Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Things I'm Learning

No matter how tempting it is to leave a pot soaking in the sink at night, there hasn't been one morning that I'm glad I made that decision - not ever. In fact, I get quite irritable when I do! It feels FABULOUS though when I take the time to put in some elbow grease the night before, scrub that stubborn pot, and wake up to a lovely, clean kitchen!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Proverbs 31 for Me

There are probably two types of woman when it comes to the passage of Proverbs 31:10-31 - those who avoid it like the plague, or those who read it over and over, trying to be her. I used to be in the first group, throwing up my hands thinking she was impossible, but now I'm in the latter. I read this chapter almost monthly, and meditate on it for a week at a time. This morning as I had my quiet time with God, I decided to break this chapter apart verse by verse and listen to how the Lord would have me apply this to my life. The actual verses are in green, and my words are in black. Here goes:

10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. 11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. My husband has complete trust in me. I will not harm his reputation, credit score or health, but all I do will bring him good.

13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. I will go about my day with eagerness and make careful choices.

14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. 15 She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. I will seek the best deal and plan ahead as I feed my family. I will get up before them so I can prepare and plan. My family will not wonder what is for breakfast/lunch/dinner, as I will provide it lovingly for them.

16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. I will not make hasty decisions, but will consider carefully before purchasing anything. Any money I make or am given will be used carefully to benefit my family.

17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. I will go about my work diligently and my body will be strong and in good health so I will be able to keep up with my work.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. I will not go in debt, but bring a profit to my family. I will not run out of anything because I will be prepared.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. My hands will be busy at work.

20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. I will look for those in need and who are poor and be charitable to them.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. I will provide clothing for my family, and in times of cold weather, the clothing I provide will keep them warm.

22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. I will make my home and myself lovely.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. My husband is respected because I will not talk negatively about him to my friends, mother, father, sister, brother or anyone. My words will only build him up.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. I will work with my hands to help bring income to my family.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. I will build my character so I am a strong woman, who can be trusted. I will not worry about what tomorrow will bring.

26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. I will be wise and read the Word so I can give instruction that is true at a moment's notice.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. I will constantly be monitoring every need of my family whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual. I will not give in to my desire to sit down and do nothing when my family has needs to be met.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. 29 Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. My children and husband will praise me, thinking that of all the women in the world, to them I am the best.

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. I will fear the Lord, honoring and obeying the commands of His Word. I will give importance to this above my beauty and personality.

31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Any praise I receive from people will be because of my integrity and hard work.

This passage wasn't included in Scripture to intimidate us or send us running. Rather I believe it was given as a guideline for a Christian woman. Situations are different for all women, some are single, some have ten children, others have none. Some have babies, some have teens, and others have raised their children. Whatever area of your life you find yourself in today, I encourage you to take some time with a piece of paper and your favorite pen, and get quiet with the Lord and have Him show you how these verses can apply to your life.



Monday, June 18, 2007

Do Not Be Afraid

Fear can paralyze us and stop us from making decisions. Fear can hinder us from living the life God has planned for us. Thinking back on my life, I can think of many instances where fear has had its grip on me: I was afraid to make a decision about which college to attend, not knowing for sure what "God's will was for me." I was afraid to make friends when I made my first move from home, thinking others wouldn't like me once they got to know me. I was afraid to ever let my first son cry, thinking I was doing him irreparable harm. I was afraid to have others over for dinner, thinking they wouldn't like my house or my cooking. I was afraid when my husband said he wanted a new job and wanted to move. I was afraid to start getting up at 5 a.m. thinking I would be too tired during the day. These are just the things that came to the top of my mind as I sit here and write today. Fear can rule my day if I let it. I'm also what some would classify as a worry-wort. For me, fear and worry go hand in hand, and its hard to distinguish one from the other.

As I look back on my walk with God, I can see where God has answered my prayers and helped me greatly in this area. For one, instead of constantly worrying about whether or not I'm in "God's perfect will," I measure my decisions against the Bible. Of course I want to be in God's will, but rather than waiting for the answers to drop from the sky, I proceed forward with confidence, knowing that God will answer my prayers for closed doors. If I am constantly praying for answers, God will keep bringing me to His path, even if my foolishness and sin bring me on detours along the way. Now I don't think as a Christian we should ever sin intentionally, and so if we are looking to do something that is obviously a sin, the answer is clear that we should not proceed.

When I surrender to God on a daily basis, there is freedom. The fear and worry are gone, and I can live in peace. Some days its hard. I must surrender my fear and worry and frustrations on a moment by moment basis. But God will always be there to help me, and He will never leave me to struggle on my own. A verse that I have committed to memory to help me during the times that I feel like God has abandoned me and left me to fear and worry on my own is Hebrews 13:5,6

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid, What can man do to me?"

Many times my fear and worry come from thinking I or my family need something, or that money is tight, or that others will think bad of me. See for yourself that the Bible has answers to all of these worries in the verses above.

