Spiritual Warfare and Thankfulness

There is some real spiritual warfare going on at our church. It's not exactly a boiling fiery mess, but more of a very long-cooking simmering stew. Small church problems are so uniquely different from big church ones. (At least from my perspective) I talked to an older woman about it last night and no. 1 It made me very thankful for my circumstances and 2. It spurred me to pray fervently. I am beginnning to see just how God may use Tuan and myself at our church in the long-run. John Piper once said:

"Until we believe that life is war, we'll never know what prayer is for."

Spiritual warfare is something that I, as a Presbyterian, tend to dismiss or not think of, but it is oh, so real. And the verse about "the sins of the fathers going down to the third and fourth generation" is so very true.
Whenever I get discouraged at Mt. Olive, or just plain tired of driving that far on Sundays and forsaking my beloved Sunday afternoon naps, God either gives us a really great breakthough or a pointed something that persuades us that we belong there. It also keeps me connected to Granny and gives us time with her. There are days when I long for the comfortable bliss and ignorance of being one in several hundred at a large church, but then I think about our church kids and the incredible opportunity we have, well . . . .

I am so thankful for my family--both immediate and extended. We are a messy group of people, but we love each other. I think that we being aware of our "messiness" (to a point) is a good thing. There's no delusion of perfection there.

God, save me from delusions of perfection, so that I would always realize my need of you.
Constantly show me my sins, refine and purify me so that I would be more and more like Jesus.

I am also thankful for Tuan and Johnny. We have a happy, joyful home. When I think of the blessings heaped upon us, it's just amazing. Perfection we lack profoundly, but joy we possess. I love my husband and baby so much.

We've been teaching the kids at our church the Mo Leverett version of "Who is on the Lord's Side?" They LOVE that song. "Let's sing that long song" they are always saying. It's always interesting the songs they really like ("Fruit of The Spirit", "O for a Thousand Tongues", "Come, Christians Join to Sing", "He is Exalted"). When we sing it together, I get very teary-eyed.

Who will stand for justice
in a time of need
Who will hear the poor man
and his children plead
Who will heal the rich man
of his poverty
Who will tell the homeless
of eternity
By Your love and mercy,
and Your grace divine
We are on the Lord's side
We are on the Lord’s side—
Savior, we are Thine!

So, here are the ramblings of Paula La. I have a lot of more trivial and fun things to write about, but this was most pressing on my heart. Please pray for our church.


Valentine Blues

Tommorrow is a dreaded day for most of America. Sonny calls it Singles Awareness Day. Singles dread it because it's a reminder of Singleness, Men fear it because they either forgot about it or don't know what to buy and are aware of the chunk of money about to fall from their pockets. I suspect that even florists, while anticipating the massive profits V-day must bring, shudder at the sheer numbers of bouquets, balloons attatched to stuffed animals and/or coke bottles, etc . . . that must be assembled and delivered. Then there are the restaurant managers who must schedule and manage waitstaff who either hate V-day because they are single and don't want it rubbed in their faces, or are desperately in love and desperately angry that they have to work on V-day.
So who actually likes V-day? Jewelry stores, Victoria's Secret, hot air balloon folks, newlyweds, newly datings, and popular people.
I personally have mixed feelings about. I was thinking about V-day and my own life experiences and wanted to share them with you.

Birth to 9th grade. Life was simple. My sister and I always got a delivery from Southern Florist from my Papaw and Dad--a rose, or a coke/teddy bear with attatched balloon. Fun cards, heart-shaped doilies attatched to pink construction paper, and a box of those conversation hearts from my Granny were satisfying and nice. For sure, Jr. High brought with it some longings for a sweetheart and anticipation of the future, but it wasn't a big deal.

10th-12th Grade. AHH the torment. I was on Yearbook staff which was supervised by the Librarian who supervised the receipt and delivery of HUNDREDS of Valentine gifts during that day. When the local florist is on the Board of Education, these things will not soon be banned. Valentines found me, the eternal singleton, in the Library all day, viewing each and every arrival that every popular, unpopular and attatched person recieved (K-12). I had to see my friends get absurdly expensive bouqets and roses and gifts from boyfriends and secret admirers. I remember desperately wishing that one of the arriving bouquets would be addressed: To: Paula Blackwell, from your Secret Admirer or Boy X (whoever I liked at the time). But alas, Boy X was always dating a friend of mine. The only consolation was coming home and knowing that my Papaw or Dad would have sent me something.

Freshman year. I don't remember much about that V-day except being asked out for a date by this peculiar guy who had been at Jones for a while. I'm not sure if he was an idiot-savant or what but he lived in this reality that was much like a WB show (dawson's creek, Buffy, etc . .). It actually was a compliment because he was always after the "hotties"--you know, the beauty pageant types. I think I told him that I was practicing Biblical courtship and couldn't accept.

Sophomore Year. One of my best friends and I hosted a Valentine party. We spent an entire day making heavy Hors doevres and had a non-alchoholic cocktail bar. It was a lot of fun and full of mishaps (we had to call everyone and tell them to drive around for a while because we were having issues in the kitchen and weren't ready for guests). The best part of the evening was that two of our guy friends brought us rose bouquets. That was the highlight of my life at the time. I'd never gotten flowers from a non family member, and even though it was platonic, it just felt so good to be thought of. I put the accompanying card in my journal and kept the roses until they died.

Junior Year. My crazy roomate and I stayed up all night the night before and I made Valentines for the folks I worked with. I remember something about our Eurpean tennis team neighbors coming in and out of the apartment, inadverdently using racial slurs and offending a guy whose adopted sister was Korean and then getting a call really late from Tuan, asking me to be his Valentine. :) I was laughing so hard from all the chaos in our apartment that I didn't take very seriously what Tuan had asked. (we were still just friends) But, I did walk around all the next day in a Meg-Ryanish sort of way, thinking, "I have a Valentine." It was nice.

Senior Year. Tuan and I were four months into dating and we went to Red Bluff and exchanged Valentine happys. He gave me a vintage Valentine Card he'd ordered off of E-bay and one of his T-shirts. I gave him a mix CD (that poor sonny had to burn) and a card. It was nice and simple.

Married V-day 1. We kept the Wilckes V-day weekend and after wondering why I felt so bad, I came down with Mono and Strep Valentine's evening. Tuan had to eat both our steaks while I laid in the bathtub moaning. Tuan then had to wait on me hand and foot for the next three weeks as I couldn't move without aching. Poor Guy.

Married V-day 2, 3. One year, I just can't remember and another involved Sonic, Ultimate in the rain, a Map of MS backroads and babysitting for my sister.

This year I am in charge of V-day and as it is a surprise for Tuan, it will be a surprise for you, too, dear readers. It's nice to not have to deal with Valentine blues and just enjoy it, but it's definitely not the big deal it always was. I hope all of you, single, married, or otherwise engaged, have a marvelous Valentine's Day.


I'm not sure what it is about our son, but whenever Tuan and I go to ethnic restaurants, he is absolutely adored by the wait staff. A few weeks ago we were at El Ranchito in Richland and our waiter and the hostess hovered over Johnny and even picked him up out of the high chair and passed him around. The same thing happened at Ichiban (which is a GREAT sushi buffet, by the way). Our waitress picked up Johnny (without asking, but it was okay) and carried him around and even took him to the host stand to show him off (she did ask to do that). I don't mind people holding him at all, but I do watch him pretty closely. I've seen too many movies that I'm paranoid Johnny will be whisked into the kitchen and out the back door to a waiting car, sold to rich people who desperately want a baby . . . I have a way too overactive imagination. :) That is why I do not stay the night at our house alone, it is also why Tuan has promised to never ever try to scare me as a practical joke. I just can't handle it.

We are having an Italian night here, I am baking foccacia and we are going to make homemade Alfredo sauce for the first time ever. It's quite exciting.

We also went to the barn to scrounge for manure. I have a flower bed that I built which needs something besides hard clay in it. I'm too cheap to buy soil for a yard that I don't own, so at least yearly we go to the TL barn and return with cartloads. Last fall, when I was three months pregnant I hauled about eleven tubs of seasoned manure to our flower beds and it really has made a difference. I think I nested early on in pregnancy.

Isn't this weather wonderful? We've had the windows open all day and Johnny jumped in his jumper which we hung outside on the porch. He likes the outdoors. Good thing, too because he'll be outside a LOT this summer.