Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday's Fun Family Time Tip #5: Freezer Fill Fishing

It is spring and the best time to be outdoors! One of the things our family loves to do together is fish. It gives us quality time to spend without distractions - time to talk to one another, relax, and just enjoy God's creation together. It can also provide for a bit of fun family competition! Guess who took home the trophy on our last trip? That's right, Mama!

You don't need to know a ton about fishing to have fun. All you need is a pole, line, hook and worm...and a nice little pond or stream! Make sure that you have a license if you are not on private property! And one of the best perks about this family time activity: it puts food in the freezer!

And A Recipe To Match
Mama's Easy Fish Pouches
Fish fillets
Butter or Margarine
Bag of frozen mixed or stir fry vegetables (or fresh if you have them!)
Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 450*
Cut foil into approximately 6 in. squares
Place one fillet on each square
Place a hand-full of vegetables on the fillet
Place a tablespoon of butter on top of fish and vegetables
Sprinkle generously with Italian Seasoning
Fold foil up into a pouch and place on a baking sheet
Cook for about 30 minutes until fish is flaky and fully cooked inside
Serve over rice!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Little Reminders

Do you ever stop and think about what your life will be like 10, 20 years from now? Where is the path you are on taking you? I often think about this and wonder if I am not only doing my best right here, right now, but also building the best future. Am I seizing opportunities to make the memories I will cherish in the years to come? Am I equipping my children with the tools to be strong, self-sufficient, godly individuals?
One of the most important, am I nourishing my marriage to be the relationship that will still be there when my kids are grown and all others have moved on?
Proverbs 5:18 says, "May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth." Am I giving my husband something to rejoice about in the years to come?
Sometimes I am too busy taking care of all the technical aspects of marriage (raising the kids, cleaning the house, folding the laundry, cooking the meals, doing the bills...) that I forget to put effort into the marriage itself.
So how do you keep your marriage front and center? Now that I have a several years under my belt, what I find easiest is to use the ideas that worked in the past. We all have those special memories of the silly little lovestruck things we did when we were dating, engaged or first married. What were those things? What was it that made those things special? Repeat them and watch your husband's face light up, guaranteed!
This week I recalled early on in our marriage, before my first daughter was born, in our tiny 4 room (not bedroom) house.  I had a red dry erase marker that I used to write love messages to my Beloved on the bathroom mirror for him to find before or after work. After a few moves and a couple of kids later, that dry erase marker got lost and forgotten, but I remember how he would smile when he found those messages.  So, I started rummaging through my desk (there are now dozens of dry erase markers in my possession) and found a red dry erase marker. I went into the bathroom and wrote a simple "I love you" on his mirror. It was so sweet when he found it, like I had done something reeeallly out of the way for him. I wrote on the bathroom mirror, how hard was that? But in actuality, how hard are any of the little extra things that we can do to remind our husbands that they are the number one in our lives?
Your husband married you for a reason - because you made him smile and gave him something to rejoice about. Don't be too busy and burdened with the everyday to lose what it is he loves most about you - you!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Seek the Son

I am not a great gardener, but I love to try anyway! This fall I planted some bulbs (don't know the name!) and they have alread come up. As I watched them this weekend, I was in awe of how they moved in relation to the sun. During the night, they were closed, beautiful, but closed.

However, as the sun rose and began to shine fully on them, they began to transform, to literally open in order to soak up the sun!

This simple act of creation moving in response to its lifesource made me think of our lives and how we move in response to the Son, our Lifesource.  Read the following:
And we all, with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. --2 Corinthians 3:18
I love the imagery in the words of this passage!  Do you daily come before God with an unveiled face, opening up like my flower to soak up all the glory He has to pour down on you?  Do you stand before Him and get real. No more fronts, no more lies, no more striving to be something - just openly and completely who you are. Come to Him in prayer and open up.  When you do, you will begin to see a transformation in your life.  You will become a living reflection of His Spirit and His glory!

Oswald Chambers wrote beautifully on this:
The most important rule for us is to concentrate on keeping our lives open to God.  Let everything else including work, clothes, and food be set aside.  They busyness of things obscures our concentration on God.  We must maintain a position of beholding Him, keeping our lives completely spiritual through and through. --My Utmost for His Highest, January 23
Let everything else fall away for those few moment when you can stop and smell the flowers, and then mimick their response, opening yourself up to your Creator!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday's Fun Family Time Tip #4 - Royalty for the Day

A really great way to have a family day is to let your child be the King or Queen for the day (or afternoon or night). Sound scary? It really isn't! You would be surprised the things your kids will choose to do if they get to pick. Mine usually want to play Candyland, watch movies, paint fingernails or go to the park. That's not so hard, is it? I think that by letting them choose the family activities every now and then, lets them know that you are interested in spending time with them and in the things that they enjoy doing - not just having them with you to enjoy what you enjoy.

