this criticism is based on prejudice and faulty reasoning. Imagine, if you will, that you and I are driving in a car. You are about to run a red light and I say,"No, don't do it! It is wrong." Would you then retort, "You hypocrite! You think you are so much better than me! Who do you think you are! What a Pharisee! If you loved me, you wouldn't say that!" ? So there I am, stuck in the car with you and you want to rebel. What you want to do is illegal and dangerous - but you want to keep doing it. Perhaps I am a more seasoned driver or even have a past checkered with piles of tickets and scars from a car wreck - but somewhere I learned my lesson, and now I am warning you to stop - for your sake and my own. Can you imagine my frustration if I was trapped in that car and you wouldn't stop? If we get hit and I get hurt or die - you are responsible. I know that according to God's Word there will eventually be a season where God wraps this thing up, reveals Himself and His kingdom reigns. I know from His Word that in the remaining years before His final coming it is going to get really, really bad. I also know that on the other side of all this mess awaits Paradise. In this knowledge is my hope and I rejoice - but it is still disconcerting to realize that of all the generations of Christians gone before you - you get to be in the one on the spiritual Titanic.

Like that car, I am sharing a country with you and you are disregarding laws made by the Creator Himself. You want to do what you feel like doing in spite of His written warnings -  and somewhere along the line, I may be a more seasoned Christian than you, I may even have a few scars to prove it. I am warning you to stop sinning for both our sakes, but you don't care. I'm trapped in a country with you and I can't get out  - and you won't stop. When I try to warn you - you insult me. When God turned over Israel to Babylon as captives for their sins, the beloved Daniel, as well the righteous Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had to go too. Yes, God was willing to let His righteous people suffer alongside the sinners to continue to reach out to them and to be His voice for Him. Just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said before being thrown into the fiery furnace - my God is able to deliver me - but He may choose not to - maybe for your sake, maybe for His glory - but my blood will be on your head.

You see, Godly love is not defined as indulgence or even tolerance. I dearly love my children, but that does not mean I allow them to do whatever they want. They are frequently told that what they are doing is NOT okay and must be stopped BECAUSE I love them and seek to protect them. Godly love is defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Note Verse 6: Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the TRUTH. Jesus is the TRUTH, the Light, and the Way. Love tries desperately to rescue their loved ones from hell. Love does not tolerate false teachings about grace. Love tells the truth even when no one wants to hear it in hopes that someone will repent and be saved. Love is willing to suffer persecution and the misjudgments of others for the sake of their First Love: Jesus Christ.

Parents be warned: Mark 9:42 states that "whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea." Make sure your doctrine reflects the Scriptures accurately and not "what your heart tells you". Your heart isn't God. There are many "really nice" people who are going to hell. You don't go to heaven because you are a nice person. Everyone MUST be redeemed to go heaven. Believing in Jesus isn't even enough because the Scriptures say, "even the demons believe - and shudder!" (James 2:19) No, salvation is evidenced by a commitment to Christ and an obedience to His teachings. You aren't saved because you are so well-behaved. But when you are saved, you should be well-behaved because you are filled and led by the Spirit of God. You can be a very, very, nice unredeemed sinner - but the judgment is the same as a nasty one - hell.
Can one love the world and hate the world at the same time? Yes. John 3:16 states that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son... and yet He warns us repeatedly to abstain from its wicked ways and false systems. God hates sin. I can dearly love sinners, even enjoy them and their company without participating in their sins or condoning and celebrating them - but that is tempered by the excruciating grief in knowing that if they don't repent - they will be lost forever. And most of all, if I TRULY love them, I will try to protect them by telling them the truth. 

But can I say two more things? I love God. I love Him. I want to please Him. I do not want to grieve Him. When He hurts, I hurt. Your sin also hurts me because you are hurting the One I love. When you rebel, you are hindering Him from doing what He was willing to die to do - save you

But the one your sin hurts the most, my friend, is you. And I care about you too.

