Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Final Post: What I've Learned Here

It's time to say goodbye to this blog. *sniff/sigh*
I thought there could be no better way to go out of this chapter of my life than with what I have learned while here:
  • I have been thrust into the reality of the eternal glory of God like never before. I have grown to understand better why I am here on earth, what purpose I serve and what that has to do with forever. I have grasped the concepts of the resurrected earth and body and it has become a reality in my life, in no way perfecting me, but changing my life forever. I guess you could say I've grown to understand the gospel in it's biggest sense and purpose.
  • I have developed a craving for the taste of truth and have found that I ponder so much more on truth.
  • I have learned the wisdom of unity when it comes to the issues of christian liberties. I'm still learning this one but I feel my time on this blog really stretched me in this area. I've learned that "speaking the truth in love" can very quickly become a declaration of human judgement on my part and that for 99% of the time, I'm probably more wise to keep my eyes on Christ because he may show me later that I was thinking wrongly or, he may show the other person that and I can trust him to move in his time and he is the judge.
  • I have learned to be passionate about life. That my time here is a struggle but also an enjoyment.
  • I have learned that living a active life is healthy and beneficial to my family.
  • I have learned that God wants to guide me intimately and not make me look like some christian woman or group of women I think I should look like.
  • I have learned and am learning the gift of humility and the power it possesses. This one is probably the one I want to learn more of the most.
  • I have learned that people are so important to God. That he longs to use me in anyway to reach the ones around me. That they are the one thing besides our souls that we take with us into eternity.
  • I have learned that God is big, and I am small and that I like it that way.
  • I have grown acutely aware of legalistic thinking and hate it more than ever. I have learned that I have to watch out for it and it's trappings always.
  • I have learned even more what it means to walk by faith especially regarding my children.
  • I have been challenged as a parent and am learning to focus on the truth and let my children also become who God intimately wants them to be.
  • I have learned to have more fun and drink a glass of wine with my husband now and then.
  • I have learned to lighten up when it's time to lighten up, and be serious when it's time to be serious. I guess you could call that being more balanced and not going to extremes to save me or define me.
  • I have learned that God is the great provider of all I need.
  • I have learned that I need to be a better friend and look for ways to encourage my friends.

I think the greatest summary could be said this way: I came here feeling very temporally empty and sad. My dad had died and the world seemed cruel and harsh. The eternal was my passion and obsession to the point that I wished to speed through this life and get it over with. After all, the greatest joys were beyond and my precious savior waits at the end! Yet through this journey God has shown me that though life is a struggle, it is also a gift and a gift to be enjoyed. That if we go to one extreme we could be a fool and waste it but if we go to the other we could be too legalistic to enjoy it. (Ecc chapter 7 I think talks of this around verse 15 or so)

I learned that God did not mean me to hold my nose, cover my ears and shield my eyes through this world anymore than he meant me to run like a fool through it trying and doing anything that came into my selfish fancy. He meant me to be alive, to live, and to live for Him and his eternal purposes and glory. To enjoy the passions of life he has given me in my portion and enjoy them well and with thanks. To be creative and imaginative and smell the roses. Yet to know that my bedrock is secure and my goals are to always be for the eternal kingdom of God. I have learned that I am on a challenging road to balance these the rest of my life. To be wary of those who go to one extreme or the other, and to keep my eyes on Christ and all he has for me in this life and forevermore. That is an adventure I look forward to taking.

I'd like to end with this youtube Lilo's teacher told me about. As we go out as a family into the public school, it's encouraging and also as we take on foster parenting. It's good for everyone though.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Reality Blogging Day 2

This will be in bullet point form to save me time and feed my desire for random journaling!:)

  • I admit it, I was dreading today because of all the housework from being sick three days. I tried to sleep in but when no one else does it's like a session of torture dozing.

  • Coffee...blogging....ah, this is better and I am awake after all. Kids are watching cartoons and enjoying that one box of junk cereal they get a paycheck.

  • My head is still clogged as can be and it's been five days now.

  • I'm feeling like Jerry Lewis in "the Stooge" when Dean Martin tries to wake him up and he is having a hard time getting going. "here we go....here we go...here we go..." but it's so hard to get going.

  • My kids seem to be endless pits on Saturday's for food. I think it's because they are home and taking it easy so they think more about food. They keep coming in and asking what they can eat. How will I ever make it through teen years on this budget? I actually bought my first flat of Ramen noodles which I don't believe in just to fill the cracks on days there is no good thing to give them.

  • I get up and go into the kitchen. While feeling better yesterday I managed to grocery shop and make dinner. I did not manage to put away all the groceries and do all the dishes so there was hardly a void anywhere to set my cup of coffee down.

  • I was randomly thinking about manners. I've never understood why we follow something as proper when it came from the mind of one human. Who gets to decide what it culturally appropriate or not? After all, they are different in different places. Yet, so many people become nearly religious about manners. I've somewhat failed my girls in pushing manners too much besides the obvious ones I would send rumors about town with. Really, who decides them? I decided I'm rather rebellious.

  • Pondered the blog a lot again and was annoyed how much it was bothering me. Told myself to not over think like I do everything else. Wondered what was going on in the heads of others. I do that too much.

  • Turned on Johnny Cash and dug into the kitchen. I feel some weird kindred to Johnny Cash. His struggle between conviction and humanity are something I feel in my own skin. Pondered that for a good log while while slicing that 4lb of lunch meat with the slicer I did get to borrow from the neighbor. I was scared to use the thing. I have a fear of blades and getting digits cut off. I think I was rather loudly announcing to my children to not come within three feet of me while I was using the thing. All of a sudden I remembered Johnny Cash's brother got fatally injured using a saw. Suddenly I wondered if I was listening to the wrong music for the job. Swallowed.

  • Had the kids do some help with their rooms and the living room. Princess never fails to be so deadly hungry when it's time to work.

  • Switched around some mattresses to prepare for the foster child bed to be put up in Superkids room. Gathered up all the things the girls needed to sort though in bags and baskets. Vacuumed their room while they played.

  • Watched the lead up stuff to the Kentucky derby (I was born in Louisville) and remembered my girlhood love of horses....wow, they are so beautiful. Did housework in between. The kitchen was still a work in progress.

  • Called my mom to check on her and was on the phone at least an hour. I was saddened by how much she has been put through lately. I ask God to give her relief. It's been such a hard two years. I wonder how she can take all the circumstances. I start to ponder how much I feel her age creeping up on her. I feel the weight of sorrow and burdens on her. I long for happier days for her.

  • Ponder whether over thinking and intense analyzing of life is a side effect of grief. I don't remember thinking so hard about things or feeling so bold about what I think or feel before Dad died. I try to remember what it was like to not be so intense. Was it an innocence that is gone forever now? An ignorance is bliss kind of thing? I ask myself if I'm just now starting to grieve in my own way. Like some hyper sense is kicking in and it's driving me nuts.

  • Consider how the internet brings people so close to each other. Facebook, blogs, twitter. Is it really a good thing we are all so connected? My mother use to say that too many women in one house is a bad thing. The trend of women blogging is so hype right now and I start to wonder if we've all put ourselves in a virtual dwelling. I start to wonder if I want to be just another shouting voice in a crowd or a calm and reflective poet in the corner of the room. I'm leaning toward the latter.

  • Superkid and Lilo go out to play and come in soaking wet. What was that all about? Go to the bathroom and strip please and thank you for the puddles in the house. Don't run the faucet outside as long as you please thank you. Do you know daddy pays money for that water?

  • Daddy... I miss Rick a lot today. Can I just have a bunch of girlfriends as loving and easy to get along with as my husband? I love this man. What will I ever do if I loose him. I think of my mother again. How did that happen? Could I handle that? Where would I ever find such a kindred spirit again. I hope he gets home soon.

  • He calls and says he's done and I tell him I need garbanzo beans and french bread. Oh and I've been craving a beer. Oh, sounds great he says. Nothing heavy I warn, I do have to go to TOPS on Monday and beer is usually on my no, no list.

  • When thinking of something fast and easy for dinner since I still had half a kitchen to work on and was on my second load in the dishwasher, I remembered something. Years ago, my friend Donna and her husband invited Rick and I over for dinner. They had two young kids and we had none at that time. We got there and the dinner was iceberg bag salad w/ garbanzo and kidney beans served with a French Bread loaf w/ butter. For dessert we had gram crackers with icing spread on top. This made a big impression on me. My mother hardly ever had people over but if we did it was a big dinner. I was surprised that this salad was all we were having. I knew they were on a tight budget though and was more and more deeply amazed at their generosity to have us over even though things were tight and they did not have a meatloaf or roast to share. It made a permanent impression on me. I've always tried to remember that. I knew they wanted to be with us because we were friends and that was what made the occasion. So, I repeat that dinner now and then because it is a good memory for me. So, we are having gram crackers and icing for dessert. It's a good reason to use up the two half full containers of icing sitting around. I remind myself of my TOPS again and will be having one little piece.

  • The girls go in their room after dinner and rock out to their loud Christian girlie music. The modular shakes. Their neighbor friend comes to see if they can play and they go outside to play basketball together. The evening is balmy and clear. The green leaves in the nectarine tree are vibrant and the birds sing the sunset into play.

  • Oh, and there was a stray dog in the neighborhood today that the kids played with and begged to keep. I told them he would find his way home and they were sure he would not. I told them to go in and wash their hands with soap and water and not even talk about doggies to me again. I considered taking them up to the chew spot on the house left by Ebony. They would only say that this dog would never do that, he was too sweet.

  • Rick and Superkid take a shower and their silly boyish banter rings through the house. A deep voice and a little boyish voice chatting back and forth. I feel so blessed to have a son.

  • Emma put on shades at dinner (not sure where they came from) and made cool faces. They all got laughing and Rick had to bring them all back to focus again and again.

  • I wonder if I'll ever get everything done, look at the clock which by now says nearly eight and realize the answer is no.

  • I realize that this day is coming to an end. No matter what over thinking I've done, what was accomplished or left for later, what the kids gleaned from me or picked up from me, whether things are perfect or hard, whether we have a day of struggling or gliding by, God is purposeful and He is truth. Though I may be distracted by the tossing waves of humanity and it's drama, he is a rock..steady and firm, dependable and sure. All else seems to swirl around in unpredictable chaos but in the middle is the certainty of His wisdom. It is still and I long to be still and rest in it.

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Intimate Goals From Proverbs 31 Part 2

I'm reviewing this this morning and ready to jot it down. For the first segment of this go here. Before I start I'm curious about something...

Someone mentioned in the last comments that most people read blogs in a google reader now days which does not give a place to post comment. Is that so? Are there readers of SFE who only read in a reader provider? I did not know this since I read blogs at the blog because I love the diversity of the blogs themselves and the pictures they share on their blog. I think I've ranted on this before that readers are like sterile hospital rooms where blogs are warm and inviting like a person's living room. But if you do read in a reader I want to make it easier for readers to share back because really, that is what keeps me bothering here so I would like to provide a link at the end of posts.

Proverbs Goals from Vs. 14:

(vs. 13 is great too, it's about choosing quality fabrics and making clothing but I'm just not there and God and I both know it:)

She is like merchant ships;

She brings her food from afar.

I've jokingly called this my Costco verse before. Just because Costco is far from my house and I always felt like I was "bringing my food from afar" when I went there. Actually, lately the Lord has been convicting me to stay away from Costco because I seem to spend MORE there. But this verse does require me to take time to do homework and be educated on what our family consumes and uses to know the best quality for the best price. To know what a good deal on a certain item is. Even to go to the lengths physically and mentally to get the best for the best price. To consider all factors in travel, time and value and make a wise decision to result again in what will add and not what will take away. This week that meant I researched the sales more and made more little stops rather than heading down to Costco. This is a constantly changing homework project and one thing I need to do more is beef up on my coupons and Money Saving Mom visits. I've been convicted about taking that time again because It's worth it for things we need.

Vs. 15

She rises also while it is still night

And gives food to her household

And portions to her maidens.

I admit it, this is my LEAST FAVORITE VERSE IN PROVERBS 31!!!!

I am not a morning person. Yet, it means I need to make sure I get up early enough to allow my husband and family to start the day the best way they can. Someone recently joked with me that homeschooling was so great because they could sleep in and start when they wanted if they had a long night. This was one of the things about homeschooling that made our lives worse. I am not good at getting up and unless that structure is put on me, I won't do it. So, though I needed to be up helping my husband get ready for his day, making him breakfast and lunch, I used homeschooling freedom as a reason not to help him out. For me, the schedule and demand to be up has been so good for our family. It has also taught our kids that the world runs on a structure of time and you have to be disciplined. Some mom's I know are great at making this happen inside the homeschooling scene, but not me. Even now, I have to be more and more diligent to make sure there is also enough time to send everyone off prepared for the day they will have and not just having food thrown at them as they go out the door. AND, enough time for me to wake up before them to be able to do this JOYFULLY! It requires getting to bed at a good time the night before and for me, who loves to stay up late, that is hard.

This verse practically reminds me of the noble importance of having the job to feed a household in the morning. To help them in that way is no small thing. It is a high calling. I have the privilege of setting the tone for four peoples day! Well, actually five, because it makes a difference in my day too.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

A Bit Of Reality Blogging

I decided today to do something different with the blog for a bit and see what happens. I've wondered lately what direction to take my blogging in. I've wondered if anyone comes by much anymore. The only reason that makes me curious is because it takes time to blog and I honestly do love discussion, sharing and comment conversation. I like to know that I'm not just spewing out into space. Some people don't mind that, I enjoy feedback and banter. There does not seem to be much of it here. I've had a hard time with that. I've asked myself what makes those blogs that have zillions of people reading and responding? What is so interesting about them? And yet, I want to be myself and why does it bother me so much that this blog is not that. I feel like some kid in grade school not in the in crowd. Then I laugh out loud in my own head...because I never was! Welcome home Alicia. Welcome home.

The only reason I long for it is because I do so love to write. I love to think, I love to be real. I love to get things out, hash them over and chat about them. I so enjoy may other blogs but I'm more of the writer than the reader. I've been sorting a lot in my head about the blog and still have not made some final decisions. Some days I want to drop it, another I just want to dive into a new topic of thoughts and hear some of the readers as well. I wonder if my brain is just by itself way out in left field or if I just don't say it quite right so that anyone knows what in the world I'm talking about here. Or, I just have very quiet and blog shy readers. Who knows what the answer is. Oh, and thanks Trish for always coming and ALWAYS chatting with me! I love coming here to hear what anybody chats about and appreciate those of you who back talk me:). I understand that I'm an unpredictable blogger and send some people spinning with all the changes. I'm not a good candidate for consistency at all.LOL

So, for the next few days I'm going to just Reality Blog as I call it. That way, whatever happens I've kept a journal of my life.
Day One...Today.

