Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Virgin Gives Birth

On the last Sunday of advent we listened to a sermon we had heard before. It is one of my all time favorites. It is profound. It is the most profound Christmas sermon I have heard to date. And I have heard plenty. It takes you by surprise. You are waiting for the typical rehashing of the Christmas story: an angel's message, a young woman's question, a journey, and a manger. Instead this sermon is about barrenness.

Wait a minute. Barrenness? Isn't the Christmas message about abundance in giving? About a huge gift given to us? That brings forth fruit? Well, I suppose that is what makes that sermon so special to me. The preacher tells the story woven throughout the Old Testament of barren women who eventually give birth. Of barren Israel in her sins. It is a uselessness that God brings to His people from time to time. And it is nothing we can fix. The solution is humanly impossible. God uses barrenness to drive us back to Him because we get a glimpse in our emptiness of what life is like without Him. It is a mysterious way that God uses to win His people to Himself.

When it comes to Christ, God does something completely different. He tells a new story. He does a new thing. He takes a barren virgin and she is with child, a holy child. That child remakes Israel. He changes not just a nation or a family, but the world. He shows that in our barrenness He has abundant kindness awaiting us.

And the story does include gifts. He reminds us that gifts come wrapped and Christ came wrapped in human flesh. He tells us that it is the Divine nature to give gifts. It is human nature to take and to grasp. Our first parents took and grasped with impatience. Christ came and was the epitome of patience and so at His ascension God gave Him the nations. More gifts.

So our gifts to one another, our giving of ourselves and our substance to others is the image of God displayed in us. It is a picture of hope. It is an antithesis to barrenness. We are too much surrounded by people within and without grasping and (as Ezekiel 34 points out) butting and shoving to get the best pasture for themselves. The Church has been visited with a kind of uselessness in its efforts to win the world to Christ because of this. The closer we are to God, the more open our hands will be and our giving will abound because that is the nature of the Trinity.

That Advent sermon is one that challenges me every day. "Love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice, and whoso suffers most hath most to give." (Ugo Bassi) In a culture where taking and grasping abound, being the one who gives can be draining and debilitating. My dream is that Christians will learn the lessons of barrenness, stop grasping and taking for themselves, and start reflecting the Divine nature more and more. Then they will know us by our love.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another's Praise

"Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."(Proverbs 27:2) For fours years now teenagers from the Caer have been involved in a Christian sports league. There is a tradition within the league that at the end of a game or match each team huddles together and shouts the other team's name. This is a salute, a recognition of the other team coming to compete. The attitude expressed in that one shout is, "Thank you for competing today, we recognize your effort and appreciate you no matter who was the victor today." It is a fitting end to Christian competition on the sports field.

One team in the league we played recently did not finish the match in that way. Instead, at the end of the match, they huddled together and shouted their own names. At first I thought I was mistaken when the junior varsity did it. Then I listened more attentively after the varsity played, and sure enough, they shouted their own name at the end of the game. Now, I can see shouting for yourself at the beginning of the competition. You are trying to encourage your team on to do their best. But at the end of the game, a simple recognition of the dignity of your opponent is warranted. But this team did not recognize anyone but themselves. What a disappointment.

The Scriptures are full of enough instruction about such behavior. "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." (Phil 2:3) God's Word instructs us about humility, consideration of the other person before ourselves, and honor and love to be extended to one another. We are supposed to do good to others, especially of the household of faith. How we receive this teaching and live it out extends to how we conduct ourselves at home, on the field of competition, at worship, in labors, in relationships. It is a tall order, but commanded of us.

So this team's actions got me thinking. How many times do I pat myself on the back? Do I cheer only for my own children? Do I only see whether my kids are getting recognized or do I rejoice when other children are doing well? Do I praise my own efforts or do I look at other's and praise them? Do I act merely to receive thanks or do I act to pour love into a Christian brother or sister? Do I consider others more important than myself and my family? Do I work at this attitude in all interactions with others?