Today's Recipe to Match:
This is a really easy recipe to do with the kids or in a hurry. It was one of the first that I was able to do by myself as a kid!

Princess Cake
2 cans pie filling
1 box white cake mix
1 stick of melted butter or margarine
slivered almonds (opt)

Preheat oven to 350*
Pour pie filling into bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish
Sprinkle dry cake mix over the top (try to cover pie filling completely)
Drizzle the melted butter over the top
Sprinkle the almonds (opt)
Bake for about 1/2 hour until top is golden brown
Enjoy hot or cold!

Friday, March 23, 2012


Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. --Mark Twain
Oh, how I agree with this statement! Add a cup of coffee and your babies and you've got near-heaven! We all need a little bit of down-time and enjoyment from our busy everyday lives.  That is one of the best things about having girlfriends!

Why spend time with (godly) girlfriends:
1) It takes your mind off of the stresses and burdens of your daily life
2) You can share your feelings with someone who is most likely going through the very same things
3) You can get an encouraging word or inspiration
4)  Laughter is the best medicine!
5)  We all need someone to lean on when times get tough

I believe that having godly friends and devoting time to them is a very important thing that women must do.  It is one of the tools that God uses to Fill our Cup! Even King David had Jonathan as his best friend. We all need that person that is outside of the family circle.  Please be very careful how you choose this person or persons. 
The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. --Proverbs 12:26
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is one who sticks closer than a brother. --Proverbs 18:24
There are many other passages in the Bible about choosing good friends and "godly counsel."  We need our sisters in Christ beside us.  I know you are busy enough, dear sister, with the chores and things you must accomplish each day!  But I encourage you to make time-outs a priority: time-outs for date night with hubby; time-outs for family night; and time-outs for some sisterhood.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gifts Overflowing

When a believer withholds his or her God-given ability, the entire body suffers. --Len Woods, "Myths About Gifts",
Besides filling our cup with blessings and refreshing living water, God fills our cups with Spiritual Gifts and Talents and He expects us to let this overflow into our lives as well.  Every single believer has been given a gift. What saddens me, however, is how many people are unaware what their gift is or that they even have one! When they are told to put their gifts to use for God's kingdom they feel frustrated and discouraged because they don't know what it is they are supposed to be doing! Let's face it, we live in a world of business, travel, shopping, and social media. This is not the type of lifestyle that is going to awaken one to his/her spiritual gifts! If we are honest, it starts young! Public school does not create an environment to cultivate individuality and spiritual gifts in our children. It "socializes" them and encourages them to all learn and behave alike - when we are clearly all different. Even our churches today don't do a whole lot. I'm getting real here, sisters! Can spending a maximum of 3-4 hours a week (out of 168 hours - that's less than 2% of our week!!) really develop the necessary tools to discover and develop a spiritual gift? All of this means that it is up to you. You must spend time in God's word and discover how he has made you and then be intentional about seeking ways to use this gift.

Many women don't know what their gift is because they don't see it as a gift. This was me. My gifts are clearly, if you ask anyone, organization and faith. When someone would point this out to me, I would laugh. I thought it was obvious to anyone that these were not spiritual gifts. Yet, as God has led me down the path of life, I have found that those are spiritual gifts. My husband is the opposite of organized, so in his position of Youth Minister he needs my organization. He is great at ministering to the kids and the families and doing all of the up-front of the ministry, but my organizational gifts keep the ministry turning and flowing on a progressive track. When I took a Spiritual Gifts Inventory at our church, my highest was faith. I had to ask a lot of people about this one. What I discovered was that not every believer is "unshakable" in their faith as I thought all believers were. It is true, there is nothing that would cause me to doubt my God. Years of experiencing His faithfulness have only strengthened this faith (see My Story). So how do I use that? I am doing it now! I simply share that faith. I give others the examples of His faithfulness that I have had in my life; I encourage them by His promises in the Scripture; I give them the assurance that they will come out the other side of their valley!

Please know that I am not bragging (only on my incredible God)! I am trying to help you understand that you may have wonderful, useful gifts that you may not be using because you do not see them as gifts! I have a friend that is an encourager. That is her gift. I received an encouraging message from her yesterday! People like my girlfriend bring life and joy to the body of Christ. It fills our cup! When we are encouraged by these gifted individuals, we gain the motivation to continue using our gifts. We all must discover and use our gifts for a healthy Spiritual Body of Christ.

