Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Finally I'm doing another thankful post!  This is to continue recording my blessings with the Gratitude Community.  Ideally I'd do it Monday and use the cool banner Ann has on her website, but Thursdays seem to work a bit better for me. :-)

31.  An abundance of newly-met kindred spirits

32.  The cheery tea cup painted with one of my favorite flowers - wild rose.

33.  The loves God gives us to bless others (me: baking, one-on-one coffee dates with sisters, a home and family to share)

34.  The amazing rescue and protection, by God, of the little girl in our church family.  She fell 15 feet from a tree, landed on her head, fractured her scull and suffered some bad gashes on her face, was airlifted to a special hospital, and after surgery and a whole churchload of people praying, is recovering amazingly.  No known brain damage, already walking and talking a bossing her brothers around.  Thanks for Rebekah's life, Lord!  

35.  Second winds

36.  Sleep

37.  Fleas.  Hehe, And for not having them anymore. ;-)  Betsy and Corrie could be thankful for fleas in concentration camp.  I can surely be thankful for the same, minus the concentration camp!

38.  A little vase of garden flowers

39.  Awana leaders and a passionate commander

40.  The Gospel - good news - of Christ

42.  Frantic, flurried, flustered, prayers that God hears anyway

41.  A lovely bowl of lovely food to satisfy my gnawing stomach

42.  Pans of beautiful peaches from my grandparents' trees

43.  Songs written and sung by a modern-day Inkling that get better each time 

44.  An America that (for the present) is quite unlike China, and does not limit family size or force abortions and sterilizations on women.

45.  Homemade basil pesto

46.  A Scottish Blacksmith, a Farmer Marine-to-be, an Engineering Thinker, a Programming Wise Man, and a Music-lover.

47.  Being blessed with having the above for my brothers. :-)

48.  The Boundless Challenge - such a growing opportunity!

49.  The crazy times, to help me cherish the quiet times more

50.  Libraries

Boundless Summer Challenge - Task 14

Life is sacred. Think about it.

  • Spend a few minutes rummaging around Heartlink, a ministry of Focus on the Family that affirms the sanctity of human life.

  • Come up with six reasons why we should be concerned about protecting pre-born life.

  • I've known that abortion existed and is wrong since I was little. Ages ago we went to a rallies and held signs proclaiming the sanctity of life. I've seen some heartrending videos, sat in worldview lectures, and supported Pro-life organizations like Care-Net. But I'm not sure I've ever actually written a list like this. Of course, even one reason should be enough, and there are far more than six. But here are some of the most important reasons we should be concerned about protecting the pre-born:

    1. Conception is the beginning of a life, a human, a soul, a bearer of the image of God. (Psalm 139:13-14, Genesis 1:27)

    2. Each human life is of infinite value to God.  I should value what He values. He showed us that He values life when Christ died for the most unworthy an insignificant of people. 

    3. Christians are are called to defend life, especially for those who cannot defend themselves. (Psalm 82:3, Prov. 31:8)

    4. Abortion is murder, presenting a threat to all life.  Infanticide and regular euthanasia are almost upon us.  Next might be those people who can be accused of posing any sort of bother to society (Christians?).  Here's a quote from Treebeard, a character in The Lord of the Rings, illustrating that we cannot isolate ourselves forever without eventual consequences, and choosing to do right is far better than living with a defeatist or escapist attitude:

    “Of course, it is likely enough, my friends,” he said slowly, “likely enough that we are going to our doom:  the last march of the Ents.  But if we stayed at home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later.  That thought has long been growing in our hearts; and that is why we are marching now.  It was not a hasty resolve.  Now at least the last march of the Ents may be worth a song.”

    5. Abortion hurts the mother. Sin always has consequences and affects more than we imagine. The mothers are victims themselves - emotionally distraught, not supported, scared, lied to.  The abortion industry is a big industry, not interested in providing options or speaking truthfully or actually seeking the best for pregnant women.  These women need our compassion and help and the love of Christ!

