Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hard to Beat



On Sunday morning, our pastor preached a powerful message on marriage.  The premise was basically how after 20 years, marriage should be better, not worse.  How is it that every job, every vocation, every other thing in life is supposed to get better with time and experience…except for marriage?  It seems the expectation is for happiness to dwindle as soon as the honeymoon is over.  Looking at the divorce rate, that does seem to be a reasonable expectation.  But, in truth, marriage should get better with time.

I am not going to write a long post repeating my pastor's message.  Nor am I going to use this time to talk about how my husband and I have worked on making our marriage better over the last 20 years -  that may be for another time.  I just wanted to share with you one of the biggest compliments we have ever received on our marriage.

On Sunday evening, my husband and I were talking with our kids about that morning's message.  Eric said that he had watched his parents as he grew up and believed they had a good marriage.  Yet, he wanted an even better marriage than what they had, even though, again, it was good.  He said he believes we, indeed, do have a better marriage than his parents.

Then he said to the kids, "I hope you guys have even better marriages than mom and I have."

To which our 15 year old daughter replied, "That's going to be hard to beat."

She was speaking from her heart, not knowing what a compliment she was giving us.  How blessed I am that our children see a good marriage living out before their eyes!  How grateful I am for God's grace which is the only means by which this marriage exists.   The Evil One would like nothing better than to destroy this picture of Christ and His Church.  It is my continual prayer that his attacks continue to be futile.

Our marriage…hard to beat. Humbled and grateful for that compliment.  And, while I do hope each of our children have even better marriages than their parents, I am glad that it will be a difficult goal to attain.  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Three Necessities of the Busy Life (Guest Post at Network of Silver)



We live in a culture where keeping busy is the rule, the expectation.  Sleep-deprivation is considered a badge of honor.  We list our activities, our occupations, our goings to and fro as some sort of resume of acceptance and worth.  In addition, we use our busy-ness as an excuse in not keeping our relationships alive and well.  "I haven't called e-mailed, texted because I have been so busy."

While our bodies are exhausted and we truly hate feeling that way, there is an expectation among women to stay busy.  There is almost a sense of pride when we mourn our exhaustion to fellow-mothers.  We feel our packed schedules validate us and indicate that we are making some great contribution to society.  Sitting for a while or sleeping is for the lazy.  And we wonder why heart-attacks, fatigue illnesses and such are on the rise….

To read the rest of this post, please join me over at Network of Silver today.  


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions: March 28, 2015

  
This past Sunday, we celebrated our fourth child's 13th birthday.  She decorated 75% of the cake you see her pictured with.  Katrina loves to make things - jewelry, candy, cards, etc.  She draws and she has an interest in learning to decorate cakes, like her grandmother.  Giving her creations to others just to bless them is another favorite past-time of hers and that blesses the hearts of her parents.  Thanking God for this girl and her siblings.


Scripture

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.
I Peter 1:3-4

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27

…my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
Psalm 84:2

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7


Sayings







Suggestions

 I, along with thousands of others, have followed Kara Tippetts the last few months as she travelled on her journey toward Heaven.  She reached her destination this past Sunday…March 22, the same day we celebrated my daughter's birthday.  Kara now rejoices at the feet of Jesus.  She no longer suffers, no longer fears, no longer feels pain.  She is in perfect health and form.  Her faith has been made sight.  Yet, her husband and four children remain here on earth and feel the hole she has left deeply.  Kara taught us much.  She taught us to love big.  To live well.  To die well.  To count each moment precious.
  While it may seem odd that someone would regularly blog about their dying days and thousands would read, Ann Voskamp explains our vigil in perfect words.  



To read Kara's story, if you haven't already, begin scrolling through her posts over at Mundane Faithfulness.  You will find yourself smiling, crying lots, and meditating on powerful truths.  Kara's friends and family will  continue to write at Mundane Faithfulness.  Join me in reading those posts, being challenged, and praying for this family.


Tissues needed.
"I feel like I'm a little girl at a party whose dad is asking her to leave early, and I'm throwing a fit.  I'm not afraid of dying…I just don't want to go."




While I began to read her blog after reading her open letter to Brittany Maynard, I got to really see into Kara's heart about 6 weeks ago as I read her book, The Hardest Peace.  Your life will be changed.


Kara's Memorial Service will be streamed later today.  Her friend Blythe Hunt gives the details.


Good-bye, Kara.  I look forward to meeting you face-to-face one day.  I'll know you by your smile.



(In light of the somber mood this post has taken, I will not make my children's book suggestions today.  Look for those next week.)

I truly did not intend to leave you feeling sad on this wonderful Saturday.  A large part within me wants to just put in some fluff and happiness for you; yet, I have been studying in my Bible this week the necessity of soberness.  I have been learning and meditating on the inheritance God has for those of us who have received Him.  How, through Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, we are redeemed and have hope in a forever home with Him.  This very thought is sobering….yet so very wonderful!  What a cause for rejoicing.  Do you see Kara's smile?  Imagine how much brighter it is in her new Home!  Please, do not be sad.  Death is, indeed, sobering.  Yet, for the believer, what glory it is!!  

Do YOU know for sure that you, like Kara, will go to heaven when your time on this Earth is over?  Have you put your trust in Jesus Christ?  Please, feel free to leave a comment if you are searching for the peace and hope only He can give.

Thinking on heavenly things…until next week.  






Monday, March 23, 2015

CELEBRATE - with fattening food!

Twitter is an amazing source of information.  Useful or otherwise, it is where I get most of my news, happenings, and interesting facts with which to amaze my family.

Ok, well, not amaze exactly.

So, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed today (@teaching7athome) and noticed Carlo's Bakery (of Cake Boss fame) (@CarlosBakery) mention that today was chip -n- dip day!  AND….instead of the same old thing, he was celebrating with cannoli chips and dip!  However, he had the audacity to NOT post the recipe.  Go figure.

This is my kind of day to celebrate.  Yet, I am not sure it is my husband's type of day.  But, you know what?  It doesn't matter!!  No, not because I am an uncaring wife, but because he just so happens to be away overnight and won't be here for supper.

And….it's Monday.  We have a city ministry that results in us eating a later dinner that always is casual and easy to prepare.

And….we happen to have submarine rolls and deli meat on hand.

Meaning….we're having a dinner of sub sandwiches accompanied by two delicious, cheesy dips.

Would you like to join us?  Well, not physically…but, in celebrating the day?  Here are the two dips we will be gorging ourselves feasting on tonight:


Beef enchilada dip.  Meat, onions, garlic, enchilada sauce and CHEESE!  Yes, please.


Hot pizza dip.  Pizza without the crust…just the toppings and CHEESE!  Cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, sauce, parmesan cheese, peppers, pepperoni and black olives.  
I will not be stepping on my scale tomorrow morning.


For the grand finale - the dessert that began it all:


Cannoli dip.  Ricotta, mascarpone, vanilla, cream, powdered sugar and vanilla, all topped with mini-chocolate chips.  It's in my refrigerator right now.  I did taste…I will try not to make a pig of myself!  (We will serve with waffle cone chips, as pictured.)


Oh, and yes.  Pinterest is my main recipe source.  What did I ever do without it?  Oh, that's right….stayed relatively thin.   Those days are numbered.

Happy Chip -n- Dip Day!!  Let me know if you celebrate with your family!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions: March 21, 2015


Last week, I wasn't here on the blog because I had a fabulous 13th birthday party to prepare for and to give.  Tomorrow, our fourth child turns 13.  Yes, four teenagers under one roof, three of them girls.  If you think to pray for us, please feel free! ;)  Seriously, though, whenever we have a group of our children's friends over, I realize once again what a blessing it is that each of them has chosen their friendships well.  Our children have friends who love and care for them and encourage them in their walk with the Lord.  God is good!

Scripture

I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.  I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.
Psalm 77:11-12


Sayings




Suggestions

This past Sunday, I saw a girl intently reading a book after church.  Always looking for a good read and repeating this young lady for her sweet godly spirit, I e-mailed her the next day asking her what she was reading.  She gave me the name of the book and directed me to the author's website.  There, I found an on-line magazine that is so very encouraging.  Check out Set Apart Girl magazine.  There are articles for teens, young adult women, and mothers.


A few years ago, I heard from a friend about an on-line writing course for homeschoolers.  A course that was begun and is run by the daughter of a friend and a homeschool graduate, herself.  I was hesitant to look into it….about 5 years hesitant.  This year, I checked it out and signed my kids up.  
So Verbose has a variety of writing classes for elementary through high school.  Each course is 9 weeks long and $50 (A discount is given if someone you have referred signs up).  Mrs. Grape gives weekly lessons and assignments through e-mail.  She is prompt in correcting the assignments within 24 hours of their due-date.  She gives real grades, wonderful suggestions and is answers any questions.  All of my children have show marked improvement in their grammar and writing skills with her help.  Sign-up is now open for the spring quarter and will be open until April 6th.  Go on over, peruse the site and see if it's a good fit for you.  


Now, for my children's books recommendations:

I must admit, How to Make an Apple Pie and see the world, makes it to my Top-5  favorite children's book list.  This is a wonderful tale of a girl who travels the world to obtain the very best ingredients to with which to make a delicious apple pie to eat with her friends.  We have had such fun learning geography and cultures through reading this book.  And, of course, when you are done, follow the recipe on the back and make an apple pie with your little ones.


Most of the books I am recommending, I never even heard of until my oldest child was 4 or 5 years old.  Shouldn't we all endeavor to make the world around us more beautiful?  That is the challenge in Miss Rumphius.  The tale of a little girl growing into womanhood, traveling the world, and living her retirement at home making the area around her more beautiful is one that endeared this book to my heart the very first time I read it.



I am now going to try to finish reading a book I began weeks ago, on this first relatively-free Saturday I have had in a long time.  Enjoy your Saturday, dear friends.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

36 Years!



Thirty-six years ago today, I asked Jesus Christ to live in my heart.

I spent the morning of my spiritual birthday cleaning the church.  As I was doing so, I realized how blessed I am that I was serving…..I could stop right there.  How blessed I am that God allows me to serve Him in any way!  Though I was a child when He saved me and should have known better, I have wronged my Lord, betrayed Him, neglected Him so many times.   I debated giving up on Him, yet He never gave up on me and He still allows me to serve Him.

But, beyond being able to serve Him, I am blessed to be serving with my 7 saved children, who I am raising with my saved and godly husband.  Along with my children, I served this morning with my mom…the one who raised me in a Christian home and made it possible for me to come to Christ at a young age.

My life hasn't been perfect, but I have been perfectly blessed.  How I praise God for these 36 years as His child.

O taste and see that the Lord is good:  blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 
-Psalm 34:8

I had rather be a doorkeeper (or church-cleaner) in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
-Psalm 84:10

Glory to His name!!!!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Welcome to…My Life!


On Saturday, we had Katrina's birthday party.  She is turning thirteen this coming Sunday.  It really was a lovely party.  Katrina adores sweets of almost every kind, so it was not surprising when she requested an ice cream parlor theme.

Ice cream and fudge sauce flowed freely.  Cones, toppings, whipped cream and cherries abounded.  Our home was filled with sweet, giggling girls playing games and having fun.

Such a party can only happen with a lot of preparation.  And, in my case, a lot of last-minute preparation.  Katrina and I went out for a few hours on Friday afternoon (after a morning of ice-skating) to gather our supplies.  After watching the entire three hours of Fiddler on the Roof with my children that evening, I stayed up into the wee hours of Saturday morning making up Bingo cards that fit our theme and began some of the decorating.  As I wanted to make a candy bouquet I found on Pinterest (is that site a blessing or a curse??), I got up early Saturday morning to drive to the closest store that actually sells green twist candy - which is 45 minutes away.  I seriously drove an hour and a half round-trip for a total of 3 minutes in that store!  But, I got the candy.


I came home, finished the Bingo game-making, then began helping with the finishing touches of decorating.  It was 30-minutes before the party was to begin and one of my daughters was cleaning the bathroom.  She had asked her little brother to help.  As little brothers are prone to do, he was being silly and foolish, but not very helpful.  She scolded him, but he wasn't listening.  Up until then, I had been doing pretty well in not getting stressed, though there was much to do and I was pretty tired already. But, I knew the 7 year old was not listening and we were in crunch time.

"ZANE!" I yelled.

Yes…I yelled.

Right then, my other son mentioned that the first of our guests had driven in.  Figuring I had a minute while they parked their van, I continued my admonishment to my youngest.  I continued it in the tone in which I had started - yelling.  My back was turned to the door behind me and I did not know that my friend's husband had driven the girls and had kindly dropped them off at my door…where everything could be heard.  When I finished my…um...admonishment, I turned around to see my friend's face in the window of my door with her girls behind her.  All were laughing.

At that point, there is no going back.  There's no explanation, no excuses to give.  She caught me red-handed.  I was in the flesh.  I messed up.  The only way out of this hole was admitting those obvious truths.

The good thing?  This is a a friend who has always been very real with me.  This is a friend who has told me of her struggles in this area.  This is a friend whom I have attempted to comfort in admitting that I struggle, too.  She got to witness my struggle first-hand.  She now knows for certain I wasn't lying.  She and her daughters have proof that I am a low-down sinner.  And they still love me.

Do I feel bad?  yes.  But, I am glad that my Father forgives me and has given me children and dear friends who forgive me, as well.  I have recently begun to pray for humility.  Funny how some prayers get answered so much quicker than others.

Loss of sleep…check.
Drive hither and yon…check.
Yell at kids…check.
Learn lesson…check.
Have a great party…check.

Welcome to…my (very real) life!