The problem with not using them is, as the quote above reflected, we all suffer.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. --1 Corinthians 12:26-27
I encourage you today to let God reveal to you your gift. Don't laugh it off or down-size its importance when He does reveal it. Seek out the ways that you can use your gift. Let it overflow into your life!

Monday, March 19, 2012

And the Rain Comes Down...

The only planting I accomplished Saturday!
It always amazes me how the weekend can fill me up with new ideas for writing! Saturday we had plans to work in our yard. We started our day by going to our daughter's soccer game and then went to the store to buy the things we needed to begin shaping our gardens for the spring (tomorrow's the first day of spring!).  No sooner had we gotten back and I began picking up branches out of the yard with the kids, that it started sprinkling. Stubbornly, I sent the kids inside and began planting one of the shrubs I had bought. It began to hail. I figured it was a day for indoor projects.
Isn't that so much like our real lives? Sometimes, it starts sprinkling and sometimes we get stubborn even though we see the signs that God wants us going in a different direction. And sometimes, God decides to get our attention even if it hurts, and He sends the hail. We must always keep in mind that God knows what He's doing, even if we don't. I love the rain and how God can cleanse all the grass, plants and trees with that rain, giving them color and life and water. This is how the figurative rain in our lives work. After it is over we find that we have been purified and are refreshed with Everlasting Water flowing through us. We must hold strong in faith. One of my favorite songs is Stand in the Rain, by Superchick, which expresses this exact idea. We must stand in faith through the rainstorms and hailstorms in our lives.
Oswald Chambers gives us a beautiful picture of what this type of faith is like:
A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagles' wings, but is a life of day-in and day-out consistency; a life of walking and not fainting (see Isaiah 40:31). --My Utmost for His Highest, March 19
Our plans are so unlike God's plans. We must give up what we want to accomplish (working in the yard) and conform our will to God's will (coming inside and going through boxes of hand-me-down clothes). We may not know why, but if we know our God, we know that His plans are always better than ours.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." --Jeremiah 29:11
So pack that umbrella with you today, dear sister, and be ready to respond in faith when those storms come!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The General Idea...I Guess! cup overflows. --Ps. 23:5

Saturday's Fun Family Time Tip #3: There's Always an Occasion

There is always an occasion to celebrate! Seeking out those silly little holidays and celebrating them is one of the best ways I have found to come up with new and creative ways for us to spend time as a family.  Last week, we celebrated Barbie's 63 birthday! The week before that we celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday with green eggs and ham!  Today: It's St. Patrick's Day!
It is easy as corned beef and cabbage to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
1) This year, I got a couple of St. Patrick's Day book from the local library. We read one last night, and I explained about Irish culture and the myths of the leprechauns.
2) After they went to bed, I left a little gift outside their doors. This was no ordinary gift - I had totally forgotten to plan ahead and had to search the house high and low for something! (Tip: Planning ahead makes things easier!)
3) On St. Patrick's Day, wear green! Warn them that they will get pinched if they don't and (*gasp*) give them permission to gently pinch anyone not wearing green today!
4) Stew up some corned beef and cabbage! I found a great recipe that I am going to use at I remember my mom making this meal every year on St. Patty's Day! It is a great tradition!
5) If you are a craftier person than I, this would be a great day to whip out those creative buds and let them blossom!
6) If you are Irish, use this day to talk about your family heritage. One branch of my family came over from Ireland when our country was brand new!

It is easy to find ways to celebrate all the little occasions. It makes family time a little more interesting and exciting too!  If you need more ideas, there are websites out there that list all of those little known holidays (some may even make them up!). I like to go to this website:
Don't ever worry about feeling silly - it's the silly things that make the memories!

Friday, March 16, 2012

One Shot

Do you like to look at old picture albums? I love it! Often, on a special occasion, I will set out a few for our family to sit and look at together. I love the memories that old photographs bring up and we can't look through them without more than a few laughs.
The funny thing about photographs is that you can't change them. You can't give yourself a new haircut in that high school picture. You can't take that boy's arm from around your shoulder. You can't put a smile on your face back at Aunt Lucy's birthday party. You can't remove the scrape on your daughter's head from where she fell down the stairs on picture day. You can't paint the walls of that ugly little first house. And you can't change the memories that are a part of them. You can't change what happened in those photos, or what happened before or what happened after. Most of us wouldn't want to.

