Thursday, March 26, 2009

Heart and Home

Last week I had a day all to myself. A day I looked forward to and felt I needed for some time.

For a few weeks prior, I had been feeling overwhelmed. Long winter days with cooped up children. The monotony of daily life - meal prep, meal clean-up, school, meal prep, meal clean-up, laundry, meal prep, meal clean-up, bedtime routine, etc. Ever feel like that's ALL you ever do?

Oh, well, besides listen to whining, answer questions, change diapers, referee arguments, and all the other miscellaneous things mothers do.

Well, after these mundane weeks topped off by several days of sick children, I was ready for a day alone. No cares. No responsibilities.

Ok - AFTER I cleaned up from breakfast, had a meeting organizing next year's homeschool co-op, loaded up a bale of straw for a customer, got lunch on the table, and changed one last diaper.

So, it wasn't a whole day. It was just an afternoon. FIVE hours. All to myself.

You know what? It was disappointing. Extremely.

Anytime I think I'll have some time to myself, I have some great ideas. All of which I forget when I actually get that time or just don't end up like I envisioned. This time, I went to our downtown library. The kids and I had just toured it on a field trip the week before. "What a great place to just hang out," I thought. Sure, if you don't mind getting turned around on all the one-way city streets, walking down 5 flights of stairs in a very ominous stairway, trying to locate a decent book in a 4-floor, 2-building library, paying $5.00 for a SMALL cup of coffee, and finding a seat among the various homeless people scattered throughout the building.

Good times.

From there, I had an appointment at 3:00. I arrived right on time. Well, what was on time in my world. However, according to THEIR appointment book, I was an hour and a half late. Reschedule.

Now, I have some extra time all to myself. It was a beautiful day. Oh, to find a nice little lunch to eat in a nice little park. Easier said than done.

Finding something to eat with an open-for-the season park nearby with a nice place to sit in the middle of March is a bit impossible. Not only that, but I have a terrible sense of direction and in trying to get from point A to point B via a route I hadn't taken in 2 years, I ended up literally driving all over the Greater *city-in-which-i-live-near* Area.

It was a lovely day for a drive.

I ended up in a parking area of a park (not yet open-for-the-season) with a order of onion rings, a milk shake, and a recently checked out book. In my car. On a gorgeous sunny, warm day.

Why didn't I go for a walk? Because I wanted to relax. Plus, I grew up with horror stories about women who walk alone in off-season parks. In the daylight.

Again, very disappointing.

However, a wonderful thing has resulted from this very LONG afternoon. My heart has been turned back to where it belongs - home. To my family and to their needs. In the past week and a half, I haven't once felt the need to "get out." When I have had to leave, I look forward to returning to my little nest. Oh, meal preperations and clean-up are just as exciting as ever, but now I am content to be with my family. I still referee arguments and get annoyed with whining toddlers, but I really don't want to be anywhere else. Because time to myself isn't all it's cracked up to be.

I guess God does work in mysterious ways. He worked in me at a city library and in a park last Tuesday. And, when I came home, my heart came home with me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I am Here!

I haven't left. So much on my mind and schedule. Hope to post soon - maybe even later today.

In the meantime, visit some of the blogs on my sidebar for some smiles, insight, and encouragement.

I hope you all have a blessed Monday!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This Day in History

March 18, 1979 - I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart.

I was not quite 6 years old. For some reason, I remember actually struggling with this decision. I have a memory of kneeling beside my parents bed with my mom at one point, but deciding against asking Jesus to save me. Why? Because I was afraid of the whole concept of hell. It scared me from doing anything.

Hey, I was five.

However, on this evening, I was sitting in the kitchen with my dad. I don't remember the events leading up to my prayer, but I remember sitting in one of the brown 70's-style padded chair at the brown kitchen table and asking Jesus to come into my heart.

How excited I was. I recall telling my teacher in school the next day. There's a memory in the recesses of my mind of the librarian finding out during library time. These ladies rejoiced in my decision, making the whole experience even more special to me.

Five years old. What horrible sins had I committed that I needed to repent of? I have had several children 5 and younger in the past few years. Trust me, there's a lot of sin in those little hearts! But, seriously, it's not as much of what I had to repent than in Whom I had to trust. At five years old, I recognized the fact that only the blood of Jesus could allow me into heaven. I knew I would never be good enough.

During these past 30 years, there have been many times when I have not feared God and have sinned against Him in ways I am ashamed of. I am constantly amazed by His matchless mercy and longsuffering. I cannot imagine what kind of person I would be if I had not met my Saviour at such a young age.

I thank God often for the blessing of being born into a Christian home. I have never known life without God. But, 30 years ago today, God became more. He became my Saviour. Through the years, He has become my Comforter, my Protector, my Father...

and my Friend.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday Night Church

Last night was my turn to go to church. Eric is now sick but everyone else is well. Therefore, I went to church with six of our children (Zane stayed home as he's so little).

It had already been quite a day yesterday and it just got better and better at church. (Sense the sarcasm). I felt so bad for the poor soul sitting behind us. It is comforting to know that she is also the mom of young children. And a friend. A very understanding friend.

Right before church began, Gloria had to use the bathroom. Of course, this means getting into the sanctuary after everyone is already seated and announcements are being made. If you go to a Baptist church, you know that announcements can last almost as long as a sermon. I would normally wait until everyone else stands for singing before going to my row, but I wasn't taking a chance leaving five children unattended.

I did that once. My then-4 year old literally tried to strangle his then 2-year old sister. Lesson learned. So, last night I had to crawl over 3 children to get to my seat. Of course, another child was in my seat which resulted in 3 more children moving down. That was inconspicuous.

Of course, as soon as we all got arranged, two children just NEEDED to tell me something right then. "Shh," I say as I look intently at the pastor, pretending everything is normal.

Song service. Ok, now we can stand. And turn around. And pass books back and forth. And drop them in the process. What were we singing?

Sit back down for the missionary. His wife sang a couple of songs. Very nice. I almost fell asleep during the second one - relaxing for sure. No, that is not a negative comment on her singing - it really was wonderful. It's just something about sitting down in church after a long day.

The missionary had a good sermon with a good message. I caught bits and pieces of it between children poking at each other, instructing children down the row to stop drawing pictures and pay attention, and shushing Seth who was loudly whispering "STOP" to his annoying sister. (By the way, this was the same pair previously mentioned in the strangulation episode.)

In the midst of all that, another daughter was quietly copying the words of a hymn from the hymn book when a sickening "rrriiiippppp" sound occurred.

If you attend our church and pick up the hymnal with page 353 torn almost completely out, I'm very sorry.

Did I mention that the father of my friend behind me was sitting on the far end of our row? Why does that matter? Oh, well, no reason. He's just our PASTOR! A very loving and forgiving pastor. Just like his daughter.

We stand for the invitation. Seth wants to pray at the altar. Feeling the need to repent, no doubt. However, I was in no mood to find out what sort of chaos he could create up there. This resulted in some pouting, but he was quiet. Until right before the final prayer when he again LOUDLY whispered "STOP" to his sister.

If you had looked up during the final prayer you would have seen me dragging 2 very sad children out of the church. Then again, maybe you wouldn't have had to open your eyes. You may have just heard us.

I know that all parents think that the whole world is watching them and being completely distracted when their children are misbehaving in church or any other public place. However, whenever I hear of a parent mention how naughty their child was, I must admit I never noticed. Here's hoping no one noticed our family last night.

Oh, and for your information, the release date on my child training book has been delayed indefinitely.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Let Him Go

This past Sunday, five out of our seven children were ill with a highly contagious stomach bug. Because we didn't know if our 2 healthy children were carrying this "disease" and just waiting to come down with it, Eric was the only one who made it to church.

That's right - I was home. Alone. for the SEVENTH day in a row with ALL of the children. I don't point that out for sympathy - I have a point to make. Really.

Shortly before Eric left, things got a bit chaotic and the kids got whiny (an odd occurrence around here, I assure you. *ahem*). I doubted whether or not I could really do this as I was also feeling a bit ill. Eric asked me if I wanted him to stay home. I realized then I had a choice to make.

1) Say "YES!!!!!!! Please stay home!!!" This was what my flesh wanted to say. I mean, really - we're in church all the time. What would 1 Sunday matter if we all just stayed together as a family? I work hard, too. Why should I have to bear the burden of sick children alone? (Ok, never mind the fact that he made breakfast, lunch, and dinner that day).


