Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Come up for air...

Portions of the fuller definition of RETREAT from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The term retreat has several related meanings, all of which have in common the notion of safety or temporarily removing oneself from one's usual environment. A retreat can be taken for reasons related to spirituality, stress, health, lifestyle, etc.

A retreat can either be a time of solitude or a community experience. Some retreats are held in silence, and on others there may be a great deal of conversation, depending on the understanding and accepted practices of the host facility and/or the participant(s).

Spiritual retreats allow time for reflection, prayer, or meditation.

There are probably better definitions, but I think the idea is to plan to get away for some purposeful alone time, but with a Godward motive not just me-time. And it's different than just a fun vacation. Hopefully, you will come back refreshed, and encouraged and by God's grace changed (and more organized!) and in this way your husband, children, family, friends (believers and unbelievers alike), workplace and church will even be blessed by the retreat.

More on this later, perhaps, but I had no idea how easy it was to plan a retreat within my crazy schedule. It wasn't too hard at all. After reading Shopping for Time, I was determined to make this a priority, because I caught the author's excitement for how valuable it had been, in her life and countless others. Donald Whitney of SBTS says the same thing.

Mrs. Mahaney counseled through her book, to grab your calendar and plan a date and so, a dear friend and I decided to do just that. I am not writing this to brag about my upcoming getaway, but to perhaps inspire you to do the same. Are you busy? No time to even think? Prioritize? Take a personal day. Plan waaaaay ahead if you need to (like me). Take a weekend or even just a few hours. Examine your life, goals, beliefs, habits, schedule, family, etc. It's not too hard. Grab a calendar, friend, obtain a babysitter and maybe a few bucks and take a weekend or just a few hours at Starbucks or the local park. Get away. Seek time to reflect, read, pray, visit, etc. I think it's a great idea. I've almost sold the idea on Dustin, too. I think maybe everyone could be helped (although it's not mandatory, of course) by temporarily removing oneself from one's usual environment. More on this later... perhaps.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Daily Nourishment

Yesterday, Carolyn McCulley discussed this article on her blog. Day 2 of the series on The Resurgence Blog ended with this reminder:
The Ideal Christian Woman realizes that having begun her walk of faith through the Spirit, she is still utterly dependent upon God for any hope of future obedience. She gets her nourishment for daily living from the Vine in light of the gospel and not from any false sense of personal ability--for apart from Him, she can do nothing.

Monday, October 29, 2007

On Serving

Really great quotes seem to ring in your ears for awhile. Would you agree? Phenomenal ones may echo in your memory for a lifetime. This quote on serving, by Donald Whitney, is truly great in my opinion, and parts of it are phenomonal.

Time will not currently permit me to share all of the reasons I say this, so I will bold the parts that are currently echoing in my mind.

Although Christ's summons to service is the most spiritually grand and noble way to live a life, it is typically as pedestrian as washing someone's feet. Richard Foster puts it starkly: 'In some ways we would prefer to hear Jesus' call to deny father and mother, houses and land for the sake fo the gospel, than His word to wash feet. Radical self-denial gives the feel of adventure. If we forsake all, we even have the chance of glorious martyrdom. But in service we are banished to the mundane, the ordinary, the trivial.'

The ministry of serving may be as public as preaching or teaching, but more often it will be as sequestered as nursery duty. It may be as visible as singing a solo, but usually it will be as unnoticed as operating the sound equipment to amplify the solo. Serving may be appreciated as a good testimony in a worship service, but typically it's as thankless as washing dishes after a church social. Most service, even that which seems the most glamorous, is like an iceberg. Only the eye of God ever sees the larger, hidden part of it.

Beyond the church walls, serving is baby-sitting for neighbors, taking meals to families in flux, running errands for the homebound, providing transportation for the one whose car breaks down, feeding pets and watering plants for vacationers, and - hardest of all - having a servant's heart in the home.

Serving is as commonplace as the practical needs it seeks to meet. That's why serving must become a Spiritual Discipline. The flesh connives against its hiddenness and sameness. Two of the deadliest of our sins-sloth and pride-loathe serving. They paint glazes on our eyes and put chains on our hands and feet so that we don't serve as we know we should or even as we want to. If we don't discipline ourselves to serve for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom (and for the purpose of Godliness), we'll 'serve' only occasionally or when it's convenient or self-serving. The result will be a quantity and quality of service we'll regret when the Day of Accountability for our service comes.

Friday, October 26, 2007


1. Happy
2. Stinkin'
3. Friday!

I'm out. Have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Name That Birthday Gift!

Among other things, my sweet husband surprised me with this terrific birthday present that was highly recommended from a friend. We played 3 games last night. I'm already a huge fan. This will provide many cheap date nights/company entertainment in the days to come. You should try it soon. Seriously. Great for the whole family. Has anyone who is reading this played this besides the Gerlts? What do you think?

