Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Khloie Update ~ Praises!

Where do I even begin? 
I have become a terribly lax blogger.  Blame corn harvest; blame the number of doctor's visits...
nah, just blame me for not making the time.  
But this little update is well worth it! 
So much has happened in the last week.

First, Khloie had her sedated MRI 10 days ago.
I was a little nervous taking her by myself since it was her first experience with anesthesia since coming home.  But she did awesome!
Then she had eye surgery 5 days ago. 

She was scheduled for a bi-lateral rectus recession for infantile esotropia (crossed eyes).
The surgery only lasted an hour, and Little Miss recovered well, so we left the hospital within a few hours and with noticeable change!

This picture was taken 2 days after surgery!  She just has this glow about her.  We've even seen improvement in her motor skills since surgery.

Then on Friday we met her neurologist to discuss the MRI results.  We were believing for a miracle.  We serve an awesome God!!!
In Dr. Norman's words: "She is a miracle baby."  Here MRI images are frightening, to say the least.  They confirm extensive brain damage due to 'an event' either pre-birth or soon after.  So much so that such an event would typically render her unable to walk or talk and would certainly affect her vision.  The miracle is that her brain has compensated and re-wired to perform these functions in other areas of the brain that are not damaged.
She still has the diagnosis of CP, and the good news is that it is not progressive!  We should not expect to see diminished physical function!  She might experience learning difficulties and have to work extra hard in school.  But truly, she is a miracle!
Thank you, JESUS!!!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Reason for God ~ Chapter 10 ~ The Problem of Sin

Ni Hao Yall

Here is the summary from Stefanie's blog:

Keller warns us right from the start that this chapter is not for the faint of heart. And he is right. “It is hard to avoid the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with the world,” Keller says. (p. 165)

Sin and Human Hope

Keller argues, “Many have the impression that the Christian doctrine of sin is bleak and pessimistic about human nature.” (p. 166) He says it is really the opposite; with the knowledge we are sinners comes hope because we are not “…simply the helpless victim of psychological drives or social systems.” (p. 166) Keller quotes Simone Weil as saying of sin, “All sins are attempts to fill voids.” He also quotes Barbara Brown Taylor’s agreement with Weil, “Because we cannot stand the God-shaped hole inside of us, we try stuffing it full of all sorts of things, but only God may fill [it].” (p. 166). Once we realize pride is the antithesis of hope, we also begin to realize we cannot save ourselves through our own efforts, Andrew Delbanco writes. (p. 167) Only by viewing our life through the prism of sin do we see our shortcomings in perspective, are willing to forgive others, while also “… Humbly seek[ing] and receive[ing] forgiveness from others.” (p. 168)

The Meaning of Sin

Kierkegaard, according to Keller, defined sin and faith like this: “Sin is: in despair not wanting to be oneself with God… Faith is: that the self in being itself and wanting to be itself is grounded transparency in God.” (p. 168) Keller references Kierkegaard’s assertion we are created for four things: to believe in God, to love God, to focus our life on God and to identify with God. “Anything other than this is sin,” per Keller (p. 168) The Bible defines sin as, “…not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things.” (p. 168)

So, what is the defining force you rely on to give your life meaning? Keller says whatever you base your worth upon will be what you deify; and it will look, when viewed from the outside, as worship, passion and devotion — the essentials of religion. (p. 169) Keller again quotes Kierkegaard: “Every person must find some way to “justify their existence,” and stave off the universal fear that they’re a bum.” (p. 170)

The Personal Consequences of Sin

How can sin be destructive to us? Keller says, “Identity apart from God is inherently unstable. Without God, our sense of worth may seem solid on the surface, but it never is — it can desert you in a moment.”(pp. 170-71) He also says, “If anything threatens your identity you will not just be anxious but paralyzed with fear… Only if your identity is built on God and His love, says Kierkegaard, can you have a self that can venture anything, face anything.” (p. 171)