    6.  We must never value something for its convenience, or size, or what it can do for us. Lives are being ended quietly every day, without a sound.  It's so atrocious - it's hard to believe, hard to even think about.  It's easy to forget, to only help the people in front of me, to speak for those who might one day do something nice for me in return.  It's easy to feel defeatist about the long battle.  But if we really desire to do things for the least of these, to practice unconditional love, to show we value what God values even when it is tiny and hidden away, then we cannot remain silent.   

    Very convicting.  Lately I haven't taken action or even prayed about what I should be doing to stop abortions and minister to hurting women.  Talking to God about this issue is the least I should be doing! 

    Can you think of other reasons we should be concerned about protecting tiny lives that I haven't listed?

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Boundless Summer Challenge - Task 12-13

    So, I've been behind in updates on the Challenge - insanely crazy last few days, filled with great fellowship, work, and tending animals and gardens.  But I've kept up with the tasks themselves, for the most part.  Here's a quick update: 

    Task 12 - Make Church a Priority

    "So use your gifts to serve your church. Be eager to be a part. Embrace your need for the church. Build your life around your church. Imitate Christ, who loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25).

    Pour your life into it — make Jesus' passion your passion."  Joshua Harris, Pour Your Life into It

    This weekend, the assignment was to read a couple of articles about the Church, and then do one of three things: 1) find and go to a church if you normally don't, 2) get plugged in if you're not already, or 3) do something to show appreciation to the pastoral staff.

    I'm fairly involved with my church already (AWANA, youth group), so my task was #3.  I decided to make cinnamon rolls, which I brought up to the church office on Monday morning for the staff, elders, interns, and whoever might be there.  Wrote a little note to the "unsung heroes." :-)  I also made sure to thank our preaching pastor for his excellent sermon.

    These articles, the memory verses in Romans, and the sermon Sunday (about doing what you're designed to do) have reminded me that God designed everyone with different gifts and passion.  Occasionally we are called to do things we're uncomfortable with, but usually we can serve God best by doing what we enjoy for others!  I enjoy baking, and sharing our home with people, and inviting girls out to coffee.  So I'm going to do those things, and not apologize anymore saying I "only" do such-and-such, which is an excuse Satan has probably encouraged me to use for years, resulting in selfishly used time and opportunities lost due to laziness.

    Task 13 -  Beginning of Worldview Week - Memorize Romans 12:1-2 and read or listen to John Piper's sermon "A Cause Worth Living For."  

    I learned the verses a while back in AWANA, but they need a little polishing.  I'm still a bit clumsy with last week's passage - Step it up, Rael!

    Good sermon by Piper!  Great reminder of the great truth we know that the world is dying to hear, seeking a life of thrilling significance in so many things when only God will give it to them.  How can I keep it a secret, or be ashamed of the gospel, or be intimidated by initial rejection?  May God help me share! 

    (More later, when I actually have time to write!)

    Sunday, July 25, 2010

    Andrew Peterson's "Counting Stars"

    This came in the mail today.

    Walked outside into the evening air to check, because I've been waiting long... and there it was, in crisp manila packaging, waiting behind the other envelopes.  For Rael.  From the Rabbit Room. CD-shaped.

    And I jumped up and down like a kid at Christmas in front of our mailbox. And carried my treasure into the house, and let it sit in its cellophane packaging, and did some other stuff. Almost afraid of the first listen, because there can only ever be one.
    Finally I did listen, headphones on and lyrics before me, to take in the stories and songs Andy had to tell.

    Well told. Beautifully, sorrowfully, full of love and children and ache. Darkness that we cannot shake. Hope that lives on in the night. Stars shining forever beyond Sauron's reach.
    Andrew Peterson's done it again. How does he keep writing this stuff that gets better and better? 

    I beseech thee, good reader, if you have any love for acoustic and intimate songs that whisper of God through the beauties and sorrows, songs of this world where God waits just around the corner and watches from the blackest sky, ready to hold you up when you've almost forgotten hope - do give this a listen

    And then another. 

    And another.

    Because Andy's music is like that. There can only be one first listen, yes, but like any good story, every song is better with each telling. There's always more to those words than can be caught right off. Listen long enough, and they start to soak into your soul's skin and tell you stuff.

    May the telling go on and on until the stars we count with Abraham become breathing things we hold.  

    Until faith is sight. 

    Until the waiting is over and the Reckoning done.

    Friday, July 23, 2010

    Just Because...

    Tasks 10 and 11

    Task 10 - Time to Explore Mentorship

    This task involved reading about mentors, watching a short video, and then doing one of two things:

    1.  If you don't have a mentor, take some steps to get one.
    2.  If you're already being mentored, take steps to mentor.

    I'm being mentored by my friend Sarah C, so I did the second one.  These were the specific instructions:
    • Make a list of younger adults/teenagers in whom you see potential, and who might benefit from what you've learned over the years.
    • Write down specific things that you would like to share with someone younger than you that you feel would benefit them as they walk through a life stage you've walked through.
    So, I did just that in my journal.  I've been thinking about mentoring some younger girls in my church lately, or at least spending time with them one-on-one.  Helping with youth group is fun, and it's been a start to help me get to know some of my younger sisters, but it's hard to get past the surface sometimes in a group. 

    As far as specific girls, I made a list, but also I'm going to wait and see if God lays anyone specific on my heart, or (which could be a way He speaks) see who really wants to spend time with me, hehe!  Because I wish I could spend quality time with each girl every week, but that's not very feasible.  And God doesn't ask us to change the world by spreading one person thinly over millions.  A few good relationships, built with shared life and conversations that are deep and long and weighty - this is what He works with. 

    So tomorrow morning I'm taking a young lady to get coffee at a local cafe.  Should be fun!

    As far as what we shall talk about  - I confess I'm a bit nervous.  I know I have been incredibly challenged and encouraged in the past by mentors who took the time to ask hard questions, and listened intently, helping to dig things out of me I didn't even know were there!  I want to learn to do that.  And to speak words of truth into people's lives, not fluff or meaningless chatter or sermons, but real encouraging words.   I wrote down some of my life experiences I could share, and some things I'd tell my younger self.  But mainly I'm praying for wisdom and quietness, to get to know my little sister better, and know how best to love and encourage her.

    I'm just plum excited!  :-)

    Task 11: Time to Be a Friend

    • Find someone who doesn't usually go out or who doesn't seem to be very connected with others and invite them out for coffee, or invite them in on your weekend plans.
    For this task, I kept trying to think of someone who might be falling by the wayside.  I know they're there.  I've been one.  The problem with trying to find them is .  I'm still praying for open eyes to see those left-out people, and the courage to make an effort to reach out to them. 

    But now, I'm going to count my coffee date with the quiet young lady from church tomorrow. She's one of the few homeschoolers in the youth group - most of them either go to public school or the small classical school.   I remember what it was like to feel left out (quite unintentionally, and perhaps unavoidably) of the inner circle of people when I was going to the classical school part time and still homeschooling.  So maybe I can help or encourage her in that area.  I'm so excited for me, too - a younger sister to go to coffee with, who loves fairy tales and beauty and quiet thought!  I'm sure we're very different in many ways, but that will just make things more exciting. ;-) 

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    Boundless Summer Challenge - Task 9

    Today's assignment was to perform a random act of service and kindness for someone.  

    I offered free babysitting to a young mom.  She's been sick lately, and I offered to give her a break by playing with her little boy.  And/or, if she and her husband want to go on a date night later, I could watch him then. She hasn't got back to me yet, but I said I would keep bugging her so she knows I'm serious. ;-) 

    I've been wanting to do this more, since it's something I as a single have time for, and it's a way to bless and encourage married people. :-)  It's also a way I can get a glimpse into their life, and perhaps appreciate more the trials (and joys!) of taking care of a child, something they do every day!  AND, it's a good reminder that these folks are my family, and I want them to be able to rely on me now and then as I will definitely need to rely on them!    

