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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Making the Lord a priority in my life

Now that we've gotten our lists done and analyzed where our priorities truly lie, we should pray about where we want our priorities to be and how we can change to make that happen.

First, let's start with God.  I believe with my whole heart that He should be #1 in our lives.  But what does that mean?  If we are viewing our time spent with Him as the only way we show He is a priority, do we have to be monks to make Him a priority?  I don't think so, because I don't think that the amount of time I spend with a person is the only factor that shows where they stand on my priority list.  For example: if time was the only thing that showed where my husband is on my priority list, he'd be down lower than the children on the list.  But I do things for him throughout the day to show him I love him.  So therefore, I make him a priority even when we aren't together.  Being faithful in the house to do the jobs I have to do are showing him that I love him.

So back to God.  Do you know Him?  Do you know that He created the world.  Do you know that He created us to be with Him?  Do you know that He is a God who participates in our lives, that He loves us more than we could ever imagine?  Do you know that it wasn't His plan that there would be evil in the world?  He created the world perfect.

But we, the human race, distanced ourselves from God when we chose to walk our own way, when we said to ourselves, we know better than God.  Sin separated us from God.  And nothing we can do will remove that sin debt from us.

But God sent His Son, Jesus to pay that debt for us, and so we are free because He died for us.  He was totally God and totally man.  Because He was totally God he was perfect and because He was totally man He was able to die for us.  He went willingly to the cross for us because remember why He created us... He created us to have a relationship with Him.  So He, in going to the cross, gave us another chance.

When we believe that Jesus alone paid the price for our sins and there is nothing we can do on our own or even to help Him, then we have eternal life.  That eternal life starts now and is eternal (it lasts forever). 

There is a video that describes this completely, and to give credit where credit is due, I'm putting their link in here.  I'm not one for a lot of rapping, but this one I understand and he uses powerful sentences and words to share this story.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K48-Li7lIfA

So now, if you've already trusted Christ as your Savior, what do you do to make Him a priority?  Well, to be honest, it's not hard and yet it's very hard.  It's simple relying on Him to help you through the day.  It's cleaning the toilet, or wiping a snotty nose for Him and for His glory.  As they told us at Dare2Share, "Ad majorem dei gloriam inque hominum salutem" - which means "for the greater glory of God and the salvation of humanity".  I don't know what all was on the Jesuits' minds when they said these words, but I feel that it reminds me to do whatever I do to the glory of God. 

Am I working on the computer to the glory of God?  Are the things I'm partaking in there to the glory of God?  Are the shows I'm watching on TV for His glory as well?  When I'm thinking about Him and serving Him throughout the day, then I am prioritizing Him.  How can I do that more fully?  We'll keep this on the discussion table, but if you have any ideas about this, let me know.  I think discussion is good for helping us to encourage one another to love and good works.

Steph

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The one thing

Have you ever heard Rich Mullin's song "My One Thing"? It reminds me of the time when Jesus was talking with Martha, who had just accused Jesus of not caring. He said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." The story is in Luke 10:38-42.

It's been on my heart to talk about priorities and such. I have gotten side-tracked though with my efforts in organizing etc. But in reality, the one thing that cannot be taken away from us, any of us but I'm talking to housewives here, is Jesus and our time with Him and studying His word. I love Elizabeth George's book "A Woman after God's Own Heart". There are so many practical ways to help us prioritize the important things.

I suggest we make a list of our priorities - the things that are important to us and then look at how much time we spend involved in these things, it will show us their importance in our lives. For instance, I would never write in my original list of priorities - television. I just don't think it should be important to me. So my first list would look something like this:
God, husband, children, the kids I care for, church, Bible study women, gardening, quilting, caring for the home, etc.

But when I get to my second list where I look at how much time I spend with each, it will look a lot different.

God - 1 hour/day but prob not Sat or Sun for QT - so 5 hours since church is further on.

Church - I'm moving up here because I'm at church to know more about Jesus and be more conformed to His image - about 7 hours a week


Husband - there again prob an hr a day as he's not home more; technically I do things for him when he's not here so, it could be conceivable that it's more than that. So we'll just say 7 hrs.