Keller says, “An identity not based on God also leads inevitably to deep forms of addiction.” (p. 172) He continues, “If we take our meaning in life from our family, our work, a cause, or some achievement other than God, they enslave us. We have to have them… As in all addiction, we are in denial about the degree to which we are controlled by our god-substitutes. And inordinate love creates inordinate, uncontrollable anguish if anything goes wrong with the object of our greatest hopes.” (p. 172)

Keller again quotes Simone Weil while describing what happens when we are struggling with idols. Weil says, “One only has a choice between God and idolatry. If one denies God… one is worshipping some things of this world in the belief that one sees them only as such, but in fact, though unknown to oneself imagining the attributes of Divinity in them.” (p. 17

“A life not centered on God leads to emptiness,” Keller continues, “Building our lives on something besides God not only hurts us if we don’t get the desires of our hearts, but also if we do.” (p. 173)

The Social Consequences of Sin

“… Jonathan Edwards lays out how sin destroys the social fabric. He argues that human society is deeply fragmented when anything but God is our highest love,” Keller says. Edwards also says that only if God is the epitome and center of our lives will we be drawn to others and the world. (p. 175) Worshipping anything other than God “…means we must despise and demonized the opposition,” Keller argues. (p. 175) Since we must necessarily put down and attack as evil the polar opposite of our worship, Keller says, “The real culture war is taking place inside our own disordered hearts, wracked by inordinate desires for things that control us, that lead us to feel superior and exclude those without them, and that fail to satisfy us even when we get them.” (pp. 175-76)

The Cosmic Consequences of Sin

“The Bible even more comprehensively (and more mysteriously) about the effects of sin…,” Keller says. He further argues that the Book of Genesis is unique because it relates a universe created in harmony with multiple life forms and an Earth perfectly suited for maintaining the synergy — shalom. This he contrasts with physical science and other ancient religions which employ the use of violence in creation. What changed the world from conformity, unity and tranquility into the one of violence, disunity and disillusionment we see now? “… as soon as we determined to serve ourselves instead of God–as soon as we abandoned living for and enjoying God as our highest good… the entire warp and woof of the world unraveled. Disease, genetic disorders, famine, natural disasters, aging, and death itself are as much the result of sin as are oppression, war, crime, and violence. We have lost God’s shalom,” Keller postulates. (p. 177)

Who Can Put It Right?

Keller says, “At some point in our lives, we are confronted with the fact that we are not the persons we know we should be.” (p. 177) So what must we do? Keller says we have two choices we can attempt to try harder or, as C.S. Lewis states, “The almost impossibly hard thing is to hand over your whole self to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is remain what we call “ourselves” — our personal happiness centered on money or pleasure of ambition — and hoping, despite this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you cannot do. If I am a grass field — all the cutting will keep the grass less but won’t produce wheat. If I want wheat… I must be plowed up and re-sown.” (p. 178)

Keller asks, “Does that scare you? Does it sound stifling? Remember this — if you don’t live for Jesus you will live for something else.” (p. 179)

He continues, “Whatever you base your life on — you have to live up to that. Jesus is the one Lord you can live for who died for you — who breathed his last breath for you.” (p. 179)

Keller concludes, “Everybody has to live for something. Whatever that something becomes “Lord of your life,” whether you think of it that way or not. Jesus is the only Lord who, if you receive him, will fulfill you completely, and, if you fail him, will forgive you eternally.” (p. 179)

Question: Keller includes the following quote from Simone Weil in this chapter: “One has only the choice between God and idolatry.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

*My Response*
Based on John 1:3, I have to agree ~ Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
Because I was made by God and for God, to choose anything but God is idolatry.  
It took nearly a third of my life to come to this realization.  And believe me, it's a daily struggle within my heart, because although I surrendered all to Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was 36, I still long for many things of the world.  
Some of my deepest sin pitfalls are not even tangible ~ things like pride, selfishness and conformity.
All the trying-to-be-a-better person will come to a dead end until I am confronted and deal with my sin nature.  There was a time when I chose the Jesus Smorgasbord: a little of this; a lot of that; none of that...and then I realized I wanted Jesus... but not all of Him.  I didn't want Him to deal with my sin.  At that moment He changed me from the inside out.   

