Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More thoughts on OT genealogy

Remember last week I was interested in who was still alive when? (let's see if I can figure out how to put in the link to last week... I think I did it!!) Well, I have since been informed that there are some Jewish scholars who believe that Shem, Noah's son, was Melchizedek. You may remember Melchizedek was the High Priest of God who went out to meet and bless Abraham after Abraham had rescued Lot, and he is talked about in the New Testament book of Hebrews...

Of course there is no way to know if this is true or not, but what a cool thought. Shem getting to see Abraham, who will receive the covenant of God... Something to look forward to learning about when we get to heaven!

A Celtic Concert

I am posting this because my daughter is performing for it! I hope you will make plans to come and join us!

Alabama Celtic Association
ACA Scholarship Fundraiser
Scottish and Irish Music and Dance
Mary Dougherty-President-Alabama Celtic Association

Each year the Alabama Celtic Association continues to advance the preservation and promotion of Celtic Heritage, Arts and Education in the State of Alabama. It is a 501c-3 non-profit organization staffed entirely by volunteers that provide resources to help Celtic organizations.

Alabama is home to a wide variety of Celtic organizations and interests. There are several Scottish and Irish Dance schools, Pipe and Drum Bands, Scottish Highland Games, Irish Events, Celtic bands and musicians, as well as Celtic Heritage organizations and Clan Societies.

The Alabama Celtic Association has been able to provide enrichment scholarships for members of our community through various fundraising efforts. However, continued fundraising is essential to continue to provide these scholarships. Our goal for the coming year is to fund four $500.00 enrichment scholarships in the areas of dance and music. Scholarship applications and guidelines will be available on our website February 1st. Deadline for applications will be March 1st so that we can announce the recipients on March 17th.

On February 15th, the Alabama Celtic Association will host a night of music and dance at Bottletree Café in Birmingham. The evening will begin at 7:00 and will include a host of area musicians and dancers who will share their talents in a showcase format. Entry to the event will be $15 and 100% of the profits after venue costs will go towards the Alabama Celtic Association scholarship fund. The evenings entertainment will incude a raffle for a variety of wonderful treats and surprises.

Please join us on February 15th for this evening of music and dance. If you cannot join us, please consider making your tax free donation (see mailing address below) to help fund these scholarships. For more information on the Alabama Celtic Association and the programs and support we offer, please visit or contact us at celticalabama@gmail.com.

Thanks to Bottletree Cafe, tickets are now available on their website for purchase.

Many thanks for your continued support of the Alabama Celtic Association.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Belonging - Part 3

The past few days I have been writing about "belonging". I posted about belonging in the dojo and in the church. Today I want to think about belonging at home. While I have some amount of influence over the atmosphere in the dojo (or school or workplace) and in the church, as a parent I have authority over the atmosphere of my home.

Remember, at the beginning I stated that for me the feeling of belonging comes from feeling safe and secure, taken care of and protected, loved and accepted. When I think about home and what I want it to be like for my kids, the qualities I listed above are at the top. Safe and secure: My children will not attack each other. There are plenty of bullies and mean comments at school and in the neighborhood. Home should be a place where children are built up, not torn down, even by brothers and sisters. Not that there is never an argument or good-natured teasing, but we have a standard to aim at and we want to promote an atmosphere of respect for each other. Taken care of and protected: Pretty much the same as above. I want my kids to know that their needs will be met, and home is a safe place. Loved: Love should be expressed. Hugs and "I love you" should happen a lot. That one I still fail miserably on, it doesn’t seem to be in my nature to express love. But again, it is the standard I shoot for, I just have to pray and think about it daily. Accepted: We try hard to have no preconceived notions of our children's strengths or interests. I am willing to let them pursue whatever they want (within moral and safe limits, of course!). The kid who excels in math is no better than the one who excels in literature or the one who is creative and musical. Character in school and activities is expected, working to build up the weak areas is expected, and running with their strengths is expected. Using the abilities God has given them is expected. Being perfect is not. Being like me is not.

