Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Living Frugally

Woman Placing Her Wash
I am an observer. As a child, if an older girl put her chapstick on a certain way, I would try to copy that (silly I know). That was a pretty simple thing, but I also would observe others, taking mental notes on how to run a home and family efficiently, and I would dream about how I wanted to run my home some day too. As an adult, I've continued this habit. Unfortunately, my flesh has won some battles, but my prayer is that it would not win the war.


In my observation, I have witnessed that people who are comfortable financially, people who are not ensnared by debt, have a secret.....they are very frugal! More frugal than many middle class or lower are willing to be.


Its ironic, how the middle class seems to be in the most debt, and also the group that think they deserve the most (again, from my observations). They deserve to have a nice house, they deserve to rest, they deserve to....and so they will do whatever it takes to have it, and most times rather than wait, they pull out the credit card, and go deeper in debt.


Amy Dacyczyn, the author of "Tightwad Gazette" says it best:


"I have been a closet amateur budget analyst for many years. People have told me about the shortage of income that leads them to their troubles. Because my opinion was not asked for I didn't point out the Froot Loops in the cupboards, the Pampers in the bathroom, and the cable TV.


"Even more responsible families on modest incomes nearly always have areas in which they could economize. They could give up red meat in favor of dried beans or whole milk in favor of mixed.


"My standing as a "professional budget analyst" enjoys a briefer history. Recently I have talked or corresponded with people in the most desperate circumstances -- those who have declared bankruptcy, received public assistance, or lived on the smallest of incomes. Without exception I was able to identify areas where they could save. The savings might not be enough to cure the financial shortfall, but rarely do they do everything possible.


"Those who were honest admitted that I was right. If it were a matter of life and death they could resort to "desperate measures" such as eating oatmeal or changing a cloth diaper. But in truth they felt comfortable living on the financial edge.


"I have not scrutinized every budget on the planet Earth, and I know rare individuals exist who live on the edge while making every frugal choice possible. However, I have not seen it.


"The majority of the desperate hesitate to make the choices that our family has done routinely for years.


"In the same way that the late guy still arrives late with the gift hour due to the return standard time [before this section of her book, she talks about how people become accustomed to an acceptable (to them) time to arrive - 20 minutes late, on time, or habitually early. She says even with daylight savings, when clocks turn back an hour, they adjust their mental clocks, and instead of being 40 minutes early (as you'd think someone would be who is habitually 20 minutes late!), they continue to be 20 minutes late....that will help understand what Amy says next], many of those living on the edge [living with only a few dollars from paycheck to paycheck] or out on the gangplank [living beyond their means, and continually taking chances by going further into debt] fail to benefit by increased income. They might have more stuff or more fun, but they instinctively maintain the same distance to the edge regardless.


"If they cannot pay a bill because "the transmission gave out," truthfully the problem is not mechanical at all. Rather the fault can be found with all the extras that they were not willing to give up in order to have the needed cushion.


"For most of us our relationship to the financial edge comes down to a matter of choice. The choice may be the decisions we make today, or we may be living with choices we have made in the past. While the past choices cannot be changed, remarkably the ones we make today become tomorrow's past choices [that last sentence is a breath of fresh air for me :) ]


We can make choices that allow us to take a giant step back from the financial edge and set up a cushion. A sustained effort to scale back will result in savings for more than just a cushion. WE can save for long-term goals and increased financial independence."


This book is going to be so helpful for us and I'm so thankful someone recommended it to me.


~~~~~~~~~~~


Proverbs 1:5


A wise man will hear, and will increase learning;

and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels


~~~~~~~~~~~


Proverbs 11:14


Where no counsel is, the people fall:

but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety


~~~~~~~~~~~


Proverbs 12:15


The way of a fool is right in his own eyes:

but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.


