Monday, June 28, 2010

Swimming through a busy summer!

This has got to be our busiest summer on record for the Horton household. There is always something to do or somewhere to go. We haven't had a stay-home-all-day day in quite some time, and this is very unusual for us as our summers are generally pretty lazy. But we're having fun, and that's what counts. My daily cleaning schedule has pretty much been thrown out the window, but I was home Saturday morning while everyone else was away (except for Matthew who was asleep), and I was able to get caught up on everything around here.

This week there are movie plans, swimming plans, doctor's appointment, softball practice, softball tournament, church, gardening (which I am very behind on and haven't been helping very much, and the weeds are going crazy!), sleepover party with church friends for the two older girls, and of course, the 4th of July!

I've also been walking with my friends a couple of nights a week. We're all on a mission to have a more healthy lifestyle. We are meeting at the local school's track, and we walked about 5 miles total last week. It works out well because we're walking during Madison's softball practice, which takes place just across the woods, and our children can play on the field while we're walking (I push Matthew in the stroller). Our goal is to do a 5K and go on from there to who knows what. It's so fun to have friends to do this with - the time just flies!

In the midst of all of this, I've been making plans for our upcoming school year, which will begin in about a month. And I've decided to do something that I never thought I would do - a total 360 turn. I ordered ABeka for everyone. I wanted to do it for Madison since she is starting 9th grade, and I'm feeling less confident about the picking and choosing method as I want her to be well prepared for college if she decides to take that route. I feel like ABeka will do that for her. She is going to do the accredited video program, and they are going to keep up with her grades. Amelia will be starting kindergarten, and Cari will be going into the 6th grade. I'm hoping it will make everything easier with the lesson planning, etc., though I know the program will be more of a challenge than what we're used to. I went to a display meeting last week in Kennesaw after we picked up my father-in-law at the airport (he's visiting for a couple of weeks), and everything is ordered.

I'm so glad that decision is made and out of the way, but for now, we have a few more weeks of summer to enjoy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Finding Freedom

Warning: This one is very long.

This past Sunday as I entered the doors of the church at the Sunday School hour, I felt very strongly that I should make an effort to be in class. What do I mean by "make an effort?" Well, normally I'll take Matthew to the nursery, and if he does not want to stay, which is usually the case, I'll stick around for a while and then slip out while he is playing. The lady who stays with the nursery was not there this Sunday morning, and in that case, I would normally just stay in there with him and not take a chance on bringing him to my class and causing an interruption.

This time I decided I needed to go, and I took him on in there with me. Thankfully he was very good and stayed pretty quiet up until the end. In fact, when he reached the point that I had to take him out, the bell rung as I was going out the classroom door.

I am so glad I made the effort. Our ladies class is doing The Peacemaking Church study - Women's Study, Living the Gospel in Relationships - with Tara Barthel.

Tara has a DVD series that goes along with the study, and we are watching these lessons each week also. This week's was awesome, and I know why I felt so led to be in on this class. You see, the study is on being peacemakers, but before getting too in-depth in the study, she is laying a foundation for what is to come. If there is no foundation, it will be hard to get the point across as we go along.

The lesson this week had a lot to say about legalism. This is a subject that I've been struggling with for a few months now, and I've been searching for answers to all my questions in this regard, and I heard some things this Sunday that really brought some freedom to me.

A lot of my "legalism" has been a result of homeschooling. Don't get me wrong - I am not for one second bashing homeschooling. We love it for our family, and I have no regrets about teaching my children at home, and at this point as long as God allows, we are firm in our decision to home school. But being a homeschooling family, it can be easy to get caught up in other movements. This happens when you read home school blogs or magazines or web sites, and as you read about what others are doing, they often make it sound as if their way is the only way, and as a result, there are many "movements" within the homeschooling society.

Unfortunately, I've gotten caught up in some of those myself.

Tara gave a great illustration - she was president of some sort of Christian lawyers group while she was in college, and one of her best friends was the president of a gay/lesbian lawyers group. The lady asked Tara at one point why she would treat her the way she does and show such care for her when other Christians would just want to basically angrily shout the Sodom and Gomorrah verses at her and her group. Tara let her know that she loved her and that she realized she was not without sin herself. I think she knew that Tara did not agree with that lifestyle, but what a wonderful way to share Christ with this lady by developing that friendship.

Who do I think came closer to reaching Tara's friend? Tara or her angry accusers?

During the call to worship Sunday morning during our church service, even more light was brought to my confusion with the whole legalism issue. Galatians 5 was read, and I've come to realize that the whole book of Galatians is relevant and eye-opening when it comes to the difference between legalism and serving Christ the way we should.

Galatians 5:18-26

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told [you] in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

And those [who are] Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Doesn't legalism bring about some of these things in the first few verses - idolatry, hatred, contentions, jealousies, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy...

I've mentioned this before, but when we have the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit indwelling in our hearts, we are going to have the fruits of the Spirit listed above with LOVE being the #1! Unfortunately, I've seen and tried legalism, and for the most part, I haven't seen a lot of love involved nor joy, peace, kindness, gentleness....