2) Get things under control and peaceful so that my husband could go to church without hesitation.

I opted for choice #2. By God's grace alone. Well, maybe there was a bit of selfishness involved. You see, I learned long ago that it benefits the entire family if its head is able to get spiritually filled. If Eric gets something from the Lord and some words of encouragement from the brethren, he is able to bring that encouragement, peace, and wisdom home to his family.

The same mindset goes toward our church's annual "Men's Meeting" (retreat) and monthly "Men's Prayer Meetings." Back in the day, the annual Men's Meeting was 3 days long. Eric would leave early Thursday morning and return Saturday evening. I hated to see him go. Not because I was dreading to have sole responsibility for my children (though there were times) - but because he's my best friend and I hate it when he's away. I would cry as he drove away. As much as I wanted him to stay with me, I wanted him to go commune with God and fellowship with his Christian brothers more. The time he spent in prayer for his family and for his church only blessed us. The few days we "sacrificed" his presence was worth the spirit of blessing in our home for months on end.

Saturday night men's prayer meeting - it's NOT convenient for me to have my husband leave just after dinner time to go to church. This leaves clean-up, bath time, and bedtime completely up to me. But, he's being filled. He is the leader of our home and that is a huge responsibility that is absolutely impossible without uninterrupted concentrated prayer. The Bible says, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." What could be better for our family than a room full of men united in prayer for us (as well as their families)? What could be better for our church than these men joining hearts and prayers for our people and pastors? I would be a crazy woman to hinder my husband from going to be spiritually rejuvinated.

Just so you know - my husband makes it possible for me to have these same opportunities. I am among the first to sign up for our Women's Meetings and he will often stay home with sick children so that I may go and hear the Word of God preached as well. I am thankful for his consideration.

Why do I write this? Because it grieves my heart to see how many women rob their husbands and families of tremendous blessing in the name of neediness. "Can't my husband just pray at home?" "I'm tired - I just can't do it without him." "Our children need daddy home." And on and on it goes. There are times when the man may have to stay home - but those times should be few and far between. We are to be our husband's helpmeet. It is our responsibility to aide him in growing in his role as spiritual leader.

So, a word to the wise wife - instead of clinging to your husband as a needy child, let him go. Give him a kiss and tell him you'll see him when he gets home. You will be blessed.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Counting My Blessings

This week, I have been made acutely aware of how blessed I truly am with the husband God has given to me. So, I just wanted to take some time and focus on some of the wonderful things I am thankful for in my dearest love.

1. He is saved, walks with God, and aids me in growing closer to our Saviour.

2. He truly loves me as Christ loves the church - putting me first and himself last most of the time.

3. He makes me laugh. Out of the blue, he'll say or do something so "out of character" that I'll laugh till the tears come.

4. His calm, logical manner balances my reactive, rash behavior. I have learned to go to him first before reacting to situations I don't understand or times when I've been hurt by others. He listens to me vent without judging me, then helps me calm down and see things from all angles. This has saved me many times from feelings of bitterness and resentment over situations I have no control over.

5. He gave me a chance. Eric comes from a good, stable home. He never wanted to marry a woman who came from a broken home because of some of the baggage that may entail. But, he gave me a chance. He fell in love with ME and accepted my family and all of our quirks. I'll never be able to put into words what that means to me.

6. He works so very hard to provide for our family. This is not a menial thing. Look around you. How many men do you see who allow their wives to support them or only give the minimum requirement to bring home a pay check? My husband works hard for what he brings home. And, it's not only because he's part owner of his place of employment - he worked just as hard when he was employed elsewhere in the first part of our marriage.

7. As a balance to #6 - I love the fact that Eric keeps his work-aholic tendancies in check. He puts forth every effort to leave the farm "back at the barn" - a very hard thing to do when you live on premises. He makes a conscious decision every day to stop in the middle of his projects (which are continuously ongoing) and close up the shop in order to spend time with those of us who love him more than anyone.

8. I love the fact that he can be spontaneously romantic in his own way.

9. I love his knack for judging what is right or wrong and still letting someone know he cares about them.

10. I love his smile. So many people will mention Eric's smile as it just brightens a room. It brightens my day when he smiles at ME. So many couples just stop smiling at one another and that is so very sad.