I hope this encourages you to go to God daily and ask for His help. The Bible says "The Lord is [your] Helper, [so you do not need to] be afraid." This is my prayer everyday and I hope it becomes your prayer too.



Monday, June 11, 2007

Simple Life

For most of my adult life, especially since I've become a mother, I look for any and every way to simplify my life. I don't mean in a make-my-life-easier-because-I-hate-to-work way, but in a get-back-to-the-simpler-life kind of way. For example, for the first few years of marriage, I went crazy buying so many appliances or knick-knacks for my kitchen, when they all did essentially the same thing (you know what I'm talking about)! I also did this for my first child - I HAD to have the latest this or that to be a perfect mommy, when again, they did essentially the same thing. I don't have the memory (in my mind, not computer:) ) to go back and think of all I've done to change to a simpler life-style, but I thought I'd start jotting down from here on (because I admit I still have a long way to go!).

In an attempt to simplify cleaning my home, I basically use vinegar and bleach, rather than a kitchen cleaner, and a bathroom cleaner, and a....(they're all the same - amazing what marketing can do!). I still have a few that I'm using up, but I am not replacing the cleaners as they go.

Recently, I've come across castile soap, do your own search via the web for all sorts of sites where you can buy, and even make, your own. I'm using Dr. Bronner's at the moment. According to the bottle, you can use this stuff for EVERYTHING, cleaning home, or body. I'm using the peppermint kind, and I love the smell! I've been using it for my whole body, including my face. The blemishes on my face are gone, and for me I've never found any product that has completely done this! I have a dispenser on my kitchen sink, and every night after my dishes are done, I wash my hands, and the sink, and enjoy the smell and the feeling of the simplicity of this. I plan on trying it to mop my kitchen floor this week as well.



You've Gotta Try This!

I was very afraid at first, but am no longer after seeing the huge benefits! What is this that I'm going to encourage you to try? No, its not the latest gadget that will make your life easier, nor is it the latest delicious, quick and healthy recipe. Nope, what I've been doing that has been so great is plain, old fashioned WALKING. Yes, I've been joining my neighbor at 5 AM - yes that's right, 5 AM - and going for a just under 2 mile walk. It has been amazing. I'll admit that generally I would get up when the first child would wake up and basically feel like I was playing catch-up all day long. By the time I drank my lukewarm coffee, my 3rd child would be up and I'd wonder, okay, now how am I supposed to shower? Baby in pack-n-play, kids in front of a video. How irritating, this is not how I want my days to be - and the irritation would show in my attitude many days.

So I finally realized I need to take some control here (with the help of my Lord!), and make this work. Now my weekdays have been looking like this:

4:45 a.m. alarm goes off; get up throw on work-out clothes that were laid out the night before
5:00 a.m. meet neighbor at end of our driveway and WALK
5:30-ish a.m. get back and shower and dress (and actually blow-dry my hair and put on makeup!)
6:00 a.m. start coffee and unload dishwasher
6:15 a.m. read a verse from the Bible and pray (while quietly enjoying my HOT coffee!)
6:30 a.m. look at my watch and realize that I don't usually get up until 7 a.m. and marvel at what I've accomplished!

I am enjoying this and think I will continue to enjoy it (until maybe that first drizzly morning - yes, my neighbor and I agreed that even on those mornings we'll walk!)



Monday, June 4, 2007

God is Amazing!

Yesterday in church, our pastor spoke on the state of the church. In conclusion, he said the state of the church is the state of me. He asked us to look deep in our heart to examine it, and asked us to think about what God wants us to commit to.

Over the last year, I've been deeply convicted that my role as a wife is to be supportive and silent. With my type of personality, I can be very forceful, and my poor husband has received the brunt of this much over the years. The Lord has indeed been at work in my life. I used to say things to my husband like, "I would really like you to lead our family in devotions," or "the Bible says that as the husband, you should....." I learned what a turn off this was, and that I was in a sense, trying to be the Holy Spirit for him. Over 7 1/2 years of marriage, I have learned THIS DOES NOT WORK! So over the last 6 months, I've tried to keep quiet (not always succeeding), and pray for my husband that He would hear the Lord AND NOT ME.

So what do these two paragraphs have to do with each other? Yesterday after our pastor challenged us to examine our life, I silently prayed then that God would speak to my husband's heart, and that whatever commitment God wants from us, that the leading would come through my husband and that I would follow him. I never told my husband about that prayer, again, I'm convicted to keep silent. This morning, my husband called from work and said that he wants us to really find out what God wants us to commit to. My heart leaped for joy. By my keeping silent and not nagging my husband the whole way home from church about what he thinks God wants us to commit to, etc., etc., etc. my husband was able to hear the Holy Spirit rather than "the constant dripping of a quarrelsome wife." (Proverbs 27:15)

God is amazing!



Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
To stay at home is best.

Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
To stay at home is best.

Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O'er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
To stay at home is best.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow