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6.16.2011

Hospitable Thursdays: 5 Common Scenarios to Show Hospitality

I am trying a new format to help me keep up with blogging. I am attempting to have certain themes to certain days of the week/month so that I can be more organized in blogging. Who knows how this will go, so bear with me,...please. I hope you like it, and let me know if you do.

 First, let me say that I am NOT the best example of hospitality in the sense that I have people over at my house all the time. We do have guests from time to time, and sometimes weekly, but I don't feel as if I have to have someone all the time in order to be hospitable. Instead, we kind of look for opportunities to be hospitable and offer hospitality as they present themselves.
There are some very practical things that I've had to learn in order to be ready to be hospitable, and I am starting this series in order to become better at it, and I'm really hoping you'll share your experiences and tips with me.
Just to be clear, I am NOT a good example of hospitality. I am endeavoring to be better at it, and I am hoping this series of posts will help me with this. These are simply a few things that I know work and I have done, but don't do regularly enough. You don't even want to know the state of my home right now, seriously inhospitable.

Here are 5 common scenarios that come up for us regarding hospitality.

Scenario #1: My husband calls and says he's invited someone he works with to come over tonight.
Noooo!!! It seems that, at least in this stage of life with little ones, this always happens on those really bad days where nothing has went well and as a result our home looks like it's survived a natural disaster. First, it's probably not as bad as it seems, and everyone, especially who has kids, should understand that on short notice things can be a little messy. Second, my mother taught me a great rule for housekeeping. You always keep the living room, kitchen and bathroom/guest bathroom able to be ready with just a little picking up. I must confess I really do try to do this, but sometimes things just get out of hand so quickly that I have a hard time doing this consistently. I have also told my husband that it really helps if he can let me know as soon as possible when he has invited guests (you know, if he asks them at lunch, please text or call me then, not come home and say they are right behind him). He doesn't always remember to do this and that's why it's so good to keep the rooms they are likely to see somewhat clean.

Scenario #2: My in-laws/any relative/friend calls and says, "Can I stop by for a little while?"
We actually live both of our parents and most of our siblings and fairly close to many in my husband's extended family. While the extended family are not likely if ever going to just come over except for rare occassions (i.e. birthdays and after baby's birth), our immediate family does come over sometimes without much notice. I probably shouldn't, but do have a little bit of a double standard when it comes to our parents. I have the most amazing in-laws, but still feel less comfortable with them seeing my home messy than my own parents. I guess I rationalize that my mom and dad know I do clean and don't want them to see a mess, and I still think in the back of my mind that my in-laws will think I'm not taking care of their son or grandkids. I know it's silly and they would be the first to tell me so, but I still feel that way. I don't often get a lot of notice, but I've come to find out that as long as they get to see the grandkids, they don't care about anything being messy. As far as a friend goes, they're probably too nice to say anything about your housekeeping, and hopefully they understand your circumstances already. Still, I may have been known in nice weather, when I know someone's coming for a short visit to take the kids out to play when they pull up.

Scenario#3: Playdate!
Well, obviously, you would know about this ahead of time and can schedule it, so this one's not too hard to prepare your home for. I do have trouble getting my daughter to see the value in keeping her toys neat, because I guess she figures she needs to have everything out so her friend can see it all and play in the piles. I do think that it's okay to have dishes in the sink or laundry needing to be folded in a basket when the mom comes over. After all, she should understand better than most people exactly what you're doing. Plus, it may encourage her to come over more often (she won't think you're this depressingly non-human super housekeeper) with her kids and help you get stuff done at the same time, and don't worry too much about the mess the kids are making let them help to clean up afterwards. I am a fan however of outdoor playdates and wish we had more people to go to the park with, not cause I don't want anyone in my house, but because they're a lot of fun for the kids. *sigh* I do need to initiate playdates more often (insert horrible mother guilt trip).

Scenario #4: "I need to talk to you. Can I come over?"
This doesn't happen too often, but it's nice to keep your home ready for it. The good news is that because of the nature of this visit they probably don't really care much how things look. Even, so, I like to keep some easy to bake or cook or just to eat things, so I can offer them something to eat (i.e. cake mixes, muffin mixes, brownie mixes, popcorn, chips and salsa, etc.). I also like to keep some soft drinks, which we don't drink often or try not to, so I have something other than water, juice, and milk to offer, but we've also made coffee for guests if they want it (keep a powdered creamer for coffee enthusiasts). We also have a tea pot and tea bags if they would prefer hot tea (I'm not good at making iced tea). The hardest part with this scenario is what to do with the kids. Sometimes it's something that can't be discussed in front of them. My husband has often taken guests to the porch or basement or even just the yard while we're inside and having something for the kids to do to occupy their attention helps.

Scenario #5: We want to be a witness of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We do sometimes invite over people we know aren't Christians in the hope that we can share the gospel with them. It's not that we can't share the gospel with them anywhere, but we want to show them how much we care about them and their eternal destiny. We don't just randomly go up to people and say come over and talk about eternity with us, but we do make a point of reaching out to those who are unregenerate around us and  offering them a home-cooked meal or just to visit with us, because we feel the obligation to tell them the truth and warn them of the wrath of God (Romans 1:18).
This is a completely unrelated picture of my kids. Yup, he's a thumbsucker ;)
So, how do you show hospitality?

6.09.2011

God and My Awful-Horrible-Terrible-No Good Day

Okay, so this is really a conclusion to yesterday's post
Yesterday started to be what seemed like would be an awful-horrible-terrible-no good day. I was so overwhelmed by about 10 a.m. that I not only posted about it here, but I even asked for prayer on facebook status. What with acid reflux baby spewing and toddler girl having potty accidents (which she actually inherited from me problems with incontinence), I didn't even have the time to really pray much more than "God help me!", which I did, and I know others who did. And He did, but in ways I couldn't even imagine. 
When we finally did leave, it was about 20 minutes later than I had hoped, but we got to town and saw a really bad wreck ahead. I could see the fire engine, ambulance, and police, but no cars, only a man and woman walking from way back where we were carrying a little boy in their arms and his carseat. (Please pray for those in this accident, some were taken to the hospital strapped to boards.) All I could think of was how angry and frustrated I had been about all the delays that morning, and had we left much earlier that could've been us, and it could've been us anyway, but God had protected us as we traveled. I couldn't help but cry right there and tell my kids in the back seat how much I loved them. I had to apologize to them and God. I'm so glad He forgives my stupidity.
Then, again because we were running late, we got to the AT&T store and my mom and dad asked if they could take us out to eat for lunch, because my dad had just finished his cardiac rehab class and they were in town anyway. Um, Yes! (If you know me at all, you'd know that a promise of a meal, especially with good friends and family is something I cannot resist.)
I had planned on going to the store while we were out anyway, so after we ate, my mom wanted to go with us (dad gets really exhausted after his workout). So, we decided to go to Walmart. I actually don't go to Walmart usually, but for some reason we decided to go. While just walking through the store with my mom and kids, we were approached by the Picture Studio photographer who asked us if she could take pictures of the kids for free with $50 of free pictures included! I had never heard of this, but she said that they have to have at least one session per shift and that she had had no one scheduled, so in that case they are allowed to give away free pictures to someone! (Although as their mother, I'm sure it had something to do with their cuteness.) I'm sure it's with the assumption that mommy or daddy won't be able to just stop with the $50 worth and will buy more, but they didn't know me, I'm cheap ;)
While we were there, Shelby used a public potty. I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but if you knew how terrified she is of them and how tired I am of going back out to the car everywhere to sit in 98 degree heat while she uses a fold up potty in the parking lot and then I have to find some remotely discreet way to dispose of the, er, waste, you'd totally understand why this could improve my day.
Also while getting the kids pictures taken, my husband called and said he was getting off work, did I want him to pick up something for dinner on his way home? Yes, please! Hey, sometimes you just need a break from cooking.
After a pizza dinner, which I have found I can eat after the last feeding of the evening even though Jonah can't tolerate dairy in my milk, both kids went to sleep relatively easy. Jonah with the usual face caressing and thumb/paci sucking (picture taking wears little babes out) and Shelby after singing "Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus" and "Trust and Obey" with mommy and daddy, talking about Jesus, prayer, and reading of Psalm 22 (per her request this particular passage, though we read something from the Bible almost every night, that is if she doesn't fall asleep before). Shelby even got out of bed to go poopy in the potty by herself, another big deal in our house. 
Was God rewarding me for how I handled the first part of my day? Not hardly. You see I had only been angry, ungrateful, and self-pitying, but He brought me to repentance for my sins and lead me to prayer and to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and most of all to Himself. So that by the end of the day all I could do was sing praises to Him!
I'm forever glad and grateful to God that He pursues me, that His love isn't in the least dependent on anything I do or don't do, and that He sees me in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ! 
God's infinite love isn't dependent on us. He loves us because He loves us, and He is owed our utmost devotion for that love and care.
""And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe......He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen."-Deuteronomy 10:12-17, 21

