Friday, December 18, 2009

Can God Truly See Us?

Note:  One of the reasons I have not blogged very much in the past 15 weeks, is I have been taking the English class our church's Bible Institute offers.  Our final class was last night and I hope to be able to post more often.  The following is what I wrote for my final paper for that class.  I pray it challenges you as it has me - and has changed my life. 



      Beginning the day a child is born into a Christian home, he is taught that the Lord God sees all. One of the first scriptures committed to memory, through the frequent repeating from parents and Sunday School teachers, is Proverbs 15:3:  “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”  The familiarity of this verse (and others like it) often calluses the Christian’s heart toward the doctrine of God’s omnipresence and omniscience.  It is for this very reason we sin.  If we could actually see God as He can see us, the challenge to be perfect as He is perfect would become almost attainable.
            “For mine eyes are upon all their ways:  they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from my eyes.”  If Christians would truly contemplate these words from our God found in Jeremiah 16:17, we would feel great shame and remorse for many of our actions committed in just the last several days.  AllEverything we do is in His direct line of vision as He sits upon His throne in a perfect, sinless place.  The sadness it causes Him must be immense.  Only by meditating on what a perfect God feels when He sees His beloved children openly sinning can we even begin to get a taste of His longsuffering and mercy. of our ways are seen by God. 
            Do we really and truly believe what the Bible tells us?  Judging by our actions, by my own actions, the answer would most definitely have to be “no.”  The Bible says, “Thou shalt not covet,” yet we drive down the street and wish our neighbor’s beautiful home was ours.  We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves, yet we are too focused on our own life to write a note or make a phone call to our neighbor who is hurting.  God wants us to love Him with our whole heart, mind, and strength, yet we stay up late at night filling our minds with all sorts of ungodliness as we sit in front of computers and televisions, making it impossible for us to get up early enough to commune with the God Who gave everything for us.  I fear we do not believe God and His Word.  We do not believe in His omnipresence.  We do not believe He can see us, for if we did, we would be on our faces begging the Almighty for forgiveness.
            As a mother, when I want to find out what is truly going on between my children, I will quietly watch them without their knowing.  They do know that I am somewhere in the house, but they do not believe that I can see them and hear them.  Without me in their sight, they believe they can get away with breaking the rules.  Once a child gives in to the temptation one of two things will happen.  Either a sibling will correct him with words so that his behavior will change or he will have enjoyed the experience of “getting away” with something and will attempt it again.  When I speak to him from my secret place or reappear suddenly, a look of surprise and extreme guilt comes over his face.
            How much more so will we look when Christ suddenly appears to take us Home?  When we stand before Him and He says, “What about that time you gossiped about My child?” it will suddenly be a reality to us that He has seen every thing we have done and heard every word we have spoken each moment we have lived on this earth.  The reality of His omnipresence will be overwhelming, as will our feeling of shame and remorse.  If we could only keep this moment our future holds in the forefront of our minds throughout our days, how would our lives be changed? 
            It is sobering to realize that God knows me.  He knows my heart better than I know it.  Jeremiah 12:3 states, “But thou, O Lord, Knowest me:  thou has seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee.”  As I read this verse, I cannot help but ask what the Lord sees in my heart.  Does He see hatred instead of love, or pride rather than selflessness, or contempt toward my children instead of tender compassion?  Does He see evil and wickedness in my heart instead of righteousness and good?  Habakkuk 1:13 tells us that God is “…of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.”  God’s eyes are pure and He is holy.  He cannot look on sin, yet He does.  He sees it everywhere when He watches what is occurring here on earth and He sees it in the hearts of men.  “The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good.”  Meditate on the fact that the pure eyes of the Lord are beholding evil.  God’s eyes are pure and through no will of His, but through our own selfish desires, He is forced to hold evil in His sight.  The thought of my sin attempting to defile the eyes of my precious Lord is incomprehensible, but it is the terrible reality of our fallen nature.
            As a people who are sinful by nature, we cannot be, nor will we be, perfect as long as we live in this fallen world.  However, He has made for us a way to escape temptation and that is through His word.  Psalm 1:2-3 describes the righteous man as delighting “in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither.”  Hiding God’s Word in our hearts and thinking on it throughout the day will keep His face before us.  His presence will become real to us and evil will not so easily penetrate our thoughts and our actions.   Just as a large, green tree is pleasant to look upon and gives refreshment from the harsh elements of the land surrounding it, so is the heart of the Christian who meditates on Scripture.  Such a heart is pleasant for God to behold and its righteousness enables Him to refresh His pure eyes from the wickedness that He is often forced to behold.  
           As His name is Emmanuel, so ought we to live.  God is indeed with us.   Only by truly seeking His face daily in the Holy Bible and meditating on His words will we make this reality our belief.  Once we believe it, our lives will forever change.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Leaning on God


As I got the pile of books out this evening to plan our school week, I suddenly realized all I do every single day to keep our family going.

Here's a simplified list:  make sure chores are done and children have eaten in the morning, get little ones dressed, get everyone in their respective places for school (and continue to corral them there during the course of the morning), teach 2 children all of their subjects while fielding questions from the older 3 as they do their independent work, break up fights and instruct the littlest 2, make lunch, delegate clean-up, teach older children their lessons, figure out what's for supper then make it, delegate supper chores, laundry, getting younger children ready for bed, getting all children to bed at their scheduled bedtimes.  These every day chores are always accompanied by other items that need to be done such as:  making grocery lists, cutting coupons, finding time to go grocery shopping, answering phones, running a homeschool co-op, setting up meals for women who have babies at our church, calling friends whom I've not seen in a while, planning birthdays or holidays, cleaning, etc., etc., etc.

I do well when I don't think about all the things I need to do.  I liken it to a piano player. He doesn't contemplate that he's moving both of his hands in opposite directions and that he literally has 10 different actions occuring at the same time.  A good piano player often has songs memorized and does not meditate on each and every note as he plays it.  Everything just moves fluidly with little problem.  However, once he begins to really think about everything he is doing and every single note, that is when the mistakes tend to be made.  That is how I felt today.  As soon as I really began thinking about all the things I do and the fact that I am one person, I began to feel overwhelmed.  Yet, only for a moment.

As my breaths became short as I felt my self beginning to drown under the pressure, I realized that I never can do anything without God.  It is only by His strength that I can keep going. It is only by His grace that the plates can continue to spin without crashing to the floor.  I am nothing without Him.  I can do nothing without HIm.  However, "I can do ALL things through Christ which strenghtheneth me"!! 

I gave it to my Heavenly Father Who cares for me so deeply right then and there.  Immediately, the burden lifted and I was able to take deeper breaths.  It's going to be ok - because God is my strength in weakness.

The next time you stop to think of all the things you need to do, realize it is not you, but God who will get you through the day. 

It's the only way us moms will remain sane!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Traditional vs. Likeable


So, I have the mandatory apple pie in the oven for tomorrow's finishing course.  Pumpkin pie is in the refridgerator.  I, personally, don't care too much for these pies, but like every other good American woman, I make them to keep with national tradition.  Sort of a bonding with our Pilgrim ancestors.


However, if I have to eat apple pie, I might as well make it intereting.  I perked up when I saw this recipe posted earlier today.  Apples with caramel - THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!!!  It's baking in the oven right now and I am sure I will be dreaming of that first bite all night long!


Like many families, I always accompany the required desserts with some even more tasty desserts!:)  This year, I made a Sweet Potato pie which I think is more flavorful than Pumpkin. The annaul Toll House Pie is a glorified chocolate chip cookie, but it is truly delicious and fits right in with the pie theme that seems to be so popular on this holiday.  In case any of the younger family members turn their tiny noses up at pie (for they care not for tradition), there will be chocolate-chocolate chunk brownies to satisfy to their sweet tooth. 


Sadly for me, my mother's famous Lemon Meringue pie will not make an appearance this year.  It is my absolutely favorite pie, but because few others in my family like it I rarely make it.  My mom always blesses me with it at Thanksgiving; however, we will not be spending Thanksgiving together this year, so no meringue for me!  Boo Hoo!


You must have some favorite family traditions in the form of food for the Thanksgiving table.  Please share with me what they are.


May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving counting your blessings as you spend time with the people (and food) you love!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Question of the day: "Where does the day go when it's done?"

Feeble attempt at an answer: "It goes into the past."

Something tells me the 4 year old knew her mommy was completely stumped!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sweet Faces




At this moment, I am contemplating where my children will be in the next 10-20 years.  No, this is not a post about prophecy or how bad the world is becoming and how we need to change it.  I am thinking about the sweet faces of my babies (don't tell my 12 year old I just called him a baby!) and wondering what they will look like in the next couple of decades.

Will I have photos of my seven children smiling with the spouses they love and who love them?  Will some of those photos be in the form of missionary prayer cards?  I wonder if they will have children who look like they do now, allowing me to remember today far into the future.  My desire is that the love, joy, and peace of Jesus Christ shines on all seven of their precious faces until the day they take their last breath.

So many Christian parents have the same desires and dreams I have.  Yet, think of the people you know who have led a hard life - a life of sin, crime, immorality, greed, and gluttoness.  Think of the hardened rock star you see on the magazine covers, the homeless man you saw walking downtown last week, the 20 year old girl who has three children and doesn't know who their fathers are.  Each of them were sweet little babies, toddlers, and children.  Their parents have their child-like images smiling at them from school pictures, birthday party pictures, and pictures of everyday life.  When that moment was caught 10 years ago, the day they checked their son into rehab was not even a thought.

Could that happen to my children?

Will their faces show signs of pain, bitterness, and sorrow?  Will any of them have gone to the world and tasted it's temporary pleasures only to find themselves growing old before their time?  Will I look back at a picture of my one of my sons when he was just three and smiling in the midst of his babyfat only to have the tears fall thinking of him sitting in a jail cell or on the street with no place to go and addicted to drugs?  Will one of them become famous - a ball player, an actress, a supermodel, a rock star - and, though smiling, will anyone see the pain in their eyes knowing what it cost them to become a superstar?    Will they remember the home they came from and the Jesus they once sung about or will they feel nothing but emptiness as they buy a bigger and better house or faster car attempting to fill the void?
It is sobering to think about.  As a parent, I am responsible for training my children in the ways of the Lord so that they may continue on that path when they reach maturity.  I must not just teach them the Bible, I must live the Bible in front of their eyes daily.   I must pray for them every morning, every evening, and oft times in between.  Instead of filling their eyes with even "harmless" videos made by Disney and Hollywood, I will direct their eyes to the living Word of God.  Instead of filling their ears with the music of this world's idols, I will provide them with holy music directing their praise and worship to the One True God.  Instead of hanging posters on their walls of unsaved sports heroes, rockers, and teen-stars, I will take them to church and help them get to know missionaries, preachers, and their fellow church members who serve God in their daily lives; for these are the true role-models.  These are the people who will help them reach their fullest potential - for there is no higher calling, no nobler career, than to walk with God.

The path that they take is ultimately their choice.  But, while I walk that path beside them, I will do everything I can, by God's strength and grace, to lead them in the right direction.  I pray that in 10-20 years none of my children will have aged prematurely and look at me with vacant eyes due to veering off the path, but will have youthful smiles and gaze on me with bright eyes as I say, "I have no greater joy than to know my children walk in truth."


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Used of God

 

How is it that a nineteen year old young lady who has never been a mother can know exactly how a mother is feeling and struggling?  How does she know to say just the right words in order to encourage?  How is it possible that a mom can feel just the slightest rebuke yet feel like she has had a satisfying drink of water ending a long drought after reading the words of such a young, "inexperienced" girl?  


Because the God of the nineteen year old is the God Who parted the Red Sea, made the sun and moon stand still for about a day, rose up an army from a pile of bones, and numerous other wonders.  She serves the God of the maiden who humbly directed the captain of armies to the healing of his leprosy and of the queen who saved a nation.  

Do not doubt, giving a young girl such wisdom is nothing short of a miracle.



When we allow God to work His will in us, He does amazing things.  He gives us wisdom beyond our years and experience.  Lives are changed.  Love is felt.  Smiles return.

To the sweet nineteen year old:  Thank you for allowing God to work a miracle through you.

To the rest of you:  Allow God to use you today as He performs His next miracle in a life of one of His children.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ramblings

I'm not even sure what I should write. I've had writer's block for quite some time. I have had little desire to post anything here.  Even now, I'm just typing but have absolutely no direction in which I want to go.

Things are happening in my life, yet nothing overly exciting or humorous.  Maybe it's just my perspective.  Sometimes, I feel like I don't have enough time to ponder the things that happen and consider their deeper meaning.  It's a race from one situation to the next around here.  Not a good place to be, but where I seem to be at. 

I came back from my annieversary trip rested, relaxed, and committed to a stress-free lifestyle.  In some ways, I'm holding on to that.  However, life often has other ideas and there are times when things just seem to build up.

To be truthful, I'm worn out.  I'm tired, exhausted, discouraged, and feeling a bit defeated. Do all moms feel this way at one point?  I wish I could type all the feelings I've been having the past week or so, but it is often wiser to keep your thoughts to yourself.  Just know that I struggle like many moms struggle - maybe more.  I have a 2 year old who needs to learn not to scream and a 12 year old who is trying to get a taste of independence.  In between, I have 5 other children who have their own struggles and needs.  My husband is working crazy hours. I am one woman.  I fail daily; often several times a day.  I have to pick myself up and go on.  But, I am only one woman.  A weak woman. 

I keep having to remind myself that I am not alone.  Though I fail Him, God has not deserted me.  His mercies are new every morning...every moment.  He is the One I regularly ask forgiveness.  He is the One I ask where I've gone wrong.  He is the One I ask for direction.  He is the One who keeps me going.  He is the One who has this whole thing under control.