The two greatest commandments come to the forefront once again. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength AND love others as you love yourself. As Christians, we need to consider whether our reputation is to shout our own name. Are we being like the fat sheep in Ezekiel 34 and pushing with side and shoulder to get the best pasture and water for ourselves? Or are we letting the mind of Christ be in us and making ourselves of no reputation except of service and obedience unto God? Only one of those options meets God's requirements.

----posted by Queen Lucy

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Joy in the Morning

Monday morning at the caer and the house is a complete disaster. I had spent whatever time was leftover on the weekend, after volleyball game travel and worship, canning pear jam. Everything else had gone undone. Then the doorbell rang. You know the moment of panic as you survey the damage and realize someone else may see it. "Who could that be?" I wondered.

There he was, one of the young men who has grown up over the last eight years in our 4H club. In his hands he was holding a jar of freshly made salsa and a large bowl filled with fresh garden tomatoes and cucumbers. The bowl had a note: "Stupid deer!" I laughed! "Your mother read my blog!" And suddenly the messy house is completely pushed out of my mind.

I was so encouraged and loved. His mother had taken pity on me, even after all my whining about the deer devouring my garden. And my heart said, "This, this is Christianity at its finest." When we have compassion and show love in such tangible ways, just because we are moved to do so by the Holy Spirit in us, we are revealing the image of God in us. To her, it might have been a small thing, but to me it was huge. "Do not despise the day of small things." It was a cup of cold water and I cannot even express how much it meant to me. Thank you dear sister Jan!!! (And Matt for the delivery).

There are a million reasons to get discouraged in our church age. But Monday, my heart was lifted up by the simple love and kindness of other Christians in my life. Thank you LORD for putting them in my way.

----posted by Queen Lucy

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Fine Feast

Taking dominion is an uphill battle most days. On those days you have no control, no evidence of victory, it is especially discouraging. The deer have had a fine feast of our garden. The deer were able to scoot through our "deer fence" (which is to keep the deer in and the dogs out I have decided). They have decimated all my hard work. I lost two thirds of my carrots. They ate them tops and all except for the last two inches. Guess they got tired of nosing down so deep. They devoured the swiss chard. They consumed the head of the giant sunflower that had fallen. They dragged another down and inhaled the head, petals, seeds, and all. They ate all the dying bean plants, squash leaves and blossoms, chewed on the winter squash, and even gobbled the tomato leaves. They must have been ravenous. I have never seen them annihilate all these kinds of plants so completely in such a short time.

I decided today that there must be a very hard winter coming since they were in such a feeding frenzy. It helps me not be so upset to consider that God was using my garden to help them make it through the winter to come. But honestly, I was really fuming at God and wondering why they couldn't have consumed the lovely grasses in the field adjacent to the garden. Why they couldn't have gone down to the river, pond, or creek and eaten all the poison ivy (which my son informed me is one of their favorite delicacies). I mean, when God mentioned us bringing forth food but hindered by thorns, thistles, and sweat, He did not say the animals were going to be a problem too! Yet here they are eating all the food I planned for the family.

So, after calming down, going and digging up all the two inch carrot bottoms I could find, hauling in every last winter squash out there, and rescuing every green tomato left, I decided that God must have wanted all that labor for those animals. I mean, He does provide for the sparrows and lions and all those hind's feet too. If it has to be at my expense, then it is really His all along, right? I just hope He has a plan B for all that I was going to store for the family too. But it is really a down day for dominion taking at the caer. Have to start again tomorrow.

----posted by Queen Lucy

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Christian Comfort

This from the Scottish Psalter and Church Hymnary (1929) and one of my absolute all time favorite poets:
"None other Lamb, none other Name,
None other Hope in heaven or earth or sea,
None other Hiding-place from guilt and shame,
None beside Thee.

My faith burns low, my hope burns low;
Only my heart's desire cries out in me,
By the deep thunder of its want and woe,
Cries out to Thee.