This statement in the chapter resonates with me: …not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things.” I can easily turn 'serving' into my god.  Or 'teaching'.  Or 'fighting for a cause.'  Those may all be great things, but they are not the Greatest.  I have to constantly rein in my heart, striving to live only for my heavenly Father, keeping perspective and letting everything else take its rightful place.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

This Week

Things will change forever for Khloie this week.

 Her eye surgery is scheduled for Thursday.
Dr. T is doing a medial rectus recession - bilateral.
Basically that means he will remove the muscles from her eyes and move them backward to allow her eyes to come into a straighter position.

We are so grateful for Dr. T and so excited that Khloie will be able to see without so much effort.

However, our family has come to love  our beautiful baby-of-the-family, and her appearance will be different.

She will still be the one who wears everyone else's shoes around the house, tries to wear everyone else's clothes, and yells, "Mommmaaayyyy," when someone is in her space.

And maybe she will walk with confidence without running into things

No matter what, she will be our beautiful Khloie-bug!

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Reason for God ~ Chapter Nine ~ The Knowledge of God (and a conversation)

Ni Hao Yall

Here is the summary from Stefanie's blog:
Followed by my response, which includes a conversation my husband had yesterday.

In his argument against the view many traditionalists and religious speakers have of “relativistic and amoral” youth, Keller says, “The secular, young adults I have known have a very finely honed sense of right and wrong.” (p. 149)

Keller goes on to note, “people still have strong moral convictions, but unlike people in other times and places, they don’t have any visible basis for why they find some things evil and other things good.” (p. 150)

He says there is a radical reason, “I think people in our culture know unavoidably that there is a God, but they are repressing what they know.” (p. 151) No one, Keller says, can maintain a constant moral relativism because, “The answer is that we all have a pervasive, powerful, and unavoidable belief not only in moral values but also in moral obligation.” (p.151)

In defining morals, Keller quotes Sociologist Christian Smith, “‘Moral’…is an orientation toward understandings about what is right or wrong, just and unjust, that are not established by our own actual desires or preferences but instead are believed to exist apart from them, providing standards by which our desires and preferences can themselves be judged.” (p. 152). Keller continues to say that although we are taught moral relativism, “we can’t live like that. In actual practice we inevitably treat some principles as absolute standards by which we judge the behavior of those who don’t share our values.” (p. 152)

So, why do we believe moral standards exist despite our bent toward morals being relative to culture, individuals and communities? Keller says, “We do not only have moral feelings, but we also have an ineradicable belief that moral standards exist, outside of us, by which our internal moral feelings are evaluated.” (pp. 152-153)

Keller presents the argument in which evolutionary psychologists and sociobiologists believe altruism somehow benefited previous societies and so the altruistic gene survived. However, Keller presents three reasons why this simply cannot be. First, if self-sacrificing toward your community group benefits your society, then hostility to all outside groups would be equally just morally; yet we do not see this. Second, altruism brings some sort of “indirect reciprocal benefit to the practitioner from others,” but what about when no one observes the behavior? Finally, some argue altruism somehow benefits entire societies which flies in the face of the same who agree natural selection does not occur across whole populations. (p. 154)

“Evolution, therefore, cannot account for the origin of our moral feelings, let alone for the fact that we all believe there are external moral standards by which moral feelings are evaluated,” Keller postulates. (p. 154)

Keller defines cultural relativism by using the words of Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, “a view that all moral beliefs are culturally created and there is no basis for objectively judging one culture’s morality to be better than another.” (p. 154) If this is the case, then the idea of universal human rights is also true; what right do we have to impose our values on a different culture? (p. 155)

Human rights, Michael J. Perry says, is “the twofold conviction that every human being has inherent dignity and that it is obligatory that we order our lives in accordance with this fact.” (p. 156) From where does this dignity derive itself? Some say from God and some from nature. If God created us in His image then we have inherent value. If from nature, then human nature would have benefited from certain behaviors being right. Nature is inherently violent so the argument for natural dignity argues against from whence it supposedly derived. Others argue it comes about because of majority or plurality. “If there is no God, argues Nietzsche, Sartre, and others, there can be no good reason to be kind, to be loving, or to work for peace,” Keller quotes. (p. 158) On the opposite side, “If there is no God, then there is no way to say any one action is ‘moral’ and another ‘immoral’ but only ‘I like this.’ If that is the case, who gets the right to put their subjective, arbitrary, moral feelings into law?” Keller asks. (p. 159)