Don't take my word for it - take His. There are so many Scriptures about this you can find for yourselves - but below are four I find especially fitting:
James 5:19-20 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
Ezekiel 39:23 - The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity (sin); because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid my face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they fell by the sword.
Hebrews 3:12-13 - Beware brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today", lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
James 4:4 - Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Kissing Conundrum

      My older offspring and I have had an interesting discussion this week.  Okay, I have been doing most of the talking - but the responses have been interesting.  Our family has a pretty strict stance on the entire topic of dating. It is pretty much summed up in this: "No."
       We have embraced, if you will, the method of courtship, and let me tell ya, the opinions and boundaries of this practice are varied. Quite frankly, we believe the Scriptures make it clear that the Lord is the One Who brings a couple together. For it is written: "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder"(Mark 10:9). The problem is knowing when God is bringing a couple together or someone else is. Because a couple may discover that a relationship they have felt compelled to initiate may not be of the Lord (but rather of their own flesh and possibly even from the enemy), it is important to avoid compromising situations.  The Lord has made it clear that sexual relations outside of marriage is wicked.  The uncomfortable question is, when does a behavior enter the realm of sexual? We've already made peace with our family's boundaries on this topic. 1 Timothy 5:2 states when speaking of relationships to "exhort him as a father (an older man), younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity". In other words, to my young adults I say, "Don't do anything with a young lady (or young man) you aren't married to that you wouldn't do with your own sibling or parent!" Romantic kissing would obviously be impure and horribly inappropriate with a family member. If we remember that God states that we are to treat those we are not married to as family members, the boundaries become clarified.
       Now this is not an issue with my kids.  They agree that kissing before marriage is not okay.  We are in unity here.  The issue is the kissing we find in literature and movies. Over exposure to anything strengthens its influence. In movies, for example, a kiss may seem like such a beautiful and romantic component to a story; but if the couple is not married - should we be watching this?  And I don't just mean the characters being married, I mean the actors. Isn't there anyone else out there thinking, "Uh, isn't this dude married to someone else in real life?" Or, "I know these two are not married and probably barely know each other." Is it okay to kiss someone romantically for the sake of art or uh, a paycheck? I say no. But what about watching it? An erosion of values can happen so s-l-o-w-l-y, it is barely perceptible until something unusual brings it up.
      In our case, it came up during the writing of a story.  Should your characters (hero or heroine respectively - not the villain) do something you would not do and inadvertently promote a behavior you find inappropriate? This may seem obvious, but sometimes it isn't. I can assume that most of you are familiar with the story of Sleeping Beauty.  Now, I  know my kiddos can watch the Disney version or read the fairy tale once or twice and not lose their salt (especially with me around reviewing disclaimers as needed). But what if you are attempting to write a version of Sleeping Beauty for a writing contest?  What if you have to create a new spin on the fairy tale while trying to maintain the original heart of the story? A man kisses a young woman he is not married to while she is sleeping unaware.  Does this not seem a wee bit inappropriate?
        My daughter, Hayden, who is not one of the two attempting to accomplish this fairy tale feat, interestingly enough, made the statement, "Well, the kiss in this story is more of a life-saving attempt, like mouth to mouth resuscitation." A very interesting take on the situation, I must say with a laugh. Why would Hayden chime in when she isn't even working on this project?  It is because of a short story she just completed.  It had a kiss. Nothing sordid, mind you, but the two weren't married. While reading the thing, I got so into the story, that the kiss just fit right into the flow of things. It took a minute for me to go, "Whoa!" Hayden would never do such a thing herself, so why would it be okay for one of her characters to do such a thing? So I decided - it was not okay. And thus our conversation began (and continues).
         So here we are - working this out - and rising to the challenge of writing in such a way that maintains integrity and knowing when, in some cases, to walk away from a project entirely if it just can't be done well.  I've attached a link to a very well-written article here that specifically addresses
kissing in a courtship/dating relationship for the Christian. My three oldest read it because I thought it was so good.  Sometimes, even when we all know better, we need someone to throw a cold cup of literary water on our faces so we don't compromise! As for Hayden, here is an article she wrote about the topic three years ago. She is far more tolerant than me on the subject. My kids and I are not in perfect agreement now, but I suspect their opinions may change after that wedding day and they uh, know for themselves the power of a kiss!

Greet one another with a holy kiss. Romans 16:16, 2 Corinthians 13:12
Greet one another with a kiss of love 1 Peter 5:14

Friday, July 31, 2015

Books and Roses

Hayden receives roses from G.G. a week after her death.