Oh, and another great birthday gift was receiving GOOD NEWS from afar. Congrats!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sure Hope

My friend Lisa has such an encouraging blog. She is purposely providing such consistent and rich reminders of God's faithfulness in suffering of all kinds, with her own life as additional testimony to the trustworthiness of such claims. Each post is rooted in Scripture, themed around the sure hope we have in Christ.

Head to to enjoy wonderful encouragement from Lisa!


I've been tagged

I was tagged by KARI to write 7 funny/strange/crazy things about myself. Scroll down to see if you were tagged. Here ya go:

1- Once married, we discovered I grind my teeth. I have to wear a nightguard now. I pretty much hate it!

2- Don't tickle me. Not a fan.

3- I HATE the word curdled (ask Travis Dawson). And I hate when people ask you to smell the milk to see if it's still good!?! And I hate it when you can hear tick-tock clocks. Seriously.

4- Unlike most people, I love going to see the dentist and I always have. Why? He's my uncle!

5- I once was the tallest munchkin in a local theater's Wizard of Oz production. I was the coroner. Lame. I wanted to be Dorothy.

6- I once was Mother Earth in a weird Earth Day play.

7- About 2 weeks ago, I had to save a sweet, screaming staff kid with his stuck foot in the closing eletronic bleachers that some goofball middle school basketball player came in and closed without permission. Ah, the adventures of Staff Care. My adrenaline was pumping and I went into Mom mode! I could barely sleep all that night I was so shaken up. Grateful the Lord kept all safe.

I tag Leslie B. and Mary M.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Lappers and The Scoopers.

Downsizing of Gideon's Army
Judges 6

This is a neat picture of Joey (my sister) and Company at the site where Gideon chose his army. God told him to downsize the army (in a most peculiar way) to a ridiculously small number so that God would receive all of the glory for the victory. I found this picture particularly enjoyable since I just taught this story in preschool Sunday School last month. AND, I just read it recently in my morning devotions. I just love it that she is there and getting to see these amazing places we read about in our Bibles. She has other such wonderful (and many fun!) pictures and great insights over at her site. Stop by! Oh, and I think Joey is a lapper, but she looked a little hesitant to commit if you ask me. And what's the bald guy doing? I don't think there was a third option...

Pray for Dr. Cook

Dr. Cook, the president of DBU (the college I attended), has been a wonderful friend to my family for years now. He has Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) that is requiring immediate and urgent treatment. Please pray for him and his family during this time. You can read updates here. Dr. Cook was also recently recognized by the seminary here so some of you seminarians may have heard his name. Thanks for your prayers!

Update Time

Dustin is loving his classes this semester. He is taking Systematic 2, New Testament 1 and History of Christian Missions. Yesterday, he had a whopper of a test that included memorizing Mark 1:1-15, hundreds of tricky identification questions (ex: What chapters in Matthew and/or Mark do you find the story of the faith of the centurioun?) and essays over all that has been covered so far. I'm sure he did great. He has 3 papers coming up in the next 6 or so days and then a huge one pretty soon after the 3 smaller ones are knocked out, so pray for him. It has really been a blessing to see him study this semester. Due to the nature of our jobs, he is able (and so graciously choosing) to strive to get the bulk of his work/reading done while I'm at school so as to leave very little for when I'm home in the evenings so we can spend some more time together. The discipline and sacrifice has been encouraging.

With a tad more time together in the evenings than previous semesters, we've picked up a new interest and created a new verb. PUZZLING. We love to puzzle. We bought a huge 1,000 piece puzzle at Wal-Mart and set it up on our folding table in the living room. We work a little most nights after dinner before book studies, church, various activities, cleaning, grading, etc. It just helps us unwind a bit, and we get to visit while we work on it. It's basically a bunch of small, similarly-colored flowers and leaves, so it's a challenging puzzle.

Another favorite activity as of late is hanging out with our neighbors. We still do the dinner swap and we also love stopping by each other's places for quick hellos. Baby Boy Neighbor is due in mid-February. The Blairs are introducing us to the art of sushi-eating. Also, David and Leslie helped us confirm, with some analyzing of our routines, that Dustin and I are truly old souls. We like to go to bed really early, get up really early, do puzzles, go on walks, sit on the couch and listen to music, read books in bed, etc. I think it's hilarious. I've been an old soul at heart for a long time now, I think. Dustin thinks he has, too. Nothing against the elderly; we love them. In fact, we miss our grandparents a lot. My Nana is the funniest person in my life.

I'm going through Acts with my kids at school and now in my own studies as well. I'm also studying through Judges, which can be challenging indeed. Thankfully, a sermon we had by R.C. Sproul has really helped me understand the context behind the gory scenes in the pages of Judges. I've been listening to it on the way to work.

We're enjoying the cooler weather and trying to bring it in with foods like chili or soup. For example, this week, Dustin helped me choose some meals. We decided on Kristy's TX Chili and 2 new hearty soups from my soup cookbooks. Furthermore, our church is having Chili Night tonight at Family Supper before the business meeting. The funny thing is I don't think we'll get sick of chilis or soups anytime soon. We are big fans.

Joey's still in Israel, and Melodie's starting her clinicals for her nursing program. We miss our little nephews, (and all of our families), back in TX. They are growing like crazy and we're ready to see them again. We'll see them at Christmas when we fly home. For Thanksgiving, we're headed up to Pennsylvania to see the Gerlt fam. We can't wait, and the leaves should be gorgeous on the drive!

Travis, my dear cousin, is engaged. So are Jenn and Kathlyn, sweet college friends of mine. I don't know if/how I'm going to make it to all of these TX weddings, but we're working on it.

Dustin's having a lot of fun with keeping secrets since my birthday is coming up. He goes on secret missions and has secret phone calls and drops weird, unconnected (probably untrue) hints to throw me off. :) Sigh. I'm not good with surprises, though I love them.

This weekend, we're headed to Huber's Farm with some friends for some pumpkin-picking, cider-drinking and yummy-food-eating fun!

One key thing I'm learning with the kids at school is how to be an encourager to them in their school work. My words make a big impact, for better or worse. Even in disciplining or discussing LOW Math grades, it is my responsibility to be kind and speak truth in a loving, careful way. It's hard sometimes.

Simplicity has been the key around our home this semester. It helps so much. I read portions of a book called Simple Hospitality. Although some of the stuff I won't use, much of it reminded me that things don't have to be fancy or difficult. You can share sandwiches or say a prayer for someone or eat leftovers or use Clorox Wipes for quick cleaning and create a really happy home without too much fuss.

My co-workers and I will be going to a workshop in Lexington soon and while I'm not thrilled about that, I do hope to get a lunch break to go to Abuelo's to get some REAL Mexican food.

Random, random. We love and miss you!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

On Sale

I've mentioned this book before. I love it. My friend Erin read it, and she loved it. Sarah Bebee's reading it, and she's loving it.

If you want to love it too, now's your chance. It's on sale.

On other news, we finished up our first quarter of the school year! The kids had a half day and I'm wrapping up a quick lunch break. Off to staff care, and then I get to finish up grading. And it's a jeans day! Good day!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Carolyn Mahaney

Just have a second, but I wanted to send the ladies here. I have been trying to do better about using my commute, where my mind is usually just on mush-mode. I've been popping in some of these talks by Carolyn Mahaney.

They have been so incredibly timely and encouraging. Do you have an Ipod or MP3 player? Is there some way you could get them to your car or computer? They are really helpful and the focus is godward. Be encouraged.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Jerry Bridges, an author I respect and appreciate, has a new book out called Respectable Sins.

Just to meditate on THAT is probably helpful... refined sins.

This quote makes me want to go grab the book right now. And the second paragraph of this quote is just as important as the first.

The motivation for this book stems from a growing conviction that those of us whom I call conservative evangelicals may have become so preoccupied with some of the major sins of society around us that we have lost sight of the need to deal with our own more “refined” or subtle sins.

While seeking to address these “respectable” sins, however, I also want this to be a book of hope. We are never to wallow hopelessly in our sins. Rather, we are to believe the gospel through which God has dealt with both the guilt of our sin and its dominion over us.

Healthy Competition

You've seen box tops before, right?
They look like this:
Our school collects them. Dustin and I find them on our cheap muffin mix, pancake box, kleenex boxes, TP, etc.

Last year, my class got creamed in the grade-wide contest. I mean, we lost big time. It was a sad day.

And besides winning, of course, the idea is to raise money for your school.

So, will you help us out? It's super easy, and we're getting competitive as it looks like we might have a chance this year. :)

Just keep them in a ziplock bag. Then, say mid-Spring of next year, just stick them in an envelope and mail them to me. Just look up Southern's address online and address it to Dustin and Jamie Butts. It will get to me. And you will receive... a fun thank-you note from a bunch of neat 5th graders. You have my word.

Oh, and here's a recipe that looks yummy from their website!

Thanks. Oh, and I know this blog is lacking thoughtful posts of any real significance. Maybe soon...

Are you in?

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Plug for our Neighbor :)

Need a photographer?

Know someone in the 'Ville who is getting hitched?

Our neighbor, David, is GOOD at what he does. And he and his wife are growing to be dear friends of ours. We have a dinner swap going now (We switch off cooking on Monday nights! She's a great cook, too!) and we love right-up-the-stairs-neighbors that you can really borrow that proverbial cup of sugar from!

I know a lot of you guys and gals like photography (Mrs. Gerlt, Vivian, Cozarts, etc) so have fun checking out his site. (Find the Hot Air Balloon Pics, which are terrific!)