Children - with homeschooling - from 7:30 to 3 - four days a week, we'll just say 30 hours a week and that would include the kids I babysit. There is QT in there so it works out as I'm on duty really till bed time and on the weekend as well.

Bible study women - 2 hours a week

Gardening - right now 1 hr a week, just preparing and looking thru catalogs

Quilting - 0 hours

Caring for the home - 12 hrs a week

TV - has to be added on because while I don't watch a lot during the week, Sunday afternoons, I do. - maybe up to 10 hours a week.

Now my list looks different, if you go by hours:
Children - 30 hours a week
God/Church - 12 hours a week
Caring for home - 12 hours
TV - 10 hours
Husband - 7 hours
Gardening - 1 hour

Now I'm not saying that kids get the highest priority because they get the most time. For me, it's about serving my husband and God, because this was what we believed God would have at least for now. But TV is up there, I think a bit too high. And it's a whole lot less than it was before my husband started working 10 to 12 hour days. We used to watch a couple of hours each evening and then the weekend was high viewing hours. But now my time with him is too valuable to spend watching a show with him, though I still love doing that.

My next step is to see what action I may want to take in order to change my priorities to more closely reflect what my heart's desire is. This is not an easy procedure. What can I do to take these steps? For me it means not even turning on the TV, once it's on it stays on. I try to resist that temptation. I have times where it's on, but usually it has something that must be done at the end of the hour or whatever my set time is for TV. I plan something to follow it closely, so we turn it off. If for example, I would have turned it on at 11 when the little ones were jumping around and being crazy, my little ones would have settled down, but the older ones would not have cotten done with work and cannot concentrate as well. And because it's the morning, I would have turned it on sooner this afternoon. But if I wait till 4:30 as the schedule dictates, and the house is relatively clean and picked-up, then there is less time spent watching and our goals are accomplished.

For each one it will and should be different. Noone will have the same priorities even. But it's about intentionally living out what we want to be priorities in our lives. If we leave it to chance, I'm pretty sure it will be a miss. I think if my relationship with God is on track, then I'm a better wife, a better mother, a better friend etc.

How are some ways you prioritize things so that your priorities remain high on your list?
Steph

Monday, February 27, 2012

Organizing a closet

Yesterday, my husband asked two things of me. One was to empty his side of the closet of some of his shirts and things he doesn't use.  The other was to clean out and organize his work trucks.  Now, I'm hoping you don't think this presumptious of him, to ask me to do these things.  He works 6 days a week about 10 hours a day and two evenings he spends with the teens from our church.  The day he's not working, we all spend attending church together in the morning till noon and in the evening.  Basically his only hours off, if you can call them that, are between noon and 7 on Sunday. 

So I'm happy that he asked me to do this, though I wondered at what point I would have time to take on such an enormous task as organizing the closet.  And so the question....

How do you eat an elephant? 

What?  I can hear you asking.  And yet, the answer to this question also answers the question of time.  If I were to take on the task of eating an elephant, I would eat it one bite at a time.  And so the closet.   If I am going to take on the enormous task of cleaning a closet (and ours is small by walk-in standards) then I need to break it into chunks.

On my schedule, I do have about 45 minutes before school starts when dishes are being done and kids are preparing their rooms for the "Check".  So I,  because I dare not be hypocritical,  have assigned myself the task of making sure my room will pass inspection too.   Though as the inspector, I do tend to fudge that one a bit.   My husband reminds me that it's not good to expect their rooms to be clean if our own is filled with papers that need to be filed, and laundry to put away. 

So, this morning, I thought that I would start this daunting task.  I started pulling out all of his clothes(on hangars) and sorting them according to jeans, dress pants, long sleeved shirts, T-shirts, long-sleeved dress shirts, sweaters, short-sleeved dress shirts.  I found that he had about 5 coats in there that others had given him, so I'm putting them away for the boys, some of them would work, others may not.  And then I started sorting.

I was in fear and trembling at this point.  I could tell that things were not happening according to plan downstairs with the dishes, etc.  But I pressed on.  I certainly could not walk away from this task with all the hanging clothes spread in piles around the room.  Once the children I babysit come, I rarely make it back up to my room.  And by evening, I would never remember that there was much to be done up there.  I knew that coming up to bed would not be a good time to find clothes all over the bed.  So I continued.

First, I sorted all the clothes he'd wear for work and everyday at home - t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts and jeans.  Then I sorted for the real work - his pasture clearing job - the grubby ones that can get stained or torn.  Finally his church clothes. 

Amazingly, I had enough time to sort my own clothes as well.  I brought out a garbage bag of coats to save, about a garbage bag of clothes to give and about a garbage bag of clothes for rags.  And it only took me about 45 minutes. 

All that to say that sometimes the elephant looks huge, until you start eating it.  Actually, the longer you wait to start, the bigger it becomes. 

So happy closet cleaning.  Just do part and it will inspire you to do more.  And now to clean the trucks.  I think I'll tackle that this afternoon as baby isn't here today and it looks nice out.  Everyone out to play while Mommy cleans some trucks. :)

Steph

Friday, February 24, 2012

A new thing

I'm trying something new. I was looking on Pinterest the other day and found something under an organization heading ( I love organizing). It was about organizing your weight loss. Hmm. Never thought of it like that. So it peaked my interest. Our budget does not allow for Weight Watchers or spending any money on losing weight, just spending less because I don't eat as much. :) She mentioned a site called, "Lose It!". It's free. So I thought I would check it out.

Now, I don't have a lot to lose. But I do have that stuff left over from the last baby, and I would like to get rid of it. I think it's about time now that he's had his fourth birthday. :) So my goal is 20 pounds. On this site, you tell them your current weight, goal weight and then log what exercises you do and what foods you ate. It's quite nice. I'm impressed, but this is my first experience at all with websites like this, so maybe it's not so impressive. The most impressive thing for me was FREE!

Because I know what supper is, I've already plugged that in, so I know what I can do for a snack. I know how I'll limit myself with that, so that I don't go over as well, and if, perchance, there are some extra calories allowed, oh well. My main goal is not to go over. Also because exercising factors in, I can do extra jumping jacks or whatever to help.

The other thing I did yesterday was I organized the games. I'm having a hard time getting rid of as many as I would like. We have some great games, but I think I'm going to have to break down and say if pieces are missing (number will depend on size of game) we'll throw it away. If it's a game we really like, we'll get a new one. So now I have four little baskets/tote things of games puzzles, aside from our school ones and the bigger games. One is for mind games/puzzles - like Perplexus and other things like that. More for the older ones as the younger ones will just view them as toys. Next is my older kids games (ones that the younger ones can't play by themselves) - like Monopoly etc. Then there is the box/crate of games for the little ones - Mastermind Jr, Chutes and ladders (the pieces, the board is stored with the boards) etc. Finally, we have a box/crate full of puzzles, memory etc that a child can play on their own or with another young one. They may only pick one out and must return it before another can be played.

I had a huge dog food bag full of pieces and things to take to the dump after this job. I keep the pet's food bags for putting trash for the dump in. I used to store it in the closet, but nothing would find it's way there until I had armloads of stuff. So now, one bag just sits next to the trash can and I put things in as I find them. And usually, there's another bag to put there when the other is full. BTW the regular trash can is only for items that can be burned, which is why that's separate like that. I try to make a run to the dump once a month, but I think it's been two months now. And the puppies have found the bags I put in the shed, therefore, we must find a different spot.

There you have it. Three organization things in one. I'm kind of excited to start working on more organization in my house again. Seems like I whip it into shape only to put my feet up and watch it crumble. Then after awhile, I get motivated again. Have I told you that I'm not a maintainer? I love to plan and organize, but the maintainenance of it all usually goes downhill pretty fast.

You know what though, I'm going to keep working at it because it's worth it and hopefully this side of glory I'll have it somewhat mastered. I'm going to keep pressing on.
Steph

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My weekend

I thought I'd share how God has been working in my heart through the weekend. 

This weekend, my husband and I, took the youth group to Dare2Share.  A wonderful lady came to stay with our younger 5 and the kids love her.  It's almost like having Grandma come over.  All of her grandchildren live in different states or countries, so she seems to enjoy being with them as well.

As we've been preparing for Dare2Share, I have not been as excited as I should have.  For me, it's because I know I need to share what I believe, but I don't like doing it, unless I know the other person wants to know. 

John 6:68 "Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life." 

If there was a fire in a building, I would be telling people.  If there was a lion in the streets, I would warn whoever would listen.  Why when I know the One who has the words of eternal life, why am I afraid to tell people?  What am I afraid of?

We're studying Jeremiah in Sunday School.  I think I need to hear these words as well. Jeremiah 1:17 (the Lord is speaking to Jeremiah) "Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all which I command you.  Do not be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you before them."

As we were practicing out at a middle school near the conference, the kids came up and told me.  "This is too hard, I just want to go back to my school and tell my friends.  That will be easier."  I asked them, "Will it?  Will it be easier for you to experience rejection from someone you see every day?  or is it easier to tell a stranger, because if they reject you, you won't feel the sting of it for very long."  I told them that if they choose this journey of sharing their faith, it will break their hearts.  It will be painful, but soooo worth it.  It will cause growth in them that will be more than they can comprehend.  It's worth it. 

As Greg Stier says, "Awkward is awesome!"  but really, is it?  Not to me.  I don't want to do it.  The thing is, I think I need to get over that first hump.  That first time.  If I do it once then it will be easier the next time. 

Lord, break my heart.  Help me see this world through your eyes.  Help me to see that they are lost and headed for an eternity without Christ and that eternity is terrible.  Give me wisdom and the words to say.  Help me to share You with others.  May I be your willing servant.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Menu planning and budgeting

Yesterday, Grandma sent some money for treats.  So I told them we'd have to all work together to pick our favorites and spend the money from Grandma. :)  Jones piped up that it would be great to lasagna for Valentine's, after all candy isn't good for us.  Surprisingly everyone agreed.  So I decide to challenge the four older ones. 

The challenge was this: Make a meal for Valentine's Day for $20.  Obviously this transpired yesterday  and so the meal won't be on Valentine's Day, but our family has always been flexible about these things. There must be 5 things in this meal: Beverage, Main Dish, Salad, Bread and Dessert. 

I must add a funny note that some of you may have seen on Facebook.  Tank asked if he could find a special plate to use.  I said yes and continued making plans with the older four.  He was frantically rummaging through the cupboards until "Aha!" up he came with my grandmother's platter, "Here is my main dish!" he says.  It was very hard not to laugh while we explained to him that main dishes are something you eat, not what you serve it on. :)

Each child (now Tank was included because I couldn't bear to turn him away) was to take a cookbook and some writing paper to quiet time and individually and somewhat secretly make out their proposal for a meal. 

After quiet time, they brought their proposals to me and I estimated what I thought each would cost, as I looked up the recipes they had chosen and used my knowledge of current prices to write a total at the bottom of their menu.  OOOPS!  All of them were over, though one only by 25 cents. 

Since I had written by each dish/beverage the total for that particular item and even an amount next to each ingredient.  I gave each one back their menus and told them to work them over so that it would fit within the budget.  We had fun doing this, as each decided what they did or didn't need under such conditions.  And no, x-ing off a whole category was quickly nixed.

After they brought them back for approval, I typed up a ballot.  All were to vote even those too little to make up their own menu.  So we had five menus and nine voters.  But instead of just having them vote on the menus, I decided to have two pages - one with menus and one with each category.  So they would have to choose the overall menu they liked best and the beverage, the main dish, the salad, the bread and the dessert they liked best.  So much more fun than watching TV and Dad even had fun as they bombarded him with his ballot the minute he walked in the door.  He had to ask what some things even were.

It was fun and we had to vote on some ties.   There were some tears over not being chosen  the most, but we worked through that.  After all everyone can't be picked, but it turned out that each of the four older ones were a favorite in something, but poor Tank didn't have any top things. 

Consolation prize is making monkey bread with Mom today. :)

Then I added up the favorite categories, turns out it's a cheaper meal than the menu chosen.  So I think we might do that.  Then I'll have different helpers make the categories they won in.   Sharpie will be making Pepsi Burgers; Jones - garlic bread and ice cream cake; Waterman - Sparkling Kool-aid and Bugaboo - Macaroni Salad.  And surprisingly it's a great combination.  Lasagne never even entered the picture in anyone's menu, though that was the meal that started it all.

I'm also going to bring out these menus and their prices today and talk with the children about why these aren't some of our normal choices.  Our budget says we spend $10 a day on meals.  So how do we make some of our favorites work?  Jones wanted a store-bought ice cream cake, but when he found out that he could probably make it for half, he decided to go with that.

Our next step is for me to take the four oldest shopping.  I haven't decided yet how I'll do it.  We may all work together to see if we can make it under the $20 or I may divide it out and give each one their portion and have them see if they can do it.  I'm leaning toward the second idea.

To build on this for a more long-term teaching idea, I think I'll sit down with the older ones and have them help me decide what they will cook when it's their turn on the schedule.  They will also have to submit proposals and try to keep it within budget.  Problem: They don't cook for a whole day, so it's hard to figure out $10/day, but I may just let them plan one day's worth of meals.  Not sure yet.

I really want my children to fully understand running a home.  Yes, even the boys.  Can you imagine if they understand the difficulty of planning meals on a budget?  They will be helpful to their wives and more understanding through the process.   I am definitely not perfect at it, but I love working at it. :)

So thank-you, Grandma, for the gift and to the Lord for giving us brains to work up some ideas to train our children in the way they should go. Oh and by the way, there's still some leftover for those conversation hearts, the only thing they could think of to get on Valentine's Day.  We may be finding some on the icecream cake. ;)

Steph


Monday, February 13, 2012

Praying for others

Colossians 1:9-12
9 ¶ For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

I was looking at these verses today for my devotions.  I've moved on from Philippians to Colossians now and I'm enjoying this book as well.  We are memorizing some verses from Colossians 3 as a school.  There is so much here.  I am so thankful for the living Word that we can grow from.  We can read a man's book once and maybe two times, but not much more before we know the story by heart and it's old hat to us.  But it's never the case with the word of God.  He's always growing and teaching us so that each time we open His Book, it comes alive in a way that's totally new or refreshing some truth already grasped once but lost in the daily living. 
 
As I was assigned to read these verses, Kay Arthur challenged us to make some notes about what is Paul is saying about prayer, and then to pray these verses for someone.  As I listed the things that I saw, it seemed a pattern came to light, but I could be wrong. 
 
Paul is telling the Colossians that he doesn't stop praying for them about certain things:
 
The first one I saw was that they would be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  Is there anyone you can think of that wouldn't need this prayer prayed for them?  I can think of noone who would not need to know what God's will is for them.  Reading these words today made me long to know His will for me.
 
The next thing I found was that he prayed for them to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.  There again, I can't imagine anyone not needing that prayed for on their behalf.  Oh, yes, I am sure that many are walking in a manner worthy, but still praying that on their behalf doesn't seem like a bad idea to me.  I'd sure like to know someone was praying that for me.  And it seems to connect to the first thing I saw.  I think that we can more easily walk worthily when we know His will for us.  Not that that is a pre-requisite necessarily to our walking worthy, but it helps A LOT.
 
Third, I found that he prayed that they would please Him (God) in all respects.  There again if we are walking worthily, I think this goes hand in hand with that as well.
 
Fourth, bearing fruit. 
 
Increasing in the knowledge of God
 
Strengthened with all power
 
Joyously giving thanks to the Father
 
 All are connected as I see it to knowing His will and walking worthy.
 
The part that really touched my heart today was "who qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light."  Beautiful.  Really loved the picture that we don't qualify ourselves, He does it for us, because we have no way of qualifying ourselves at all.
 
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.
Steph

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Train up a child

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."  Proverbs22:6

I have been struggling, as parents often do, to figure out how to handle certain situations that come up during the day.  Our pastor has taught us that he believes the above verse is talking about training up a child in their way, the way that is most meaningful to them. 

Now you may have found that your children are as different as night and day, and I'm here to tell you that even with seven, they are all different.  Some of them have areas that they are similar to a sibling, and yet they are not the same as that sibling.  Even twins, they say, are different.

I have been struggling with some of the children lately.  Let me tell you, it's driven me to pray more for certain someones that actually test my patience on a daily basis.  I will tell you their personalities and some of our goals for them so you can have an idea about what is going on.

Child A is quiet and shy and from the time he was little was nervous about getting into new situations.  He waited until something was familair before he would enter in.  Afraid of getting laughed at, he usually says very little.  And even when a buddy, (someone he considers his "best" friend) asks him to go do something, he says no.  He doesn't like to work outside with Dad much, but would rather be inside helping Mom.  He is a responsible helper.

Child B is out-going and friendly and consequently says things he shouldn't.  He likes to play and can be quite rough.  He also doesn't like to say he's sorry or apologize.  Admitting guilt is hard for him.  He loves to help but on his own terms. He loves working with Dad and would rather be out there than inside caring for his house chores.   He is a smart kid, but when he falls behind he gets discouraged and isn't motivated to stay on task.  After that, it's a snowball effect and he's way behind in everything.

Sounds a bit like Jacob and Esau to me.  Child A is sensitive and not as smart education wise, but he cares for people and it shows.  Child B could make a great leader someday, but needs to learn submission before that will really happen. 

How do we handle things with these? Our goals for Child A are we want him to become familiar with the work Dad does and we want him to have friends.  What situations can we put him into that will help him to become the man he needs to be?  Our goals for Child B are we want him to be the leader he can become and to use his "smarts" for God's glory.  Diligence is probably something lacking in his life.

So we have a situation that I've mentioned before in my blog.  Dad takes two days out of the week and works a tree-clearing job.  He does it on his own and has no employees.  Therefore, for safety's sake, we thought he should have one of the older boys with him.  Child A was given no option.  He's going.  Dad can only take one and Child A has one day where he is only watching one or two younger siblings at home while the others and I are out at a Bible study and piano.  Child B is behind in schoolwork, so was given this ultimatum, if you want to work with Dad, you have to be caught up in your schoolwork in order to go, otherwise on Saturday, a different sibling will go with him.

I think this is training them in the way they should go. It's not the same for both of them.  One is restricted and the other is told he's going.  I must qualify this and say that when they go they will be paid for their work.

I was super nervous about making Child A go.  He's been twice and always comes back with a positive demeanor.  Yes, he's tired and sore.  But that means that he is working for his wage and doing his job.  Child B says he can't wait to get out there and build some muscles.  Child B hopefully, will remember that going is dependent on him getting some work done at home.  Back to Child A, when he found out that Child B may go and help, he was a bit disappointed.  I questioned him on this and it came out that he was enjoying some alone time with Dad.  So Child B may not be able to go on the same day as Child A.  Dad doesn't need two new helpers at the same time anyway, just one.

I know that I'm not the only one who struggles with how to handle things that come up.  Teens are a new one for me as we are just getting to that phase.  But God knows and He's the best parent to ask and He's filled His word with lots of information for us to use.  May we be searching there more than any other place to find the words of truth about how to raise our precious little ones to His honor and glory.

Steph

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesdays are my new favorite!

If you've read my post called "Fridays are my favorite!" you may be wondering what changed.  And things have changed.  My husband and oldest son, Sharpie, are working together to clear a pasture.  The rest of us will be helping on Saturday, but Wednesdays it's the two of them.

How does that make Wednesday good?  Well, they don't leave until first light, which currently is a bit later than when Hubby leaves for work (6:30 am) and I woke up on time to make granola for my baby who turns four, so I have a little bit of time to sit and blog. 