Today began hard. Princess got hurt and bit her tongue literally (though I would have preferred figuratively) during the school prep time. In her anger she loudly told Lilo not to come in the room and bug her (also Lilo's room). The problem was that I had told Lilo to go get something she needed for school and when she came back out without it I asked her why she did not have it. "She told me I could not come in!" "What?" I asked. Lilo proceeded to tell me what had happened. I was frustrated with Princess and had to tell her, this was not just her room so she had no right to tell Lilo not to come in. Of course this happened way too close to the time to leave. We were in the car frustrated and Princess got grounded from playing with friends this evening because of her snipping at her sister. Then Lilo begins to cry because that meant they could not play basketball like she had wanted. It was a horrible ride to school. On top of their issues I could hardly talk from a still sick throat, my head was a sea of slush still, it was my heavy cramp day, and all the meds I'd taken being in bed sick yesterday had given me a UTI peeking right during the great hour of "get ready for school". I had ran to the cabinet to shove down some dried cranberries and a glass of water during the drama and rushed to my bathroom to down three Advil for my cramps. Of course, it did not kick in at all till after I had dropped them off. And we all know, there is no corner in the known universe reserved for the mom who feels like crap. Nope.
I went home and tried to gather my foggy clogged up brain for grocery shopping. This last pay check took us down to the bottom so I knew I had to be smart on this one and gather all I could for what the budget allowed. As I sat and tried to sort it out I just kept being bothered by the morning and the way it had gone. I hated dropping them off on days like this. I decided it was my decision today where my child was. I felt a burden that Princess needed some time with just me. Not to reward her, but to make sure her love tank was full as I've been in bed sick for two days and she has had no mommy really at all this week. I gathered up my lists and adds, purse and phone and headed out the door.
I went in and told them I needed to sign her out for the rest of the day. They gave me no trouble and called her out of class. She did not seem surprised to see me. I asked her why and she said she thought it was because of this morning. I was glad she affirmed that she needed some time.
We went to Trader Joes first and she wrote down the items and prices while I got what we needed. Total: $42.41
Next we headed to VONS for the specific deals I had found in the add. Foster Farms half chicken breasts for 99 cents a lb. and ground beef for 99 cents a lb. were some exciting sales since meat has been so hard to get at a good price. There was also some pork shoulder for 99 cents a lb which I plan to make into some BBQ pork which they love. That and some dollar bread and pretzels completed our trip. Total: $28.87
Now for Food For Less for pretty much any other non-add items we needed. I was excited to find they had a whole 4lb. lunch meat slab (for lack of a better word) for six bucks! I just need to ask my neighbor to slice it in their meat slicer and then plan to use some for other meals like some breakfast muffin flowers we have not had in a long time. Total: $52.44
Here we stopped for some girl time out at Panda Express. It's one of Princess favorite places. She and I shared a plate of mushroom chicken, noodles, and sweet and sour pork. Her picks. I decided the whole time I was not going to pick topics, or try to talk about life, I was just going to be there for her and let her talk. She talked lighthearted and casual and I think that was just what she needed. Lately there have been so many issues that we seem to only talk when it's about deep hard stuff. A little silly small talk is sometimes important.
Our last stop was for some produce that I had spotted on a Friday, Sat or Sunday only sale. We got a watermelon at 19cents a lb., red bell peppers at 50 cents each, mango's for 33 cents each (bought six to use in strawberry mango breakfast smoothies and maybe some chicken with mango salsa!) ready to go salad in a bag for a buck....cheap thrills, and tons of apples for school lunches. Total $25.06
For a grand total of $148.46... 52 bucks under budget!! That was what I was really hoping for to get those last few things through the next two weeks to make what I have at home work. It seems to be a better way of shopping for me. I get whats cheap, make some obvious meals and then work with the rest by adding one or two ingredients that Rick can pick up on his way home. Or just for another batch of bananas when my monkey of a son eats them all up the first week:)

When we started shopping it was sunny and we were looking for shade to keep the Trader Joes mink cold. By the third store, it was windy and beautiful big dark clouds were blowing in. Once we came out of Albertsons, it was raining! How fun, and it smelt so good! We rented two dollar movies at the machine too which was a fun thrill since we NEVER do that! She walked around sipping her concoction of Dr.Pepper mixed with Sierra Mist that she kept begging me to try out because it was so good. To which I kept making a funny face and tasting it anyway. We had a good time.
We came home and unloaded stuff with just little bit of time before it was time to pick up the other two. It was our secret that she had been home but she made them some butterscotch pudding for after school snack and pretended that I had made it when they got home. :)
So, it's rainy, Rick is due to be done at five and I'll now be heading into the kitchen to make Sloppy Joes, mashed potatoes, sauteed zucchini, salad and watermelon for dessert. Rick called a bit ago and said "oh, honey, that sounds so good!". I just love when he says that.
We plan to veg out and watch "Hotel For Dogs".
And that...was the day. Started hard but worked it's way back around. There is something about the struggle that makes the good times that much sweeter.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Intimate Search For Goals From Prov. 31

If you are like me, you may sometimes dread reading that passage. Especially when I was very young and had toddlers and babies around me I would just beat myself up that I did not achieve high enough. In fact, there should be a just for fun version of Prov. 31 for the new mom. That would be entertaining and the theme would be "grace in the midst of continuous survival mode".
Yet I found myself this week anxious to get to Prov. 31 even though it was not up on the calendar Proverb of the day yet. I wanted to take an intimate look at it and filter out what were some real sensible practical goals, not for perfection sake, but for the blessing it would bring for my life and that of my husband and family.
Through the years I think we all as Christian mom's define in our minds what a Godly woman looks like. Twice in my married life I have gone all out in skirts and dresses thinking that this made me a more Godly woman. The funny thing to me was that both times, and especially the last time about two years ago, my husband said he wished I would wear pants! I was in such a state of pride at the time that, though I did not tell him this, I responded in my heart that he was just not spiritual enough and did not appreciate true femininity. Oh, the Lord convicted me on that one, and I put my pants back on. (of course I wear dresses too but he does not like me wearing them every day and for those reasons). Later on, I found it quite cute that he liked me in pants and enjoyed the freedom of that. I tend to be an all or nothing person so I have to be very careful of legalistic patterns creeping up in my life. The homeschooling thing started to become this in me too and as some of you know from reading here for a while...God worked on me in that one too. Oh, I'm so relieved he does not let me go my own way! I'm so thankful he does not let me find salvation in ANYTHING else but Him.
Oh, yes, so....
I am only going to touch on the first three points today because I don't want to wear anyone out. I will come back and complete this walk though as the week goes on I hope (I'm battling a bad cold right now so who knows but I may be nursing sick kids soon).
One my notebook, I wrote at the top :
Practicality of Proverbs 31
(kind of a "how does this apply to me?" or "what would this look like for me?")

One huge thing to note first whenever approaching Proverbs 31 is to remember that it is in fact a poem of sorts written in the Hebrew to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. So, it would be like you taking the ABC's and coming up with a set of goals for what a woman aught to be. Or you could call it a prayer. It is infact however an ideal scenario and should be taken as a target to shoot for in the grace and power of Christ and not my willpower or pride.
It is also set in (as John MacArthur in his study guides points out) a "wealthy home and the customs of the ancient Near East" but the ideas still apply to all.

Vs. 11-12: "The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. "
= He can trust me to use our resources wisely and responsibly. I show him my loyalty through doing this. My decisions on these resources add to our family rather than take from them.
This one is very convicting to me for when I make spontaneous decisions with money when I 'm out and about. I recently told Rick that the girls were both going to need new tennis shoes and asked if we could set some money aside for them in the next paycheck. I did not really think about it except that I knew if I did not say anything, at the place where we are now, there would be no money. The amazing thing though, and the thing the Lord brought to me later, was that he thanked me for letting him know ahead of time and told me that it was very helpful for me to do that for him. Huh.. so simple.
The other aspect of this, and I think this one is all I'm going to get to today because of the time, is that my resources are not only the money he gives me to use. They are also the time in my day, the decisions I make with it, the care of the stuff we all ready have (i.e. clothes, food, furniture etc.), and guarding as well as maintaining my own energy level. That alone goes into many other categories of decision making like what I choose to eat, whether I use all that we have or waste it, whether I get enough sleep to have energy, how much time I spend on the computer etc.
And on that awesome send off note, that's it for today. More hopefully tomorrow.
(PS: Please feel free to comment, the blog has been so quiet lately. I hope my mixing things up so much has not left ya all silent. I do love to know that you're here and any feed back you have on the writings, thanks!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

We've Put Ourselves In Family Therepy

....and the greatest therapy is laughing at ourselves.

I know, you thought we were in big trouble over here, so you clicked over. See how nosy we humans are!:) Just kidding, I set you up, drew you in, tickled your interest! Bruhahahahaha!!

I'm in a weird mood today...lookout.

Here's the scoop:

Rick and I were very tickled to get one more station when the rabbit ears turned to digital. We only got NBC before so another station was like "yippee! TV!". We were however very disappointed with the CW network. The only shining light was that the Cosby show was on every week day at 11am. The kids were sad they were missing out unless they were on break or home sick. I usually have my lunch or fold the laundry during that time. Rick and I grew up without TV so we have never seen them. In a world where TV is just not family friendly they have been a breath of fresh air.

The few times we were catching it the kids and all of us loved the family humor and so much of it we could relate to. I started to see episodes that just sounded like situations right out of our every day dramas and thought to myself "this would just be good for us to watch as a family".

So, we sent off for Season one through netflix. We made popcorn Sunday night and piled onto the couch. There was laughter all around and especially out of Lilo. She loves Bill Cosby and his funny faces. Princess seems to be lighter in her mood after getting a chance to laugh at the fact that families do what they do and her parents are not just the only ones as she had perhaps thought. Rick and I make cute laughing faces at each other on the Husband/Wife parts and our moods with each other have been lighter.

I remember about six years ago, we went through a very bad time in our marriage. Something huge and our Pastor stepped in to minister to us. One of the things he said after feeding us with the Word of course, was that we needed to laugh together more and laugh as a family at ourselves. That was hard for me to do at the time. It is so true that there is a time to laugh and a time to mourn and I was in a time of mourning for our marriage so laughter did not come for a while.

Now I reflect and think, if you just stick with each other and work things out there will be "laughter in the mourning" (Psalm 30:5- also worded "joy")

With all that we have now been going though with our growing daughter, this laughter has been good. I highly recommend making some popcorn and vegin' out to some Cosby. I think you'll find it fun.

Loved this one. It seemed so familiar for some reason!:)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Present To You.....

I've a little set of pass-a-longs for you today! Besides, after this little tid-bit I'm chilling out for the afternoon until my walk this evening. Sundays are glorious.

First I want to say that Princess is doing so much better and God has answered some prayers for me to be loving to her the way she needs it. I'm thankful for some breakthrough.


I have a few new blogs to send you to. The first is an old fellow mission trip friend of mine. Tanja and I were on the same Teen Mission's Around The World Russia trip when we were teens. She is a Canook, specifically from Saskatchewan and even got snow just the other day! Wow, I still can't imagine that! She has a lovely blog called "EdenRune".

The truly amazing thing has happend though. Tanja and I went off from that summer, grew up, got married and lived our lives never realizing that we gave our son's the same name! Now, if you're son is named John, that might not be to incredible. However the name Caedmon (yes, I know I'm putting his actual name here instead of his blog undercover one...you don't have to email me lovlely helpful ladies that you are:)....I'm breaking my own rule this time) is NOT one you hear much at all.

The cute thing too is that she was telling me he has the same problem my son does at school. Some of the kids think his name is "Caveman"! They literally call him that and his mommy has to say "do you know, his name is actually (IPA: /ˈkædmɒn/) 'kaed-mon?" Even adults will cay "Caveman" or "kaed-uh-mon" . The caveman one get's me though when it comes from adults...I just can't believe they really think I would name my child Caveman.

SO>>> anyway...it's fun cawinkeedink, and very cool that Tanja is a blogger so I have a new side bar addition!

The second new blog is that of a lovely young lady in my church. Very talented in the art of dressmaking. I looked at what she has on there so far and I want one just to wear around and feel lovely! Maddie makes gowns for our local Civil War balls that a lot of the homeschool families go to. The site is to promote her work and display it. Go to: Clothed In Linen and Purple and have a look-see.

Lastly is a blog I just came across a long time ago and just browse now and then but want to keep up on more so I'm adding it to the blog roll. It's called "4 Reluctant Entertainers" and is just delightful on many levels. It's not one of those Suzie -homemaker- on- espresso (like that, I just made that up) blogs either (NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THOSE BLOGS AND I BETTER SAY THAT BECAUSE SURE ENOUGH I'LL GET A NOTE LIKE I DID LAST TIME I BROUGHT UP THIS SUBJECT:). The blog is refreshing and creative and in the here and now (as apposed to trying to recreate life as it use to be on Little House on The Prairie- NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT EITHER....I just enjoy up to date and domestic art in our times NOW...because it is possible you know:) The food ideas are so healthy, colorful and make me want to EAT! It's one of those beauty in simplicity type blogs.

Now on to other things...
My kids just can't stop reading this book!

We got it from the local little library (Hi Judy, we love you! Judy is our librarian and you will find her blog linked here as well as her cooking blog which will be linked also at Happy Homebody Soon as the links there will become more domestically fine tuned) and the kids just won't put it down long. They carry it around the last two days and read it over and over. This morning Rick and I were sitting in bed as we always do every morning, having our coffee together and we got quiet to listen to Superkid reading it in the other room. He was reading it so well too. It was very sweet. We heard him slow down when he got to the word "anything" because that was a big one for him (he's in kindergarten). They think the book is so funny and it is. Go check it out and support you local libraries by actually going in them:).


Just have to rave about my bravery to venture into new waters and make my own granola bars. I have put this off way too long and now that I've made them, I'm mad at myself for being afraid. THESE ARE SO DARN EASY! THEY ARE ALSO SO DARN GOOD. I'm heading into the kitchen after a rest to make some more for the week because the batch I made is CLEANED OUT! (I'm enjoying the caps lock today:) This recipe came out firm and crunchy but if you added a little more honey it would be chewier.

Oh, and if you get a minute, go over to visit Zimms Zoo, Christy has had some very thoughtful posts this week. I was blessed and you know me, I love when people dig down and find something churning in their hearts to share. I love it.

And I just had to share this cute picture of Shasta. She loves to get cozy on my bed. She's like a little puffy rug.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

At a Parental Loss Part 2: New Growth Requires We Abide

Thank you for those of you who said you would pray for us. I have to tell you, I was assured of it last night. The Lord did not let this thing just go on anymore. He allowed us to sit with Princess, though it was not planned out or anything, and just have a heart to heart. What I had feared from having to correct her so much had happened, she felt we were angry at her. In great sincerity of heart I told her that we were not angry at all, but we were desperate. We were desperate that her heart be in submission to Christ and that she would be walking in His ways. I explained to her that to love her, is to be desperately concerned for her. We discussed how parents who leave their children to do whatever they want and act anyway they want are not loving their children as much. My example I used was our neighbor who she knows let's her children eat anything they want. Even if it means they have hot dogs and chips every meal. Her son will not eat a single fruit or vegetable. Princess herself has heard this mom over at our house saying "I just told them, fine, eat whatever, I'm tired of hearing it". I asked her if it was more loving to work with the child to make sure they ate better or to just let them destroy their bodies because it is too hard or inconvenient to battle with them. She agreed it was more loving to make sure they were fed properly. So, I said it is the same with our giving of instruciton. It would be so much easier to just throw our hands and say "do what you want" or "say whatever you want to all of us" instead of working with you and letting your character development bother us enough to guide you properly. To feed your spirit with God's way and not let you starve spiritually.

We asked her to be reconciled to the Lord in her heart. To which she welled up tears in her eyes and said that she had prayed twice for the Lord and nothing happened. To which my heart just swelled with emotion for her. How, well we all know that feeling and I knew it was time to understand what being a Christian was so this is what I said:

"Christ is not a magic button, Princess. We do not just ask for Him to be our Lord and he reaches down with a wand and says 'bibidy, bobidy, boo!' and our lives and behavior are perfect. That is not the way it works.

Have you seen the little oak tree outside Princess? All of it's leaves are a deep green except for the little tips of the branches. If you look close, you will see that the final inch or so of the tree has a new spring green of growth for the year. That means that in a whole year of taking in nourishment, sun and water, that tree has this tiny result to show for it. It does not look like much, but many years ago, that tree was the size of your brother. Years from now it will be the size of the great beautiful oak by the grain mill that is in the 1800's pictures of the original schoolhouse. It did not happen over night. This little tree has to be patient to grow at the pace God has for it to grow. Every spring those little green leaves are a great reminder to me of His faithfulness.

Now, if the little tree had decided it was not happy with it's rate of growth and gave up saying "I'm not good enough so I'll stop trying" and as a result it shut down it's root system and rejected the light from the sun, what would happen to the tree?"

"It would die" Princess said.

"Yes, it would. And that is why Christ told us to abide in Him. He says that if we abide in him, we will bear fruit. We don't read our bibles and pray out of ritual duty, we do it because we long to be close to him and abide in his will every day. We are virtually opening up our roots and receiving the water of life, and turning our faces to his light to feed our souls. Even when the tree does all this, it grows slowly at times. Some years are better than others. But, it will keep growing if it accepts what God tries to feed it.

We are here as your parents to be used by God to feed you. We try to feed you instruction, wisdom, guidance, right and wrong, love, protection, and all the things you need. If you reject these things, it will stunt your growth. You are getting older and are now able to abide in Christ through us and on your own. You can take the time to pour out your heart to God even tonight and ask Him to be on the throne of your heart instead of you. We promise you that if you abide in Him, you will see change in your life. Not overnight, but you will see it. It's the same lesson for mommy and daddy, we need to abide also or we don't grow. You are not alone in this journey but the important thing is to stay on it."