~~~~~~~~~~~


Proverbs 19:20


Hear counsel, and receive instruction,

that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.


~~~~~~~~~~~


One of the wisest bits of parenting advice I ever received was to be obedient to God if I expect my children to be obedient to me. I had such a rough year surrendering to God, as I realized, I was demanding my children be obedient to me, yet I was terribly rebellious in my own heart and not obedient to God in several areas.


As you see from the above, God is pretty clear that a wise man or woman listens to counsel. However, I bet most, if honest, would have to admit that they are pretty set in their own ways.


But what if your own ways aren't working? I can say, because of bad decisions, and honestly, laziness, on my part, our ways have not been working for us.


That is when I think it is important to be humble enough, ultimately, wise enough, to seek counsel, which is what I have been doing for some time now.


Going back to my observations (I'm kind of jumping around here today, but hopefully in the end, it will all come together!), people who are financially secure and have savings for a rainy day, do not go out to eat often. They pack lunches and snacks and going out to eat is a special treat, as it should be. We've kept our check book online for as long as we've been married. If I were to give you a glimpse into our register, you would see that we've spent many, probably thousands, of dollars on eating out. How sad! How wrong.


I've had to humbly ask forgiveness from God first, and also my husband, for I would say 98% of this was from my decision, and from my lack of planning. This has been a sobering reality for me. I hope from my admission, the Lord would help you look deep into your heart, and you too can begin this journey of making things right. Its never too late with God, thankfully!


My sister and I were talking this weekend about a show she watched featuring Suze Orman. My sister jokingly acted like someone from the audience and Suze Orman. I'll try to capture it here with words (it was very funny!)


My sister acting as an audience member: "Hi Ms. Orman, I have a question. Is it okay to get one burrito if I'm on my way home from work and really hungry?"


My sister acting as Suze Orman: "Let's have you answer your own question. What is your debt? What is your income?"


Audience member: "But I was just hungry."


Suze Orman: "You have debt and not enough income - I think you have your answer."


As funny as this is, it is so true! Its been hard for me to admit that all debt is bad, despite what most Americans believe. As long as we have debt, then every extra must be scrutinized and we need to have open hands to let go of all that we think we deserve. Here is another truth that I've had to prayerfully accept - we deserve nothing.


Today, I'm not going to go step by step into what we are doing to decrease our spending. I've been ribbed a little when it comes to where we've chosen to grocery shop. Laugh with me a little here, but in this fragile, very pregnant state, I don't think I can take more ribbing ;) In all honesty though, the decisions we're making are done together as a couple, but most importantly done with prayer. What is working for us, may not apply to you.


The most important thing I want to share is this. How willing are you (am I) to be when it comes to getting out of debt? The thing that hit my husband and I is that we are so captured up in the "American way", by working 40+ hours a week and having a mortgage, to name a few things, that we actually are slaves to these things, and cannot be freely open to have God do His work through us. Seriously, that is the reality of it.


How completely awesome it would be to have no debt, even with our home, so that we can take on a job no matter how little the income, in order to be free to do as the Lord wishes? Do you think this is even possible?


Go ahead and scoff, but my husband and I think it is VERY possible and we are completely excited about it too :)


On that note, this may be one of my last posts in a while. I am only about 2 months away from giving birth, and in that 2 months are some very busy times. I need to be frugal with my time as well, and keep working on some things around here.
Let's keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as we go about our days. I am learning that is the only way to get through this world. I've tried it on my own and I continue to struggle with taking the reigns back some days, and it plain does not work. Being completely surrendered to God, through serving others and by talking to Him as you would your best friend, is the only way. Try it, it is a wonderful thing :)
Ta ta for now :)
Jen

Monday, October 27, 2008

Believing the Bible


Today, I would like to ask a question of Christians who read my blog.

Do you really believe the Bible, literally?

Yesterday, my family stayed home from church because all but one of us is sick (third week in a row for me!). My husband and I started talking about and reading what the Bible says about being holy or separate. We took our Bibles and looked in the concordance, and started looking up verses relating to this matter. We looked up verses with the word "separate", "holy" and "world."

As we read the different passages, we were very surprised, I'll leave it at that. Also, both my husband and I thought of the common passage referred to by so many Christians about being in the world, but not of the world. Interestingly, its not in the Bible, folks. If we are wrong, please tell me, as I will be more than happy to correct this post.

So this morning, knowing that our Bible concordances are limited, we both did searches on the internet. In Google, my husband did a search with the following phrase: "being in the world not of the world" and came up with the following:

Very interesting.

By my post today, I hope to get your appetites wet for what we found out, and we hope that you too will do your own search and that you will really listen to the Lord on this matter. Its not easy, I will say that much.

I have to admit, growing up in a Christian church, I feel a little disillusioned today. I'm not certain today's Christian is really living separately from the world. Where is the line drawn? I think that is a matter only the Lord can answer for me and for you. Please, don't get me wrong, I am in no way implying that I am ready to leave the Christian faith, whatsoever. The Lord has given me a prick on my heart to get to know Him more through reading the Bible ALONE without any other commentaries. It has been quite the journey as I read the Bible and see what it really says without other human interpretation. Its amazing how many commonly accepted Christian practices are hard to justify when compared to the Bible. Very interesting is all I can say.

Now here's the question for myself today:

Do I really believe the Bible, literally?
************
I want to clarify, that YES I do believe the Bible literally. The reason I said I feel a little disillusioned is that when you read the Bible, and look at the typical Christian of today, it doesn't match to me. I'm wondering why, and wondering if Christians believe they do not need to take the Bible literally?
Some say they are "New Testament Christians", yet all of the verses that I found on being separate are from the New Testament!
I guess I feel blessed though, more than disillusioned, because the bottom line is this - this has been a huge lesson for me to keep reading and learning from the Bible myself and with my husband, rather than on the latest Christian best seller. I can't just rely on commonly accepted Christian practices without checking to see if its in the Bible, because I'm finding, that more often than it should be, that some things are not Biblical.
But to clarify one more time, I do believe in the Bible literally :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Whenever I am Afraid....

Red Riding Hood
by Jessie Wilcox-Smith



I will trust in You. I will trust in You. Let the weak say I am strong....."

This is a song I learned as a child. As I approach my last few months of pregnancy, and the braxton-hicks become stronger, my mind rushes forward (and back) to my FEAR OF LABOR.

My first son was 2 weeks late, and I was induced. I didn't really pay attention during child-birth classes, I don't know why, as if I'd done this before!?! Maybe I thought it would all come naturally to me and my husband. After a while when the contractions came and I had the first bit of discomfort, I was completely unprepared and begged for an epidural (at 2 cm mind you!) Thankfully, my body responds very well with an epidural, and labor does not slow down at all for me. My beautiful, healthy first born son was born about 8 hours after I began labor (pay attention to these times as I continue my story).


