The Strategic Homemaker

learning to follow the Father, care for the clan, and redeem the resources


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My Favorite Family Picture

Ever since my most recent miscarriage, I wanted a family picture that represented our whole family, both here and with Jesus. I had tried to get it before Christmas, but TSH got swamped with deadlines, and after Christmas it got really cold. Right before we left Blacksburg, however, my friend Leah did a photoshoot for us.

IMG_9966-84 IMG_9959-81 IMG_9928-77 IMG_9922-76 IMG_9854-68 IMG_9835-60 IMG_9802-52 IMG_9767-40 IMG_9648-14First, these make me think that Leah is an awesome photographer, and I’m really thankful to her for 1) being an amazing person and friend the past five years, and 2) for taking these when she knew she would not get even close to fairly compensated for her work because we were broke.

And secondly, they make me think that I have the best-looking husband and cutest daughter ever.

But this post is not about those pictures. It is about this picture:

IMG_9674-21

This one is special because everyone in our family is represented: my necklace (from my sis-in-law) represents baby #1, PG is baby #2, the teddy bear (from another sis-in-law) represents baby #3.

It’s getting printed as soon as we move into a house.

And there’s actually another person represented in the pictures. Baby #4 is 14.5 weeks today, and had a nice fast heartbeat yesterday! We’re hoping for a snuggly little Christmas present this December 🙂 .

I have been at peace. Not because I’m confident the baby will be fine. I’m not. I don’t have any promises of that, and in fact, in John 16:33, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

but I’m confident in what Matthew 7:9-11 says:

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

And Romans 8:28:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Sometimes “good things” doesn’t mean happy things. Maybe more than we want to admit, it means really, really hard things in the present, but if you are a child of God, you can trust Him that his plan is good and cast your cares on Him.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7

The family picture above reminds me of this. This life is not the end of the story, but the end of the story is coming, and it will be good. When I look at the picture above, I look forward to the end of the story, and if you trust Christ as your righteousness, you can too.

What keeps you reminded of the end of the story?

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Book Review: Respectable Sins

I have at least finished one of the books from my summer reading list, and it was a good one! (I finished the one about rotary cutting also, but I’m guessing fewer people care about that one.)

Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges

Summary:

Chapters 1-3 discusses the way Christians are called to be “set apart,” to “act in a manner befitting of a Christ-follower,”  but both the world and Christians have stopped considering sin as sin– as serious, dangerous, and malignant evil against God. It specifically targets sins acceptable within the church.

Chapters 4-6 talk about the remedy for sins being the gospel, our need for reliance on the Holy Spirit, and specific directions for dealing with sins. The next 14 chapters are on specific sins. I don’t want to list all the sins, both to keep you intrigued, and because he expands on several beyond what might be your first definition. The final chapter is a last exhortation to humble yourself (to the point of even asking someone close to you what sins from the list they think you struggle with), and confessing, repenting, and fighting the sins.

Pros:

This paragraph is something of a list of bullets, but oh well. This book is universally applicable in the sins it talks about. With each sin, Bridges gives specific ideas on combating that particular sin. He also is faithful in stressing the gospel—that all our righteousness before God is from Christ’s work, and our good deeds are by God’s grace. I appreciated the research he did in developing and paring down his list of tolerated sins, and I identified with his personal experiences with several of them. He’s an older guy from a conservative background, but he clearly has battled sin seriously his whole life, and he does a good job tackling Biblical sins while not imposing his personal convictions on everyone.

Cons:

The way the book is written (six chapters before the actual description of the sins) makes you want to skip to the sins right away. I actually can’t remember ever finishing the sixth chapter, because I got too impatient. Please don’t totally negate my review now, haha!

This isn’t a negative of the book itself, and the author tries to stress NOT doing this, but it’s the only thing I could think of. It’s easy to read quickly through this book and agree with what Bridges says, and not reflect on your own culpability and repent of your sin. However, even a cursory read will make you more aware when you commit the respectable sins and remind you that they ARE sin, not just personality quirks, etc.

Overall:

I thought this was a great book, and I’d recommend it to every Christian and non-Christians curious about Christianity. If you are a Christian, it will encourage you to take even the common sins seriously, and remind you of the good news of the gospel. If you’re not a Christian, and you want an overview of the gospel and the way Christians are supposed to live, this is a good book to read. I myself may try to review it every year or two because it hits on sins I don’t take as seriously, but need to.

Let me know if you read it!


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Church hunting and G.R.A.C.E

(This isn’t a feel-good post. but this is a really important issue, so I hope you’ll read and then check out the resources mentioned below.)

We’ve been checking out different churches since arriving in Rhode Island, and I tell you, finding a church is hard. You’d think, based off some websites, churches expect you to choose them based off their “cutting edge worship,” when the actual reasons we would pick a church can’t be determined from one Sunday morning. I feel like sending out a survey to any potential pastors and seeing what they say to different philosophical issues.

Anyway, one thing I’d like to see at a church is a good child protection policy. I’ve been lately reading about the frequency of child sexual abuse happening in American churches and on the mission field, and it is horrifying. One out of four women and one out of six men are abused as children. That is a huge percentage of the population! I’ve never heard this topic mentioned in church, but it seems like a hippo in the room (hippos being more dangerous than elephants) given the potential numbers of survivors in the congregation. Also, before they are caught, child sexual abusers average 50-150 victims. This was both shocking and sickening to me. Background checks on nursery workers is not sufficient preventative action for this horrible sin against children.

I came across this group, GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), who helps churches develop policies for effectively preventing and responding to child sexual abuse. (Because, when it does happen, churches and organizations often don’t handle it rightly–check out the news). It is not happy stuff, but if you are either a parent or a church-goer, I exhort you to go to their website, and check out some of their resources.  (We watched the videos “Offenders in the church: who are they and how do they operate” and “Minimizing the opportunities: effective child prevention policies.”) If only more people are aware of suspicious behavior, that can help.  Also, go to your church, and talk to them about doing something about this important issue.

Anyway, I hope you guys take a look and find these helpful in protecting your children and leading your church to better serve Christ.

Have you thought about this issue before?

P.S. The stats above were from the first video I mentioned, but here are some other statistics from different studies showing crazy numbers of victims.