That is kind of the just of it. She seemed to really understand. She was worried that she could not fall asleep praying. I told her that my dad, her Papa, use to tell me that if you could not sleep praying to the Lord was always the best thing to do. Not only does it made you sleepy, but it sends you out on a peaceful note and your soul is at rest as well as your body.

(my little oak tree and it's yearly spring green growth that reminds me every time)

Sure enough, my little girl, who I went to check on in a little bit, was peacefully sound asleep.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm Feeling At A Parental Loss

I don't know what this post will become, I just feel the need to sort it out. Perhaps just be transparent so that someone else can know a real glimpse of my life.
It's very hard when you have a child that you struggle to communicate with. One that has a personality that is in some ways similar to yours but in most ways extremely different. Just absorbing the mere scientific fact of different brain processes and ways of absorbing information would be enough to know that some sensitivity has to come into play. Do you have one person in your life who, no mater what you say to them, they seem to hear it differently and get a completely different meaning from the one you intended? Or perhaps they don't get what you are saying at all. That is the struggle I'm in with my eldest. Rick and I both actually. I'm in a struggle and search right now, knees bent before the Lord in it, to learn how to love and communicate to this child in the way that she needs me to.
I was just telling a blog friend that God has looked down and purposed that we are the perfect parents for our children. I believe that with all that is in me. I trust his sovereign plan to use all that we present to her for the good he will work in her life. That he works through us rather that in spite of us. Yet, the last two days I have not doubted this, but wondered how it can possibly be working here. He knew we would have these problems with our clashing personalities and yet he still said in essence "it is good" for us to be mother and daughter.
I love my daughter with all that is in me but I need to learn how to love her better and how to let her know that I love her without ignoring some issues that she needs to work on in her character.
My personality is full of flaws itself for sure. Mine is one of a survivor mentality at any cost. To push through no matter what comes up, to find a way to make it work. I am not a very cheerful person all the time, but I do believe that being hopeful and positive is powerful and it comes naturally to me.
My child is a defeatist. She will halt from trying just from the mere projection in her mind that it won't work or that she can't. She will cry over school work the minute it does not come easily to her. Thankfully, she is very bright and most of her academics have come easy to her and I think that very fact makes her flip out when it does not. I on the other hand, struggled in academics and learned to find a way and push through doing the best I could each time. I tell her all the time that if you give up and start crying, your brain will freeze and you won't be able to sort out the problem. I have to calm her all the way down before we can move on. She flips if she gets one wrong on a test, or her grades are not straight A+'s across the board. When told by her teacher, during their state reports, that she needed to hand draw the outline of the US with her state in the middle...free-hand...she just could not do it! She tried and was so mad that it did not look right and was in angry tears by the end of about ten pieces of paper on the floor! I HAD to let her trace it from a map or we were never going to get through the project!
I cannot tell you how hard this is.
It's hard for me to see her throw up her hands and give up rather than try her best and be happy with that. It's just so not me. It's not her daddy, and it's not what her daddy and I have taught her or exemplified to her. It's like she just can't function a different way.
Another aspect that has been hard is ongoing negative thinking. For instance, and this is just an example: Lilo brought up in the car yesterday that she was so excited about the end of the school year party at the local pool. To which Princess says "Well, I'm just going to be bored because I'll be at the shallow end and all my friends will be in the deep end because they can swim better". I ask her how she knows that is true. She says that last time she was there, all her friends were in the deep end and she was left in the shallow end. I ask her when she has been to the pool with all her friends before. She says this was when her neighbor friend and another girl where there. That's just two people, I remind her, and "your class has 35 students! I don't think they will ALL be at the deep end ALL of the time you are at the pool." It's like she projects ahead and visualizes herself all alone and decides that she will for sure have a miserable time.
Yesterday was one negative response to life after another from the minute she got in the car.
I had a meeting I was supposed to go to at the school and I had arranged for my friend to watch the kids for me. She was distraught that she could not go home and rest, having some time to herself to listen to her book on CD and do her beads. I understood, I told her so, and that I really did not want to go either but that it was important. She started snipping at her sister because her world was unhappy and she got in trouble for that. As a result, she went in her room and started crying loudly so we could all hear her and spouting out various doom and gloom statements of how awful her life was and how she never had any time to herself. Now, mind you, I could tell she was tired. I suggested that she just lay down for the few minutes we had before the meeting. I even offered her my bed so that she could rest quietly without her sister coming into the room since they share a room. I was truly trying to validate her expressed need for time. She not only did not want that, she refused it and went on about how miserable it was that she could not do what she wanted. Tears again. I tried so hard to swallow so many things racing through my head. I prayed for wisdom and for self-control. I felt a sense of doom myself for a moment realizing that this was only the beginning of a long road ahead with h0rmone swings and efforts to be the strong yet sensitive parent I needed to be. I felt at a loss. I thought it best to let her cry it out but asked her to come to the couch and talk to me if she needed to. She just kept complaining and I finally had to tell her to stop. I asked her to be thankful for so much that she did have, and for the fact that I'm trying to be involved in what goes on at the school (I'm on the school site council which decides where the money goes in the school) and reminded her that I did not want to go myself but was trying to deal with that unselfishly as I was asking her to do as well.
On our way out the door she asked if she could bring what she wanted to listen to (the book on CD) with her. I was bothered by this because these friends of ours have three boys and one older girl, a year older than Princess. They homeschool, so this young lady does not get to do much with other girls her age. I asked her how she did not see that that would be rude to go to her friends and then proceed to sit in a corner and listen to something instead of blessing her friend with playtime. She said she really did not think of that. I tried to remember that she indeed sees life from a different perspective. She seemed earnest in this and I could not question her sincerity despite the obvious rudeness it presented to me. So, I accepted what she said and tried to explain how that would be insensitive to her friend.
I was running late by now. I dropped them off at my friends giving her a big hug outside before leaving and telling her that I loved her and I was trusting God to help us through these things. I told her I hoped she and her friend would enjoy the time. She was sulky but went on in.
I got up to the school only to find out that they had misprinted when the meeting was to be. It was not till next Tuesday. I wanted to rave to everyone about how hard I had worked to get myself there and what I'd been through with my daughter to get there as well. I took a big sigh and headed back out to my car. I drove to my friends house and she opened the door in surprise that I was back. I explained while Princess came down the hall (now, mind you, MAYBE 10 minutes has passed since I dropped them off) with a big grin on her face and said "but, I don't want to leave, I'm actually having fun!"
Something in myself just became overwhelmed with exhaustion. I smiled back and said, that I was glad and we would stay for about 15 minutes more. Inside I was not angry, not sad, not anything. I was just wondering how I was going to ride this roller coaster for seven plus more years.
That's all I'm going to vent out today. There is more but it may or may not be chatted on here.
I'm just seeking God and saying "show me how!". I know he is faithful but I feel weary. The other two are so easy going and I sometimes feel that I'm so worn and distracted from riding the roller coaster with one that I have to stop and say "oh, yeah, I'm your mommy too!" They can be up in the morning and everything is pleasant. Then Princess gets up and the whole tone of life changes. It bothers me that this happens. I ask her to be a peacemaker (her daddy has been teaching her that for so many hears) but instead she nit-picks at her siblings and always has some grievance about something. We have not been neglecting her heart on this either. We have been working on it for many years. We have taken her to the Word, and she certainly knows what's right. Yet, I don't want to always be on her and make her think that we don't love her or that she can't do anything right all the time. Yet, there are so many zillions of every day issues that there are few moments when things ARE going well for her. If she has a good day with everything going smooth for her things are great. As we all know, life does not work that way so there are so many moments of trial. I don't know how to get her to relax. I don't know how to get her to lighten up. I don't know how to get her to take things in stride. I don't know how to get her to see the good. I can tell her all these things till I'm blue in the face, and I have, but I cannot make her change. Only God can do that. I just feel overwhelmed with the HOW right now.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Few Things So Lovely

Do you ever walk out on a cool evening just to catch a breathtaking sunset? Do you ever go and stand by the roar of the ocean and feel your soul just stretching out over the water to touch somehow the beauty your eyes take in? Do you ever look at a new life and just drink in the awe of brand new creation? All these things are glimpses of the glory of God and they make our souls absolutely soar with delight in something way bigger than we are. We were created to long for beauty beyond ourselves, the beauty of the glory of God. More in a minute.
I love the second chapter of Acts. I love the amazing timing of God to bring the Holy Spirit at a time when so many men and women from so many nations would be gathered in one place to come to the knowledge of the gospel of God himself. I love that the fact that the Holy Spirit allowed the apostles to speak in all the languages that were represented there despite the fact that they had never heard perhaps a word of it themselves, let alone been trained in speaking it.
I love that it encourages me when I want to share the gospel with someone and just feel like I just don't "speak their language" seeing that we are so different perhaps, that the Spirit is given me just as it was to the Apostles and I don't have to worry about the details that God can handle.

I love that it reviews the fulfilled prophecy about the coming of the Spirit as well as the resurrection of Christ. It declares forth the validity of them both...rock solid.

I love that it includes the second most important event in church history (the first being the coming of the Spirit) being Peter's sermon which leads to the 3,000 converts all from those many many places ready now to go back, in perfect timing, to their own lands to declare and start the spread of the good news of salvation from sin.

Still, my favorite part comes at the very end. Just as any other thing right from the hand of God without the help of man, this picture is a lovely display of the power of the Spirit to accomplish the glory of God:
"Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and ppossessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."

Does that not make your heart soar!? Just like the other "awe" inspiring things I mentioned above. These people were experiencing a glimpse of eternity. They were filled with joy and selflessness toward each other even to the point that they felt they had all things in common. Now, as with any group of humanity, they of course did not have ALL things in common, yet they had all that really mattered in this life in common, and temporal things in ownership to Christ and therefore held it to each other with open hand. Wow, the unity of that, and what a different picture than the world around us going for what each man can get for himself and the building up of his own importance and confidence.
They were sharing the joy of food together in a wonderful fellowship. Not hording their own food for their own families (as they actually had very little and could have been perhaps justified to do so in the sense of it being more "smart" perhaps) but making sure all were provided for and met in their needs.

It's obvious that in our world, every man longs for peace. He longs for the world to become a better place and for us all to just work together for the greater good. Though this desire is misguided through the fall and sin has twisted it into goal for blowing up our own vanities and the vanity of mankind itself (therefore positively effecting us as well), it comes from a desire given to us by God. Yet, our peace is found in LETTING GO of everything that would build us up and giving it in open hand to where God would use it for His purposes. It was such a beautiful picture of everything humanity is NOT on his own, that it drew in more and more unbelieving people. They were in awe of this unity.
I wonder if the church today is as beautiful to those who look upon us. It should be. It should be amazing what Christians do for others because of the love they have for Christ. They should feel that we would just as earnestly give what we had for a need they had as well. It is undeniable beauty and not something that we could just conjure up. Just like the sunset or the waves of the sea, it is awesome and God revealing. It makes us long to be a part of it because it is bigger than the self-seeking beings that we are.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

If I Would Just Take The Advice I Give My 11 Year Old

Working back into school this week after two weeks bumming and traveling has been a challenge. It allowed for some building issues with our oldest to bubble to the top and explode. I've gone on my knees, Rick and I have talked a lot, and I've employed my creative solution finding juices to search out some practical wisdom.
Here is kinda what was happening:
In the hour or so rush of getting ready for school, Princess realizes that she has left both of her school wearable shoes in the car....THAT DADDY TOOK TO WORK! Now, my mind goes by default to what in the world can I improvise with, but hers goes right to the very fact that the world, is indeed, ending. I try to stay calm and encourage creativity and finding something that will work even just for the day. I suggest some slippers that she has said are too tight. "Well, why don't you go try them on and see if it may just work for one day." She returns saying that they are too small and flop off her heal in the back. "If they were too tight, they would not flop off your heals dear". Still, she is in misery but decides it will have to do.
The problem however is that in the midst of this event, she returns to her room and snips off at her sister about something, and is repeatably disrespectful to me through small responses to the simplest things such as time reminders or "don't-forget-to" 's. She is mad, emotional, frustrated and all together not happy that her world has been turned on it's side. In the mean time, I am trying to stay calm in the midst of her crankiness to me and others but not ignore that it's an issue either.
(This was also the morning, if you follow my facebook you know, that I went to spray Superkid's hair with water in order to brush out his bedhead, only to discover Emma had put shampoo in the bottle and he had to be rinsed head hanging over the kitchen sink before taking off for school)
This beautiful morning was topped off by her injuring herself on the door handle of the car. She just emotionally fell apart. By now, I was feeling sorry for her despite the crankiness I'd received. I hate when she has to go off to school like that.
Ironically I came home to see her tennis shoes in the laundry room. Oh, well.
The next morning was better but when she could not find her homework the whole cycle was gearing up again and she started snipping at me and her sister again. My goodness, I thought, I cannot co through this over and over again.
So, I prayed a lot on Tuesday and thought about what to do.
It occurred to me that her problem was a 50/50 scenario. Half of the problem was the circumstance and the other was her choice of how to react to that circumstance. So, we sat down and told her later, if we can eliminate the first problem, it should ease up the second one. Beyond that, she needed to make sure better choices regarding her speech and attitude with her family and to focus more on bringing glory to God with her treatment of others. Those things that were becoming a problem needed to be done the night before. Shoes? Check..set out. Homework? Check...it's in the binder. What to wear? Check...folded and set out. As well as anything else needed the next day out of the norm. On top of this we added a 30 min wake up earlier time and told her we would try that and see if it helped her. She moves VERY, and I do mean VERY, slow in the morning. Lilo on the other hand is dressed in 10 minutes, packed in five and following me around the rest of the morning with her backpack on asking if she can go out in the carport and skate. If I could just find a medium!!!!
Her chores are also required in the morning so we had to allow room for those too. Her sister unloads the dishes, and she puts them away. She is to feed and water the cats and make her bed. It does not sound like much but there has not been time to get it done.
We tried this and it's working very well.
Then it occurred to me that I need to take my own advice. How many times I don't plan ahead or do the consistent things I should in a day and because of my lack of organization and planning, things go insane and I'm cranky to the kids or Rick. I do the same thing I tell her not to do. I take it out on them when it's really my not doing what I should.
So, I ask myself, what circumstances are keeping me from harmony in my life? I've started to find some.
Wake up enough to be cheerful before the kids wake up.
Clean the kitchen the night before entirely so that breakfast and lunches come together better.
Prep lunches the night before if possible.
Go to sleep at a sensible time.
Stay home and don't run around browsing or wasting time because a peaceful home needs keeping up on.
On that note, keep up so you don't have to catch up.
Think of dinner at about 10 am or earlier. Prep it all day to avoid the time crunch when the kids are home and tired and hungry and demanding.
Plan it so daddy can walk in to us at the table, set nicely, waiting for him.
Don't eat too much so that I'm too sluggish for my tasks, especially in the evening. (or you could call it, eat FOR energy, not against it)
Those are just some on the top of my head right now.

Sometimes answers are just more simple than we think. It's all the magic of forethought.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Was Only The Begining and What Was To Come Is Of Colossal Importance For Every Day Life

I had a hard time absorbing Easter this year. I felt myself making a concerted effort to stop and reflect on the death of my Lord and the significance of His resurrecting from the dead. The two biggest events in human history followed up by even the prior birth of Christ, one would think would move me each time beyond measure. Yet, sometimes it doesn't. Ooooh, that makes me sound like such a bad Christian does it not?!

The fact is, the crucificiton and the resurrection are events in history that I utterly believe in but that are far away from my own every day reality. That is just the truth of it. Only by the impression on my heart from God's Holy Spirit are my eyes even open to receive and believe those truths. Though they are massive, earth shattering, and eternally life changing to me, they are emotionally and practically a long way away from my every day and I feel I have to work my brain to travel back to what I even have knowledge of regarding their existence.

So, this morning I was greatly impressed and encouraged by an event no less significant that allows the "rubber" of the Easter story to hit the "road" of my life.

Most of you know that Passover is before Easter. That the last supper took place at Passover. That passover is a remembrance of when God rescued the Israel nation out of slavery and brought them into the promised land. It was a time to put the blood of a lamb on the door post so the angel of death would passover the home of those who put their faith in God. You also know that this was indeed a foreshadowing of the coming of Christ to be the Lamb of God, shed his blood, that though faith would allow the freedom from slavery to sin as well as salvation from eternal death.

Jesus was crucified after the passover meal and rose from the dead three days later. Of course his resurrection and it's significance trumps any other before or after existing belief regarding the salvation of humanity. It fulfills all prophecy to the "T", and it allows and points to the possibility of our own certain resurrection in bodily form before the creation of the New Earth as we are told in Revelation.

When Jesus rose from the dead he appeared to the disciples and ate meals with them to prove he was not just spirit but risen body as well. He remained with them for 40 days teaching them about the Kingdom of God.

All great events, all foundational and life changing for me of course. However, nothing I have participated in myself or been able to witness to where my memory is forever branded with experiential absorption of truth. What is experienced in my life happened 50 days after that Passover.

It's called the Feast of Weeks and is also known as "Pentecost" (meaning "fiftieth") celebrated 50 days after Passover in May/June (Lv 23:15-22). For years, and years, and years, the people of Israel came to Jerusalem to celebrate this important event.

It's astounding to me how consistent God is. I'm so thankful for that. How important absolutely perfect timing is to him as well. He is precise, concise, and affirmative. He used the events of Jesus to coincide and tie up all loose ends of the rituals of the Old Testament and make them complete and fulfilled. Wow. For it was at this exact time that the events of Acts chapter 1 take place. The promise given by Jesus (vs.8) to send the helper, the comforter, the source of power, the very spirit of Himself would come to pass at this time. It was called the Pentecost. During the former feast at Pentecost, the firstfruits were offered and the image is paralleled and fulfilled as the Holy Spirit came and brought the firstfruits of the gospel of Jesus the Christ through the salvation of the first Christians that day.

The amazing thing is that this is something I am a part of. It was the beginning, but I get to be part of the story. The apostles had to wait for this special event but all after are given the Holy Spirit at salvation. That means that the power that motivated Christ to obey the will of God even unto death, now dwells in me. It means that the comfort he gave out to others in his human life, is given to me, just as if his very hands were laid upon me. It means that his Spirit to fulfill the will of God on earth is moving and working even now on this earth and through His great grace, it is moving through my very life and circumstances. It means that my life can be decided in every detail by God's direction. There are no more chances, guesses or good luck/bad luck outcomes. Notice that even the last decision made by the disciples before the Holy Spirit came was made by the casting of lots. They cast lots between whether Matthias or Barabbas (or Justus) should be the disciple to replace Judas. They trusted God to decide through this practical process proven by their prayer in verse 24. It was an OT way of determining the will of God. That was about to change. God was about to become even more intimate than just saving our souls. He was going to hand us the very spirit of His son to navigate our steps till we reach the end. If we belong to Him and prayerfully decide what to do in life, He will lead us in the will of God. That is an amazing thing if you really think about it.

In summary, it's kind of a "that was then, this is now" story. Try as we might to muster up emotions and significant responses to the events of Christ's cross and resurrection, we waver and we fail. We come and we go. We are unpredictable and unsteady. We are distant from the event itself and unable to grasp it's importance fully.

Then God gave his intimate solution to the problem he knew all to well that we had. Wanting to help us, love us, and guide us through, he unleashed the Holy Spirit of his beloved Son into our very lives so that He can navigate and keep faithfully that which has been in trusted to His care. We are not powerful. We are not comforted. We are not wise. We are not fulfilled and focused. Yet the event of the Pentecost, 50 days from Passover, and up and coming on your calendar, is the phase two in the Easter Story. It is the hand to be held, the motivation to be used, the peace to be permeated, the direction to be led, and the companion so treasured along the rest of a journey for the Glory of God. For Him, to Him, and by Him, making us complete in Christ.

So, whatever you do....don't stop celebrating if you believe, because this is where YOU come in to the story itself!

Be encouraged.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why I've Joined TOPS

I had never heard of TOPS before. (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly). Evidently they have been around a long time, since 1948. Who knew?

Well, my neighbor and friend Shonda had heard of them long ago and just recently came across their website. We went and checked it out. It was a little weird at first. The mass of the crowd are 70 year old ladies. They had a pledge they said and a song of encouragement and hand holding during the song, at the end. Not my cup of tea at all. Still, I returned last night and Shonda and I joined. Why?

Well, because I simply cannot afford Weight Watchers which averages 40 dollars a month. This group is 26 for a year membership and 8 bucks a month. When they get more people they can lower the monthly to five. That is what most of them are. This one just was not making the rent on the building.

I am joining because I need the accountability for my yo-yo health goals. You do weigh in each time and the meetings are once a week. You do have to say if you lost or gained and if you lost they clap for you and if you gained they chant "we're glad you're here". Yes, I was employing my sense of humor. :)

Last night it was more fun and I actually enjoyed being around all these elderly ladies. I don't hang out in that crowd very often. There are a few men in there to and a few in their 50's but Shonda and I are a definite dive down on the average age scale.

Many have come and gone out of the TOPS group and gained every time they left. Another is an example to them all as she joined 25 years ago, met her goal, and has attended to maintain for the remaining years. She has stayed within her range that whole time. That range would be no more than three lbs above your goal, and no more than seven lbs under.

So, I'm taking the plunge. It sure helps to keep you focused. I'm going to keep an exercise meter in mileage on the blog.

There site is here if anyone is interested.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Okay...THAT, Made Me Mad

I know it's Easter, and yes, I've had many deep thoughts today on many good things. I have also got a good head list of some bloggables this week so I don't mean to come here and be negative on a holiday but....

I was just at Walmart for some TP and laundry soap (very exciting shopping and especially great seeing how I returned some shorts and two tops to have the money to get them. that's kind of like counter active shopping for a woman don't you think? I was there with the kids and did not try the tops on. Am I the only one who can't get tops to fit right anymore? If they fit in the bust, they are tight in the belly. If they fit in the belly they are expectantly disappointed in the bust. I'm just not made properly I guess. No wonder rich people look so good..they have tailored clothing!)

Where was I...

Oh, yeah. I was in the check out and had a really really hard time with the latest National Enquirer. I know they should not be expected of much at all that's dignified, but this was beyond abominable. They had pictures of Patrick Swayze "wasting away" a they were calling it I think. It broke my heart.

If you have loved someone and seen their body waste away literally like that, in your own arms, loosing all faculties one by one in a slow and painful method of digression as it eats away at your instinct to love and help them, you would never....EVER post that anywhere.

What awful people to be so insensitive. This is not some affair had with so and so. This is not someone caught with their visible cellulite backside. This is a man facing the reality that he is going to die and trying to live life fully while he deals with that. This is aging in fast forward and feeling one by one things you could control fall out of your hands and into the hands of the almighty. This is the truest journey a man takes. It is his own journey. It is pain for those around him who love him as their very hearts are being ripped out and rung like a wet washcloth until their is nothing left to ring out and the well of emotions run dry completely.

This is not and never should be posted for interest of the buyer. It should never be blared like the newest gossip. That is as low as I've seen anyone go.

Shame on them.

I try to think about the fact that they simply don't know what they are doing.

It doesn't help much.

I think I will be sure to say a prayer for Patrick and that he would be encouraged and feel the love around him fuller than he ever has before.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Born In The Wrong Decade

When Rick and I went up to Hearst Castle I got the same tingle in my spine I always get when the tour bus starts playing the 30's and 40's tunes. Though the Castle is full of very old art, it was alive and busy during this time period until Hearst grew ill in 1947 and was unable to live there anymore. BTW do you know that Hearst asked his Southern California doctor to consider coming to Hearst to be his personal physician so that he could live where he wanted to the most before he died? Hearst offered the doctor the DEED to Casa Grande (the large "cottage" in front of the castle) for his whole family to live there. The doctor turned him down and I'm sure the descendants have been chewing on that decision ever since!:)
Anyway, being up there always reminds me how much I absolutely love that time period.
If I could order my time period I get to live in or recreate it somehow without looking odd to my neighbors I would:
Wear darling house dresses accented with the most delicate and domestic aprons:

Working in a kitchen much like these:

I would have listened all day at home working or cooking or setting the dinner table to this:

GO HERE (also the new background to The Happy Homebody)

It is absolutely my favorite, never tire of it, kind of music. Of course, my treadmill choices are much more up to date. You can't really sweat to this music, but you can sure love life to it.