One of those One-Shot Moments I'd never change!
 Our lives are like a giant album of memories. Each moment we live is a photograph. It is a moment that will be whatever we make it and we can't go back and change it! That is why it is so important for me to live each moment to the best of my ability. Because I only get one shot at it! I can never go back and redo right now.
There are days that I am so tired, I would like to put the kids straight into bed. But story time, the telling of our "favorite part of the day," and prayer is one of the best bonding times that we have. Some days I feel that I would rather read my Bible in peace, but I know the importance of letting my children see me studying God's Word.  Some days I am so worn out from their antics that I want to give up and just say "whatever," but I know that the lack of consistency would be damaging to the discipline of my child. I will get very real with you right now: some days I don't want to give up myself and the things I want to do in order to serve and be the mother of my family. On those days, my husband and I always just tell ourselves that this is our only shot. One day I will be old, my house will be perfectly clean because no children will live there; I will have time to read as many books as I want; I will have money to buy my extra goodies because I won't have to buy clothes, diapers, cleats, notebooks, milk...I will get to travel as much as I want because I won't have children I am leaving behind. But the main thing there is...I won't have children. They will be gone. This is our one shot to raise them. However we raise them is how they will be raised. The memories we make with them right now are the memories we will have left. The relationships we form with them will determine whether they come back to visit regularly and bring the beautiful grandbabies, and call, and write. And the spiritual walk we lead them on right now will determine the spiritual road they take as adults. And we've only got one shot.
I use the example of children because this is what is my passion and priority, but this principle applies to every moment of every woman's life, with or without children. This is your one shot at today. What are you going to do with it?

Thursday, March 15, 2012


As I sat down to write today, I wanted something to inspire me. If you are like me, your thoughts are like fast moving trains, and before I knew it, I found myself asking if I inspire others?

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. -John Quincy Adams

That is what I want to do - inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more in Christ!
My inspiration comes mainly from my quiet times with God. But more than that, I am inspired by His people, by their lives and stories. People such as Jim and Elizabeth Elliot, Queen Esther, Helen Keller, are sources of real inspiration to me.  More than what they accomplished, it is what they went through to get there. 
When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another. - Helen Keller
That is why I want to share my story. I hope it inspires!
Looking back at our lives to those 'hard times' and seeing how God provided, comforted, and brought us through to the next chapter of our lives is one of the best ways to find the inspiration to face today. We know we can trust Him to see us through, because we can look back and see that He has never let us down. We can look at how He worked in the lives of others and see that He has never let them down. And when we share our story, we can inspire.
I will let you in on something that, if you read my blog regularly may sound like a familiar tune. We can only inspire out of our overflow. If we are burnt-out and have a dry cup, then we will be as inspiring as a cockroach (which some may argue are quite inspiring, but not in my book - ick!). But if we go to the true source of inspiration - God - we will become beautiful fountains of inspiration! Dwell in His presence, meditate on His Word, remember what He has done.
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Go out today, my dear sister, and love, serve, laugh, and inspire.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Setting My Priority Today

I decided not to write much today. It is Daddy's birthday and we are going to do the preparations to celebrate!
Remember to always set your priorities! You can't do it all, so don't pretend you can. Be honest, and always go with those priorities!
Today, my priority: Celebrating My Beloved!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Who Fills Your Cup?

One of the things that we women must avoid when we are running dry is to expect someone else to fill our cup besides God, namely our husbands. I believe this is one of the top reasons marriages fail today. We expect our men to fill in all of our gaps.
We expect that when we have too much to do, they will automatically think to do the dishes or laundry to help us. We expect that when the kids have worn us out, they will automatically run us a hot bath and settle the kids down to a movie. We expect that when we are feeling insecure they are automatically going to give us inspiring words of encouragement. We expect them to fill us up. It's natural. It's our curse:
Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you. Genesis 3:16
A married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world - how she can please her husband. 1 Corinthians 7:34
The reality we find is that when we have too much to do, they come in with mud on their boots, drop their clothes (more!) on the bedroom floor and ask what's for dinner. When the kids have worn us out, they come home and inform us that their favorite team is playing tonight and they don't even notice the kids are in the house! When we are feeling insecure, we find that they have had a hard day and wouldn't notice your new hair style if it were a 1960s bee-hive. Our feeling of emptiness leads to a lack of satisfaction. In a world of instant-gratification, it doesn't take long for women in this state to give up.
This, however, is not marriage. Marriage is being a team with your man. Finding someone who will stand beside you, to build the memories with, to serve God along side. As women we must fight the temptation to expect our husband to fill us, that is God's job.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
When your cup is running low, spend time in prayer and study. Wake up early or take a time out in the day to spend 15 minutes or more in tune with God. Tell Him how you feel. He will never be too tired, clueless, or non-observant. He will be everything you need.
Then from the overflow of what you find in Christ, you can pour into your marriage. You can encourage your husband and help him to be the man that God would desire him to be. You can work beside him to accomplish great things. He will be a Man of Courage and you his Woman of Virtue!
You can never expect your husband to play the roll only God was meant to fill in your life.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pizza, Anyone?

