Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Real Enchilada

I've been promising more personal, introspective posts for a while now, and have at least one good one still in the editing stages... but this will do for now. It's largely adapted from an email and journal entries...

The Boy & The Girl
Ryan & I are doing well. We reach these sweet stretches where things are wonderful, and we're serving each other lots, and just having fun! My prayer is that those will be longer and longer stretches, with fewer inturruptions! Usually I'm the one to get cranky and break the mood... yuck. The Lord has recently shown me how often an emotion (usually anger) is the root of my sins against Ryan or in other areas, and I'm learning to ask for help when I feel it coming on. I get suckered into thinking that my feeling HAS to determine what I do, instead of truth. Can you identify at all? Pray for me in that way.

Along those lines, Ryan & I are teaching the kids at church, and right now the lesson is on Jesus growing up as a boy. It hit me that He knew exactly how it felt to be SO annoyed that you feel you HAVE to react in anger or frustration..."yet was without sin." He is THE person who can help me when I feel like I'm there-- THE proof that I CAN not get angry. That's been an encouragement lately.

Ryan just got home and relayed the final version of the T-house lesson he preached tonight, on Jesus walking on water (Matt 14:22-33), and it was amazing that his application was almost the same exact thing! That Jesus is near at hand with power to save, just when the temptation is fiercest (waves & wind strongest). He's walking on the water, calm and unsinking in the same storm. ("yet without sin") And the proper response to foundering faith is dependance-- prayer!-- not despair. "Lord, save me!" not "I'm going to sink! I'll never get out of this!" I think God's trying to get some point across to me... =D

Good Books
The Lord's been prompting my heart to examine myself-- to remember that my first duty is to be defined by godliness, not wife-ly-ness. You know? I'm supposed to be a GODLY wife, not just a wife. And I haven't been really cultivating personal holiness as much as I did before I was married. Which is natural, I suppose-- the whole 1 Cor 7 thing. No wonder sin has been more of a losing struggle latetly. No wonder I haven't felt "as close" to my Father as I have before. I don't want to let sin become rooted and such a habit that it keeps me distant from God! Anyway I bring all that up to say I'm reading Sin & Temptation (John Owen), A Hunger for God (John Piper), and other stuff that I hope will help. I'm also enjoying good doses of fiction. :) That stuff can be SOOOOO encouraging!!

Via Audiobook, I read F. H. Burnett's A Little Princess, which is a wonderful children's story, quite convicting: the heroine goes from tremendous wealth to starving poverty and ruthless hard work, and all the while is determined to act "like a little princess," always polite, honest, hard-working, and kind. So sweet. And I also read the Thoenes' Jerusalem Scrolls, which is set during Jesus' ministry. It's the story of Mary Magdalene, the centurion whose servant Jesus heals, and Martha & Lazarus (among other NT names), before and during their conversions. I was struck by how, well, un-Christian most of these people were...how cold they were towards Jesus, how self-righteous and unkind. It offended my imagination of them, of first-century Jews. But that's how they must have been... they crucified the Lord of Glory, after all! It's given me much encouragement (God can save anybody!!), and startling humility-- "what am I thinking? that God couldn't save someone that opposed to Him? He saved me!" "...as such you once were..."

I'm in a Book Club here, and it's great fun. Gets me to read books I'd likely not read on my own (not "my style" you know?), which in and of itself may not be a good thing, but paired with insightful discussion, it is! A great way to build friendships with thinking, godly women of all ages and walks of life!

Out & About
This weekend Ryan's taking me to see Phantom of the Opera downtown; my Christmas present. WOOHOOO!! We're going out to PF Chang's afterwards. I'm looking forward to that!!

There are several beats of my heart... may they be used to edify those who read! May you each receive what you need, and that always is God's grace.

Snow Day!!

It snowed here today; school for me was canceled. I was looking forward to day of productive work, but God had other plans... my friend Ashlea ran out of gas, and called me so of course I ran to go get her, stopping by the Shuey's to borrow their gas can. As I was getting to the exit where Ashlea had run out of gas and left her car, I saw it being towed away! So then we had to track down where they impounded it, find it ("it's the car without any snow on it, row 22" -- as if that helped!), put gas in it from a can (which takes FOREVER), then drive to a gas station! Always an adventure with Ashlea around... then I went back to the Shuey's to return the gas can/tutor Morgan in Latin, and it ended up taking quite a while because I had to wait while they had lunch in the middle of it...

I worked a little, then ran out to the store to buy more GF flour to make banana pancakes for dinner... and Ashlea came over and we made Turkish coffee, then watched Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black (the first in a trilogy). It was about these people who get stranded on a desert planet right before an eclipse, and they find out the planet is inhabited by carnivorous radar-equipped things that only come out in pitch black... basically only 3 people survive and it's very unnerving. I'm glad I don't have to sleep by myself tonight! ... As you can see, not much work got done today!!

Amidst my changed plans, the Lord brought this verse to mind, brought up by several friends at our Ladies Fellowship last Saturday: "Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good." 1 Peter 4:19 <-- if those suffering are to do this, how much more those who are having a wonderful day!? I guess the general attitude of our lives is to go about doing good, entrusted to God and His will for the day.

Glad to be warm and loved,

Prayer Request

Please pray for a particular family here if you remember--a mother who was living with them is no longer able to care for her daughter, and so my friends have temporary custody of the baby girl, "Katie." Needless to say, a fourth child-- an infant at that-- is quite a lot of stress on them, and a tough adjustment for their youngest. And please, please pray for Katie's mother. We aren't exactly sure where she is, and it's really cold here. We fervently pray that she is somewhere warm, safe, and drug-free, somewhere she'll be able to think and realize what she's done and is doing. We don't know where little Katie will end up-- pray for her, too, that she will be protected and placed in a caring, stable, Christ-centered home -- either with a profoundly-changed-mother, or a foster family, or our friends.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Vine Lady

From my visit last weekend to Nashville. I was visiting my Aunt Robin, Uncle Duncan & their two cuties, Caroline (4) and Luke (2)...with "baby Jack" on the way! One of Caroline's favorite local attractions is "the Vine Lady" who makes her appearance at the Opryland Atrium. Caroline even dressed up as the Vine Lady for Halloween! Anyway, the two of them were SO cute watching her and going to say hi to her, and then of course being the Vine Lady. TOO CUTE! The Vine Lady herself is rather impressive, I must say. (and I think her aim is to somehow appear seductive...but the stilts kind of negate that, I think...)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Response to my Previous Post

Here it is in full:

"You are trying your best to be a good preacher, lady, but you have no authority from God to preach like this to a man and you have no idea what you are talking about. You are deeply misguided."

D. Cloud

Hey! At least I got a response, proving my response was at least skimmed!


Monday, January 14, 2008

Warning about Patch the Pirate?

Looking for some music for my choir, I came across an article warning against the inherent evil in "Patch the Pirate" music. That sort of thing galls me, for so many reasons. Two that come to mind: 1) this type of "Fundamentalist" thinking gives people a list of do's and don'ts and tells them that's how to be righteous. It grieved and angered me in Rome (the Catholic churches where pilgrims are promised pardon from any sin if they visit all 4 "big" churches), and in the lives of friends raised around Bob Jones University. NO!! ONLY throught JESUS are we made righteous!! The list either creates false hope or despair, depending on whether you do them or ont 2) because I love music! I've studied it, and throughout history "secular" music has been called sinful by one faction of the church or another...and then the age turns, and all of a sudden "Amazing Grace" is "the original tune" defended by old-timers, instead of being a contraversial tune to the textual composition of a questionable ex-slave-ship captain. How many "hymns-only!" defenders realize that hymns were scandalous when Watts wrote them-- "Psalms only!" was the conservative cry back then! Anyway, here is my response. Feel free to share any thoughts you may have:

To whom it may concern-

I just stumbled across your "warning" about Patch the Pirate music, and was physically sickened and at the same time incredulous. " The music would be right at home in a nightclub or a sleazy Broadway play and could easily conjure up such unwholesome images as that of a saucy woman sauntering across a stage."