It's quiet in the house except for my diligent one who woke up early to ensure that baby brother got granola on his birthday, and his older brother who went to bed at 8:00 because he didn't want to do his schoolwork.  They're playing a game so it's somewhat quiet.  I love getting up and not rushing around.  The early hours are nice.

GRANOLA:
As a rule, we don't eat cold cereal in this house.  In our family, it takes about two boxes of cereal per meal.  Can you say EXPENSIVE?????  Plus milk and whatever else we're having it is a lot of money.  So we usually only have hot breakfasts which are not so expensive.  Cold cereal with milk would run our family at least 10 dollars a meal.  Eggs and toast - about 3 or 4 dollars.  Quite a difference.  Our budget requires 10 dollars for the whole day.  So while granola is cheaper than cold cereal, it's not the norm for us either.  Oats is about 2 dollars, with syrup - 50 cents, peanuts $1.50 and raisins $1.50, so we're up to $5.50 and usually I can make it work to last 2 meals.  I could doctor it up with more stuff, but that runs the cost up, so that usually depends on if I think we can do extras and pinch somewhere else.

My men:
Sharpie is definitely growing up.  He'll be 14 in a couple of months.  I only do four-day weeks for school so he has one day where he's usually babysitting at home during the Bible study I attend.  I take the little ones that we care for during the week and he watches one or two of our own.  The other older ones have piano that day.  So when this job opp came up for my hubby, we thought that Sharpie should go along.  It's good for him to be out there alone with his dad because he's not super brave, and so will let his younger brothers brave the machinery for him.  I'm so thankful for this opportunity for him to work with his dad and start maturing into manhood.  He won't always like it, but it will be good for him.

My baby:
My baby turns four today.  So now our family is at the easiest stage of counting years for the next two months.  It goes 13,12,11,8,7,5,4.  All the other times of the year I have to stop and think because they're out of sync. :)  Tractorman is a great kid and we are so thankful for him.  He makes all of us laugh and some of us think.  (Read earlier posts. )  Thank you, God, for my little boy.

Ps 16:6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
Steph

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The tongue

Last Sunday, our pastor talked about the tongue - the negative aspect in the morning and the positive aspect in the evening.  I was reminded about how when I was in high school and college, I used to make a lot of mistakes in what I said to people.  I do talk a lot and as Proverbs says, "in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin."  You might want to look that up in a newer version, but I grew up with the KJV and that's how I remember it.  I was thinking of how I have, seemingly, been doing better.  YEAH!!!  It's no fun messing up with your words and feels awful when you find you've hurt someone.

So there I was listening to my pastor's sermon and thinking, "Yep, got this one under control."  During the evening service, the realization hit me that I do NOT have this under control, as I am putting out fires all the time at home because I bring discouragement to my children often when I am frustrated with them.  When seven of them are all needing my attention, I can get pretty exasperated with them and my speech isn't always "seasoned with salt".

I've noticed that with one especially, the discouragement is clearly visible on his face and I am reminded that while it IS my job to teach them, my words must still be seasoned with salt.    I need to be careful that my frustration doesn't come through in my words.  Isn't there a way I can speak to them that will show my care and love for them as well as help them grow. 

Ephesians 4:25-32 were the positive outlook on the tongue.  "Let no unwholesome talk proceed from your mouth, but only that which" edifies.  Sometimes when I'm speaking to them it sounds degrading.  "Haven't I taught you how to clean the sink?  Why would you leave it like this?  This certainly does not look like what I've taught you to do."  Depending on my tone, I can sound reproving, which is acceptable, or degrading.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

So may our words be seasoned with salt and edify those who hear it.
Steph

Monday, February 6, 2012

Diligence

We've been listening to "Antshillvania" on our drives lately. It's the story of the prodigal son with ants as the characters. I used to listen to it as a child and my children love it. My littlest, Tractorman asked, "Mommy, does God really say that ants are wise?" He was asking because the little prodigal ant was singing, "I'm gonna be noble and wise." I had to think about that for a minute and then remembered the verse "Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise."