We did not have a digital camera when he was born, so today I took a picture of a picture.


I went into labor with my second son on his due date! What a blessing after being 2 weeks late with my first. Back up a little bit....that morning, I was having irregular contractions, and because a snow storm was coming that day, my doctor wanted to see me in case and before the roads became dangerous to drive. They monitored me, and said my son wasn't responding as well as they'd like (however, he seemed no different that day than any other. Looking back, I think he was fine.). Regardless, they sent me to the hospital to be induced again. As I waited there, I went into labor on my own. With my second born son, I had been 4 cm for a few weeks without pain. However, because I loved the epidural so much with my first, I didn't bother preparing while pregnant, and once the pain started, I again became afraid, and begged for an epidural. My healthy second born son was born about 6 hours after I began labor.


Going into labor with my daughter was fast and furious. I had not felt well all day, but with two busy boys (one being only 17 months), I did not have much time to think about it (I much prefer it this way, by the way!). When my husband came home from work that evening, I asked if he wouldn't mind taking the boys out to pizza as I needed to lay down with quiet. My husband wasn't even gone an hour when I realized I was in labor! In the 10-15 minutes that I called him to come home, and when he was actually home, I had to pace and stop and breathe through these difficult and painful contractions. We quickly loaded the boys in the car, grabbed their bags and ours, and drove to my friend's home who was to graciously watch our boys while I had the baby. Thankfully she lived 2 minutes from the hospital, and only about 15 minutes from our home. Well in this relatively short amount of time, the contractions were the most painful I'd ever felt, and, once again, I was terrified, and unprepared. My water broke at my friends' home, and the contractions were intense. From my friends' home to the hospital was a blur. I remember being whisked up in a wheelchair, and the first nurse I saw, I pleaded for an epidural. Again, because the epidurals worked fine for me with the boys, and because labor and delivery was still quick with them, I planned for it to go the same way with my daughter. I did not prepare or pray about labor for my daughter while I was pregnant with her. My healthy daughter was born 4 hours after I began labor.

Funny thing is the date on our camera was wrong, as she was not born on this day!

Do you see a pattern here? Yes, with each labor, I a. was not prepared, in anyway; and b. my labors became progressively shorter! If I continue in this same pattern, this baby will be born in 2 hours!

All throughout this pregnancy, I have felt a great urgency to be prepared and to bathe it in prayer. I have read and watched a DVD on breathing and relaxation techniques for labor and birth. I feel like a first-time mom! I have been under the care of a midwife this time rather than a doctor. What a difference, a positive one that I will write about another time.

Most importantly, I am understanding that what better of a time than this to truly lean on God and hand over to Him all my fears and worries? This morning, the Lord laid on my heart to memorize some Scripture to meditate on during the remainder of my pregnancy and labor and delivery. Here are the verses He lead me to, and which I will be memorizing these last two months:

Genesis 15:1 - "...the word of the Lord came...saying 'Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward."


Genesis 26:24 - "...I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee..."


II Timothy 1:7 - "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."


Hebrews 13:5 - "...I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."


I John 4:18 - "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear..."


Psalm 23 - "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Contrary to what some books have been telling me, I do not think I am a super, wonder woman whose body has spiritual powers to naturally get me through labor (its hard to weed through that when much of the child birth books are written by new-age, hippy people :) ). However, I do believe in a super, wonder GOD Who loves me, and Who loves this little girl growing inside me, more than either of us will ever imagine; and that He is more than able to sustain me, and give me strength and peace to deliver this baby.

I live in the north, it is entirely possible that we could get a whopper of a storm in January, when my little girl is due to be born. It could take me 2 hours just to get to the hospital which is only 20 minutes away (although my husband lovingly reassures me it won't take us that long no matter how bad the storm :) ) I must be prepared with Scripture in mind. I cannot rely on myself to do this, but must rely completely on God. What if I arrive at the hospital only in time to push? What if I don't make it all? Either way, I cannot be paralyzed by my fear, when what I am doing is something designed by God to bring His children in the world.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

I hope you have a blessed weekend with your family, one that has Christ in the center. That is my prayer for my family this weekend.

Before I end, I do want to say a special, from the bottom of my heart, thank you to my wonderful and amazing husband and children. With this large belly, it is very difficult to pick up things from the floor. They lovingly pick up things I've dropped, or anything that needs to be cleaned up from the floor. What love :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thanking God for Humble Pie

Time for Pie
by Jo Moulton


Proverbs 29:23
A man's pride shall bring him low:

but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

In case you haven't read the Word in a while, God hates pride. In fact, in Proverbs He calls it evil.

Lest I forget the verse in my title to this blog, I am here to boast about my weaknesses so that God may be glorified, and also so my little ones can learn from their sinful mama's ways.

One of my weaknesses is in fact pride. The only person it is tough to admit this to, is myself. I'm certain that to those around me, it is probably more obvious than I think.

I will give you two recent examples, and again, may my boasting about my weaknesses only point me, and you, to God - for without Him, we can do nothing. But, as Philippians 4:13 says, with His strength, we can do all things!

I've been sewing and knitting a lot lately. With each piece that comes out good, my pride became puffed up. "Wow, look how cute that is!" Especially with my daughter's dresses, the ones that I made and posted a tutorial here about. Oh the compliments! Surely, I must be able to do anything!

So last week, when the weather was perfectly autumn, I set up my sewing machine like so, as my children went out to play:

and I set about sewing my oldest son's Halloween costume, because I certainly could make something better than those store-bought things (said with a little eye-roll).

Rather than bore you with details, what should have been the simplest thing to sew (the one thing I in fact had a pattern for), was the hardest, and turned out to be the worst thing. When my Mom came that evening, it was all I could do to show her - I was embarrassed. I contemplated going and buying new material (or an already made shirt), but the Lord helped me quickly realize that this shirt would be a good reminder for me that I am not all that I think I am (far, far, far from it!), and besides, my son doesn't see all the flaws, but loves this shirt, made with his mama's hands.

Now, lest you think this is as bad as it gets for me, and this is a pretty petty thing, let me fast forward to last evening. While the details of last evening certainly would not bore you, to spare my family from further embarrassment, I will be a little vague here, but still give you the general idea.

Last night, we had an evening at the hospital where we were to meet all the midwives, and get a tour of the place. I cutsied up my children and myself, and packed a little dinner for my family in a cute little basket. We met Daddy at the hospital and had a little lovely time having dinner in the car before we went in. Sounds quaint doesn't it? Let me rewind a few days though.

I had a number of days, when everything just clicked. The house was in nice shape, the laundry was caught up, I was making nice dinners, baking bread, getting up and prettied and prettying up the children as well. I was spending wonderful, quality time with the kids. Boy did things look good from the outside. Don't get me wrong, life was lovely for us, but inside of me, I was getting more and more puffed up with that pride all the while putting God aside.

