Friday, October 24, 2008

Hope: The Lost Election Message

I want to premise this post by saying I will not be endorsing any candidates or amendments or policies here at this time. I'm not George Clooney or Matt Damon so my opinions do not weigh as much (so funny, yet so sad). If you want my opinion, honestly, then I will give it, but not if all you want to do is attack me. I used to be very good at being a pit bull, but it seems mommyhood has made me a bit of a softie and I take things to heart pretty easily. But as the last few months have worn on in campaignville, I've seen and heard some things that need to be addressed. I am here to remind us that there IS hope.

With all the campaign ads for Senators, Representatives, and Presidential candidates, I found myself getting caught up in the "fight for your life" attitude. When an attack ad would come on against my favorite candidate, sometimes I felt like screaming at the TV, "Stupid! He's taking this out of context! What a joke!" Then I would call up one of my comrades and fume with them about how so-and-so had better win the election because I can't believe what kind of mess we'd be in if such-and-such was elected. Please, dear God, in your mercy, don't let it be HIM (or HER as I prayed fervently, fervently). But lately, I've been stepping back and looking at the cost of all this fighting. Even the church is fighting, fighting amongst themselves about who GOD'S choice is. First of all, God's choice would be that GOD would be president. Maybe I should write Him in. (I wonder if He gets many votes?) And second of all, actually, there is no second of all. First of all, God is KING.

"It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes." ~Psalm 118:9

My friends, let me tell you there is hope! After the 2004 elections, if you were to ask any Kerry supporter how they felt, they all answered one and the same: they were despairing, fearful, and angry. Their hope was in a man, and that man had failed them. Many people who voted for Bush in 2004 are feeling the same way. This man they voted for disappointed them. They feel betrayed, despairing, and afraid. This will always, always, always be the outcome when we put our hope in men (and women). Even good men and women. We all fail, we all make mistakes, and we all make choices that make ourselves feel good without thinking about our fellow man from time to time. I can promise you we will be disappointed with our next president, too, in some way at some time. He's going to make a promise he can't keep; he might even make some terrible moral taboo that degrades the office. If our hope and peace come from knowing we have a good leader in a good government, then I'm sorry to say that we will be disappointed all our lives.

I have three groups of people I want to address here, so bear with me. First of all, if you find yourself thinking, “That’s me. I’ve been let down and I’m sick of putting all my hope in one man every four years only to be disappointed time and again,” then I want to encourage you that there is someone you can put your hope in that promises never to fail you. That person is Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life and allowed himself to be sacrificed. He did this in order that we, as imperfect human beings, could have a chance to be reconciled to a righteous and holy God. Romans 3:23-24 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” All the good things I do still don’t make me righteous and holy. To come to a righteous, holy God, we need to go through a righteous, holy intercessor, Jesus Christ. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” ~ 1 Peter 1:3 Jesus promises never to leave us nor to forsake us. Our hope is secure when it is placed in him.

The second group is a group I myself belong to. It’s the church. Our hope comes from the Lord. But I think we've strayed or forgotten the focus. We as the church have neglected our duty to reassure our fellow citizens of this hope. We aren't sharing this hope with people who are afraid and despairing because they've been let down by our government. Have we become so engrossed in our "evangelical issues" that we've forgotten the most important command from Jesus Christ himself? “Go and make disciples of all nations!” Share the love and hope of Jesus Christ to a world that is hurting, lost, despairing. To a world that is clinging to a few moderately decent men who can really only give them either free health care or some tax cuts. Instead of focusing all our efforts into the campaigns of men who we don’t completely agree with, let’s focus our efforts on the campaign of God whom we serve. Be the peace the world so desperately needs and spread it around. Also, let’s not fall into the trap of vilifying our brothers and sisters in the Lord for their poured-over, prayed-over decision on who to vote for. I know wonderful people who are whole-heartedly serving the Lord on BOTH sides of the political field. Jesus prayed three times for unity in the church. Let’s not do as the world does and so stir up dissension and strife. When all is said and done, someone will be president, and God will still be God.

The third group is those of you who are still waffling over which candidate to vote for. The best you can do is ask God what are the issues on His heart. And what are the issues on God's heart? We read in the Bible that God has always been an advocate for how we treat the poor and the aliens, justice for the innocent, loving our neighbor, making disciples of all nations and baptizing them, praying for peace in Jerusalem...notice that the global economy wasn't on this list, nor were tax increases or big government. As a Christian, I need to pray that God presses on my heart the things that are breaking his. Pray for God to guide you, and know that your conscience will be clean before him.

I believe it is our civic duty to vote and give direction to the nation we live in. What a privilege! It’s a privilege my father and my husband have both fought for, put their lives on the line for. I’m a true patriot and I love my country. That being said, my heart belongs to my Savior, and it’s in Him that I place my hope. I pray for everyone who reads this, that they might choose the same.

In His great HOPE!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Adventures in the Life of Abigail: My First Camping Trip!

Hi! My name is Abigail and this is my first blog! I'm only one-year-old, but I have lots to say!

This is me!

