Saturday, March 29, 2008

Observations Over My Wife's Pregnancy, Miscarriage, and Faith in Christ

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind." (James 1:2-6)

After this week's heart wrenching news of a miscarriage, my wife Terra has displayed for me how to live out this passage in the middle of a broken and fallen world. If there is one book in the Bible that my wife has memorized, meditated, and modeled, it has been the book of James. And particularly during our trials this week, I have seen suffering lead my wife through tremendous, significant personal growth.

When I first discovered the joy of Terra's second pregnancy, it was while working at Meijer that she shared this wonderful news. Even in all of Terra's creativity in making a shirt for Hannah saying she will be a "Big Sis," I was still oblivious to what was going on. It wasn't until I saw tears of joy welling in my wife's eyes that I got it and she plainly said, "I'm pregnant."

In only a week from the announcement of Terra's joyful pregnancy, came the pain of miscarriage. The majority of Monday was a lot of tears, listening, hugging, encouragements, praying, and speaking of God's promises. I kept praying, "God sustain us. God keep us. God show your love to us. God help us to trust You." While working through the week, I kept text messaging Terra, checking up on her and listening to how she was feeling. With amazement, I saw the gracious love of God carrying Terra in remarkable ways.

First, I observed how God filled my wife's heart with songs of peace, joy, and hope. The first song I heard her sing was, "There Is a Peace" by Charlie Richardson at our church. I kept hearing her sing, filling our home with these words, "There is a peace to settle your soul. There is a peace that is calling you home." During the week, when we would be riding together, in the cd player would be "In the Valley," sung by Shannon Harris in the album Valley of Vision. Then towards the end of the week, songs like "Glory to the Highest" by Chris Tomlin and "It is Well with My Soul," by Horatio Spafford.

Second observation was the specific passages that God inclined Terra to read and meditate. While working Monday at Meijer I received a text message that read, "I'm cramping so hard. I'm convinced I've lost the baby. Pray that I trust in the Lord's strength...I'm clinging to Rev. 21 right now." Taking a short day at work on Monday, we both sat on our front porch and Terra began to share to me how Psalm 139 had ministered to her soul.

Third, is Terra's steadfastness in Christ to continue in her responsibilities as a wife, mom, jewelry distributor, neighbor, sister, daughter, and friend. As a wife, she continued to have lunches with me at Meijer. She continued to clean our home. Terra kept text messaging me, encouraging me towards the Lord. As a mother to Hannah, she continued caring for her physical needs (feeding her, bathing her, changing her diapers) and emotional needs (waking up during the night to console her, reading to her, playing with her). As a jewelry seller, Terra still had a show this past Wednesday at a school, serving teachers and administrative personnel. Even after her show, she shared how fun it was to serve and earn money for our family. As a neighbor, she pursued our neighbor friend Amy after getting into a fender bender this past week. As a sister, Terra was able to listen and counsel her younger sister Sheena over matters of religion and Christian living. As a daughter, Terra listened to her mother's burdens in life. And as friend, she still received and called individuals and responded to e-mails. It blows my mind away to see such gospel resilience and perseverance in Terra.

Fourth, is the way that Terra can still genuinely rejoice with those who experience joy in life. I remember being in the living room this past week and hearing Terra's voice of excitement as our dear friend Genelle at church announced that she was having twin babies. If I recall, it was Terra who called our friend Genelle to inquire how her doctor's appointment went. With God's grace, I saw genuine joy for others in my wife.

Fifth, is Terra's devotion to God in her 6 am quiet times. As I look back this week, I saw my wife wake up and seek God's face in His Word and in prayer. Terra longed for God's presence every morning this week. By faith, Terra continued to go to God with her fears, doubt, confusion, and despair. After learning about her bleeding, I remembered Terra going to her prayer journal and beginning to write. Her blog, "A Time to Mourn," was a reflection of her prayer journal to God. My wife modeled for me how to cry out to God who is Sufficient and Sovereign.

During our date night last night, we had a lot of time to share and identify evidences of grace in each other through a hard and emotional week. We were both transparent in sharing how our trials could have led us to temptations and sin. Things such as being angry at God and withdrawing from His presence because it was not fair or because our pain was just to heavy. There was the temptation to also withdraw from community and sink into self-despair. However, what I have learned from my wife is that in our desperate moments we need to run to God, not away from Him or His people.