Yesterday, and for a few days before, I felt the storm starting to organize within myself. I should have listened for the storm-warnings. But for a few days, I managed to keep doing the next, even the right thing. As the day went on yesterday, I felt the tension rise within myself, but I thought "I have the drive to the hospital to calm down" and I relied on looking forward to that, more than getting on my knees and begging God for His help, which He would of course given, had I simply asked!

After dinner was done, we went on into the hospital. I couldn't even look my husband or children in the eyes any longer, as I was so concentrated on me and keeping myself in good behaviour. Whenever I look back on times like that, I'm reminded time and time again, that the more you focus on yourself how terribly selfish that in fact is.

The first part of the tour was question and answer time. Things were not going my way. I was getting irritated more and more as the evening went on. Before the actual tour, I was no longer able to even think rationally. So, after the final straw of me not getting my way, I hightailed it out of the hospital, looking like an out of control, crazy, and angry mother. My poor family, including my poor husband, just followed this lunatic of a woman out, not saying a word. How humiliating to them, and I've begged for their forgiveness many times since then - yes, I've even begged for my children's forgiveness. I am most sorrowful for how this must have been for my husband, as surely, this had to be embarrassing - I know I embarrassed myself very much.

Now to you this may be a little amusing - a very pregnant woman, with three quite little children, practically running out of the hospital, throwing a temper-tantrum. There is never an excuse for such behavior, yet we often make excuses for our sin. "Oh, you are just pregnant, you have crazy hormones running through your body." "Oh, you are just really over-tired." It doesn't matter how many hormones are running through my body, it doesn't matter how busy or not I am, it doesn't matter how anything is - sin is sin is sin, and I sinned last night, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

You see, I had been very prideful lately about many things when it comes to my family, and last night I was reminded that it is not all about me! But that is where my focus has been for too long.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After I asked everyone for forgiveness, a still, small voice said, "what about Me?" While I knew pretty quickly that I sinned against my family, I almost forgot about my Father in Heaven, and that I too sinned against Him. I was broken, and asked God to please, please, PLEASE forgive me. The enemy made me feel pretty unworthy and I will admit, I cried myself sleep, after already crying for a few hours with my loving husband. In the middle of the night, God was so good to me, and after waking around 3:30 a.m., I asked, yet again, for His forgiveness. How was God good to me? Well again, He spoke to me in His still, small voice saying "I already did, now go back to sleep."

So today, on this dreary rainy day, I am feeling a little drained from all the tears last night and a bad night sleep, but I am quietly thanking God for His little dose of "humble pie", for I needed it to remind me, once again, of my desperate need for Him.

***********************

Thank you Mom for sharing Romans 8:1 with me

"There is therefore now no condemnation
to them which are in Christ Jesus,
who walk not after the flesh,
but after the Spirit."

After several hours of condemning myself, with no help from the enemy who kept reminding me all night and all day of my temper-tantrum last night; through this verse that you shared with me, I am reminded that because I am in Christ Jesus, I am not condemned! Praise be to God!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Night Blessings

Psalm 91:4-6
He shall cover thee with His feathers,
and under His wings shalt thou trust:
His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night;
nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness;
nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When I was a child, I had a picture hanging in my room. It was a little doggie talking on the phone, and the picture was one of those black velour 70's types- do you know what I'm speaking of? I've seen ones done of Elvis and wolves :) Maybe that will help you imagine what my picture was like :)


That picture scared me so much. My fear was genuine and bone-shaking. I remember it as if it was yesterday (and as the years go by and by, believe me, it wasn't yesterday!).


I remember honestly needing my Mom or Dad. I just needed to know they were there, as my fears engulfed me.


Perhaps its vivid memories like that which makes me pretty sensitive to my children's fears. A few years ago, something like tonight's happenings would have irritated me so badly, that I would have missed the beautiful night blessings I now don't take for granted.


You see, a few years ago, any "Mama! I'm scared!" would have been either ignored (they need to learn to go to sleep on their own afterall!), or I would have stomped up the stairs thinking my child was manipulating me rather than truly needing me. I wonder how many night blessings I missed during that time :(


Well tonight, just that happened. "Mama! Daddy! We're scared!" came screaming out of our boys' room. I admit, my first reaction was to ignore it (I'm tired! I stayed home for the second week in a row from church with a sick child, and all I want is a little time by myself.) However, I took a breath, and chose to go up to see if in fact they were scared. I'm not certain my oldest was, but my little guy, the one pictured here on this post, was truly scared and just needed to know we were there. He needed to see me and he needed my touch. I said a little prayer for patience as I walked up the stairs, and by the time I reached their room, I was more than happy to oblige. Do you know after literally 30 seconds, he and his brother fell fast asleep.


After 30 seconds of just lying next to my son, he fell asleep like this:
Over the last few years, as I've prayed to understand God more, and as I've prayed to Him about how to be a better mother and wife, He's showing me more and more that His love for us - His care for us - is how we should try to be to our children. God is always there for me. He is never too busy, or too tired, or ....


He is my Father. He is your Father.


There are certainly times in my life, where I am scared, and I really need to know God is there, and still in control. Having a son with asthma struggling to breathe, is scary. Getting a call late in the evening that your Mother suffered from a stroke, is scary. Being rushed by ambulance to a city hospital with your 5 week old son on your lap (the same one pictured here), just after you and your husband were told he may not make it through the night because of pneumonia, is scary.


Whenever I cry out to my Father when I'm scared (which I admit I don't always do), He is faithful to comfort me.


It may not be immediate, or at least I don't see it immediately. Often I don't see His comfort until after everything has calmed down a bit, and I look back and see how my Father carried me safely through that frightening time.


But He is faithful. Faithful to love me. Faithful to comfort me.


Always faithful.


The more I try to be a Mama to my children the way my Father is to me - loving me unconditionally and sacrificially - the more my children draw close to me, and the more it all just clicks. Of course, I'm sinful and therefore imperfect, so I will never come close to loving and caring for my children the way my Father so perfectly loves and cares for me. But when I lean on Him and remember His love, I am given the help and hope I so desperately need. Without Him, I can do nothing.

(The beautiful lacy curtains in our bedroom as it looks at night.
We have a candle in the window that illuminates it so beautifully!)

Proverbs 3:24
When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid:
yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.

As I lay down my head tonight, I will not be afraid, because I know, I know, my Father loves me.

And may your sleep be sweet tonight, and may you not be afraid of tomorrow, knowing that as our Father tells us in His Word, He will take care of you.

Have a wonderful week.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Proverbs 31 Re-Post


All pictures can be found at posters.com

The titles for each piece appears below the picture.



