Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Bear with me, this is going to be a long one, but stay focused, because this is important!
Recently someone on one of the posting boards I'm on wrote to say that she was reading the book, The Shack, and that there were things in it that were unsettling to her, "red flags". She was reading for someone else's benefit, so that will explain the context of my answer back to her. Some of it has been edited for readability.
Here is my response to her, and might be my final word on the book THE SHACK.
I would say that you are right todiscern that when "red flags" go up you'd better take notice. That's the HolySpirit within you saying, "UH UH - that's not right!" I wouldn't finish that book for anyone - period!
My husband and I have spent hours talking about this book that neither of us have read. I began reading a review about the book on www.Challies.com, at the recommendation of my precious husband, after all the hype I'd been hearing about it. First and foremost, when I read that in The Shack God the Father was portrayed as an older African American woman, Christ as a laid back middle-easterner, and the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman, "Red Flags" don't even begin to describe the feelings that came up within me. I am disgusted by this blatant blasphemy! God has revealed Himself quite clearly in His WORD as He is, and He doesn't need anyone else to change His character in order to try to reach out to others, or make them feel better. I literally had to take a day off before Icould read anymore of the review because of my sick stomach and grieved Spirit over what I'd already read.
If one wants to see how God reveals Himself in the midst of suffering, guess what, HE has written an entire book about it, that reveals Him as He is - High and Lifted Up! Send your wondering friends and family members to read the book of Job.
If we become angry and/or embittered towards God in our sufferings, it is because of sin and pride in our own lives that have made us that way. God does not need us to create "new revelations" in order to make Him more palatable to others.
Now, before you start throwing rotten tomatoes and fruit at me for being "judgmental", let me tell you that I have experienced first hand the pain and loss of a child, in real life, not in the land of "make believe". I know what it feels like to question WHY??? What did I do? Why us? Why her? Why me? Notice carefully how focused those questions are on myself, because that is the key to all of this. It is not until we can say of God, just like Job, in Job 1:20-21 "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshiped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." When we get the focus off of ourselves and look instead to the ways that God might be glorified even in the midst of our pain and suffering, then we are moving towards truly knowing God.
I have had countless opportunities in the last 13 years since Kathryn died to go to hurting families - people I didn't even know - in hospitals, at funeral homes, and in church pews where they grieved as though they would never survive the pain. Each and every time, I have prayed before going and acknowledged God's ultimate sovereignty by saying,"Lord, if my Kathryn died for such a time as this, help me to minister your peace and your grace to this family." Bad things happen because of sin in theWorld, Satan is at work among the things in this world, but he (Satan) ultimately answers to God, and that is where our hope can be found. Nothing happens in my life, or yours, that did not come first through the approval of God the Father. Who, by the way is a male figure, a Spirit, and the head of the Godhead. He is not human, and no man can dare look upon Him, much less speak to Him with profanity, as the main character, Mack, does in this book The Shack.
Can you tell that this book has REALLY gotten under my skin?
I've suffered the loss of a child. It stinks, it's horrible, it's indescribable, you wouldn't wish it on anyone else - EVER. But, I learned who my God truly is during this time of horrific sadness. I sought him, not in the place where my daughter died, not in my self focused despair, but within the pages of His Holy Word. And, I found Him there, High and Lifted Up where the train of His robe fills the temple, where the elders fall on their faces day and night shouting Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty! I clung to the scripture that revealed to me a God who is able to take something truly awful and use it for our ultimate good (though we may never see it this side of heaven) and always for His glory. As I clung to the Word, this loving, Holy, amazing God of ours showed me glimpses of who He truly is. John 17:3 says, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Thetrue God, is the only one I want to know! He is nothing like He is portrayed in The Shack.
It is absolutely imperativethat we be discerning and that we teach our children to be discerning, that is why we homeschool using the scriptures! We have a gold standard, it is theWord, and anything that portrays God in any other way is heresy, plain and simple. 2Ti 4:1 - 4 says, " I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
If any of you are interested in reading the review that I read, it's available as a free PDF document at http://www.challies.com/media/The_Shack.pdf This is a VERY thorough review of the book using Scripture as the standard against which it is weighed. The document is 17 pages long. He has read the book himself (bless his heart) and has certainly done his homework in preparing this review for others.
Anyone wishing to know more about the loss of our daughter can read a little about it through the following links to my blog http://homeforhim.blogspot.com/2008/01/tragedy-for-family-of-rick-burgess.html and http://homeforhim.blogspot.com/2007/10/how-we-came-to-adopt.html I would be more than happy to discuss these issues privately with anyone who is struggling. I also have a CD available of a talk my husband and I gave about a year ago at a local church for their sermon series "Shattered... Broken LivesRestored". If you're not from the South, you'll have to overlook our obvious Southern drawls. :O)
I'd say that about sums it up!
Loving you, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Monday, August 25, 2008
This requires that I be put to sleep, which I never like, but I did well the first time I had this done a couple of weeks ago.
I covet your prayers for a successful procedure, and for my family as they once again wait on me for a few days.
In Christ's care,
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I actually wanted to warn you about this book, and to encourage you to be aware of its growing popularity among "Christians". This book puts much emphasis on "new revelation", and on sick and twisted views of our High and Holy God.
I think it is important that all Believers be aware of the items of popular culture, that have the ability to confuse and blind professing believers and non-Chrisitans alike. Many who've read the book are buying multiple copies and giving them out to their friends - saved and lost, in hopes of encouraging them to seek God and to help them to know him more.
Knowing God is the most important thing a person can ever hope for in this life. So important that John wrote, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." John 17:3 I too wish to encourage others to seek God while He may be found, I'd suggest looking for Him in the pages of His Word, the Bible, not in works of fiction.
I have not read this book and would consider reading it, to be more informed about the actual content, a waste of the precious days God has allowed me here on earth. You can read reviews at http://www.amazon.com/review/product/0964729245/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_1?%5Fencoding=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar
Be aware, and beware,
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I am thankful to have lived another year, and hope for many more years to serve my God, love my husband, and cherish my children (oh, and don't forget my dog!)!
So, Happy Birthday to ME!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Are there any other "little" things in my life that are causing pain? Do I have any habits or sins in my life that seem small, but are really causing a lot of pain to myself or others? Many times our "little" sins don't seem to be anything we want to discuss. We have the tendency to think that one little area of sin that I keep to myself is not really that big of a deal. Right? Wrong! Any sin that remains in our lives damages our relationship to Christ, injures our relationships with others, and hinders our ability to minister to those who do not believe. Yes, I feel like Paul when I do those things I hate, and don't do what I know I should. Many times I've felt the same way he did when he said, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" And I too thank God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:14-25)
The following is an article from Teach Magazine's email newsletter. It came today, and I thought this particular article was really nice. I asked Lorrie Flem (the editor) if I might share it with those in my blog world and she said "Yes!" So, here it is! This newsletter was all about different types of hospitality, and having been one who's spent lots of time in hospitals with family members, I know how much the things in this particular article mean to someone in that position. Visiting others in the hospital can be an uncomfortable experience for some people, but it doesn't have to be. The article is copyright 2008 - Teach Magazine and is entitled "Hospital Hospitality". Enjoy! And visit their website, for more wonderful articles on Homemaking and Homeschooling. www.TEACHmagazine.com
TEACHing Tips - Hospital Hospitality
By Donna Venning
When you hear of a friend or church member that is in the hospital, many of us offer to make meals to bring to their home. It's awesome to see Christians ministering to each other this way (or even better, ministering to non-believing neighbors & co-workers!). But in addition to the meal-at-home idea, I want to challenge you to consider a few things to do while someone is in the hospital. This is often a very trying time for the other family members, who may be spending long hours at the hospital, many days in a row. With that in mind, here are some suggestions geared toward showing care and concern for the patient's family.
MEALS: Meals at hospitals can be expensive. Package up a bag or basket of sandwiches, bottled water, nuts, fruit and other non-refrigerated items and deliver it to the family at the hospital. Many hospital waiting rooms have microwaves, too, so you could even take soup or other dishes that just need a little heating up. Consider many of the "prepared and ready to eat" type of things that you can purchase at the store: no longer just the traditional "cup of soup," you can now purchase pastas and even desserts that simply require the person to heat, eat and toss the container. Don't forget to bring some plastic utensils.
ADD-INS: My stepmother (who has spent more than her fair share of time in hospital waiting rooms) said that she has found that keeping a journal during this time was helpful. Consider putting a journal into the basket with the meals: the journal can be used for the family to write their thoughts or even to keep track of the medical concerns and treatments that the physicians discuss with them. Other thoughtful items to put into the basket: small bible, devotional book or magazine. Offer to lend your Walkman or Portable DVD player (along with a few movies) if you have one. If you have a small tape recorder, offer that to the family: they may want to record what the doctor says when he stops by (see next suggestion).
SIT & WAIT: Waiting for the doctor to stop by and check on the patient is one of the most frustrating parts about being in the hospital. You just never know when they'll make their rounds. Because the patient might be on pain-killers or other medication, family members want to be present in case the doctor shows up. You can call the family and ask if you can some sit with the patient for a while so they can go do errands or get out for a little bit. That way, if the doctor happens to stop by, you can be the coherent ear to gather info. Make sure that if needed, the family member tells the nurse that you have permission to be in the room when the doctor stops by (because of privacy laws, this verbal permission may be needed in order for non-family members to be present when the physician is there.)
CHILDCARE: Does the patient have children at home? Perhaps you could offer to keep the kids for the day or even over night. If you know of other families that the "hospital" family trusts for childcare, you may consider organize a baby-sitting rotation or at least gather names and availability and pass that to the family.
PET CARE: Many of us think to help out with kids, but what about pets? Some people without children have pets that need care (and yes, Dad, this comment is written on your behalf!) Offer to stop by and feed, walk or "let out" the pet. If possible, offer to bring the pet to your home for a few days.
PARKING FEES: Most of the hospitals in my area charge for parking by the hour. If this is the case in your area, stop by the hospital and drop off an envelope at the nurses' station or volunteer station with $20 in it (writing the patient's or their family members name & room number on it). Include a note saying "Praying for you. Park on us!" Don't sign your name. . .anonymity can be a fun thing!
CALL BEFORE VISITING: Would the family like company or would they prefer that you simply drop off your meal, your flowers, etc and leave? If the best thing for the patient is rest, then be considerate. Staying to visit may seem like the most hospitable thing to do, but in reality, a brief ten minute visit may be all that the patient (or family) can take. Tell the family to be honest and let you know their needs. If they don't want visitors but you really want to bring them a meal or care basket, then drop your items off at the nurses' station with a note telling the family you're praying for them.
And speaking of prayers, in addition to praying for the family, ask them if there is anyone they would like you to call or email with an update or prayer request. When my father was recently in the hospital, my stepmother didn't make it to church for three Sundays in a row, but she asked that I fill out a "prayer request" for our church bulletin each week so that others could be praying.
ASK & LISTEN: Call your friend just to talk. Begin the conversation by saying "I was just calling to chat. Is this a good time?" This way, if they're in a "waiting period" they can fill the time talking with you but it also gives them the chance to say "no" if it isn't a convenient time. Let them talk about what's going on or about the weather-whatever they need. Sometimes, the waiting goes on and on, and a conversation with a friend is just what the doctor ordered (for the family, not the patient!). Be supportive and caring, but let them guide the conversation. Don't force them to talk about the medical concerns if they don't want to, but do ask how they are doing. It's tempting for many people to answer that question with "Fine. I'm fine." Instead, try asking "Have you been able to get some rest?" or "Have you been able to have some reading time?" or something more specific like that. Chances are they need to talk about how they are doing, but sometimes feel guilty, like they should only be concerned about the ill family member. Asking specifics about them, without pressing, can be a relief for them. And finally, don't ask if there is "anything" you can do to help. Many people say "Call me if I can do anything" but very rarely will the other person call. Instead, be specific. Ask "Can I stop by your house and water your plants?" Have a few specific suggestions in mind before you call so that you are prepared to offer. Chances are you'll get taken up on a specific request whereas general offers are usually declined.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Just a quick update, and reminder to please pray for me, the doctors, and my family.
I am scheduled for the spinal block on Wednesday the 13th, at 11:00 am.
So, I thought I'd make a quick post letting everyone know what's going on in our part of the world, and hopefully the next time I post I'll be in less pain.