Yale law professor, Arthur Leff, according to Keller, says, “The fact is… if there is no God, then all moral valuations are subjective and internal, and there can be no external moral standard by which a person’s feelings and values are judged.” (p. 159) The Atheistic thinker Raimond Gaita admits, “Only someone who is religious can speak of the sacred… [and] Not one of [these statements about human beings] has the power of the religious way of speaking… that we are sacred because God loves us, his children.” (p. 160)

Keller finishes with an argument against the natural basis for moral obligation. He tells the story of Annie Dillard who lived a year next to a stream in Virginia and rediscovered that nature lives by one principle only — violence of the powerful over the weak. “We are moral creatures in an amoral world… Or consider the alternative… it is only human feeling that is freakishly amiss… all right then — it is our emotions that are amiss. We are freaks, the world is fine, and let us all go have lobotomies to restore us to a natural state. We can leave.. .lobotomized, go back tot he creek, and live on it’s banks as untroubled as any muskrat or reed. You first.”

Therefore, Keller says, “There is no basis for moral obligation unless we argue that nature is in some part unnatural. We can’t know that nature is broken in some way [humans' belief it is not ok for the strong to usurp rights and freedoms of weaker groups and individuals] unless there is some supernatural standard of normalcy apart from nature by which we judge right and wrong.” (p. 161)

That standard arises from God, per Keller, and he also argues that to not see it “and yet you continue to pronounce some things right and some things wrong, then I hope you see the deep disharmony between the world your intellect has devised and the real world (and God) that your heart knows exists.” (p. 162)

Finally Keller quotes Quentin from Arthur Miller’s play After the Fall, when he says, “I think now that my disaster really began when I looked up one day… and the [judge's] bench was empty… And all that remained was the endless argument with oneself, this pointless litigation of existence before an empty bench… Which, of course, is another way of saying — despair.” (p. 163) If the bench is indeed empty, then there is no point in human existence and “Whether we are loving or cruel in the end would make no difference,” Keller says. (p. 163) Therefore there are two options: hold onto the belief of an empty bench and still act as though choices matter or “…accept the fact that you live as if beauty and love have meaning in life, as if human beings have inherent dignity — all because you know God exists. It is dishonest to live as if he is there and yet fail to acknowledge the one who has given you all these gifts.” (p. 164)

Question: What stood out to you most in this chapter? Did something Keller say (or referenced) specifically resonate with you?

*My Response*
My response was going in a completely different direction...until my husband shared a conversation he had yesterday.  
He ran into a gentleman he hadn't seen in more than ten years.  It was not a chance encounter.
I will call the gentleman 'Sir' in this conversation.  
Clayton was getting fuel and had several of our younger children with him, and this conversation happened as he was checking out - probably paying for Skittles and Bug Juice :)

Sir:  Hello, Clayton.  Wow, I had no idea you had kids so young.
Clayton:  Actually, I've got one younger than this.
Sir:  Really?  What do you do?  Just keep poppin' them out?
Clayton:  Now, Sir, does it look like I 'pop them out'?  I've got 11 kids, and 8 of them are from China.
Sir:  Why?  
Clayton:  The Bible says to store up our treasures in heaven where moth and rust will not destroy.
Sir:   How do you do that?  You must have a lot of money!
Clayton:  No.
Sir:  So you can do that without money?
Clayton:  Yes.
Sir:  How's that?
Clayton:  The Bible also says that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  And I have access to it all!
Sir:  Really?  (as he starts walking out the door)
Clayton:  Sir, did you know that?
Sir:  (Walking out the door) No, but I do now *insert sarcasm*.

Clayton turned to pay for his purchases, and the girl behind the counter said, "That really touched me.  I've never heard it put like that before."
Clayton said, "It's in the Bible."
She said, "I know, but I've just never heard it said like that before."
To Him be glory!