A summary of what what I have gleaned from my wife Terra in the valley of trials and suffering follows. First, sing to God. Let us be reminded that the psalms are songs. Many of the psalms are songs about sufferings and trials. There is nothing like singing to direct the postures of our hearts. "Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day" (Ps. 86:3). Second, read, recall to mind, and recite out loud God's promises. There is comfort and refuge in God's Word. "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul..." (Ps. 19:7). Third, move into some useful, God-glorifying, and others centered activities. "Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord" (Rom. 12:11). "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Cor. 15:58). Do not allow idleness or vulnerable behaviors to take hold of your life. Get up and serve someone in the strength of Christ. Change a diaper. Clean the house. Play games with your children. Write a blog. Walk around your neighborhood. Visit your spouse at work. Call someone. Write someone. Fourth, continue to rejoice with others' joys in the strength of Christ. "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15). Fifth, strive and remain steady, seeking God's presence. "One thing have I asked the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple...You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, 'Your face, LORD, do I seek." (Ps. 27:4, 8) Don't let up. Don't give up. Don't run away. But run to God with your grief stricken heart. "...call upon [God] in the day of trouble; [He] will deliver you, and you shall glorify [Him]" (Ps. 50:15).

My wife has modeled well the passage from James 1:2-6. She showed me how not to "waste a miscarriage." It was her relationship with Christ that has caused her to respond in this faithful way. There was the strong temptation in Terra this past week to remain immature, incomplete, and deficient. But by God's Sovereign grace, she matured and grew more in the likeness of our Suffering Savior, Jesus Christ. I praise God to have a wife whose solid foundation is in a Wise and Sovereign God. "...The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." (Job 1:21).

Encouraged To Endure to the End,
Your Husband

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Time to Mourn...

Please read our family blog to understand why I have not posted this week. It has been a very difficult week emotionally, but one in which God has sustained us.

http://jamesandterra.blogspot.com/2008/03/time-to-mourn.html

In Christ,
Terra Santos

A Time to Mourn...

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”
Psalms 139:13-16 (ESV)

These were the words I read in my quiet time Monday morning. I cherished them as I pondered the life of the little one growing inside of me. Less than an hour later, these words haunted me as that same little life – lost it’s life. With monstrous cramping, I began what would be a four day turmoil of bleeding. This baby, our baby, MY baby was gone.

My immediate response was confusion. Deep down, I knew what had just happened but I couldn’t get a grasp on it yet. I was frozen. Being held by my husband, I stood, motionless in disbelief. “This is not happening,” I thought to myself. “This is just a bad dream.” Moments later, I crumbled into his arms as reality took hold of me.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die...
...a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance”
Eccl 3:1,4 (ESV)

Monday was an incredibly difficult day. There were moments of uncontrolled crying. In my prayer journal I wrote, “To have had the thrill and excitement of pregnancy and no sooner than that, loss! God, I know that you are in control. I know that you love me. I know that while my heart screams ‘unfair!’ my soul reminds me that I must trust in you.”

Then there were moments of strange peace. Phillipians 4:5-7 says, “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (my italics).

I couldn’t get those morning verses of Psalm 139 out of my head. Then God gently nudged me. It was as if He was telling me, “Terra. These words still hold true. I was knitting together this life and I had numbered your baby’s days. I know I took your little one before you were ready but I promise you, I’m still in control. I still love you. I have a greater purpose for this situation that you cannot yet understand.” Wow.

I have a new bond with those who have been through miscarriages. Before my own, though I knew it had to be hard, I had no idea just how hard. I don’t think it’s possible to know what it’s like without the experience. Some people will wonder if I’ll be as quick to announce our next pregnancy (assuming the Lord blesses us again) – I will. The way I see it, God calls us to community. In community, we can rejoice in new life. Even more, we can mourn with one another. First Corinthians 12:26 says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” Had I kept the pregnancy secret, I would not have had a community to mourn with.

Today my doctor's office called with the results of my blood work: the miscarriage was confirmed. I lost my composure yet again.