Mother's Day eleven or twelve years ago. G.G. is on the far right. She looks like a giant here, but she is standing on a step with my girls. I am on the far left next to my mother.

      The conversation began around Hayden's book, Hidden Pearls. G.G. couldn't read it. Her eyes were getting too bad, but she wanted to know the story. I had flown in on that first trip to see G.G. in Illinois after her cancer diagnosis and had less than a week to visit her before I had to go back home. There was such a flurry of activity in her day with Hospice care and other visitors that I had to struggle just to get alone with her. There simply wasn't time to read a novel over 400 pages in length, and I knew my voice couldn't hold out that long anyway. So I told her the story from memory. I occasionally flipped open the book to read (and dramatize) an excerpt as G.G. sat in rapt attention. She found my attempts at manly voices and a Spanish accent particularly amusing. Sometimes I would even stand up and perform with more gusto (all as discreetly as possible while my mother slept in a chair next to us - it was late, after all). There was one scene I especially wanted to read to her, a scene of repentance. I wanted her to see what repentance looked like. It was difficult because I knew it would get me emotional.
     During my reading, when I would occasionally get misty or "gulpy", G.G. would yell at me. "Jenny, don't DO that! You're going to get ME started!" I would apologize, blow my nose, and continue. She continually apologized as well, because although it was getting late, she wouldn't let me stop. As opinionated as G.G. could be, she sat silently most of the time, leaning forward, with her eyes wide open like a little girl's. She wanted to know how this book was going to end. We stayed up until one in the morning. When I read her the last page of the story, I closed the book with tears in my eyes. She exclaimed, "That was a really good story!" Then she began to tell me one of her own.
    "When I was a little girl, times were very hard and I didn't think I was going to get anything for Christmas. My three older brothers pooled their money together and bought me a book as a present. I was so surprised and happy that I got a present! It was a book about cowboys, and I loved it! I loved the horses! For several days after Christmas, I would put the book on the table next to the tree and pretend to unwrap it again. Then I would read it again and again as though it was for the very first time."

I stared at her with tears welling up in my eyes.
"G.G, that is one of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever heard!"
"It is a true story."

    G.G always had a well-known passion for horses and at one point in her life had a few on her Wisconsin farm. Many of her chachkie statues and collector plates are of horses. Perhaps it was when, as a little girl, she read that precious book over and over again that she first fell in love with them. She liked Clint Eastwood too. Cowboys.

Come to think of it, she also had a passion for presents. She loved getting presents as well. Now I understood why.

"There is a secret I want to tell you," I said. I knelt next to her bed.
I had her interest.  She leaned forward.
"A secret?"
I began to blubber. She rolled her eyes and yelled at me again.
"G.G., your name is going to be in a book."
She looked confused.
"Hayden's next book, in the dedication. Alice D. McGee is one of the names in her dedication."
"Really?!" She smiled.
I began to sob. "I fear you won't get to see it before it comes out, so I want to tell you now."
She knew what I meant.
An idea sprang into her mind and she got excited.
"I want you to make me a promise."
She began to fumble her hand around on her rolling table. She uncovered a wad of cash and shoved a handful at me.
"When her book comes out, I want you to buy her five roses. Five of them. You are to tell her that they are from ME. You are to tell her that I said congratulations."
More tears. More gulps.
"G.G., what a beautiful idea!  Of course I will do that for you!"
I gaped at her. This was just such a creative, sweet and tender idea coming out of my tough and earthy grandmother that I marveled.
Then I remembered. "G.G., the rose in Hayden's story is yellow."
"Then find a yellow one to stick in the group", she said matter-of-factly.

     G.G. died a week before Five Enchanted Roses was released. I'm so glad I told her about the dedication. When I held the book for the first time and flipped to Hayden's story, I read the dedication again. There was no evidence there that G.G. had passed away. I knew there wouldn't be.

    But now I think about another book. There is another book I desperately hope has my grandmother's name in it.  It is called the Lamb's Book of Life, and it was the mission of my sister, me, and the Lord Himself to ensure the engraving of her name there before she left this world.
My sister and I are so hopeful.