As I complain and feel discouraged, there is a sweet missionary family grieving the loss of their precious 2 year old son this week.  The last several months have been filled with cancer diagnosis, treatments, hospital stays, hopes built and dashed.  Last Sunday morning, a mother woke up to see that  her baby had taken his last breath in the night. 

What do I have to complain about?  How dare I complain about a screaming 2 year old!  He could be forever silent.  How dare I get frustrated with my 12 year old.  He could be gone tomorrow. 

The grieving mother holds God's hand.  She clings to Him and talks to Him continuously.  She trusts Him.  It's the only way she will make it.  It's the only way any of us will make it. 

As I end my ramblings, I go away pondering what I have to be thankful for and with the realization that God is so good to me...so good to us all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Edition of....Welcome to...My Life!



Our normally very punctual Spanish teacher was MIA.  I was on a mission of search and, if need be, rescue.  I zoomed out of the church parking lot and drove down the road to his home.  Thoughts of his recent mini-strokes raced through my mind.  Was he ok?  Was he in the hospital?  To make matters more precarious, our Italian pastor was, at this moment, trying to teach the 5th-8th graders Spanish.  Our teacher had to be found before permanent linguistic damage was done!  

(Seriously - I am grateful for a pastor - or any person -who is not afraid to jump in and do his best in any situation!)



I pulled my large van into Senor S'. driveway.  In spite of my concerns, I laughed at the sign on the garage in front of me:  "Beware of Dog."  I had seen his "dog."  It was a 3 lb. Chihuahua.  Beware indeed.  HA!


Chuckling to myself, I got out of the van.  All laughter subsided when I heard a ferocious barking mad yapping and saw "Tiny" come rushing at me with his ears back, muscles tensed, and teeth bared.  I jumped back in the van and stared at the sharp-toothed canine which continued to bark and growl at me.  


Now, anyone who has ever been unfortunate enough to watch Jurassic Park knows that the little guys are the most vicious.  What they lack in size they make up for in speed and bite.  So it seemed with "Tiny".  I was terrified he would jump up and sink his razor-like teeth into my ankles.  Not the way I wanted to continue this already interesting morning.


Finally, "Tiny" gave up his hostage and wandered towards the road.  Yes, the road.  Now, instead of me fearing for my life, I was now fearing slightly concerned for his.  Actually, I could have cared less about him, I was just worried that some poor soul on their way to work would run over this family pet and they would feel horrible.  Not to mention, I would have been the one in the driveway just watching it happen.  What to do?  I called the dog. 

"Here dog."  

Ok, so I wasn't really convincing.  He just looked at me.  What was I going to do if he came over?  Pick him up and put him in my van so he could chew my hands off the steering wheel as I tried to drive home?  Cars are actually having to slow down and swerve a bit in order to preserve the life of this...this...dog.  


After a few minutes of having complete control over my nerves and the last 20 drivers on the road, "Tiny" decided he'd had enough fun and went to find amusement elsewhere.  Namely, the ditch on the side of the road.  I had come to the conclusion that there was something seriously wrong with this dog's mental capacities, but now I know better.  He is just a typical, control-driven Chihuahua.  

Or, as my friend so fondly refers to them...a drop-kick dog.  If only I had...


After snooping around and finding absolutely nothing and successfully pulled out of the driveway without running over "Tiny", I drove back to the church where our homeschool co-op was being held.  Turns out, the Senor S., had arrived shortly after I pulled out of the driveway.  All's well that ends well, right?


Moral of the story:  never laugh at "Beware of Dog" signs.

Welcome to...my life.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Beautiful Relationship


I don't do this often, but as I have been too busy to write anything of my own and because this article was such a tremendous blessing to me, I am asking that you please go to Janice's blog today. Jan, her husband Dan, and their children are on the road right now on deputation. The Lord as called them to work with another missionary in Zambia, Africa. Jan & Dan love the Lord with a passion and seeking Him is an obvious priority in their lives. 

As you read Jan's article, I know you will be blessed. Oh, and I know they will be grateful to all who pray for them!
 


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Testimony


I am taking an English course in our Bible Institute this semester.  I'm auditing it as I've always been one of those students who LOVE English and writing!  The following is my assignment for this week.  I pray you will be blessed.


I was born into a Christian home.  Some would refer to me as a second-generation Christian and they would be correct.  I prefer to refer to myself as blessed, for that is exactly what I am.
My parents were saved three years before I was born while they were expecting my older brother.  I was carried into church for the first time when I was just a six-week old infant.  I know no other way to spend a Sunday or a Wednesday night than in the house of God.  On my second birthday, I received my first Bible.  One of my parents snapped a picture the moment I unwrapped it and captured forever the look of complete, innocent joy on my toddler face.  I carried that white Bible to Sunday School every week as well as to the Christian school I began attending in Kindergarten and from which I graduated.  My first collegiate year was spent at a Christian college away from home and I carried that worn white Bible into my dorm room. 
From my earliest memories, I knew that Jesus had died for my sins.  I had learned that the only way to heaven was by asking Him into my heart.  I knew that if I did not get saved, I would go to a horrible fiery place called Hell.  However, my young heart had trouble comprehending all of these things.  I must have asked my mom some questions or shown an interest in salvation one evening as I vaguely remember her asking if I wanted to pray and ask Jesus to come into my heart.  As we knelt beside her bed, she told me that once I prayed, I would be able to be in heaven with her, my dad, and Jesus forever.  Though I don’t believe I was afraid Jesus was going to take me to heaven right then and there, I didn’t like the idea of dying and, therefore, chose not to get saved at that time. 
I am not sure how much time passed between that incident and March 18, 1979.  I was a few weeks from my sixth birthday and sitting at the kitchen table with my father.  I don’t remember what my father and I talked about.  I don’t remember the exact words I prayed.  I do remember closing my eyes, asking Jesus to come into my heart, and opening my eyes knowing that I was going to heaven someday! 
That was over thirty years ago.   Christ has been by my side, holding my hand every day since and has blessed me abundantly.  He has continuously surrounded me with Christians who love me.  He has protected me from potentially dangerous situations many times. He brought to me a wonderful godly man at just the right time who would become my husband.  The Lord has graciously forgiven me and loved me even after the many times I have stumbled. 
 Christ’s goodness is made most evident through the valleys of life and it has been during these times that I have grown to know more of my Savior and His love.  He helped me as I struggled through my parent’s divorce when I was twelve, and was the One on Whom I laid my burden of bitterness years later.  The Lord was my family’s Rock throughout the years my younger brother struggled with drugs, and we wondered with every ring of the phone whether he was in jail or dead.  Because of my upbringing, I knew to open my Bible in the midst of a trial and the Lord showed Himself faithful to me each time.  He gave me comfort, peace, and hope.  My faith grew as I learned that He would always be there when I needed Him.
Because of God’s tremendous faithfulness, my trust in Him grew throughout the years.  Therefore, when our son was diagnosed with a genetic disorder when he was a few months old, my husband and I were able to give him right back to the One who gave him to us.  A few years ago, our son developed scoliosis, just one of the many complications that could come from his disorder.   We were told that surgery would possibly cripple him.  We saw our son in pain for 2 years and watched him grow in faith as God proved Himself to a new generation. Though we were scared and though the future was uncertain, our Father continued to be our Light on the path which He chose for us.  He gave us great peace and grace seeing us to the end of that trial.
It would be false for me to say that I’ve never doubted God in the last thirty years. In the fall of 2008, I went through a time in my life in which I questioned everything I knew about God.  Was His Word really true or was it just a made-up Book?  Did God really exist?  Did Jesus Christ REALLY come to earth to save me?  Was He truly the way to Heaven?  Was the Christian faith in which I was raised the right way or was it just another false religion? I struggled with these questions secretly for several dark months.  I am not sure what led me to doubt, but I had been saved for 29 years and suddenly all I knew was held in suspicion.   Seriously contemplating the possible absence of God, the best Friend and Comforter I had all my life, created in me a terribly deep sense of loneliness and fear.  It was when I began to remember His profoundly real presence on many occasions, the miracles He worked in my life and in the lives of those around me, and the many times that I have experienced the peace that passeth all understanding that I began to realize that He indeed does exist.  I could not explain away those things giving me no choice but to give Him credit and glory for it all.
Today, I know God is real and I am so very grateful to have a relationship with the Creator of all.  I read His Word and He clearly speaks to me.  He continues to hold my hand throughout each day.  God’s love and His Word have been a part of my life from the moment I was born and I am so grateful that, thus far, three of my children are, what some would call, third-generation Christians.  I call them blessed, for that is exactly what we are.
 
“I will remember the works of the Lord:  surely I will remember the wonders of old.  I will meditate also of all thy work; and talk of thy doings…who is so great a God as our God?”  -Psalm 77:11-13


Friday, October 2, 2009

Tonight, at dinner, some of our children & I were talking about when they get married. My 3 oldest girls all agreed they want to marry farmers because that's what their daddy is. Then, my one daughter declared that she wanted her children to grow up the same way she is.

Can a mother ask for more?

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Hike & The Truth



There we were, hiking up a mountain in Lake Placid.  What a beautiful day it was.  Though cool, it was the perfect temperature for outdoor exercise.  We walked the incline until we reached the Lake Placid Lean-to.  A sturdy log lean-to meant for over-night campers on their way up (or down) the mountain made for a nice spot for the love of my life and I to stop and rest a bit.  We continued on for a while longer following moose tracks along the trail.  Then, we came to the part of the hike where it was about to turn into an actual "climbing" experience.  Steep and rocky, this was the terrain the rest of the way up to the summit.  I climbed for a few minutes, telling myself that I can do it.

Truth is, I could climb UP that steep mountain.  The problem was, I can go down a steep hill about as gracefully as a boulder in the midst of an avalanche.  If I broke my leg on my descent, it would be impossible for Eric to carry me down the rest of the way.  There was no cell phone reception, it was getting towards evening, and it was the Adirondacks, for heaven's sake.  I was sure to be dinner for a bear!

I stopped and Eric wanted to go on for a little while.  Sitting there by myself watching closely for any bear that might come bounding down the mountainside, I wanted to be braver than I was.  I lasted a whole 30 seconds after Eric got out of my sight.  I then called out for him and asked him to return to me, which he was kind to do! We began our hike down the mountain, but I was feeling kind of silly.

Throughout the hike, I wanted to show Eric that I could easily keep up with him. It frustrated me that my lack of coordination, strength, and skill, along with my fear, hindered me and him from climbing higher.  I really meditated on that on the way down the mountain.  It dawned on me that I had, possibly along with other Christian women, adopted the feminist idea that I can and SHOULD be able to do anything a man does and just as well.  I should be able to hike a steep mountain with my husband and finish.  I should be in good enough shape to easily maneuver myself around the rocks without breaking a sweat.  I shouldn't think about wild-life, dark, and cold in the mountains.

But, I am a woman.   I realized that God has never asked me to accomplish the same physical feats as my husband. He has never asked me to lift heavy objects, run marathons, or climb mountains. He asks strength of me in other areas.  Consistency in raising my children, flexibility in the changes life brings, and loving and supporting my husband at all times are all areas in which great strength is required.  I exercise physically several times a week, but my character strength-training cannot miss a day.  I ought not feel pressure to keep up physically with my husband.  I ought to feel challenged to build my character in the ways God desires.

Proverbs 31 tells us that the wise woman prepares her household for cold weather and other elements.  We aren't to fret, but be cautious and aware. Up in the mountain, it was 4:30/5:00 in the afternoon and we had another hour and half hike from the point where we stopped.  There IS wild-life in the mountains and it DOES get colder as the sun sets.  Women, myself included, need to make sure we don't live in constant paranoia so that when we are truly being cautious, we aren't looked upon as weak or nervous.  Praise the Lord, Eric knew I wasn't panicing, that I was looking at the reality of the situation.  This is why he readily came back from his desired hike instead of feeling like a defeated man having to calm his over-distressed, paranoid wife (though, I confess, I often can be exactly that).

Realizing that I wasn't supposed to be Eric, but compliment him lifted the burden that I carried up the mountain off my shoulders on the way down.  So, it was a wonderful hike.  Eye-opening for me.  Exilerating.  Fun.  Refreshing.

And, my legs paid for it for 2 days.
Can't wait to do it again!:)

Friday, September 4, 2009

One Pastor or Two?

In light of recent comments, I thought some of you may be interested in listening to the following sermon sometime during this long weekend.  "Why We Have 2 Pastors"  *Note* This is not a defense or a accusational sermon.  This is basically a Bible study looking at pastors in the Bible.  Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend with your families. 

Thursday, September 3, 2009

One of Those Days

Have you ever been one hour into your morning and realized it was going to be "one of those days"?  Usually, that prediction is correct and the day just keeps falling down around you like Jericho's wall.

Yesterday looked like it was going to be "one of those days."  I awoke at 6:30.  My 2-year old awoke at 6:40.  The very same 2-year old who seems to have taken upon him the task of waking his sisters most morning by standing outside their bedroom door and screaming.  Loudly.  Fortunately, I was able to put him back to bed (he only got up one more time) and then I was able to go back into my room and read my Bible.  

So far, so good.  Then I went downstairs.

Do any of you have children who 1) enjoy antagonizing their brothers and sisters by telling them what to do even while they are neglecting their own duties; 2) daily "forget" the morning routine that has been set for YEARS; and/or 3) seem to be completely blind to crumbs, spilled milk, standing water, and other "goodies" on the kitchen shelf and floor that would attract varmints?  If you do, then you may understand completely why, after each of my children exemplified each of the above attributes to their "finest", I began to see it was going to be "one of those days."

However, after taking a walk and sobbing on my husband's shoulder (it's nice having him on the premises at times like these), I was able, for once, to consciously change the seemingly inevitable future.

When I went back into the house, I had originally planned to get all of the children together and talking (aka "lecturing") to them AGAIN about the rules of the home and how we should treat one another. After that, we would joyfully get back to school.  However, an idea came to me as I was walking in the door.

"Everyone, get your shoes on.  We're going for a walk."

No where in particular. We ended up just walking to our pond, threw in some stones, and walked back.  On the way, the kids spotted toads & bunnies, threw sticks for our dog to fetch, and brought home a snail to observe for the day.   We didn't talk about anything in particular.  I never did give them that much loved *cough* lecture on behaviour.  We just enjoyed a nice morning walk.

When we came home, the kids made a little terarium for optimal snail observation.  We got to work on school.  We had fun.

And we had peace.

How did that happen?  Thinking back, it's because of what I did at 6:45 a.m.  After getting my little screamer settled back in his bed, I READ MY BIBLE.  I prayed for my kids.  I prayed for wisdom in parenting them.

It could have been "one of those days."  However, by the grace of God, it turned out to be a day I will remember fondly for a very long time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Can't Seem to Focus

 

I have been itching to write, but can't focus long enough to type anything worth reading.  The fact that I am writing now does not insinuate that I have finally had a brain storm.  More like a brain cramp.  But, still, type I must!

I thought of listing all the reasons why I'm so out of focus.  But, LOOKING at the list was almost as "fun" as DOING the list.  Why should I subject my dear readers to my life?  Like you don't have your own "to-do" lists.

I thought of telling you about how one of my children told me they were going to bake cookies today, but I am more inclined to believe they were testing a new bomb for the government.  But, I didn't think it appropriate to embarrass said-child.

I contemplated writing about how I'm getting to go away with the love of my life for seven...yes, SEVEN...days in a couple of weeks to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.  But, then that got me thinking about all the things I have to do between now and then...no good.

Want to hear about the poor kitten that froze to death on our porch? 

See what I mean?  Totally out of focus.  Life is so crazy, deadlines are hanging over my head and I can't think.  I actually stopped by the library tonight while shopping just to be able to sit and read a book for a half hour because I knew I could relax there...somewhat.  So much to do...

Typing all this has allowed me to see a bit more clearly.  I am forming a new "to-do" list even now:

Be still my soul...Breathe.  Meditate.  Give Thanks.  Sing a quiet song.  Talk to the One for Whom I ought to be living.  Go on about my day...moment by moment.

Thanks for listening.  Things are beginning to focus nicely.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dear Anonymous...

I would like to thank you for the challenge you put forth last week. It made me think about 1) what I really believe regarding headcovering and 2) how to respond to someone who seems to be hotly debating something I believe.

I must say I have absolutely no idea who you are. And, that's ok. If you never tell me who you are and see me on the street, at a get-together, or in a church service you and I can smile and speak on friendly terms, as I am assuming we always have. Then again, if you do tell me who you are and then see me on the street, at a get-together, or in a church service - you and I can still smile and speak on friendly terms, as I am assuming we always have.

When I found out that you are someone I've known for a long time, my brain began to search for an answer to who "anonymous" could be. When I thought of certain people, I thought of how some of the things you said could have been re-interpreted into a different tone. Some of my friends can say things to me that may sound mean to strangers, but no big deal to me because I know the person & heart from which they come. Such may be the case in this situation. I don't know.

No matter...

Your apology was humble and sincere. I am truly humbled and grateful that you offered it. You are forgiven. Thank you for adding a little spark to my blog last week. May God always be with you and may you always know that I remain your friend.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why I Wear a Headcover

Some of you are thinking, "I've never seen her wear a covering. What is she talking about?" Well, then you must not attend church with me or seen me out in public ministry. Others of you who have seen me cover in church and such have wondered why I don't cover all the time. Well, I am finally going to put an end to the great mystery of "why does Vicki live a double life?"

First, let me put to rest a few myths.

1. Only the Mennonites and the Amish cover. How do I know this is a myth? Because I am not Mennonite nor am I Amish. I drive a car. My husband uses tractors. I believe in salvation by God's blood & grace alone. Many women I know who cover are also Born Again Bible Believing (Baptist - gasp!) Christians.

2. I cover because of the church I attend. This is an obvious myth because of the 300+ people who attend our church, about 6 of us wear head-coverings. However, it is true that I never saw a born-again Christian wear a headcover before I began attending my church 11 years ago.

3. A head-cover is a paper bag to cover the heads of ugly people. Once thought a clever idea by a teenage boy, this is most definitely a myth.

4. A head-cover is just an excuse for women not to do their hair. Hmm...though I may not have to put as much time into it on Sunday mornings, this also is eligible for myth classification.

OK. So, the question: Why do I wear a headcover?

As I mentioned earlier, I had never given much thought to headcoverings until we began to attend our current church 11 years ago. It was then that I saw born-again Christian women wearing veils. Although, just as it is today, only a handful of women wore the veils, it seemed to be the first thing that visitors noticed, therefore beginning the myth that all women at OPBBC wore headcoverings. Though it was an obvious minority, it raised questions in the minds of Eric and I.

For a few years before this, Eric and I had begun to realize that the way we grew up wasn't necessarily the ONLY way to be a Christian. There were biblical standards that we took another look at, prayed about, and adopted that we hadn't learned before or had been interpreted differently. Because of these experiences, we had learned not to see something different and automatically declare it un-biblical just because it rubbed us the wrong way. We learned to study the issue for ourselves and really see what God had to say.

Thus it was for the head-covering. After a year of attending our church, I began to question the covering issue. The only time I ever remember hearing the passage of 1 Corinthians 11 ever discussed while growing up was in my 11th grade Bible class which covered the book of 1 Corinthians. Obviously, the teacher couldn't just ignore that passage, which seemed to be the practice of most of the preachers as it never had been touched in any message I heard. Therefore, he spent a little bit of time discussing how the covering was "obviously" the hair and went from there. Now, this passage was the very one used to defend the veil and we wanted to see if the Bible would back our "belief" (if you can call something we were so un-educated about such) or if it would challenge us to really conform to a different mind-set.

I studied the word "covering". Eric and I talked about it with people who didn't cover and people who did. We wanted to know their biblical reasons for their actions. We listened to tapes. Most of all, we prayed.

I must mention right here that it is obvious that the covering is mentioned simultaneously with the concept of a wife's submision to her husband. Therefore, though I was the one interested in studying the concept of covering as it is an action of the woman, I was not going to do anything without the permission of my husband. This is why he investigated with me. Though Eric was sort of on the fence at the beginning of this journey, he, at times, has been a stronger advocate than I in the years since.

Many people will say that the "covering" discussed in 1 Corinthians 11 is the hair. I challenge you to read the chapter and replace the word "covering" with hair. Does the chapter make any sense? This would pose a definite problem for any man blessed with hair on his head as the passage clearly states that it is dishonoring for a man to pray with his head covered. So, either there is a seperate covering being discussed, or, each man who prays needs to shave his head. Also, in verse 5 it is said that the woman who prayes uncovered is AS IF she were shaven. If the covering is her hair it would read like this: "the woman who prays with no hair is as if she were shaven." Isn't that a bit redundant? If she has no hair she IS shaved. Fits right in with "kind of pregnant" - you are or you aren't.

A lot of people will use verse 15 to defend the "hair is the covering" theory: "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering." First, I find it interesting that those who use this verse are also people who will defend a woman's right to have extremely short hair thereby cutting off the very covering they say is given to them by God. However, notice the verse says her hair is given to her for A covering, which leads me to believe there is more than one covering for a woman.

Verse 5 mentions that if I pray and prophesy without covering my head, I am dishonoring my head. Here we have a perfect example how the same English word in one passage can mean two different things - just as the word 'covering.' When a man covers his physical head he dishonors his spiritual Head - Jesus Christ. A woman who prays or prophesies with her physical head uncovered dishonors her spiritual head - her husband. Again, I cover in church to divert attention from myself to put onto the earthly one I am to reverence. It is a physical declaration of my submission to my husband.

I find it interesting that society as a whole still adheres to the first part of this passage - the part concerning the man. Even today a man will take his hat off during prayer or while in the house of God. Up through the 1950s, women still wore hats to church. This was a result of covering. You will notice that many Eastern European women still wear a veil - especially while in a worship service. Culture? No. It comes straight from the Bible.

Why don't women cover anymore? Verse 15 states that the woman's hair is a glory to the woman. This is one of the main reasons I wear a seperate covering to church and it's also one of the main reasons women are afraid to really delved into the topic of covering. If my hair is my glory should I not cover my glory in order to divert that glory to Christ as we come together and worship? How often do we go to church and notice other women's hair and how pretty it is? What is it that takes women and girls so long to prepare in the morning? It only takes a few minutes to put on an outfit, but I've heard of some girls spending up to an hour just adding curls to their hair on Sunday morning. Why? Most would say they just want to look pretty and feminine. But, the hair is their GLORY. They are inadvertantly taking away some of the focus we are to have on Christ and putting it on themselves. By covering, I am able to escape that temptation. I will say, it is often difficult for me to put a covering on my head. Quite frankly, I'm not very pretty with one. I wear a longer covering that covers most of my hair. People who see me without my covering for the first time are often taken aback and mention how 'pretty" my hair is (I secretly wonder if they are shocked that I even HAVE hair!). It IS very hard for a woman to cover her glory. However, many of the things God asks us to do are not easy. This does not give liberty to go against His word.

I studied this topic for months. I came to a conclusion a few months before I took action mainly because I didn't want to be someone who started something just to quit a year or two later. This is not something to jump into. I knew there would be days I wouldn't want to cover and it took some time for me to make the commitment. I've noticed women who begin coming to our church have this illusion of "headcovers produce godliness" and don one within weeks of their first visit. These covers come off within 2 years because it was 1) done without much prayer and council from the Lord or 2) done without the permission of their husbands.

I will add here that, though our pastors do not have their wives cover, they are in support of those of us who do cover. Some wish that our pastors would take a stand for it from the pulpit, however, I am not one of those. Though I believe strongly that I ought to cover, I also believe verses 13 & 16: "Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God." These verses seem to say that we need to look into this for ourselves and not have dispute or contention regarding this issue.

Some proponents rightly divide that this is one of the ordinances of God - just as baptism and the Lord's Supper. I Corinthians 11:2: "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye rmember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as i delivered them to you." The first ordinance Paul mentions in this chapter is the covering. From there he discusses the Lord's Supper. Baptism as an ordinance was established during the gospels. So, some state that we preach on the other 2 ordinances and practice them as a church body, but we ignore the other. Why? Well, as my husband wisely pointed out, Who established the oridnances of baptism and communion? It was Jesus Christ. The ordinance of the covering comes from Paul. That does not negate the entire Pauline epistles and make everything he says choice. But, the fact that Christ never practiced or spoke on the covering makes it a difficult issue to "command" from the pulpit. Not to mention that, just as there are times not to be baptized and times not to take the Lord's Supper due to the condition of the spirit, there are times not to cover. Therefore, a pastor cannot mandate that everyone covers at all times as that would be causing a woman to live in hypocrisy if her spirit is not right. Isaiah 30:1: "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin..."

When do I cover? I cover in church and during public ministry (street meetings, singing in the malls at Christmas, home Bible studies/prayer meetings, and when I give a devotional). There are two reasons I do not cover all the time (and I do know there are people who would take issue with this). First, my husband doesn't want me to cover at all times, mainly because he'd never see my hair. Basic. But, that is what he stated from the beginning. The other reason is because 1 Corinthians 11 talks about ordinances commonly practiced in the church - when a group of people come together for the purpose of worship. I realize that people practice the Lord's Supper in their homes, but it is commonly practiced as a church body and that is how this passage discusses it. So, when I cover, it is in the church setting and when I "pray & prophesy" publically.

I will confess here that I have been disobedient to my husband in one aspect. He prefers me to wear a covering while I am out in public without him as it provides a large measure of protection while my spiritual head in not present. This can be confirmed in verse 10 of 1 Corinthians 11: "For this cause ought the woman to have pioer on her head because of the angels." I will admit that because I go most places without my husband I would have to cover almost all the time which means that I have that uncomfortable position of having to cover my glory. We have discussed this and he has seen the fact that if I am out with others I do have more protection, but I know he'd really like me to wear it if I am alone. Something I will remedy very soon.

Will we have our daughter's cover? Only if we see them fussing with their hair too much for worship. If they are taking the glory from God to put on themselves, they will cover. For now, we make sure their hair is neat, but not too fancy when they attend church services. It will be up to them and their husbands if they cover later on.

I know this was long, but I have had questions through the years - either voiced or seen in people's eyes. I hope this cleared some of those questions up for you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Tribute: To my Commentators

Lately, I have not had the time to respond to many of the comments made on my blog. I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who leave comments. They encourage me so very much. Many of you have been acquaitances in the past, but I now consider true friends. One of my regular commentators is a cousin by marriage whom I have never met. This is one of the venues in which we've become closer and very dear friends.

For those of you who have recommended websites and books, thank you. I visit most every site recommended and have found them very helpful. Recently, a book was suggested and I went to Amazon.com and bought it. Also, whenever a new commentator shows up, I check out their blog and have really enjoyed many of your writings!

So, though I don't say it often enough, thank you for commenting and encouraging. Thank you for your friendships. You all are awesome!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The 4 Ingredients to My Happiness & Success as a Home-maker

Ingredient #4: Encouragement From Friends

I go out for coffee every so often with a group of friends. There are four of us; the other three attend the same church while I attend another. One of the members has been my best friend all of my life. Another is a friend from way back whom I lost contact with for years only for God to lead us back in to one another's paths a few years ago. The other member has been friends with my 2 friends for a few years and we were introduced over some coffee and now we're friends, too.

We typically don't schedule an evening to go out too far in advance (we tried that once and most everyone forgot about it). One of us usually gets in contact with everyone else when we feel like we need to "get out." Usually, the others are in need of some time out, as well.

We all have children under 12 years old. We all have more than 2 children. We all have wonderful husbands who work hard. We all are Christians striving to please God in our roles of wives & mothers.