6.08.2011

I Am Not a Supermom

Dear Reader,
Have you ever found yourself enjoying a short afternoon respite in front of your computer/smartphone perusing the blogosphere, reading about other moms and their ideas, goals, helps, and lives? If so, have you ever spent said time wondering how they accomplish all this? How do they seem to have perfectly smiling babies, or a cleaning/organization formula that keeps their home spotless, or how they seem to love their husbands without any complaining? Or have you, like myself, simply wondered how on earth they have the time to not only accomplish all this, but to write about it for us to read?!?
Well, just so you know, I am not a supermom (not that you thought I was). And this morning has been a case in point. Perhaps God is teaching me patience and humiliation, I mean humility ;). 
Honestly, my house is a mess. No, we're not in danger for our health, thankfully it's not that bad, but it's still not how I want it to be. Babies cry and toddlers have tantrums requiring spankings. I never feel I have enough time in Bible study and prayer. And I've had to come to the conclusion that exercise will happen again; last week I only got to run once :*(
I am not writing this to complain or to incur sympathy, but rather to be honest and to show the imperfections. I think it's so easy to read blogs and facebook or twitter even, and think that everyone has it all together and never gets behind in their housework while still having time to write and homeschool their kids and pray and read and all those other things we wish we could do. 
The truth is I have a three year old and a three month old, and my husband is working twelve hour shifts which means with his long commute he's gone from 5:30 am until 7 pm. Just keeping up with the regular have-to-do kind of chores takes all of my time, and even then I often feel as though I'm running in circles. It's easy to want to only share the good things here, but I'm realizing that's not honest and it could even cause someone to feel guilty about their life or even covet what it seems like I have. 
The truth about being a keeper of the home, a mom, a wife, and a homeschooler, is that things often do not go as planned and I'm learning to be okay with that. My kids are loved, fed, clothed, and taken care of. We all always have something clean to wear, something to eat, and lots of love, and that's what matters. 
I've had to put down my "31 Days to Clean" book, because my husband asked me to read another book first. Yet, I'm still thinking about how I approach cleaning and homemaking. 
This morning, both kids and myself have already had to change clothes twice before ten o'clock, my new iphone (my old phone wouldn't let me call out anymore)can't be activated through my macbook, because it's from 2007 and needed software updates which aren't possible until I install a new OS Leopard which is $30 (!!!) and requires a disk only available at an Apple Store (the nearest is about a two and half hour journey) or online, so we're going to have to head to the AT&T store (a 30 minute drive) to activate the phone, so I can at least use it as a phone (I know that sounds just as crazy to me), so I have my husband's phone today as we don't have a ground line just cell phones. I am really starting to resent technology. *Grrr*
I'm slowly and painfully learning that God doesn't expect perfection from me (that's why Christ died, I can't be perfect), and my family won't either. Instead "the just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17). I have to rest, by faith, in Christ's perfection and righteousness, because I have none of my own. (2 Corinthians 5:21I need the gospel everyday. I need grace everyday just to be gracious to my own family.
Today instead of lamenting what needs to be done, I'm going to choose, by God's grace, to enjoy ourselves. I will still work and clean here, otherwise our home would quickly become intolerably messy, but I'm going to strive to do it with joy and diligence, and I'm going to try to be honest about it. 
Let's put to rest the myth of Supermom. She doesn't exist. Real moms struggle sometimes. We cry in frustration, we get upset at messes, we feel guilty about things left undone, and we feel overwhelmed and we never feel as though we are good parents, or at least I don't. No one is really doing everything well, and we all fail to meet our own expectations and goals. 
I'm reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." I'm sure this includes days when it doesn't all get done, or it doesn't get done the way we think it should. Today I'm going to strive to do my best for the glory of God, knowing that's what really matters, and leave the results to Him whatever they may be.
My family :*)

5.31.2011

Time

As a mother of small children, time is something extremely limited these days, and learning to prioritize the time given to me is a huge obligation and something I'm learning to take very seriously. By God's grace, may we all be better stewards of the blessing of time.

Taken from Virgina is for Hugeunots. A great blog that you can check out here .    
 Time is Precious
Elnathan Parr, Abba Father: Or, A Plaine and Short Direction Concerning Private Prayer; Also, Sundy Godly Admonitions Concerning Time, and the Well Using of It, pp. 109-112:

Time is the price of time; when thy profit, thy pleasure, thy vain delights, thy lusts, call thee after them: exchange time for time.