This chapter deals with the question of the foundation of morality.  Keller states that while our culture does know 'right from wrong,' we in large part have no valid reason for why right is right and wrong is wrong.

It resonates with me because I grew up in a 'moral' home where we were expected to show respect, especially to elders, and exercise manners, but it had nothing to do with spirituality.  There was no biblical basis, no reference to God's authority, and certainly no regeneration.

If you would have asked me why I was, for example, 'kind', I would've said, "Because my dad teaches me so."

Today if you ask me why I'm 'kind', I would say, "Because I am a new creation in Christ, and it is only through Him that I can be kind...or do anything else 'good.'"

Please don't hear me say I am now 'perfect!'  Oh.my.heavens.no.!  Far from it.  But I now have the power and Spirit of God, which allows me to determine the 'right thing to do'.  I admit I'm not always a good example, and I pray daily that God would reveal more of Himself and less of the old me.  

Certainly, there are non-believers who are more 'moral' than some Christians; who are more benevolent; who are more pleasant to be around; who are more helpful; who are less critical; who are more optimistic...

And maybe that should be the challenge to those of us professing our Christianity.   As Keller says, "...to recognize that you do know there is a God.  You could accept the fact that you live as if beauty and love have meaning, as if there is meaning in life, as if human beings have inherent dignity - all because you know God exists.  It is dishonest to live as if he is there and yet fail to acknowledge the one who has given you all these gifts."

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.  
2 Cor 5:17

...Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  
1 Peter 3:15b

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My DIY ~ Freezing Fresh Corn

I'm reposting this from a few years ago since so many have asked how I freeze corn.  This is what works for me :)

I finally seized had a chance to put up some corn today ~ 2 bags, to be exact! Since I was asked, I will share how I preserve our corn in the freezer.
First, gather supplies:
Quart-size freezer bags
Large boiling pot
Knife or corn scraper
Trays or containers to hold corn
Lots of help if you can find it :)
Next, husk the corn and break off dry tip
Then, wash the corn to remove silk (it's nearly impossible to remove all of it!)
Then, I only blanch the corn for 2 minutes because it's so tender. Be prepared to remove from the pot quickly into the strainer.
Place the blanched corn into a sink full of ice water. (I put it into cold water first, then into ice water.) Only leave in the water long enough to cool the corn or it may become tough.
Then, we cut the corn off the cob with a knife. The scraper takes too long and is hard to get around these large ears!
Once we start cutting, we begin bagging...and bagging...
...and bagging. We made 28 quart size bags from two bushels of corn.
***If you like to freeze the ears for corn on the cob, you need gallon size freezer bags. (How I wish I'd had some of those at this point!)
And suddenly, my help disappeared when it was time to clean up the sticky mess!
***Another freezing method we've tried is to leave the corn in the husk and place a meal portion in a brown paper bag, then freeze. If you have the space, it's a quick way to preserve your fresh corn for grilling later! Just remove from the paper bag and place in cold water till it's thawed...and grill away!

Also, because we are long on freezer space and short on time, we put green bags of corn in the freezer.  Seriously, we don't wrap, blanch or anything, just leave the fresh-picked ears in the husk, and in the large green bags, straight into the freezer.  They are good for grilling, even months later!

Monday, July 15, 2013

We Interrupt this Regularly Scheduled Chaos...

...to bring you corn harvest!

Yes, gone are the days of laundry service...

all-you-can-eat fancy buffet meals...

and poolside relaxation!

We are pickin' corn, baby!
This is the Lord's crop, and we are His stewards.
To Him be glory!!!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Reason for God ~ Chapter Eight ~ The Clues of God

Ni Hao Yall

Here is the summary from Stefanie's blog:

“How can we believe in Christianity if we don’t even know whether God exists?” asks Timothy Keller at the beginning of chapter eight. And he proceeds to lay out a series of clues – “divine fingerprints” – that point to the existence of God. Although Keller admits that there is no absolute proof of the existence of God, these clues provide the world
with compelling evidence that He does, indeed, exist.