      Since my grandfather's death eleven months before, my grandmother had suddenly begun asking questions and wanting to discuss things she had never previously approached with me. My sister and I jumped at the opportunity to share the Gospel with her. Although I had approached the topic of salvation with G.G.in the past, and even attempted to have a Bible study with her several years ago, things never seemed to pan out into any consistency. Last Christmas, our evangelism took on a new fervor. We read G.G. Bible passages and answered her many questions the best we could. My sister even downloaded children's animated Bible stories (to G.G.'s delight) and a large print Bible onto her iPad.

     G.G. believed in Jesus, but she had also been very confused about Him from false teaching she had received as a child. She was largely ignorant of the Scriptures and found it very difficult to let go of idolatrous behavior. Trinkets, the lighting of candles, and ritualistic television programs that weren't even in English were a stronghold we battled every day. We weren't sure if she believed in the real Jesus, or in a false idea of Who He is. Over the months, My sister, Beth and I read Scriptures to her, preached to her, and prayed for her. We continued to answer questions and to encourage her the best we could. When we found out in March about her terminal lung cancer, our boldness grew. We began passionately rebuking false teachings and practices.

     To my surprise, I never saw G.G. grow angry about this.  She seemed fascinated.  This was all so new to her. She seemed to recognize that God was at work around her. She kept asking me why Poppa Jim passed away first. All I could tell her was that I thought she wasn't ready yet, and that Jesus wanted her to figure some things out before she got to see Him. Sometimes she would nod and summarize what I had read to her with such Biblical understanding that my heart would leap. I could see her wheels turning as she tried to fathom a God Who truly loved her - truly forgave her - a God who wanted her. Other times, when she'd become nervous, I'd see her revert back to superstitious behaviors to comfort herself. My sister and I explained the necessity of repentance and forgiveness. We stressed the importance of a relationship with God and the danger of rituals and "deceased" intercessors, and that she was free to speak to Him all by herself whenever she wanted. Beth visited her for the last time only a few days before her decline into the world of unconsciousness. She had poured out her heart once more. She asserted again and again,"Grandma, when the time comes, just cry out for Jesus! He is the only way into heaven! His is the only name you need to call upon!" G.G. listened again, but said little.

   Beth and I don't know what was going on in G.G.'s mind, in her heart, or in her faith all those months and what her final decision had been.
I think, perhaps, that God, in His infinite wisdom, has chosen to protect us.

If she didn't receive the truth - Surely He is protecting us from grief too painful to bear and great discouragement.
And if she did - Then perhaps He is protecting us from a misplaced pride in "our" success. I would like to believe that if I confidently knew that G.G. had forsaken false teachings and embraced the truth of Scripture, that I would be so happy and grateful that such treachery within myself would never occur; but I have learned to never underestimate my wretchedness.

I don't know why we don't know. But those thoughts come sometimes - until I chase them away.
I prefer to just fondly remember her and to trust Him.

    God is the One Who makes seed grow.  He is the One who draws a person to His Son. His heart, judgement, and timing are perfect. I am so grateful to Him for the time He gave me with her. She is completely in His hands now and therein is my peace.
Someday I will know - but for now there is only great hope.

     I tell a little of her story for your sake. Maybe you need the real Jesus too. Maybe you have questions. Or maybe you need to fight for someone you love. Because truly, when you love someone, you fight for that person. Sometimes we forget the serious danger the people we love might be in. We forget what forever really means, what the gnashing of teeth and eternal worms and fire might feel like; but most of all, we can't imagine what being rejected by the Creator, Himself, Whom we rejected first, would feel like, and to never, ever be loved again. Jesus wants us to read and remember His words; His warnings. He wants us to remember Him, what He did, and that most folks are going to hell. It keeps us fighting. And when appropriate, it also helps us to let go. We are at war, and Satan tries to make us forget.