When I was in college, I would get really nervous during finals. Even though I had done well the whole semester, I would have a nervous breakdown during this time of year! Every time, I would call my mom and she would reassure me and calm me. You know that mom-phrasology that you never forget? Well, there was one phrase my mom always told me when I would get overwhelmed:
You can only eat a pizza one bite at a time.
What she meant was, if you try to take on everything at once, there's no way you can handle it and you will completely overwhelm yourself. When we are overwhelmed we must focus on one task at a time instead of trying to figure out the whole big picture! God is the only one who can understand the whole picture. 
My pastor growing up told me one time that our lives were like a giant, beautiful tapestry. God sees the top, all the colors and patterns and the beautiful picture our lives create. We see the bottom, the messy tangle of loose strings and seemingly unorganized knots and threads. We need to quit trying to understand it all or do it all and just take each thing as it comes, one step at a time. Jesus had similar advice when He said,
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. - Matthew 6:34
God wants us to be organized. He placed us in our homes to care for it, to care for our children, to create a safe-haven. There is a difference, however, between being organized and worrying over things. What is it that you need to do right now? Laundry? Write a letter? Play outside with your kids? Make dinner? Then do it! Do it to the best of your ability and don't worry what isn't getting done or about tomorrow's agenda, or next week's! God has a plan for everything and He will make sure it all turns out just perfectly if you have trust in Him. One thing at a time - one big ol' bite of that cheesy pizza at a time!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday's Family Time Tip #2

With all that our family takes on in a week, a lot of times we are tired when Family Night rolls around. One of our favorite solutions is dinner and a family movie! Our family movies are not typical either. We spend the 2 hours conversing about what we are seeing on the TV. "Oh, that was not a good choice!" or "Wasn't she brave?" and other comments come out of my mouth constantly. The result? Media savvy kids who can watch with discernment. Often have I heard my four year old daughter interject, "That is not appropriate!" Likewise, when things get carried away on-screen, we turn it off, showing them that sometimes this is necessary to keep a pure mind.
So how to choose movies? My trusty sidekick is Focus on the Family's Plugged In movie reviews. You can find their sight at They even have a page for Family Movie Night, complete with activity pages for the kids and discussion questions for the whole family. Our "theme" this week was Superheroes." So here's this week's

Recipe To Match
Super-Hero Pockets - Makes 8

You Need:
1 can Jumbo Pop-up biscuits (I use the Flaky)
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 can marinara sauce
1 sm onion
1 bell pepper
Sm bag Mozzarella cheese
any other pizza-topping-type ingredients (opt.)

Preheat oven to 350*
In a skillet, brown the beef, pork, onion, and bell pepper.
Roll each biscuit out flat.
Fill each biscuit with the meat filling and cheese. (Do not over-fill!)
Pinch each pocket closed.
Bake in oven until golden (approximately 10 minutes)
While baking, heat marinara sauce in small pot on the stove.
Serve each pocket covered with marinara sauce.

This makes a fun family project! Each person can add their own special ingredients to their pocket, making it just what they want! Suggested ingredients: Pepperoni, mushroom, pineapple, tomato

If you have a Fun Family Time Tip, feel free to share!

Friday, March 9, 2012

I'm A China Dish!

I was reading an article yesterday, once again claiming Christianity to be intolerant.  The support for this? We claim that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Well, according to my Bible...
Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
I guess I am intolerant. I also believe in absolute truth. That means that truth is truth, no matter what you believe. If it is relavent to each individual, it is no longer truth. Oh, yeah, and I also believe in a particular standard of living, being set apart and holy.
Do you have any china, or special dishware, that maybe has been haded down to you, that you use only on special occasions (or maybe not at all)? I do. I have a set of plates that was my grandmother's grandmother's. They are golden crystal and are about 150 years old. I keep these plates in my China cabinet, so that the world can see them. When they are used, it is for very special occasions and they are handled delicately. Then, when I wash them, I do it very carefully by hand, dry them and put them back into their place. I would never put these beautiful plates into the dishwasher, or use them for everyday eating, or for a bbq.  These plates are special and are handled that way!
As Christians, we are God's beautiful, china dishware!
In a large house there are articles, not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 Timothy 2:20-21
The text surrounding this verse describes the things that Christians should avoid in order to remain set apart and holy. It is worth reading! God expects, and always has expected, His people to be holy. He wants to, like china dishes, set us up for the world to see. We must be pure and true followers of Him, so that when they see us, they see Him. He wants to use us for special work.  He didn't create us for the normal drudgery of this world (for everyday eating)! In order for that to happen, we must be "handwashed" by the Spirit working in our lives. That means we can't "jump in the dishwasher" with all the rest of the dishes! We have to make choices that reflect who we are in Christ. Those who are Christians should be easy to spot. They should look at us and see peace, love, modesty...godliness! And all hints of worldliness should be far from us.
But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15-16
The issue should always be holiness, never tolerance.
What are your thoughts?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Empty Cup?

If you are anything like me, then you have a knack for getting yourself over committed. This is the quick path to burn-out in your home and ministry. If you are pouring out of your cup faster than you are pouring into it, then there will be nothing left to pour out to others.
This has been happening to me lately. If you are experiencing similar things, then maybe it is time to make some adjustments. It means that something has to go. This can be a difficult decision to make, especially if your life is filled with Good things. But we need to remember that just because we are doing Good things does not mean that those are the things that we should be doing.  Take time to sit down, make a list of your priorities, and then cut back from the bottom. You may not need to stop doing whatever it is entirely, but to adjust your time spent on that particular thing. Or you may need to make a clean break.
Have you ever read Alice in Wonderland? It is one of my favorites. In Chapter 3 we find the Caucus Race. All the creatures are running in circles faster, and faster, but no one reaches the finish line. If this is us, then we need to break the cycle!
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the sun. - Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is time to let go, and if it is your time, then be strong and know that you are choosing the best things in life over everything else. That is how we walk in God's will for our life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tune In to the Shepherd's Voice

I woke up this morning to my alarm clock as usual and heard the rooster crowing in the yard. I am surprised that his crowing is not what wakes me up like when we first got him. I was reminded of my semester spent abroad in Costa Rica when I was in college. I remember the first morning clearly.
That first morning I was awakened by many new sounds. First, there were birds singing beautifully outside. Then, there were people walking down the street yelling at one another (in Spanish). A fruit cart came by with squeaky wheels, a bell, and a man calling out (in Spanish). There was a radio playing on a nearby porch, and I could hear the sounds of a soccer ball being kicked and bouncing back and forth down the street. I was afraid there would be no sleeping in for six months!
After just a couple of months, things didn't change, but I did. I had learned to fine tune my senses. I would awaken, once again, to an alarm clock and smile at the sound of the birds sweetly singing. I would get dressed and listen carefully for the sound of the fruit-car so I could grab my coins and run out to buy my morning fresh pineapple or miniature plum basket. Not until I was on my way out the door did I notice the radios, children playing, nor people calling out to one another. There are days that I miss the sounds of a Costa Rican morning.
My point to all of this is to demonstrate that we have an incredible capability to tune in or out to the sounds of life. The Bible gives us another example of this that Christ used to teach his disciples:
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice. -John 10:3-5
We must learn to tune in to God's voice in our lives. We are the sheep! We must recognize our Shepherd's voice and follow him alone, running from strangers that would lead us astray. Here are a few ways that God can speak to us if we are tuned in to His voice:
1) Through Scripture
2) Through "feelings" of the heart found through quiet times of prayer and meditation
3) Through the promptings of the Holy Spirit (that feeling that you really should help ____ or do xyz)
4) Through the encouragement of other Christians (please use great discernment with this one! When "hearing God" in others, you are also trusting their ability to hear God)
5) Through the circumstances of everyday life (don't look for "signs," but life is full of blessings and love notes given to you from your heavenly Father and sometimes He will use your circumstance to get you to follow where He is leading)

Learn to let the outside noises of life fade into the background and listen carefully for His voice.
Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway. -Proverbs 8:34

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Grace Poured Down, Grace Overflows

