Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
Here is another book plug! "10 Choices" written by James MacDonald is a fantastic book. In it he has 10 choices that you can make to change your life for the better.
There are many different ways you can read the book. You can read it cover to cover or read the most applicable chapters to you first and go in priority order for your life stage. My friend and I are reading this as a replacement for "A Call to Die". We have chosen to read the most applicable chapters and work in order of priority. We will read each and every chapter, but we just are working on our weakest or most important areas first.
We started with Chapter 7 "I Choose to Love My Family First". At first glance, I thought to myself that it would be a breeze for me. Of course I love my family, who doesn't. Well as usual God had a plan for me that I was not aware of! You go God! I needed a gut punch and as always, you are there to provide my every need. Thank you for opening my eyes again to your word.
So, this chapter speaks all about priorities and the choices we make due to our priorities. To paraphrase MacDonald, wrong choices flow from wrong priorities. He says that you need to love your family above all else and that family should be your top priority (obviously this is after you have put Christ as the Head of your household!). This should be a no-brainer right? Read on please...
Our Monday night small group has been watching a DVD on Legacy by Voddie Baucham . Wouldn't you know...it is all about making your home and family your first priority. By doing so you are leaving a legacy of believers from generation to generation. What you put into your family is what you leave as a legacy that spans all generations to come.
What a coincidence right! It's a good thing that I already have this down pat! I think my family is great! I love them more than I love anyone else. Of course they are my top priority. No need to pay attention...and then...wait for it...God happens to tap me on the heart (or cause a huge chest pain in my case). It takes a lot to get my attention and he has it!
After each chapter in our book there is a list of questions. Question one goes something like this: What other priorities in your life are demanding first place treatment? Out of the blue, after having such confidence in where I stand in these matters, I was able to rattle off 6 separate things that I put in front of my family on a regular basis. Do I love these things more than my family? Of course not. Do I treat my family as if they are more important that these things? Not usually.
Every time I choose to check my e-mail after putting the baby to bed. I am telling my husband that the time we have alone together can wait until I handle this very important task. Every time I place my daughter in her jumper to have a conversation on the phone, I am telling her that conversation is more important than spending time with her. Every time I choose to do something without consulting my husband, I am telling him that item is more important to me and I don't need his input. Am I showing my family that I choose to follow Christ by reading my bible in front of and to my daughter? Will she grow up to know that her mother is a God fearing woman and what that means? This is a lot to wrestle with and I am grateful to be able to wrestle with it now instead of when my daughter is 16 and I wonder where we went wrong in raising her.
I pray, now that God has clearly spoken to me and convicted me, I can put an action plan together to give my family the proper placement on my list of priorities. It should look like this: God - Husband - Child - everything else. Right now I am far from that and only with God's intervention can I change.
I hope that those of you that read this will look at your own list of priorities and make a change for the better before your family loses faith in you and their trust in you. As Rocky said to the Russians at the end of Rocky IV "I guess what I'm trying to say is, if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change".
Thursday, December 4, 2008
So, I just reread my book for our Proverbs study and feel pretty inadequate right now. The feeling of inadequacy made my thoughts turn ugly against myself. I started to realize that my self-loathing was not what was needed or what the Lord wants for me. I decided that I will be dead to that way of thinking and think of good and pure things instead. In all of the good, the bad, and the ugly conversations I have been having with myself in the past 2 hours, I have decided that I need to just give thanks to God for all I have. So here it goes:
I am thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ (he paid the ultimate price and I will never be the same), my wonderful and hard-working husband (you do so much and sacrifice everything for our family without grumbling), my beautiful daughter (I have waited so long for you and you are worth every tear of impatience!), my best friend (where would I be without you), my sister (I love you more than you'll ever know), my mom (thank you for never giving up on me) , my family in general, my fabulous in-laws (you love me unconditionally), my wonderful friends new and old (you lift me up and bring me joy), my health (it could be worse), my freedom to worship (I am so blessed), and everything and everyone I have neglected to mention.
I am so blessed in so many ways and yet I get all caught up in the little inadequacies of my life. I need to be content and at peace with myself so that I can go humbly before the Lord and worship with a pure heart.
Lord, I have not forgotten you or all you have done for me. Things seem a bit crazy right now, but I know you are working in me for the better. I will just need to be more patient and search your will. My ears and heart are opened now. When you speak, I will listen. I will be obedient to whatever you have in store. I will praise you in all seasons of my life.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
"She puts her hands to the distaff,and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy." Proverbs 31:19-20
Well, it has been a while since I have written on my blog...why you ask??? Just look at the title of this posting and those of you who know me best understand. I am described as many things by my family and friends. Unselfish has never been a term used in the same sentence as my name. That is actually a hard pill to swallow for me. I am able to overcome many things that are wrong with my character. This is the hardest.
After reading the above verse, I thought to myself "I am not that bad. I always try to help those in need". I believe that this is a deeper calling than donating clothing to Goodwill or food to the food bank. I think that this really points to giving up something that is of value for some cause greater than yourself. It is bigger than a 50 cent can of ravioli or a tattered shirt. It is giving of my time (which is precious), giving away my good clothes, having someone over for a dinner, listening to problems of others without complaint, and using my "free time" for spiritual growth.
I often find myself complaining when I am needed by someone for a task that is not of my liking. I don't want to do laundry, I want to read a book instead. This principle is calling me to do for others and not for myself.
I need to put away my pride and put my own interests aside. I need to learn to give when I am asked and also when I am not asked. I need to share my time with others without complaint. I really am a great listener and I love to help people with their problems. I need to put those strengths to work and listen to God's commands to help those in need selflessly.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I have been researching other books for us to continue the journey. I have yet to find one that is as deep and challenging. This book was a great mix of scripture, life application, motivation, and spiritual cultivation. I truly think that it is due to the intensity of the book that I have been spurred forward to strive to become what God has planned for me. Now I need His power in me to continue on the right path.
Please pray for me that I don't become complacent again, that I go forward in my faith, and that I continue to seek God's will through scripture.
This characteristic is my favorite one because I love to be thrifty! You can be thrifty on a low or high income; the bottom line is saving your hard earned money. Any way that you refrain from wasting time, money, or any other of your valuable resources is a form of being economical.
On one hand I am very good at saving money on purchases, using coupons, and finding things at the lowest possible prices. On the other, one can say that much of my valuable time is wasted in doing the previously mentioned items. I think there needs to be balance.
My husband commented a few weeks ago that even though the 1,000 (exaggerating) coupons would save us on our food bill, was all of the time and effort it took to gather them, cut them, make my lists for all of the various stores worth the savings? After throwing a hissy fit about how I was "just trying to help our budget" (those who know me well know what my hissy fits look like), I took a step back and looked at everything I was doing to save money. I then made the decision I needed to limit the time it took me to prepare to shop. Now, I go to 2 websites http://www.couponmom.com/ and http://www.coupons.com/ each week. I view what is for sale at my local grocery store on the coupon mom's website and then clip any necessary coupons from the Sunday paper that is delivered weekly. I then clip coupons from coupons.com and make my list. I got a great shopping list from a friend's website http://myblessedhome.googlepages.com/keepingmomontask I stick it on my refrigerator and add items to the list as I run out of things. I then take the list and see what is on sale at my local grocery store at coupon mom's website. I write a brand name next to sale items so I do not have to spend time searching the aisles while at the store. If the coupon mom's website says there is a coupon for my item, I clip the coupon and put a star next to the item on the list. All I need when I go shopping is my list, the clipped coupons, and my calculator (no one should shop without a calculator!) and I am good to go.
As upset as I get when I am given suggestions by my husband, I am usually grateful in the end. (Here you go, dearest husband, it is here in writing for you to use for future reference!)
Here are a few more ways I am economical:
- Always get prescriptions filled at places that offer gift cards, money off, etc. You can move your prescription from place to place and always get great deals. There is always an offer out there each week. Take advantage of the free money.
- When shopping online, go through a website that offers incentives such as http://www.upromise.com/ (college savings), http://www.mypoints.com/ (gift cards for points), or http://www.fuelperksmall.com/ (10 cents of per gallon of gas at Getgo for every $50 spent).
- Get gift cards at your grocery store to place that you will be shopping or dining each week. You can earn fuel perks for spending money you will already be spending anyways!
- When shopping online never pay full price!! Go to sites such as http://www.retailmenot.com/ to get codes to lower your bill. You can also just search on the item using a Google search to see comparisons in pricing for any specific item.
- When there is an item I just "have to have", I add it to my online wish list. When I get enough money, I buy it. Usually by the time I get the money I no long want/need the item as badly as I thought I did. The website I use for my family's wish list is http://www.thethingsiwant.com/.
Realize that is is good to be economical, but not through cheating, lying, or stealing. God hates false gain. (Proverbs 1:19) I will explain what I mean by this by giving a real life example:
After having my baby, many companies sent me formula checks. I was breastfeeding and had no use for them. I either gave them away or sold them on EBay regularly. One time while placing them in an envelope to give to a friend, I read the words "Void if transferred or sold". I pondered this for a while and then thought to myself "who on earth would know what I did with these coupons, there are people out there who could use them!". After much contemplation, I decided that I was basically cheating the system for self gain. I no longer sell my formula checks. I am not condemning anyone who does this, it is not my place. I am just saying I was convicted of this verse and needed to go with what God placed on my heart.
I will end this rambling session with some more wise words from Lisa Tatlock and Pat Ennis:
"Evidence that wealth is not the source of her contentment is found in her model of humility patterned after her Lord (Philippians 2:8; 1 Peter 5:5). She does not trust in her wealth for security (Psalm 20:7; Proverbs 11:28), and is a gracious (v. 16) generous woman (31:18)."
Friday, November 14, 2008
When it came to this part of the book, I wanted to just skip over it! Anyone who knows me knows that this is not something even on my radar when it comes to personal characteristics I strive to maintain. After clenching my teeth and finally reading on, I realized it doesn't just mean becoming an aerobic bunny. It means more than that. It means to be healthy and in good physical condition in order to care for your family. (Thank goodness because my aerobic bunny costume would never fit me now!)
Here are some notes that Pat Ennis wrote about the subject:
- She has a realistic attitude toward her personal capabilities: Just because she can perform a skill does not mean that she should.
- She acknowledges that her body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (Corinthians 6:19): the Holy Spirit will not empower a spiritually dirty vessel.
- She realizes that she must be healthy to perform her duties efficiently: freedom from all habits that would injure her physically, mentally, or spiritually (Romans 12:1-2)
- She understands the importance of recreation to maintain a healthy body: need for rest and privacy from demanding ministry.
- She accepts the fact that sometimes others can, she cannot: each woman is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
- She has clear perspective regarding her body cycling and wisely accommodates its ebb and flow: she balances the care of her home with the care for her body to avoid becoming frazzled.
She gives a great guideline to what it means to be physically fit. From what I read, I believe it is requiring us to be more in tune with our limitations and abilities. If you keep you body healthy, you abilities are greater than those who choose to be idle. Keeping healthy also gives you the strength you need to meet the demands of your family and household.
I have also read in various books that doing your regular household chores (sweeping, dusting, childcare, etc.) is equivalent to spending hours at the gym. I guess this means I need to stop typing now and get cleaning!
Catch you later!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
How could it possibly be 3 years already? In some ways it is as fresh as if it were yesterday, in others it seems like a lifetime since I last saw his wry grin on his face and heard his teasing quips.
A lot has happened in 3 years in our family and the world in general. We have added 5 great-grandchildren to his brood (if I have missed one or two, please forgive me). His last living sibling has passed away. Aunt Jane has moved out of Concordia. We have elected a new president (I can see him yelling at the TV now about how liberal the media has been, how the democrats are ruining society, etc). The economy has soured. We are losing ground as the number 1 nation in the world.
All I have to say is that if Grandad were still with us, he would have a solution to fix the economy, deal with our immoral society, and make this country better than before. You better believe he would be willing to tell you all about it for hours too. We could use that kind of leadership right now. He was a strong Christian man and his beliefs never wavered to go along with society or the latest trends.
I know I will see him again someday and I can't wait to hear whether or not he has approved of how I've lived my life, raised my family, and if the food in heaven is better than just "okay".
Thank you grandad for giving me strong male role model to look up to. You will never be forgotten and will always be my hero. I miss you terribly, but there is no need to mourn you since you are now healed and unbroken. Praise the Lord!
I love you and will see you again.
I will leave you with one of Ollie's favorite songs.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
My friend has led me to a phenomenal blog (if you have a lot of time and a lot of tissues I recommend reading the entire thing). One of the writer's latest posts was about praying over and for our children throughout the day. She gave permission to freely share the prayers with everyone. Please click the above link and start praying diligently over, with, and for your children. What a way to clothe them in God's love each day. Thanks BFF for the information!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Part of each chapter is scripture memorization. This is something that I struggle with greatly. I have for my entire life as a Christian. Tonight my husband (who is also reading this book with his accountability partner) rattled off all of the scripture verses that we were supposed to have memorized. I am only able to remember 2 of them and one is John 3:16 so that doesn't actually count since there are many 3 year-olds out there that can recite it. I am really feeling beaten by this. I need some motivation and urging by the Holy Spirit to complete this before I finish the book (only 3 more chapters after this week!).
I can honestly say that I do not remember anything ever, however, I can also honestly say that I have not tried very hard either. Please pray for me as I try to memorize and marinate in these verses. I don't just want to say I have memorized them, I also want to be able to say that I have applied them.
For anyone else that struggles with this, I am ending this post with David Nasser's guide to memorizing scripture.
Today our pastor gave an excellent sermon on women and how they are to prepare themselves for church. It pertains to women who have publicly said they are Christians. This passage explains how women prepare themselves and how they dress. He explained that what women wear to church should not bring shame upon themselves, Christ, or the church.
What does that mean exactly?
Think of these questions the next time you are "getting ready for church":
Am I trying to draw attention to myself?
Do I hope to receive compliments on my attire?
Am I trying to look like or be like someone else?
Does my outward appearance reflect my inward intentions or convictions?
Use these as a filter. If you feel like something may be inappropriate or you just have second thoughts about what you are wearing, change. It is always better to be cautious. You also need to remember that what you are wearing may be causing others to lust and have sinful thoughts. If this is the case you are causing others to stumble in their walk with the Lord and you are sinning.
It is not wrong to want to look nice and be presentable. Being purposely unkempt is another way of drawing attention to yourself and away from God. Your works should be what others be focused on, not your looks. There are many ways to show your uniqueness without drawing attention to your appearance. Your looks should be a reflection of your attitude towards Christ. You should be seeking his acceptance and not acceptance from others.
Marks of a Godly Woman (from our pastor's notes):
- She is modest. Will bring no shame to God or herself or her church.
- She is self-controlled. She has her impulses or desires under control. She may want to dress for all the wrong reasons but she won't in order to not bring shame to herself or God.
- She knows what is proper. She represents the Christian Life. *As Paul said, she considers everything rubbish compared to knowing Christ. (Her perspective on material things)
- She is defined by her good works. This means actions that reflect her life in Christ.
I have not brought justice to our pastor's sermon, but I am just giving an opinion here as always.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Uber (synonym to Super) Amazing Blog Award is a blog award given to sites who:~ inspires you~ makes you smile and laugh~ or maybe gives amazing information~ a great read~ has an amazing design~ and any other reasons you can think of that makes them uber amazing!
The rules of this award are:
* Put the logo on your blog or post.
Friday, November 7, 2008
This is yet another quality that I wish I could say I excel...not the case at all. This is a trait that is shown through managing a household willingly and with great efficiency. One thing I am not is efficient. I am always asking my husband how I can do things in a more efficient manner and he is always helping me in this area.
Pat Ennis states that "Being energetic suggests strength or power efficiently exerted.". I can honestly say I do have strengths and I am somewhat efficient some areas. They all tend to be in things that I enjoy and keeping house is not one of them. I am really organized when it comes to my daughter's clothes and schedule, however, when it comes to our laundry, meals, cleaning, etc. I am not as efficient.
How do you become efficient even though you loathe what you are doing? I guess it all comes back to having a servant's heart. Knowing that it would please my husband more than anything if he could have a clean house without asking, I should do it out of respect for him. I need to channel the energy I have when it comes to my daughter and shopping into the thing I like the least.
Maybe a good compromise would be that I do what I like the least before I allow myself to do the things I enjoy. It would seem like I am getting a treat for all of my hard work. I have tried hard this week to be energetic at home. I will ask my husband if he noticed. If he didn't, then I guess I have a lot more to work on. I am blessed that he has been so patient with me, but I can't take advantage of that either because it is not fair to him.
