Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What's "Bored?"

I have seen rather a few posts lately centered around beating summer boredom. My initial thoughts are, "Bored? I would love to be bored right now!"  Summer is all but boring in our home. It is the time of year that we get to do all the exciting things that we can't do during the rest of the year. So I thought that today I would give you a little taste of our life right now. If you are in the same boat, may you find encouragement and laughter, knowing you are not alone. If you are battling summer bordom, let us give you a little inspiration!

Last week we finished up the county fair. For our first fair, I was rather proud. Princess brought home four blue ribbons and a white ribbon, plus a few participation ribbons, for her photography and chicken show, and even caught one of the greased pigs!. Brother brought home a red ribbon for his rooster (cockrel). I was rather proud of them.I was also proud of myself. See, I don't like birds one bit, but the love of my children found me outside "dunking" chickens into the swimming pool, getting them washed pretty to show. I felt so awefully bad for the shivering little chickens that I pulled out my extension cord and hair dryer and began blowdrying them, right when my sister called to see what I was doing. Awkward! We also attended all the other events to cheer on and encourage all of "our other children." That pretty much filled our week! By the time we made it home for the weekend, my son was so obsessed with showing that he was a "show sheep" for three days and would not speak to us without a "baaa!" in front of it. As I set the food out on the table one night he slipped in and stole his plate. I found him in his "pen" eating on all fours with his face in the plate because "he was a sheep." My daughter was just so tired that every little thing was DRAMA. Again - Bored? Really?

Yesterday, it was really hot, so we were unsure of what to do for our family day. The kids wanted to swim and play, but the heat. So we had an Underwater Theme Day. We began by coloring some pictures of undersea creatures. We watched some Under the Sea movies and then had a grilled fish dinner. The kids swam and pretended to be under the sea creatures and then we read some underwater stories before bed. It was a splash!

My kids are participating in the Library Summer Reading Program. This has filled in most of our gaps of free-time. Princess is shooting for top reader this year, so that has me running to the library for more books every other day or so. Brother isn't quite big enough to read on his own yet, so I use that time to work on phonics with him and do a bit of reading aloud together. I believe we are somewhere past 100 books since June 1. I even got on the band wagon and read a book myself. I only had to stay up until 1:00 in the morning to finish it!

Add in some trips to see family and some vacation spots, we will be hitting St. Louis, Grammie's and Loulou's and maybe even Nanny's for several days each. The weather forcasts the 100s coming up. I am hoping I come out as the Golden Tan Beauty and not Lobster Lady. We add in some Roller Skating, Bowling, Miniature Golfing, Lazer Tag and Pool parties with the youth group. We just finished up t-ball (such fun to watch them when they don't even know which way to run the bases!). Swim lessons begin in a couple of weeks and Princess has a birthday coming right up! Fill in the gaps with play time in the kiddie pool outside, doing our chores in the house and garden, playing backyard ball and having a few playdates with friends and we have ourselves one hoppin' summer shedule!

I am gearing my thinking towards 4th of July now. Last year we had a cozy firework display together at home. The year before found my husband and I on the roof dropping firecrackers down our chiminey to chase off bats (a story for another day!). I am trying to decide what this year will hold! I have gathered some cute recipes and ideas out of some family magazines. I will let you know how it all falls together!

For now, I have spent enough time on the computer and must return to my outrageous summer!
What ideas have you enjoyed this year?? I would love to hear how you are keeping busy!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

So I Married An Imperfect Person!

Anytime a young woman is thinking about marriage, my advice is for her to decide if she can live with him exactly the way he is, because she will never change him. Some may argue that men can change, through prayer and God working in their lives, and this is true, but not a guarantee...and it is the Spirit of God that makes these changes, not a nagging wife! The best way to enter into a marriage is with your eyes wide open and a committed heart to love him and stay with him exactly the way he is!

The truth is none of us is perfect. We all sin and fall short. My dear husband made sure early on in our relationship that I knew all of what he considered his short-comings, so I would "know what I was getting into." The truth is, if I didn't stay with my husband through his mistakes, I would end up alone or with another imperfect person.

This is where forgiveness comes into play. While I was thinking of how I could approach the topic of forgiveness in marriage, I realized that it is somewhat of an obscure philosophy in this generation. We are so used to getting something new when what we have doesn't please us anymore (instant gratification) that the practice has even rolled over into our marriages. When I was a teenager, my pastor would tell me that love is not an emotion; infatuation is an emotion; lust is an emotion; happiness and excitement are emotions. Love is a commitment. You don't stay with your spouse because he makes you feel all giddy inside 24 hours a day (sorry, honey!). You stay with him because you love him and committed to stay with him "through rich or poor, sickness and health, good times and bad." The only way to possibly do that is to learn to forgive his mistakes.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
Think about that. How did the Lord forgive you? Completely. Selflessly. Without thinking of the wrong we had done him, he laid down his life to cover those sins. He replaced our filthiness with his righteousness and he stands before the judgement seat to defend us. How can we possibly every forgive anyone that way? We can start by giving them grace. Allow him to be human and make mistakes without holding it against him for the rest of your lives. Defend his honor. Don't go tell everyone every mistake your husband makes. Pick up where he fails. Come along beside him to help him break those unhealthy patterns instead of being bitter and closing yourself off from him. Give him a clean slate each day. That is how we would forgive our husbands as the Lord forgave us.

This is easier to say than to do, I realize! Selfishness, pride, bitterness, and just plain pain get in the way. I find myself blessed to be married to a man that I can share these feelings with so that he is able to help me forgive him. Not everyone has such open communication with their spouse. But don't forget where emotion and reality cross. Don't mistake unhappiness for a loss of love. Don't drop a commitment to your marriage in exchange for some unrealistic idea that you could be happier elsewhere. The only way to make a marriage work is to forgive and keep on working at it! No healthy marriage worth having doesn't come at a high price of hard work and selfless living. Let's make that commitment together today to love and forgive in our marriages!

(Note: Please understand that I believe there are certain situations where forgiveness and self-preservation are two different things. I do not believe a woman who is being abused or treated unfaithfully needs to stay in that unhealthy situation. If this is your case, this post is not for you and you should seek out help and christian counsel!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Change of Plans

I felt heartbroken as I was laying my daughter down for bed last night and she was sharing with me that she did not have a good day because nothing went as planned. Every night we share together our favorite part of the day and our worst part of the day. We began our day excited about the plans and by 10:00 everything had changed due to problems. The day continued in that way. My heart was not broken because she had a bad day from the plan changes, rather because I know that this will happen over and over in her life. I know that plans will get rained on and dreams will get pushed aside for the burdens of everyday living. I also know that when it rains, it pours and that is how our last week has gone around here. In one day last week, it seemed like everything around me crumbled!
The hope we have, when times are crummy, is that God is faithful. So I leaned over my daughter and asked her what I always ask her after she shares her best and worst parts of the day, "How did that make you feel?" Obviously, the answer was sad. Then I asked her what always follows, "What could we have done or what should we do?" She thought and told me she did not think there was anything we could have done. I smiled and told her what I am going to tell you. When things are out of our hands, we should be thankful that we have a God who knows a whole lot more than we do. For whatever reason, He had something different planned for us than what we did. Since God knows everything and loves us so much, we can trust that His plans are better, even if we don't know why.

As most conversations with my kids do, this one left me thinking long after and applying my own medicine to my wounds. My week may have not been very good, but I can trust that God is caring for me. For whatever reason, he is allowing these things to happen and I need to trust in his all-knowing power. God is so good to us! All of us! We just need to push aside our worries and focus on our blessings!

As I close today, I would like to remind you (and me!) of the psalm which inspired this blog, psalm 23. In verse 4, David shares that things are not going so great for him, but that he will trust in God anyway, without worry or fear. Then verse 5 reveals how God blesses him for following where He leads, how he refills his cup. Let God refill your cup today!

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Honeycomb Words

It happens over and over. I say something without thinking about it or at an inappropriate time and I rip a hole in my husband's pride. I know this isn't respectful or honoring or encouraging. At times, when I do it in front of the kids (BIG no-no, mamas!), it is damaging their perception of their father -- and when it gets down to it, it is usually a stupid reason. I am trying to defend my own broken, damaged heart from getting any more hurts. I am trying to protect my children from having wounds from things that wounded me. But the worst of it is that I am assuming that my husband is going to be the one that I must defend against instead of seeing him as my protector and lover. I will tell you that he does nothing to deserve that assumption. That is just a result of me having lived in a broken world.

God asks us to respect our husbands. If we want him to see that respect and honor and rise to that position, we must encourage him! The Bible tells us that our words can go both ways:
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. --Prov. 12:18
We all know this. We even made up a little rhyme years ago to try to deny the pain that words can cause: Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me! How wrong! Words can cause some of the worst pain of all! They "pierce like swords!" The great thing is, we can also use our words to bring healing. Here is another passage that tells us the potential our words have if we will grab hold of the right way to use our words:
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. --Prov. 16:24
I don't know about you, but I would love for someone to say those things about the words that come out of my mouth. Here are some ways that I have found (and need to put to better use!) that help to keep our words sweet honeycombs to our husbands:

1) Pray before you speak! If there is something that is bothering you, don't just pounce on it. Give yourself time to seek God's counsel before you approach your husband.

2) Think about the sound of your words from the outside. Is there any way that what you are saying could be taken as an insult to his authority or manhood? Is there a better, gentler way to say it? Can you make a suggestion without putting down his previous decisions?

3) Timing. Choose a time that is intimate between you and your husband. Don't confront him in front of others, especially not your children. Don't confront him when he is already beaten down and tired.

4) Most importantly - find every opportunity to tell him what a great job he is doing. From earning an income, to playing with the kids, to loading the dishwasher (the wrong way!), to mowing the lawn - all of your praises matter to him! They show him you care and honor him! They show him that his efforts matter to you! So don't hold back those praises today!

Today, let us both strive, dear sister, to guard our words. Let us be women who speak honeycomb words that heal and sweeten the soul of our marriage!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Incorruptible Beauty

The other day my husband asked our daughter if she would rather dress up like a princess or go out and play with her chickens (which she loves).  She pondered a minute. Finally she decided that she would rather dress up like a princess and go out and play with her chickens. Another time her daddy told her to go get dressed to ride the horse with him. She came out wearing a jean skirt. "You can't ride in a skirt," he told her. "But it's a cowgirl skirt," was her logical reply.

I am sure every single one of you remember dressing up like a princess! As a woman, being beautiful is at the core of our desires. John Eldredge writes in his book Wild at Heart:
“There are also three desires I find essential to the woman’s heart, which are not entirely different from a man’s and yet they remain distinctly feminine…every woman longs to be fought for…And her childhood dreams of a knight in shining armor coming to rescue her are not girlish fantasies; they are the core of the feminine heart and the life she knows she was made for…Every woman also wants an adventure to share…caught up into something greater than herself…And finally, every woman wants to have a beauty to unveil.” (19-20)

So, as adults, our endeavors of dressing up like princesses and fairies evolve into putting on makeup, dying and blow drying our hair and shaving our legs. How important is being beautiful to you? How much weight does it hold on how you carry out your day? Let's consider what the apostle Peter tells us:
Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel - rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. --1 Peter 3:3-4
Do you read that? Incorruptible beauty, isn't that what we are all searching for? Peter tells us that it is found in the hidden person of the heart by having a gentle and quiet spirit. Not only that, but God finds it beautiful too! So how do we find this hidden person? How do we have a gentle and quiet spirit? I would suggest that it comes from a woman saturated in the Word of God, from having the peace within that comes from trusting in God for her every worry and care. A woman who always responds a kind word and does not give in to anger easily. A woman who reflects the heart of God. This woman would be beautiful.