But during this time, my husband and I have so tightly clung to Christ. We’ve also learned how to cling even tighter to one another. It’s even caused me to love and cherish my daughter Hannah Mai that much more. As hard as it is for me to say, I know that God makes no mistakes. His ways are so much higher than my own. I even more strongly yearn for the day when He returns. Revelation 21:1-4 shows us that day. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (my italics).

This past Sunday at church, Bro. Daniel mentioned in his sermon that we need to be a people that both suffers and dies well. A day later, James and I’s abilities to do so were tested. Praise God that we do not rest on our own abilities. If we did, we’d both be in despair and misery. We are told to lean on our only solid Rock and to cast our burdens upon Christ. May He continue to lead us each day. This hope is our only hope. Please continue to pray for us during this difficult time.

I end with lyrics from Watermark’s “Glory Baby.” You can listen to it online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wH5n5ikNgA

Glory baby you slipped away as fast as we could say baby…baby..
You were growing, what happened dear?
You disappeared on us baby…baby..
Heaven will hold you before we do
Heaven will keep you safe until we’re home with you…
Until we’re home with you…

Miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there’s a day when we will hold you
We will hold you
You’ll kiss our tears away
When we’re home to stay
Can’t wait for the day
when we will see you
We will see you
But baby let sweet
Jesus hold you
‘till mom and dad can hold you…
You’ll just have heaven before we do
You’ll just have heaven before we do

Sweet little babies, it’s hard to understand it
‘cause we’re hurting
We are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we’re stronger people through the growing
And in knowing-
That all things work together for our good
And God works His purposes
just like He said He would…
Just like He said He would…

BRIDGE:
I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies
and what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing,
heaven is your home
And it’s all you’ll ever know…
all you’ll ever know…
In Christ,
Terra Santos

Monday, March 24, 2008

Delay in Posting

There has been a small family "emergency" and I will not be able to post my blog today (Monday) and possibly not Tuesday either. I'll update everyone as soon as I can. In the meantime, please be in prayer for our family.



In Christ,

Terra

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Chapter 2 - Your Child’s Development: Shaping Influences

Saturday's Shepherding (a Child's Heart)

A young girl grows up in a small town but has no small story to tell. She is the oldest of multiple children and helps raise them while her mother works two jobs. See, her mother is in between marriages, not for the first nor the last time and has to support her family financially. Conflicts are “resolved” by yelling and slamming things. There has been a great deal of heartache and mistrust in this girl’s life. In addition, her family has already lived in about ten different places before she’s a teenager and little does she know, there will be twice as many moves before she graduates high school. Her family is made up of “Christmas and Easter” Christians, meaning those are the only two times of the year they attend church or act like Christians. The young girl thrives on achievement and success. She tries to do the best she can possibly do at everything and is praised for her results. Yet when she fails or reaches the point of exhaustion, she quickly becomes depressed. Oh…and did I mention, this is just a small sampling of issues in this girl’s life?


The things that this girl experienced growing up are what Tedd Tripp calls "Shaping Influences." These are "those events and circumstances in a child's developmental years that prove to be catalysts for making him the person he is. But the shaping is not automatic; the ways he responds to these events and circumstances determine the effect they have upon him."

The girl in the story above had many shaping influences. Tripp suggests six main categories: structure of family life, family values, family roles, family response to failure, family history, and family conflict resolution. Let's say the girl in the story above is now an adult. What do you think her life will look like? Will she pattern her family's mistakes? Where will she seek her refuge: drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships? What will she think of men? More importantly, what will she think of God?

Tripp goes on to explain two mistakes made in interacting with the shaping influences of life. One type of person will be in denial that the child is affected by these experiences. The other type of person will assume that the girl's circumstances will determine her behavior. Yet neither of these responses is accurate!

As Tripp reminds us, many Christian parents will adopt a "Christian determinism." They believe that if they just protect their kids enough and teach them all the right things, they'll "turn out okay." Given, these things will assist in leading our children in the right direction. However, they will not necessarily lead to a child who "turns out okay." Haven't you met plenty of adults who grew up as these types of children and are far from where you'd expect? Tripp explains that our children will respond according to "the Godward focus" of their lives. Though we, as parents, are responsible for teaching our children the right things, our children are responsible for the way they respond to our parenting.