The Mysterious Bang
Curious minds have, for centuries, pondered the existence of the universe. And in the wake of the Big Bang theory, these questions have intensified. In his book, The Language of God, scientist Francis Collins says, “I can’t imagine how nature, in this case the universe, could have created itself. And the very fact that the universe had a beginning implies that someone was able to begin it. And it seems to
me that had to be outside of nature.” (p.133)

The universe is a gigantic mass of contingent entities – entities having a cause outside of themselves. So something had to be the catalyst for the Big Bang. But what? “What could that be but something outside of nature, a supernatural, non-contingent being that exists
from itself,” says Keller (p.133) And this non-contingent being is admittedly not necessarily the God of the Bible… but it is a clue to the existence of something beyond the natural world.

The Cosmic Welcome Mat
The probability of organic life to exist – with all the fundamental regularities and constants of physics that are necessary to maintain life – is infinitesimally small. And yet, here we are. “When you look from the perspective of a scientist at the universe, it looks as if it knew we were coming. There are 15 constants – the gravitational
constant, various constants about the strong and weak nuclear force, etc – that have precise values. If any one of those constants was off by even one patron a million, or in some cases, by one part in a million million, the universe could not have actually come to the point where we see it,” explains Francis Collins (p.134).

Of course, this argument is rationally avoidable if one believes in one of the many rebuttals. Richard Dawkins speculates that there many be trillions of universes. And while there is no proof that these many universes exist, there is also no proof that they do not.

Keller poses the question, “Although organic life could have just happened without a Creator, does it make sense to live as if that infinitely remote chance is true?” (p.136)

The Regularity of Nature
“All scientific, inductive reasoning is based on the assumption of the regularity (the “laws”) of nature, that water will boil tomorrow under the identical conditions of today… Without inductive reasoning we couldn’t learn from experience, we couldn’t use language, we couldn’t
rely on our memories,” begins Keller. And most people do not find this truth to be troubling. But philosophers do because the continued regularity of nature is not something that can be proven, it must be taken on faith.

The Clue of Beauty
If God does not exist, and the world in which we live happened by pure accident, then what we refer to as “beauty” is only a hardwired response to data, nothing more. We can take this further and apply it to what we refer to as “love”, rendering it a simple bio-chemical response, passed down from our ancestors who capitalized on it to survive.

But. “We may, therefore, be secular materialists who believe truth and justice, good and evil, are complete illusions. But in the presence of art or even great natural beauty, our hearts tell us another story, ” says Keller (p.138) Quite another story. Keller goes on to describe the “blessed longing” evoked in these experiences: “we not only feel
the reality but also the absence of what we long for.” (p.139)

St. Augustine described these unfulfilled longings as clues to the reality of God. “We have a longing for joy, love, and beauty that no amount or quality of food, sex, friendship or success can satisfy. We want something that nothing in this world can fulfill. Isn’t that at least a clue that this ‘something’ that we want exists? This unfulfillable longing, then, qualifies as a deep, innate human desire, and that makes it a major clue that God is there.” (p.139)

The Clue Killer
The school of evolutionary biology theorizes that everything about us is merely a function of natural selection. And if we do possess inclinations toward religious feelings, it is only as a result of a genetic code that helped people survive and pass on that DNA. “However, there are many who believe not only that the clue-killer argument has a fatal contradiction in it, but that it actually points to another clue for God.” (p.141)

Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and author of The God Delusion, admits that the influence of natural selection, “… we can’t completely trust our own senses. After all, evolution is interested only in preserving adaptive behavior, not true belief,” Keller concludes (p.141). The full implications of this insight are staggering, and actually counter the original clue killer assertion. “If our cognitive faculties only tell us what we need to survive, not
what is true, why trust them about anything at all?” (p.142)

The Clue-Killer is Really a Clue
If our belief-forming faculties mislead us in one area – e.g. our religious inclinations are unreliable and only present because they somehow helped our ancestors survive – then we should not trust those faculties in any area. If God does not exist, we would be unwise to trust our cognitive faculties at all. But we do, and Keller calls this the final clue. “If we believe God exists, then our view of the universe gives us a basis for believing that cognitive faculties work, since God could make us able to form true beliefs and knowledge. If we
believe in God, then the Big Bang is not mysterious, nor is the fine-tuning of the universe, nor the regularities of nature. All the things that we see make perfect sense.” (p.145)