    That's it!  I'm only sorry I didn't do more today! I suppose I'm allowed to do them later, not for the Challenge, right? ;-)  Some of the ideas, like paying for someone's meal or coffee anonymously, sounded like too much fun!

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Boundless Summer Challenge - Tasks 7 and 8

    This weekend, the Task had two parts.  I shall now report on both, and end with today's Task.

    (Task 7, part 1) To wrap up Relationship Week:

    The assignment was to spend some time with an elderly person and ask them about their relationship successes and failures, and what they've learned.  The neighbor I planned to talk to was out of town, so I ended up calling my grandma (who came over only Friday, but I missed my chance then).  It a little awkward, since we don't usually talk about anything too serious on the phone (aside from gardens and brothers and cat stories, which are entierly serious), but I decided I'd rather tell her right off about the challenge, and she was eager to help. 

    She started dating my grandpa at 15 (!), and married him at 18.  And interestingly, her advice to folks nowdays was to not rush impatiently into marriage.  We both agreed that people are far less likely nowdays to marry so young.  Much more emphasis on college, starting carreers, doing other stuff... Being the dedicated Boundless reader that I am, I found myself wanting to go into a long discussion about how maybe her generation had their priorities straighter than ours... but I thankfully didn't say (very) much.  Anyways, the point of the Task was to listening to her, not hear myself talk! :P  Ick.  Learning more how bad a listener I often am.  What have I been missing?   

    Once I decided to be quiet, I think my eyes started opening.  It makes sense now why she has always been so emphatic about us kids going to college - she never did, and I think she feels she missed out on lots of stuff.  Hmm.  Even as I still hope to be married, and often wish I had been married years ago when I had all my prime childbearing years before me (25 is supposedly the peak, after which fertility in women begins to decline) I should remember that this time as a single need not be wasted.  There are many productive things to do for God.  And the grass can always look greener, married or not. 

    Another thing she saw was that sometimes people got married who, though still married years down the road, could not be heard to say one kind word to one another!  She said it is definitely good to be friends and to have common interests.    

    One last thing - my grandma told me about my grandpa bringing her flowers - roses, wildflowers, and just recently some squash blossoms! ;-)  How sweet. :-)    I told her I was so thankful for their marriage. 

    (Task 7, part 2) To start off Community Week:

    The next assignment was to listen to or read a sermon by John Piper.  I've been a fan of his for a while, and his sermons are always so passionate and instructive, so this was no pain. :-) 

    One of the things that struck me was his words for those who feel they have nothing to offer to the Body.  Maybe we're disabled, or clumsy, or inept, or whatever.  Some would tell us we need self-esteem.  But we actually need God-esteem.  Romans 12:6 says we have gifts, and we should use them.  So to claim we have none is not a sort of humility - it is actually, whether knowingly or ignorantly, calling God a liar, and being a rebel! 

    I don't want to rebel against God!  So I need to watch what I say about myself.  And I need to graciously remind others that they have gifts, given by God, for the good of others.  And as Piper said, the best way to "find ourselves" is not alone off in the woods somewhere.  It is with our family, life rubbing on life, seeing for my brother, my sister, what they cannot see themselves.  And letting them see for me. 

    Task 8 - Memorize Romans 12:3-8

    I've started this one, but it will take me a few days.  It's rather a sizeable passage, and today was quite full.  Good stuff to have memorized, though!  I printed it in a cool font, and am carrying it around with me to work on in spare moments. 

