O Give Thanks to Him Who Made . . .

Since it's Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I'd post a hymn that I just found. I think it's a beautiful thanksgiving hymn. It's put to the music of "For the Beauty of the Earth" only the words are different, but beautiful just the same. The music was composed by Conrad Kocher, and the lyrics are by Josiah Conder.

O Give Thanks To Him Who Made

O give thanks to Him Who made
Morning light and evening shade;
Source and Giver of all good,
Nightly sleep and daily food;
Quickener of our wearied powers,
Guard of our unconscious hours.

O give thanks to nature’s King,
Who made every breathing thing;
His, our warm and sentient frame,
His, the mind’s immortal flame.
O how close the ties that bind
Spirits to the Eternal Mind!

O give thanks with heart and lip,
For we are His workmanship;
And all creatures are His care:
Not a bird that cleaves the air
Falls unnoticed; but who can
Speak the Father’s love to man?

O give thanks to Him Who came
In a mortal, suffering frame-
Temple of the Deity—
Came for rebel man to die;
In the path Himself hath trod
Leading back His saints to God.

I found this on www.cyberhymnal.org. If you would like to hear the melody you can go to the following link: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/g/t/ogtthwma.htm. Listen to the music, read the lyrics, and remember to thank the Lord for all He has done for us - especially for giving His Son. I wish you all a joyful Thanksgiving!

"Let us come before Him with thanksgiving, and extol Him with music and song." Psalm 95:2

The Recent, Random Adventures of Me!

Adventures as a Hostess!

This past Saturday afternoon we had about fifteen people in our house. Derek has a very big family, and his sisters haven't seen the house since we've moved in, so we thought we'd have his whole side of the family up for lunch. Our house is pretty small and we don't have very many chairs either, so it was an adventure! Derek bought three pizzas and I made spaghetti and fudge for something sweet.
I've recently discovered that most fudge is not too hard to make; I've ben trying all kinds of different fudge, and it's all turned out pretty well. I've made white chocolate cherry-walnut fudge, carmel fudge, of course my mom's classic Christmas fudge, and today I'm trying out chocolate orange fudge. I should just open a little fudge shop and make some extra money on the side.
We just decorated our house for Christmas the other night, so our gathering on Friday was almost like a pre-Christmas/Thanksgiving celebration only with pizza instead of a turkey or ham. It turned out really well and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves! It was our first big gathering at our house (we've had his parents up before, but that's only two people, and my family is only five). It builds my hostess-ing confidence to have had that many people here at once successfully! I think we're going to have them up again soon!

Adventures as a Career Woman!