Title Unknown





I wrote the following post in 2007. Whenever I get distracted and wander away from one of my main purposes in life (wife and mother), I re-read Proverbs 31 asking the Lord to encourage me to get back on track. Here is what I wrote:




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




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 [or not applicable today], but now I'm in the latter. I read this chapter [at least] monthly [sometimes more], 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.
"Money Changer With Wife"


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.


"Country Charm"

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.


"Women Placing Her Wash"

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.


"After the Christening"


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.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I'm thankful that above all, I live under grace.

While grace extends forgiveness (praise be to God because I need and will always need forgiveness as I am the chiefest of sinners), according to Romans (oops!) I Corinthians, it doesn't give me liberty to sin either. To me, that means I should strive to live according to how God wants me to live, even when that road is very different than how the world is and even when that road is a lonely one.


So I'm curious how do you see Proverbs 31 fitting into today's American woman? Is it in fact applicable? I'd love to hear what you have to say :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Now Unto Him That Is Able.....

(If you haven't been able to tell, I like to dig through old photos
and post some not-so-recent ones - that is what I am doing today!)
~Don't worry Son! Daddy will keep you from falling!~
Jude 1:24-25
Now unto Him That is able to keep you from falling,
and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty,
dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

How many times have you heard the above verses said at the end of a Sunday service? I have heard it often.

Have you ever really meditated on that first phrase of verse 24? Now unto Him That is able to keep you from falling.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about different ways that I think possibly God has been keeping me and my family from falling. Things I've been trying in my own human effort to accomplish, and it just isn't working out for whatever reason.

Perhaps, just maybe, my loving Father, is not letting these things happen, just for the very reason this verse talks about - He is keeping me from falling - falling away from Him, and falling into sin.

~Looks like someone here is not worried about falling!~

I'll give you two recent examples:


First, I have volunteered several times to help in whatever way I can with our MOPS group at our church. Even when they seem desperate for help (as so often ministries unfortunately are), everything gets filled up without my help. God is helping me quickly see that by taking on this ministry, I will most likely be taking on too much (as I did as a brand new mama), and it will only take precious time away from Him and my family - my two top priorities.

Perhaps, just maybe, He is keeping me from falling in this area.

Second, if you've read here long enough, you know our internal (or not so internal) struggle with the television. Thankfully satellite TV (at least our provider) makes it easy to put on hold without additional charge - however, in a matter of minutes, we can put it back on. We put our TV service on hold in August, and were richly blessed by that, and always have been when we've done this in the past. However, after Labor Day, we requested the service to be reinstated. We thought that for certain, the answer to our TV "problems" was to pay extra for DVR service (where you can record shows). Can I tell you to get this service has been the most difficult home-ownership experience I've faced in a very, very long time! Very frustrating - you would think they would want our business. Over the last nearly two months, I've experienced aggravation at times, but now, instead of aggravation, the Lord is helping me realize that this may not be what is best for our family.

Perhaps, just maybe, He is keeping us from falling in this area.

~Your big strong brother will keep you from falling!~

Both of these situations are ones that are not in of themselves bad, right?

Doing work for the Lord is a good thing, right?

TV when managed and put in its proper place (and when only shows that are edifying to the Lord are watched) is fine, right?

When the Lord has something else in mind for you though, to do anything else would be falling away from Him, right?

In general, we only watch TV that would be acceptable for even our children to watch. But the temptation is there, very great in fact, and ever so often, I will stop for a while on a raunchy show like a certain sitcom that comes on 8 p.m. on Thursday evenings. I never feel closer to my Father after watching shows like that. Never.

So, perhaps, just maybe, my Father is keeping me (keeping us) from falling in these areas.

I don't want to fall away from Him. I want to walk closely, very closely, with my Father. I want my husband and children to see the same thing at home, behind these closed doors that they see when we go to church, or run into our Pastor in a restaurant. I don't want to be a frazzled, grumpy, and very sinful mama, who is up to date on the latest talk and reality shows, but hasn't spent any time with the Lord, my husband or my children (yes I've been this mama before :( Thankfully the Lord, the Lord ALONE has helped me come a long way since a few years ago, all glory to Him alone). I don't want to be that way, yet when we walk in the church doors, have a fake-plastered smile as if my life with God and my family is just fine. I don't believe that is what a woman looks like who is truly walking closely with the Father and isn't fallen away from Him.


~~Thank You Jesus for all the times You keep me from falling when I don't even realize it. Help me to listen keenly to Your quiet ways, through Your Words, and such. I love You and its for Your glory alone. Thank You Jesus, thank You!~~

~Don't worry baby girl! Mama will keep you from falling!~

Jude 1:24-25
Now unto Him That is able to keep you from falling,
and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty,
dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Children

I would gather children...

Some would gather money
Along the path of life,
Some would gather roses,
And rest from worldly strife.

But I would gather children
From among the thorns of sin,
I would seek a golden curl,
And a freckled, toothless grin.

For money cannot enter
In that land of endless day,
And roses that are gathered
Soon will wilt along the way.

But oh, the laughing children,
As I cross the sunset sea,
And the gates swing wide to heaven
I can take them in with me!



~Author Unknown~

Recently, I came across some amazing articles thanks to the blog Making Home. I have a hard time coming up with words on my own, but thanks to the many godly people who write, most times I don't have to :) The articles I will be quoting today talk about children, and they put, ever so eloquently, something I have been wrestling with in my mind ever since I became pregnant with my daughter when my son was nine months old.


Let me start quoting (and I will be bolding the things that especially spoke to me):


First is an article that appeared on Rocks In My Dryer. It was written by Jenni, a Mama of 12 children:

It is quite an honor and a bit of a worry to be speaking on behalf of large families everywhere. More than anything, my prayer is that what I say will be heard with discernment and a hefty helping of salt. I don’t want to give the impression that my opinions are some sort of collective consciousness shared by all those with a veritable tribe under their roof. That said, however, I hope at least some of it will resonate!

First, and perhaps most obviously, many people with larger families encounter negative attitudes almost daily. Snide comments from strangers, nosy questions about their private lives, or unsupportive extended family all combine to make the members of a big family feel more like a circus side-show than legitimate members of society. The announcement of a new pregnancy is very often not met with joy, but with condemnation (if you are on the receiving end of such an announcement, be the exception and offer a simple congratulations). I could compile quite a list of all the obnoxious things that have been said to those of us with a passel of young’uns, but I'd rather not go off on that tangent. You'll just have to take my word for it that for many people, there does not appear to be any sort of regulatory gizmo betwixt their brains and their mouths. Yet I persist in believing that it's really not that difficult to be kind, or at the very least, silent!