Lord, Thou art Life, though I be dead;
Love's Fire Thou art, however cold I be:
Nor heaven have I, nor place to lay my head,
Nor home, but Thee."

Christian Georgina Rossetti, 1830-1894

----posted by Queen Lucy

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Scattered Sheep

Are you still waiting in the hallway of Christianity which C.S.Lewis described in a previous post? Do you have strong convictions, yet have still not found a door where you feel able to enter without peril? A door behind which you will find a welcome, a home, a chair that you can pull up to the fire or to the table, where you can feast, you can find love, you can know you will be nurtured. A place where when you go there, you will be able to join in to edify others there and be part of a body of Christ. A place where your sacrifice of praise and worship will be offered in spirit and in truth. It will not be a room where there will be no sin. On the contrary, you will have confidence that when there is sin, all the occupants will be loving and laboring to deal with that sin and make it right and restore fellowship once more. It will not be a perfect place, but a lived in one. It will be one where you might expect to run into Christ frequently.

Once you have lived in the hallway for a season or two, you will begin to be quoted one particular verse from the Scriptures, almost more than any other. It is meant to bring you to your knees, to cause you to repent, to hurry up and pick a door and just start being obedient for heaven's sake. It is usually quoted by those who have no problem with that particular verse. It is Hebrews 10:25, "...not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some..."

It little matters that with your whole heart and soul you are longing for a place to worship God in spirit and truth, and that for various reasons, God has denied you in your search and prayer. It little matters that you have searched, visited, inquired after a church. It little matters that you love God and are in such grief and loneliness because of sitting in the hallway. You are having to learn to trust God even there. All that matters is that you are not "going to church".

When did "assembling yourselves together" get to be the litmus test for true Christianity? This has become apparent whether in college applications, seeking insurance coverage, wanting your children to play in Christian sports, or in others interacting with you. It has come down to whether or not you are "attending a local church at least three weeks out of four". I understand in this generation there has to be some delineation between some one who is serious about their faith and someone who is not, but this is not a fair estimation and neither is it a Biblical one.

The Scriptures say, "Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit." (Matthew 7:17) That would mean we would have to take the time to observe, to get to know, to learn of the other person and their life, to consider what the fruits are. Is there love for God, do they try to live according to His principles? What is their family like and what kind of children are they raising? What is the fruit? I have met many people in the hallway whose fruit is absolutely beautiful yet their hearts are longing for that room where they belong but have yet to find.

And these same questions are on scattered sheep's minds as they try to faithfully evaluate potential churches: what is the fruit of this church? Do the leaders uphold Biblical doctrines both in their preaching and personal lives? Do the people have a heart to welcome and to love strangers and to entertain them through hospitality with open hearts and open homes? Is sin amongst the members handled in loving, Scriptural ways? What is the current fruit in the lives of the people? It seems there are many modern day Pharisees who keep the Sabbath but do not have any life within them.

But God is faithful because the entire passage in Hebrews 10 says this, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up LOVE and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." We need to learn to consider one another to stir up LOVE and good works, especially within individual lives, families, and church bodies.

We can also take heart from Ezekiel 34. There are other scattered sheep out there who have been trampled upon. There are other scattered sheep who when they were weak were not strengthened, when they were sick were not healed, when they were broken were not bound, who when they were driven away were not sought after or brought back, who have been ruled with force and cruelty, who have been treated with partiality, who were scattered, and for whom the LORD is searching "to deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day." He promises to bring us into rich pasture, to cause us to lie down and feed in good pasture, and to provide what the shepherds of Israel failed to do. "Thus they shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel are My people, says the Lord GOD."

Our wait in the hallway can be long, but we ARE in the hallway because of the gracious kindness of God our Saviour. And some day, He will give us the gift of one of those rooms and it will be ours, not because we deserved any of it, but because of His gracious kindness and mercy. The hope is that those already enjoying a room will be thoughtful and kind to those who have not yet been given that joy, remembering all that we have and are is an undeserved gift. Perhaps through the consideration and stirring up to LOVE, those who have a room will be able to draw in the scattered sheep and they can dwell together in unity.