I recently started a temporary job filling in for a hygienist who's going on maternity leave until January. For those of you who don't know, I'm a dental hygienist and I jsut graduated in May. So far I've only been doing temporary work. It's nice to just be in one office for a while, instead of always going from office to office. This work experience also helps me figure out what I'd like when I actually do get a permanent job. I'd like to only work two days a week, maybe three; I'm not enjoying being gone from home so much with this job. You don't appreciate it sometimes, but it really is a blessing to have days at home just to be a wife and clean the house and make something good for dinner. Don't get me wrong, the Lord gave me this job to get us through the holidays, and I'm grateful for it, but I don't think I want to work so much forever. Thankfully we can do just fine with me working only two days a week, so that's what I want for the long run.
This job also is having me work past five every day so far. I've decided I definitely don't want to work evening hours in a permanent job. I don't like getting home so late and not being able to make Derek dinner, and then being so tired that I just want to go to bed. Evenings are my time with Derek, and I hate having to work into the evenings. I don't even want to do that in this job, and I think I'm going to have to ask if we can just keep my evening days to once a week. No job is perfect, and I'm definitely grateful for this one, but it has shown me that I should also be grateful for the time at home. I think it'll be good for me to get out of the house and work a couple days per week, but I'm also going to try to appreciate my time at home and use it to it's full advantage, and enjoy my house-keeping, wifely duties! Now that I don't have as much time for it I miss it.
Adventures as a Deal-Hunter!
As of late I've also been enjoying looking for good inexpensive Christmas gifts since we don't have much money for gifts this year. I'm pretty proud of myself - I've found some good stuff so far. The dollar store is a wonderful thing! Today I'm hoping to leave here early and go buy Derek a present before work. I know he bought me one last week, even though he denies it! So hopefully I can get a gift for him under our tree before the end of the week!
The other day I was shopping and I found these adorable little dog sweaters for only five dollars each (which is cheap for dog sweaters - don't you just love Walmart?). I couldn't resist, so I bought the dogs some Christmas sweaters! They look so cute in them! I'm pretty sure I have the cutest dogs ever. Everyone who was here on Saturday was fussing over the dogs; they thought they were pretty adorable. Quincy especially got alot of attention, I think because she was being more sociable than Ralphie. Ralphie gets nervous when there's so many people, and the whole time he just followed me around and hid between my feet. Either that or he was sitting on my lap. See, he knows he's a Mama's dog; I'm who he comes to for comfort!
Adventures as a Praying Wife (at least trying to be)!
I love that Derek let us put up our tree early! I love watching the lights twinkle. The other night I just turned off all the lights except the Christmas lights, and just sat on the couch and enjoyed them until Derek finished with his shower. It was very peaceful and relaxing, and it gave me a chance to spend some time in prayer - for those of you who read my previous post, I'm really trying! It's so much easier to pray when your relaxed and everything is peaceful, but I suppose I need to practice praying when things are hectic too. Christmas decorations and jsut the whole Christmas season tend to bring to my mind thoughts of the Lord, and so it's natural to pray then. Another reason I love Christmas. It really is the best time of the year, for so many reasons.
I'm posting some pictures of our decorations and dogs, etc. This post was rather random, but I guess it's just a general update of our life together and my thoughts . . . I'm allowed one of those kind of blog posts every now and then!
The Mighty Decorators!

Derek and Me putting our "First Chrsitmas" ornament on the tree!

My sister Rachel holding Ralphie by the tree!


Enjoying some wassel after all the decorating!


Our Yorkie, Ralphie!
Our Cairn terrior, Quincy!

See? Pretty cute, huh!

"Poverty In Prayer"

Do you have failings? I suppose all of us do. A couple of my failings (and there are many) would be worrying, and being selfish.
I don't know why I have to get anxious when I know that the Lord is in control and I just need to trust in Him. Trusting in the Lord is almost always easier said than done for me. And I don't know why! He's certainly done enough for me and my family that I have every reason to let go of my cares. But part of me always wants to worry. That's pretty silly when worrying does absolutely no good, and most of my worries are unfounded anyway. I know that with my head, but something in me stresses and worries, and it's very hard to control sometimes. I try and try not to worry, but I almost always fail in that area.
Being selfish is the catagory that pretty much all of my other sins fall into. It's such a broad catagory that it's almost hard to write a paragraph about it - where do you start? But I guess to narrow it down, I don't do things for other people as often as I should. Just doing something helpful for someone else, or doing something yourself that someone else was supposed to do could be a great way to cultivate unselfishness. But once again I know it with my head; putting it into practice is alot more difficult.
My pastor said something interesting last Sunday that prompted this post on failings. He was quoting from Lenord Ravenhill who said "Poverty in prayer is the seedbed of all our failures." When I think about it, I think that statement is very true. I know if I prayed more I would certainly worry less. And the more a person prays the more the Lord molds him into the image of Jesus - it's unavoidable; and if a person becomes more like Jesus they would by default become less selfish, because Jesus is the opposite of selfish. I also read a recent article by Steve Brown entitled "Good For Goodness Sake" (http://www.keylife.org/magazine/christmas-magazine-good-for-goodness-sake-2.html). In this article he made the point that if someone trys to be good, just to be good he will probably not succeed. However if that person spends more time in prayer, that person will automatically begin to cultivate goodness, just by praying, because they will cultivate a better relationship with the Lord. And the more a person realizes the Lord's love for them, the more they want to please Him.
I think the Lord has been trying to prompt me to spend more time in prayer. All of my goals as far as goodness will be met much easier if I will just spend a few extra minutes in prayer. And not only that but I will develop my relationship with the Lord to a deeper level if I will devote more time in prayer.
Prayer is hard for me. It always has been. Somehow when I'm praying I get the most distracted, and it's hard to keep focused. Because of the distraction (which I suspect is Satan throwing other things into my mind) I don't get much accomplished in prayer.
I think I will try to make it my goal to change that. Once again, easier said than done; I've been trying for years to improve my praying habits. But I'm feeling convicted that I have not been focusing as much energy and attention to prayer as the Lord would want me to, and so changing in this area will be my goal. If you think of it you could pray for me!

P.S. I think I'll be able to focus better if I have specific things to pray for, at least to start, so if any of you have any prayer requests, let me know. I can give you my e-mail if you would like to send them to me.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Well, today it's snowing, and I'm happy. Derek is off at work, and I'm straightening up the house and I started a fire. Starting a fire is quite a feat for me, because I can't get a campfire going to save my life! Somehow it's easier in a wood stove.

The dogs are wrestling around and playing, and I'm making cookies to bring to Derek at lunch. Today would be a perfect day to decorate for Christmas, but alas, Derek is going hunting this weekend and won't be home tonight.

Some people in my state hate it when it snows and will hardly leave the house. I guess that's because at least half the state are transplants, and they aren't used to snow. But I think if the weather is going to be cold (which it always is this time of year), I'd rather it be snowing than just brown and icky looking. I grew up here though, so I guess I'm more used to it. I was watching the news this morning and everyone's all happy because it's supposed to be about 60 degrees again on Sunday. I'm not happy about that, I'm disappointed; I want the snow to stick around for a while. But we all know how the news can be wrong, right?

When I think about it I'm amazed at how many different climates we have on this planet. Not only are there all the different climates for the different areas of the world, but there's also different climates within those areas for each season. God must be very creative. The world would be rather boring if it was only warm all the time. What a creative mind He must have to have thought of snow! And I love every minute of it!
This is a picture of our backyard this morning; if you don't live somewhere where it's snowing, I offer my apologies out of sympathy! I'm just teasing, but take a minute to enjoy the weather wherever you are and think of God's creativity. Have a blessed weekend!

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

That's right people! I am officially beginning the Christmas decoration season! It's okay if it isn't quite Thanksgiving yet. Derek and I are setting up our tree on the Novemeber 17th, so it will be up for a good month and a week! We have this nice pre-lit Christmas tree that my grandma gave us, and my mom found a box of Christmas ornaments in the basement of her work that no one is using and she gave them to us! I think the Lord knew we couldn't afford Christmas decorations this year, so He gave them all to us for free!

I just don't understand those people who don't decorate for Christmas. It's the best time of the year, and I think it's as if this were the Lord's season (all the seasons are the Lord's of course, but especially Christmas)! It's Jesus's birthday; that's certainly reason to celebrate, and by George, decorating is a part of the celebration!

I'm especially excited for Christmas this year, because it is the first Christmas Derek and I will spend as a married couple. I can't wait for all the festivities to commence, and it looks like it's going to snow outside, which is getting me into the spirit! Hence, the early decoration of my blog. This background reminded me of the song "Walking In a Winter Wonderland", so I decided to decorate with this one for now!

All right all you Christmas lovers, let's hear it: Yay for Christmas and early decorating!
P.S. This is a picture of me last Christmas holding Ralphie when he was still a puppy! But then again, he's not much bigger than that now. For those of you who don't know, Derek gave Ralphie to me when he proposed - the ring was tied around Ralphie's neck - and Derek is a huge CU Buffs fan, so I named Ralphie after the CU Buffs mascot. Derek was very happy with my name choice!