Along those same lines, it often seems that families with lots of children are viewed with a more critical eye than those with the standard two. **If a child acts up, it is of course because they come from such a large family and obviously don’t get enough attention. If their clothing is threadbare, it is because the parents must be financially strapped. If the baby has a dirty face, it is apparent that no one cares enough to clean it. Whereas a smaller family might be given the benefit of the doubt (all children throw tantrums at times, like to wear one item of clothing until it consists of three strands, and smear food upon their faces), for the larger family it becomes an opportunity to criticize.** A mother pregnant with her second child is offered sympathy as she struggles with morning sickness and fatigue, but ask a mother pregnant with her fifth if she was offered any. This makes it difficult, even in a church setting, for those parents to share any difficulties they are having. I personally struggle with painful varicose veins that are aggravated during pregnancy. However, asking for prayer has sometimes been met with the attitude that such are my “just desserts” and so why would God heal me? I suspect the same attitude crops up when rebellious children, or money woes, are the issue.

Parents of large families are not out to prove anything. We’re not vying for your admiration, we aren’t trying to win any awards, we don’t view childbearing as some sort of contest (someone asked my husband during our last pregnancy if we were trying to “beat the Duggars”), and we don’t think you’re less spiritual than we are if you have fewer than we do. We aren’t asking anyone for special treatment, but it doesn’t seem too much to ask for common courtesy. Resist the urge to count out loud as you see us go by. Don’t marvel that we do, in fact, know all of our offspring’s names (even—given a minute or two—their birthdates)! And for the love of all the little green men on Mars, don’t ask us if we know what causes that. We do. And we enjoy it, although not as often as is (oddly) assumed.

Almost as difficult to deal with, in a way, are the effusively positive attitudes. Yes, this seems like a really strange thing to say in light of the previous paragraph, but having to decline imminent canonization is not pleasant. People who squeal, gush, flatter and insist that I must be, I simply MUST BE the most patient/organized/disciplined/loving/spiritual being ever to walk the earth wear me out. I have stopped volunteering the information regarding the numbers of my offspring mostly due to these reactions. I don’t have time to field a barrage of OMG!’s from the checkout lady at Wal-Mart while my ice cream melts. Plus, I don’t think it wins me any friends in the line behind me.

Please don’t put me on a pedestal. Honestly, it’s really lonely up there. We are called to be iron sharpening iron to one another, and in order to do that we have to be able to get close to somebody. When the comments run along the lines of “You’re my hero!” and “I could NEVER do what you do! You’re a saint!” I have to wonder what, exactly, the commenters think I am doing that gives me that status. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just a woman trying to do her best with the family God has given her, and I deeply value the support of friends who don’t expect me to have all the answers. You might be surprised to learn that the average mom-to-a-gob lives her days in much the same way as you do: she gets up, sees what needs doin', and does it. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other.

On behalf of my children, I’d like to encourage people to try to focus on them as individuals. It‘s easy to let your eyes glaze over when confronted by their sheer mass, but often it seems to surprise people when they discover that my children are actually different from one another. At some point, it seems a given that any child after three or four is simply going to be a carbon copy of one of the preceding progeny. If you know children who belong to a simply humongous family, make their day by assuming they each have singular personalities. Even saying things like “Aw! You guys look all alike!” makes them feel like they are clones, or part of the Borg. Get to know them! You might be amazed at how diverse they really are.

In the end, what I’d like for you to know is probably not that much different than what anyone else would say: when in doubt, extend grace. Grace is the Melanie Wilkes to the world’s Scarlett O’Hara: it believes the best even when it doesn’t understand, and is humble enough not to insist on explanations. I don’t know of a single situation where it wouldn’t be welcome!


The next article is from the InsideCatholic.com website (although she specifically speaks to Catholics in this article, this speaks to a much greater audience than just the Catholic church). This article is written by Danielle Bean, who is a Mama to 8 children. She asks us "Pro-Lifers" if we truly are pro-life. You do realize that being pro-life encompasses SO much more than whether or not you agree or disagree with abortion, do you not? I'll just quote the article, and again, I will bold what especially spoke to me:

Last week, Simcha Fisher invited us to talk about natural family planning, and boy did we comply. More than 90 comments later, one thing is clear -- this is a topic we like to debate.

I've read many different discussions about NFP where Catholics will debate its use and its abuse, its effectiveness and its complications, its rewards and its challenges. There is a time, however, when all the debates and discussions must fall silent.

When a battle-weary mother stands alone in her bathroom looking with disbelief at two tiny pink lines on a pregnancy test, it's too late for family-planning discussions of clinical effectiveness. We've got a baby to take care of. And his mother.

This is where all our pro-life and pro-family talk needs to be put into action. This is where we need to rush to the aid and support of a family in need. Are we a pro-life Church? This is where we will find out.

"I just found out that I am pregnant with my third baby in three years," one frazzled young mother wrote to me recently, "and I dread the way my friends, my family, and even the people at my parish will respond."

Shame on us.

"I am pregnant again and I really am excited," another mother wrote to me, "I want this baby, but I am not sure I want to tell people because it seems like so many people, even faithful Catholics, just don't get why you would be excited to have your fourth baby in five years."

Shame on us.

"Soon after I announced that we were (unexpectedly) pregnant with our eighth child," an older mom once wrote me, "I came out of Mass one day and found an NFP flyer tucked under the windshield wiper of my van. I even wondered if it was our pastor who put it there."

Shame on us.

Whether we love NFP or hate it, whether we choose to use it in our marriages or not, whether we have one child or 16 children, we Catholics have no business receiving new life with anything but charity and joy. We have no business labeling our fellow Catholics, in their time of need and vulnerability, as crazy or irresponsible.

It takes courage for many Catholic couples to continue to refuse contraception, to remain open to life in their marriages, even when their circumstances are already difficult and they are hoping to avoid another pregnancy. The "99 percent effective" number people like to throw around about NFP becomes a much smaller one when translated into "user effectiveness."

The fact is, sometimes even faithful Catholics who are doing their very best to avoid pregnancy while remaining faithful to Church teaching on openness to life will find themselves pregnant.

The jokes, the judgment, and the whispered conversations about "craziness" and "irresponsibility" have no place in our parishes and in our Catholic communities.

Over the years, I've done my fair share of staring in disbelief at tiny pink lines in the bathroom. Once, a few years ago, when I told a friend of a new and unplanned pregnancy and expressed to her my ambivalent feelings, her response to me was a simple, joyful exclamation:

"God must love you so much!"

Her words startled me. Not only because most people's reactions to my latest news had been somewhat less than joyful, but also because of how true I knew those words were, deep down inside, in spite of my doubts and fears.