As thou givest thy money for meat, and apparel; so give these things to purchase the time of prayer, and well-doing.

Solomon saith, Buy the truth (Prov. 23.23) : but Pilate saith: What is truth (John 18.38 )? so Paul saith, buy the time: but our profane wretches say, What is time? let us spend it, say they, as though it were little worth.

Time is God's creature, he allows thee no time to be vain and wicked: but he gives thee time, that thou mayest repent and do good. Make thy advantage of it.

Of the time thou bestowest, in prayer, singing of Psalms, reading the Scriptures, and good books, and in doing good, it shall never repent thee. But time otherwise spent, will one day torment thy conscience.

Thou must give account for time; on this moment depends eternity; of blessedness if it will be well; of misery, if it be ill employed.

It is great wisdom to know the time, and to redeem it (Eph. 5.15, 16 ).

The men of Issachar were in great account with David, because they had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, so are they in great account with God, who regard and use the season of well doing.


Painting of the the infamous St Bartholomew Massacre in 1572 more than 8000 Huguenots were murdered in Paris.
I am descended, on my mother's side, from French Huguenots who fled to Germany in the 16th century in order to worship God without fear of death.



5.26.2011

31 Days To Clean Homemaking Challenge: Day 3 Extended

Okay, so if you've been reading my blog for more than a couple of weeks, you know that I had a previous Day 3 post that was literally eaten by Blogger along with it's comments. It may sound stupid and utterly ridiculous, but I didn't save any posts written anywhere else. Yeah, I'm that bright ;)
So, while this isn't the same post, this is sort of an extension of that post. The Mary Challenge for Day 3 was to: "Ask your family what makes them feel the most loved when it comes to you caring for your home-ask them to be specific so that you can begin (or continue) to give life to your domain."
And since I am by far, inferior to my own mother's abilities and knowledge in this (or any area for that matter), I decided to ask her what she did or does to make home a place full of life for my father. (I know what she did that made me feel that way when I lived at home).
First, you need to know that I have three brothers, two older and one younger. But just before I was born my father graduated from college and started the job he would have until he retired three years ago for medical reasons. This particular job required him to travel a lot. He was literally gone for at least five days each week and sometimes for longer at a time. So, basically during the years where all four of us were the youngest and my mother was a stay-at-home mom, she was also almost living as a single parent for the greater part of each week. (Yes, I am forever grateful to God for such a mother!)
When I asked her about what she did for him to show her love and respect for him in keeping the home, she came to a quick answer. She said, I made sure that when he came home everything was clean and in its place, so that he could just enjoy being home with us. And then she added that even if it was a last minute dash to do so, that was her goal each week.
I remember many a Friday evening where we were all enlisted for immediate and uninterrupted cleaning sessions. No, we weren't forcibly made to, and we did have fun with it a lot. But my mom always stressed why we were doing this, that we love daddy and want to make our home a beautiful and clean, orderly place, so he can relax and we can all just enjoy being together. I don't remember being exceptionally upset over these cleaning days, except when it came to cleaning my own room which I always detested because it disturbed the set up scenes I had made with my toys and dolls. I remember the excitement that daddy was coming home! I was the quintessential (and still am to a great extent) daddy's girl.
The point is that my mom let us be a part of making our home a place of "life", of love, and joy for my dad. I am trying to make this a practice with my own children. Some of the things she did and I am trying to do that helps are to make a big deal of daddy's homecoming. We are blessed that my husband comes home each day, but I am still trying to make it a big deal. We watch out the window to see his truck, we try (or at least Shelby does, sometimes myself and Jonah are in the middle of something that can't be interrupted) to run to the top of the stairs to meet him at the baby gate, and we do try to straighten things up and at least have dinner started or, if it's a quick and easy meal night, have it ready to start quickly (new baby and all, sometimes it helps if I have another pair of hands while I'm trying to cook supper). I also try to make a big deal of Friday's, because that usually means daddy will be home all day long for the next two days.
