Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Jewel {poem}

I am undergoing much physical suffering right now and am significantly behind on everything! So, computer time is very minimal, but this "season of life" should produce good pondering posts later on! ;) Who knows when I'll get to July's update, but in the meantime, here's a poem Ricky recently wrote...

THE JEWEL
by Ricky DiMartino 


Below old, round hill of tall oaken wood,
Cleft into its foot of sod and red earth,
A grey-walled cavern deep and dark there stood,
Arrayed with gems and jewels and ore of great girth.

Alone and untouched this cave did not stay,
For many a miner from far and near
Heard tale of lodes as long as the day,
Of gold and emerald and rubies dear.

The mine bid all to come and swing pick-ax—
Men, giants, and dwarves—amid sweat and groans.
Kings, queens, and lords spent the best of men's backs,
And peasant women clawed with calloused bones.

Then one bright, chill morning on cusp of spring
The threshold of the cavern door was breached
By a maiden with hair of golden rings.
In she walked where no wind or sunlight reached.

Above her, beside her, and underfoot
Were many stones for which men lust.
Just one small gem, if in her pocket put,
Would deliver her from a life of dust.

Candle in hand, bare feet upon dark dirt,
A sudden glimmer of gold caught her gaze.
Shuffling to its glare, something snagged her skirt.
Turning round she cast her light through the haze.

There upon the ground was nothing of note,
Save one oddly shaped, crusty lump of clay.
Nothing would draw any soul to its coat,
Yet from her eye came a curious ray.

With lamp by her feet and hand outstretchéd,
The lass bent low to examine the clump
Of ugly, hardened, broken earth wretched.
And whilst in study hearts began to thump.

For reasons not even her mind could guess
This object of no desire had found
Its way into the pocket of her breast.
And out she walked from the cave underground.

Townspeople and passersby looked askance
At this fair maiden with nondescript orb.
Yet if one caught glimpse of her eyes, by chance,
One would see what this girl sought to absorb.

For in her heart she sensed there could be more
To this plain chunk of mud crumbling apart.
She was determined to get to its core
And someday, perhaps, unearth its true heart.

To her small humble stone cottage she fled,
Just on the border betwixt town and wood,
And with each swift, quickening step she bred
A thought, a fancy... a dream of what could.

Through cottage door she burst, clutching hard rock.
Forgoing all past, she began at once
To scrape away by finger and by block
The grit and the grime through grimace and grunts.

But unforgiving was its filth and crud
And fast to the clod of clay they did cling.
Thin did patience wear 'mid many a thud.
Fiercer tool was declined lest gem she sting.

Set upon her task as waves upon shore,
She beat earth with renewed vigor and joy.
And as sediment heaped about the floor,
Expectation and hope failed to cloy.

Wonders were imagined and hopes were sown.
What could lay underneath the ugly smut?
Sapphire, emerald, or onyx stone?
Surely much labor would yield precious gut.

But the blossom and bloom of spring did pass,
As oft they do in seasons of great trial.
And into a woman grew the sweet bonny lass,
A woman bitten hard by winter and denial.

Housework neglected and garden long dead,
Thoughts of ill spent time stirred up weary fears.
For life lived between but table and bed
Left little food for the hard coming years.

Prudence and patience no more in reserve,
Down with hachet of steel she struck,
To get at this thing gnawing her nerve,
To divide its marrow from the muck.

And as she cut deep and carved many a chunk,
Hewing and sculpting, leaving no dark blot,
Something was wrong; in fact, it plainly stunk.
It became not sweet but wreaked of foul rot.

A fungus it had, coursing through and through.
She nearly threw the thing out the window
But something stayed her hand and then she knew,
Into the blast furnace it now must go.

And char it she did and char it some more,
Refining and purging night and day,
Until blight and blemish were seen no more
And long-sought jewel might shine forth from burnt clay.

But much scorching left it with coat of ash.
All it was now was cinder and black soot.
Against hard stone wall the rock she did dash.
Then, to be sure, she kicked it with her foot.

Her endeavor had lasted long, too long.
And yet the stubborn clod refused to yield
To her tireless striving, brave and strong.
So out she walked to bury it in the field.

The long years had been inclement and grey,
“With nothing,” said they, “to show for her toil.”
So here she knelt on this cold autumn day
To dig a hole and damn it below soil.

But as she clawed the tough earth up and out,
Her grief and stress became too much to bear.
Looking up at darkening sky with doubt,
She collapsed upon the ground to die there.

The ashen clump fell, no more in her grip...
But there came one last smite upon the stain.
And with the thunderclap that loosed the drip,
She saw now at last what had been her bane.

For as Heaven's shower washed o'er the stone
And the last stains drained away to the north,
She raised her head to behold the unknown.
And a diamond, the king of jewels, showed forth!