To His disciples, Jesus said:
Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20

And to His church Jesus said:
"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 3:5-6

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:15

And then there is the book of the Bible itself:
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
John 20:30-31

Monday, July 27, 2015

Saturday, July 11, 2015

What We've Been Up To - Summer 2015

     It has been such a special summer!  Since March, I've been able to fly up to Chicago twice to see my grandmother for week-long visits as she rests at-home in Hospice care. My sister and I have rejoiced in the opportunities God has given us to share the Lord with her as we treasure the precious time we have left. I've also greatly enjoyed visiting my uncle while there as well. The girls also officially registered for college and begin at the end of August.
    In Scott's family, we recently had a family reunion where we celebrated his brother, Brian's recovery (and birthday!) from a bone marrow transplant after a grueling fight with cancer. We also celebrated three other birthdays in his family the month of June at the reunion. God has shown Himself faithful and involved in our lives again and again.

My husband, Scott and his four older brothers at their family home on James Island. Can you imagine all these clowns sharing one bedroom growing up? We praise God for Brian's recovery (center front). Love these guys (especially the one on the far right!) Every kid needs a bunch of crazy uncles. As for my kiddos' summer:  I'll start with......

The Boys

 Harrison takes a picture with Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Tajh Boyd at the Ellington Elite Football Camp.  Younger brother, Samuel photobombs.

 About 1000 young people line up by age to do warm-ups.

Harrison does a cone drill.

      Today my three boys are sore. Yesterday, my husband, Scott took our kids to an annual summer event at the Berkeley High School football field in Moncks Corner. Last year, Ellington cousins Bruce (wide receiver - San Francisco 49ers) and Andre (runningback- Arizona Cardinals) began a free football camp for kids ages 6 to 16. The cousins grew up in Moncks Corner and graduated from Berkeley High School. Bruce graduated from USC and played for the Gamecocks. Andre graduated from Clemson and played for the Tigers. Both were drafted a year apart for the NFL.  

Bruce Ellington

Andre Ellington

      A couple of years ago, while shopping at the local Moncks Corner Wal-Mart, I was standing in the baking aisle looking for my particular brand of bread flour. A woman standing next to me was also looking for the same brand. We got into a conversation and she casually mentioned that she had to have her particular brand of flour so she could bake her son's favorite sweet potato pie.  He was attending USC. When she mentioned his name and that he played football - something in my memory banks clicked.  Hmmm, Bruce Ellington. Could this be THE Bruce Ellington my son mentions (uh, excessively) as a rabid Carolina Gamecock fan? Could this be an opportunity for some Mommy points?  This lady seemed SO NICE. Surely she would understand that my son was a fan. After an unusual request, I dialed our home on my cell phone and told Harrison I had someone who wanted to speak to him. She introduced herself to an amazed and delighted Harrison. He somehow managed to get a little closer to Bruce by proxy.  I mean, she did give birth to him, right?
      The next summer, Scott heard about the camp from a co-worker (another relative of Bruce's) and signed up the boys. The camp consists of calisthenics, football drills, autograph opportunities, and lunch with professional players and coaches. It is a teenage boy's dream come true.This year, as my menfolk arrived at the five hour camp, a sweet lady passed them by and said "Thank you for coming" on her way out. Scott thanked her for putting it on. She then mentioned she was the mother of Bruce.  Scott asked her if she remembered an encounter with a lady at the Wal-Mart and a phone call request a couple years ago. She did and got to meet and hug Harrison in person.  He has yet to hug Bruce. Maybe next year.........Thank you Ellington family.  We love you!

And then there are Legos......

Sammy in his "Sammy jammies" presents Scott with his "card".

 The boys created a Nerf gun/Lego shooting gallery with high point values for their tinier targets.

Next week soccer practice begins for Harrison. I do manage to corral the boys at least once a day for some school work.  I have this obsession with finishing textbooks even if the school year is technically over. I also don't want their brains to get dull. It is amazing how much they forget after a few weeks off.  "What do you mean, 'What is a preposition?!'"

The Girls

Aw, her first carrot.......

Emily's garden has been doing quite well.  Her most successful produce this year: tomatoes and peppers (I have nine large, green peppers waiting for me to dice and freeze as I write this) . The mad scientist has also extended an honors anatomy project to do research of her own. Emily has been fascinated with genetics and decided to compare the eye colors of family members to test her researched theories of inherited eye color. Aunts, uncles and grandparents have faithfully emailed her close ups of their eyeballs or allowed Emmie to take a picture herself for an eye color family tree.