The girl in the above story is near and dear to me. By God's grace, she did not end up along the path that she could have. She went on to pursue a great deal of schooling and in the process, was introduced to Jesus Christ as her Savior. She married a wonderful Christian man and now has her own family, a polar opposite picture of what she once knew. She tries to be active in her church and family life. Yet she is not without sin and knows that she is not perfect. The difference is that she knows the only true Reconciler and seeks to live a life pleasing to Him. When she fails, she has forgiveness and a new start. Praise God our shaping influences AREN'T deterministic!

In Christ,

Terra Santos

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday's Testimony - Kristy Horton

Meet my friend Kristy. I've known her for about 3 1/2 years. As a matter of fact, she was one of the ladies by my side in my fluctuating relationship with James. :) She saw me single, married, and as a mother. She is married to Dan Horton, a Pastor at Lifespring Community Church here in Louisville. She is also the mother of two children, Isaiah and Lydia. May her testimony be an encouragement to you this day.

--------------------

My spiritual life began at the very young age of two years old. While I wouldn’t say that I was a “Christian” from that age, or that I had a handle on the gospel, my parents intentionally established me and my siblings with a foundation based on it. I knew very well that Jesus Christ was God, the same God Who created me, that He came to earth to die on the cross for my sins, and that anyone who didn’t accept Him as their Lord and Savior would go to hell. Realizing that God was also my loving Father who wanted a real and intimate relationship with me would come later.

I was twelve years old when I made a decision to follow the Lord in every aspect of my life. I had been influenced by my oldest cousin who was getting caught up with boys and was lying to her parents about what she did and who she was with while she was gone from home. In confidence she let me know what she was really doing, and I thought it was cool to be a part of it. I began listening to music that did not please the Lord, and that was forbidden by my parents. I, too, lied to them and my aunt and uncle about where my cousin was and what she was doing.

It was at a church revival that my cousin gave her life to the Lord. She then came to me and apologized for what she had involved me in. To see my cousin, whom I thought was so cool at the time, give her life to the Lord like that made me re-think how my behavior had been. I confessed to my parents and asked forgiveness for the lies, but I also confessed to the Lord because I knew that even more than disappointing my parents, I had disappointed Him. What I had been doing went further than just lying to my parents, or disobeying the rules they had set for me. I had been dishonoring God by not wanting to please and honor Him above anything or anyone else. That same week I gave my life completely to Him.

This was a really personal commitment from my heart and I have never turned from it. Since that time I have only been growing in the Lord. There were times throughout my young adulthood that I tested my faith, but the Lord was Faithful to show me that there is only true joy in Him. It was in my high school years that the Lord laid it on my heart that I would be involved in ministry all of my life, I just wasn’t sure of the capacity.

I would say one of the areas I am continually before the throne asking God to help me in is my discipline!!! Not just with taking care of my husband, keeping the house clean, teaching my kids, or even in discipling women, but also with the most important part of my life- spending time with Him!

The greatest joys I have ever found, the greatest help, the strongest I have ever felt has been when I have been saturated in the Word of God. When I have come before the Lord and said, “Give me wisdom and understanding, like you gave to Solomon. Give me a heart that grieves over my sin. Give me eyes to see people as You see them, and increase my love for You so that I may love your church more too!” As I walk the daily roads in my life I can say that each day the Holy Spirit’s voice becomes all the more clear, recalling His Word to my mind and urging me to do what I know is right in the sight of God.

My flesh, pride of life, the enticements of this world, and the attempts from the enemy that would seek to destroy me are all a reality in my daily life. I will fight them to eternity. I am so grateful for the cross of Jesus! I am indebted to Him for placing me before the Father spotless and holy because of the blood He shed for me. I am so grateful for the countless godly people in my life who have fought with me to keep running this race with my eyes fixed on Jesus.

Philippians 3:7-11: “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hannah Has a Secret

And you don't want to miss it!

http://jamesandterra.blogspot.com/2008/03/hannah-has-secret.html

Take care!!!
Terra

Hannah has a Secret...

And it's a secret she wants to tell the world:
(Hint: Read Hannah's shirt)

Some people have said they can't see what that says...


How about now?



In case you're STILL confused, we're expecting another baby!!! We are so extremely excited that we can hardly contain it! Considering I was told that I could have a hard time getting pregnant the longer we wait (because of ovarian cyst problems), we didn't want to take our chances. God has blessed us! If my calculations are correct, we should be due around November 20th. We'll most definitely keep everyone posted with progress!
Praise God for His grace!