"Facing An Uncertain Future with Peaceful Confidence"

After the election I was really depressed that Obama won. If it was any other democrat I think I would have handled it better, but this guy is about as radical as they get. I was mostly depressed because he says he's going to "fundamentally change this country", to use his own words. And anyone who has really been listening to him knows what that means: socialism. He'll do it sneaky at first and make it seem like he's just trying to "help the middle class", by taxing rich people to death. However, at first he was only going to raise taxes on anyone who makes more than 250,000 dollars a year, but now he's lowered that number to 120,000 dollars a year. Any doubt that the number will go down again? I wouldn't be surprised one bit. Pretty soon we'll all be giving up most of our salary for "redistribution" - "spreading the wealth around". When you think that our ancestors formed this country as a capitalist society, and that's one of the reasons why America is so great - why everyone else in the world wishes they lived here - and that Obama is going change all that - well, how can you help but be depressed?
Boy, when I start to think about it I just start getting sad again. It still makes me depressed, but thanks to my sister, I now have a better perspective on things.
My sister is notorious for thinking about things like this differently. Of course she's no happier than I am that Obama got in, but she's very optimistic that this is a sign that Jesus is coming back soon. She's been looking up all these websites regarding the Rapture and Jesus's Second Coming, and she's gotten me re-interested in it too. Now I've always loved thinking about the end times when Jesus will return, but I haven't heard a good message on it in a very long time. Some pastors preach on the prophecies all the time and some don't, and I haven't had an opportunity to listen to a sermon on prophecy in a while. Considering this, and with some encouragement from my sister, I rented several books from the library, and I'm doing my own study on the end times. One of the books I rented had a very good section that I found encouraging, and I'd like to share it here. This is from Charting the End Times by Tim Lahaye, Chapter 3, page 14: the section entitled "Prophecy Offers Confidence in a Hopeless Age":

"The world in which we live has no hope. . .The whole world yearns for peace, but knows no peace. Mankind's problems continually worsen, leaving many people without hope.
Prophecy students, however, not only know what our loving God has planned for the future of this planet and the billions who live on it, but they also have a firm confidence toward the future and are not afraid. They not only know what the future holds; they also know the One who holds the future. . .
This cofidence or hope is not automatic; it comes in response to the study of the Word of God in general as well as those passages that pertain to prophecy. And when we speak of hope, wer'e not talking about a casual hope that says 'We hope things will turn out all right.' No, we who are Christians are confident that the future will happen exactly as Christ predicted. We do not merely wish that Jesus will come again; we are confident that He will come again because He promised He would. The more we know about God's prophetic promises, the more convinced we will become of their future fulfillment. Those who are familiar with Bible prophecy are the only ones who can face what seems to be an uncertain future with peaceful confidence."

I think we can all agree that the times ahead of us are uncertain (especially with You-Know-Who in office). Obama may be able to change our country and take everything good away from us, but he can never take away our belief and confidence that Christ is going to return for us. Through the study of prophecy God tells us exactly how things will turn out: He will prevail. This eases our worries and doubts about the future, because in the end God wins. And that is what gives me hope.
My sister is one smart girl. I'm looking forward to learning more about biblical prophecy; it gives us the proper perspective, and it has been much too long since I have studied it. I'll be sure to share anything else interesting that I learn with ya'll!

Fireproof Review (and Derek got a job!)

