Gleanings of Wheat: A Blog dedicated to cooking, kids, and Christ

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Meal Plan - Thursday to Thursday

Note to self: This is what I'm planning our week to look like, food-wise.

Lunch: Hot dogs & fruit
Dinner: Middle Eastern Pita Salad

Lunch: PB&J
Dinner: Chicken nuggets* & veggies

Lunch: Spaghetti*
Dinner: Oven Roasted Potatoes & rice

Slow cooker ham & beans

Lunch: Summer Couscous Salad*
Dinner: Left overs

Lunch: PB&J & popcorn
Dinner: Left overs

Lunch: Spaghetti*
Dinner: Pizza

Lunch: Salad & fruit
Dinner: Pancakes, bacon, & fruit

*My youngest has food allergies, so I'll be using rice pasta on the spaghetti night, rice flour for the chicken nugget breading, & am planning on swapping quinoa for the courscous.

Monday, January 2, 2012

He Who Began a Good Work...

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:4-5)
Perhaps what is most interesting to me right now, is the hope...the basis for our santification does not begin and end with Christ's atoning work on the Cross. Oh, it most certainly starts there! But it continues on through His resurrection. Christ is not in that tomb, rather He is at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us - and it is that fact that should give us our hope for today.
We come boldly because our King bids us come. We cry "Daddy" because our Savior is risen. We make war because we have armor and strength that is not our own. We have hope because of an empty tomb! When I feel as though I will never have victory over my sin I can remind myself that I am free not only from condemnation, but since it is God at work in me I can be sure that He will enable me to fight, He will finish what He has started. It won't always be like this, I won't always be at war with myself...and when that day comes, when I stand before my Father I will praise Him for the sustaining grace that got me there. What a glorious thought.

Well hello there

Yes, I exist. It's kind of awesome. Shout out to my favorite 11 year old pest (this means you, Hannah!)...

Friday, November 11, 2011


I just finished reading through Helen Roseveare's "Enough" (very brief book, easy to read, encouraging) and as I read chapter 6 it occurred to me how shallow my trust is. Even though I know God is huge, and powerful, and endlesslessly merciful, somehow I still manage to have this poor view of God's sufficiency for me in Christ. As I read the chapter (really the whole book, but it clicked particularly in this chapter) I realized that when I hear the word "enough" I think of it as something like "skimping through, enough to get by...but barely" rather than what Ephesians 3:20 says:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

Immeasurably more than I could ever imagine. Enough. That's what Christ is for me.

He Giveth More Grace

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Faultless before the presence of his glory

This was my reading from Spurgeon's Morning & Evening devotional today. So encouraging!

Morning “Faultless before the presence of his glory.” (Jud1:24) Revolve in your mind that wondrous word, “faultless!” We are far off from it now; but as our Lord never stops short of perfection in his work of love, we shall reach it one day. The Saviour who will keep his people to the end, will also present them at last to himself, as “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without blemish.” All the jewels in the Saviour’s crown are of the first water and without a single flaw. All the maids of honour who attend the Lamb’s wife are pure virgins without spot or stain. But how will Jesus make us faultless? He will wash us from our sins in his own blood until we are white and fair as God’s purest angel; and we shall be clothed in his righteousness, that righteousness which makes the saint who wears it positively faultless; yea, perfect in the sight of God. We shall be unblameable and unreproveable even in his eyes. His law will not only have no charge against us, but it will be magnified in us. Moreover, the work of the Holy Spirit within us will be altogether complete. He will make us so perfectly holy, that we shall have no lingering tendency to sin. Judgment, memory, will-every power and passion shall be emancipated from the thraldom of evil. We shall be holy even as God is holy, and in his presence we shall dwell for ever. Saints will not be out of place in heaven, their beauty will be as great as that of the place prepared for them. Oh the rapture of that hour when the everlasting doors shall be lifted up, and we, being made meet for the inheritance, shall dwell with the saints in light. Sin gone, Satan shut out, temptation past for ever, and ourselves “faultless” before God, this will be heaven indeed! Let us be joyful now as we rehearse the song of eternal praise so soon to roll forth in full chorus from all the blood-washed host; let us copy David’s exultings before the ark as a prelude to our ecstasies before the throne.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spurgeon on trials

