Psalm 45:10-11, 13-15

Listen to me, O royal daughter; take heart to what I say. Forget your people and your homeland far away. For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. [...] The bride, a princess, waits within her chambers, dressed in a gown woven with gold. In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king, accompanied by her bridesmaids. What a joyful, enthusiastic procession as they enter the king's palace!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ultimate Blog Party!

The Ultimate Blog Party is here...along with the new website. Reflections of a Princess has moved to

The family "stuff" will stay here until I get the family blog up and running.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Celebrating our Anniversary

Joe took Monday and Tuesday off from work so we had an extended weekend, which was nice. We spent much of it lounging in our pajamas, watching movies, and enjoying our time together.

Monday, as we were cooking breakfast, Joey sat down at the piano and started playing away! It surprised us all! Well...he was sitting on my lap, but he did his own banging and had fun!

Monday afternoon we went to the beach for the first time since Joey was born. He touched the sand (and even the frigid Pacific!) for the first time!

Our attempt at a family picture. There were quite a few tries. These were just the best three.

On Tuesday, the 17th, we went to the Flower Fields in Carlsbad. Joe and I went there last year on our anniversary too. It was pretty much the same, but still fun. And no white shoes this year, just sandals...which pretty much got my feet dirty. What was fun about this is that last year at the Flower Fields is when we had a hint of suspicion there was a little bun in the oven...and there was!

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In the evening, we put Joey to bed and Chuck "watched" him so that Joe and I could go out to dinner. We felt very cosmopolitan with a reservation at 8:30pm. (We wanted to make sure that Joey would be settled and have time for the unexpected.)

We went to Jake's at Del Mar where we went for my birthday a few years ago. It was fun and very tasty. And to our surprise we weren't as distracted about leaving our baby boy as we thought! I think mostly due to the fact that he was already asleep. But, of course, within minutes of us arriving him the little boy woke up!

It was a fun anniversary all in all and thank you for all your calls and greetings. Oh! And sorry if we hung up on you. We kept getting call after call while we were at the Flower Fields and in trying to turn off the volume on the cell phone we hung up (or almost hung up) on a few people. Oops!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Our Anniversary!

Two years ago today
we said,

"I do"!

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Good Reminder for Us All

A Marriage Advice Moment with John Piper

A staff member at Bethlehem asked Pastor John what one or two main things he wants to say to an engaged couple in premarital counseling. His answer is relevant for marriages new and old:

Be joyfully, brokenheartedly, shaped by the death of Christ for you.

Do you both feel the fearfulness of how the death of Christ witnesses to your unspeakable unworthiness to be loved—that it took this much suffering and indignity to the Son of God for you to be saved. And do you both feel the wonder of being forgiven owing to nothing in you?

If you do, it will profoundly shape your patience with each other’s shortcomings (which you will find to be more than you ever dreamed).

Get really clear the meaning of headship and submission.

Husband, tremble at the implications of Ephesians 5:25-30.

Wife, tremble at the implications of Ephesians 5:21-24.

Understand this and glory in the greatness of the calling to be married for the sake of showing the world the covenant faithfulness between Christ and his church.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Grieved to the Point of Death

And He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved to the
point of death; remain here and keep watch."
Mark 14:34
How quickly do we read this verse? It has just become part of the story for us. A means to an end. Do we ever sit and ponder the humanity of Jesus at this point? Do we think of him more as God than man? Able to handle the sorrow and pain to come, I mean, he is God after all.

Grieved to the point of death. What does that even feel like?

The hour is late. Stillness settles like an eerie cloud over Jerusalem. As He enters the gate in the wall around Gethsemane, Jesus motions to Peter, James, and John to come with Him...

Jesus moves slowly, perhaps stopping to lean against a gnarled tree trunk. White knuckles protrude from tightened fists and His head hangs in weariness. The men glance at one another, wondering what to do. Their Teacher has never been like this before. They saw Him cry when His friend Lazarus died; and only a week ago, as He entered Jerusalem, He sobbed out loud over the neediness there. Yet that was a strong cry--laced with sadness perhaps, but not despair.

This is different. Overwhelming sorrow consumes Him. Teeth clenched, Jesus utters: "My soul is grieved to the point of death"...a beleaguered bellow from the depths of His being.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Obediently Humbled

Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8

"Obediently humbled." What does that say? It suggests that humility wasn't easy for Jesus, and we know it's not easy for us.

To be obediently humbled alludes to a battle of the wills, a choice. A deliberate choice to obey God. Christ's example is the ultimate humility. It was humility to the point of death--death on a cross, the ultimate embarrassment and shame (Php. 2:8). When I think of this I remember there is nothing too lowly for me to do.

I thought of this verse often in my first two years of teaching preschool, because one of my after-school duties was cleaning. Cleaning everything--even the bathrooms. And do you know how bad preschool bathroom's smell? You don't want to know. My human response was to say, "I don't need to be doing this. This is disgusting. Why don't they just hire someone to do this?" When the truth is there's nothing too lowly for me.

If the Perfect Son & God of the universe can bear the burden of humanity's sin on his shoulders and be humiliated by dying a sinner's death,* then what it too lowly for me?

Humility isn't easy. It's a lowering of yourself for the sake of another. It's saying "no" to you and "yes" to someone else. It's not easy, but it's better. Just think of the freedom humility brings. If I'm not so concerned and wrapped up in my needs, my time, and my pursuits, then living for God and serving others would be so simple. I wouldn't be holding onto anything, so others wouldn't be taking anything away. Isn't that what entitlements really are? Holding onto something we feel others are trying to take?

*This is huge in and of itself. Christ died. His ministry had proclaimed him to be the Son of God, the Messiah. He was a man of miracles. At the cross, the people thought him to be a fool and a fraud. If the "self-proclaimed" Son of God couldn't get himself down off the cross, then, was he really anything special? In their eyes, he had been humiliated--made low. But, then, they didn't know the low would be lifted high (Php. 2:9-11).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Blog: Mountains of Books

I started a new blog, Mountains of Books. It's about books, authors, reviews, and reading.

Stop on by and have a look.

Noel Piper on Lent

"It is a time for turning away from anything that has kept us from God and for turning or returning to him. It is a time to pray that God will renew our love for him and our dependence on him."

from Treasuring God in our Traditions, p. 93

Monday, March 09, 2009

Pictures of Joey

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Menu Plan Monday

Monday - Spaghetti

Tuesday - Chicken, veggies, roasted potatoes

Wednesday - Lentil & Rice Casserole w/ veggies

Thursday - Nacho Casserole w/ corn & salad

Friday - Hummus Pizza

Saturday - Pasta w/ Broccoli Pesto Sauce or Leftovers (I haven't made this in awhile!)

Sunday - family dinner

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Practicality of Knowing God

The basic premise of Practical Theology for Women is to live your life based on the truth of who God is. It's simply stated, but so profound.

Who God is and how we respond to life circumstances are in direct correlation with each other. If we know God to be faithful, then even in the most dire of circumstances we have hope. If we know God to be just, then we can be assured wrongs will be righted. If we know God to be loving, then we will have no fear in confessing our sins. If we know God to be Father, then we can trust his guidance.

The problem, as the author Wendy Alsup puts it, is "some of us don't know the truth of the character of God" (p.99). We know of God. We know about God. We know stories of God. But, oftentimes, we don't live as if we truly know God and he is real. This reminds me of a quote by Dallas Willard, "Namely, we believe something not when we say we or even when we believe we do, but when we act as if we do."

Wendy continues,
"How often are we devastated, disappointed, or frustrated by problems that cloud our day and hang over our head? It may be as simple as getting a flat tire, more serious like losing a job, or the most serious issue of losing a loved one in death.

What issue has put you in a bad mood? What situation is hanging over your head right now like a thunderous rain cloud? What thought patterns are governing your attitude? And are you going to allow those thought patterns to be your master, or are you going to take those thoughts captive and make them submit to what you know to be true about God? (emphasis mine)

This is why knowing theology--knowing God--is so important. It's practical.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Change is Coming: An {Important} Announcement

Some of you already know this {important} announcement. But here it is: We're moving.

It's never been our plan to stay in California unless the Lord directed us to. Before we got married we had two directions we felt we were to take: the mission field or seminary.

Well, Lord willing--we'll be moving to Louisville, Kentucky this summer where Joe will be attending Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I say "Lord willing" because he hasn't yet heard back from the admissions office. Joe forgot to mail the fees with the application, so we had a bit of delay in the application process...we're expecting to hear back from them within a week or two.

We're definitely excited about this decision, the prospect of a new town, and the proximity to my family (6-7 hours to SC!). I'm looking forward to four seasons, green scenery, having our own place again, and the newness of it all. What's also exciting is that the school has a Seminary Wives Institute, where I can meet other wives of seminary students and to prepare for whatever God has for us in the future as Joe prepares with his degree.

(He's going to get an M.Div, isn't that kind of funny? He'll be a Master of Divinity!)

As for now, we're planning (we're in the thinking of planning stage right now) to move sometime in the end of June/beginning of July. We have a wedding to go to in Virginia July 11th and 2nd Annual Oxendine/Patterson/Closterman Family Vacation the first week of July.

We're excited. If Joe gets accepted there will be much to do and research in the coming months. Can you believe it's already March? Crazy! If he doesn't get accepted we still might be moving back east...maybe. We'll see what God has. It'll be good whatever it is.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Perceived Rights

Don't we all have them? Or at least we think we do. We perceive to have the right
  • to our parking space
  • to have exactly what we ordered in a restaurant--no mistakes
  • to be respected in the workplace (based on our age, experience, etc.)
  • to be acknowledged for our hard work
  • to not have our plans changed
  • to not be inconvenienced
  • to be thanked for our services/ministry in the home and elsewhere
  • the right to an easy life, within reason of course.
The reality is that's all wrong. None of these are our rights. They are "perceived" rights. They are rarely, if ever, based on object truth. They're our perception. What we want, feel, desire.

perceive - v. become aware of through the senses; regard as

rights - n. an entitlement to have or do something
When we compare this attitude of "rights" against the attitude of Christ we notice something glaringly different. Christ, very God himself, asserted no rights except to follow the will of his Father.

He did not protest death. He did not display His power or authority. He did not make demands or promises of revenge. He simply went to die giving up every right he had.

He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:8

In light of the cross, our perceived rights are small, fruitless, and self-exalting. Let us strive to give up these "rights," surrendering our attitudes and will to Christ, hoping

"As our grasp on our perceived rights weakens, our needs fade into the background, and we become little images of Christ--consumed with the needs of others to the forgetfulness of our own."

from Practical theology for Women by Wendy Horger Alsup

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Practicing Hospitality: Chapter 4

Here we are on chapter 4 already--halfway through the book! I'm still enjoying it and it's really encouraging me to practice hospitality in my life and family, while still broadening my view. For the book discussion visit Passionate Homemaking.

The standout point for me was that orderliness is the goal, not perfection. Also, I thought it was a good point in having a guest ready home and a right perspective of our possessions--they're to be used.

Now, on to the discussion questions:

1. How can you become a planner of generosity?
For me, I've been thinking (and am now planning) to invite people over to our house twice a month--a group event and then one-on-one with another couple or family. For the group event maybe a game or movie night and invite 3-4 people (possibly have them invite a friend too as a way to meet new people and get to know acquaintances better).

2. How can you begin to change you perspective to view household management with an eternal purpose?
It's not just about my desire for a neat and orderly home, but preparation for sharing in God's kingdom. Being an open door, a safe haven, and refuge. Chaos and disorder rarely, if ever, feel safe and can make a guest--especially an unexpected one--feel like a burden and inconvenience.

3. What tips might you have to help maintain a more orderly and prepared home?
My tips would be:
  • have a couple of "go-to" meals that have been tried and tested with the ingredients stocked in your kitchen
  • have a cleaning schedule--having one has helped keep me sane even though I don't follow it religiously
  • daily or weekly schedule--I don't do this every day or week, but I do for days that there is a lot going on. It helps me not to forget something and breaks things into segments so I can see how I'm spending my time. Sometimes I feel like my schedule is jam packed but when I write it down I see I have more open time than I thought...usually.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

For some reason, I've had this Spinach Minestrone on my menu for two weeks and have yet to cook it. What's holding me back? I don't know. Maybe I'll actually get to it this week.

Monday - Red Beans & Rice w/ cornbread

Tuesday - Spinach Minestrone w/ rolls

Wednesday - Sloppy Lentils w/ veggies & home fries

Thursday - Nacho Casserole w/ corn & salad

Friday - 10 Bean Soup w/ drop biscuits

Saturday -Beefy Asian Rice or Leftovers

Sunday - family dinner TBA