11. My husband does not abuse my physically, emotionally, or verbally. This may sound odd, but have you ever thanked your husband for not doing these things to you? All you have to do is hear about a friend or relative who has to put up with these things and you will look at your patient husband with a whole new attitude of thanksgiving.

I could go on with so many other reasons why I feel so blessed and I will continue to count my blessings regarding Eric even after I sign off on this post.

Just so you know, I realize that Eric is not perfect. Part of love is accepting those imperfections and focusing more on your spouse's strengths. And, as an interesting side-note, the last time I saw Eric today, I was miffed at him for one of these perceived imperfections (more my problem than his, most likely). Instead of stewing over how insensitive I thought he was, stopping to count all the reasons why I love him, helps that annoyance go away and rejuvinates that "lovin' feeling" once again.

If you are married, I challenge you to list the reasons why you are grateful for your spouse and the things they do (or don't do). No matter if you're madly in love or just mad - see if it makes a difference.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Little Girls & Pants

Another conservative Christian blogger & sister in the Lord recently wrote an interesting post regarding little girls wearing or not wearing skirts. If you would like to read what she had to say, you may click here.

Though I'm not sure I agree with every one of her points, I appreciated her stand and it re-enforced some of my thoughts on this subject. I thought this would be a good opportunity to let my friends know where my husband and I stand on this issue.

We believe the Bible is clear about the woman wearing modest apparel. The Old Testament plainly says that it is an ABOMINATION for a woman to wear that which pertains to a man. Some would say, "Well, we don't live under OT law." That is true, but do we not believe in an unchanging God? He chose the word "abomination" and it seems to me that is one thing He does not change His mind on. The debate comes when people wonder what pertains to a man and what does not. There ARE jeans and pants out there a man would never wear. I'm not getting into that at this time.

My husband and I discussed and looked into this issue when we were expecting our first child. We knew what kind of an example we wanted put before our sons and daughters and I began to wear skirts/dresses exclusively. It was decided our daughters would do the same for as long as they live in our home.

When our first daughter was born, we did NOT dress her in dresses only until after she learned to walk. I know of many baby girls who get around just find crawling in dresses, etc., but, for us, it was no big deal to allow the 12 month old to wear some fleece pants or cotton shorts. Jeans, however, were never an option. Why? Because there are some really cute little girl jeans out there and I knew it would be hard to "give those up" when the time came.

When we sent out invitations to our daughter's first birthday party, we politely included a couple of sentences informing friends and family that she would be no longer wearing pants, but dresses would be appreciated. This eliminated the need to return a gift lovingly chosen by our loved ones thus hurting feelings.

Now, I don't think a little girl (3 or 4 years old) wearing jeans is immodest. Honestly, she has nothing to "show off" at that age. Why don't we allow our little girls to wear pants for a longer period of time? Mainly because it is harder to change a habit the longer you keep that habit. Again - there are a ton of cute pants and outfits out there. It would be very difficult for ME, my friends and family, and for my daughter to give up buying those suddenly when she turns 5, 7, 9, or 13. (BTW - making this change when your daughter is over 10 often brings resentment from her. Be VERY careful in doing this!)

Notice, I'm not going into a huge Bible study on this. I believe the Bible told us to dress a certain way - the more we try to walk the line, the more likely it is that we'll cross it. Staying conservative leaves less room for doubt and more space between yourself and that line.

Just so you know - I do NOT believe that women who wear pants are ungodly. I have often told my children that I believe that there a women more godly than I that do not hold to this standard. My best friend in the whole world doesn't see things the way I do. Do I think she loves the Lord and wants to please Him? Absolutely! There are women who wear dresses exclusively whom I would never go to for godly counsel as most of the rest of their lives are in direct rebellion against God.

Now, what will Eric and I do if our daughter's move out of our home and begin to wear...GASP...pants?! We'll love them and their daughters, and hope to be able to fellowship with them often. We'll accept them with a smile. We WON'T preach to them. I will give them the same respect as I give my friends and family who don't share this conviction. We will only discuss it if they bring it up. If they begin to wear EXTREMELY immodest clothing, we will ask that they not wear those things into our home, but if they are not living a worldly life of fornication, drugs, etc., they will still be welcomed with open arms.

What about you? What are some of your thoughts on this? I'd love to hear them.