I have used this mantra this week when I found myself not doing what I should:
"Be a worker not a shirker." - Pat Ennis
(I really wish I could meet the authors of this book!!)
The passage goes on to say that how you handle prosperity demonstrates your integrity. An abundance tends to reveal ones value system. This is quite true I believe. The more wealth you have the harder it is to keep your integrity. Just take a look at all of the CEOs at the top of their game, athletes, rock stars, and Hollywood elite. It seems that the more they have the more they fall away from their morality. (This is just an opinion. I am not saying that all rich people are bad).
I believe that trustworthiness begins when you trust God to provide for your needs. You open yourself to be vulnerable to Him, and then your response will be to help others in their vulnerabilities. You talk to God about all of your problems and secrets and you trust Him to get you through. He is faithful to you and gives you the strength to be that rock for others.
When you are trustworthy, you are able to retain confidences of others. People feel free to come to you for advice and know that you will not go speaking to everyone else about it.
Another thing that Pat Ennis say in her book is that if you are married your husband's response to your character is trust. If unmarried, trustworthiness is the evaluation of those closest to you.
This is something that I struggle with very greatly. It is a running joke in our family that if I have a secret I can only keep it for less than 24 hours. This pertains mostly to gifts or good things that will happen to a person (I want them to know so badly!). This also pertains to playing board games and cards games. I have been known to cheat at games in the past. I have learned to start things off honestly and tell people that I can never be banker, dealer, scorekeeper, etc. I am turning the corner with this area, however, many people have been able to trust me with their problems and I have shown to them that I am worthy of that trust. I am still working on the board games, but I am sure this will come along in time as well.
Do people trust you? Do they share their problems with you? If so, you are on the right path to being trustworthy. Please take those confidences very seriously.
"When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent." Proverbs 10:19
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Virtuous~moral excellence, right actions, and thinking that is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, possessing virtue, and praiseworthy.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."~Philippians 4:8-9
This means not just speaking things with a pure heart and motives, but thinking this way as well. It just dawned on me that the few time I succeed at holding my real thoughts in and speak truth instead, I am actually still thinking things that are not honorable or lovely in any way. I am being a hypocrite with my own morally reprehensible thoughts. WOW! That is a huge pill to swallow. I guess we all have to start somewhere. If God could change the heart of Saul I am sure He can work in me as well.
Not only are my thoughts and actions to be pure and lovely, but my husband will have shame brought on him if they aren't.
"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones." ~Proverbs 12:4
Am I a crown or worthy of shame? When my motives and thoughts lack virtue I am worthy of shame and not reflecting an image of God. I do not want to cause my husband to be disrespected due to my lack of virtue. The thought of being rottenness in his bones is enough to make me think twice before doing, saying, and speaking things that are impure.
This day brings a new challenge of being virtuous in action and thought. May God bless me with a pure heart as I work to glorify His name.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Each one of us in the group is in a different life stage and comes from a different background. This dynamic leads to wonderful insight and many different perspectives. It makes me realize how blessed I truly am to have a group of women to study with and have an open and honest conversation. I truly enjoy each and everyone of them!
It was my first time to lead a discussion and study. I was not nervous like I had thought I would be (and I did not throw up, always a plus). I went to Panera at 6:30AM to prepare my heart which helped greatly. I never realized how much insight you could gain with a few hours of alone time with just a book, pen, bible, journal and a million cups of coffee!
When I get time, I will post what we have learned and a bit of an action plan. I need to sit and digest it all first and prayerfully consider my words.
Friday, October 31, 2008
This is the passage I am studying right now in one of my Bible study groups. The book "Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God" is based solely on the biblical principles in the Proverbs 31:10-31 passage. I have read the book before. My husband bought it for me when we were first married and I was mortified that he would want me to change. Was I not perfect enough for him already?! Then, I actually read the book (note to self: husband is not always out to get you he just tries so hard to do the right thing...give him credit). What wonderful content and structure! This has everything you need to know about being a God fearing and God loving woman! I plan to post more as I read and re-learn these principles. Applying them to my life...now we shall see how many times I fall on my face before I get it right...I will keep you posted.
This time here on earth is a vapor. You can choose to get caught up in the awful things in this life, but in a blink of an eye it will all be gone and the time spent will have been wasted OR for God's glory. You choose.