Friday, September 18, 2009

Life Lessons

Wanting Better

I don't know how it started. Maybe it was with the Baby Boomers, maybe it's my fellow Gen X-ers that are to blame. Perhaps, I could blame the women's movement and their lie that I am not enough of a woman if I don't work full time in my “career.” Maybe it's the credit card companies false promises of never ending credit lines, and zero percent interest offers. It could even be the old fashion American work ethic of my ancestors, that elusive American dream of reaching out of your circumstances and creating something better than what you had. I don't know how it started, but I know it's gotta stop.

With each successive generation, people want more and more and more. Bigger is better.

It's no longer enough to have a car, now I need to have a minivan. Wait, it's not a minivan any longer, I need to get an SUV. But it can't be the standard SUV, it has to have duel DVD players, seat specific air control and a temperature controlled cup holder for each passenger. It needs to be a hybrid so I can do my part to save the world, because it's my fault the world is going to explode.

Let's not forget the house, I need to have the right house in the best subdivision. It doesn't matter what lengths I need to go to for that to happen. If I have to get a mortgage that will have to be paid until my kids are ready to put me in a nursing home, so be it. Because my kids deserve the best and gosh darn it, so do I.

As someone who had a credit card the summer before I left for college, I know what it means to spend without caring about the consequences. By the time I was a junior in college, I had maxed out my credit card a couple of times. I did not learn and apply what it meant to buy responsibly until I was almost done with college. So, please, hear me out for the rest of this post.

I am not saying it's wrong or evil to strive for good things. I want my kids to grow up in a safe neighbor hood and go to a good school. I want them to have cool toys and wear nice clothes. But what values am I teaching my kids if I spend every spare penny my husband earns, and more we don't have, to make that happen? What are they learning if every time we get some extra cash it has to go to pay off the credit cards? I am just feeding the monster of materialism. If I don't teach them how to save and the lessons of sacrifice, then they are just going to inherit the world's view of spending. That as long as you have a little plastic card, it doesn't matter what's in your bank accounts. And if you don't have enough money to pay off the credit card, the government will be there to bail you out. That is going to put them at a disadvantage. It will prevent them from being able to pursue their dreams fully because they will have to work to get out of debt.

When I don't take the time to demonstrate frugality and biblical savings principals to my kids, than all the blessings I offer them, mean nothing. Until my kids understand about sacrifice, they don't realize the gift of a blessing. Because you can't have blessings with out sacrifice. Whether that sacrifice is material, spiritual or emotional.

So that is what I am trying to teach my kids...
1.That when they get toys for Christmas or their birthday, they need to go through the toys they have and donate them to someone else.
2.Even though we could go and buy a play set on credit, we're going to wait until we can buy one with cash
3.The most important lesson we are trying to demonstrate, is that each day we must sacrifice our own personal desires for those of God's. God's desire for us to love one another and care for one another. The lesson of reaching out and helping others. Whether that means sharing our snacks at the playground, or forgiving the child younger than them who pushes in front of them at that same playground.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Half-way Hostess

I have a secret. Now don't get all excited, it's not the plot of the next Stephanie Meyer's novel, or the preview of Beyonce's next cd. It's the fact that I am a half-way hostess.

I have already admitted to you that I hate to clean. That there are probably a hundred other things that I can think of to do besides clean. But, I do it because I also hate filth. And I like to have people over. And it drives my husband nuts when it's not done.

My idea of entertaining is to throw paper plates on our table and serve dinner out of the dishes it's cooked in. It's not to make a thematic center piece and have matching silver and glasses.

You will probably find three or four things in each room that don't belong there that need to be put away, and not just toys(although, that might be some of it). Things like a pair of earrings on top of the television. Or a demolished ice cream sandwich wrapper under the computer desk. Maybe a computer game or stray Lego piece on the banister upstairs.

You will always find a warm smile and laughter. A place that you and your kids could come on over to and relax. I think those things go along way in making a successful party.

So come on over any time. And if you give me enough notice, I might even vacuum for you. But don't expect me to mop.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009



Oh it hurt; it hurt so much I didn’t know what to do. It made me want to crawl into a dark safe place where no one could ever hurt me again. But life necessitated that I go on. That I had to go out and do the day to day. Even though I was hurt, no one could know about it. It was my pain to deal with. So, a layer went around my soul to protect myself. Another hurt, another layer. Don’t tell anyone. A cruel word necessitated a layer. Keep it inside. Don’t share the burden. What would everyone think? A devastating event, I put on a few more layers. I had so many layers; my soul resembled a toddler wrapped up for his first outing into the snow.

There is nothing wrong with layers. Sometimes it’s necessary for us to have a layer. Just like when we get a cut and out skin scabs over, so it can heal itself, sometimes our spirits need a thicker protection so they can heal. But what happens when a wound won’t scab over? When it stays open and continues to leak fluid? The wound festers, and begins to smell. It doesn’t heal. In the same way, if we don’t properly attend to wounds on our spirit, they also will fester. Maybe they won’t stink physically, but they will affect how we interact with others. They can make our attitudes pretty stinky.

In my own case, it made me really angry. I was so wrapped up in NOT dealing with my wounds that I would get mad at anything that distracted me from that. I was short with my kids. I would close myself off from my husband. I lied to people. I was so focused on keeping up the appearance that I was fine, that everything in my life had been perfect that I wasn’t real with people. I threw myself into any activity that would distract me from my mind. I kept this up for years.

I knew in my heart I had to change. But how could I change? I had held onto the hurt so long, it was like a friend. One day it was time. Through a series of events that had occurred over about 6 months, I was done. God had been slowly removing my outer layers. It was so humbling to see how my festering spirit had been hurting not only myself, but also the people I loved most. The layers were stuck together and just like a physical bandage that was encrusted with goop, it couldn’t be done quickly. Eventually, God and I were down to the last layer. Oh I held on tightly. It was time though. I no longer had the energy to hold onto the hurt. We had moved to our latest home and had been living there for about six months. Our church was hosting a retreat. And through the speaker’s words and the Holy Spirit, that last layer was taken from me.

It felt wonderful for my spirit to breathe again. To realize that it wasn’t my job to protect myself. God showed me that my protection was so weak and feeble next to His. I could be safe in Him, just as I always had been.

I am still tempted from time to time to go back to my old ways. To start wrapping myself back up. But then I hear that still small voice telling me to run to Him. It reminds me that I need to let God wrap His arms around me and take the hurt onto Him.

He’ll do the same for you if you’ll only let Him.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.” Isa. 53:5, NIV

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Delighting in Anonymity

This past week, I took my car in for an oil change. I took it to a rather well known retail store that also has an automotive department. As I was going in, another member of the mommy league was leaving. She also had two or maybe three little boys. And she had brown hair. When I came up to the counter, after I threatened my two darlings into submission, the attendant asked me what else I needed. As in, weren’t you just here? But then he realized that I was in fact someone else. A tiny, ok large, part of my pride wanted to point out the various differences between myself and the previous customer but I kept my ego in check and politely smiled instead.

As we went on with the transactions, I was thinking about why I was offended with being mistaken for someone else. It was a legitimate mistake. We both had two kids, the same hair color and probably were using a lot of the same words. Like don’t touch that, get off the shelf. Please stand here quietly or else. You understand, the usual phrases that accompany a trip to a store without proper constraints for children. I digress. So I was thinking about the mistaken identity. Why did that bother me?

I think it was because every part of my self, that is my sinful nature, wants so badly to be noticed for me. To be recognized for my importance in this world. I mean really, is that hard for everyone to see how magnificent I am? Obviously the store clerk didn't see it. And he wasn't the first to miss it. But I’d like to go back to the part where I politely smiled. I think the Lord restrained my tongue. Because as I walked away I thought, “It’s ok that he mistook me for that other woman. I’m not here to be noticed, I am here so others will notice Christ in me.”

And maybe it’s not my turn to stand out. Maybe it will never be my turn. But that’s ok too. I think a large part of my role right now is to make it easier for other people in my family to shine. To be the helpmate my husband needs so that he can be his own boss some day. To steer my children towards Jesus so they can be an example of a godly life from a young age. I want to be the cheerleader for my kids and husband.

I’m not saying that I need to be a wallflower and put all my needs and desires in the garbage. But I am saying that sometimes I need to put aside my dreams for those of others. And trust that one day, God will fulfill the dreams He has laid out for me.

I hope this encourages you! Let me know if it does. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Conversion

Recently, the husband and I bought a new house. This has led to the necessity of cleaning out our former rental property. I am not a lover of cleaning. I do not find great joy in having spotless floors and counters. I do not take pride in having a place for everything and everything in its place. On the contrary, I would rather leave the dishes and read a book or play with the boys. But, in order to get the deposit back on our rental property, the rental needed to be cleaned out. Floors swept and mopped, the bath tub scoured, cupboards wiped out; in short, my idea of a root canal. Thankfully, I had some great friends come along side me and help out. The house was done in about two hours. What I discovered is that I really really really really really really really do not tolerate the smell of bleach or ammonia well. It gives me an immediate headache. I know, I know it’s the most powerful disinfectant there is. But it’s also corrosive and smelly. I have found an alternative.

Now before you start calling me a hippy and dismissing me as one of those Martha Stewart, make everything from scratch types, please hear me out. I recently committed to the husband that I would do better about keeping up the house. We, ok I, like to entertain and we want our new investment to look nice. That requires some extra effort on my part. But I don’t like ammonia or bleach smells. What was I to do? I went on the internet! Novel I know, and found some recipes for home based cleaners. I was a little skeptical, but open to change. The clincher to try out the cleaners was that I had everything on hand so I wouldn’t have to spend any money on the experiment. I went to Google, typed in home based cleaners and was directed to the site On there I found cleaning solutions for everything, from carpet cleaners and air fresheners to a dish washing and laundry soaps. I made up the recipe for a multi-purpose cleaner and began cleaning the walls in my kitchen, and boy did it work! Extra bonus, the paint didn’t come off either! So, now I am in love with my new cleaner. It works great, is cheap and my kids can help me clean too! I no longer have to worry about the boys getting into harsh chemicals and burning their eyes out. Go check it out and let me know what you think!

If you want to start with just the general cleaner, here is the recipe:
Mix ½ cup vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda into ½ gallon water. Store and keep.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Breaking the Rules

While playing pick up sticks with the younger child, I gained some insights. Ok, so they are not new or earth shattering, but they pricked my heart and so I wanted to share them with you. In hindsight, I think God was trying to tell me these things for a few weeks and I finally got it through a child.

As I said, the younger and I were playing a game together. Now, he doesn’t really get the concept of rules or turns, but we are working on it. I love rules and structure and relish the opportunity to make these truths in the little hearts of my children. But, it’s still a little early to expect the younger to grasp these concepts. What he does get, is that some one does need to explain the game, and that should be him. But the rules don’t need to be the same or the game limited to one way of winning. And that, my friends, is hard for me to grasp.

But, God is working on me. He showed me during that time with my younger son, that He also can’t be confined to one outcome. That God reveals Himself to us in different ways. If I would open my imagination up a little, God could show me something really great. It’s when I get so hung up on the way I think things should be that I miss the opportunity to hear His message to me.

So I encourage you to open your mind up. Pray that God would give you His eyes, so you hear or see what He has in store for you.

Please share with me what He reveals to you.

Monday, February 23, 2009

So I'm not one of those annoying people who updates my status on Facebook...

A couple of weeks ago, our pastor did a sermon about being secondary to Christ's kingdom. It was great. As part of that he referenced the popular networking site, Facebook. He even posted on his wall during the sermon. So fun. Anyways.. He also mentioned how some people are annoyingly using the status bar feature in Facebook. So, in an effort not to inundate people with my updates, I have returned to my long forgotten blog. Here are a few of the highlights and things that I am grateful for.

1. We bought a house. Probably the biggest change in our life. We were amazingly blessed with a foreclosure property. The Lord worked everything out. It was great. And now we have space and a lower heating bill.

2. I am grateful for Legos. They keep my kids occupied and they are endless in their possibilities.

3. I am now the publicity coordinator for MOPS. It's been exciting and allows me another avenue to write and gain experience in marketing.

4. I am one of the co-leaders for our ladies Bible Study at church. It's so enriching to learn about God and see how He is impacting other people's lives.

5. I also am leading worship for a small amount of time before Bible Study starts.

6.I am so grateful for the friends God is bringing into my life. Like the MOPS Steering team, the ladies I work with in Bible Study and the choir I sing with for our church.

7. I am also very excited to see what God has in store for us over the next few months.

Blessings to you and let me know how you are!

Chicken on a Stick

The other night, husband and I were watching television. We had had Chinese for dinner and the left overs were calling his name. So, he ambled out to the fridge and tried to find the take out container, not knowing I had already put it in a sealed container so it would stay fresh. I was called out to help in the quest of finding the lost chicken on a stick. Upon finding the appropriate container, I gave it to my husband and he peered thoughtfully into its depths. "Where are the sticks?" My husband asked. I replied, "I threw them out because they didn't fit in the container. " My husband sighed heavily and said, "Well, it's not chicken on a stick anymore." I said, "Why not?" To which he so eloquently responded "Because it can't be called Chicken on a stick if there are no sticks." I guess not.


Bribery, it has to be one of the most used tools of parenting. Everyone uses it. Especially if you are out in public. Or even if you are home alone and to tired from staying up late to watch online shows. For example,child one and I were having a mid afternoon snack today. Well, I was having a snack. He was actually finishing what hadn't been eaten by the dog of his lunch. There was no one else around, but I found myself saying, "If you eat one more bite of your sandwich, I'll give you and M&M." Normally that doesn't happen. Usually I stand firm. But maybe I was a little to worn down from the weekend, or perhaps I was so done with the whining that I was trying to stop that from starting up again. Who knows? But it wasn't the first time I have bribed my child to do something and it probably won't be the last. By the way, I prefer the term reward, not bribery.