When God gives us babies, planned or unplanned, He gives us innumerable physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges. But He also gives us a glimpse of Himself. It's God's face we see in a helpless baby's smile. It's God's voice we hear in their needy cries, and it's God's enormous love we feel wrapped around us when we nurture them within us, when we hold their infant bodies, when we accept them as He sends them, whether it was part of "our plan" or not.

Because she said "yes" to God, Mary once found herself poor, alone, misunderstood, and pregnant. But she wasn't irresponsible -- only faithful. Even though it was hard.

Will we abandon pregnant mothers in their time of need? Will we shame them, shun them, and laugh at them behind their backs?

Or will we remind them how much God loves them, remind ourselves of the abundant, undeserved blessings He has given every one of us, and simply be grateful?


Wow! What wonderful and encouraging words by both women, I hope you agree!

I must admit I struggle with and have been judgmental in the past and asked those oh-so-private questions.


My sister-in-law has 6 children. Honestly, almost every.single.time. I see her, I ask "are you going to have any more?" or "is this it?" It wasn't until this pregnancy (and even a little when I was pregnant with my daughter) that I realized how inappropriate that question is! Seriously, this is a matter between God, a husband and a wife, and that is it. It doesn't concern your neighbors, your school district, grandparents, friends, no one!

Too often we think that if a couple just has one child, that it is their choice; and if a couple has 10, they are irresponsible. I wish I learned LONG ago, that many times, most times, in both cases we are wrong! Not that it is ours to even think about, but perhaps, just maybe, that couple who has one child is not able to have any more. Asking them if they are going to have any more children may just be pushing that knife deeper into their hearts. Or asking a couple who has many children if "this is going to be it" may be asking them to talk about something that is very private to them.

I remember after I became pregnant with my daughter, I used to say "she was a surprise." It breaks my heart to think of how many times I've said that. You see, my son was 9 months old when I became pregnant with her. I remember being embarrassed when I called my doctor and even family. Honestly, my husband and I were overflowing with joy! Yet we felt to be accepted by others, even in our church and family, we had to say this.


To know her, is to know she was not "unplanned." Look at her! Yes, I had fear - I had experienced postpartum depression with my son, and was just starting to feel better. In my selfishness, I didn't want to take the chance of going through that journey again. But, of course, the Lord used the pregnancy with my daughter to bring about much healing from that depression. I would never have guessed that the Lord would use another baby to bring healing, but as always, the Lord's ways are always right and perfect, and far better than mine (thank you Jesus!).


Speaking of selfishness, if I had stopped having children once I felt I was starting to take on more than I could handle, then I would have turned my first son in! (I say this completely sarcastically). I felt more overwhelmed and out-of-control with him, than I do with three and one on the way now. That is not because I have become a super-mom by any stretch of the imagination (ANY stretch!). In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is by dying to myself throughout the day, every day; it is by leaning on God through prayer and reading His Word; and it is through absolute surrender that this or any other matter in life can be handled.


Once I stopped looking for the breaks and for some "me" time; once I slowed down and stayed home most of the time; once I stopped looking to sleep in all the time (I have to say here that my dear, dear husband lets me sleep in on Saturdays, and lately Sundays too - thank you honey!); once I stopped getting aggravated when my kids tried to bother me when I was trying to do something (notice the I's and me's here?) - THAT is when I started thinking "hey, wait a minute, as I lean on God, I CAN do all things THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH." Imagine that! Again, thank you Jesus! I don't get this right every day, I wish I did. Thankfully through God, any day can be redeemed, even if I've messed up for the majority of that day.


Getting back to the topic at hand, when I became pregnant with this baby, our fourth, people asked and continue to ask, "were you trying" with their eyes rolling back in their heads and looking at me like I'm a freak. Think with me folks what "trying" means. That really is a matter I would bet most women don't feel comfortable talking about (at least I don't and I hope other women don't!). It is a private matter!


A mother of many children warned me that once you are pregnant with your 4th, it no longer is a joyous thing. People assume it was a mistake, and that you will do everything to not have any more. Sad to say, she is right. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect anyone to gush over me whatsoever, I didn't expect that with any of my children; but as the writer of the first article said, at least give the common courtesy of being silent. You know that saying that your mom taught you "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."


When I was in hard labor with my daughter, and being wheeled up to the maternity ward, the gentlemen pushing the wheelchair asked my husband when he would be getting his vasectomy. Throughout the course of her birth, the anesthesiologist and my doctor asked the same thing. How sad. How really, truly sad. People continue to ask us this.

In closing,
I think its time that we (on both sides of this issue) stop worrying and asking about others matters. Period.



Its not our business if someone wants as many children as God gives them; also, it is not ours to judge if someone has one or no children. You never know how God is dealing with their hearts, if that person is letting God deal with them at all. It is simply between a husband and wife and God and for us to get involved at all, is just not right. In fact, the Bible talks about being a busybody:

I Timothy 5:13 says

"And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house;
and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies,
speaking things which they ought not."


As with any matter of self, it takes a lot of work, and only with the power of Jesus Christ, can we change old habits of getting involved in others' matters. So its with that, I close, and pray, that I can lay this at the feet of Jesus, and just enjoy others and their children, thanking God, once again, for all of His beautiful blessings.

Friday, October 10, 2008

For Whom Do I Write?

I write for my children mostly, for my sons and my daughters.
I hope someday they can read my journal of trying to figure things out, along the way,
because
sometimes life will be hard for them,
and I want them to see how the Lord helped me in perhaps similar situations,
that they too will undoubtedly face.
Sometimes what the world says should be fun, just isn't, and
they will need to know its the simplest of things where fun and joy can be found.

That is for whom and why I write.

Sometimes I write to my daughters and Lord willing future daughters-in-love,

to share with them things I've learned along the way as a wife, mama and homemaker.

They'll need ideas and encouragement as I have and will.

That is for whom and why I write.

Sometimes I write to tell one certain someone how much joy he has brought to my life.

He has provided a life for me beyond what I could have ever dreamed.

Our children,

Our home,

His entire self, sacrificed to me and the kids.

That is for whom and why I write.

And to others who I have given an opportunity to eavesdrop into our life, I hope that somehow, the Lord may provide a way to mostly encourage to keep on keeping on. There is so much in life, so many blessings, that are right there in front of us, yet we often miss, because they are so simple, and non-assuming.

It will look so different for you, for me.

Some live in cities, others in the country.

Some have no children, others have many.

Some have to work, others stay at home.

But I believe as I go about my days,

and as you go about yours,

there will be much joy to be found,

That is for whom and why I write.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Preparing





With the fall, comes a sense of needing to get prepared. Whether its simply evaluating what winter clothes are needed, or cutting back plants and flowers in the garden, there are many things that must be done to prepare for the winter.



My prayer and plan is, Lord willing, next year I would grow enough to harvest and can for the following winter.



However, that is not the kind of preparing that has been on my heart lately.



There is a potential for an economic disaster (maybe its a reality, and no longer a potential. I have to admit, in my area of the country, the economy is pretty good. Houses continue to sell. My husband, who is in the building industry, just received a lot of work; he was told that the people in their company do not need to worry about losing their jobs! All that to say, is often times I wonder if this is all media-driven worry). I read of many stocking up their pantries and getting other things in line, similar to what many did for Y2K. I don't suppose that is a terrible idea.



However, that is not the kind of preparing that has been on my heart lately.



I'm talking about spiritual preparedness. The Bible tells us in Matthew to not worry about what we will eat or where we will live or what we will wear. How God takes care of the birds and the flowers, that fade away, how much more He will take care of us - His children. I think most Christians know of this passage, yet don't lean on it like a crutch, like their lives depend on this. Do you have a child who is a worrier? My oldest is - cut from the same cloth as I. It is so easy for me to reassure him he has no need to worry - I know the end result so many times and I know he has absolutely no reason. Sometimes I even chuckle, because I know, I KNOW, everything is gonna be allright!



You know what? God knows my end result, and He knows that I have no need to worry. I need to just stay snuggled in my Father's arms, trusting in Him. If I can offer my imperfect assurance to my son, surely I can rest in God's perfect assurance!



I know there are families who are out of work. My heart and prayers go out to you. Right now though, I want to speak to those, to me, who still have income, where life is really no different than 5 years ago when the economy was not a worry as it is today.



What if your husband was to come home today, and was laid off. If you work, what if, you were laid off today. What would happen if, your car broke down and you had not one cent or open credit to get it fixed. What if, your husband became terribly ill and you lost his income. What if, your home was foreclosed on. What if ____________ (fill in the blank).



Would you be prepared spiritually to be confident in Your Father to know that He will take care of you, His child? Would you be spiritually strong enough to cast all your cares upon Him? Would you start blaming God for taking these things from you and lose faith completely? Or would your faith only become stronger knowing that God refines and builds us through trials.



While I think it is very good to prepare yourself for the future, over the last few years we've been doing that - we relocated to a different part of the country where the cost of living was less, we sold my husband's car so as not to have any car payments, among other things - this all is for nothing, if I think I'm in control of my future. I am not in any way, shape or form, in control of my future.



I can prepare my family until I'm blue in the face - have a perfectly stocked pantry - have no debt - have savings to carry my family through a lifetime - but if I'm not leaning on God, and His promises, none of this will do me any good, no matter how good these things are in and of themselves.



So, instead of watching or reading the news, hearing how terrible our world economy is, let's pray to God, throughout our entire days; let's read His Word daily, seeing all the promises of provision and protection He has for His children (for me and for you if you are a believer) - let's get on our knees with our children casting all our fears upon Him. Read this post from Jewels at Eyes of Wonder, a sister in Christ for more on that.



And after we've done this, let's chose to be a little blissfully ignorant, and take our time to learn other things that will in fact get us through the tough times if or when they hit. Things like cooking from scratch, cutting back on electricity and gas, etc. I think there is nothing wrong with being blissfully ignorant on worldly matters - believe me, it is impossible to not know what's going on with the economy and such - I trust that I will find out the information I need when I need to.



Evaluate what is truly a need. A friend of mine and I did this a few weeks ago when she was over for coffee. Here is a little list that we came up with (and I'm sure some would disagree - that's okay in times of real need I don't think there can be an argument that these are not needs! I think others can also add to the list, and would appreciate if you did!):



Haircuts and colors are not needs. Think of the long romantic hair of the old days - personally I love that, and I know my husband, and it seems other men, like that too :) My friend and I know many large, single-income families where the wife and the girls never get haircuts, and they have simply beautiful hair!



Men shaving is not a need. I wouldn't mind if my husband stopped shaving :) He grew a goatee (sp?) many years ago, and I thought he looked rugged and handsome :) Do you pay attention to how expensive razors are? **By the way, as I was going about my day, it occurred to me that some may take this and go suggest to their husbands that you will no longer be buying razors! NO! I'm not suggesting that in the tiniest of bits! I would never dream of telling a hardworking man, one who more than likely brings in the bacon, or at least his share, and telling him what he should do in this or really any area. We were just making an observation!**



TV and computers are not a need. I hope there is no defense needed there!


Magazines are not a need
. I think this reason is what got me hooked on blogs! View some of the beautiful blogs on my side bar - and when you are at their blogs, look at the blogs they have listed. Simple and beautiful.



Two cars are not a need. Have you ever lived for even a few weeks with one car? When we sold my husband's car, and before we bought his little "beater" (it is a good car, one that we thank God for), I would either take my husband to work or he'd take the van. Thankfully I was already used to being home a lot, so it wasn't a shock to my life, but had it been 5 years ago, boy that would have been a great lesson for me! I was most certainly under the impression then that I had to have a car - what if I needed to bring the kids to the doctors? Oh the worry! Well then, if it was that bad, I'm sure my husband would have come home anyway!



Buying name brand food is not a need. I've returned to shopping at Aldi. You just cannot beat the prices there for perfectly fine food. Yesterday I just spent $98 for one week of groceries. Included in the $98 was tissues and some food to give to a local food bank that will be providing Thanksgiving meals for families in need. I will have to purchase a gallon or two of milk, but that still falls well below our weekly budget. There are some items that I struggle with buying store brand - but I have to prepare myself to either go without it, or to buy the store brand (or to take the time to cut coupons, something which I do not have a good handle on whatsoever like so many, very wise women do!)



New clothes are not a need. God has blessed us tremendously with this. An old friend recently asked how on earth I am able to stay home with three, soon to be four, children. I think many assume my husband makes oodles of money. He doesn't. The Lord provides, just enough, and its up to us to be good stewards of that. One huge way that the Lord provides for us, is through hand-me-down clothes. Almost all of my maternity clothes are hand-me-downs. I also am not hesitant nor ashamed to go to Salvation Army if need be. With the extra money I had left from the grocery budget yesterday, I bought all this for $15.00 at the Salvation Army. The Lord is so good!

A vest for my oldest son, a maternity jean skirt (new with tags!), a knitted, 100% wool winter hat for me, and three pairs of pants for my daughter to wear under her dresses this winter. Certainly this isn't the best price of all (free is the best price!), but my point is, even at a discount store like Walmart, I could not have picked up clothing with this quality for $15.00. So, new clothing is not a need.



However, what is a need, is to prepare my spiritual life to be ready to weather the storms that are inevitable, whether or not the economy is bad. As I read God's Word, I am more able to think what God would think of as needs, and pare down my expectations accordingly.


Remember, while all things are possible with God, that is not a promise that it will be comfortable, at least in our sense of comfortable.

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