Sunday, June 30, 2013

You Just Can't Trust People...Including Yourself!

A great article I read today...http://www.shepherdpress.com/self-awareness-and-the-heart/

Friday, June 28, 2013

Recycling - Faithful in the Little Things

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." Luke 16:10

 My mother-in-law inspired me on Wednesday. She has a talent for home decoration. We went to help move some furniture out and new furniture in. She can match colors and arrange furniture in such a way that it really is a joy to be in her home. My mom is like that too! Now somehow I missed that talent :) My home decoration style is eclectic at best, and lived-in and cozy are a few other words that can be used positively.

 One thing I have benefited from is FlyLady. She has given me a new way of looking at housecleaning and organization and a new way of thinking about it. With my mother-in-law rearranging and everything, I came home and looked around. I don't have much space in my home...so the first thing I thought was, I can't do anything. Then I got on PINTEREST!!!! Wow! I found out that there are much smaller homes than I have and they are nice and well organized! I tackled 4 projects today and am pleased with how they turned out. I recycled with all of them, which is cool. And I did not have to spend a dime...which is also cool. These little things that I am trying to get under control will help me to get the larger areas under control in time too! just like in the Scripture verse above...you prove yourself in the small things first and then the bigger things. If I am lazy with the small things, I will pretty much be lazy with the bigger things too. If I am not, things will continue to improve and more will be given for me to be responsible with. :)

 Project A: Food Taker/ Bathroom Organizer This project actually happened by mistake. "The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing," said Henry Ford. Last year I attempted to crochet a market bag. I thought I followed the directions correctly but the "bag" never really materialized into a bag. In fact, I could not figure out anything that I could actually use it for. But I had spent so much work and hours crocheting it, that I did not just trash it. I decided to put it over a basket as a decoration. It was not really that decorative because it did not really fit the basket :( But yesterday I was taking supper to a friend whose daughter just had surgery this week. I went out to my building to retrieve my wooden food carrier that I use to take meals to church and take meals to friend and family gatherings...I looked everywhere and could not find it. Perhaps I left it at church...Anyway, I needed something to put the hot dishes in. I looked around and my eyes landed on an old plastic drink crate. I grabbed that thinking at least it would work to carry the dishes in. It was scuffed up and really not the kind of thing you carry to someone's house once I looked at it in the light of the kitchen. I glanced around and my eyes fell on the mistake market bag. Hmmmmm.....right size....hmmmmmm.....I whipped it into the drink crate. It lay very nicely all across the bottom and gently curved over the handles and the sides. Perfect fit. Beautiful carrying tray. A mistake that finally had come into its own :) After delivering the food and coming back home, I looked at it and thought about the huge basket taking up so much room and unorganized in my bathroom. I emptied the basket, threw away what was not needed, and replaced it with the beautified crate. I took several rolls of tissue paper and placed them in, added a few rolled up washcloths, a container of extra hand soap, shampoo bottle and my small bathroom stand alone mirror. Voila!! Now my bathroom looked better and was better organized! This caused me to think of spas...then I thought of those neat clear glass bottles that hold things. I went and got two mason jars and one I filled with cotton balls, the other with facial wipes. Then I remembered a little apothecary/herb glass bottle I had. I brought it in, filled it with Q-tips and set these together. Now my bathroom definitely has a "spa" feel (at least compared to before...LOL!).

 Project B: Closet cleaning and organizing. Got rid of three trash bags of things I cannot use, do not wear, or have held onto for too long. Much neater . My husband looked in and said, "Is this OUR closet?" 

Project C: The shelf above my washer/dryer beside my back door houses many, many things. Some of these many items come crashing to the floor each time someone slams the door. I was on a roll now. I looked around and saw an empty Mtn Dew cardboard 12-can box I was getting ready to throw away. I cut the top off of it and sat the cleaning supplies, air freshener, gloves, sunglasses, cleaning rags inside it and set it up on the shelf. The little hole in the "top" of the container now is the opening that I can pull a dryer sheet though easily each time I throw a load of laundry in to dry. I really liked this project but I think I will cover the box in a pretty scrapbook paper and that will make me like it even more. No more bouncing of miscellaneous items off the shelf.

 Project D: This I read about on Pinterest. Cutting up shoeboxes and dividers from sturdy cardboard to organize your lingerie drawers (and your husband's underwear/sock/pajama drawer). Organized Drawers I am in love with my top two dresser drawers now! Everything is easy to find, no digging through everything. No socks rolling around everywhere. This is genius! And I recycled! Again!
 So I felt very, very productive today...very much like I was taking joy in the small things that God had given me today to try to make better. This is where I heard the whisper of God today...in being happy with being faithful in the small things about being a housewife. Where did you hear Him today?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mason Jar of Mimosa


Letting others know that  you love them can be difficult sometimes.  It is easy to say the words...but difficult to show it.

My husband came in from mowing the lawn today with a Mason jar full of all colors of flowers and greenery.  It was a beautiful arrangement.  I was shocked!  To be honest, he never brings me flowers.  But today he said he noticed two different flowers in the yard in addition to the tiger lilies, the iris and the tulip tree.  One he did not pick because it was just too pretty and it is the first time it has grown in the yard.  It cropped up right along side my irises.  I have not planted any other kind of flower there.  But it truly is beautiful.  The other I had never seen.  He said it came from a weed tree but that it was so pretty and it smelled so good that he included it in the bouquet.  It is, he thinks, a mimosa flower.  It smells delicious.


The flowers were beautiful but the words he said to me were even more beautiful...and both were balm for my soul and brought me great joy.  I said I was shocked because he never does things like this.  But today he knew that I needed to see his love for me in a different way than he usually expresses it.  Today the flowers were there for him to see, to think of me, and to give.

Today I heard the whisper of God in the surprise of genuine love, in the aroma of the flowers, in the vibrant colors and in the provision of it all and in the act of my husband listening and knowing what I needed.  Where did you hear the whisper today?

Matthew 6:28-30   Jesus said....

"Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!  If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith?"





Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Purpose....

Last night the family watched a movie called The Book of Esther. It was wonderful! I thought about Esther obeying her God by obeying her king, her husband, and how we are to do the same today. I Samuel 15: 22 says " But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams." Yet there came a time in Esther's life when she had to go against the rules in order to do the right thing...she had to come into the presence of her husband the king without being summoned, which was punishable by death. But her husband loved her. And when she did this thing and explained her reasons, he forgave her. There is a time to obey the rules ...and there is a time to disobey the rules. God spoke through the story of Esther to me about taking a stand for what is right, for those who cannot speak for themselves. Even if it means respectfully going against the rules, or risking your own life. What courage Esther had!! She trusted in the love of her God and in the fact that He was the one who had placed her as queen ultimately and that if she had to lose her life to defend something that was wrong, like the killing of her people - the Jews, then she had to be willing to do that. How many times are we willing to lose anything ...making a stand for what is right? Are we willing to lose the friendship of those around us? Are we willing to lose the respect of people in places of authority? Are we willing to lose our lives?
Esther chapter 4 tells of a conversation that was had between Mordecai and Esther . Mordecai said...""For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”" For such a time as this...that is a phrase that we as Christians have heard many sermons on. Think newly about those words. Relate them to your own life. When the hardships come, God may have you in that position "for such a time as this." When the people are difficult to work with or to live with, God may have you there "for such a time as this." When you are asked to do wrong and must decide whether to do right or to be accepted...consider all the things God may accomplish through you "at such a time as this." When someone hurts you, if you retaliate, what have you done differently than a heathen would do? If you forgive, you are showing the love and grace of Christ to a person, and God may be speaking to that person, drawing them to Him, at such a time as this. Today I heard God's whisper in a movie and a phrase in the Bible. What time are you in? Can you hear His whisper in your life today?


Monday, June 24, 2013

Stories and Coffee

He decreed statutes for Jacob
    and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
 so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they in turn would tell their children.
 Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget his deeds
    but would keep his commands.
Psalm 78:5-7

Today I was blessed to be able to spend some time with a friend, just talking, sharing life, encouraging each other.  I do not drink much coffee ...about two cups a year.  However, I am developing a taste for coffee...just because I love spending time with my coffee-drinking friends.  Mocha Bianca is the choice I make so far...perhaps I will expand my horizons one day...but so far, I like the Mocha Bianca.
My eldest son loves coffee.  He and I have been for coffee twice....once to say good-bye to friends who were moving and the other time to celebrate our homeschool year being over and his graduation from high school.  I think going to coffee is an excellent way to develop friendships, keep communication open, and celebrate life.
I have thought about this and contrasted it to those who may decide to drink alcohol because their friends drink alcohol.  The differences are that alcohol is not a drink you can consume without it changing who you are.  Coffee does not change your personality.  Alcohol is a drink that can cause problems.  Coffee...not so much, unless you drink it right before bed and it keeps you up at night.   Alcohol is a drink that is illegal for people under certain ages.  Coffee is for anyone.  Alcohol kills brain cells.  Coffee does not.
When drinking alcohol with friends, it doesn't become about communication and relationships.  It becomes about being subject to the influence of the alcohol on you and about seeing the influence of it on your friends...and neither is good.
Coffee drinking does not cause other Christians to stumble.  Alcohol drinking is a huge boulder along the path of life that people trip on.
Coffee addiction doesn't tear families apart.  Alcohol addiction does.
So if faced with the choice of  "Do I drink coffee with my friends, or do I drink alcohol with my friends?" consider these things.  Choose Coffee.


Well, that was a side road.,..but I enjoyed going down it and the views along the way :)
The part I enjoyed while drinking the coffee was sharing with my friend and listening to her share about God's deeds.  About how we have learned to trust God and how we can continue to trust Him.

Sharing the stories of how God has worked in our lives encourages others.  I like to hear such stories.  I like to hear of how God worked things out.
For instance, a man I highly respect (the dad of my high school best friend) has been in the hospital this week with a serious blood infection.  Mr. Spicer.  He has the added difficulty of being  paralyzed and one of his wounds that would not heal caused the infection to enter his blood stream.  We were told at church to pray for him because he would be having to be on IV antibiotics for six weeks to cure the infection.  He was on the IV antibiotics for about 5 days...and the doctors did tests to see how he was doing...he is cured!! No infection in the blood!  Praise the Lord!  For it is His doing when healing occurs!   Thank You, God.


My friend shared a story with me that their guest speaker shared on Sunday.  It was of Moses when the Israelites were doing battle and the Lord told him to keep his hands lifted up and the Israelites would win the battle.  The warriors were fighting and glancing at Moses and encouraged to know that they were winning and that his hands were up.  But as he grew tired and his hands started to lower , the warriors began to do poorly in the battle.  They looked up to Moses and could not see his hands lifted and were discouraged and began to lose.  But  Moses' had two people who helped him to lift up and hold up his arms, and the Israelites began to win the battle again and defeated the enemy.  It is through encouragement to each other in the Lord, by reminding each other of how great He is and of how good He is and of all He has done before, that we can fight strongly in the battle.  The question that the speaker asked was this:  Who got tired first....those fighting in the battle, or the one doing the encouraging?  I had never thought of that .  It does get tiring sometimes to be constantly in prayer, or to keep on encouraging others, even in the face of battle.  And even the encouragers need those to come along side of them and help lift their hands to heaven from where our help comes.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.     Galations 6:9-10

We should encourage our church families and our Christian friends.  That is part of our role here on this earth.  To do good to all people...but especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

I left the coffee shop with a lighter heart this morning, just from having sat across the table with a friend who I will spend eternity with, drinking coffee and reminding each other of how good God is, of how miraculous He works in our lives.

Today I heard God's whisper in a friend's conversation and in the coffee.  Where did you hear Him today?


Friday, June 21, 2013

Tying Up Tomatoes


Today I was working in the garden, picking green beans.  Being thankful for a little invention called a Garden Rocking Seat.  This makes picking beans SOOO much easier on my back. It is a little stool that has a type of rocker foot on the bottom and it is wonderful!  Word of advice:  Make sure you are sitting on it correctly. If you turn it around and sit on it backwards, whoopsie!  You can end up flat on your back in the garden :)  I speak from experience :)
I really like working in the garden...even weeding.  I like using the hoe...my husband bought me my own hoe...but he uses it most of the time.  So today I got it out to use it while he was at work.  I started hoeing at the weeds, careful to not hurt the plants.  There were quite a few weeds because of all the rain we had been having.  After a certain amount of time, I switched arms to relieve the tension.  After a while longer, I straightened up to ease my back pain.  I thought about all the weeds and how they just suck the life away from the vegetable plants.  
Been going through a situation in my own life where I have run into some weeds.  And, though, I would love to get the hoe out and just chop away and dig them out and throw them to die in the sun....that can't happen right now. I am thinking that the weeds were made by God just like the vegetable plants were.  He knew that they would choke out the life in other plants that were wanted by the gardeners.  He knew that.  It was one of the curses of getting cast out of Eden, to have to battle the weeds...both in the garden and in life.  Some people can be weeds.  See where I am going with this?
But people are alive...well, so are weeds.  So I am following this little analogy along in my head...if the "weedy" people are the ones we want to dig up and cast out...why can't they grow in the garden with the plants that we are putting tender care to?  For one reason, they will overrun the garden and choke the life out of it.  Weedy people do that too.  If a person tries to suck out the good of young people, I consider that person a weed.  Weeds have their place...in places where nothing else is growing...vacant lots...along the roadsides....abandoned places.  But who wants weeds growing alongside their prize vegetables and flowers?  No one.  That is why there is no place for weeds in a garden and why so much time is spent in getting them out.  So that the fruitful plants can grow unhindered.  In our children's lives, we need to weed out the people who are choking them.  We are the gardeners for our children, we tend to them.  As gardeners, we need to weed things out of our own lives as well that are choking out our relationship with the Lord.  
So I am chopping and scraping and hacking at the weeds with great vigor...thinking of one particular weed I would like to get to.  It is hard work...taking the weeds out.  Sometimes it hurts.  I have blisters on my hands now where I was working so hard. 
A weed starts out tiny...one here or there...but if not checked...if not controlled...the weeds will take over. 
If you want to live in a beautiful garden, you can bet that you had better be a fruitful plant...not a weed.
Do you know that in Matthew 13 Jesus tells a story about weeds?  He says that a a man sowed good wheat seed into his field.  But, while the people were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds in his wheat field. What a creep! So as the wheat began to grow the weeds grew too.  The man's servants came to him and said, There are weeds growing in the wheat field!! Didn't you plant wheat?
Yes, yes, I did, the man said.  An enemy has done this!
The servants asked if they should pull up the weeds.  But this man said, No because you may uproot the wheat as well.  Wait until the harvest.  Then the harvesters will harvest the weeds first and put them into bundles to be burned, and afterwards they will harvest the wheat and store it in my barn.
So, Jesus goes on to explain that He is the man who sows the good seed and the enemy is Satan who is sowing the weeds.  The harvest is the end of time and the harvesters are angels. 

 "The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness.  They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!"  Matthew 13:41-43

(That's a true story from the Word of God.)

After my hoeing in the garden, I went in to make supper using some of the fresh veggies that we had harvested. 
After supper, my husband and I went back into the garden to tie up the tomato plants.
I love the smell of tomato plants.  When you pull back the leaves to search for the small green tomatoes that are growing, when you feel the fuzzy stalk, the scent left on your hands is pungent, spicy, a hint of what is to come as the tomatoes ripen.  My husband drove stakes of steel and wood into the ground as close to the plant as he could without harming the plant. 

*Sometimes it feels as if we are having stakes driven into us and all around us and it can be scary.*

Then he gave me the string and said for me to tie them up.  So I cut and tied, cut and tied, cut and tied.  He turned back after a while and came to me and said, No, this way. 
My pride jolted out of its cage and gave him a knock, I know how to tie up a plant. 
My loving husband said to me, I just want to teach you the right way to do it, so your plant will grow.
He proceeded to show me that I had tied my strings too tightly to the plant and the stake.  One plant I had even tied it so that it would grow down instead of up.  He gently cut the strings I had tied and retied them, looser, bigger, and directing the plants upwards.
See, he said, it is more like a basket holding the plants than binding them to the stake.

*Oh, it didn't hit me then...but tonight it hit me hard.  With my children, my teaching and training needs to be like that...not tied so hard to the exact details of how I want them to grow.  Just tied enough to guide them in that way but allow them to reach to the sun on their own.  They need the stakes and the strings to guide them in the right direction.  But the strings need to be loose enough for them to grow fully and I need to make sure I am pointing my plants up...and my children up to the Lord...so that they can take off on their own, following the Son, reaching up to Him, and bearing fruit for Him.*

I noticed that sometimes a branch would be broken...
Oh, the wind did that ...or a deer...or the goat...or sadly, by the gardener in trying to tie the strings too tightly.
The plant will survive , even if maimed, if it is fertilized and watered and fed and the weeds kept out.  But it will not look the way it did. 
Our children can still produce fruit ...even if a weedy person gets in the way here and there...even if a mom ties the strings too tightly...even if life's circumstances are difficult...as long as they always reach up...up towards the heavens...up towards the sun, towards life, towards God. 

My lesson...keep the weeds out as much as I can.  Cultivate my garden.  Train the plants, or the children, and let them bloom and reach to the sky where God waits.  Guide without crushing. Crush the weeds, not the plants.  And know that all life is given by the Lord... and that He will sort out (in the end) all the weeds.

I know it isn't a perfect analogy...but it was what I needed to hear. 
This is where I heard God in the whisper today....where did you hear Him speaking today?