Why would any child gets these images in his head? Where would they even get such ideas!? Any such association is, I'm afraid, a residue of Mr. Cloud's own sin-filled past, not a result of anything inherent in the music itself. ("To my great shame, I lived a very wicked and worldly life before I was saved, and I know as much about worldly music which is fitting for wicked environments as any other man.") I won't try to dissuade anyone of this "the Devil has a beat" position based on the hundreds of Scriptural and reason-based approaches, because my guess is that you are unwilling to consider them, and that better men and women than myself have tried to show you the sad, Judaiizer-istic errors in your this thinking. But I will say this: when Jesus saved Nicodemus, a Pharisee, do you think He would have warned him to now avoid anything that reminded him of his erroneous, pride-full self-righteous unsaved way of life-- to avoid anything smacking of Judaism? What about when He saved the woman caught in adultery-- would He have warned her to avoid anything that reminded her of her own tainted past-- maybe certain scents, certain sorts of fabrics? No... those saved from their own prisons of pride (legalism) now dedicated their desire for outward holiness and keeping of high holy days to the glory of Messiah; everything had new meanings for them now! For them, Jesus' blood redeemed everything that Satan had tried to twist to evil. Likewise, those saved from their prisons of license now dedicated everything once dedicated to self-indulgence to the worship of Messiah; one such sinner broke her box of nard to annoint His feet. Others surely married and enjoyed sexual intimacy (worship) with their husbands or wives, to the glory of the One who has bought all pleasure for His people.

There is nothing beyond the reach of redemption; not even a weak sinner's association with music he once enjoyed as a rebellious sinner. Sure, scars take time to heal, and some may do better avoiding certain "triggers." But they must be careful not to force the result of their weak consciences to label as 'evil' that which God created and called "good." Let the strong bear with those who are weak, until the weak can be taught and built up and be made strong, with consciences set free from condemnation, and bodies wholly dedicated to righteous living. (Rom. 15) In other words; let those whose consciences are weak and can't handle music that reminds them of situations where they sinned be helped along until they at least see that what led them to sin was sin in their own hearts (James 4:1) , not anything inherent in the situational musical soundtrack itself. "The world" is within our own hearts!! (Mt. 15: 10-20)

In Gospel bonds, and no other,
--Christina Szrama (Pre-K and Middle School Music Teacher)

Friday, January 04, 2008


Too many photos to post, so here's a link to albums (on Facebook) you may peruse at your leisure!

Louisville Going-Ons ...birthday parties, church functions, friends eating food, and even a Christmas Tea!

Our First Christmas Together... pictures from our time in Ruston, LA with the entire Thompson Clan, pictures from Ashley & Craig Sarratt's wedding, and of our brunch with our dear friends Chris & Val Powell, in Greenville/Taylors/Greer, SC. Click and revel in the glory of my darlings, Hannah & Noah!! :)

~the Mrs.

ps- It's cold here!!!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A little Bit of New Year Humor

Ryan & I found this hilarious... especially me -- I watched it 3 times in a row before Ryan proclaimed me ridiculous. Thank you, Uncle Jeff. Why are the alcohol (especially beer) commercials always the funniest? (Molson's "Joe Canada," "The Magic Fridge," "Dude!"... the list goes on) What do I find funny about this?... not sure. I think it's the guy's "Oh... you meant--"

Anyway, we've got days of snow, but no snow days. Which is good for the sake of learning, I know... but not so good for my half-baked lesson plans! ;)

Off to rest up. Til next time (and mind you, I've had quite a post brewing in my head for the past week),
-- happy to be Mrs. Szrama

Just for you Anna: (the aforementioned "Magic Fridge" commercial)

p.s. The Szrama Clan does not endorse the irresponsible, unholy over-consumption of alcohol in any form (especially not Bud Light... yuck!). We just think the commercials are particularly well-done.

"He Ain't Heavy, Father...

...he's my brother"
Race & Van Parker
International Adoption... beautiful
Align Right

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Years Resolutions...

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

For a great sermon on this text, listen to or download this one!

Christians naturally want to resolve for good, and the Apostolic model for us is to pray for each other, that we might be empowered by His Spirit to FULFILL those resolves! Ryan & I want to be more purposeful and thorough in our prayers for you... for your resolves for good... for the glory of our Lord Jesus! Pray for us, as we resolve to pray for your resolves! :)