Our pastor's message also gave me further understanding. He's beginning a series of expository preaching through the book of Romans, and he settled on Romans 1:1 Sunday morning. Paul was a "bondservant of Jesus Christ" - not to men. He was fully submitted to Jesus, and this was his priority. He was also separated "to" the gospel of God. On the opposite side of the coin were the Pharisees, which is what Paul used to be. In that time of his life, he was separated "from" things. There were all kinds of rules and laws that as a Pharisee spoke of what they were to be separated from. What did this lead to? Lots of self-righteousness and a negative, critical spirit.

That's exactly what happens to us when we follow a movement that tells us to constantly separate ourselves from things and people of this world. There are rules given that we must follow, and when we are knowingly following these rules, if we're not careful, a spirit of self-righteousness will not be too far behind.

This is an area we found ourselves caught up in. We were separating ourselves from people who were not like minded. I’ve been studying II Corinthians 6:14-17 to make sure that I’m looking at all of this in the right way. These verses do say that we should separate ourselves from unbelievers, but after studying through this, I believe it means that we should separate ourselves from unbelievers when it comes to matters of worship. Here’s what John MacArthur had to say:

“It should be obvious to us that there is no compatibility but in fact it is not. While believers and unbelievers may play together and may work together and study together and plan certain things together and eat together and have certain levels of friendship, as soon as the issue becomes spiritual and religious and engages itself upon worship, ministry, teaching, evangelism, there is no partnership, there is no harmony, there is no common ground and there can be no mutuality.”

That makes sense. Now if we separate ourselves in all areas, how in the world could we as Christians reach the lost. Our main reason for fellowshipping with unbelievers should be evangelism. Here’s another quote by J. MacArthur:

“What I'm concerned about, Paul is, those who are outside...Paul says...are going to fall into the judgment of God and I need to reach them with the gospel. So whatever it means not to be joined together or unequally yoked with unbelievers, it doesn't mean that we are to cut ourselves off from sinful unbelievers. Then we would have to go out of the world and going out of the world would defeat the very purpose for which God has left us in the world and that is to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. And what was the highest level of accusation ever rendered against Jesus from the religious establishment? They said he is the friend of...what?...sinners, he hangs around drunkards and wine bibbers and prostitutes and etc., etc. Sure, cause that's why he came. He didn't come for the righteous, but he came for sinners.”

That’s just one example of a pit we fell into, but thankfully God has been faithful to show us the truth in this area.

I think legalism happens when we take God's Word and then add our own rules to it. For instance, the Bible says "Do not steal." So we make a rule that we should never go in a store because there are things in there for sale that we may be tempted to steal. I know that's a bit extreme, but so are some of the other man made rules that I've seen and have been a part of.

Does the Bible say exactly how I should dress, what I should watch, what I should listen to? Not exactly - but it does say that I should glorify God in all that I say and do ~ that should be my determining factor in all things - "Does this glorify God (and draw me closer to Him and draw others to Him)?" If I can keep that in mind, it will be easier to not fall into the pit of legalism or liberty-ism (which is a whole other extreme we as Christians should stay away from, but that’s a whole other discussion.)

I Cor. 6:19-20 - Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [who is] in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

Well, if you stuck with me for this discussion I was having with myself, thanks for bearing with me as I work through this issue. It's been on my heart so much lately, and I am so thankful to be finding freedom and that I know God cares so much for me and knew I was searching, and He put me right where I needed to be to get this resolved. What a blessing!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Summer Fun

Brad's aunt lives about 10 minutes away, and she has an awesome saltwater pool in her backyard. We called one day last week to see if she cared if we came swimming for a bit. She said "Not at all! Come every day if you want - if I'm not here, just come on in!" We've been taking her up on that ~~

The lady I work for has been on vacation this week, so I've had tons of transcription to do. It's been very nice to leave all that behind and go play in the sunshine for a few hours *** Water and sunshine together are so therapeutic *** We are very thankful for Aunt Dana!

Friday, June 18, 2010

About Terri

As you can see from the previous post, one of my best friends, Terri, passed away last Wednesday. And remember in the post before that one how I mentioned that she had her milestone days at the hospital when I was there with her? Well, her last day was no exception. I had a message earlier in the day from one my friends checking to see if I could come sit with Terri that afternoon. I worked it out and told her I would be there by 3:00. The nurses were with her doing their normal daily routine when I arrived, so I waited on them to come out before going in - along with one of Terri's friends who had been sitting with her for a few hours. We went in and her friend got her things, held Terri's hand, and prayed with her before leaving. I stood at Terri's bedside, and she just seemed to really be having a hard time with her breathing. I went and found the nurse who thankfully was just outside her room, and she came and checked her oxygen, which was dropping. I called one of my other friends, and thankfully she works nearby and said she was on her way. She came into the room a few minutes later, and we were able to stay for a while longer until they decided they wanted to try a procedure and asked us to wait outside. A few minutes later, a doctor came by and said they were moving her back to ICU. A few minutes later, we heard the "code blue" alarm for Terri's room, and the lights outside her room started flashing and doctors and nurses and techs started "coming out of the woodwork" it seemed. I am so thankful Bonnie arrived when she did and that I didn't have to go through this alone. We waited outside her door, and slowly one by one, everyone started leaving. We noticed no one wanted to look at us, and then someone came and asked us to go to the waiting room. We knew what was coming.