    I've been thinking lately about my dear local church family.  For the past year or two, I feel like I've been on a honeymoon with them.  Now, as I've been getting to know people better, it's like any relationship - flaws become evident, weaknesses and inadequacies show up.  Basically, what could have become an idol is crumbling.  Which is good!  The trick at this point is to press on with them, and remember that even imperfect people are absolute treasures, as near and dear to me as my own arms and legs.  Which they are, literally in the spiritual sense.  I need them.  And wonder of wonders, they need me!  I no longer need be critical if someone is not the best of ears - maybe he's an eye.  I can now appreciate him for his ear-y-ness. ;-)  Another person might be an eye, but maybe they need me to be the best toungue I can be for them.

    Just thinking about this makes me ecstatic.  Maybe the honeymoon doesn't need to end. ;-)  I love how God set us up to help and depend on one another.  So glad Church is more than a Sunday morning gathering!    So glad God gave us weird and hilarious illustrations to help us remember!

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    (Some of) What I'll Be Doing This Weekend

    July 16-18: Relationships Week/Community Week

    1. To wrap up week one's focus on relationships, make plans to spend time with an elderly person this weekend — someone from church, an older family member, someone at the local nursing home, someone from work. Ideally, you'd be with them in person, but if that's just not feasible, it's OK to chat with them on the phone. Sensitively ask them about their relationship successes and failures, and what they've learned from those relationships.
    2. After you've completed this task, write a comment below: Describe your experience spending time with this person and what you were able to learn from them.
    3. To start off the second week of the Challenge's focus on Community, Listen to or read this sermon by Dr. John Piper: "We, Though Many, are one Body in Christ," based on Romans 12:1-8.
    4. After you've completed the reading, write a comment below: What new insights about Christian community did you gain from this sermon?
    This is basically two tasks, but we get the whole weekend to do them.  They both look quite enjoyable!  The first thing I must do is to either decide which elderly person to seek out... or to keep my eyes for someone I was going to run into anyways.... I think I'd better start off being strategic, and if God wants to bring a random person into my path instead, I'll try to watch for that opportunity as well.  The rules doesn't say you can't talk with more than one elderly person. ;-)

    Cheerio until Monday, or sooner! :-)  I'm off to clean the kitchen and listen to the end of a Tommy and Tuppence mystery!

    Boundless Summer Challenge - Task 6

    Yesterday's task was a bit difficult.  That's why I didn't even finish writing this until today.

    One of the reasons I have rarely done specific "relationship" posts on this blog is that I don't think I can say anything well that hasn't already been said excellently, whether on Boundless, or YLCF, or by the wise elders at my church.  Also, I simply feel unqualified, as a single lady who has been terrified of guys for much of her life, to give advice on getting married! 

    Here's the Task instructions:  
    1.  Read through some of these articles and make a list of essentials in a marriage partner. Take a few minutes to pray about your requirements, sincerely asking God to show you what qualities He desires in your partner.
    • If you're single, then make a list of people you are "interested" in (even if only mildly) and cross out the ones who do not meet the above essentials. Hm.
    • If you're dating or engaged, take time to think about ways you could improve this relationship and discuss with your fiancĂ© what qualities you really appreciate about them.
    • If you're married, go back to those things that drew you to that person and the qualities they have that you appreciate. Talk to them about this.
    2.  After you've completed the bullet points above, write a comment below[on the Boundless Line post], exploring in general terms (no specifics needed) a couple of the qualities that you identified.
    Make a list of people you're even mildly interested in?  Hmm.  That's a bit odd.  Sounds almost like trying to decide which house to buy.  But I guess the point of this is not so much the precise people on the list.  Mainly, it's to see if we're being biblically or worldly in our attractions. 