This is my mommy. Isn't she pretty?

This is my awesome dad!
This weekend I went on my first camping trip with mom and dad to Whitewater State Park by Rochester, MN. I helped Mommy pack the food box. I brought the apples.

Oh yes. This is a good one!

I think I will taste it to make sure it is good enough for my first camping trip. Mmmm!
We took our camper and Papa's truck with all our stuff. I started to get bored in the truck so I cried. But after a while I got bored with crying so I took a nap. Then I felt better!

This is how we play when we are camping. Daddy is tickling my bellybutton! Silly daddy!

Here I am climbing into mommy's chair when she wasn't looking. Aren't I sneaky?

Haha! I did it!

This is our first hike. Daddy carried me on his back because he is so strong! We went up lots of stairs. I helped by singing a special song called, "We are climbing the stairs." No one sang along, so I don't think they know it. I will have to teach it to them.

Mommy kept holding me so I couldn't walk around. I was very frustrated! I just learned how to do this, mom! Give me a chance! That edge looks very interesting. I want to poke it with my finger. Mommy showed me a fuzzypillar and I poked him with my finger instead.

We looked at all the pretty colors! Daddy pointed out reds, oranges, yellows, greens, and browns. I also learned about Ironwood.

Here is my daddy. In a few minutes he will jump over that gap. Wow! I didn't know he could fly! I tried to fly later while getting my diaper changed on the picnic table. And again when I was sitting in mommy's chair. And again when I was napping. I concluded with the same results every time. How did daddy do it without landing on his head and crying?

Here I am napping. Mom and Dad played Texas Hold 'Em and that is mom's unbelievable World Record setting tower of (banana) chips. It was here that I attempted my first flight. I saw my favorite book just out of reach. So I leaned over the duffel bags that mom put around me as a hedge. And I leaned a little more...a little more...and that's when it happened. I tumbled out of bed. But I got my book!

Here we are hiking again! Maybe I am making a present?

Look! Something!

This is an ancient historical site. Daddy told me about how Han Solo drove the Millennium Falcon into the cliff many years ago, and this is all that is left of it.

Aaah, some relative liberty. I chose to quote some Bonhoeffer for us while we rested. Mom and Dad didn't seem to react. Maybe they are unfamiliar with Bonhoeffer. I will try Dante next time. He's a little more mainstream.

This is kind of like flying! Wheee!

And then I climbed this tree! I can't wait until I can climb a tree that is taller than 2 feet!

Here is a beautiful place. This is where I sat in the mud to see what color it would make my pants.

This tree was a mess. Here I am trying to straighten it out. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful. This is just some of the debris left from the big floods that happened down here after I was born.

Look at all the colors!

This is looking a back at the Hall of Kings. My dad and his brothers named it. Like how mommy named the Meadow of Elephant Feet near our house.

Hahahahaha! I caught a daddyfish!


This is where I found a pretty ladybug. He crawled around on my hand and my finger. I was so interested in him, so I tried to talk to him. He told me he wanted to be in my mouth. But mommy took him away before I could do what he asked.

We had lots of good talks and lots of good cuddles. It got so cold at night that mommy slept with me in my blankets. She held me all night and I stayed nice and warm.
Mommy loves milkweed and making the dancing fuzzies float in the air!

I think we should go this way.

Then we climbed 634 steps and got to the top of a bluff. We climbed up 150 more steps to get to the top of the firetower! I rode in the backpack again, but I got a little scared this time. So I sang my song "We are climbing the stairs" and this time Mom and Dad laughed the whole time! Next time I will teach them the words so they can sing along!

That was our trip! Mommy made lots of delicious food and Daddy too! He made potato-eggs this morning which I really liked. Mommy made cocoa, too, but I only got a little sip. I tried to tell her I wanted more, more, MORE! But she didn't give me anymore. Maaaaaaamaaaaaaa! I think I'm tired and need to go to sleep now! Where is my billy goat?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

An Article on Competitive Mothering

JP, Israel Hope, Ruby Ann, & Audra Charlebois

My friend Audra recently wrote an article for Focus on the Family! I am so proud of her - I feel like I know someone famous! The title of her article is "My Baby is Better than Your Baby" and it's about competitive mothering. I know I've done this myself and I've talked to other moms who have. On Wednesdays we go to story time at the library. However the library is in Edina and the moms and their babies are always dressed in designer clothes with salon-styled hair. I always feel like I need to have my makeup done and hair curled and Abi dressed in her cutest outfit with all the snot crusties wiped off her face before we can go. Not to mention the talking, walking, milestone-breaking babies that she encounters there. It's no wonder moms everywhere (especially first-time moms) feel insecure about their mothering. Abi is healthy, happy, and strong. I am not worried about her development at all. But it is too easy to slip into a "competition" with other moms and talk about "what my baby was doing at that age." Let's be encouraging and always reflecting the amazing love of our Father in heaven.

Here's the link to Audra's article. I hope you will be as blessed by it as I was! Awesome job, Audra, and I hope you are enjoying your first few weeks with your new little girl!