I've been in the midst of a trial for some time now - I think in large part to the fact that I just don't learn. Though God has provided in huge ways yet I am prone to worry, I am still prone to try and control situations on my the bottom of it I'm still prone to unbelief, to distrust. It is easy for me to be discouraged by this, but I'm also aware of the fact that I've grown (by the grace of God) a lot in the past few years. I know I'm more aware of my sin, I see it better than I used to, and that gives me great hope because I know that I would not see it if it were not for Him...I see these things because He loves me. It is my hope to fight my flesh, to see these trials as tender mercies from His hand, to grow more deeply in love with Him.

I've been reading a lot of Spurgeon lately; I've always loved what I've read by him, but it seems like my reading plan has me going through a lot of things dealing with trials. I thought I'd share a few things I've read recently.


“Let not one of them escape.” (1Kings 18:40)

When the prophet Elijah had received the answer to his prayer, and the fire from heaven had consumed the sacrifice in the presence of all the people, he called upon the assembled Israelites to take the priests of Baal, and sternly cried, “Let not one of them escape.” He took them all down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there. So must it be with our sins-they are all doomed, not one must be preserved. Our darling sin must die. Spare it not for its much crying. Strike, though it be as dear as an Isaac. Strike, for God struck at sin when it was laid upon his own Son.

With stern unflinching purpose must you condemn to death that sin which was once the idol of your heart. Do you ask how you are to accomplish this? Jesus will be your power. You have grace to overcome sin given you in the covenant of grace; you have strength to win the victory in the crusade against inward lusts, because Christ Jesus has promised to be with you even unto the end. If you would triumph over darkness, set yourself in the presence of the Sun of Righteousness. There is no place so well adapted for the discovery of sin, and recovery from its power and guilt, as the immediate presence of God.

Job never knew how to get rid of sin half so well as he did when his eye of faith rested upon God, and then he abhorred himself, and repented in dust and ashes. The fine gold of the Christian is oft becoming dim. We need the sacred fire to consume the dross. Let us fly to our God, he is a consuming fire; he will not consume our spirit, but our sins. Let the goodness of God excite us to a sacred jealousy, and to a holy revenge against those iniquities which are hateful in his sight. Go forth to battle with Amalek, in his strength, and utterly destroy the accursed crew: let not one of them escape.

“The Lord our God hath shewed us his glory.” (Deu 5:24)

God’s great design in all his works is the manifestation of his own glory. Any aim less than this were unworthy of himself. But how shall the glory of God be manifested to such fallen creatures as we are? Man’s eye is not single, he has ever a side glance towards his own honour, has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so is not qualified to behold the glory of the Lord. It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way, that there may be room for God to be exalted; and this is the reason why he bringeth his people ofttimes into straits and difficulties, that, being made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when he comes forth to work their deliverance.

He whose life is one even and smooth path, will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God. They who navigate little streams and shallow creeks, know but little of the God of tempests; but they who “do business in great waters,” these see his “wonders in the deep.” Among the huge Atlantic-waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah, because we feel the littleness of man. Thank God, then, if you have been led by a rough road: it is this which has given you your experience of God’s greatness and lovingkindness.

Your troubles have enriched you with a wealth of knowledge to be gained by no other means: your trials have been the cleft of the rock in which Jehovah has set you, as he did his servant Moses, that you might behold his glory as it passed by. Praise God that you have not been left to the darkness and ignorance which continued prosperity might have involved, but that in the great fight of affliction, you have been capacitated for the outshinings of his glory in his wonderful dealings with you.

And finally:

Because God is the living God, He can hear; because He is a loving God, He will hear; because He is our covenant God, He has bound Himself to hear.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

A friend of mine mentioned that she bakes her oatmeal to me a week or two ago...craziest thing I've ever heard! Turns out it is really good! I made some today for the kiddies, here's the recipe I used.

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in dried cranberries. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Next Story: Wrapping It Up

I'm cheating today and going to work through chapter 9 and the epilogue of Tim Challies' book, The Next Story. Chapter 9 deals with the subjects of privacy and visibility.

Digital Footprints
It is commonly known that everything you do on your computer will typically leave traces behind. Between cookies and caches and system event logs one can glean a lot of information about a person's computer usage. This is often why people addicted to online pornography are so habitual about clearing their browser history, they try to remove traces of their addiction - of their sin. But even if you successfully clear all evidences of your browsing history and computer usage from your computer, are you aware that those evidences are often likely still out there?

Every time I search for something on Google that search is logged into a database. Somewhere out there, perhaps in multiple backups, there is info about my search history. Tim points out, quite rightly, that on some level Google may know my interests, my fears, my habits better than I do. Where I'm prone to forget, the database - barring some sort of digital catastrophe - never forgets.

Data is rarely deleted from databases - even if you want it to be. Facebook is a great example of this fact, not only do they regularly change their privacy settings and standards, forcing you to go into your account settings to ensure that your embarrassing spring break photos aren't made available to the general public, but they also make it incredibly difficult for those who would choose to leave the site all together. And should you successfully "delete" your account - they still have all your photos, all your status updates, all your interests and contact info you've entered into the account for 14 days. Any interaction with the site during those 14 days will cancel your deletion request.

Our bank websites, every form we've ever filled out, every forum we've joined and posted in - all digital footprints, all evidences of our lives online. Here's what struck me the most about this chapter:

Facebook maintains a record of our past relationships, the messages we've sent to old boyfriends or girlfriends, the things we said before we were Christians and the things we have said since.
(pg 180)

Forget about Facebook for a minute, expand that to the entire web and then think about that for a minute. Everything you have ever said, everything you've ever searched for - the things you may not admit to anyone in real life - all available on the web. I don't know about you, but I'm often horrified of how I acted, spoke, and thought before I was a Christian (indeed I still am horrified by the way I act, speak, and think now) - most people in my life didn't know me back then. It's freeing in a sense, but you know something?

Somewhere all that info still exists. The horrible poetry I used to write, the garbage I used to read, the things I searched for - all of these things revealed my heart at the time and all these things are still out there somewhere. If a person were to compile all that info into a profile for me it would certainly reveal a teenage girl who was in need of a Savior. But if they were to compile all the info I've created since coming to faith would it reveal a slightly older girl who is trying to live a life in light of the fact that she's been saved? Our lives, because we're Christians, are to be marked by integrity, by honesty, by graciousness - these expectations do not stop to exist simply because we're on the internet. After all, do we not serve a God who sees and knows all? Do we not serve a God who instructs us to be a light to those around us? Let us walk type in light of that fact.

A Series of 1s and 0s
Do you have a store loyalty card? I do. I love it because it allows me to save money on the things I need to buy, but I'm also aware of the fact that the only reason the store allows me to save that money is so that they can track my purchases. It allows them to compile data that will evaluate the effectiveness of their advertising, it allows them to determine what vendors are doing well and which need to reconsider their product placement. But to the people that analyze this info I'm not a a 20 something single mother who has a sarcastic flair and loves to hike, to the people that analyze this info I'm a mother who buys a lot of bread, peanut butter, and jelly. The things that make me who I am - in a real sense - don't matter to these people because all they see are the computer generated reports. Somewhere in the transmission of those 1s and 0s my personal traits are lost.