I don't always succeed in these things, but this sums up what I want home to be like for my kids. It is sad when home is not a place where a child feels like they belong, when they have to search for acceptance elsewhere. I don’t want that for my children. As a parent you have the authority and the responsibility to set the tone of your home. I encourage you to put some prayer, thought and planning into it. No thought and no plan will probably end up with less then desirable results. And prayer is always a good beginning. Prayer is a good middle and end too, now that I think about it!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hymn Rant...

All right, I am irritated. Irritated with my church and churches in general. And no, I am not just going to complain here behind the church’s back , I'll send it to my pastor.

The first thing is quite probably just me, so I will only mention it in passing. I need more time during the worship service. I need more quiet time in church to pray silently, more time to get into a song, more time during the song to contemplate the words, more time to shift gears into the next song or prayer or the sermon. Hmm, and perhaps it would help if the music and the sermon sort of went in the same direction so I didn’t have to shift gears so much. Can’t we slow down? Church seems to pass too quickly for me; I am not finished contemplating the previous thing while the next thing is beginning. But as I said, this is probably just me; I have been told that I think more than the average person and I have been accused of overanalyzing. However, I still think that the average American has way too short of an attention span.

Now, to the actual subject of my irritation. Why is it that we can only sing 2-3 verses of a hymn? Sometimes I feel like we are just singing the minimum so we can check it off our list of things to do during the service. I love hymns (I also love contemporary music). I agree with those who lament the passing of hymns, because they do contain enormous amounts of doctrine, and we can learn things faster when they are set to music. (I still sing the books of the Bible song when I am looking for a particular book, and I’m looking for a multiplication song cd for my 4th grader). So there is all this great doctrine in our hymns, but we are missing half of it by only singing a couple of verses! Many of these hymns have a progression, a sort of story, from one verse to the next, and we are missing the middle of the story!

For example, let’s look at "Have Thine Own Way, Lord!" which we sang this morning. Verse 1 says basically: God, You are the Potter, I am the clay, make me like You want me to be, I am yielded. Verse 2 (which we skipped) says: search me and look for my flaws, wash me while I bow humbly. Verse 3 (which we also skipped) says: I am wounded and weary, God You have the power, heal me. And Verse 4 says: Control me and fill me with Your spirit so others will see Christ in me. In my opinion the middle 2 verses where God searches our hearts and washes our sin, and where we are hurt and He heals us, are pretty important concepts for us to remember. Yes He made us and lives in us, but those are more obscure, they sort of happen in the past and in the future. What I can see today is my sin and my hurt.

OK, maybe our culture cannot manage to sing 4 verses of a song. Isn’t there some way to teach our congregation to appreciate our songs? Maybe we just don’t care enough, we want to go home and eat lunch. So, are we going to build our worship service around not making people uncomfortable? I suppose I should be happy they are at least getting half of it. And I guess if their interest gets piqued they might read the rest of the hymn (while they miss the next part of the service because the service is marching onward without them if they stop to think…).
I suppose I should be more patient and tolerant. I suppose I want or expect too much. I suppose I want to push people too much, want them to take it as seriously as I do, want the worship service to mean something to them. Maybe I want them to grow up faster. Maybe it’s my own pride and arrogance coming out.

Oh God, let our worship be about You; it’s not about me. Forgive my pride and arrogance, and make my worship, and my church's worship, acceptable to You.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Belonging - Part 2

Yesterday I talked about the "sense of belonging" that I feel in the dojo. I said that I get that from feeling safe and secure, taken care of and protected, loved and accepted. I suppose the sense of belonging also comes with knowing that I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing. Today I want to talk about this "sense of belonging" in relation to the church.

How many churches have I been in where I felt judged? There was no exceptance or safety; there was only living up to other's expectations and the need to look like everyone else. For the Believer the church should be a place of safety and security, a place where we take care of our own and teach each our members how to take care of themselves, a place where we are loved and accepted as Christ loves and accepts us. Over and over again scripture reminds us to work together, to support and encourage each other, to live in unity and love. And we have the ultimate example of love, Christ's sacrifice on the cross for us, for our sins. He didn't die for our good deeds or to make us look right, He died for our sins so we would be right with God.

I have found that in my church. I have found a congregation that accepts me although I am different from them. They have taken time to get to look past our differences and see Christ in my heart. They have taken care of me when I was in need. They are teaching me the Word of God, and how to live as a Believer.

I consider myself incredibly blessed. I have family in both my church and in my martial arts, I belong to both those families. Tomorrow I'll talk about my family at home.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Belonging, Part 1

Today I have been thinking about the “sense of belonging”. Where do I feel that sense of belonging? And what is it that gives me that feeling? For me it comes from feeling safe and secure, taken care of and protected, loved and accepted. There are several places that I feel that: At home, in my church, and in the dojo.

At the moment I want to think about the dojo, I will deal with the others later. This sense of belonging may seem out of place to anyone who is not in the martial arts, and probably to some martial artists too. Feeling safe and protected seems out of place in the study of martial arts. But the dojo is home to me. Physically, I might come out battered and bruised sometimes. Mentally and emotionally, I might have been pushed to the limit (or even past it) sometimes. But the dojo has been a place where I have faced my fears and been taught to overcome them. The dojo is a place where I have found teachers who accept me for who I am and lead me further along the path. In the dojo I have been taught how to protect myself and keep myself safe, wherever I go. In spite of the nature of what we do there, the dojo is a safe place for me, a retreat from the outside world, a place where I can learn to meet the attacks that come in the world outside. Yes, we give and take bumps and bruises; but in this we share our pain. We also share hugs and liniment and ibuprofen. And in amongst it all we share a lot of laughter, sweat and hard work, time, and a lot of life. We fight together and a strong bond is formed. The dojo gives me a definite sense of belonging. Perhaps the church and our homes could learn some lessons from the dojo.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Financial Peace

The deadline to order books and have them on the first day of class has passed, but I suspect that if you wanted to join the class we could get your books and catch you up. This is a great class, and so needed in our culture today. I encourage you to find a way to come!!

Financial Peace University is a life-changing program that teaches you how to make the right decisions with your money. You'll be empowered with the practical skills and confidence needed to achieve your financial goals and experience true financial peace! Click on the banner above to go to the Financial Peace University website.

This 13 week class will meet on Tuesday nights beginning
Jan 29, 6:30-8:30pm

Lake Crest Presbyterian Church
560 Lake Crest Drive
Hoover, AL 35226

I am really excited about doing this course with my husband. Dave Ramsey is a great motivational speaker. He breaks down the task of managing your money into do-able steps, which takes away so much of the stress and fear. His course helps you design a plan, and just having a plan can reduce the stress of money problems. I hope the people in our area will take advantage of this opportunity!


Sovereign Commander of the Universe,
I am sadly harassed by doubts, fears, unbelief,
in a felt spiritual darkness.

My heart is full of evil surmisings and disquietude,
and I cannot act faith at all.

My heavenly pilot has disappeared,
and I have lost my hold on the rock of ages;
I sink in deep mire beneath storms and waves,
in horror and distress unutterable.

Help me, O Lord,
to throw myself absolutely and wholly on thee,
for better, for worse, without comfort, and all but hopeless.

Give me peace of soul, confidence, enlargement of mind,
morning joy that comes after night heaviness;
Water my soul richly with divine blessings;
Grant that I may welcome thy humbling in private
so that I might enjoy thee in public;
Give me a mountain top as high as the valley is low.

Thy grace can melt the worst sinner, and I am as vile as he;
Yet thou hast made me a monument of mercy,
a trophy of redeeming power;
In my distress let me not forget this.

All-wise God,
Thy never-failing providence orders every event,
sweetens every fear,
reveals evil's presence lurking in seeming good,
brings real good out of seeming evil,
makes unsatisfactory what I set my heart upon,
to show me what a short-sighted creature I am,
and to teach me to live by faith upon thy blessed self.

Out of my sorrow and night
give me the name Naphtali - "satisfied with favour' -
help me to love thee as thy child,
and to walk worthy of my heavenly pedigree.

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

We sang this hymn in church on Sunday, and 3 days later I find it still drifting through my mind. The 3rd verse haunts me. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love. Thank God there is more. One day there will be no more sin nature to pester and tempt me!! And until then, He hangs on to me and keeps me close. Take my heart and seal it for heaven, Lord!!

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Words: Ro­bert Ro­bin­son, 1758
Music: Net­tle­ton

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Watch and Pray

"The church that is not jealously protected by mighty intercession and sacrificial labors will before long become the abode of every evil bird and the hiding place for unsuspected corruption. The creeping wilderness will soon take over that church that trusts in its own strength and forgets to watch and pray." A.W. Tozer

The American church, particularly the mega-churches, need to listen to what Tozer is saying here. If we ever start thinking we have it all together just because we are in the church, if we ever get lazy about interceding for our church and our pastor, if we let someone else do all the work at the church, we and our church will be in danger. The wilderness creeps in when we aren't looking, when we are lazy, when we think we are strong.

The same applies to our own personal lives. When I am moving along just fine, when I get lazy about my prayer life and I forget to watch for the danger, that's when the wilderness creeps in. We do not lead static Christian lives; the enemy is stalking us, looking for an opening. Do not forget that!

Keep watch and pray for yourself, your family, your church, your pastor.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snow in Alabama!!

Look! We got snow!!

We woke up this morning to a few falling snowflakes, which soon became lots of big flakes accumulating on everything (except the road). Wesley and the 2 youngest girls (and Tillie the lab) had a great time tramping out in it and having a snowball fight!

Unfortunately, now at 2:30 it's already mostly gone. But my younger kids have now played in the snow, come in wet and cold, and gotten warmed up by the fire. Happy day all around. We're just praying that the roads aren't wet when it freezes tonight... might make for a slippery ride to church in the morning.
Even though I don't like cold weather, I loved watching the snow fall and watching the kids have a good time. Thank God for a child's perspective!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Default Settings

Computers come with "default settings" programmed into them. These defaults can be changed to other settings if you know how, but sometimes, for no apparent reason (perhaps the computer is stressed ), it automatically goes back to the default setting. So you have to go back in and reset your preferred settings, often on a regular basis. I am discovering that I also have default settings that have to be intentionally changed on a regular basis.

I have been thinking about my family and how we relate. As a teen I rehearsed my parent’s flaws and faults, vowing I would never do those things. As immature as that vow might have been then, in some areas I was right to not want to copy my parent’s behavior, just as my children would be right to not imitate me in my troublesome areas.

Before I go further, lest I am tempted to dwell only on the bad, let me first list some of the good things in my growing up years. My parents came to every PTA meeting and watched me march in the band at every home game. My father took me skiing and tubing at the lake on the weekends. He played board games and built me a tree house. My parents got me to and from band practices and friend’s houses. My friends were always welcome at my house. My parents provided me with money, food, clothing, and just about anything I ever wanted. But, of course, they were not perfect, and I was certainly not a perfect child! As in all relationships on earth, there were things in my family that just were not right, and for our family one of these things was our way of relating to one another.

Now I am the parent and I find myself relating to my husband and children the way my parents related to each other and to me. This is not a good thing. When I was growing up my family did little more than live in the same house. We did not talk about ideas or thoughts or beliefs. My family did not speak of or show affection or love; I don’t think we knew how. My family did not talk of spiritual things and we did not pray together. My parents were not the authority in our house. Although I have strong convictions in these areas and I know all these things are vitally important to my family, I seem to automatically return to the default settings I was raised with.
With this in mind, I have written up a list of goals to help me change those default settings to Godly ones. My hope is that as I think and pray through these things intentionally and daily, God will be able to act through my family and allow us to be more and more a picture of His relationship to us, His children.

What about you and your family? Have you thought about how you were raised and how you are raising your own children? Have you thought about the mistakes your parents made and planned a way to do things differently? Or thought through the things they did right, and planned to do that? We have to intentionally raise our kids, we can’t afford to make it up as we go along. I encourage you to do what I have done: think this through and set some concrete goals for yourself. It is in our nature to repeat the mistakes of the past. But it is in God’s nature to intervene and transform the past, if we will allow it.

Rebecca A Givens, 02/25/07

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Adam and Eve

Something to think about today...