Of all the stones under the oaken hill,
To have at the last found the best of gems
Was vindication that left her most still.
Her rejoicing was heard on down the Thames.

Her soul light but her body frail, she rose
For one last journey across this sad earth.
With her precious diamond in hand, she chose
To give the needy great treasure and mirth.

Finally she passed into well earned rest.
She had given her life for this one ore,
That in the end, when complete was her test,
This rock might be of some worth to the poor.

The vast masses that had long scorned and mocked
Were now in awe and marveled at her wake,
Scarcely believing that among them had walked

This woman, immortal jewel of Heaven's make.

*Dedicated to all wives.

(C) August 21, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Marriage in Light of Eternity {video}

The best talk and take on marriage I have ever heard. By Francis and Lisa Chan. I just got their audiobook, You and Me Forever, and started it today! Finally... the right view on marriage!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

My Righteousness

"For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."  ~ Matthew 5:20
Well. I certainly don't feel like my righteousness surpasses that of Pharisees and teachers of the law! So, what does this mean?

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away" (Isaiah 64:6). Yep, my righteousness definitely is better described as filthy rags.

But wait...

God made His Son Jesus “who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).

"For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness," (Isaiah 61:10).

Christ now clothes me with His robes of righteousness! Which FAR surpasses!

He makes me righteous not me. His righteousness is my righteousness. Woohoo!

I'm covered -- literally. You?

*This is not to say that we should not pursue righteousness in our lives. For indeed His Spirit inside us helps us to live and think rightly. But our righteousness does not get us into Heaven -- faith in Christ alone does that and that's how we get His righteousness!
**This is what theologians call the doctrine of imputed righteousness.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Backwards Heart

  • We found out the baby is a... BOY!  We were surprised as we thought that the baby was a girl. We haven't settled on a name yet but have ideas :) I began feeling baby movement during 20 weeks.
  • First week of June: cardiologist appointment (echo-cardiogram revealed my heart to be normal -- heart wall thickening is now gone! God used Symptometry to heal my heart :); visited Wycliffe's JAARS headquarters; enjoyed a baptism for our Marshallese friends; and, went to the movie theater with a girlfriend.  
  • Second week of June: met with my doula; my friend I've known for 16 years visited us for the first time, and we took him to a famous barbeque restaurant in Asheville and a nice lake; and, met my parents halfway so they could take Aolani for her week-long grandparent visit.
  • Third week of June: Micaiah got to spend alone time with us since Aolani was with my parents; had the gender ultrasound and celebrated by going to the park and getting ice cream; had chiropractic appointments (which Micaiah calls a massage:); retrieved Aolani and celebrated Father's Day at a new restaurant.
  • Fourth week of June: attended Ricky's annual court reporting conference for one night, which was held at the casino in Cherokee, NC this year (I homeschooled in the hotel room while Ricky had meetings); and, then we left there and headed to Kentucky for our 10-year college reunion at Asbury University. They put on camps for all the kids (swimming, games, movies -- fun)! Meanwhile, we attended chapels, events, fireworks... and caught up with friends and professors. We stayed with a friend and got to share a few meals:) We went to our friends' house church and received prayers and prophecies :) We even were able to meet Ricky's dad and brother for lunch and the park, and we got to get together with other college friends for a cookout and to let our kids play. Before we left the next day, we had a brunch with some friends and got a few dream interpretations to test ;) Our trip was a very enriching time!
  • Last week of June: visited a Guatemalan church, and received a visit from a friend as we celebrated her birthday and the end of a school year!
  • Micaiah's mishaps: When Aolani was gone for her grandparent week, he commented, "I forgot what Aolani looks like; I need to go to the fridge to remember!" (her picture is on the fridge); after watching a cartoon version of The Hobbit, he informed us, "This movie is good for your mind"; and, has begun to pronounce 'L's not as the 'W' sound, and his speech is so cute right now as he is making the effort and emphasizing those syllables!
  • Aolani's antics: was really sad when we found out the baby is a boy; loves to boss littler kids around; asked, "How long do I have to walk to get to the end of the universe?"; loves all flowers, card-making, and giving; is growing more defiant and acts like a teenager; and, began swimming by herself!


Micaiah and Ricky's top priority during our week alone with him was to build the Lord of the Ring Lego castle set ;)
Girl in wheelchair homeschooling in casino hotel room -- yep, that's got to be a first!

