Regarded by God

My husband still retains his membership in the Lutheran church he grew up in, so we receive The Lutheran magazine on a monthly basis.  Most of the time, I find it too theologically liberal but every once in awhile there is a precious nugget to be mined.  Here is just such a nugget from the December issue, page 24 in an article discussing Martin Luther’s view on Mary:virgin-mary.jpg

But then Luther distinguishes Mary from the idol that he felt she had become in the medieval church.  Mary is, indeed, the mother of God (Theotokos), but her blessedness is the result of God’s grace alone.  He wrote:  “Not her humility but God’s regard is to be praised.  When a prince takes a poor beggar by the hand, it is not the beggar’s lowliness but the prince’s grace and goodness that is to be commended.”

 

Luther also sought to reinterpret the prevailing interpretation of Mary’s phrase “all generations will call me blessed.”  The greatest work that God can ever do, he explained, is to “regard us” as God regarded Mary.

 

For where it comes to pass that God turns his face toward one to regard him, there is nothing but grace and salvation, and all gifts and works must follow….

 

“Note that [Mary] does not say men will speak all manner of good of her, praise her virtues, exalt her virginity or her humility, or sing of what she has done.  But for this one thing alone, that God regarded her, men will call her blessed.  That is to give all the glory to God as completely as it can be done….Not she is praised thereby, but God’s grace toward her.” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 21; Concordia, 1956).

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A Different Approach?

home-schooling.jpgThere is an interesting article about homeschooling here. I first read it in ICHE’s journal, but for those of you outside Illinois, this is where it originally came from. I want to read through it and discuss it with John because it has some interesting implications for how we approach homeschooling.

Shining Stars

star.jpg  My sister’s baby is being dedicated on Sunday, so I picked up something decorative to cross-stitch for her as a gift.  (Sue if you’re reading, I apologize for ruining the surprise.)  As soon as Anna saw it she wanted to help.  Now Anna is nowhere near having the fine motor skill to do this, but I didn’t want to squelch her desire, so Mavis and I picked up some plastic canvas stars, some gold and silver cording, and large yarn needles. 

I really wanted to get started on the present for my sister, but Anna was so excited, so last night we stitched together…up, down, up, down, weaving the silver thread through the plastic canvas.  Up, down, up, down, follow the pattern, Anna, where does it go next?

Ann has written the most touching post about getting the most out of life.  I’m glad I read it.  My natural inclination would have been to get to work on a project with a looming deadline, instead I held my 8 year old on my lap as we did her “up-downs” together. The Lord quietly spoke to my heart telling me that this is precious stuff indeed. Sue’s present can be late, and it probably will (sorry Sue), but the time I spent with my daughter last night is a treasure I could never replace.

Christmas Cookies

christmas-cookies.jpgOver the next several weeks, our family will go to various Christmas programs where we will undoubtedly be asked “Parents please bring 2 dozen cookies for a time of fellowship afterwards” as if this were no big deal and we all have our Christmas cookies made and waiting for just such an occasion.  I wouldn’t mind this nearly so much if (A) “A time of fellowship” wasn’t really more like a time of unrestrained gluttony on the part of the participating children  and (B) I wasn’t already short on time this year.  To address these concerns I have been making these super-easy cookies on Sunday afternoons and storing them in the freezer (with the admonition to family that these are to be saved for later).  I thought I’d share a couple of them with you.

Sweet Grahams

24 square graham crackers

2 sticks butter (not margarine)

1c. brown sugar

1c. chopped nuts

4 oz. Chocolate

powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 325.  Arrange crackers on lightly greased springroll pan (or any cookie sheet with edges).  In a saucepan, bring butter and sugar to a boil for 2 minutes, then pour over crackers covering them well.  Sprinkle with nuts and bake for about 10 minutes.  Melt chocolate in microwave or over a double boiler and pipe/spoon over crackers. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  When cool cut into 24 squares  (I would do more like 48) or break into pieces.

 

 

Easy Oreo Truffles

 

1 pkg  Oreos

1 8 oz brick cream cheese, softened

16 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Crush 9 cookies in the food processor into fine crumbs, set aside for garnish.

Crush remaining cookies in the food processor into fine crumbs.  Add cream cheese and mix until well blended.  Roll mixture into 42 balls, approx. 1” in diameter.  Dip balls in melted chocolate, place on wax paper.  Sprinkle with reserved crumbs.  Refrigerate until firm or store in freezer for later use.

These are both super easy and rather decadent. MMMMMM.  Let’s not also forget the ever-popular white pretzels.  Oh Lord, give me strength to stay out of my freezer between now and then!

John’s Tribute

The time spent honoring John’s parents on Thanksgiving Day was everything I had hoped it would be.  It took us hours to read the greetings, well wishes, and rememberances sent in from people whose lives they have touched.  Not to crow too loudly (ahem, ahem) but I think Dear Hubby’s letter was the most touching of them all and I have asked his permission to post it here.  Just to be clear, neither one of us knew what the other was writing.  John just said that he asked the Lord to show him what to write. 

Dad,

You have modeled true patience as you worked on the farm.  Dealing with difficult machinery repairs or setbacks with quiet diligence and patience you displayed a determination that would not give up in tough situations.  You have always been gracious in your speech, avoiding pettiness, and been faithful in taking us kids to church.  You have modeled leadership in both spiritual and temporal endeavors by taking leadership roles in church, community, and agricultural organizations.  Your service in the Navy exemplified your selflessness and true sacrifice.  I remember a 6th grade sports banquet that you sat at the head table with the coach and principal.  After the banquet, the coach told me “I would do well to be like you.”  I thank you for the opportunity to become part of the farming operation. You took care of a growing hog business when I was away at school.  Your willingness as a business partner has made it possible for me to continue on in the family farm.  Without you and mom’s help in so many ways over the years I don’t know if I could have kept the farm intact through the years of low hog prices.

Mom,

You instilled in us kids a desire to redeem the time, using each precious moment for worthy accomplishment.  The principle of delayed gratification, trading a moment’s temporal enjoyment for a grander achievement later which would better serve us in our future roles in life.  Who can forget the reference to the “workhouse on the hill”?   The term was not as much a humorous reference to the determined work pace which you exemplified, but an intuitive acknowledgement that nothing good comes without work and sacrifice.  I remember well your admonition to “save your money, you will need it for college”.  You modeled the principle of “waste not want not”, instilling in us kids a need to make the most of our available resources.

Dad and Mom,

As our parents and mentors you have created a rich environment for our growing up and continued family interactions.  I have such fond memories of the trips you have taken us on from museums and parks to lake cottages and family visits.  You have instilled in us an ability to truly appreciate what we already have as well as a foresight to prepare for the future.  You have both lived tireless lives of service and purpose that have impacted not only us your kids, but will influence generations to come.  You have been living examples of character for us kids to follow.  I thank God for the gift of both you and your parenthood and revel in your faithful fulfillment and example of what the word family really means.  You have both poured out your lives in the magnificent pursuit of being God’s stewards here.  Your lives have given sacredness to the often mundane tasks of life and will no doubt be rewarded someday with the words “well done thou good and faithful servant.”

With thanks and love,

John

A Tribute to My In-Laws

Tomorrow is the big day!  Letters have been coming in from all over the country for the past month to surprise them with a time of remembrance and honor tomorrow after the noon meal.  I just finished my letter this morning.

Mavis and Edmund–

My problem is not coming up with enough for a letter, my problem is knowing how to stop.

After 14+ years, I still cannot believe my good fortune to have married into this family.  Your family is quite extraordinary.  Proverbs 17:6 says “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”  Truer words could not be spoken.  Your love, faith, gentleness, and hard work are evidenced by your children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren around you today.

Edmund, I have always admired your gentle ways.  You (and by extension, John) have created such a safe, secure environment to raise a family and are an excellent example of Godly manhood for my sons.  You captured my heart the day you called me “honeygirl” from your hospital bed and included me among your children right before bypass surgery.  You (and by extension, John) grill the BEST pork chops on the face of the earth.  You’ve spoiled me for any other!

Mavis, you are my Naomi.  I love you so much.  Like a true Titus 2 woman you have taught me much about being a wife in general and the wife of a farmer in particular.  Trying to list the ways you’ve helped me would be like trying to count the stars in the sky.  All the floors washed, dishes done, patches sewn, and children watched so I “could get something done.”  I don’t think I could’ve made it through those early years without you.

Many are the jewels in your crowns.  May the Lord say of you both, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Much love,

Michelle

In The Garden

May I present the following blog for your consideration? In The Garden is written by a dear saint named Abigail. From what I’ve been able to tell so far, Abigail is a wonderful Titus 2 woman and the time I’ve spent at her site is very instructive and refreshing. (I had to print out her post on “Hymn in a Storm” by Samuel Pearce to paste in my Bible.) I hope that you will find refreshment for your soul In The Garden as well.