Keller acknowledges that none of the clues laid out in this chapter are absolute proof of God, and that each one is rationally avoidable. But collectively, they are certainly thought-provoking. Belief in God makes sense of them all, not the secular viewpoint. “The theory that there is a God who made the world accounts for the evidence we see
better than the theory that there is no God. Those who argue against the existence of God go right on using induction, language, and their cognitive faculties, all of which make far more sense in a universe in which a God has created and supports them all by his power.” (p.146)

Question: Do any of these “clues” resonate with you? Do you have another clue that has led you to a deeper faith in God?

*My Response*
The Clue of Beauty!  I see God's fingerprints all around me.  This week as I was driving I saw the most beautiful rays of sunlight shining through the clouds.  It was as if God was sharing just a glimpse of His splendor with the world.  I simply can't ignore the existence of God and His creation, especially when I walk outdoors.  As I gaze at the stars I am amazed by His articulate placement of them.  Have you ever considered the art of conception?!?  Years ago when we struggled with infertility (yes, really!), we learned how complex the reproductive system is and how meticulously everything must work together for life to begin.  That is not by coincidence or the result of a big bang or transformation over time; that is the meticulous design of a loving, all-knowing Creator, Heavenly Father.

Another 'clue' is the beauty in the way God changes hearts.  this month I celebrate my 12th birthday as a believer.  I was once a self-absorbed, destructive, insensitive, purposeless sinner.  But God pursued me, patiently and lovingly.  I am still a sinner, but I am forgiven.  He has shown me how to live purposefully and intentionally.  Although I fail daily, my heart is slowly being transformed by His character, His principles, His love and His truth.  As I trust Him, I find that He never fails.

I'm sure that every generation since the first church has struggled with the blend of culture and truth, each one ebbing closer to culture than truth.  So another 'clue' I see are those warriors battling for truth, despite the cultural tidal wave.  I am grateful for the warriors who lovingly stand by and teach the truth, even in the midst of criticism.

I find that clues of God are everywhere, and I pray that He will show me how to truthfully and lovingly point them out to others.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

All Things Khloie!

Remember this stoic little girly?

 That was 4 months ago!
This is now!  Notice the food on her face :)
Eating was an issue then.
This is no issue now!
 These two monkeys are a hoot together.
Every morning Kasidi announces, "Mommy, your baby Kwoie is awake."
 Even though girlfriend prefers her Mama above everyone else of course, she now knows how rockin' awesome her daddy and sissy Kenzie are too!
 So adorable.
 How I love her!
We have loved getting to know this little cuddle bug.  Her transition has been smoother than I could even dream.  Her personality is precious.  She has slept all night since the day she was placed in our arms!  Yes, really!

How is her development?
Thank you for asking :)
For weeks after we first held Khloie, she only spoke in a whisper.  Not anymore!

Her language is coming along.  Not at the rate I would expect, but it is progressing.  She understands everything we say, and she repeats most of what she hears.  However, she speaks her own language ~ Khloeze.  Some of her words are incomplete, and some of her sentences are out of order.  But she is talking!

She is growing.  She's gained 1.5 pounds and grown an inch.  I'm still helping her eat, although she wants to do it herself.  We celebrated last week when an entire spoonful reached her mouth! 

What do we know medically?
Thank you again for asking.
Khloie's referral stated her diagnoses as HIE, ASD and CHD.  Funny it didn't mention anything about her eyes, but we assumed that was a result of the HIE.
HIE is basically a lack of oxygen to the brain.  In Khloie's case this likely happened pre-birth.  We basically say she had a stroke, although lack of oxygen can be from other causes.  We had an early MRI, and requested a second from China, and frankly, it showed extensive damage.  As all her doctors have confirmed, if this 'event' happened to her now, she would likely be rendered totally dependent.  It is miraculous how the brain and body heal and compensate for early damage!  
We saw our physiatrist (a rehabilitation physician whose expertise is treating nerve, muscle and bone issues) last month, and he labeled her 'condition'  CP (cerebral palsy).  Honestly, he was a bit pessimistic for my taste, but he has laid out an extensive rehabilitation plan that affords Khloie the best chance of independence!  This will include speech and physical therapy.  He is concerned with her gait and that her right hip may dislocate if not corrected.  We will follow up every 3 to 6 months to mark her progress.