My sister, Beth's (Emmie's Auntie Booper) beautiful, blue eye. Trust me, it is not flattering taking a huge close-up of your eyeball. Every wrinkle, eyelash, and eyebrow hair looks gi-normous. (Seriously, how does this girl not have a wrinkle?) Emily is then applying her data to a previously completed research paper on the subject.

She has also continued sketching. And writing.  As I type this, she is preparing her Pinterest story board for a novella she has in mind.........

Her latest creation: "Miss Pole" from Cranford

Speaking of writing.....
     Here Hayden is in a still shot from her attempt to record her answers for a vlog (video) interview for the promotion of Five Enchanted Roses (note: click on title to read early reviews on Goodreads. Scroll to the bottom of the page to "community reviews". Remember, there are five different novellas in the collection, so Hayden's story, "The Wulver's Rose" is usually mentioned last in each review). Video as well as written interviews of the five authors will be on the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog at the end of July. As you can see, the picture above is not very clear, so she is still working on it!
     Hayden is also currently writing two new novels and a novella, so she is continually on her laptop writing (I think she looks like Schroeder from Peanuts).  I also frequently find her hunched in her favorite corner reading a book to review, or cleaning or relaxing with her earbuds listening to music on her iPod.  She and Emily have also starting attending a weekly adult Bible study at the home of some dear, family friends.
     Hayden celebrated her 21st birthday in June. Not only did she get to celebrate at the Wand family reunion and get generously blessed by aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, but then my mother took the girls and I out to Olive Garden for a lunch a few days later. Hayden loves pasta and this is one of her favorite places. Another one of her favorite ways to celebrate is to have a day in downtown Charleston. Scott and I happily obliged and took her to her favorite spots the following week. She loves to walk through the old slave market, look at the lovely items for sale and sample the fare up and down Market Street as shop owners pass out samples of fudge, pralines, and nuts (Hayden favorite sample is in the slave market where she gets to sample dips with pretzels. Mine is the sweet and crunchy dried okra). The smell of sweet grass baskets and horses from the carriage tours fill the air. A downtown trip wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Charleston Place hotel to get her free birthday Godiva truffle and an eight piece box from her parents. Scott and I used to work at the Limited (it isn't there anymore) at Charleston Place when we were in college oh so many years ago.  He worked stock and I was the "pacesetter". We met at the College of Charleston thirty years ago when I was eighteen and he was nineteen. sigh.
    Finally, we went to lunch at California Dreaming where I had also been a waitress during my college days. As we ate our lunch, a storm blew in and we watched a brief, but tiny waterspout form right on the water in the window in front of us. Diners gathered to watch a small sailboat break free and drift toward the bridge until authorities came on the scene to retrieve it.  It was an exciting, fun day!

Five Enchanted Roses will be available for purchase on July 27th. You can pre-order the book (or purchase it on that date) as well as her first novel Hidden Pearls on her website here.


     What about me?  I have been digging into God's Word and seeking His face with more effort as I see the Day approaching! In addition to the daily doings (laundry, people!), I've been emailing with my sister, Beth, to exchange Scriptures, articles, and relevant Youtube videos as well as updates about my grandmother. I've also been meeting with my good friend and prayer partner, Linda, to pray for the church (to wake up!) and for anything else as the Spirit leads. In addition to our family devotionals, my family is also on the lookout for current events being fulfilled in the Scriptures. (For example, my husband observed that the recent surge in shark and coyote attacks could be an example of Revelation 6:8c). We continue to pray for the Lord to move His people to be better equipped and positioned for the dark days ahead without neglecting to serve and share Him NOW.  If you haven't read my entry about my tsunami dreams a few years ago, I encourage you to check it out! Simply scroll to the labels section on this blog, and click the link "dreams". As time progresses, more and more folks are having similar experiences.  It is interesting and ironic how many who are seeking to "stay awake" spiritually are having divine dreams while they sleep! May the true remnant of God's people be strengthened and united as we seek to save!
For God did send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:17
Although it is hard sometimes not to grieve and complain about the growing apostasy of our world, I believe it is best to remember and emulate Jesus' words above.
Blessed is he who reads and hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those those things which are written in it; for the time is near. Revelation 1:3

Stay in the Word, on your knees, and in fellowship, my friends.  Abide, abide, abide!
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." John 15:4-7