But, we still need to "get out!"

We usually meet at the coffee shop around 8 p.m. - some get there earlier, some later. It all depends upon the time each of us can get all of our households under control before we leave. We make sure our families are fed, clean, and ready for (if not in) bed.

What do we do at these wild get-togethers? Well, we usually eat or drink something, we talk about our families and our challenges/successes with them, cut coupons, and sometimes trade some good recipes.

In short, we are encouraging one another.

No, we don't encourage in the stereotypical way. We may not say, "Wow! You are a great mom!" or, "I wish I could keep up a home like you do" or "You are doing a great job being a housewife and homeschooling your kids!"

Encouragement goes far beyond flattering words. Encouragement is seeing others who are running the same race as you are, with similar obstacles, and still making it. Encouragement is sharing things that have worked for one to help another's life easier. Encouragement is getting a few hours to relax and laugh without being "needed" immediately!

The encouragement of these friends and countless others goes so far in helping me become a successful homemaker. I hear of a good book that helped a friend so I read it and glean ideas as well. A friend shares a recipe with me that's easy yet delicious, making it possible for me to make my family happy as I provide them with a nutritous meal.

Think about the things you do and how you do them - parenting, cleaning, laundry, shopping. Most of these things we have learned to do and improved upon by the encouragement of others. They have shared what has worked for them to help us. What things have you found that makes your life easier? Have you shared those things with others?

That's another reason why I've written this series - to encourage the younger moms. Encouragement is helping others see they are not alone. That there is light at the end of the tunnel. Being understanding of someone is to encourage that person. You may not have the answers, but if you understand - if you've BEEN there - that gives them a hand to hold onto. It gives them courage to go on.

Be encouraged. Be an encourager. Your success and the success of other homemakers depend on it!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The 4 Ingredients to My Happiness & Success as a Home-maker


Ingredient #3: ORGANIZATION

I want the heart of my husband to safely trust in me. I am his helper. Keeping his home running smoothly is a job I intend to do as well as I am capable. This is what I mean by "organization." I do not necessarily mean a schedule of jobs, etc. What I mean is how to make everyday life run a little bit more smooth and stress-free.

For instance, I do not schedule when supper is, but I do write a weekly menu of what we will be eating. This helps me to make a grocery list with goals in mind and not just randomly grab things off the shelves. If I shop on Monday without knowing what we will be eating on Friday, I will most likely have to return to the store for more ingredients, thus causing me to spend even more money. This is not an organized method of providing food for my family nor is it using good stewardship.

Let me show you this week's menu:

Monday: Crock-pot Chicken, salt potatoes, peas, pie (?)

Tuesday: Burrito Casserole

Wednesday: Herby French Dip (crock-pot), salad

Thursday: spaghetti pie

Friday: Creamy Cheddary Chicken w/ mashed potatoes

Saturday: (Cassia's birthday party) pizza, pop, chips, snacks

Sunday: Makes-a-Meal Baked Beans (crock-pot)

Monday: Leftovers (yeah, we eat 'em)

In making this menu, I take in consideration what we already have in the freezers and pantry. It would be far from frugal if I made up a menu for the week and had to buy every single ingredient necessary. I do make sure to go through my coupons in order to save a few more cents.

This menu planning allows me to prevent the 4:00 stress of "what's for dinner?!" as I am able to just look at my list, knowing that we have all the ingredients in the house. Notice I am using my crock-pot three days this week. This is not uncommon as it ensures a good meal on some of my busier days. Just be sure to defrost your meat the night before or you'll have to rearrange your menu (which is not impossible, either).

Recently, I was able to do the seemingly impossible task of organizing my laundry, thus reducing the amount of daily loads and making it stress-free. Really - I'm not kidding. I was reading the Duggar's book, "20 and Counting" when I came across their family-laundry room idea. Let me give you a quick summary of how I've incorporated this into our home:

I went through each of my children's dressers and closets. I threw away those items that were ripped or stained beyond recognition. I gave away bags and bags of clothes that no longer fit, were hardly ever worn, or just things I didn't care for. I then had to make some difficult choices to give away items just because my American children still had an overabundance of clothes. Each child now has 9 pairs of underwear, 7-9 pairs of everyday socks, 2-3 pair church socks, and the girls own a couple of slips and pairs of bloomers. Each child has 2-3 pairs of pajamas. Each of these items are in a bin (1 for each child) under the clothes rack in the laundry room. On the clothes rack are their hanging clothes - 4 dress pants and 4 dress shirts for each boy, 4-5 dresses for daily wear for the girls, 4-5 church dresses, several white blouses (that 3 out of 4 of my girls can wear), and several coulottes. On a shelf, I have 1 pile of t-shirts for each child and the boys each have a pile of casual pants - about 7 shirts and 7 pants/each. Does this make any sense? Every morning, each child grabs what they are going to wear and I don't even mind them throwing it into the laundry after only 1 day's use. I do, at most, 3 loads of laundry/day, but usually just 2. The loads are not large and it takes me less than 10 minutes to fold, hang, and put away the clean items.

What's so great about this method? First, I no longer have to fight with my kids about clean clothes stuffed into drawers or all over the closet floor. I barely have to worry about dirty clothes on the floor. If a matching sock is missing, I can send a child upstairs to look for it as I know they all were just recently matched up. I am able to keep all clothes neat, wrinkle-free, and clean. The greatest thing? I have my sanity back!

How do I organize the cleaning of my house? Basically I do what I can when I can. Everyone has 15-30 minutes every other day to do some sort of cleaning. Dusting a room or two doesn't take long. I like to mop my floors at least twice a week - this usually occurs during nap time. School is over and it's not time to cook supper, so I have a chance to make the house more orderly before my husband comes home. Trust me, having my laundry under control and knowing what's for dinner gives me more time to focus on the rest of my home. I am one of the pickiest people I know when it comes to vacuuming so this job takes more of a chunk of time, but I am able to find that time about once a week. I don't have scheduled "days" as I find that I tend to dread "cleaning days." I'm much better if I just realize I have a few extra minutes to jump right in and get something accomplished.

I don't know about you, but I work much better in a clutter-free environment. I must straighten before I can succeed in getting any other work done. If you find your house in disarray, concentrate on de-cluttering for a few days before picking up the dust polish or vacuum. Once you get things put away, try to take a few minutes every day to maintain that.

For you moms with really little ones, please refer to Ingredient #2. I was not able to be this organized when my children needed all of my time and attention. I barely had time to discover or think about how to be more organized. It will happen - don't stress if it's not today.

Organization takes thought and planning. Then, all it takes is maintaining. I know that if I let things slide for even one day, I will begin to drown in the sea of disaster. I am keeping my head above water and even making some progress. I refuse to be a drowning victim. Organization is my life-preserver.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The 4 Ingredients to My Happiness & Success as a Home-maker

I DID say that this would be a 4-day series. I DIDN'T say 4 consecutive days. :)

Ingredient #2: The Age of My Children

I don't know about you, but I tend to look around at other people's lives and homes and become envious of those who seem to have it all together. I never could understand why some moms could "do it all" when I struggled just to get 3 meals a day on the table and make sure my children survived another 24 hours.