He referred us to the neurologist, who is awesome, and she has ordered an MRI for August 30th.  She also confirms that Khloie's level of development is miraculous.  Neurology will recommend a plan of action once we have the new MRI.

As for Khloie's eyes, her vision is perfect!  She has infantile strabismus, which will be surgically corrected on August 15th!  According to her doctor, she won't even need glasses!  We expect to see improvement in Khloie's walking after surgery.  She seems very cautious, and it's probably because she can't clearly see where she's going.  She will probably also be able to feed herself as her hand-eye coordination improves.

Her heart is another miracle!  The atrial septal defect is gone!  We will see the cardiologist again in two years to get a complete release.

What once seemed like frightening words on paper is now a road map for the future.  The future of a precious little girl.  Her name is Khloie Nicole, and she is my daughter!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cooler Corn *delicious and easy*

You might be a redneck if...

Oh, never mind :)  Call me whatever you want, this is good!
If you need to use up last year's corn to make room for fresh, if you're planning a large gathering, or if you just like sweet corn on the cob, this is easy peasy.

Cooler Corn
*Shuck the desired amount of corn.
*since ours was frozen, we thawed it a bit, then shucked it*
*Place the clean corn in a clean ice chest.
*Pour enough boiling water over the corn just to cover it, then close the lid.
*In 30 minutes you have perfectly cooked cooler corn!  No kidding!

Now, go be a hero!
And praise the Lord for His provision!!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Who's Up For a Challenge? *30 Days to Big Change*

Here we are into July, and there is so much I still want to accomplish this summer!  One thing I set out to do was P90X...and I did, and then moved on to Insanity.  

We also completed the 30 Day Beachbody Swimsuit Challenge!

What a blessing that was!  We had 43 gals in the challenge group.  We became aware of what we put into our mouths, the effects of too much caffeine, the importance of water intake, exercise and accountability!

It was such a success I want to offer it again!
Let's call it the 30-Days-to-Big-Change Beachbody Challenge!

I love Beachbody products, and I love encouraging people in their fitness journey, so let's do this!

Mr. Greenthumb and I started Insanity a week before I left for Falls Creek, and I had to quit for camp...so we are starting again on Day 1.  

I'm offering to coach anyone who wants to join me over the next 30 days...and beyond!  You don't have to do Insanity, but I would encourage you to choose a specific workout plan.  I am happy to help you do that!  You can take a look at my page to get some ideas, and then feel free to ask me questions via comment or email.  In fact, if this is your first workout in a while, please don't start with Insanity.  I can hook you up with an awesome workout plan that is still extreme but less intense and meets your needs.  There are so many to choose from, such as:
Body Beast
Les Mills Pump
Brazil Butt
Hip Hop Abs
Slim in 6 (on sale thru July!)
Chalean Extreme

I believe we can do this together!
We will develop a community of encouragement and accountability, all striving to improve our overall health together!

There will be some requirements in order for us to measure progress and get good results ~

*You must commit for at least 30 days.
*You must be on Facebook.  This is so we can form a private group to build relationships, encourage one another and stay accountable.
*You must commit to a workout plan.  *I can help with this if you'd like*
*I would recommend that you commit to reporting in daily on the Facebook group.
*I recommend tracking your progress on MyFitnessPal (it's free on your smart phone or computer!)
*There's no time like the present, so let's kick off Monday, July 15th

If you're interested in starting an exciting journey of achieving good health, leave a comment on this post.  Also, send me a friend request on Facebook and let me know you want to take The Challenge.  *you can find my Facebook badge in the sidebar*

Let's do this together!  You've got 1 week to sign up!

Like I said before:
It's not magic.
It requires change.
It requires discipline.
The results will be amazing!

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