Cherokee is in the Great Smokey mountains, which boasts of its bears
Classic Micaiah
driving through the Great Smokey mountains
a little nervous going down an inflatable slide for the first time
at a cookout with our friends from college and their kids
Aolani's butterfly garden {see video below}



Our friend, Wes, who visited
Celebrating a new baby brother with frozen yogurt ;)
Kids' Camp at our college reunion

Aolani wanted to bake Rosemary-Cornmeal cookies for our new neighbors :)

5 months pregnant
  • School verses: Micaiah -- Philippians 3:1, Psalm 119:105, John 3:16 ; Aolani -- Proverbs 1:7, and worked on learning the books of the New Testament
  • Verses I memorized: Matthew 5:20-24

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Truth About Vaccines -- Episode 1 {video}

This is good and so worthwhile. Not pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine. It encourages discussion and critical thinking. It's almost two hours long, so I broke it down and watched 10-20 minutes at a time ;)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Recording a Spiritual Timeline

For one of my courses in college, I was asked to create a spiritual timeline -- just jotting down notes of ways you see God at work in your life. It's usually chronologically recorded and things noticed in hindsight. Mine consists of both big events and insights.

Anyway, it was one of the best things I've ever done! I usually try to update my timeline every year. This way when I'm asked to speak or share or whatever, I can pull it up, browse through it, and jog my memory of God's faithfulness to me in my life so far (I have a terrible long-term memory).

I did things a little different when I spoke last month. I read through my timeline on my own, selected and named 21 stories, gave the group the titles, and let them pick which stories sounded interesting to hear. It was fun!

I cannot recommend recording your personal spiritual timeline enough! It's so rewarding to remember and see God's handiwork in your life. Every time I read over mine, praise and awe and tears combust :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Family Under Construction

  • May -- friends unexpectedly stop by; final small group before our leaders leave to adopt their little girl from China; day of appointments -- chiropractor, OB/Gyn, prenatal massage (birthday present from Ricky); new friends visit; Grandpa and Uncle Robby visit, and the men go shoot guns; I speak at a women's luncheon; go to a new restaurant for Mother's Day; go on a prayer walk; attend kids' art exhibit (ice cream social with art stations); a friend visits overnight; another friend hung out one afternoon to play games; and, some friends came over for a Memorial Day cookout/kid swim :)

with Uncle Robby and Grandpa
Kindle time

her house at the art exhibit

Micaiah's sculpture house
tea party and hymn sing with Daddy
The final meal cooked by our neighbor girl
Some of his Lego creations



One of the 17-year cicadas that took over our area this month. The kids loved playing with them everyday and treating them like pets. Every morning it sounded like an alien invasion outside. Micaiah liked his new nickname, "Micaiah the Cicada".
with our friend from China

4 months pregnant
  • School verses: Micaiah -- Ephesians 5:25, Matthew 5:10, Exodus 20:7, Matthew 6:20, Proverbs 11:1 ; Aolani -- Psalm 119:11, Psalm 150:1-6, John 14:23
  • Verses I memorized: Matthew 5:15-19

Friday, June 2, 2017

Forgiven Much

There's a story in Luke 7:36-50 about Jesus forgiving the sinful woman (who washed His feet with tears and anointed them with oil). In that passage Jesus makes His point in verse 47,
"Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
We are all disgusting, hopeless, death-deserving wretches on our own with many sins needing forgiveness. So, who is being forgiven little? The good man with fewer sins who needs less forgiveness? Oh wait, he doesn't exist! So who? The one who is forgiven little... who's that?

You can only be forgiven little if you only ask for forgiveness for a little. The one who is forgiven little is the one who repents of little. 

If you want to love more, repent more! We need to continually pray that God opens our eyes and reveals more of our sin to us. From my experience, this is a prayer that He always, quickly answers!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Celebrating from East to West

  • April: firs trimester misery continues but eases towards the end of the month; we both have birthdays; Ricky goes to a few meetings; we go to visit my family at their farm over a long Easter weekend and then leave the kids there for several days while Ricky and I flew to Mexico for our first time both to celebrate our 10-year anniversary and as a sort of missions trip (slideshows below); dentist appointments (all that vomit had built up a lot of plaque on my teeth); and, I got to organize an adoption shower for some friends who were about to travel to China to get their little girl!.
  • Aolani -- wrote a sticky note that read, "read year of the baby tomarwwer" (YOB is a book),  and told us that "In my Bible Jesus loves kids more than adults" ;)


Our early anniversary dinner in Charlotte (Ricky and I shared) 

Their "house"
The Adoption Shower
Refreshments: fruit, cupcakes with pink frosting and flags, egg rolls, wontons, Chinese-shaped sugar cookies (found China cookie cutter on Etsy) with icing to dot location of girl, and specially ordered red, cinnamon fortune cookies stuffed with Matthew 18:5 :)
Note-writing station

Attached the prayer requests to origami Chinese stars

  • School verses: Micaiah -- Proverbs 12:22, Proverbs 25:15, Proverbs 16:18 ; Aolani -- Matthew 7:7, Philippians 2:14-15
  • Verses I memorized: Matthew 5:11-14