Monday, November 28, 2005

Grandpa's Influence

There are two sports that my grandpa perfected in his grandchildren. The day we learned to walk he either had a croquet mallet or sharp darts in our hands. Croquet for weather over 32 degrees. Darts for weather below 32 degrees.

In the last few years, though, he has playfully teased us that he regrets teaching us croquet. The idea that students excell farther than the teacher has come true.

We beat him all the time. And he loves it.

We play in Summer. We play in the winter. We play in rain, snow, shorts, gloves, skirts and slacks. We play at noon and midnight.

Darts, on the other hand, we have not played as much the last few years. There are usually great-grandchildren and my siblings, those under ten, playing in the basement. It makes for a dangerous darting atmosphere.

Well, my skills and dilligent grandpa training all came back to me yesterday afternoon when I was invited to play darts. Since Ben and I stay the afternoon in Ft. Collins after church, so that he and his music team can practice in the afternoon, we have been invited into people's homes for lunch. Yesterday we went to Vince's house. Vince, his two roommates and one of his roomates parents were there for lunch.

We walked in the front door and it was a bachelor's heaven. In the living room, of a quite large home, sat a double basketball hoop game, foosball and a dart board. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner, homemade by Vince. After chatting awhile around the table the boys headed to basketball and darts.

Ben and Vince went head to head with basketball. Roomates Jeff and Brent decided on darts. I was invited to join the dart game. I think I was invited out of courtesy. I warned them that my grandpa had taught me to play darts so they better watch out. They laughed. I accepted.

Since it had been a long time since I played darts, I used the first game to get warmed up. They were impressed with my skills. I got second place. Brent asked if we wanted to play a variation of darts called 'Cricket'. Cricket is based more on accuracy, skill and a good aim. You must get three of each number 15-20 AND three bull's-eye.

In the first 5 turns I was ahead by leaps and bounds. Jeff and Brent were embarassed but hiding it. They were also trying desperately to catch up. But it was to no avail...

I won. And them... they were barely halfway done.

Thanks, Grandpa!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving- A Day Late

I sit at my grandparent's computer in Cheyenne, Wyoming thinking about the full house and full stomachs we had last night. I believe there were 26 people here! Grandma starved us, as always, and there were definately no pies for dessert! :-) Hahahaha...

Yesterday morning my grandpa heard a speech from President Lincoln read on the radio. He had my dad find it online. I found it beautiful, convicting and worthy of sharing.

Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation
Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclomation that follows is taken from the collection of Lincoln's papers in the Library of America series, Vol II, pp. 520-521.

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
~Abraham Lincoln
I must be off, but would like to share 5 things I am extremely grateful for this year:
1- My Savior, Sustainer, Friend and King- the Creator of the Universe.
2- My loving, amazing and goofy family- Dad, Mom, Ben, Timothy, Victoria
and Samuel.
3- My Bible- Ahhhh.... how grateful I am for the men and women who sacrificed their time and lives for the sake of preserving, translating and publishing the Word of God!!!
4- Sunlight- As Ben and I were listening to "The Last Battle" radio drama of C.S. Lewis' last book in the Chronicles of Narnia, a character says that to not have Aslan, as He was known, would be like having a day with no sun. Or drinking water and finiding it dry. Sunlight continually reminds me of God's power and presence. He sustains the sun with HIS power and by HIS authority! Not to mention... the sun is just an average star of uncountable stars in the universe!
5- Grace- Where would I be without the grace of God? Grace that, not only save, but disciplines, corrects and allows me to wake up each morning. Grace that condemns my sins and gives me eternal life in return for my filth. Praise Your name, Lord Jesus!!! Thank you for Your sacrifice on the cross that allows me to know any measure of thanksgiving! Thank You for becoming humanity so that I might taste eternity. Thank You for taking the bread of affliction upon Yourself and becoming the cup of Redmption! Thank You for allowing me to know You in an intimate way! Thank You for Grace!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Weaving and Waiting

As a young, single woman I am frequently asked three questions. You may recognize the questions since, either you have asked them of someone or have been the recipient of the inquiry. I am quite familiar with the various techniques in which the questions are presented. Experience has afforded me a standard reply that either pleases or horrifies the “interrogator”.

1- The Clever Interrogator comments about their life while casually posing questions of me that will satisfy their curiosity.
2- The Blunt Interrogator is, well, blunt. After an initial greeting they dive head long into the “big” questions.
3- The Silent Interrogator lets me talk. All the while they are listening for clues that will tell them what they want to know.

The Clever Interrogator
You have probably figured out the three questions. If not, let me assist you with an example of a common encounter with a Clever Interrogator. It proceeds as follows:

“Hi Jaclyn. It is so good to see you,” the Clever Interrogator greets me with a smile.

“Hello, it is good to see you as well!” I reply.

“So, how are you doing? What is new?” The first undercover question is shuffled onto the table.

“I am doing great. How are you?”

“Oh, well, life is going good for us. Are you still working at American Family Insurance?” The question is on the tip of their tongue at this point but they decide to go through the back door.

“Yes I am. I just work part time for now,” comes my honest answer.

“What are you doing with the rest of your day? Are you taking college classes?” One of the questions cannot help but fall out of their mouth.

I smile and reply, “I am doing some correspondences classes but not working too hard at them right now. I help my mom with the home-schooling, watch Samuel and do ministry.”

It is burning their tongue by this time in the conversation, “So what does your future hold?”

“Only God knows. I am serving God with the time He has given me in the here and now.”

The Blunt Interrogator
“Hi Jaclyn. It is so good to see you,” the Blunt Interrogator greets me with a smile.

“Hello, it is good to see you as well!” I reply.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” The first question is thrown rapid fire in my direction. (Sometimes this question includes a “yet” at the end to remind me that people are watching.)

“No…” I begin to explain and am quickly interrupted with the second question.

“Why not?” They respond with the second question as if I am an alien for having responded as I did.

“Well…” I start, knowing I have explained my conviction to this Interrogator before, and am cut off with the third question.

They hesitate, “Well, then, are you taking any classes?”

And I sigh.

Boyfriends, Books and Business
So those are the infamous questions I face. I marvel why people assume that my life needs to be consumed with boys, books or business. Most of my interrogators are satisfied when I tell them that I have a job. I have seriously considered quitting my job so I could more adequately learn the disciplines of the homemaker. I wonder what people would say if I was not working?

In my early teens it was acceptable to people that I did not have a boyfriend. Obviously I was not yet college age, so the third question did not apply. As a fifteen year old I would tell people my convictions regarding boys and dating. People would smile and nod with a “she’ll get past that” or a “we’ll see” look. The pressure greatly increased at eighteen from both peers and adults alike. Everyone who is someone either goes to college at eighteen or has a faithful boyfriend, right? Then there is Jaclyn.

Now, as I progress through my early twenties, the questions are the same but the pressure is different. Some feel sorry for me. Some wonder what is wrong with me. Others have learned not to ask because they know my heart and convictions. A few loving souls encourage me on my journey.

In the past these questions caused me a level of turmoil. I struggled with my convictions and identity. I spent many nights crying out to God for assurance and comfort. I was frustrated with people who would continually ask me these questions!

God Confidence
The last few years my confidence in God and His convictions in my life have grown. Trials have come. The wind has blown tirelessly on my sail. My boat is scratched. My clothes are drenched. Yet the storm has passed. The sail is still standing. The sun is shining. The Lighthouse guided me through every wave, around every rock and on to still waters.

I am at peace with where I am in life. Do I have dreams? Of course. Do I long for a Groom of my own and a family to bear? Definitely. Those dreams have not changed, nor do they fade. On the contrary, as I focus my eyes squarely on God, my dreams grow and mature.

God and I have had many discussions about this very issue. Some days I still feel like protesting or begging Him to fulfill my dreams. He always reminds me that He is enough. He is Enough. He challenges me daily to seek none other than Him. When my eyes start to drift, when my heart wanders, He is so good to take my face gently in His divine hands and set my focus and desire back on Him. He is the only one who will ever satisfy me. He is the Lover of my soul. He is true Reality. He will never let me down. Anything above and beyond the treasure of Him is an overflow of blessing.

Still, I wait. I dream. I weave.

The Three Weavers
A few months ago my dad started Bible studies in the morning with his children. Tuesday morning is for the boys. Friday morning is for us girls. He, Victoria and I have been journeying through a study by Robert and Shelley Noonan called, ‘The Three Weavers’.

There are three families. Each father is a weaver. One year each father has a daughter. At their birth they are presented with a loom, gold thread and a yardstick. All of the fathers are instructed to teach their daughter how to weave a mantle (Prince-worthy clothing) of pure gold for the prince that will one day come to marry them. Each father approaches the weaving differently.

Griffin, father of Gabriella, is the wisest of the three. He explains to Gabriella the need to save her mantle for the one prince who is promised to come for her. He teaches her that she must weave carefully, diligently and with only the gold thread. Griffin hangs the yardstick by a window. He instructs Gabriella to focus her faithful attention on the yardstick. If any young men pass by the window asking for her mantle she is to measure them by the yardstick. Griffin reminds her constantly that they were given a yardstick of the exact measurement of the prince. Therefore, she cannot stop short.

The other girls waste their time, their gold thread and forget the yardstick by making mantles and giving them away. Gabriella is sometimes confused by the actions of the other girls. Young men pass her window too asking for her mantle. She tells them that they are not the measurement of the yardstick. She also seeks her father’s guidance when she does not know what to do. He always reminds her of the prince that will come for her one day. Her prince.

Gabriella’s prince, along with the other princes, come one day for their brides. Two princes are disappointed to find that the women have made and given their mantles away to common boys. Gabriella’s prince, on the other hand, finds a beautiful gold mantle waiting for him. It fits him perfectly. He too has made a beautiful dress for the princess he was waiting to marry. It fits her perfectly.

And we all sigh as they ride off into the sunset…

Why Marriage?
So I wait for my prince. The one that will measure up to the yardstick God has given me. People can roll their eyes if they want to. They can tell me my convictions are too high and my dreams are unrealistic. I believe God will keep His promise to bring me my prince.

Five years ago I had a simple view of marriage and children. As intimacy with my Savior has grown, my perspective on life, love and marriage has changed. I know that this change is partly from getting older. The other part of the transformation has been birthed from my desire to know God’s will and purpose for me as His child.

Therefore, I have asked myself several questions regarding marriage. Why do I want to get married? What is God’s design for marriage? What do I need to do to prepare myself fully for marriage at this point in my life?

I have struggled with my perception of marriage. I want so much to treasure marriage like God values it. The world, my peers and sadly, even the church, seem to have a much distorted view of marriage. Marriage, and all that it encompasses, are promoted as self-centered, physically gratifying, lust driven and just “the next stage in life”. Children too are seen as a part of marriage that “has” to happen. Is nothing sacred anymore?

Marriage was designed and created by the Master Weaver Himself. He uses sacredness as the gold thread in the cloth of marriage. When regarded as the pure and beautiful reflection of Christ and the Church, marriage is a stunning gold mantle. Marriage is holy beyond human comprehension. Marriage is sacred.

Since God compares Christ and the Church to marriage, it must be gloriously wonderful. It is also painstakingly challenging. As a Bride of Christ I must be striving to be holy, blameless and pure spiritually. Therefore, as a future earthly bride, I also need to be holy, blameless and pure. My Heavenly Groom gave Himself for me to make me holy. I need to seek an earthly groom that will do the same.

These responsibilities are not simple. As a Bride of Christ and as a future earthly bride I am called to be holy, blameless and pure. Holy. Blameless. Pure. In order to produce those characteristics in my life, I must first be intensely focused on my Heavenly Groom. He alone is able to fashion this clump of sinful humanity called Jaclyn into a beautiful vessel of usefulness. He turns my affection, desire and longings toward Him. He shaves away the impurities and blemishes that hinder me from being His holy, blameless and pure bride.

So, I am already the Bride of Christ. Why do I long so much to be an earthly bride? There are many and varied reasons. Some reasons are complicated. Most are quite simple. At the very end of my explanations I always come back to one desire: To make much of Jesus. How beautiful to share my life with another human being who is also longing to further the name of Jesus!

All the Days of My Life
Proverbs 31:11-12 says:
“A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.”

I imagine a young man, my prince, reading these verses. As he looks around the world today there are few women of noble character like what is described here. Who can find her? The one who searches. What is she worth? FAR more than rubies.

I love the next part, “her husband has full confidence in her.” I do believe that, even now, before I know his name or see his face, that he can have full confidence in me. I also can have full confidence in him. He can be confident that I am not sharing my affections with anyone; I am waiting for him and preparing to build his home. I can be confident that he is preparing for our marriage in the same ways.

He can also be confident that I am bringing him good, not harm. At least I am trying. Last time I checked, all the days of my life are now. Now is the time where I can be the greatest blessing to him as I wait and prepare to be his bride. I can do him good by learning to cook. I can do him good by understanding the pressures of motherhood. I can do him good by being disciplined, chaste, sober and modest.

The greatest good I can do for my husband now is to seek God, know God and love God with all that I am. Thus the reason the author wrote verse 31, which was the subject of my last post and the mother of this one.

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Proverbs 31:30

The Three Questions Answered
So when I face the three questions: “Do you have a boyfriend? Why not? Are you taking college classes?” I am able to remain confident in who God is, the plan He has for my life and the prince who is waiting. I set my eyes on the yardstick and work diligently to weave a gold mantle worthy of a prince’s stature.

~To the Prince of Heaven, to the earthly prince who will come for me and to Shannon who waits eagerly for her prince along side me.~

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Charm Deceives and Beauty Fades

"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
~Proverbs 31:30

Over the years this verse has become very dear to me. My Prince of Heaven knew I would need this verse. He reminds me of it when I desperately lack the fear of the Lord. When I do not feel beautiful physically He says, "Jaclyn, that does not matter to me anyway. Charm by itself deceives. Physical beauty fades. Remember? "

So I sit here typing this blog as I prepare for bed. I have a hideous looking mud mask all over my face. After I rinse it off, soft cream will follow. I will floss and brush my teeth. A thick coat of lotion will be applied to my hands.

And yet beauty fades. The wrinkles of age will come. The sags around my eyes will form. My stomach will stretch with child-bearing. My chin will... well, you get the point. Beauty fades.

I could be the most charming girl. I could dazzle and speak words everyone wanted to hear. I could dress in such a way that would charm the eye.

But charm, by itself, deceives. It is fake, lifeless, godless and selfish. It covers the true person inside and lies to all who see.

What lasts? What part of womanhood is to be praised, admired, modeled and sought after with all my heart? The answer is simple. Yet, it will cost me my charm; it will cost me my vanity.

"... a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

What do I want to be known for in this life? Being able to charm? Being beautiful? Hardly. I want to be known for fearing the Lord. I want people to look at me and see that I KNOW my God. I want people to not notice me when they see my life. I want to lose my individuality in the very character of God and reflect His grace so completely that every moment of my life HE is praised.

I have a long way to go. Praise God for His grace that disciplines. Praise God for His love that comforts. Praise God for His forgiveness that gives me hope!

So as I depart to wash off my face remember to be beautiful on the inside. Beauty fades. Charm deceives. BUT a woman who fears the Lord- SHE shall be praised!

(And girls, have you ever thought about this: A man wrote that verse! It was not a grandma talking to her grand-daughter about how to behave. Thus, the purest, most Godly, most honorable man is one that searches for the woman who fears God!)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sense and Sensibility

I watched "Sense and Sensibility" JUST last night so I thought it fun when Dawn's mom had this quiz on her blog! My family always teases me for being like Elinor! The description fits me perfectly!

You scored as Elinor Dashwood- 95%

You're Elinor Dashwood, the "sense" of Sense & Sensibility! You tend to hide your emotions, but you feel deeply. You also feel obligated to carry the burden of keeping everyone in your family under control.

Who are YOU?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Picture Fest!

Anna, Ivanna, Julia, Elizabeth, Amy (my mom) and Brittney at the "Ladies of Grace" retreat this weekend. I took this picture into the mirror after we had drawn pictures on the mirror of ourselves. You cannot see them, but it was so much fun! It was interesting to see how each girl decorated themselves. It really reflected their personality!
I could NOT resist posting this picture of Julia. We did "modeling" with odd sorts of things, obviously! She called this style, "The Independent Housewife". THAT nicknamed spawned a lot of discussion!
Here we are, doing our "God: Who is He?" study on Friday night. I challenged the girls with their present view of God. We studied numerous verses about the power, otherness and creativity of God! We cannot be the girls and women we need to be if we do not know God as He wants to be known!
Our sleeping quarters!
Victoria took this picture of me to try out the digital camera. I made it black and white which adds such a different look! My shirt is BRIGHT pink!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Autumn Recipe

Autumn is in the air. Breathe deep and you may smell crisp leaves. Walk down the street and hear them crackle under your feet. Autumn brings sweaters out of the crawl space, puts logs in the fireplace and...

...every kind of apple dessert in your tummy.

This year we ordered three bushels, instead of our regular two, from the western slopes of Colorado. This is the time of year we have apples coming out our ears. This is the time of year where we are seeking new apple recipes.

You see, my mom always finds easy, delicious crisps and cobblers. I, on the other hand, seem to gravitate toward complicated, time-consuming and sickening sweet recipes. Well, this year I am happy to announce that the one I found was rather simple and not too time absorbing.

It was still sickening sweet.

But it was a WINNER! We all loved it! Dad loved it which means that it was really good! We enjoyed it so much that I thought I would share the recipe with all of you:

Caramel Apple Bars
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 c packed brown sugar
1-3/4 cup flour
1 c old-fashioned or quick cooking oatmeal
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soad
1/2 c chopped nuts, optional

4-1/2 c coarsely chopped peeled baking apples
3 tbsp flour
1 14oz package caramels
3 tbsp butter

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and brown sugar until fluffy. Add flour, oats, salt and baking soda; mix well. Stir in pecans if desired. Set aside 2 cups. Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 baking pan. For filling, toss apples with flour; spoon over crust. In a saucepan, melt the caramels and butter over low heat; drizzle over apples. Top with the reserved oat mixture. Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool before cutting into bars. Yield 15-20 servings

For more apple flavor, add 2-3 cups more apples. For rich flavor, leave as recipe directs.

Happy Autumn and enjoy!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Beautiful Savior


Words cannot express the feeling inside my heart at this moment.

The weekend went as expected. My dad resigned. We are cleaning out his office tonight.

YET... oh, I love that word. There is such hope in the word, "yet". Our God is the God of "yets". You sinned, yet Christ died for you!

So, the weekend was odd, hard and emotional... YET my Savior has guided my soul all along the way! This morning I awoke with such passion and focus that it startled me a bit.

I have been discouraged the last few weeks. My schedule has been busy and I have been tired physically, emotionally and spiritually. My quiet times with God have suffered. My attitude has gone slowly downhill.

A few nights ago I had had it. I threw my hands up and cried out to God for help. Ahhh... He does. He does. He gave me a direction and a longing for His Word. He spanked my backside with conviction. And He set my heart focused back on Himself.

I am looking forward to this day and week with excitement. Not because anything exciting is going to happen but because I have my Jesus. I have Him to walk with me. I have Him to carry my burdens. I have Him.

What else matters?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Glance into Jaclyn's World This Week

The last week life has drastically changed for my family. In order to keep a very long story short I will only say this: my dad will be submitting his resignation to our church body this Sunday.

God’s timing is not like ours, have you noticed? I have. God’s people do not always behave as Christ would, have you noticed that too? I have. Have you figured out that you do not always know the answers to life’s most difficult questions? Yeah, me too.

The request for my dad’s resignation was a shock, but not surprising- if that makes sense. The last few months the secret meetings, plotting and hostile relationships have evidenced where people’s intentions would lead.

The way pieces fell have hurt. Words that have been spoken have hurt. Attitudes toward our family have hurt.

Yet, nothing is bothering God. He is not surprised. He is not shocked. He is not hurt. He sees the grand plan. He knows. He knows. He knows.

You see, God has been teaching me something the last few months. I have a story. You have a story. Everyone has their own story. And God can use the same situation to rebuke one while strengthening another.

The situation my family has faced the last few days has caused us pain. It seems that it has caused others happiness. We scratch our heads and cry out to God, “God, why did You do it THIS way? God, are you teaching those that have hurt us a lesson too?”

And God replies, “My children, you have your own story. Do not ask what plans I have for THEM. Think of where YOU need to grow and become more like ME!”

That is the heavenly perspective that keeps our hearts focused on God. It is not easy. The next few weeks will not be easy. We have no idea what the next months hold. God does not promise that life will be peachy. He promises to be with us, guide us and make us more like Christ if we let Him.