It is still beyond belief.

We waited patiently as we waited for her family to arrive as well as the rest of our close group of friends. No one really knows what happened for sure, but we assume it was probably another blood clot or stroke or her heart just got tired.

We left there and went to her mom's house where we began helping make the arrangements. Her mom wanted us all at the funeral home the next day with her, and we were there. We then spent the rest of the day working out the details. The next day was the funeral home visitation, and then on Saturday, we had her funeral. It feels strange to call a funeral beautiful, but it truly was. It was a wonderful tribute to Terri. She loved the Lord, and as a result of that, she had a great love for others, and I can definitely say that others loved her, too! She had the most amazing personality of anyone I've ever met. Even nurses and doctors at the hospital who never got to hear her speak fell in love with Terri. I've been saying that usually when you meet someone, you can think in your mind or even say out loud, "You remind me of someone else I know." I can't imagine that anyone could have ever said that about Terri.

We girls got together again last night with Terri's mom - because we needed to. We all spoke at Terri's funeral on Saturday, and we gave her mom a binder with all our speeches, pictures of Terri (and us), and all the Facebook messages, condolences, etc. Her mom is so tired and just mentally exhausted - I can't imagine having to endure losing two children within three months of each other as she has. She can definitely use your prayers.

Going through this has reminded me how important it is to care for my friends and make sure they know how important they are. It can be hard sometimes with a family to take care of, and of course they must come first, but I should always have time to speak to my friends and get together with them whenever possible. I also see that as a way to teach my children how to be a true friend - by showing them! I'm trying to not have any regrets with all this, but I had gotten to the point where I was only seeing this close group of friends on the "big" occasions. In fact, the last time I spoke with Terri before this happened was at her brother's funeral, and that makes me very sad. I took it for granted that my friends would always be there, but now I know different.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

In Loving Memory

February 15, 1972 - June 9, 2010
My dear friend, Terri

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spring Update

Bird's nest in the tree next to our garage. I've enjoyed watching this bird in all her busyness!

We finally got some much needed work done around the outside of our home. A buggy full of flowers from Wal-Mart really did the trick!

I used the same pink and white flowers in all my beds and planters, so in a few weeks hopefully they'll be big and bushy and add more color to the yard. Thankfully the Lord has blessed us with several rain showers recently, so I haven't had to do much watering. This past week reminded me of the summer weather we used to have - humid days followed by an evening thunderstorm. Thunderstorms used to scare me when I was little, but now I find them rather relaxing.

We're almost finished with our spring outside jobs. We recently took down our above-ground pool as back during the winter during the huge rain storms we were having, the dirt washed out from under one side of the pool causing the liner to rip as there was nothing holding it up. We've taken it down, but we still need to cut it up as soon as we locate the tin snips and haul it off. Then we have to tear down the surrounding deck. We debated fixing it or taking it down, and since we're strongly considering putting our house back on the market, we thought not having the pool may be a good selling point - but I guess that all depends on who the buyer is. Oh well, it's gone now.

I always save my hanging pots from year to year. This year I purchased some of those wave petunias for $3 to put in them. Certainly beats $10+ for a new hanging pot of plants!

With a little help from the kiddos, we washed the siding, painted the porch railing and stained the front door.

It's nice to be surrounded by some "beauty" when we're outside now!

Matthew after eating a chocolate muffin while swimming in his little pool. Every time he sees a camera now, he flashes this smile!

Update on Terri: We're all trying to take turns staying at the hospital with Terri so that she has someone there with her most of the time, and the past few times I've stayed were some milestone days. A couple of weeks ago when I was there, she came off the ventilator, went to a bipap machine, and then went straight to oxygen alone all in one day. That was a good day! The next time I stayed, they came in and tried to feed her, and it worked out great, so she was able to start eating. The next time I stayed, we went the other direction, which was on Friday. Her oxygen started dropping, and after trying several different things, they had no choice but to place her back on the bipap machine. They are still not sure if it is pneumonia or another blood clot.

I stayed with her for a few hours yesterday, and she was very alert and able to answer my questions (by nodding her head), and even smiled quite largely when her mom and I came back into the room for the THIRD time after telling her bye! We did try to leave three times, but for various reasons we had to come back into the room. We made it out on the fourth try.

Please continue to pray for her as you're reminded.

Softball update: Madison and her team won their tournament in Palmetto this past weekend!

And lastly, a cute Amelia-ism to share: Last week, I was telling Amelia that she will be in kindergarten when we start back to school. She said, "Well, which garden is Cari going to be in?"