Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Prayer of Hope and Calling

I wrote this prayer about a month ago during our Thursday morning Prayer and Praise time at Hoodland Lutheran Church. I hope that it will encourage you as it did me.

Dream the dreams of the Lord. Follow Him, He leads you along His paths.You may see many gathered against you.You may see hard paths, treacherous waters, great trials and tribulations may threaten, but the Lord says: Lift up your eyes, lean not on your own understanding, fear not for I am with you. Behold a great multitude surrounds you. He who keeps you does not slumber nor sleep. He will keep your life.

You are hidden in Christ, what can you fear? Failure? Uselessness? Pain? Rejection? Loss? The Lord is your life and your portion forever. He is the giver of every good thing.

Why do you tremble or doubt, why do you fear?
He is more than able. He is the God of the unprepared, the weak, the foolish. He lifts up the downtrodden; He makes great the unable. We are made strong in His power through our weakness.

Do you not know, have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God... He will not grow tired or weary. His compassion is new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. His love endures forever. His plans will not be thwarted.

God will not waste your life as you seek and trust Him. He will guide, mold and mature you for He knows the plans He has for you and He knows how to prepare you for all that is to come.

He has shown you, o man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. But to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Response to 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

Many of my friends know that over the past few weeks I've been reading the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. It's no great literary work, but I do find that it demands a response. But how should I begin to change my life in ways that eliminate excess for the glory of God and the benefit of other people. There are many ways in which we live to great excess that hinders our worship and our service. I want to address 3 main areas of my life in the coming months: clothes, service and entertainment.

I began with clothes. As an experiment, I tried to breakdown my basic wardrobe needs: everyday, work, workout, nicer, and pajamas. Here's what I ended up with:

It's over 20 items (including 3 pants, 6 basic tops, 6 layers/cardigans/sweaters, and 1 dress plus workout gear) which still seems a bit excessive but I'm not trying to be ascetic. Instead I'm trying to see where excess is pinning me down. In fact here is what I've eliminated:

It's over 100 items! So I'm experimenting with roughly 15% of my usually wardrobe.

My goals with this reduction are: to see how more items complicate my life rather than freeing me, to have a fresh perspective on which item I can give away, and to only keep those few items that work, look good and are functional.

There are spiritual implications here. I am so blessed to have these clothes. Clothes should serve as a means of warmth, modesty, and attractiveness. They should not be a source of stress or a balm for the soul. I feel that God will use this intentional reduction in clothes to lead me in new directions. The first step of faith in taming my surroundings.

That may sound ridiculous to you. Why would God care about my wardrobe? But I see it as a gate into my heart and a means by which to increase my longing to serve others in the community, non just through my bounty (i.e. giving away my belongings) but also through my hospitality (i.e. less stuff = easier house to clean, therefore more time to serve).

So that's my prayer:

O Lord, please use this little experiment as a seed planted in faith. Please grow in me a thankful, serving heart. Help me to live more simply that I might live more abundantly. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who will empower me to cling to the cross when I'd rather avoid confronting my sin. Thank you for this opportunity to fight complacency. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Smash: Rewrite This Story

This song will not leave my head:

Then I saw this video and thought, I'm so glad that there's Someone who can re-write our stories.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Music Can Be Good Too!

For the most part I am partial to hymns, ancient and modern. I ran across this song today though, and I don't think it can qualify as a hymn but it's not a simple praise chorus either. It'll be on repeat for a while.

I Am Living in a Land of Death
by Citizens

Verse 1:
    F                   Am
I'm living in a land of death
    C                 Fmaj7
the trees are burning grey
          F                    Am
there's a smoldering smoke overhead
and the night looks the same as the day

it seems a miracle that I can stand
when everyone i've known
drifts up in the air with the ash
every time that the wind starts to blow

            F           Am              C
but i feel alive with a life that's not mine
              F              Am             C
your law is a stream in this wasteland - my lifeline

        F                  C
so much more than precious gold
         F           Am
are your promises my lord
        F               C
by them is your servant warned
in keeping them great reward

Verse 3:
your direction is marked in light
your law secures my wounds
i will meditate day and night
and in season you'll harvest your fruit