----posted by Queen Lucy

Losing Pets

This has been a long week for us. We had to put down an ailing pet rabbit and last night we had to put down one of our dogs. There has been enough tears at the caer to flood the lake.

I was wondering about Adam and Eve. Adam named all the creatures. Did they have pets? Did they have a dog that would always greet them when they rounded the corner after being away for awhile? Did the dog bark at silly things and drool watching them eat? Did they get attached to any of the animals before the fall? And if so, after their sin, when they had to watch an animal suffer and die, did it fill them with the same pain and grief?

Every time we go through this over the years of pet ownership, I read once again the passage in Romans 8:19-21, "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."

This passage gives me hope that one day all these creatures will be delivered from the bondage of corruption, from the effects of sin, and they too will no longer suffer and die. Even so, LORD, come.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Monday, June 7, 2010

Common Bonds

Yesterday we attended another homeschool graduation. It was for a young man we have had the privilege of watching grow up through our 4H club. I remember when he gave his first demonstration where he had to give a talk in front of the entire club. He was literally shaking in his boots. Now he gets up in front of people and talks like he was born to lead and he plays with a blue grass band too. There is just something so satisfying to see the fruit in these young lives: the fruit of their parents' efforts, the fruit of God's grace in their lives, the fruit of their devotion to Christ and His kingdom, the fruit of a godly education that focuses on character as well as academics.

But what was really lovely to me was the reminder of all the Scriptures that give many homeschoolers a common bond. Scriptures like Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Jeremiah 29:11-13 and so many more. It was those verses that God used to call me to home educate and to reassure me over the years that this was the right course even when pressured by other options like classical Christian day school. I looked at those families yesterday and I knew that though we may have different theological or doctrinal beliefs, different lifestyle choices, and unique methods for educating our children, we have a common bond. God has used His Word to draw so many of us to educate our children and to adopt a home centered learning lifestyle. And it is beautiful.

There is beauty in the outworkings of God's grace in our lives. I marvel at the glory of God in the young people I see growing up in Christian homes with godly parents who are laboring every day to teach them about God, their faith, and how to apply His Word. I am overwhelmed by the loveliness produced in the generation to come and my hope is renewed. That hope that I had at the beginning for the homeschool movement to impact our land for righteousness sake. Hope that our labors will not be in vain and that God will bless. It is faith realized when I see what I saw yesterday.

For that mom, her K-12 homeschooling is done, although she will be educating her children all the days of her life. And I was glad, so very glad, that God in His providence still has another 14 years ahead for me (God willing). If He grants me life and strength and endurance, by then I will have homeschooled for 34 years and my oldest will be on the brink of middle age! And I think as King David did, "Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?" (2 Samuel 7:18)

----posted by Queen Lucy

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Living in the Hallway for Now

I love how writers like C.S. Lewis can say something profound succinctly. How something that has been on your mind for some time, they can express so clearly that it all makes sense finally. That is what this quote from Lewis book "Mere Christianity" did for me as I read it this morning.

"I hope no reader will suppose that "mere" Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creed of the existing communions---as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else. It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you do get into your room you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping. You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house. And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and panelling. In plain language, the question should never be: "Do I like that kind of service?" but "Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?"
When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then your are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house."

---posted by Queen Lucy

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tennyson This Morning

"My life has crept so long on a broken wing
Thro' cells of madness, haunts of horror and fear,
That I come to be grateful at last for a little thing..."

"It is better to fight for the good, than to rail at the ill...."

----posted by Queen Lucy

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A New Neighborhood

We are temporarily living in a new neighborhood. All the houses are neat and well kept, though some are a little shabby with age. The gates and fences around them are shiny and very high. If you walk around the fences it is hard to find the entrance gates or how to enter because the latches are missing. It is as if they are only opened from the inside.

At closer examination, there appears to be some tunnels between the houses. Certain paths beaten between neighbors, but even those paths have high and shiny fences lining them and there are no gates to those.

There is an apparent friendliness to the residents. If you are passing by, a few might come out of their yards and greet you in the usual pleasantries. Their best welcome is at their weekly meetings at the community clubhouse. Every week they gather together to say hello, to welcome new comers, to restate the community rules and to collect money for common projects.

At those weekly clubhouse meetings I am always looking to the current residents to ask me over. After all, I am the visitor, the newbie. I figure they will want to invite me to their homes and introduce me to one another and get to know me and my family. I want to find out what books they read, what interests they have, and what are the common goals of the community. Is there something here that we could contribute to or they could teach us? Is there some connections we have or ways that we can encourage one another in our life purposes. If we are to live in this community, what are its goals and vision for community life? And isn’t the current condition the manifestation of what that vision is and how it is being lived out?

Yet, after two months, after attending the weekly meetings, what I am discovering is more of a grief and woe to me than anything to induce me to want to keep living there. No one has ever invited me into their own home. No one comes out of their shiny fence to show me who they really are or to find out who I really am. The club meetings appear to be mainly social and to accomplish little to channel the people into community living. They have their groups that do meet, and there is no entrance into those unless you were there when they were originally forming. It seems I must knock on all the gates and fences and ask to be let in if I am to form any kind of relationship with these people that I would be living with if we settled here. And I know that if I did all the work, knocked on all the fences, invited all the residents to my home, we still would not be included into their social circles. It would be a rare thing to happen and I am not sure that is what I want at all. In fact, living here temporarily is causing me to consider what it is I really want and what I really think is right when it comes to community, especially for a Christian person.

What I am describing is indeed a Christian community otherwise called a church. And it is a grief to experience.

----posted by Queen Lucy

Monday, April 19, 2010

Count of Monte Cristo Book Review

Recently, I read the book the Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. The book opens with and follows the story of Edmond Dantes, a young man about to be married and named captain of his first vessel. He is betrayed by men he knew, and who hoped to gain from getting Edmond out of they way; one to become captain in his place, and the other to marry Mercedes, whom Edmond is engaged to. Edmond is arrested on his wedding day and taken to the judge. Edmond has a letter he obtained on his last voyage from the Isle of Elba where Napoleon is in exile. The captain as his dying wish had asked Edmond to get this letter for him. This was the cause for Edmond’s betrayal and the judge asked Edmond to give him this letter. The judge reads the letter and finds that it is addressed to his father who is a conspirator with Napoleon. The judge fearing that Edmond would find out his secret and ruin him condemns him to prison.

Edmond does not know what he is accused of or that he was going to prison until they reach the Chateau D’If, a prison built on an island. In prison he eventually meets another prisoner; an Abbe named Faria, who was attempting to escape by tunneling, but tunneled into Edmond’s cell instead. Faria teaches Edmond many things including how to read and write and speak other languages. Faria also deduces how and why Edmond was betrayed and who did it. The two men continue tunneling for their escape, but before they can finish Faria falls deathly ill. He tells Edmond of a vast treasure that his is buried on the island of Monte Cristo and how to get it before he dies. Edmond then escapes by sewing himself in Faria’s burial shroud, and when he is thrown into the sea he swims to a nearby island. He finds out that he has been in prison for fourteen years; he was nineteen when he was arrested and thirty-three when he escaped.

Edmond eventually goes to the small island of Monte Cristo and finds the massive treasure hidden there. Then he sets out to revenge himself on all those who made him suffer, using his new found wealth, which takes up only the last 1,200 pages of the book! He also uses his money to help those that had helped him and cared about his well being and his father’s.

This book shows to some extent that revenge is bad by the death of innocent people caused by Edmond’s actions. And Edmond also goes about his revenge by using the people’s own actions for their undoing. Edmond also thinks that he is doing God’s will in his revenge, reasoning that he escaped from prison and literally got rich quick to enforce and be God’s tool for justice against these men. For the most part the book’s story flowed well but it had quite a few sections that became hard to read, because they were slow and became boring. You can really see how selfish and sinful people can be in their ambition for themselves or others dear to them; and to what lengths they go to get others out of their way and cover up what they have done. Overall it was a well told story with a good plot that keeps you reading.

Posted by ME

Monday, March 29, 2010

Man Hunting is Not a Virtue, Part 2

My sons, you have the incredible God given privilege to someday be a picture of Christ. As a man, you will be given the opportunity to display Christ, His love, His sacrifice, His ongoing nurture, His proactive care for His Bride. If God grants you a virtuous woman someday and you have prepared yourself to be worthy of her, then you will get the delight of living Christ for her benefit and for the world to have a living epistle by your marriage. You will have the untold wonder of a beautiful union that will be a whisper of the marriage supper of the Lamb and a breath of our becoming one with Christ. This is a high calling, one worthy to prepare for, one challenging for even the best of men.

With such an important purpose ahead of you, remember the warning of 2 Timothy 2:4, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” You are the soldier of the LORD Jesus Christ. Do not let yourself be distracted from your goal and glory.

How can you be dissuaded from your high calling for just a few moments of attention from some young woman who is not to be your Bride? Do you think Christ allowed some other attraction to enter His thoughts or purpose? Do you think He gave into impurity so that His love for His Bride would be tainted in any way? Do you think He defrauded His Bride by some previous dalliance with anyone else?

As a man, you have to engage in warfare against the temptations common to your sex. Men love to want. They enjoy the art of desiring and longing after women. Men also enjoy the attention of women. They will receive those attentions of women skilled in man hunting and then excuse themselves by saying they (the men) are not guilty because they were not pursuing or engaging the woman, only receiving the attention offered as if that meant they were not present and involved in the whole incident.

You must have a higher standard than that if you are going to fulfill your duties as a Christian man. You must reject the arguments that are made such as, “It is nothing; we were just talking,” and ones likely to cover up what is in your heart. You cannot claim innocence if you allow young women to hover around you seeking attention or giving it. You must determine to live better, to live more holy lives in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

I know that many of the young ladies are not instructed in godly behavior. I understand that they many not even know that they are man hunting because all they see is that everyone else interacts that way. I certainly see that they do not have the appearance of “evil”, if you will, but nevertheless when they are placing themselves before you in the hopes of being noticed or getting to notice you, then they are acting, as Proverbs describes, the behavior of strange women and you must extricate yourself from such situations.

The Scriptures give young men stern warning about these very kinds of interactions with women. “Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths; for she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men. Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7:25-27) This is a stark warning to those who think they can “stray into her paths” and survive. It cautions that even wandering near her can lead to your demise. The previous victims were all strong men WHO WERE SLAIN.

In the same chapter from Proverbs we learn this: “With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him. Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, till an arrow struck his liver, as a bird hastens to the snare, he did not know it would cost his life.”

A man who welcomes, receives, and encourages any and all man hunting

is forfeiting his life. If he loves a woman’s flattering lips and enticing speech and flirtatious interactions, he is as an ox going to the slaughter. He is basically giving himself over to her will and losing his own.

Over and over again men are gravely warned about the consequences of letting their hearts and lust overtake them and giving themselves to the clutches of an evil woman. Proverbs says that such a man will lose his honor, his wealth, his labors, his flesh and body will be consumed, and he will fall into the depths of hell.

And again, Proverbs tells the young men to stay as far away as possible from such women: “Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house…” “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here; and as for him who lacks understanding, she says to him, ‘stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’ But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of hell.”

So whether or not you believe it all to be harmless, take heed to the warnings of Scriptures and of your parents who love you dearly. Avoid such folly at all costs. I cannot help that most men and fathers have never learned to do this very thing so they cannot teach their own sons. In fact, the fathers of the young ladies who are man hunters are not teaching their daughters to refrain from such behavior either. We have seen some fathers who actually take pride in the attention their daughters are able to get from their man hunting.

For this reason and many more, you must be vigilant to watch your eyes, always talk with young ladies in a polite manner, and leave the conversation if there is any digression into flirting styles. Do not allow yourself to have any media contact with females: no texting, phoning, or internet relationships at all. Refrain from singling out any young lady for your particular attention or from receiving her attention. And most of all, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) You have to learn to exercise wisdom in each and every situation that arises so that you can live with a clear conscience before God.

Train yourself not to even THINK about a young lady in a romantic way until you have done these things first: prepare yourself spiritually and financially to take on a wife, discuss it with us to seek our counsel, and then ask permission of her father or guardian to get to know her better with the intent that you will quickly discern if she and you are a good fit. We do not want you dallying with the heart or affections of another person without the intention of carrying through on a relationship.

It is your responsibility to see to it that you are in no way guilty of encouraging any young lady wrongly and thus you can be free of condemnation before God in these matters. We are not to allow even a hint of immorality in our lives and yet DAILY in Christian circles active man hunting occurs and men enjoy the role of prey.

Wise men will still use Proverbs 31 as a guide in searching for a virtuous bride. In it King Lemuel’s mother instructs him to be wise and what to look for when searching for a suitable wife. See, mothers know what women are like and want to warn their sons to stay away from the wrong kind of women and instead to turn their hearts toward God and what a godly woman looks like. Wise men will turn away from the paths of any and every strange woman. In our day that means you will have to find a very narrow way because the paths are wide and filled with man hunting and sin. But the narrow way is the one to choose after all.

-----posted by Queen Lucy

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Want My Sunday Stranger

To my dear aunt Lovisa Haney,

I am writing this letter to you so that you may know what has happened to me since I left the ranch after uncle Herber beat me for racing Sunday. As I hope you would know by now, my horse Sunday was stolen by soldiers in the Confederate army.
Two men by the names of Porfirio and Juan Sanchez took me east into Mexico. While in one of the towns there, I found out the name of the man who took Sunday. It was Jefferson Coleraine. I continued following Coleraine’s trail, but I could never seem to catch up to him. I eventually met a photographer who wanted to take photos of the battles so people could see how battles were really horrific bloody things instead of these glorious things that people were always thinking they were.
After one battle I heard President Abraham Lincoln give a speech that started with words like “Four score and seven years ago.” This was his Gettysburg address. I eventually found my horse Sunday. He had been picked up by some poor farmers after he had been shot in the leg and ran from the battle. I decided to let the farmers keep Sunday and I am returning as soon as the railroad is built. Please keep my sisters safe.

Sincerely your nephew,
Andrew Laney

--posted by Princess Ann

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Worshipping a Great God

"It is a fact of Christian history that those who are consciously worshipping a great God do not find that worship services lasting two or three hours are a bore; on the contrary, they are experienced as a joy. That was true in the seventeenth century, as it is true today. By comparison, the modern Western passion for services lasting not more than sixty minutes raises the suspicion that both our God and our own spiritual statues are rather small."
---J.I.Packer, "A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life" p. 334.

------posted by Queen Lucy

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Couponing update

I have discovered in my conversations with some other women that there are misconceptions about couponing. For example, some think that if you only buy generic that somehow coupon strategies will not improve your savings. When you learn to use stacking and store incentives and are willing to buy name brands at incredible bargains, you can save money even off a budget that primarily buys generic or store brands.

For instance: I usually buy Kirkland brand liquid laundry soap. For my time, volume of laundry, and cost, that was the best. Kirkland laundry soap sells for $13.79 for 170 ounces. That is 8 cents per ounce. With coupon stacking and store incentives, I got a 50 ounce bottle of Purex laundry soap for $1.99. That is 4 cents per ounce. I was able to get 4 bottles of Purex at that price. That is where doing your homework can definitely save you even more money.