We were not people who had paid every bill and met every obligation. Instead, we were a series of numbers - incomes and expenses and liabilities. In the end, a computer processed the numbers and found that for one reason or another we simply did not qualify as borrowers. And that was that. The bankers had no ability to change the rules and no right to plead our case. The numbers had spoken. It was strangely distressing and dehumanizing...In a not-so-subtle way, the Numerati are teaching us to see other people, not as real flesh-and-blood people created in the image of God, but as objects - numerical data that can be used to satisfy our own purposes.
(pg 181-182)

Seeing and Being Seen
According to Tim we live in a culture that fosters exhibitionism - I think he is probably right. MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube - what's the common theme? Being seen and connecting with people. The most mundane things are often some of the post popular things on YouTube - we want to be seen. We want to share our lives with each other, we want to feel important. Television knows how drawn we are to seeing the mundane - I think this is precisely why reality TV is so popular. "Regular" people live their lives, or shoot for their dreams, in front of our eyes. We rejoice when they do well, and we mock when they fail. On some level we love to watch the failures more than the triumphs. I know a great many people that love American Idol - or they did when Simon was still on board - because of how the people who couldn't sing would get torn apart in front of millions of viewers.

But where is the respect for one another when we mock those who experience tragedy, when their suffering becomes our entertainment?
(pg 190)

Wrapping It Up
Tim says that "our actions betray the state of our hearts" (pg 190), if this is the case we need to constantly be willing to examine what our lives are saying about our hearts. The digital explosion has made it easy for us to share information and aspects of our lives without putting much thought into how we're portraying Christ. As Christians, we must examine ourselves, we must examine the way we think and relate to people, to media, and to the devices that connect us.

This is my last post on The Next Story, it's been an interesting read. There was a lot of information covered, but I think Tim did a great job keeping everything really accessible to the reader. It was a challenging read as well - I'd certainly recommend it to everyone, but perhaps especially to those of us who work on computers.

Realistically I spend anywhere from 8 to 13 hours a day on the computer - that's a lot of screen time, and I'm often not thoughtful about it. I don't think about whether or not it is the best use of my time when I'm playing - I have to be on it to work so I probably can't dramatically get under 8 hours, but I can be more intentional about having set work hours and not trying to do other things (read: Facebook, Twitter & Google News) on the computer during that time.

Certainly your mileage will vary, but I think all of us could benefit from analyzing our media intake and prayerfully considering what changes need to be made. Maybe your screen time won't decrease, but perhaps what you do during that time will change, or perhaps you'll just think through the way these technologies are influencing your spiritual life. Whatever it looks like in your life, I hope you'll find freedom in it.

My Previous Posts on The Next Story
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 6 - Rabbit Trail
Chapter 7
Chapter 8

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Next Story: Chapter 8

I know I'm running behind schedule with these posts on The Next Story, but this time the delay was Blogger's fault. Anyway, this chapter deals with authority and truth - specifically how the technologies that exist are reshaping the way we define truth and downplaying the importance of authority.

Truth according to Wikipedia
Wikipedia is huge, with over 15 million articles (3 million of them in English) to say that there is a wide variety of information available - for free - is the understatement of the year. One of the amazing things about Wikipedia is the fact that anyone can update an article. If my son knew about it he'd likely be on there reading everything that has to do with Star Wars and could probably fix a few errors he might find. This is great news in that an article can quickly be fixed if something false is found in it; no need to wait until the next edition like magazines, newspapers, or an encyclopedia.

The downside? Not everything that gets published is actually true. Politicians, religious leaders, and corporations have been found to edit articles to remove controversial things that would cast shadows on them. Additionally, Tim raises the concern that things like Wikipedia is subtly training us to think that truth comes from consensus rather than being objective. As Christians, we know that this is not true, we know that all truth comes from God and that truth does not waver. Tim encourages the reader to speak truth because we are to be like Him.

Because God is holy, we too, are to be holy. Because God is love, so we are to be loving, to express love in every way we can. And if God is true, then, of course, we must love truth, emphasize the truth, and always be seeking truth. All we say is to be marked by integrity as an expression of the integrity of God.
(pg 161)

Tim goes on to note that Wikipedia comes up as the first or second result in search engines for words like knowledge, authority, affair, truth, history, power, Jesus, God, justification, baptism, and Christianity. "This shows that Wikipedia is now the first answer to many of our most important questions - questions about truth, authority, knowledge, wisdom, power, God, and salvation" (162).

The problem with relying upon Wikipedia for these answers is also the reason why Wikipedia is so remarkable. Anyone can edit the articles, a PHD candidate has no more clout than a 10 year old kid. Furthermore, you're relying upon people. Fallen, sinful people. Wikipedia and other wikis like it function under the assumption that we're all basically good and want good to prevail. As Christians we know that we're given to sin - we're so thoroughly entrenched in our sinfulness that even what seems like a good thing can be done with a wrong heart and we're likely to be blind to it.

When we have a model that ignores human nature and combine it with too little oversign, we will inevitably run into problems related to the misuse of authority.
(pg 165)

Truth according to Google
After dealing with how technologies like Wikipedia seek to democratize truth he moves on to dealing with how search engines seek to determine truth by relevance. Google is helpful in that takes what I'm looking for and pulls up the pages most often the most relevant to that query. I'll be the first to admit - I'm a Googler. I Google a ton of stuff, I love Google, it has made my life a lot more easy - but who knows if there's a nugget of gold buried on page 6 of my search results that just doesn't have the page rank to get it better placing?

In many ways I rely on Google, I trust Google to bring me the very best. And so we set ourselves up to think that all things we need to know, or want to know, should come so quickly, so easily, and so nicely sorted out. Are there ways in which I've transfered this way of thinking to the rest of my life? Do I tend to accept the easy, readily available answer - the one I don't have to fight for - as the best answer to life's issues? How has the effected the way I read my Bible? How has this effected the way I pray? If God's knowledge has more depth to it than the ocean, why do I often feel like I've settled wading in a kiddie pool?

How has this effected the way I view His steadfastness, His love? With my mouth I would tell you that His love is unending, that He never leaves us, that He is faithful to the end. But is my heart's cry these truths, or do I see the trials in my life (or my family's lives) and refuse to look past page one of the search results? Do I have a shallow view of suffering; how has my expectation for answers to life's questions to be neatly printed on my screen in order of relevance shaped how I walk through the uneasy times, through the times when I ought to be diving in and going deep? Am I looking for truth, for comfort, for depth? Or do I simply look for a quick verse, taken out of context, but tagged on the internet as applicable to my current life situation, to slap on as a spiritual band-aid?

Futhermore, because just about anyone can, and does, have a website or blog - we ought to be discerning when reading or watching their content. Though something may appear spiritual, Christian even, is their use of Scripture appropriate and true? Are there subtle lies that we're believing simply because the website was easy to find on our search engine of choice? But submitting ourselves to and ingesting these untruths - how long will it take, how costly will it be in our lives for us to unlearn them? Will we even want to unlearn them? Are we willing to weigh the information and claims against the Bible and trusted authorities in our lives, or do we simply want the quick, easy (and possibly misleading) answer?

Toward the end of the chapter Tim discusses a film called Loose Change, in which clips and quotes dealing with September 11th were taken out of context and manipulated in order to put forth the idea that the Towers fell not because of terrorist attacks, but because of the Bush administration planting explosives in the building. There of course was a commission into the claims - it took 2 years and 15 million dollars to research, talk to experts, and then publish. There was no evidence to support the claims, but the film is still being watched, still being ingested, still being spouted off as truth. Why? Because it's on the internet and easy to find.

Other interesting quotes
Consensus opinion and Scripture are often opposed to one another.  (pg 167)

My Previous Posts on The Next Story
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 6 - Rabbit Trail
Chapter 7

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Next Story: Chapter 7

In chapter 7 of The Next Story Tim addresses the idea of "more is better" in regards to information and argues that "[amid] all of our information, we have little time for wisdom" (pg 139). The question is - what is wisdom?

My church is currently going through a bible study on the book of Proverbs in our small groups and a couple weeks ago we defined wisdom as "rightly applying the truths of God to our lives," in other words, wisdom is walking out what we know is true. Wisdom in action is James 2:17 personified. But how do we gain wisdom? Our starting point as Christians must be God.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (Proverbs 9:10)

But what of the world? What of the technologies and trends permeating our culture? Is there a desire for wisdom or merely for the collection of data, of the sorting of that data into information? Tim notes a trend present, that we hear little of the application of our information that's been gathered, rather it seems that the goal is often simply to have this information. With tools like Wikipedia and Google one can know a bit about a ton of things. We fill our minds with information that we'll never need on a daily basis to the point where we have difficulty remembering the important things - like where I left my keys this morning.

Our information age encourages us to become information gluttons, and because we've embraced this pace, these distractions, this partial focus on multiple things we've begun to feel as though we have some sort of disorder. And maybe we do!

At the beginning of the chapter Tim referes to Dr. Edward Hallowell who has termed an ADHD-like disorder, ADT - attention deficit trait. The difference between ADHD and ADT? ADT is a self-imposed disorder. Tim says, "I don't anticipate that attention deficit trait will ever be recognized as an official disorder, and I'm sure it is better this way," (pg 139) however with the way our society likes to label and medicate everything it wouldn't surprise me if we start seeing kids being diagnosed and medicated in the coming years.

Regardless of whether or not ADT becomes a common place diagnosis like ADHD, we as Christians ought to fight against it. If we're supposed to "take every thought captive" (2 Corinthians 10:5) how can we rightly expect to do that if we're gorging ourselves on information we don't need and isn't helping us to think deeply about God?

Tim offers some practical advice; unsubscribe from blogs that do not encourage you to think deeply, unfriend or hide posts from people on Facebook that you find distracting or tempt you to remain unfocused in your pursuit of wisdom, consider mechanically working through some issues rather than using the technology in front of you to do it, and finally:

And seek to move that information to knowledge and to wisdom. Make every bit of information you access count.
(pg 156)

Other interesting quotes
We have our passports filled with little stamps telling everyone just how many places we've been, but we don't stop to ask what the purpose is of traveling the nations if we have not actually experienced them. (pg 148)

We have hundreds of people flitting around on the edges of our lives, but perhaps fewer than ever with whom we are intimately involved. (pg 148)

This leads us to care more about accessing information that will make our lives immediately easier, that will fix our little problems, than to carefully and thoughtfully consider the morality of what we do with that information. (pg 149)

My Previous Posts on The Next Story
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 6 - Rabbit Trail

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Next Story: Chapter 6 - The Rabbit Trail

Earlier today I was working on the Chapter 6 walk through of The Next Story and I typed up a nice little section of content based on one quote that really didn't fit with the rest of the post. I got sidetracked and followed a rabbit trail. I know, a chapter on distraction and I'm all over the place. It's awesomely funny. Anyway, I really wanted to share those thoughts but didn't want to clutter up the original post. Here you go:

Following a rabbit trail

What if our consumption and use of these devices has trained us to assume that greater speed and greater capacity are universal virtues? What if we have transferred the virtues of digital devices to our own lives?
(pg 122)

This isn't where Tim goes with the rest of the chapter, but this last quote really got me thinking about my kids. I'm so used to doing things efficiently that I'm (to my shame) often impatient with them because they don't approach things as I would, or get things done as quickly as I would. Certainly, this is just my own pride working itself out in my relationships - but how has the technology I've surrounded myself with fostered this pride, this impatience?

My kids are one of God's greatest tools in my life - I ought to treasure them more highly than I do - I see my same impatience, my same pride, my same fears in my son*. Looking at him allows me to better understand myself. God's been kind in that and as he struggles to learn to obey and I struggle to learn how to parent better I'm constantly reminded of God's grace in not allowing me to continue to be blind to certain sins in my life.

My daughter on the other hand, looks exactly like me but is nothing like me personality-wise. She's joyful and outgoing, she's quick to forgive when sinned against, quick to repent, she's fearless in situations that make me tremble and somehow still longs for the protection of her Mommy...I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but she has some developmental delays that cause her to think and act like a kid 1-2 years younger than she actually is.