Verse 4:
though a poison should threaten to kill
i know my Savior reigns
and when the breezes of death leave a chill
I've got Jesus' blood in my veins

Prechorus 2:
So i feel alive with a life that's not mine
and i'm believing that that is your intended design

so much more than precious gold
are your promises my lord
by them is your servant warned
in keeping them great reward


The kingdoms of man have all decayed
the ruins of progress turn to waste
the gods of greed lay in their graves
darkness is everywhere
but there's a path in the dark that has emerged
i can see a great light beyond this curse
a brilliant blaze that is your word
a beacon of hope that burns

and I focus my captivated gaze
on the radiant light from Jesus' face
the water of life is all i crave
only your word remains

So much more than precious gold
is the beauty I behold
give me the glorious reward
of knowing you my king, my lord

Lyrics from:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Paleo Plus - Chicken Chili

One of the challenges of eating well is feeding your family. As you start out eating paleo, you may not yet have your family on board or you may not be able to afford feeding everyone so much fresh food. My current solution is to cook a main portion of my food in common with my family and supplement as necessary for the rest of my family.

I used this recipe from Everyday Paleo, but I made a few modifications to make it fit my life.

First, I put 1.5 lbs of frozen chicken thighs and one can of tomatoes and green chiles along with about 4 cups of water into my crockpot. I turned it on high for 5 hours. This step cooked my chicken as well as making my chicken broth in the recipe. For the adult members of the family, this was my only modification. The result is a deliciously spicy soup. If you choose not to eat it with avocado, you'll definitely need something else to fill you up. This soup brings the flavor, but you'll need a side to be satisfied.

My kids are learning to like spicy things, but, in the main, they are wimps. So when I removed the chicken thighs from the crockpot, I reserved some de-boned meat for them. I served their meat with some Kerrygold Cheddar Cheese and gluten-free tortilla chips. I could have easily made nachos or something similar.

I love that there was no extra work involved, and everyone ate happily.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Best Parenting Tips (for now)

So I am currently enjoying time off from work, and more time with my children. By God's grace, there are things that we've done well as parents; although I don't claim that ANY of these tips or ideas originated with me, but since others might find them useful, I wanted to share them.

Here are my favorite things we're doing with our kids at their current age level:

Alex is 8 years old. This stage of parenting is challenging because it's about character development. Since he's reading well, we've started having him read a children's Bible every morning before he does anything else. We're praying that the habit continues throughout his life.

Jason and Alex share a love for games. We only allow our kids to play video games once they're 7 years old; we want to make sure a love for reading is established first. Alex is allowed to play video games on Saturdays and Mondays (Jason's day off). So far, this has worked very well for our family.

Sunday afternoons Jason plays board games with the kids. We've already seen the benefits in Alex's reasoning skills and math skills. If you don't like the idea of competing against your kids, check out cooperative games like Castle Panic, Forbidden Island, and Escape: The Curse of the Temple.

Lauren is 5 years old. Her main parenting challenge at the moment is dealing appropriately with emotions. She has not responded to discipline in the same ways as Alex so we've had to change up our routine. We've begun a habit of praying with her when she faces temptation, and she feels free to come tell us because she knows we're on her team. Praise the LORD! We're still working on developing her communication so that she can control her anger without lashing out verbally. And yes, all of this is a very convicting and sanctifying process in our hearts as well. Check out this video for more teaching on parenting. We love Paul Tripp!

I'll echo the board game comment here as well. Lauren is motivated to learn to read so that she can play more games! Her addition skills have improved dramatically along the way as well. Games also allow kids (and adults) to practice patience, grace, and love as they win or lose. King of Tokyo is a great game for this age.

One more quick note about Lauren. Her interests and giftedness appear to be more artistic, and so to love her is to provide opportunities for her to enjoy those interests and gifts. She is happiest in a world of music, dance, cooking, painting, drawing, coloring, and just creating. 

Olivia is two years old. At this stage, our main goal is to keep her busy, fed, and rested. :) So my main idea for two year olds is to invite them to participate in life with you. We let Liv sit on the counter or stand on a stool while I cook. She throws clothes in the washer that I hand to her. She sorts clean cloth diapers into piles and puts them away in the drawer. I ask her to entertain the baby for a minute while I finish a task. She can find and bring to me most things in the house. 