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!"
Psalms 127:3-5 (ESV)

Monday's Music Review - Slow Fade

Song Title: Slow Fade (#3 on album)
Album Title: The Altar and the Door
Artist(s): Casting Crowns

(Hear the song here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=c4CIwkYi2R0):

Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it's the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

-----------------------

My thoughts:
This song rings so true in so many circumstances of life. Think about it. It says, be careful what you see and where you go. Why? Not necessarily because of the first glance or the location you may be going – it’s the temptation to do it again or the intrigue of the one following you.

Let me further explain. A while back, in one of my parenting magazines, I read an article that simply infuriated me (in a Godly way, I believe). The article was telling women that it was OK to have a “little, schoolgirl-type” crush on someone other than their husbands. In fact, the article said that it would actually be good for her marriage! Their theory was this: when you crush on someone else (say the UPS guy or the Starbucks barista), it causes you to feel pretty again. You feel wanted. You start to dress nice and wear makeup again. After all, nothing would ever happen with this little crush anyway. I STRONGLY disagree with this thought process! Let me ask you this: how many men or women go into a marriage thinking “I think I’ll cheat on my spouse in about 5 years.” No one does! As this song reminds us, “It’s a slow fade.” It starts with little “crushes” that DO turn into more.

Rarely would these types of sins ever turn from black to white. No. They turn from black and white into gray. A guy happens to see an online advertisement of a Victoria’s Secret model. He turns his head. The next day, he’s sees the ad again. This time, he takes a little longer of a glance. After a few weeks, he’s checking out their website. After another few weeks, he’s been sucked into the world of pornography and has no idea how he got there or how to get out. It is indeed a Slow Fade!

I love the verses towards the end that say, “Be careful if you think you stand, you just might be sinking.” This is a straight up biblical concept. We should never think we are too good or too “Christian” to be above these things. They can happen to anyone – including YOU and including ME. 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 says this, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (ESV).

If you haven’t already clicked on the link above to listen to this song, do so now and enjoy such powerful lyrics.

In Christ,
Terra

Friday, March 14, 2008

Getting to the Heart of Behavior, Chapter 1

Saturday's Shepherding (a Child's Heart)



“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” – Proverbs 4:23

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45, my italics

Scripture speaks clearly on the issues of the heart. These truths apply to children and adults alike. As Tedd Tripp begins chapter one of Shepherding a Child’s Heart, he reminds us, “What your children say and do is a reflection of what is in their hearts.”

If Scripture is so clear, where do we get tangled up? In behavior. Tripp states, “Your child’s needs are far more profound than his aberrant behavior.” Why? Because behavior is not the heart issue – it is simply the outflow. Even more boldly, Tripp says, “A change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable; it is condemnable.” Wow! Such harsh words! And yet…so true! In Matthew 15, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their hypocritical hearts. In the same way, a child that outwardly behaves yet inwardly disobeys is still sinning before the parent and more importantly before God!

Tripp says, “You must require proper behavior. God’s law demands that. You cannot, however, be satisfied to leave the matter there. You must understand, and help your child to understand, how his straying heart has resulted in wrong behavior.” He uses the example of two children fighting over a toy. We usually respond “Who had it first?” All the while, we neglect the fact that both children are sinning. The are both being selfish and preferring themselves before the other. We need to see past the “who had it first” and address both children and their individual sins.

But we don’t stop with sin. Tripp reminds us, “your concern is to unmask your child’s sin, helping him to understand how it reflects a heart that has strayed. That leads to the cross of Christ….It provides opportunities to show the glories of God, who sent His Son to change hearts and free people enslaved to sin.”

How marvelous! We have the opportunity to begin pointing our children to forgiveness in Christ at such an early age! Chapter one reminds us that we must learn to work from behavior back to the heart. “You must learn to engage them, not just reprove them,” says Tripp.

At the end of the chapter, Tripp reminds us that we are to go to Scripture for answers regarding childrearing. He says, “For too long the church has tried to integrate biblical and nonbiblical thought forms to answer the questions of parent. The resulting synthesis has produced bitter fruit.” I very much agree with this statement. While we can get helpful advice on practical parenting tips, we must not follow advice that is directly contradictory to what Scripture teaches us. We must see parenting advice in light of Scripture.