So I guess that God does consider the ant to be wise, at least her ways are wise, because she is diligent about her work and she stores up for the winter. Whenever I see ants I never see them still unless they are dead, that's the way I prefer my ants anyways. But I find myself putting my feet up and asking so-and-so to go take care of this or tell them to come here and I'll take care of the problem. Now, I'm not saying there aren't times for that. I've really had to work at Elisabeth Elliot's advice of finishing a task before moving on to the next one. But generally, I need to be going to the children and dealing with the problem or inspecting their work.

I also have many things that need to be taken care of. Some of them do involve sitting at the computer, but there are things I can be doing always in this house. Just thinking about the ant motivates me. When I've been feeling discouraged lately about the state of the house or about issues not being resolved, I pray and ask the Lord to intervene and give me a new perspective and he's been faithful to do that. Even from the mouth of an almost-four-year old who doesn't even know that God is using him in his mother's life.

And maybe ants aren't all that smart intellectually, but we are wise if we are diligent like the ant.

Steph

Friday, February 3, 2012

Husbands and wives

A couple of days ago in our Bible study, we were discussing the struggles of how to manage our children and the subject of husbands came up.  So I looked up all the instructions to wives concerning their husbands and these are the verses that I found.  I only searched wives, but probably could do a search on women and maybe find another one or two.

1Pe 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives


Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Col 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

These are the commands and only the ones to the wives.  We are responsible for ourselves and not our husbands.  Our job is to be the helper and this we find in Genesis 3, or is it Genesis 2.  We are not doormats and some would say these verses would be commanding us to be, but rather, the next one under in authority.  We are in essence the Vice President of our family. 
Things are delegated to us and we do them without asking the "President" necessarily.  But when decisions come, the VP and the President should discuss things to make sound decisions for the family.  They should pray about them together and individually, but if it comes to a difference of opinion between the husband/President and the wife/VP, the husband would rule as it were in this case. 
 
It's funny that it sounds so terrible to us women.  But when we're walking with the Lord and walking in the Spirit, this is such a great place to be.  My mom's favorite thing to say, when things were tough and there were lots of decisions to make, "I'm glad I'm the wife."  The unity that God desires in a marriage comes when we're choosing to walk in His way.  We can't say that we want that unity and then choose to make up our own rules about how that might best take place.
 
Practically, what does this mean?  Say, my husband has a different idea about how to spend some extra cash, he is leader, it's his perrogative.  (If he is acting in his God-given role, he would probably at least discuss it with his wife, but we're talking about us, not them).  I cringe when I hear of wives giving their husbands an allowance.  If he has asked for help and this is the arrangement, then so be it.  That's fine.  I'm not sure I would call it an allowance, can't think of anything else to use though. :)
 
When my husband seems bent on choosing something that I definitely think would not be good, what do I do?  I think then we need to take a step back and consider...what's the worst thing that could happen?  that he'd be wrong?!?!  That's not too terrible. What if we went my way and I was wrong?  But I think there is a place for a quiet word (we are helpers) to ask them to consider another view.  But once that's stated, we step back and wait and maybe pray.  Maybe pray - ridiculous that it would be possible that maybe we wouldn't pray, but that's sometimes the true perspective we have. For we really should be praying before we even share that quiet word.
 
Sometimes our husbands need a clue about how much we need their help.  For instance, I'm struggling with one of our children right now.  He's not cooperating and choosing to do things that aren't in his boundaries to do until school is over.  Say my husband comes home and turns on the TV and/or rushes about getting ready to go to the next thing.  If I try to talk with him and he seems distant, sometimes I can just put my hand on his arm and quietly say, "Honey, when you get a minute I have something that I really need to talk with you about." Inevitably there will be a moment soon that he will give me so that I can share my concerns.
 
Ladies, our husbands have the greater responsibility in leading a family.  Let's do everything we can to support them in their job, and you know what? I think we'll find that our own job is easier because of it.  The struggle is worth the end result.
 
Because He alone is worthy,
Steph