Of course toddlers also throw tantrums and have bad attitudes. Our main way of dealing with fussing and whining is to send her to her bed until she can control her emotions and speak normally. Of course sometimes further discipline is needed, but most times teaching her to handle her frustration and disappointments is the main goal. Also if the underlying issue is exhaustion, sending your toddler to bed could  lead to an early nap, as Liv has done many times.

You may think that two is too young for games, but I spent a long time this morning playing Memory with Liv. We play it with the cards face up, and she makes matches. The experience is teaching her to find things, discriminate visually, use her dexterity (picking cards off table requires fine motor skills), increase patience, and build confidence. If you are looking for another game for this age range, I'd recommend Chicken Cha Cha Cha. 

Emily is 9 months old. My favorite parenting tips for her age is to begin room time with siblings. Room time is when the kids go and play in their room together in the afternoon after lunch. It's a part of our daily routine. For a baby like Em, just place an exersaucer or pack n' play into the room where the older kids are playing. Please note: I don't recommend leaving a baby in a room with zero supervision. The room in which the kids play has french doors, and I can hear perfectly if not see everything. I think she lasted 5 minutes the first day. Now she spends 15-20 minutes with them. It's a great break for me, and a wonderful way to build her ability to play and be happy with her siblings.

The other tips are for moms. As babies get older, a common issue for nursing moms is that the baby might stop nursing and prefer baby food. The tip is to establish a routine of nursing first. When the baby is hungry, nurse. Then, only if the baby still seems hungry, offer baby food. Along with feeding the baby, this is a great age to start using baby signs. We stick with the basics, more and all done. Here's a great resource if you want to expand your baby sign vocabulary. Babies can definitely sign earlier, but I always forget to use it until around this age. 

I hope you found this helpful, and of course, feel free to let me know what some of your favorite parenting ideas are!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Daltons

Note: It's been several years since we've sent out Christmas cards. We'd like to get back into the tradition, so if you'd like a card next year, let us know and we'll add your address to our 2013 Christmas card list. This year, we decided to do a blog post instead.

Merry Christmas! 2012 has been a year of blessing and change for our family. We're thankful for God's leading in our lives, and for His provision of jobs, house, family, and health.

In December 2011, Jason graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity degree. Just a few weeks later, we jetted off to Welches, OR to visit a small church to see if God would have us minister there. In May 2012, Jason was ordained and installed as a minister in the Presbyterian Church of America (picture above is from his installation service at Evergreen Presbyterian). The next weekend, he was able to officiate at the wedding of some very dear friends. Because of the generosity of our friends, family, and our church family at Pear Orchard Presbyterian, we were able to move in June to Oregon. Jason is now the pastor of Mt. Hood Community Church. We are so thankful for this opportunity and pray that God will bless His church through Jason's ministry.

Our family welcomed Emily Grace Dalton on March 17, 2012. After her maternity leave, Elizabeth transitioned to part-time work with Kaplan. She is now solely teaching online for work, though she instructs at Dalton Academy in person. :) Elizabeth is also helping the church by teaching children's church and organizing Women in the Church activities and ministries. 

Alex turned eight years old in December 2012. He is currently a yellow belt in taekwondo and a second grader at Dalton Academy. He is a voracious reader as well as an excellent older brother. His favorite books of 2012 were the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. He reports his favorite school subject is History; we use the Story of the World curriculum.

Lauren turned five years old in July 2012. She enjoys being old enough to play board games with Alex and Jason. This fall she played soccer, but she has just begun taking taekwondo classes and plans to continue those in the new year. Lauren is a kindergartner at Dalton Academy; she loves to paint, color, and draw.

Olivia turned two years old in February 2012. She loves books, especially Margaret Wise Brown and Sandra Boyton, and anything with bears. Olivia enjoys dancing and coloring as well as being a big helper around the house. 

Emily is excited to celebrate her first Christmas at the age of 9 months. She is crawling and pulling up to standing. She has only two bottom teeth, but she may receive her two front teeth in time for Christmas!

And that's the Dalton family update! Here are some more pictures for you to enjoy: