Sunday, July 29, 2007
For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer,but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 1 Peter 3:10-12 (quoting from Psalm 34)
The words that keep ringing in my mind are "Seek peace and pursue it." Over and over. "Seek peace and pursue it." And you know what? I think that's what I've been doing.
First, you've got to seek peace. Look for it. Prayerfully ask God where it will be found. In setting a certain relationship in order? In becoming obedient in a certain area? In giving Him an area of fear? In my case, I decided that one of the places peace could be found for me was in an orderly home, which I admittedly hadn't had in quite some time. I used to be a nut about keeping my house perfect. When the kids were very small, I was so into my house that it became an area of bondage for me. Over the years, with God's help, I began to relax my standards. Then, my flesh took over and in recent years, my increasingly relaxed standards coincided with our increasingly busy schedule, and chaos began to take root. In my junk drawers. In my master closet. In the garage. Ack! I was in bondage to the house again, but not because it was too neat, but because it was too messy! Oh, it looked fine if you came over, but I knew that lurking behind cabinet and closet doors, and on the other side of the garage, there It was. Disorder. And the mess wasn't just contained in closets and drawers, but it began to invade my thinking as well. My mind became just as cluttered. And, I have to admit that I felt no energy or enthusiasm to do anything about it! I would clean a cabinet and wait for the "cleaning fever" to hit like it used to, and it didn't. I would take a vitamin. Drink some coffee. Pray. (Not necessarily in that order!) And still, the cleaning bug didn't bite. I wanted it clean, but didn't want to put everything aside in order to do it. The kids wanted to go to the pool, we were invited to go out of town, there was a conference, we had mission trips... there was always something!
Well, in recent weeks, I decided to do the second half of that sentence: "Pursue it." I knew peace could be found in order, but I had to pursue it. I began to see that cleaning a kitchen cabinet here, a pantry there, a laundry room shelf here and a bookshelf there were starting to help clear my mind and energize me. As I posted last week, I tackled my son's room, and as I mentioned in my post, my master closet was next. Boy, was it ever! I emptied that thing all over my room, up and down our hallway, and into our dining room. Stuff. Everywhere.
I became the "clothes bouncer," deciding which clothes could come back in. "You, but not you... you but not you." I interviewed my clothes, asking pointed questions like:
"Who was president when you were purchased?"
"When was the last time you were worn outside of this closet?"
"Does the number on your tag accurately represent my current size?"
"Does wearing you look like a cry for help?"
You know. Those tough questions that some of the clothes in our closets don't want to answer!
Sadly, not everyone qualified to come back in. Not all of our "stuff" was qualified to come back in, either. Some memorabilia, I found, wasn't worth taking a walk down memory lane with anymore. There were some things I thought I would want around, that suddenly I didn't want as much as I wanted peace. So, out they went. For two days I worked. Now, it's beautiful. It's organized. It smells like Cucumber Melon air freshener. Aaaahhh.
Yesterday we tackled the garage. My school shelves are where I can get to them, you can walk through it without wearing protective clothing. It's a work in progress, but it's measurable progress!
And do you know what I found this week? Peace!! Apparently it was stuffed in my master closet, garage, and under my son's trundle bed all along! Flattened under piles of stuff and weighed down by clutter, fragments of peace were cloistered away, just waiting to be found. I've got a pile of junk ready to go out with the trash in the morning, and a mountain of wonderful treasures ready to be picked up for donation on Tuesday. And I'm walking around clutching my prized posession, my greatest find in all of that mess... my peace!
I know that the ultimate goal should not be neatness for neatness' sake, but godliness and holiness. But I found that, for me, the disorder in my home did not reflect God's character, for He is a God of order, not chaos. I've still got some other areas where God has shown me I'm to pursue peace... a couple of relationships and some habits I need to work on, but the peace I've found in recent days by restoring order in my home will certainly accompany me into those areas as well. Sort of like a "peace snowball" I guess. It's getting bigger!
Where is your peace? I would encourage you to, with God's help, decide where it will be found, to seek it. Then, with His energy... pursue it! It's worth it!
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Come to the Internet Cafe today where I'm discussing how being sweet can effect others. Our example is a woman from the Bible who I'm sure was, as we in Texas would say, "just the sweetest thing" even though she had good reasons to be bitter.
It sure would be sweet of you to stop on by!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I'm sure one of them uttered a silent prayer, a plea for rescue, as I was speaking. How am I sure? Because after I had issued our orders for the day and we began to get our game faces on, the phone rang. It was Grandma. She's enjoying a week of vacation, and wouldn't the children like to spend the day with her at the lake? Luke's brother has a beautiful travel trailer/ RV which he took out to a lake not far from here and set up for her so she could spend time out there fishing and enjoying time by the water, relaxing. (Isn't that a sweet son?) So, of course, she would love it if the kids could go with her and fish and swim and enjoy it with her. (Isn't that a sweet Grandma?) I stood looking at the chaos and dirt around me (the result of our flying-by-the-seat-of-our-swim-suits summer lifestyle) my plan-for-the-day still echoing in my mind. The kids were already cheerfully hopping to it (really, that's how they are!) having no idea what I was on the phone discussing. I held their futures in my very palm, and they had no idea! So, what did I do? I let them go, of course. (Isn't that a sweet mom?)
Before they left, I decided we would do something for Dad, who is working long(er) hours this week while his business partner is out of the country. He's starting his days at 4:30 AM, coming home v-e-r-y tired. Too tired to mow the yard. So, my son and I tackled the yard together. I mowed and he
I did what Laura the Organizing Junkie suggests, which is "empty the space." And I mean, I emptied the space. I took everything out of his closet and put it in the playroom. I took every toy, bin, shelf, all but his bed, desk and dresser... out. Bless his heart! If he would've been there I know I would've gotten frustrated with him over what I was finding. I'll bet I found enough socks to outfit the nearest elementary school. When I pulled out his trundle bed to move it, it was covered in books, socks, pencils, his mp3 player, etc. I decided early on that while I was working in his room that day, I would pray through it. I also decided that if I got frustrated with him (which I did, often! "This is not where he's supposed to put this!! And he knows it!!") I would pray for him. I had to keep reminding myself, that... he's a child! He's learning. And as I went through his things, putting things back in order and praying for that sweet child, I learned too.
I wonder if that's what it's like for Jesus, as He's going through the mess in my heart that I bring Him daily. I wonder if He thinks, "What a mess! What is this doing in here?? What did I tell you to do with this? And, do you still have this? I thought I asked you to get rid of it. Here, let Me help." It made me think of that little booklet, My Heart, Christ's Home, that I got from a Sunday School teacher in middle school. The concept of Jesus coming in and helping me deal with the clutter in my heart and setting it in order for His purposes has always been such a blessing to me. I'm His child. I'm learning.
So, what were the results? When my cute husband came home and saw the yard, he looked at me like he wanted to marry me again. I was even still in my yardwork clothes with my hair piled on my head! He said, "I thought you were kidding when you said you mowed!" Kidding? Who would kid about a thing like that? That's like burning a cookie-scented candle and making everyone's mouth water, thinking there's fresh-baked cookies somewhere when there's just... wax! Anyway, it was worth it to see the look on his tired face when he got home after a long day and was able to relax instead of do yard work.
My son came home today (they ended up spending the night last night- fun!) and l-o-v-e-d his room. He's up there now, listening to his radio and playing with his hamster in his newly-organized room. He feels thankful, most of all. (He hugged me SO tight. "Thanks, mom!!") He feels relieved that it's done. He feels empowered because everything is where he can get to it and knows exactly where to put his things. He feels relaxed because clutter has a way of producing tension. (I ought to know... it's how I feel when I walk in my closet! That's next on my list!) It's been in order before, but after our schoolyear and busy summer, it needed to be organized. I'm sure in a few months it will need it again, and that's okay. I wish I had a picture of his smile. And someday I'll share pictures of his room.
But right now I'm too tired!
Monday, July 23, 2007
Okay, here's what we've got cookin' this week:
Monday: Bar-b-cups, green beans, corn
Tuesday: order pizza
Wednesday: Chicken Pesto Panini sandwiches (on the George Foreman grill), Baked Potato soup
Thursday: Leftover buffet
Friday: African Chicken Treat, rice, stir-fried veggies
Weekend: Leftovers, sandwiches, out to eat after church
Be sure to stop by Laura's for more menu plans, or to share your own. I hope you're stirring up some fun at your house this week!
Friday, July 20, 2007
"The word 'rebelution' is a combination of the words "rebellion" and "revolution." So it carries a sense of an uprising against social norms. But in this case, it's not a rebellion against God-established authority, but against the low expectations of our society. It's a refusal to be defined by our ungodly, rebellious culture. Actually, we like to think of it as rebelling against rebellion. "
"And it's exciting, because the Rebelution has really become a type of counter-cultural youth movement among Christian young people from around the country, and even around the world, who are not only rejecting the lies and the corruption of media-saturated youth culture, but they're returning to biblical and historical levels of character and competence."
Alex and Brett Harris are awesome, truly leading by example and encouraging our youth to "rebel against low expectations" and "do hard things." Amen! I can't wait for our kids to hear what they (and their father, Gregg, whom we greatly admire) have to say.
I'll let you know what we learn. (And I do mean "we." Am I ever in "learning mode" at the moment!)
Have a blessed weekend!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
A couple of years ago I read How to Get The Most From God's Word by John MacArthur. In that book, he outlined a Bible reading plan that really interested me. This spring, as I began my usual daily-Bible-reading-derailment during the weeks preceding our trip to China, I was reminded of the method MacArthur described, so I looked it up and decided to try his approach.
Old Testament: MacArthur says, "For the Old Testament, I suggest reading through all of it once a year in a narrative manner (from Genesis to Malachi, no skipping around.) ...the best way to read the Old Testament is straight through, like a story. Don't look for a presentation of systematic theology... simply read the Old Testament to see what it says, to hear the story it has to tell. You will see the unfolding of God's progressive revelation; and you will also discover foundations for New Testament truths that come later.... When you come to a passage you don't understand completely, don't let it bog you down. Put a question mark in the margin and move on. As you continue to read the Old Testament year by year, line upon line and precept upon precept, you will begin to erase the question marks." He breaks it down into about 3 chapters a day (15-20 minutes).
New Testament: MacArthur says of the New Testament, "I use a little different approach. I still keep the principle of repetition from Isaiah 28:9 (line upon line, precept upon precept) but with an important variation. Instead of reading through the entire New Testament from Matthew to Revelation, I read each book over and over for thirty days... The Bible has a flow and a context, especially the letters from Paul, James, and others. When somebody writes you a letter, you don't stop to read a nice line, then jump two pages to find another good thought. You read it through, to understand the flow of thought.... You break the longer books up and still use the same thirty-day system. For example, the Gospel of John has twenty-one chapters. Divide it into three sections of seven chapters each."
His book goes into greater depth about the benefit of such a plan and the discipline involved, and I highly recommend it. (In fact, when I originally read it I read big chunks of it to my kids, too.) This summer I began with Colossians, now I'm in 1 Peter, and I'll be going on to James in August. In my Old Testament readings I am in Ruth, and it has coincided with Nancy Leigh DeMoss's series on Ruth on Revive our Hearts. God is so faithful!
Another thing I have been doing, which has been fun, is to use the Inductive Study Approach as outlined in The New Inductive Study Bible. I first learned this method when I did a Precepts Bible study two years ago, and I love it. I get to color in my Bible! Each morning I get out my box of colored pencils and color-code and mark key words throughout the passages I'm reading. Mainly, I've been marking my New Testament readings, a new chapter as I read the entire book each day. I'm not marking the Old Testament passages, although I've begun marking Ruth as I'm lingering there listening to Revive Our Hearts. (There is a pretty good explanation of how to "mark" or observe passage in this method here.)
Here is a picture of one of my pages from 1 Peter, to show how I've marked it. (You can click on it to make it larger.)There is a list of suggested markings in the front of the Inductive Study Bible, and I have some that I've developed on my own to help me remember key concepts. Combining the methods I learned in Precepts with MacArthur's reading plan has been so beneficial for me.
Are there days I don't get to it? Sure! Are there days I don't read every single chapter in "the plan"? Absolutely! You know what? It doesn't matter! The key is, I'm in God's Word, soaking up His truths, reading them in context and prayerfully applying His profound Word to my life. It's not meant to be intimidating or rigid, but enjoyable, interesting, and relevant. There's no "wrong" way to mark passages, it's strictly what helps me to identify key words, phrases, themes, people, and lists. I'm enjoying it immensely, and since I always love hearing what Bible study methods work for other people, I thought I'd share it with you today. I'd love to know what you've found that works for you, too!
Visit Shannon to read more of what works for some of the smartest women on the web!
Monday, July 16, 2007
Visit Laura's for more menu ideas, or to share yours.
Now, onto a fun meme that Susanne tagged me for last week. This is the "Questions Meme." She made up 5 questions for me to answer, I answer them, make up 5 more questions and then tag 5 other people.
Here are her questions:
1. If you could meet any famous person in the world, be it political leader, celebrity, novelist, missionary or preacher, etc. who would it be? Hmmm. Well, it depends on what book I'm reading, usually, but I'd say that I've always wanted to sit down and chat with Elisabeth Elliot. She's so, so wise, and gets straight to the point!
2. What is your all time favorite novel and why is it your favorite? I don't read a lot of fiction, but one of my all-time favorites that I read in high school and is currently in my "to-be-read-again" pile is To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee's writing is masterful, I love the way she develops the characters, and the story is gripping and makes me cry. I love it.
3. If you could go on any game show, past or present, which would it be? Well, since as a homeschool mom I already play "Are You Smarter Than A __th Grader" everyday, I definitely won't choose that one! I'd have to say Wheel of Fortune. Even though I know that I'd freeze up and forget what vowels and consonants are and land on "bankrupt" repeatedly...
4. If you could obliterate one tv show off the current programming schedule which would it be? Desperate Housewives
5. What is your dream job? I grew up wanting to be Julie from Love Boat, so I'll have to say cruise director!
Great questions, Susanne! That was fun!
Here are my questions:
1. When is a time you felt especially close to God?
2. If you could learn another language (easily), what would it be?
3. What house chore is your least favorite and why?
4. If you could have any animal (tamed) as a pet, what would it be?
5. What's one thing about your life now that would've surprised the "teenager you" to know?
I tag Linda, Lisa, Mindy, Lauren, and Christine.
Well, on to the "musings." One thing I'm musing about right now is a toothache. I used some Anbesol earlier and enjoyed a numb tongue, but no real pain relief. Ith a good thing my kidth were gone thwimming and I dint have to thay anything... Oh! And one of my favorite jokes is coming true this afternoon. My dentist appointment is at 2:30. (Tooth-hurty?? Get it??? Cracks me up everytime!) But for some reason, I'm not laughing as hard today! Another thing I'm musing about this morning is how blessed I am to be in a ministry with my husband. We worked this weekend on our Awana schedule for the year, I finalized all of the record keeping from last year, and we brainstormed some leadership issues and upcoming events. We are meeting with our Childrens Pastor's assistant tomorrow to go over our year. As busy as it keeps us at times, I just love serving with my husband. So often our obligations and ministries take us in separate directions, and I just love that we're in this together. It's such a blessing and a privilege! I'm also musing about school. I'm knee deep in curriculum and planning for our homeschool year (which I post about on my homeschool blog when I can). Homeschooling is another blessing and gift in my life for which I am always doubly thankful this time of year. God is so, so faithful to give me enthusiasm for what He has called me to do.
Well, thanks for reading all of this! I hope your week is off to a great start, and that you, too, are experiencing enthusiasm and strength through God Himself as you do whatever He has called you to. Be blessed today!
Friday, July 13, 2007
And you know what? Neither can you. Praise God, we don't have to! Join me today at the Internet Cafe where I'm discussing blog intimidation, "irl" comparison (what's that???), guilt, a liberating quote, and some thoughts on how sometimes good enough is... good enough!
I'd love to see you there!
Monday, July 09, 2007
Here are some hints:
Yes, we headed to San Antonio! It's been rainy everywhere, but we decided to take our chances and head south. Luke and I realized a few months ago that our kids have seen the world, but not much of our fair state, so with work being slow due to the rain we decided it would be a fine time to take them on a "San Antonio Spur"-of-the-moment trip to Sea World and the Alamo. We had a great time! I was finishing folding some laundry when he called from work to say, "Hey, let's do it!" so I just diverted laundry into some duffle bags and off we went!
We arrived late after taking the dogs to be boarded and sitting in rush hour traffic leaving town. Once we arrived to our hotel we realized that the only room available was a smoking room, which didn't work for us at all. SO, here we were on a weekend, in the summer, looking for a hotel room in a major tourist town. We drove from hotel to hotel, Luke would go in a ask what they had and I would be on my cell phone calling the ones in the travel guide. On our way to one that seemed okay, he happened to pull into one we hadn't seen. Just what do you think the Lord provided? A beautiful Marriott Courtyard that had only been open for four days! We had a beautiful suite and more than likely, we were the first people to ever stay in it. Instead of smoke, it smelled of fresh paint, new carpet, and fresh linens. Heaven.
Ready for a fun day!
A theme park is a busy place on a summer Saturday, but way more fun than being home doing chores, which inevitably happens if you're around the house on the weekend...
Feeding the dolphins
How do they DO that???
Shamu was so fun, we went to that show twice. (The second show was a different one.) Am I the only one who cries when they play that music and Shamu and the trainer swim around together?? I'm such a sap!
Breakfast on the Riverwalk the next morning on our way to the Alamo.
Visiting the Alamo was a perfect cap-off to our study of Texas History this year. It was a great weekend!
I hope you had a great weekend as well. Isn't summer spontaneity fun?
Friday, July 06, 2007
Thursday, July 05, 2007
If all of us moms could just memorize this song, it would really streamline our day! This is Anita Renfroe in a clip, found here on her website from her DVD "Total Momsense." It's everything a mom says in 24 hours condensed in 2 minutes and 55 seconds. The first part is cut off for some reason, but I'm sure we've all said it... whatever it is!
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Let freedom ring! Yes, today we celebrate our country's freedom. Our hard-won independence. Our patriotism. When I really begin to think about it, my mind automatically thinks of the Revolutionary War heroes who gave all. I found out last year that I have a patriot in my ancestry, which qualifies me for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. I remember reading through all of the research and seeing my family tree leading me to him and seeing his name, rank, and location. All of a sudden I felt a... connection. A connection to something historical and fascinating. Yes, today I'll be thinking of my Great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather Thomas.
Freedom from one thing leads to freedom to do something else. So, today as the firecrackers are popping, I'm going to be thanking my Heavenly Father that He sent His Son to set me truly free- free from the eternal consequences of my sin, free from sin's bonds while on this earth, free from thinking that this life is all there is. And I'm going to be thinking all day about what I've been set free for.
You're free to dance
Free from worry
That's true freedom.
Don't you feel a connection to something historical and fascinating now, too?
Happy Independence Day, everyone!
Monday, July 02, 2007
Monday: Orange-glazed pork chops, stir fried veggies, baked potatoes
Tuesday: Pizza Pancakes, caesar salad
Wednesday: ****Happy Fourth of July!**** Cooking out.
Thursday: Pan-fried fish, mixed vegetables, salad
Weekend: Sandwiches, leftovers, and out-to-eat after church
What we loved last week:
Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches I got the recipe out of my Fix It and Forget It cookbook, but it's similar to this one, and it was a *hit* around here.
Fruit Pizza I found this recipe and made it for a party a couple of weeks ago, and we loved it so much I made another one last week for our family.
I like this recipe because it also has a glaze. Easy and so, so yummy!
This one isn't as "pretty" as the one I made for the party, and I didn't like our bananas so I used mandarin oranges and they were great! (I just noticed that just about every picture I post has something in one of these metal baking pans. It's a family thing. My grandmother has a bunch, and so do I because you can bake things, pop the metal lid on it, stack it in the fridge, transport it, and it is virtually indestructable!) I made it in this rather than on a pizza pan so we could store it and eat it over a couple of days.
Fried Ice Cream- I got a recipe from the Spanish curriculum we used when the kids were younger, and it has been a family favorite! I haven't seen it in any books (and our curriculum is packed away) but the recipe is similar to the one found here. (The top one that doesn't actually involve frying!) I threw together some nachos one night last week and this was a perfect dessert to follow! I substitute some other ingredients to make ours a little sweeter, though. Here's how I do it:
Cinnamon graham crackers
Vanilla ice cream (in nice, round scoops) You can scoop them up and refreeze them for a bit, or just work fast.
Crush the graham crackers finely. (I use my food processor.) Also crush the Frosted Flakes, but not into a powder like the graham crackers. Put each into separate bowls.
Scoop out the ice cream (and brace yourself for your hands to be cold for a few minutes!)
Then you roll the ice cream ball, first in the graham crackers, then in the Frosted flakes. I have to sometimes press the Frosted Flakes around it to make it stick.
Put them on a plate or pan lined with wax paper, and then cover with caramel syrup before you put them back in the freezer, where they will harden while you eat dinner.
An easy, fun treat! (And one that the kids can help with, too.)
Thanks for visiting, and I hope this week finds you cookin' up some fun, in or out of the kitchen!
Visit Laura for more menus, or to share yours. Thanks, Laura!