One of the blessings with which God continues to Fill My Cup is grace. It pours down on me daily! It pours down on all of us daily!
The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. - 1 Timothy 1:14
Yesterday I had a bad day. Do you have bad days? All of us have them now and again. On these days, focus on the grace that God has supplied to you. It is not by our actions that we are saved. When we mess up, He is there to pick us up, wipe us off, and fill our cup with grace again.
Whenever God fills us with a blessing, it is our job to let that blessing overflow into our lives. We must allow grace to flow to those around us. I was crabby yesterday. If I were married to a "quitter" then my husband probably would have "quit" yesterday. Thank God, I am not! I am married to a Man of Courage! When I came back, apologized, and asked him to watch a movie with me, he showed me grace. He followed through with what was commanded him:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25
How did Christ love the church? With grace! Grace unlimited! This is how He asks husbands to love their wives. This is what he asks us women to do with all of those beautiful and flawed individuals in our lives! If we were to show perfect grace in all of our relationships, there would be no divorce, no broken homes, no damaged friendships. The only way to survive being the imperfect people that we are, is to live by grace. So, dear sister, be full of grace today!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Women of Virtue

"It is easier to serve God or work for God without a vision and without a call, because then you are not bothered by what He requires." -Oswald Chambers, My utmost for His highest, March 4
I was struck by this quote this morning and how easy it is for us to sit in our church, pass the plate, read a meditation from a booklet, roll up the tablecloths after fellowship dinner, and believe that we are living a life of service to Christ. This quote questions this! You can't do what it is you think you should be doing to serve God. You must do what He wants you to do to serve Him. Are you listening intently to His call and becoming the woman He desires you to be?
Last night at our church we watched the movie Courageous. Of course, I cried through the entire movie. I was inspired by the men in the film stepping up into the roles that God had laid out for them. This is a great film to encourage men to be good fathers and husbands. Yet there was something else that caught my attention in the film - the women. Not one of them balked at the idea of the resolution their men were making. Not one of them tried to push their way through to lead the household their way. Not one of them was discouraging or nagging, and when one did react in a slightly negative way, she immediately apologized. The only way for the men in our society, congregations, and homes to rise up to be men of courage, is if we rise up to be women of virtue. Read the following passage:

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. - Proverbs 31:11-12
Are you that type of woman? Are you the type that equips her husband to be a godly man? The type that encourages him when he steps up into the role of responsibility within the home? The type that brings him good, not harm? I aspire to be that woman! I encourage you to do the same! Our world needs men of courage...and they need women of virtue!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday's Family Time Tip!

It is often hard for parents to afford to take their kids out to do things, especially going to the movies. If you have younger kids, B&B Theaters has made an easy solution to this! Two Saturdays a month they offer Saturday morning KidToons.  Your kids will feel like they have gotten a really special treat, and your budget will not suffer as much!

We're off to the theatre this morning! Check in each Saturday for more Fun Family Time Tips!

30 Best of My Life

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I turn 30! I do not find it awful, just weird to think I am that old already! I have seen many clever things posted by people on their 30th birthdays, but I have decided to make a top 30 things in life list to share with you today!

Best Things EVER
1. My beautiful babies
2. My amazing husband
3. Finding salvation and love through Christ Jesus
4. My mom
5. Having and being a sister
Best Simple Pleasures   
6. Chocolate
7. Steak
8. Reading a good book
9. Watching the sunset
10. Sitting by the ocean
Best Lessons I've learned
11. "You can only eat a pizza one bite at a time" - Mom
12. "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss
13. You can't do anything if you don't try.
14. It's easier to do things right the first time.
15. You never know what a kid is going to do, so be ready all the time!
Best Things To Watch
16. Psych
17. X-Files
18. Gladiator
19. The Lion King
20. Tangled
Best Things To Read
21. Little Women
22. Where The Wild Things Are
23. Shakespeare
24. Edgar Allen Poe
Best Bands
25. Newsboys
26. Mamas and the Papas
Things to Never Forget About My Childhood
27. Barbie
28. Neon-colored push-down socks
29. Good-luck Trolls
30. Rainbow Bright

Hope you have an amazing day, making memories for your next 30 years, whatever that mark may be!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Unforgiving Minute

Today is the last day of our topic on Rudyard Kipling's If. I hope you have enjoyed it so far and that his poetic look at the realities of life inspire you as they do me! Today's focus is one of my favorites!
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
One of my greatest fears in life is that I will get to the end of it and feel like I have wasted it. My goal in life is to live a life that I will never regret. I don't see a life without regret as one without mistakes; I see it as one that was not wasted. I want to reach for the stars! I am sure that this is a desire in most of our hearts. Kipling addresses this desire in this one stanza - "to fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run" means that not one second was wasted!