You know something? God's even used those delays to work in me. When I want to zip through something my son is getting up to speed and more often able to follow my train of thought and directions, but my daughter? Her needs are constantly calling me to slow down, to simplify, to rework my directions so she can grasp them better. God is using my kids, especially my daughter, to work patience in my heart. And I'm so grateful He is, that He hasn't left me to my sin, to my my distraction.

My Previous Posts on The Next Story
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

*Please don't take this to mean I'm getting down on my son. I adore him, and he can be incredibly kind and generous and thoughtful, but I see so much of myself in him.

The Next Story: Chapter 6

The sixth chapter of The Next Story deals with distraction, which is fantastic because I feel like I'm always distracted! In fact this post was interrupted by Twitter notifications via TweetDeck and I'm not gonna lie, I clicked over a few times before finally exiting the program.

Have you ever noticed how much beeps and notification lights fill our lives? The alarm clock that wakes you up, the dryer going off, the cell phone in your pocket, the list could go on and on. We're called, from the moment we awaken, from one task to another by notifications and beeps. Is it, then, any wonder that we find it so difficult to focus on one thing?

Eventually the problem of distraction becomes more than something that just happens to us; it defines our identity...We become so shaped by our devices that we lose our ability to focus. We are transformed from people who respond to the beep to people of the beep.
(pg 116)

Tim argues, and I would tend to agree, that as we have allowed our devices to reshape our lives we "are quickly becoming people of shallow thoughts" because if something cannot be worked through between texts and tweets it's probably too much work. The problem is that when we start thinking shallowly, when we only want to focus on things for brief amounts of time, how can we expect to rightly plumb the depths of Scripture? If we cannot know Scripture, what is the likelihood that it is going to effect our hearts and mold us into mature Christians that can (by the grace of God) withstand difficult trials?

Rather than doing life well, we seek to "do more, accomplish more, be more" (pg 117). This shallow thinking, this shallow living - in some ways it almost seems as though we're blind to it. That because we're so busy trying to do more, we've trained ourselves to think that the busyness is better.

I don't know about you, but I often think I'm being more productive if I'm working on more than one thing at a time. When I first started freelancing I would check my email, check my voice mail, and check my social media accounts all while trying to secure more work via Craigslist postings and working on current client's projects.

Do you know what the result was? Burn out.

Meanwhile, if we surround ourselves by too many stimuli, we force our brains into a state of continuous partial attention...When in this state of continuous partial attention, 'people may place their brains in a heightened state of stress....Once people get used to this state, they tend to thrive on perpetual connectivity.'
(pg 125)

Is this not the case? It certainly is for me! But what happens to the Christian when they've gotten used to this heightened state? Do we serve God better? Do we pray more earnestly? Do we love more deeply? I don't know about you, but I don't do any of those things well unless I'm intentional about slowing down and spending some quality time with my Father.

Efficiency is a dangerous mind-set to bring to our faith...there are multitudes of One Minute Bibles and Two Minute Devotionals available for those of us who just can't spare the time, for those who need a spiritual fix for the sake of conscience but aren't willing to sacrifice more time...[God] does not call us to study his Word or to worsship him more efficiently. God calls us to read his Word meditatively
(pg 126)

Tim goes on to discuss skimming and how studies have been done to show that the average user scans a website in an F pattern. Starting at the top left they scan the top page, then jump down a couple inches and scans again, only this time they may not scan all the way over before jumping again and finish scanning the rest of the page.

The issue for the Christian is that we have to fight the tendency to transfer this habit to our Bible reading. If God calls us to read his Word meditatively - and He does - then scanning the page is not going to nourish our souls. We are to mimic the Bereans of Acts 17 who "received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so" (vs 11). Can we examine something eagerly while only skimming? We need to focus on this precious gift God has given us. We need to treasure it. And to do that we can't be distracted by the beeps, lights, and buzzes of our lives.

My Previous Posts on The Next Story
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5