A lot of things to think about in just one chapter! I look forward to working through more in the future. What one bit of truth can you apply from what you’ve learned to one bit of your life today?

In Christ,
Terra Santos



P.S. If you're interested in following along, I will be summarizing and reviewing weekly, Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart. It can be purchased at most any bookstore.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Blog Structure!

I am excited to announce that I’m beginning a new structure for this blog! I’ve been struggling with what to write and when to do it. I believe this structure will help me to keep focus and plan accordingly. There will be three planned blogs per week, as follows:


Monday’s Music Review – I will review entire Christian CD’s or specific songs
that have had an impact on me in one way or another. I plan to begin next week with an amazing CD from Casting Crowns entitled “The Altar and the Door.” I will more than likely review that entire CD because it is that good.

Tuesday’s Testimony – I will be showcasing the testimonies of different Christian women in my sphere of relationships. I’m doing women only simply because the purpose of this blog is to encourage women and help them to grow in Christ.

Saturday Shepherding (a Child’s Heart) – I will be reviewing the book “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Tedd Tripp. I’ve never read it but have heard nothing but fabulous reviews. If you have the extra time and would like to follow along with me, I would encourage you to get it as well and read along with me. I will probably do only one chapter a week and they are very short (average 8-12 pages). This would be a great way to interact with my weekly post.


I’m only committing myself to three days because that, in and of itself, is a lot for me. I may occasionally write on the off days when the desire comes. I look forward to this new journey and would be delighted for you to join me!

In Christ,
Terra Santos

An Appeal to King Agrippa

"'King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.'
Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?'
Paul replied, 'Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.'"

- Acts 26:27-29, NIV

After being put on trial for his beliefs, Paul had just finished giving his testimony. He explained how harshly he used to persecute Christians. Then after the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus, Paul began testifying to the very truth he used to vehemently oppose. After explaining this testimony, another official (Festus) told Paul he was losing his mind. Paul graciously responded that he was not and then the verses listed above occurred.

This passage reminds me of those everyday opportunities we have to present the gospel of Christ. Often, people are snide in their remarks or respond in a similar way that Agrippa did. Maybe Agrippa was thinking something like this: "Why does this Paul guy think he can so easily persuade me? He's awfully confident in his approach. Does he really think I'm going to just believe all that nonsense off of the few things he just said?"

Yet Paul was not arrogant in his questioning of Agrippa. Paul appealed to Agrippa's knowledge of the prophets and their oracles. If Agrippa believed in what the prophets had to say, then he should believe in the fulfillment of those prophecies (Jesus Christ). Paul was not preaching some new religion as many of the Jews accused him of. He was preaching of the fulfillment of their very own writings!

I love the response Paul gave to Agrippa's question. He doesn't say, "Yes, Agrippa. I do expect you to believe right here and right now on my terms." No. Instead, he responds with heart of compassion for all who were present. He does pray they would become Christians, whether in a short amount of time or long. He also prays they do not face the same persecution that he was facing for his beliefs.

I was greatly encouraged by these verses in my quiet time this morning and wanting to pass along my thoughts. I hope you were blessed as well!

In Christ,

Terra

Sunday, March 9, 2008

As White As Snow

Over the last couple of days, in the midst of our 10 inches of snow, I've asked myself the question, "What is the purpose of snow?" That probably sounds like a silly question to most of you, but I'm serious in asking it. When I ask myself, "What is the purpose of rain?" I know at least one good answer is to nourish the vegetation and animals of the earth. But snow seems so pointless. Yeah, it's beautiful - but also a nuisance. So I posed the question to my husband. With no hesitation, he said that every time he sees snow, he thinks of the words of Isaiah:

"...though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." - (Isaiah 1:18, ESV)

Wow. If every time I saw snow I was reminded of this great truth, how differently I would view it!

Today I had to go to the grocery to pick up a few items. As I was driving home, I noticed how much I had to squint to see the roads. It is a beautiful day today, with an amazing amount of sunshine. There was so much sunshine reflecting off of so much snow that it made it harder to see. Yet even in that moment, as a result of the snow, I thought of another blessing / calling in my life. If I am washed as white as snow (as in the Isaiah verse), I should be brilliantly reflecting the light of Christ! Jesus Christ died and was raised on the third day so that I could have the opportunity to be white as snow, reflecting His glory! Wow!