I believe that one of the reasons that women feel burdened instead of busy is because we feel we are wasting our precious moments on things like dishes, laundry, work, and that we will look back and have missed the important things and have regret. I have formed the following from my own pursuits to live a life without regret, and I hope they will be a helpful inspiration for you!

Ways to fill the unforgiving minute and live a life without regret:

1) Make a list of your priorities - the things that you want to see you've done by the time you reach the end (whenever that may be!)  For me it is simply to have captured every moment possible of memories with my children, to have loved my husband to the greatest of my abilities and found in him my best of friends (important for when my babies grow up!), to have used my time and efforts in ways that will further God's kingdom and either lead people to Christ or help them to grow in their Christian maturity so that they can lead others to Christ. For me, that's it! You may have more!

2) When those moments arise, choose your priorities over other things. Is it a beautiful day to spend outside playing and you only have an hour before work? You have two choices - dishes or play with kids. Go play with those babies! Dishes can wait! What I have learned is that no one really cares except me! So I need to put aside my perfectionism in order to fill that minute with 60 seconds worth of distance toward my life goals!
Do you have to work outside of the home or is it a choice you make so that you can have more money to spend on nicer things? Is having nicer things one of your priorities? If it isn't, reevaluate! If you have to work, then you need to be extra thoughtful about how you fill your minutes outside work! Choose your priorities - always.

3) Get rid of Waste! We all need rest and down-time. However, if you are wasting the time that you could be building memories or making a difference in the world by watching TV, playing on the Internet, messing around with hobbies, then you need to set those things aside. Need a break? That's OK! Set a time limit for yourself (i.e. I will watch this show and then get back to work; I will check my email and Facebook for 15 minutes and then go see what my kids are up to).

4) Don't burden yourself with expectations that you can't live up to. Live your life! Feel free to enjoy it! Reach for your goals, but don't be tied down by them (see some of the earlier posts!) SMILE! When things don't get done or don't go right, just shrug it off and keep on!

5) Definitely not the least important - spend time in prayer and study of God's Word. God can take you to new heights in your life if you spend the time to build that relationship with Him! Take the time to get to know Him, who He is and the plans He has for you. If you live a life saturated in Christ, I can guarantee that in the end, you will not have regrets!

I hope that this will encourage you today to take every opportunity to fill your unforgiving minute in a way that will make your life something beautiful to look back on!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Keep Your Virtue

There continues to be more to glean from Rudyard Kipling's poem If and we will focus on it a couple more days! The portion I would like to look at today screams loudly of one word - Integrity.
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much.
Integrity is one of my favorite words.  According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary integrity means:
1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
2: an unimpaired condition : soundness
3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness
I was always taught that "integrity is who you are when no one is looking." I love the synonyms used: incorruptibility, soundness, completeness. The Bible says
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
But whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. Proverbs 10:9
It is a very easy thing to lose one's integrity. As women, we balance so many things on our shoulders, that there are many places that we could lose that incorruptibility. If you are a stay at home wife, then there is even more danger! Who is there during the day to keep you accountable? Remember, who you are at home, is who you should be when you meet for coffee with the mayor's wife and the same you should be when you get together for a girls' night out and the same you should be on Sunday morning at church. Who you are should not change with your surroundings. We are beautifully created women, not chameleons! As Kipling points out, we are to always keep our virtue no matter what crowd we are in; we should never lose the common touch, or our humility, no matter what important people we are with; all people should be equal in our eyes.

Ways to protect your integrity:
1) Find an accountability partner - someone you can call and let it all out with. Make sure she is someone who will also be brutally honest with you when you need it!
2) Monitor what you watch, read, and listen to. You may be an adult, but step back and see if you would allow your children or teens to have the same input that you are having into your own heart. If the answer is no, then ask yourself why? and then should I? The way we view the world is powerfully influenced by these things. Find instead a book that will teach you how to be a better wife or mother. Find a radio station that will play music with a positive message (it is there for all music genres, believe me!). Limit your TV time.
3) Make a To-Do list for the week.
4) Don't be alone with men. There is so much on the line, especially when our husbands are away each day. Remember it is your heart you are guarding, not just your body.
5) If you have kids, remember that what you are demonstrating will be qualities (or lack of) that will most likely reveal themselves in your child's life. Try to live and display the fruit you want to see grow in your child.
6) If you feel that you are not always the same person, sit down and decide who you truly are. Then, go to your closet, jewelry box, or bathroom and discard all the things that belong to "that other woman." Make a conscious effort to be the real you all the time.

My dear sister, I hope that you have an amazing day in Christ, being just who He created you to be!