Also the other questions are about the coupon themselves. Some people buy one or two Sunday papers to get the coupons in the inserts. If you just buy the Sunday paper and honestly use the coupons, I think over time it could easily pay for itself. However there are also quite a few online coupon sources. I have had a very difficult time getting those to print. We have only just discovered it is because we have the newer Windows Vista on our computer and the printer downloads are not recognizing our computer. So if you have an older version of Windows you should do better than I have.

Another concern is having to cut all these coupons out, cart them to the store, try and figure out what the best deal is, etc. There are two ways to improve this. First there are a cazillion blogs out there devoted to just certain stores in particular areas of the country that tell you what the best deals are for that week. I use ones that list Fred Meyer's, Albertson's, Rite Aid, and Target deals. If you go to the original site I and click on the grocery store or national store menu spots, you will end up at some of these blogs. They give you what coupons,and with what items for that week you should use. Some stores let you load your store loyalty cards with all your coupons off the internet.

I am still learning. But I saved 20% off our household budget last month and will definitely keep working to refine the techniques that will enable me to continue doing that. I hope you try some of this and spread the news. Economically, no matter what the "experts" are saying, if the federal government keeps printing money and spending it as rapidly as they did in the last year, we are going to see inflation skyrocket and we will have more tightening of our belts. (Remember that when the government does that they are stealing the wealth of its citizens!)

P.S. I added the BeCentsAble to my links list!

---posted by Queen Lucy

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pride and persecution

I recently saw a friend of mine that lives in another town. She and her husband are experiencing some ongoing persecution within their circumstances. This quote from Baxter is for her and anyone else who is faced with the same.
"Those that are tainted with pride, uncharitableness, and schism, will itch to be persecuting those that comply not with them in their way; and yet, while they do it, they will most cry out against pride, uncharitableness, and schism themselves."

---posted by Queen Lucy

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I saved the April 22, 2009 Food section of the Spokesman-Review. This week I actually followed up on the article about how to save money on household supplies and groceries. The article was about two women who began learning and then educating others about how to use coupons, store incentives, and manufacturers programs to cut their household spending in half. I have had this on my "to do" list, obviously, for awhile. Through their website you can take their online workshops, three for $20 which also gets you a membership on their site. Or you can find a live workshop, many here in the northwest, but apparently some educators are giving them in other areas too. For me, online means I can do it at my own pace and at midnight when everyone else is in bed and I can concentrate!

I have only finished one class so far. Last week I began putting their strategies to work. I do my BIG grocery shopping once every two weeks. Since I am just starting, I did not expect to do too well. But here are my results from one week: I bought $80 worth of groceries at Albertson's for $30.06. Then at Fred Meyer I saved another $64.04. So for a $20 investment into their classes, I saved $114.04. I figure that is a great return on my investment. And if I can just save that every two weeks, my total for the month is a $200 savings. Granted, I am feeding and buying supplies for 11 people. Your family may be smaller and not be spending as much as we do, but if you even save 20 percent on your groceries that would be great! I still have two more of the beginners classes to go through. And then I am going to have to keep learning to change how I shop, how I menu plan, and when I get on the computer. I estimate now that if I spend just one hour on Mondays checking the websites, printing out coupons, and making lists for shopping I think that should cover what I will need to do to keep up with this. As I work it more, I will let you know. But for now, I am sold and wanted to share it with you all. If you have always heard about those women who go to the store and buy $500 in groceries for $75, then this is where to start.

This has become essential to our survival. Last week I also went to get some pine shavings for our rabbit shed. The package used to be 5 cu.ft. and is now 3 cu.ft. and the price has gone from $4.99 to $6.29. Do the math: that is a 100% increase. So much for 4% inflation that the government keeps lying about. Hope this info will help some of you find ways to beat 30-40% average inflation at the stores.

----posted by Queen Lucy