After thinking snow had no good purpose, today I reflect a bit differently.

In Christ,
Terra

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Snow, Snow and MORE Snow!

Over the last 2 days, Louisville (among other areas across the US) was pounded with snow. The following blog is my "documentary" in an 8 part series of short video clips as the snow fell. In the end, we totalled somewhere between 10-12 inches (at least at our house).

1 video

2 video

To our readers in Hawaii and Florida, I envy you. To our readers in Oregon and Michigan, I don't know how you do it!

3 video

4 video

On a positive note: it was beautiful and James, Hannah, and I did get to spend a great deal of time together. James had asked off from work because I was supposed to attend a women's retreat with our church. Unfortunately, it was cancelled. But like I said, James and I got to hang out... that's a blessing in the midst of these busy days!

5 video

6 video

And then Friday ended....

This is what ensued on Saturday:

7 video

8 video

Also, here's a link to some fun pictures we took in the snow. Enjoy!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=29318&l=f8a4e&id=607147099

Trying to stay warm in Kentucky,

Terra

Friday, March 7, 2008

Updated Titus 2 Blog

So for those of you that enjoy reading my Titus 2 Blog, I finally updated it. I'll try to keep it up. Please continue to give me ideas for topics!

Take care,
Terra

Let Us Hold Fast to Our Hope

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:23-25

In the daily grind of life, it is easy to lose sight of our ultimate purpose: to glorify God. Whether it be the comments of those who do not know the Lord or the hypocrisy of those in the church, it is sometimes tempting to just give up. Yet the writer of Hebrews points us in a different direction. He begins (in the verses listed above) by reminding us to "hold fast the confession of our hope, without wavering..." But how do we do this? The world around us mocks us and criticizes us for this very hope. We must look to Christ for grace, "for he who promised is faithful."

"Okay, okay," you might be thinking. "That sounds good in theory but how do I apply it in the real world? Well, these verses instruct us. "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works." When was the last time you encouraged other Christians around you to love and do good works? When that annoying person cuts us off in traffic, do you curse them or pray for them in love? When you waste too much time surfing the internet (as I struggle with), what "good works" could you be doing for those in your sphere of influence? Please don't misunderstand me. Good works do not save a person - only faith and trust in Christ can do that. However, love and good works should be the natural outflow of a life centered on Christ.

And the verses continue: "not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another..." There are times in our lives where for health concerns or for other reasons, we are not able to get together as a body (especially speaking of the church). Yet sometimes, Christians reason that they don't need to go to church to be a Christian. While they are technically correct, the reasoning is faulty. Again, church attendance does not save a person - only faith and trust in Christ does. But the writer of Hebrews reminds us that we should not neglect to meet together. Christians typically grow in their faith as a result of relationships, hardships, and encouragements that come with gathering together as a body. God specifically and graciously uses these means for sanctification in our lives.

How often should we do the things listed above? According to these verses, "all the more as you see the Day drawing near." God has chosen not to reveal the timing of Christ's final return. But one thing if for sure: with each passing day, we are yet another day closer to that Day.

So let us hold fast to our hope! Let us stir one another up in love and good works! Let us not neglect to assemble ourselves together! Let us encourage one another as that Day draws near!

Glory to God,
Terra

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Why is Easter Early?

I haven't checked the accuracy of this forward I received via email but it sounded pretty intriguing. If anyone knows the origin of this, let me know and I'll give accurate footnotes. This is what is says:
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I thought you might be interested in this trivia. The date of this coming Easter is quite early this year, but I didn't recognize the details shown below. Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is March 20). This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar.

Here's the interesting info. This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! And only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early (95 years old or above!). And none of us have ever, or will ever, see it a day earlier!

Here's the facts:
1) The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (220 years from now). The last time it was this early was 1913 (so if you're 95 or older, you are the only ones that were around for that!).
2) The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285 (277 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. So, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Hannah is Crawling!

Hannah's 9 month old birthday present was mobility! In this first video, you'll see her "gimpy" crawl.

video

In this next video, she's a bit better. Now, she's a pro! There's no stopping her now!

video

Take care,

Terra