Yesterday we found out that Derek got the job we had been praying for! Praise the Lord! We're really thankful that he got this job; we have been praying that the Lord would allow Derek to get the job the He wanted him to have, so we know this is where we're supposed to be right now. Thank you to all of those who have been praying for us; we greatly appreciate your prayers, and I know they made a difference!
To celebrate Derek and I went out to dinner and a movie, which we haven't been able to do too much lately. We went to see the movie Fireproof. Going in to it we weren't quite sure what to expect. Fireproof was made by the same church that created the movie Facing the Giants, so we figured the message would be good, but I know we each had our worries. One of them was how the acting and effects would be in this movie, and I was a little worried about the subject. I knew a movie about a couple trying to save their marriage would probably turn out good, but I was a little worried that it would be too serious and that the seriousness would make it hard to enjoy.
The movie Fireproof is about a couple (Caleb and Katherine) who start out having serious marital problems. They are ready to get a divorce, but Caleb's father challenges him to wait 40 days to try a "Love Dare" in order to attempt to save their marriage. Caleb accepts his father's challenge and start the Love Dare, though Katherine doesn't know about it. In the end they realize their marriage is worth saving. You can go to http://www.pluggedinonline.com/ for a more thorough review.
It turns out both our worries were unfounded. Maybe the acting/effects still weren't the best if you're going to be picky, but they were greatly improved from the chuch's previous production. The movie also had many jokes and funny situations, and Derek and I found ourselves laughing several times throughout the movie. Even more impressive was the way they worked in the gospel message (I thought it was done very well), and the entire premise was not only interesting to watch, but Derek and I thought the suggestions of the "Love Dare" in the movie could be very useful to apply to our marriage. I think we both compared our own actions to some of the do's and don'ts covered in the movie. When a film can make you laugh and help you improve an area in your life, I think it deserves an A!

The Day After: Remembering My Sojourner's Heart

Barak Obama won the election last night. It was what I was most afraid of. My mom said you can either laugh or cry at a time like that. I found myself crying.
I really love the United States of America (maybe sometimes too much for my own good), and I'm very proud of my country and what it has stood for from the day it was founded. It is one of the only places on earth where you can start with nothing and through hard work reach the "upper class". We have more rights in this country than any other I can think of, and we are free to live and believe as we wish, and do the best we can in life. It is a country that was founded and is based upon Christian principles, whether people will admit it or not, and I believe that is why the U.S. is so prosperous. I'm really afraid that this could all change now. It's like watching something die. I pray the Lord will preserve us and the United States of America over the next 4-8 years.
Last night the Lord brought these verses to my mind; this is right after the chapter was talking about people of faith:

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them from afar off were assured of them and confessed that they were pilgrims and strangers on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind the country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."
Hebrews 11:13-16

I may love this country, but at a time like this I'm remembering that this isn't my real country. It's not my true homeland. God saw fit to allow me to live here for now, and I love it, but my citizenship actually lies somewhere else: in Heaven. In reality, Christians don't really belong anywhere in this world; we're sojourners, just passing through. And as stated above, may God preserve us until we finally reach our Homeland.

"The Right to Vote: an Opportunity from God" Revisited

Well, I'm posting this a little late. Today is election day, and I just remembered an essay I wrote a couple years ago about voting. Since it is election day I thought this would be an appropriate time to re-post it.

The Right to Vote: An Opportunity from God Nov 5 2006 4:26 PM

This morning I was sitting in church as we started the prayer portion of our service, and my pastor stated a fact that I found pretty shocking. I can't remember the exact numbers, but he said of all the millions of Christians who live in the U.S. only half of them vote.
I don't understand that. We live in a country where we can have a say as to the direction we go in the future. We have a voice; we have a vote. There are millions of people in other countries who would give anything to be able to have some effect on their governments. We live in a country where we have that right; where we have that opportunity. And yet so many people take that oppurtunity for granted.
If any group should be voting it should be Christians. In Matthew Jesus said we are the salt of the earth. They used to use salt to keep meat from going bad. The only reason the world hasn't gone rotten is because God has put us here. And a major way that Christians can keep this country from going rotten it to vote. There are some serious moral issues that will be decided in the upcoming midterm elections. As my pastor said "The only thing a good man has to do to allow evil to prevail is nothing".
I'm not going to do nothing. I am voting and covering election day in prayer. And I'd encourage any of you who can to do the same.
So if you're registered to vote, get to the polls on election day. Let your voice be heard; keep the country from going bad. Use the opportunity God has given to you. And don't ever take it for granted.

This year it's more important than ever for Christians to get out and vote for the candidate that more closely represents our Christian values; I personally believe that man to be John McCain, but every Christian must decide for themselves. So do your research, make a decision, and get out there to vote!
End note: I got the above image from www.polkelections.com.
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