Thoughts from Spurgeon on the End

Morning, December 30

“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”
— Ecclesiastes 7:8

Look at David’s Lord and Master; see his beginning. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Would you see the end? He sits at his Father’s right hand, expecting until his enemies be made his footstool. “As he is, so are we also in this world.” You must bear the cross, or you shall never wear the crown; you must wade through the mire, or you shall never walk the golden pavement. Cheer up, then, poor Christian. “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.” See that creeping worm, how contemptible its appearance! It is the beginning of a thing. Mark that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the flower bells, full of happiness and life; that is the end thereof. That caterpillar is yourself, until you are wrapped up in the chrysalis of death; but when Christ shall appear you shall be like him, for you shall see him as he is. Be content to be like him, a worm and no man, that like him you may be satisfied when you wake up in his likeness. That rough-looking diamond is put upon the wheel of the lapidary. He cuts it on all sides. It loses much—much that seemed costly to itself. The king is crowned; the diadem is put upon the monarch’s head with trumpet’s joyful sound. A glittering ray flashes from that coronet, and it beams from that very diamond which was just now so sorely vexed by the lapidary. You may venture to compare yourself to such a diamond, for you are one of God’s people; and this is the time of the cutting process. Let faith and patience have their perfect work, for in the day when the crown shall be set upon the head of the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, one ray of glory shall stream from you. “They shall be mine,” saith the Lord, “in the day when I make up my jewels.” “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”
Spurgeon, Charles H., Morning and Evening, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

Back Online

We had our new internet service (satellite) installed on Friday. Saturday, we had a demonstration of the less-stable aspect of a satellite connection, as there were storms most of the day and we had no service. But all in all, we think we’ll survive. Which is good, because this is apparently our best option for this location at this time!

I’ve been waiting to post a blog until I had time to do an extensive one, but I’ve realized it might never happen that way. So, here I am to say, “I’m baaaack!” I thoroughly enjoyed our two weeks and two days without internet. It was blissful. I’m also thrilled to be back online, and praying for wisdom in the use of my time.

I was planning to “blog” off-line and post this wonderful account of our two weeks when I got back. Alas, I managed to write only one day. I’ll try to post our Christmas highlights soon.

In the meantime, here is a little something from Dec. 13th:
Saturday, Dec 13
On Wed 12/10, we broke up with our unsatisfactory ISP. That was quite an experience; one I’ll probably never write about because, while I try to be real on this blog, I see no need to belabor the negative. Suffice it to say that we chose to end the service. We have new service lined up, but the first install date was Dec. 24, so we’re off-line for two whole weeks!

I actually can think of no better time to go cold turkey than the Christmas season. The last few days have been great. Lots of time hanging out as a family and enjoying each other. I’m looking forward to the remainder of our off-line time.

Wednesday night we enjoyed some fellowship with the Teeters at their house. Both of our families have been pretty crazy lately, and it was a blessing to get to sit and visit together.

The fact that Papa and Mama Byrd arrived at our house on Thursday has certainly contributed to the wonderfulness of our time off-line! Thursday, we mostly hung out, played games, etc. Jonathan had some work to do, but got home around 4pm. After the kids went to bed, the four of us played our Christmas present from the Teeters – a game called Cadoo. It was lots of fun.

Friday, Mama and I took Stephen and finished Papa and Mama’s Smith Christmas shopping. We also met up with Auntie Joyce, Sarah, and Asher for lunch, which was fun. Mama and I have always enjoyed shopping together, and we had a great (and successful) excursion. The last stop was Walmart, where we also bought groceries for the rest of their visit, and pizza for supper last night.

Unfortunately, lunch did not sit well with Mama, and they ended up heading back to the Traxler Bed & Breakfast a bit early. While I was sad that Mama felt so wretched, the side benefit to them heading home early was that I got to finish up their Christmas present. Yay!

Today we are looking forward to Beka and The Cousins getting here. They got a late start from KC (where they visited Beka’s family), so it will be late afternoon before they get here. And I need to use that time to get some cooking/baking/crafting/cleaning done, so I’d better get on the move!

Off line

It looks like we will soon be off line indefinitely… Our new ISP is charging us twice as much as they said they would for some not-so-hot wireless broadband that does not meet our needs. I’m getting ready to call and cancel the service. We’ll be looking at getting satellite isp, but don’t know how long it will take to get it set up.

May God Bless you and keep your hearts and minds focused on Him this Christmas season!

More Imperfection

And isn’t it beautiful?!

I made another step of progress in my It-doesn’t-have-to-be-perfect-to-be-beautiful journey. And in my the-whole-point-of-Christmas-is-a-Person-not-my-imperfect-decorations journey.

See, despite our good intentions, we didn’t buy candles for our Advent wreath before Advent started last Sunday. The only places “locally” (read: 30 minutes away) where we can buy official Advent candles just don’t happen to be open when we can get ourselves there. So today, I was out doing Christmas shopping for neat stuff that I really want to tell you about but can’t because certain people for whom I was shopping sometimes read this blog. Thank your lucky stars I just took the word “when” out of that last sentence, because it was headed towards being a record-breaking run-on. Anyway, I made an imperfect-but-beautiful decision to buy three blue tapers and one red taper instead of three blues and one rose/pink (as “called for” by tradition).

So tonight, as we began the second week of Advent, when we focus on Peace, we had an Advent Wreath with candles to light. And it was lovely. Even though our Christ candle (the one in the middle) is awfully short. I repeat, it was lovely, and we had a wonderful time reading, talking, and singing about the peace we have through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

The Joys of Motherhood

~ The adoration in your 18 month old’s eyes as he flies across the room to your arms.

~ The hilarity of listening to your 7 year old read knock knock jokes to you that she doesn’t understand.
~ Sharing moments of genuine companionship with your 11 year old.
~ Enjoying the affection of your still-huggy 9 year old son.
~ Girl talk with your 10 year old.
~ The beauty of your 5 year old’s heart shaped face – and of her lovely heart.
~ Enjoying a good laugh with your 12 year old.
Please note:  Cleaning up vomit is not on the list.  If you have a means of communicating this to my children’s digestive systems, please let me know!

Cutest Blog

I’ve been longing for a Christmas blog look, but dreading the time that it takes for me to transfer all of my gadgets over to one of Lena’s beautiful designs.  I noticed that my friend Rachel had a really cute new background, so I sneaked a peek at her source – The Cutest Blog on the Block.   They have lots of free backgrounds, and one thing I love about the backgrounds is that they function as a simple gadget that you add to a “minima” template.  Everything stays the same; just the background changes.  Then you can go in and change your text colors and such as you like.  My kind of simplicity.

P.S.  I’ll admit, I changed the placement of the little link box.  It looks so much more at home in the side column.

I believe I’ve neglected to mention…

… that we have baby chicks in our house!  

No, they didn’t come with the property, though a lovely chicken house does, which is what allowed us to bite the bullet and order some chicks.  We’ve wanted chickens for several years, and were thrilled to be able to order some  It was the very end of the season – the last week they shipped out chicks, actually.  

The chicks were shipped on Wednesday and didn’t arrive at the post office till Saturday, which is longer than the hatchery would prefer.  Three of them did not survive shipping.  Here they are arriving home on Nov. 22:

They grow amazingly fast. By Nov. 30, a couple hopped/flew out of the baby pool, and they were up to all sorts of crazy antics like hopping on top of the feeder (maybe he was trying to tell us to refill it?):

So we raised the sides of our “brooder” to help contain them:

And they’re still growing – here they are today, a humorous mixture of down and feathers:

We don’t know yet what kinds of chickens they are. We ordered a batch of Assorted Heavy Breeds, which means they sent us at least 5 different breeds from their list of heavies. We got a straight run, which means they didn’t determine sex, they just sent us 25. So we’ll see how many roosters and how many layers we have once they get older. The majority (if not all) of the roosters will be butchered eventually, and we’re hopeful we can convince the hens to lay during the winter. We’ll see how it goes!


The Deeper Halo – worthwhile thoughts on what comes after “the thrill”

Some Advent tools you might find handy…
An older Advent calendar that, though not updated, has some great resources
Information on the Advent season
Following the Star – an online Advent daily devotional
 Eleanor Zweigle’s Advent Study – great resource for families
So many blog posts are waiting, but I’m trying to be faithful in my “keeping,” and this break is over.  Back to my nest!

Jesse Tree

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
Isaiah 11.1&2

The advent season has begun! Christmas music started playing in our home yesterday, we had our first advent devotional last night (sans the advent wreath, which has yet to be put together). And hopefully, I’ll manage get to some Christmas decorations in my unpacking and sorting today.

At lunch, the kids and I started our Jesse Tree. This is the second year for us to use this particular focusing tool. Last year, we made a big tree out of corrugated plastic and made our own ornaments. Sounds neat, doesn’t it? Except that we only got through about 16 of the 25+ lessons we intended to do!

This year, still being deeply in the work of moving, I am committed to finding simple ways to celebrate Advent/Christmas. I will settle for something that is not so fancy/perfect as I might like – because the point is to focus on our Lord’s coming, not to have a perfect method for doing so!

So, in contemplating what to do for our Jesse Tree this year (I don’t want to use the huge tree we used last year), the focus was on what will be simple/quick and help us train our thoughts and minds properly. After deliberating for while, I’ve decided that we won’t even have an actual tree to put our Jesse Tree ornaments this year. We’re going to use one of our glass back doors, and simply form a tree as we tape the ornaments to the glass.

And the ornaments? Instead of making our own, I printed out the ornaments from Faith Magazine that I found in my googling. I printed them in color, two pages on each sheet of cardstock because I wanted them to be smaller. I started to cut them all out, but realized that it was not truly needed for them all to be cut out today, so I rough cut the others enough that I could number them. I’ll cut them out as we go, or sometime when I need to sit down and rest for a while.

Guess what? I don’t think the forbidden fruit was an apple! I’m partial to Answers in Genesis’ illustration of it that looks more like a luscious purple hand-grenade – so apt. And I don’t think the ark was a round little thing that would never float. But the details of the symbols aren’t as important to me this year as they used to be.

The process of figuring out what our Jesse Tree plan is this year has been another reminder of the truth that these traditions are tools. They are not our masters, they simply have the potential to aid us as we focus on the true reason for the Christmas season. May you be blessed as you focus on Jesus, Creator of the Universe, born to die that we might live!