    As it happens, I actually made the second list (qualities I'm praying for in my husband) earlier this year.  Should have done one ages ago.  I had some council from one of the elders in my church, which helped me see a bit more clearly through the bucket-loads of qualities I had sloshing about in my mind. The only two requirements absolutely in Scripture seem to be:

    1. A Christian (II Cor 6:14)
    2. Must be able to provide for his family (1 Tim 5:8)

    That's all! But sticking with that, of course, one can still make an unwise choice.  And even if there's nothing logically unwise about the person, there's still a huge amount of freedom involved.(Ack!)  Just because someone is marrigable doesn't mean you are the person to marry them, or that if you don't marry them that you're in sin.  So I have a short list of other things, still with Scriptural support, I think (but not explicitly commanded as requirements for marriage), what are vitally important to me, and will hopefully be helpful considerations when I am in a relationship.  Beyond those, I also have a list of Preferences (important, but not deal-breakers), and Likes (just minor stuff for consideration). 

    Much to think and pray on.

    I hope all my unmarried readers will be praying, too!   We have an amazing God who wants us to pour out our frustrations and heartbreaks and longings and joys to Him.  I'm learning that whether I get the answers I want or not, the joy of drawing near to God can overshadow even my saddest days with a cloud of unimagined glory.  :-)

    This is one of my favorite quotes from articles, because it reminds me to hope.   
    "Nobody really "settles" in a biblical marriage because God has designed marriage as a wonderful gift that gets better with age. This is what people worried about settling don't seem to get. They think joy in marriage is all about the original choice one makes about whom to marry, rather than how they nurture and build their marriage. Again, this misses the picture of biblical marriage.

    Bottom line, the real danger for God's people in pursuing a spouse is that we will "settle" for the world's vision of self, love, marriage and even romance, rather than a vision of those things steeped in scripture and rooted in the love of Christ. Biblical love and marriage ask more of us than the world's selfish pursuit of non-existent perfection. But the rewards are infinitely richer."
    Scott Croft's article, Settling (the original version)

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Boundless Summer Challenge - Task 5

    Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love...
    ~ Romans 12:10 ~

    This was Wednesday's assignment:

    1. Visit or call your closest friend. (No texting, Facebooking, tweeting, or IMing.) Ask them how YOU can be a better friend to THEM. 
    2. Ask if there are any areas you can improve, or ways that you can be there for them in a better way. Don't let them get off the hook by saying that you're doing just fine.
    3. Spend some quality time asking questions about their life, focusing the conversation on them instead of yourself.
    4. Write a comment [on the Boundless Line post] letting us know how it went.

    What a good assignment!  Oddly enough (or was it more than chance?) this was another case of the task fitting right in with what I needed to do anyways!  My dear friend Catie, who I've known since I was 7 and she was 3, has been on my mind a lot lately.  Lots of changes going on in her family, what with lots of traveling, and her older brother marrying one of her dear friends... I've tried calling and emailing her these last few days, and she left a message on my phone and sent a reply email... and tonight I finally called and got to hear her cheery voice for real!

    We talked about various stuff going on in our lives, books we're reading, struggles we're having...  I asked how I could pray for her specifically, something she started a while back but which I thought to bring up this time.  And I finally asked what I could do to be a better friend.  She thought about it, and finally said, "Keep in touch more!"

    Duly noted.  Not complex at all.  But vitally important.

    The single biggest problem in communication 
    is the illusion that it has taken place. 
    ~ George Bernard Shaw ~

    Kind words can be short and easy to speak
    but their echoes are truly endless.  
    ~ Mother Teresa~

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Gratitude for my Daddy

    I've begun the Boundless Summer Challenge, and so far it has been more challenging than I expected.  More reading and writing and soul-searching, as opposed to just little tasks one could pull off in 10 minutes.  I've gone from excitement about it to a bit of resentful grumpiness at feeling like I "have" to meditate on truth and be changed by it in a day.  But I think as long as I remember it's a bit of a discipline, a means for grace and for God to change or teach me as He will, no matter my apparent success or not, then I shall enjoy it much more.