Today, let us not worry so much about our hair, makeup, clothes, or jewelry. Instead, let's use that same time spent to cultivate the inner beauty of our hearts.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Loving Fervently

Sometimes I get ideas stuck in my head and I think about them for a long time, evaluating every aspect of them. This happened to me this morning as I did my morning reading. I read such a simple passage from 1 Peter. Typically for my posts I use the New International Version (NIV) Bible, but this morning, I read from the New King James (NKJV) which chooses slightly different wording for this passage than the NIV and it made a difference to me.

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, --1 Peter 1:22 (NKJV)
Love one another fervently. Do you hear the strength of that word? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines fervent as:
1: very hot : glowing
2: exhibiting or marked by great intensity of feeling : zealous <fervent prayers>
Can you honestly say that you love others around you fervently? Outside of your spouse (some of you may even be giggling here), outside of your children. Do you love your neighbor with a very hot love?  Do you love the elders and deacons of your church with a glowing intensity?  Do you love your child's teacher or T-ball coach with a great intensity of feeling?  Do you love that annoying lady that never stops talking or asking for favors with a zealous love? Do you love others fervently?
Let's get real here. I snickered as I wrote this. I have very good neighbors, but I am not sure that I would characterize my relationship with them as very hot. Sometimes my feelings toward the leadership in the church is glowing from frustration, but not love! I hardly know my child's t-ball coach. I do not feel zealous about certain people in our congregation (a few faces pop into my conscious!). Bottom line - I do not love everyone with this fervent love. But this is what Christ asks of us! After spending the week in South Dakota on the mission trip, I saw an example of that fervent love.  Our team loved those kids fervently with a pure heart. I saw it in action. I saw it in the sacrifices. I saw it in the drive to continue when all human strength was depleted.
My challenge this week for us both, dear sister, is to love others fervently. Open your heart and share your love with the difficult to love. Get to know those around you better. Forgive the minor annoyances easier. Imagine a world where we all loved fervently. We can do it!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Letting the Spirit Move in Your Plans

It was really great to be back home again, especially to have my kids back in my arms, easily kissable! I found however, that now that summer is here (and I have my babies back), there is so much that we can do! The thing is I want to do everything, but I am accomplishing nothing!

I asked a question on my facebook page to see how different women organize their day - whether it is a little-each-day schedule, a one-focus-a-day schedule, or a -whatever-is-most-important-right-now schedule.  The majority of the responses were for the whatever-is-most-important-right-now type. I think for the most part that this is good! It leaves us room to "let the Spirit move," so to speak. As we keep in mind the most important task for each day, let us always remember what Christ told us was most important:
"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind..." "Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Matthew 22:37,39
Relationships are always the most important aspect of our day. The rest can wait. I promise.

However, (you knew that was coming, right? I mean, I am a type A person!) in my opinion, the best way to make sure that you are able to follow the Spirit's lead and put relationships first is to make sure that you are accomplishing your tasks during the time that there are not other things begging your attention! If you have procrastinated that project to the deadline, have 2 hours left to get it done, and your dear friend comes over with a need, how hard will it be for you to set aside your project to have a cup of coffee and listen to her? So some semblance of a schedule is needed.

The one-focus-a-day schedule works best for me because I am easily overwhelmed when I have too much to do and get busy doing all of it at once! My husband, a youth pastor, is off on Mondays, so that is our family day! I try to get us out of the house so we are not tempted to work around the house on this day! Tuesdays are then the days that I focus on cleaning up my house after our "weekend." I usually have a day for ministry planning, a day for bills and grocery shopping, and a day for whatever else needs doing around our home. Mixed in, I try to make sure that my kids have a play date day as well. I don't (can't) schedule hourly, but simply make a list of the things I would like to accomplish that day, mixed with visits to the library, time outs with girlfriends, and t-ball games! Then, I go through my list, making sure that as I do, I am open to anything happening at any moment...as the Spirit leads!

Just remember dear friend, while God wants us to be good stewards of the blessings he has given us (time, home, children, etc!), these two verses to ponder:
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3
Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21