Years ago, a friend of mine helped me realize that other moms either 1) don't have as many children, 2) send their children to school, or 3) have older children.

I have found that for me, a huge ingredient in my success as a home-maker is the age of my children. My youngest will be two years old tomorrow. This is the longest I have ever gone without having another newborn in almost 12 years. SIX of my children are potty trained leaving only one child with regular diaper changes. He only has to eat 3 times a day instead of the 7-8 times a newborn needs to eat. I sleep through the night! My older children help keep an eye on the younger ones while I do things around the house that need to be done. I have an 8 year old that even VOLUNTEERS to change diapers!! My kids do chores. Yes, they even DO DISHES!!!
Do you see where I'm going with this?

When I had 5 children 6 and under, friends told me to just hang on, things would get easier. Friends with more children than I had, but older, said that they had it much easier than I because of all the help their children gave them. I never thought that day would come, but it has.

They were right!

My older children are like 2 extra sets of hands. It has come to the point where I hardly ever go anywhere with my youngest two without older children to help get them into and out of their car-seats. They help take in groceries and unload them. They hold the hands of younger siblings when we're out. They even bake desserts from time to time. The amount of time they save me has enabled me to recently get projects done that have been on the back burner for years. What a blessing!

The fact that I was able to clean all of my children's closets and dressers in one day and the attic the next is all because my children are at an age where they are becoming a bit more responsible (a BIT). When I cleaned out the attic the other night, I assigned dinner clean-up jobs to various children. That was 30 more minutes I could put toward the task I've been wanting to accomplish for over a year!

I am not talking slave-labor here. My children have more than enough time to goof off and play. They live a life that I can only compare to a perpetual carnival. However, they are a part of a family. They realize that if every one pitches in and helps, mom has more time to do fun things. We can get through our chores faster and on to more exciting activities by each person doing their part.

I am excited that we are now at a point in our lives that I am finally able to dust my house again on a regular basis. I am actually caught-up on laundry and ironing. I amazingly have time to relax in the afternoon, once in a while, and to do things like, well, blog.

If you are a mom of young children, I encourage you like my friends encouraged me. Just hold on. Your time will come. Do what you can, but don't stress if your house isn't 100% dust free, your laundry reaches the ceiling, and you have to order pizza...again.

Yes, you're going to see some young moms who can seemingly do it all, but you may not see the people they have behind the scenes who are helping out that you may not have access to. Or, you may not see the stress levels they are putting on themselves or their family. You don't have their whole picture. You only have yours. And God has it, too.

The same friend who helped me see other people's realities also shared with me this truth when I was struggling with those 5 children 6 and under: Pray. You may not have the time or energy to even read one chapter of your Bible, but you can pray anywhere. Even if it's "HELP, LORD!" He hears the prayers of the mommy. Read a verse here and there if you can. But, always talk to the Lord.

That advice helped me through a very difficult time in my life. A time when everything seemed to be a wreck. But, that seems forever ago. God walked me through. My children have gotten older. And, I'm feeling more successful.

But, wait. Looking back, I was successful then, as well. Success is doing what God wants you to do when He wants you to do it. It's not what the world, your friends, your mom or mother-in-law think you need to do. It's doing what HE wants. If you're doing that, you are a successful home-maker already. In a few years, you'll get to do the extras YOU want to do!

Just hold on.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The 4 Ingredients to My Happiness & Success as a Home-maker

It's been a while, but I've been cleaning, remember?

The other day, after a profitable day of homeschooling and cooking dinner in my clean home, I got to thinking about why I seem to feel happier and more successful as a home-maker lately than I have in the past. I've been on this roller coaster ride long enough to know that I may have a down-turn again, but what is my success & happiness dependent upon? Due to time constraints (I'm a mom of 7, remember?), I will break this up into a 4-day series.

The first ingredient:

My walk with the Lord.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you realize that your attitude, your daily life, your reactions are completely dependent upon your relationship with God. I find that if I let a few days go by without reading my Bible or keeping up a conversation with my Lord, I become a pretty miserable person.

Yes, I said a few DAYS. I know. Most of you MAY skip one day here and there, but never 2 or 3, or 7 days in a row. Ever. Pretend you can relate.

Without the Light guiding my path, I tend to become even more impatient than normal and the guardian of my tongue seems to take a leave of absence. By my misery, my children become miserable. With miserable children, it's difficult to get anything done. Miserable children have difficulty doing their schoolwork & getting along which requires more of my time. When I'm bickering with my children or just have a poor attitude, my creativity level is low and meals become boring, hum-drum, repetitive...you get the point. My poor attitude creates a spirit of selfishness and doing things for my family such as laundry, cleaning, cooking, changing diapers, etc., become a burden and a point of resentment.

However, opening my Bible, reading it, speaking to the Author sheds light on my day. I see that my children are still learning and I am their trainer. I see that I need to have in my mouth the law of kindness. I take the time to ask the Lord to help me in the areas in which I am weak and I lift up my children in prayer. Not necessarily for them to behave, but for them to have a love for God and to please HIM, not ME. God shines the light over onto my responsibilities and enables me to see that by fulfilling them, I can bless my family. He fills my mind and heart with songs so that I may replace the miserable grumbling with a bit of happy humming!

A new day. A new prayer. A new truth...in the same ole Book. The first ingredient to happiness & success in being a home-maker.

In truth, the first ingredient to happiness & success in all areas of life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Clean Thoughts

It all started with a scheduled meeting of homeschool co-op teachers at my house. I looked around my house and knew something needed to be done.

Don't get me wrong. I normally strive to keep my house in some semblance of order. Well, as much as possible with 7 kids. I usually make time to sweep, mop, and vacuum (at least the downstairs) on a weekly basis. But, dust? Wipe down walls and cupboards? Do windows? Um, yeah. I can't remember the last time I had time to do those things. Hire someone else to do that, yes. But, do it myself? Hmm...

Well, I knew I had over a dozen adults coming to my house. Unlike drop-in guests who understand they just interrupted reality and that's why there's still food smeared on the kitchen table, expected guests, well, expect more.

So, I got to work. Four days before the meeting. Which is rare for me. Usually, I'm in a tizzy four HOURS before people show up. But, in order to ward off the pre-hospitality stress, I got to work.

I dusted, straightened, threw away, scrubbed walls, floors, ceilings, cabinets, windows. I stayed up until 2 a.m. one morning as those late hours are preciously uninterrupted hours.

You know what? I am more content with my house now than I have been in a long time. I didn't get any new furniture. No new curtains. We didn't remodel. I just cleaned.

And I feel like a new woman.

Oh, and may I introduce you to my 2 new maids? The ProForce 1500 my husband bought for me a month or so ago as I am MURDER on your average department store vacuum.
This, I bought yesterday as my new vacuum has no attachments. This has given new life to the inside of my windowsills and my stairs!
I am truly a happy housewife!