    Part of today's assignment is for guys to try to show love to a woman in their life (wife, mother, sister, etc.) and for girls to demonstrate respect to a significant man (husband, dad, brother, etc).  I decided to make a list of things I respect about my Dad, which I will list as this week's blessings.  :-) 

    It's odd - part of me feels like that's cheating... But no, it's actually a sort of integration and melding of things God's been nudging me towards lately - recording my blessings, and increased gratefulness for my family.  The life He calls us to is hard, but it's also much simpler than I usually make it. 

    I know I missed last week - out of town.  And yes, I know today's not Monday, again  It's barely even Tuesday anymore! Ah well. ;-)

    Why my Daddy is Amazing 
    (an only-the-tip-of-the-iceberg list)

    16.   Once, when I was away at college and had major car problems, my Daddy came and rescued me.  He took the car to a shop and got the problem fixed.  He also got me my first cell phone around then, so I wouldn't get stuck on some lonely road again without being able to call for help.  I knew when he said "Call me if you need anything" that he meant it, even if it meant driving a long way.  I felt so cherished. Thanks, Daddy.

    17.  He drives all the way from Houston (8+ hours) just to visit us on random weekends.

    18.  He used to play The Bug Game with us on the living room floor ages ago.  If you're wondering what The Bug Game is, good reader, I'm afraid it's rather beyond description.  Let's just say it involved wrestling, tickling, increasingly challenging levels, and at least four of us piled up on the "Bug" at some point.  We probably asked every night, to the point of extreme annoyance: "Daddy, are you tired?" (translation: not "Daddy, how was work? We care about you and hope you get some rest now" but actually "Do you have enough energy saved to be the Bug for our entertainment?")  It was always the highlight of the night when dear Daddy was not too tired to play.  Or, perhaps my grown-up eyes can see a bit better now... I'm sure you were actually still tired some of those times, Daddy, but you played with us anyways.    

    19.  My Daddy is clever and great at fixing things.  He's an engineer, but not just of drilling rigs and computer programs.  He engineers things like homemade boats, and clamps, and who knows what else.  He's a very hard worker

    20.  He was brave enough to have six kids, and helped my mom through the pain and sorrow of several miscarriages and losing little Elliot (who died several days after his birth).  I say it takes a brave man to keep on trusting God for whatever children He might want to give after that!  If he hadn't, if he had said, "Four is enough," then my two youngest brothers, Isaac and Whit, would not be here.

    21.  He and my mom decided before any of us came along that they wanted to teach their kids at home... back before they even knew such a thing was called homeschooling.  I am ever so grateful they chose to be radical in that way, and I'm excited and hopefully to one day carry on that legacy of homeschooling and really knowing my kids.

    22.  He and my mom did some deep theological study before us kids were born.  I know that's a huge reason why I grew up with such a biblical foundation, and probably partly why I find theology so interesting - it was talked about often at our house, outside, in the car, as we walked along the way...

    23.  My Daddy taught himself Russian, y'all!  He went over there for work, and decided he'd rather make the effort to learn to speak to language, rather than go the boring way of always using interpreters.  He got so good, actually, that some Russians couldn't detect an American accent when he spoke! You know, once you're grown, it's supposedly far harder to learn a new language than it is for children.  Well, my Daddy laughed in the face of such odds, and learned one. Good example for me.  It's never too late to learn a language, or a new instrument, or any such thing.

    24.  He has this awesome manly engineer handwriting.  :-) 

    25.  He's got a great sense of humor.

    26.  He likes a good cup of tea.

    27.  Whenever he comes to see us, he usually brings us each a Breakfast-on-a-Bun in the morning.  Yum! :-)

    28.  He's got the coolest blue-grey eyes.

    29.  He reads my blog. :-)  Not just any dad would make that effort to know what his daughter's been doing, even amid all my rambling and non-informative posts.

    30.  Even though he's not perfect (neither am I!), he's one of my heroes, striving for wisdom and faithfulness and goodness, doing what he can to take care of the people in his life.  I am so blessed to be your daughter. :-)  I am so blessed to call you Daddy.