Do you think that after the fall Eve wished that Adam had stopped her from eating the forbidden fruit?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Old Testament Genealogies

Today my reading went back to Genesis, to the calling of Abram. I got kind of side tracked… if Job comes between Noah and Abram… so I got to looking at genealogies and life spans. Years ago I went through this with Jacob and Hannah when we did Old Testament History but I had forgotten it all. Anyway, wrap your head around these numbers… (and remember I may be totally wrong somewhere, if I am I hope someone will point it out to me)

Adam and Seth were both still alive when Lamech, Noah’s father, was born. Noah and his family were actually on the boat for a bit over a year. Noah and his son Shem were still alive at the Tower of Babel. In fact, Noah lived 60 years after Abram was born, and Shem lived 210 years after Abram was born… does that mean he outlived Abram? That’s what it looks like to me. I will have to ask my pastor about all this.

When I read the Bible, particularly the well-known stories about the people, I don’t really think about their lives before or after they enter the story. I mean, we only have short pictures of their total lives. Adam lived 930 years, over 800 years beyond the birth of Seth, yet we don’t really hear anything else about him. Then there are these lists of names, of fathers and sons with maybe a sentence about them. But what stories did Adam and Eve tell to their great great great great great grandchildren? And how it must have hurt them to see the generations turn away from God and all that they surely taught them. Adam was still alive one generation before the flood. And where were Noah and Shem at the Tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages? Did Abram meet Noah and Shem? Did he have first hand information of the flood? This is fascinating to think about, though perhaps it means nothing spiritually… or does it? I’ll have to ponder this a while longer. And when I get to heaven I will ask these men their stories.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Book of Job

I just finished the book of Job. I have to say that I enjoyed it immensely. These are my own thoughts as I read the book, not those of a learned theologian!

Here is a righteous man that God used as an example for Satan. Job loses all his physical possessions and his children at the beginning, and his response is, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Then Job loses his health. He contracts painful and disgusting sores all over his body. He is absolutely miserable. His wife doesn't support or encourage him at all. Her response is, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" And Job this righteous man who trusts God, replies, " You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?"

Now Job's 3 friends come along to sympathize with him and comfort him. For 7 days and nights they sit with him in silence, seeing his misery. Finally Job begins to speak; in his anguish he laments the day he was born. At this one of his friends speaks, not words of comfort or sympathy or understanding, but words that accuse Job of evil. Job must have sinned greatly or God would not have done this to him. Job is understandably hurt; these are his friends and they should know that he had done nothing of the sort. He then brings his complaint to God, asking God why.

The next friend is aghast at Job's audacity. How can Job say that he does not deserve what is happening to him? Surely Job must have gross sin in his life! Job replies in utter anguish, "you are right, no mortal can be righteous before God. He is our maker." Job then states his need for an arbitrator between himself and God, and once more states that he'd rather not have been born.

His friends are becoming adamant that all he needs to do is confess and repent of his sin, and God will bless him. Job is becoming a bit angry as well. He points out that he has seen good men suffer and evil men prosper. And this is where he begins to expound the gospel. "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him." "I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer You; You will long for the creature Your hands have made. Surely then You will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin." But right now, Job is in misery.

Once again his friends speak. "You must be wicked!" Job is growing more miserable with each speech. But even as he groans out his complaint to his friends and to God, he makes statements about his advocate and intercessor who pleads on his behalf to God. This pattern continues, the friends accusing him, Job groaning and wishing for an end to it all, yet trusting in God. "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes - I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" Job trusts in the coming Savior and in the promised resurrection! But as the argument continues, Job says he does not feel God's presence, and he complains more and more out of his misery. His friends continue to pronounce his wickedness, he continues to defend his righteousness. Finally the last friend speaks, for the last time. He goes on and on, saying the same things.

And then, God comes. He speaks to Job. He says basically, "Who are you, Job?" God recounts creation and all that He has made, including an awesome description of fire-breathing dragons and Loch Ness monsters! God is not angry with Job, but He asks, "who are you to demand justice from me?" And Job's response is wonderful. "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

Then God speaks to the 3 friends, and He is angry. "you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." And Job is the one who prays for his friends.

Job spoke to God out of his misery, he complained out of the bitterness of his affliction. He lost everything. He had no idea what this was all about, or why God was allowing it to happen. But through it all he trusted God; he knew that in the end he would be resurrected to a new life with God because of a Redeemer and an advocate.

I pray that in whatever affliction I face in this life, I have the faith of Job.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Thousand Gifts

This is really inspiring. It is simply the challenge to begin a list... it's not a to do list or a shopping list, it's a list of gifts that God has given you... simple, everyday things. The challenge is to add to it whenever you think of it, until you get to 1000. I wonder how long it will take me? Click the picture above to read the post of the blog that originated the 1000 Gifts, and then start with #1...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A really fun read...

OK, my kids are all away and I have a long list of things to accomplish. But I still feel pretty blah. So I sat down to eat my lunch and veg out on the computer for a few minutes... that was two hours ago! I got immersed in a story... and I'd like to invite you to do so as well. It's on a blog, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. Black Heels to Tractor Wheels is the story of how she met the love of her life, whom she calls her Marlboro Man. The above link will take you to the archives where you can read each episode. Start at the bottom of the page, and enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What is the point of it all?

I woke up this morning after a disturbing, tossing/turning kind of night. Ugh. Took me half the morning to wake up... I woke up somewhere in the middle of Bible study. I guess the coffee was finally beginning to kick in.

I have felt a kind of melancholy all day. As I worked out after Bible Study I thought about what I will be teaching my karate class and what I have running through my head to write. I began to get a bit discouraged. Does any of what I do matter to anyone else? Does what I teach or write make a difference to anyone at all? It really doesn't feel like it. There are sensei(s) out there who are far better than I am; better martial artists and better teachers. There are gifted writers who are much more eloquent, who touch my heart and my mind, and when I compare my writing to theirs I feel totally inadequate. There are mothers who do so much better than I have done at raising my kids, homeschoolers who have achieved so much more than I ever will. Homemakers who have managed a fairly clean house, who manage to feed their family most nights rather than send them scrounging for supper. These are the thoughts and feelings that have hounded me today.

But as I worked out God began to speak to me; that happens a lot, and I consider it one of the best benefits of my martial arts training. Today God pointed out that my thoughts were... well, were nothing more than pride. Pride with a touch of self-pity thrown in. hmm. A bit humbling to think about. Basically God asked me if I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, what He asked me to do. Well, yes. I know I am supposed to train in the martial arts, I know I am supposed to teach. I know I am supposed to be a wife and mother and homeschool mom. I know I am supposed to write what He teaches me, to put it out here to be read by whoever.

So what am I whining about? Lack of recognition? Lack of appreciation? Lack of ability? He gave me whatever ability I have. And the rest, the recognition and appreciation, are what I must give back to Him. It's not about me. It's about Christ and obeying Him and pointing people to Him and focusing on Him.

It's not about me. Father, forgive my pride.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Our Family motto?

I thought you might enjoy the sign my husband gave me for Christmas... it hangs on our living room wall. Does this describe my family and life, or what?!

I gotta learn to do better stuff with pictures... it says:
"The Looney Bin"
"Abnormality is the Normality at this Locality"
"Home for the Unusual"
"Odd Things Tend to Occur Here"
"The Strange Aren't Strangers"

Monday, January 7, 2008

My Father

Oh God, my Father,

I don't just want to follow You,
or to just take commands and instructions from You.

I want to feel Your arms around me,
I want to see Your face,
to look into Your eyes.

I want to see You looking into my heart,
to see the tears in Your eyes over my pain,
to see the sorrow on Your face over my sin,
to see the love in Your heart in spite of what You have seen in me.

I want to walk with Your hand holding mine,
to trace the scars that are the signs of Your love for me.

I want to walk and skip and run along by Your side
as a child in her Father's care,
- holding Your scared hand
- held tight to Your pierced side
- in constant view of Your face
which looks on me with all the Joy and Love of a Father
who loves His child perfectly,
and delights in her presence.

For even while You are the Lord God, Creator, Sustainer, King, and Savior,
You are also my Father, Abba;
And I need You.

Rebecca A Givens, 01/06/07

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Just As I Am

This morning in church we closed with the very familiar hymn, "Just As I Am". We sang the first, third, and fifth verses. (What is it about Americans that we have to rush through our music? Do we not even have a long enough attention span to sing all the verses?) Anyway, right there in the middle of verse 3, I very nearly cried. I can identify with fightings and fears, within and without. Read this hymn, meditate on it, pray through it.

Just as I Am, Without One Plea

Text: Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871
Music: William B. Bradbury, 1816-1868

1. Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

2. Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

3. Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

4. Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
sight, riches, healing of the mind,
yea, all I need in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

5. Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

6. Just as I am, thy love unknown
hath broken every barrier down;
now, to be thine, yea thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Last week I was training by myself with the bo (6 foot staff). As I went through the kata my sloppy techniques were painfully obvious; the end of the bo wobbled around everywhere, there was no precision. I began to force myself to focus on the tip of the bo, making it strike and stop precisely where I wanted it to each time. The improvement was immediate and dramatic.

Sensei always told me to finish each technique before you go on to the next one. My tendency (and the tendency of every other student), is to start thinking about the next technique before finishing the current one. The result is a general sloppy imprecision; the bo magnifies this because it extends further out from the body. These unfinished techniques will never have the power that they could have had. It’s like not following through in baseball or golf. Really good, experienced martial artists are precise and quick without rushing. Each technique is beautiful and powerful. It is in part because they finish their techniques. I have apparently not mastered this.

"Finish well" is good advice for all of life. Finishing something well not only gives you a good feeling of accomplishment and confidence, but also frees your mind, your energy, and your time to do the next thing that must be done. Rarely are you commended for starting something, it is finishing well that has value. A punch, no matter how well it starts, has no value if it does not connect with power. The finish, whether good or bad, will stick in people’s minds.

Acts 20:22-24 – …However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace."

II Timothy 4:6-8 – For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Proverbs 5:11-14 – At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, "How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly."

I have a life to live on this earth; it is a fight, a race, a journey. I have no idea how long it will last; whenever it ends will I have finished well? Will I have persevered to the very end? Will God say, "Well done" or will I groan at my own ruin? Will I leave projects unfinished, prayers unsaid, apologies or love unexpressed, good deeds never done? Oh God, I pray not!

Rebecca A Givens, 12/2007

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bible Reading

OK, it's time to decide... are you going to take the Bible reading challenge for the year? I have to admit I started last week... I just couldn't wait! So I am a bit ahead for the moment, which will give me a bit of cushion on those really busy days. I also have revised my own reading just a bit. In the book of Job I have started and stopped at better places in the story than where the plan outlined it. I have learned so much from Job!! I will share when I get to the end of the book...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

January Bible Reading List

1 Gen. 1-3 Bible Gateway
2 Gen. 4-7 Bible Gateway
3 Gen. 8-11 Bible Gateway
4 Job 1-5 Bible Gateway
5 Job 6-9 Bible Gateway
6 Job 10-13 Bible Gateway
7 Job 14-16 Bible Gateway
8 Job 17-20 Bible Gateway
9 Job 21-23 Bible Gateway
10 Job 24-28 Bible Gateway
11 Job 29-31 Bible Gateway
12 Job 32-34 Bible Gateway
13 Job 35-37 Bible Gateway
14 Job 38-39 Bible Gateway
15 Job 40-42 Bible Gateway
16 Gen. 12-15 Bible Gateway
17 Gen. 16-18 Bible Gateway
18 Gen. 19-21 Bible Gateway
19 Gen. 22-24 Bible Gateway
20 Gen. 25-26 Bible Gateway
21 Gen. 27-29 Bible Gateway
22 Gen. 30-31 Bible Gateway
23 Gen. 32-34 Bible Gateway
24 Gen. 35-37 Bible Gateway
25 Gen. 38-40 Bible Gateway
26 Gen. 41-42 Bible Gateway
27 Gen. 43-45 Bible Gateway
28 Gen. 46-47 Bible Gateway
29 Gen. 48-50 Bible Gateway
30 Ex. 1-3 Bible Gateway
31 Ex. 4-6 Bible Gateway