Sarah Beth went for her 6 month follow-up at the International Adoption Medical Clinic last week. Her health is great, her growth is great (sister loves to eat!), she's had the second round of re-vacinations, and developmentally she's beginning to catch up. The only thing we continue to have problems with is the delayed speech, but I'm not concerned about that - it will catch up eventually. Lord knows we talk to her all the time. She talks alot, just not much that we can understand! :O)
We started back to homeschooling the week after Fourth of July, so Anna now has 5 weeks of the 6th grade behind her. She is doing well, really enjoying her studies this year, and working independently most of the time. For those of you who are new to homeschooling, don't know much about it, or think - "that's not for me!", I'll give you a brief look inside the lives of this homeschooling family...
First of all, we also own our own business and I spend approximately 5-6 hours a week doing the paperwork/bookkeeping/payroll end of the business for my husband. I used to do all of my work on Wednesday mornings, but have had to begin breaking up my work to keep from being on the computer for long periods of time because my back just can't take it. So now, I do a little on Monday, Tuesday, and finish things up on Wednesday. So, school is usually light loaded on Wednesdays, and that becomes a largely "Home Ec" focused day as Anna puts her skills to work helping me out caring for Sarah Beth, preparing breakfast and lunch, and picking up and putting away after "Hurricane Sarah" goes down for a nap. Then she begins her schoolwork while Sarah sleeps. One of the most important things I've learned as we homeschool is that homeschooling is NOT like "school at home". It is totally different! Life is our school, we are constantly in class, we are always learning. Now, that doesn't mean we don't do math and language, history and science, and all the other important things, we do, but life is our most important teacher and we take total advantage of every minute of it.
Other homeschoolers especially are always interested to know what a typical day looks like for other families. No two days look alike, but here's a peak into a typical day at our home. We usually get up around 7:30 or so, depending on what we've done the night before. (Meaning sometimes we sleep a little later!) That is probably my favorite thing about homeschooling. I don't have to wake tired children (not to mention ME!), and then scream at them for an hour trying to get everyone ready and out of the house. My most used words when Anna was in "regular school" was "HURRY UP!" It's so nice not to have that pressure anymore. We get up, and we have breakfast, and I put in a load of laundry, feed and dress the baby, etc... Anna usually does her Bible study first, and I spend my quiet time out on the screened in porch studying God's Word first thing. Then we settle in for "table time". Table time is when we do our grammar lessons, go over Anna's assignments for the day, and discuss the details of what she can do on her own and the things she will need to work with me on. Anna completes all that she can do independently first. Then, while the baby naps, we work together as needed and she gets online to do her math. We are currently using Aleks.com for her math, and we love it! It has been a GOD SEND! Math has been our greatest struggle, until now! Usually while the baby naps, I catch a nap too, and use my portable "tens" unit on my back (an electrical stimulation device that is used on my back) to help with the pain. By the time the baby gets up, Anna's done with her work, I've had a little time to relax and refresh and we're ready to finish out the day before Daddy comes home. We might run some errands at this point, or we might run some in the morning. Anna usually spends some time in the afternoon playing or watching some t.v. with Sarah Beth. After dinner, we usually recap the day with Daddy and it gives her a chance to showcase her work and keep him up to date on what she's learning. We are using a program for Bible study and writing known as S.O.W. (Student of the Word), which focuses on the study of scripture. Writing assignments are centered around the scripture being studied. So far this year, we have already been through a study of the book of Mark and we are now working on the book of James.
Homeschooling is a wonderful life, we love it, and wouldn't go back to doing things the old way ever, unless the Lord tells me to. If you've ever considered homeschooling for your family I would really recommend you give it a try. It's not as hard as you might think, and the rewards of a family who's close together is worth any struggles you encounter. So, if you've ever entertained the thought, I would love to talk to anyone who's considering homeschooling. I have a fabulous reading list I could recommend for you.
God's richest blessings on you and your families,
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Since I fell in April, my back just can't take too much time on the computer at once. Not only that, I have this new little addition that we have affectionately nicknamed "Hurricane Sarah!" She can do more "damage" in the blink of an eye than you could imagine!
I am scheduled to have a spinal block in about two weeks. I had an MRI which determined that I have a large herniation in my cervical spine that is flattening the hemicord and affecting the nerve rootend. Gee, I told them I was in pain!!! Seems now we all know why!
Anyway, I covet your prayers as I undergo this procedure, and hope to be back in blog world before you know it.
God's richest blessings,