I would go out on dates to do this with my husband (and we do plan to learn this someday though perhaps a more mellow version! BTW this is from a great movie called "Swing Kids" and you may recognize if you look closely the current Batman actor in is early days:)

Or out to dinner dressed like this:

As you may imagine..the costumes on "Kit Kittridge" thrilled me:
But I would also love to deck my children out in full Dick and Jane as well:
My sweetie's job would put him dashingly in this: (though he would hate it because he ALWAYS loves shorts instead)
Truly it was a hard time in history. The great depression was on going and families were learning to make due. I remember my grandma telling me that my great grandmother could take anything and make a meal and almost every meal included homemade biscuits or cornbread. They ate lots when the eating was good, and less when it was not. There were no ways to just come up with credit for something. They became resourceful. Out of their resourcefulness women learned to be true artists. Artists of the home. Making beauty from simplicity and taking great pride in their work. It shows in the beauty of even the simple aprons and the little dresses made from flour sack calico. The music of the time is full of feeling and a deep desire to pull the good out of life and hold on to it. To have a penny in your pocket and a skip in your step as you went about getting by loving those you loved and making life good for each other.
It is a charming time, and an inspiration to me in many ways.

Soon I hope to share my own making due charm of a window covering made from my own thrifted vintage aprons and a walk through a very old personal cookbook collection that was an amazing walk through another woman's life in another time. Coming soon.....:)
We seem to have lost that which was charming in the rush to that which is newer and better and in the end, really does not work as well or last as long. In our wares, our schedules, and even our relationships. Maybe the times to come with teach us to slow down and make life charming again.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

How To Stay Married

I read these in the latest Readers Digest and thought they were great:

The secret to marriage is the same as the secret to living in California...

When you find a fault , don't DWELL on it!

Marriage is all about falling in love over and over and over again......

with the same person.

(no quotes because I'm paraphraising and too tired to look up who said it)

I thought those were great and the last one thrills me. It's so true.

I've recently fallen in love again myself.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Take a Little Scripture, Put It In Your Pocket...Save It For a Rainy Day

There is certainly nothing wrong with that. The right verse at the right time has been a great encouragement to many. But I've been pondering the problem with a pattern of feeding on the word this way. It's like spiritually starving yourself on a few peanuts you carry around in your pocket. After a while your malnourishment catches up with you.

I also apply this analogy to when scripture is "carried" around and quoted for use by the person needing that one biblical quote that makes valid their point in conversation. It can just be thrown out there as emphasis but rarely is it studied for context or meaning. Many times I have been swayed into an idea by someone I respected doing this to me. I did not know the word enough myself to discern their proper usage of it.

As I'm in this new and different mode in my life right now that I spoke of before, I feel the need to purge my impressions and influences down to (1) what God's word itself says and (2) who God wants me as the individual he made, to be. Therefore I'm growing weary and shockingly considering ridding myself of books related to conduct rather than concept study.

For instance, I have long been a fan of Elizabeth George books ("A Woman after God's own Heart" books). Many of the things she has to say are good but they are all on the definitions of conduct for a godly woman. I use to go more to these to find out what I was supposed to be. They have some great example to offer but they really are just another version of looking to others to see what defines a godly woman instead of intimately seeking the Lord through study of His word, for Him to show me the conduct of THIS godly woman (or aspiring one anyway:). I remember one example in particular where Elizabeth George mentions that a woman ought to keep the house so well, and wipe the surfaces of everything before heading out the door each time in order for herself and her family to always come home to a clean house. It sounded great and godly at the time, but really? Is that really what defines godliness? Or is it just the expressed preference of one christian lady writer and a reflection of her own personality. Is the woman who is not so tidy not as godly of a woman and not a "woman after God's own heart?". Hmmm.

Please don't think I'm nitpicking...there are many good things to be gleaned out there in the world of Christian women's books. I'm just feeling the need to get right to the source more. I have found that my understanding is not as great when a women's book tells me "now turn to this scripture here, and that one there" after trying to back up a concept on womanly conduct that she has presented. THIS IS NOT BAD, and I'm not saying it is. I'm looking for better. I'm looking for 100% pure, with no flavors added.

So, I have greatly enjoyed the inductive study method through the tools of Kay Arthur's Precept Study Guides. (You can find out more about this at the Precept Ministries Site) These along and many times buddied up with the wonderful teaching of our Pastor, who goes through large sections, usually books, of scripture at a time, have changed my understanding and comprehension of scripture so much more. For instance my Pastor is in the book of Acts right now so I am using the Precept Study Guide for Acts. God is always faithful to fine tune my understanding of the conduct of my life every time I go straight to his word. It's just starting to feel like getting to the point instead of beating around the bush and having to filter out how one person prefers to do certain things and label them "godly" or "ungodly".

What I do appreciate in Christian writing more and more are books that are conceptual. Those concepts or topics on understanding aspects of scripture or God himself. John Piper, Jerry Bridges, Randy Alcorn, and John MacArthur are just some of the tip top favorite examples. These men have been pouring themselves over God's word in the inductive study methods for sure, for many years. God has opened their hearts with passions for different topics and enlightened their understanding and desire to share. Those are the books I feel I'm not wasting my time on.

So the bottom line is that as I'm asking myself "Lord, who do you want me to be?" it is only one of many questions my heart asks. The others are "Lord, who are you?" or "Lord what does it mean to suffer in life when we know you? or "Lord, what exactly is your plan for humanity?"...and many others. The first question I'm finding is better answered going right to God's word and letting him intimately show me. Who he wants me to be cannot be found in the hundreds of women's books on what a woman should be. Yes, I could read them all and I could probably put together a picture that's true but that would be after I spent hours sifting out what was NOT me and what was or what was scripture and what was preference or personality. Scripture is living and breathing and equip for all teaching and conduct. Why not go right to the source?

Scripture is more than a verse in my pocket when I need it or more than a tool for one person to validate their way of doing things. It is an intimate understanding and connection to God who desires to show us personally where and how and why we should walk. To do that I need to learn in a conceptional and inductive way. Once I've done that, then I can carry that verse in my pocket knowing from whence it came and what it means in context to the whole. It's the bigger picture that will gain my understanding, convict my heart, and light the path for my next step ahead.

It's quite a relief that God all ready knows who I'm supposed to be in him and just waiting for me to come to Him so that he may show me. I don't have to try on a bunch of other personalities for size only to find them uncomfortable and stifling.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I Call It Magical Motivation

Even a homebody needs to move, and it has been my goal this year to learn to run. I have never liked running....ever. I would tell anyone I know that I hate running and I do...or should I say did.
I found something out about myself. I was not running right and not using the proper motivation. I would walk fast during a show I like and then run the commercials. I could barely get through the five minutes of running. I was dying for that darn commercial to be over! Then, last week I found I did much better with the right music and starting low at about 4.2 mph. Before I would jack it up to 4.8 and it was not a pace I could keep long.
I've been doing this new method for a week and stretching myself to run up to a 4.5 or more for ten and even 15 minutes without slowing down. It's quite easy and feels really good actually. I'm able to run at least half of the hour work out and that would translate into 2 miles worth of running and 2 of walking. My goal is to run the whole hour in a few months.

Right now it looks like this

Warm up 10 min

Jog 10 min at about 4.2

Walk 5 min at about 3.8

Jog 15 min at 4.3-4.5 or more

Walk 5 min at 3.8

Jog 10 min at 4.2 or more

Walk 5 min to cool down

Music is magic to me and unfortunately there is not a lot of great running christian music out there, though Toby Mac is pretty close but my kids listen to it so much I'm needing a fresh set of songs.
Here is my new playlist geared up for a good bit of jogging. If you want to use it, it's here. Like I said, it's not meant to be spiritually inspiring. I have to test it out this afternoon to make sure it's long enough for a 1 hour workout.