Something I have learned though, is that it's my attitude during the preparation for daddy's homecoming that makes the biggest difference for how they feel about welcoming him home. If mommy's had a tough day and I am grumbly and doing this with an air of frustration about me, they pick up on it, and they get the idea that daddy's homecoming is a source of frustration. That's definitely not what I want them to think or feel. It's a daily struggle to keep my temper in check and try to have true joy in me while we prepare for his coming home. I am not perfect, but God is by His grace bringing me to where I am getting much better at this.
I also learned from my parents that this homecoming preparation joy cannot all come from the mother or her efforts.
First, God has to be the instigator of it all. I and my children have to know that somehow this is connected to glorifying God and we should want to do it for that reason alone. That loving and honoring daddy are Biblical principles and commands. Prayer for our obedience in this has become a daily thing for me, and I try to pray it out loud and with our kids so they know it's a priority and that only God can make us successful in this.
Second, that this is dependent upon the dad and his actions and attitudes as well. A big part of the reason we were joyful to get ready for my dad's coming home was not simply because we hadn't seen him in a week or more, but because when my dad came home, he was really home. I mean that he spent all, literally all, of his time off with us. He did go places and do things, even with his friends, but he never went anywhere we couldn't go, or did anything we couldn't at least witness if not participate in (I wasn't much help in working on a car at 3, but I was there watching), or went with anyone we couldn't be around. Both my parents loved music and played very well, so a big thing for us was to play music together. We even had a family band up until a couple of years ago that performed all over the country. This wasn't something my parents fell into, but was intentional. My dad could've very easily went out and played music professionally with the best, but chose to teach and play with his family. I remember when he was asked why he played with "little kids" instead of "real musicians", he would often say, "I know where all of my kids are on Friday and Saturday night, do you?" I do think part of why he wanted to be with us was because of the way my mother made him feel when he came home, but he was also a father who wanted to be involved with his kids and who still loves them more than anything else in his life, the only exceptions being his love for God, my mom, and now the grandkids.
When I asked my own husband what makes a difference to him, he said it's my attitude. If I'm complaining and grumbling even if everything is spotless, he doesn't feel at home, but if my heart's attitude is one of gratitude to God and to him for everything and I am joyful in working and keeping the home, he doesn't care if everything is a mess. (Yes, I know I'm blessed to have this man!)
This wasn't in the book, but was something I knew I could do to help my husband. Where he works he wears a uniform that is kept at work and they clean them there. So, during the work week he just wears a lot of t-shirts and jeans to and from work. However, on the weekends, and definitely on Sundays, he wears more dress clothes. This means usually that theses clothes will require ironing, but because he doesn't wear these kind of clothes everyday, I don't do a lot of ironing (I realize that this comes as no surprise to those of you who have seen me in somewhat wrinkly attire). So, I was trying to think of something extra in my homemaking that I could do specifically to help my husband and show my love for him to honor him. Ironing ahead of time. That's what I came up with, because often ironing, especially right now, has become a very neglecting part of my daily routine. We've had many Sunday mornings where there is last minute ironing of clothes for us both. So, I decided that I would take a little time every few days just to iron his things. Now he has several things ready to wear hanging in the closet, and would you believe he actually noticed and has said how much it meant to him?
So, I encourage you, if you're taking this challenge or not, to go above and beyond in your efforts to keep the home, and do something unexpected to make life a little easier and more enjoyable for your family. And I would love to hear your success, failures, ideas, and struggles in this area. Please let me know I'm not the only one prone to be a slacker ;)
This is a picture of our family from 1987 when we first started to play professionally together. My younger brother and myself weren't yet playing on stage, but only singing at this point. FYI, my mom made our matching outfits and hand embroidered them. If you'll notice, she's the only one not wearing a matching top, and that's probably because she was more concerned about what we had and wore than herself. That's so mom :) Below, is a picture of us performing in Ohio in 1996, and the last picture is from our last studio album in 2006 by this time two of my brothers were married and with children and had stopped touring with us. The gentleman on the bass is a long-time family friend who toured with us for a couple of years.

5.25.2011

For A Season

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"-Ecclesiastes 3:1



I am in a particular season for my life, so are you. My season happens to be being a wife and a mom to a 3 yr. old and an almost 3 month old.
Just four years ago my life was completely different. I was in a totally different mindset and season. I could spend most of my day the way I wanted to. I could keep my home perfectly spotless. I could go to the bathroom without an audience. I could read/type a sentence without being interrupted by dressing paper dolls or changing a diaper. I could start projects and finish them in a timely manner. My body was my own, and entirely for my husband with no nursing babies laying claim to it. I could work out whenever I chose. I could eat what I liked (right now I'm nursing a baby with colic and acid reflux and have had to take dairy, all dairy, out of my diet). 
This post could easily turn into a rant. I could easily complain about how different my life is and the fact that I can't do whatever I like whenever I like. I could lament the changes my body has had to go through in order to give birth to and nurse two children. I could cry tears of self-pity over the never-ending mess my home seems to be in, and the fact that I can constantly clean it without any noticeable change. 
But I know this is only a season. I will not be the mother of young children forever. They are already growing up before my eyes and changing in ways that amaze me daily. They won't always coo and smile those toothless grins, or hug me at night and say, "Mommy, I want to stay with you forever!". I am forever grateful to God for my children.
This is only for a season. And yet there are things that will never be the same, even when this season has passed. Let's be honest, I will never look the same as I did on my wedding day, even if I could still wear my wedding dress. I will always feel the affects of having been pregnant four times (we have two babies in heaven), my body will never be as it was prior to having children. Being a stay-at-home mother who's trying to homeschool means I will not be working full-time outside the home as I used to, and money will always probably be tight.
And yet none of those things are really bothering me. Lately there's only been one overwhelming thing that is making me feel, well, a little depressed to be honest. Guilt. I feel guilt over not being the mother I want to be. I feel guilty not being able to keep my home the way I want to keep it. I feel guilty not being able to fit in many of my clothes and still be modest (nursing moms, you know what I mean!). I feel guilty not having the time or energy to be there for my husband as I would like to be. I feel guilty for not spending time being hospitable. 
But most of all, I feel guilty because I don't have the time or energy or frankly the motivation to pray and read and study God's Word as I would like and know I need. I get so caught up trying to catch up or just feeling exhausted, that I feel like I'm wasting the time I've been given. 



"It is an unpleasant mistake to think all the time as lost which is not spent in reading, or hearing sermons, or prayer. These are properly called means of grace; they should be attended to in their proper season; but the fruits of grace are to appear in our common daily course of conduct." - John Newton

I had been taking out my frustration from this guilt on anyone and everything. Now granted, I wasn't abusing my kids or my husband, and  I wasn't neglecting needs, but I was doing things with a bitter heart. And no matter how much I tried to be cheerful, my heart was full of frustration and anger, and it was affecting those around me. 
There's a lot of guilt that comes with motherhood, and it's fueled by worry and genuine love for my family. I love my kids and my husband more than I've ever loved anything or anyone ever. I want most of all for them to see Jesus in my love for them lived out in all that I do or say, for them to see the gospel in every word and deed. But my heart's wickedness can nullify that. My attitude can negate the words I say or the things I do, because they aren't done with the right affections. God has to come before my husband, my children, my home, and me. 

"Thou shalt have no other gods before me."-Exodus 20:3

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment."-Matthew 22:37-38

God has to have the first place in my life, but that's in the light of the gospel. What I mean is, God doesn't change the state of my salvation or my standing in Christ before Him, simply because I sin or because I'm going through a season where I can't read, study, or pray as I want to. 

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."-Ephesians 2:4-9

Putting God first doesn't mean I am living a monastic life or that I am sitting in a quiet room for hours praying and studying. It means that I acknowledge Him in all that I do. It means that I submit to His will, knowing that He created this season for me, and that my joyful embracing of it will glorify Him and be for my good. It means that my heart will rejoice in Him when I feel so depressed. It means that I will take refuge in His peace when I am surrounded by chaos. And I will serve those around me with a joyful heart, knowing that in doing so I will glorify my God and show Jesus to my family and those around me. 

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, [is] therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."-Galatians 2:16-21

There is no better way to be like our Lord than to be glad to take the lowliest position, in meekness to embrace the draining of ourselves to serve others, to rejoice in being made low that He can be made higher, and to be a stranger in this world by showing them our steadfast devotion to our God, Jesus the suffering servant, as we are blessed to be given the opportunity to emulate and follow Him in giving our all to our family. 

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."-Philippians 2:5-8

I watched my mother for years pour out herself for her family and others. She did it without complaining, but with a quiet and a meek spirit. She showed me Christ and the gospel by giving us grace and mercy and love, while she received nothing in return. So, I am going to ask God to forgive me for where I have wasted the time He has given, for the attitude of my heart, for not coming to Him sooner with my sins, and for not trusting Him fully in this season. And I pray He grant me repentance in these areas, and I am going to put my hand to the plow and not look back.

"And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."-Luke 9:62

So, who's with me? 

5.24.2011

ABCs of Me

Just so you know, I've been a bit behind in catching up with blogging. What with blogger erasing posts (both published and some saved for publishing), Lil' Feller had a cold, internet connection problems (thanks AT&T *sarcastic tone implied*), and basically trying to keep up with being a keeper of the home while my husband's working extra long overtime filled days for the last several weeks (that means no breaks or help for mommy :( as he often comes home in time only to put them to bed).
So, please do not think I am complaining, just wanted to let you know why no new posts were coming up :)
And without further adieu, the ABCs....

A-Age: 30 (I know, ugh!!!)
B-Bed size: Plain old double bed, and sometimes I get more than half ;)
C-Chore you dislike: cleaning bathtubs and toilets (Blech!)
D-Dogs: Two, brother and sister full-blooded labs, named Porter and Dolly
E-Essential start to your day: right now, I'd say nursing ;)
F-Favorite color: Yellow, especially bright sunshiney hues
G-Gold or silver: Not really big on either, but my wedding ring and engagement ring are white gold
H-Height: 5'5"
I-Instruments you play: violin/fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bass
J-Job title: mother, wife, homemaker, and Christ follower
K-Kids: Daughter (age 3), Son (2 1/2 months), 2 babies in heaven
L-Live: Tennessee
M-Mom's name: Betsy, but mom to me ;)
N-Nicknames: "S" to my brothers, "Mommy" to my kids, "Chicken" to my grandpa
O-Overnight hospital stays: Only twice, after the birth of my kids
P-Pet peeves: Dirty hands or long fingernails, the toilet paper being hung the wrong way, towels folded differently from how I would fold them, bedsheets that don't line up with the comforter (I could go on and on, yes I'm OCD and insane)
Q-Quote from a movie: "Hello, my name is Inego Montoya. You killed my father. Now prepare to die."-from "The Princess Bride"
R-Righty or lefty: Righty
S-Siblings: Three brothers, two older and one younger
T-Time you wake up: All times, I have a 2 month old and a toddler, so it changes daily
U-Underwear: I'm for it ;)
V-Vegetables: can't think of one I won't eat
W-What makes you run late: Ha! Everything and anything (For example, yesterday as we're heading out the door my daughter couldn't decide which of her plastic jewelry to wear and the baby threw up on me after soiling a diaper, needless to say, we were a little late.)
X-X-rays you've had: Ankle
Y-Yummy food you make: anything sweet or with chocolate, my husband says spaghetti sauce, smoothies, biscuits, quesadillas, mashed potatoes
Z-Zoo animal favorites: the birds and elephants

So there's my ABCs, what does yours look like?

5.17.2011

What???

Okay, so I've not stopped blogging, but with the blogger whatever it was problem last week I lost some posts that were saved and were supposed to go up as well as some comments. So sorry for the weird interruptions, but be assured I'm still here and working on getting some new posts done. So until then, please enjoy this video and bear with me and *ahem* blogger :)


5.09.2011

Awkward Moments in Modest Dressing: Pregnant Without Sweatpants!


Disclaimer: I am no longer pregnant. These pictures were taken in February and our son was born March 1, 2011. I just didn't get this post done before now ;)
The fact is that when I was pregnant with my daughter, which was mostly during warm weather, I could find a plethora of fairly inexpensive maternity dresses. Which if you've ever been pregnant, you know that in the last few months pants can become very uncomfortable, as everything is too high or too low, and if you've never tried it, trust me, dresses/skirts are not only more comfortable during this period, but actually make you look more put together and attractive instead of a waddling, frumpy mess, ready to pop any second.
This time I was big-pregnant during the coldest part of the year, and was astonished to find that my options for covering myself were either jeans/sweats with tunic type shirts, the same wrap dress (but they were really expensive), and *gag* the blue jean miniskirt (I don't know how many people are wearing miniskirts in the last trimester of pregnancy, but can't imagine that it's a good look for anyone), not to mention that many options weren't very modest.
Undaunted, I decided to go to a local fabric store and look for some maternity sewing patterns to fill this void in my wardrobe. (Which I must say was so unbelievably and amply stocked through God's grace in providing me clothing through some very generous mothers. Thank you Crissy and Mrs. Walker!!! So, I had plenty of tops and pants, but not even a skirt to wear.) The problem was that even in pattern books you could find that same wrap dress (which I don't particularly care for as I have a 3yr. old I can envision lifting the fabric to see what's under "wraps", and there's wind).
*Sigh* So, what's a girl to do?!?
One word. Ebay. Yes, ebay.
I went to ebay and started looking through vintage patterns for maternity wear, and was delighted to find so many so cheap (many as cheap as $0.99! Woo Hoo!) and they looked more like regular dresses. They weren't tight everywhere, but were totally tailored and gorgeous!
So, I sewed, and sewed, and sewed, and ........ here's some results!
The pattern I used was a size 10, and fit well without modifying. I used a thin knit jersey (think cool and comfy fabrics) in grey. This was one of the most comfortable dresses I've ever worn, and the drawstring empire waist made it perfect even in the last trimester.

This pattern was a size 10, too, but I actually had to take it in quite a bit. This was the easiest to sew, and I used black polyester suiting material. It doesn't wrinkle easily or require ironing and this style works well with a sweater or fitted blazer (even if you can't button it anymore) and it gave me a dressy option without being uncomfortable.

This photo was suggested by Shelby.

This pattern was a size 16, but I didn't have to do much taking in due to the full nature of the skirt, just added a fabric tie-belt in the same material to keep it from looking like a muu muu when I was at my biggest. I wish I would've made it a little longer, and I had to refit the sleeves and neck (apparently my neck is bigger than the average pregnant woman in the 60s). I used a plaid cotton blend, but the material I chose shrunk a little, so definitely wash your fabric before cutting. Also very comfortable dress that worked well with leggings.

I used the pattern below for this top. I used a brown wool suiting material that had a gold thread running through it. It has a beautiful removable cowl neck and box pleating on the back. I used the Simplicity pattern below to make the matching skirt.

This was my attempt to show the box pleating in the back. Neither of these pictures really do this suit justice. It turned out so wonderfully, and I loved wearing it. I always got lots of compliments in it, and it made a really nice church outfit.

I made this skirt from the above pattern out of a wool black and white tweed.  This was a wardrobe staple and was very comfortable. I did not make the red sweater, but already had it.

I made this skirt by cutting apart a pair of wide-leg jean maternity capris that I bought at Walmart on clearance for $1!!! I wore it a lot more when I wasn't so big. It had a low elastic waist band, and by the time I was really big, I just didn't find that comfortable.
I did actually make the three-quarter sleeve suit from this pattern, but didn't get a chance to take a picture before I had our son. I used a bluish green thin suiting material for it, and I loved the pilgrim collar. 

If you're looking for vintage patterns on ebay look for bundles and make sure you check the shipping (it shouldn't cost $5.00 to ship a pattern). Also look to see if it is being sold "as is" or if the seller has checked to ensure that all the pieces and instructions are intact. Also for making maternity panels in skirts I cut up old t-shirts with an elastic casing at the top, and they were definitely comfortable.
If you're pregnant, I hope you enjoy being feminine and modest as much as I did :)
So, should pregnant women start demanding better clothing options for winter bigness? I say YES!
What say you?

31 Days To Clean Homemaking Challenge: Day Two

Sorry this post is a little late, but I try to take the weekends off from blogging and as the author has suggested, am taking weekends off from the challenge. Not that I do not do housework or clean on the weekends, it's just the specific challenges that I am not doing then. Plus, my husband often works long hours during the week, but is usually off on the weekends, so Saturday is an essential family time for us each week, and Sunday, well, it's the Lord's day :)


So here's Day Two: 


The Mary challenge is to look at your home and find ways you can make it come alive. So, I'm thinking of both ways I can bring "life" to my family relationally and how I can just make my home prettier, more comfortable, and well, just more homey.
A big thing for me is to become self-absorbed. I tend, especially when cleaning or doing housework, to just focus so completely on it. It's almost therapeutic. It doesn't help me right now with this cleaning challenge to have a nursing two month old who has acid reflux and colick as well as a three year old who's very mommy-attached. So, and this is a confession for me, I get frustrated and even angry. I obviously have a hard time completing tasks right now, and that just frustrates me so much that I know I'm sucking the fun and "life" right out of my home. So, for me, even though I like the thought of doing more organizing or decorating to help, I know the biggest thing I can do right now is work on not getting so upset or frustrated when things don't go my way, because that's what's frustrating me the most, MY schedule is interrupted. 
I know my children are a blessing and I really am so grateful to God for them, but I think like most moms, I just let my frustration get the better of me sometimes. So, here are some Scriptures I will be trying to memorize in the hope that they will help me combat the anger I am prone to take out on my family. 
"Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil."-Psalm 37:8
"Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools."-Ecclesiastes 7:9
"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger"-Ephesians 4:26
"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy,  drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."-Galatians 5:19-23
"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice."-Ephesians 4:31
"But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth."-Colossians 3:8
"I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;"-1 Timothy 2:8
"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."-James 1:19-20
"A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression."-Proverbs 29:22

As far as the frustration that is causing my anger, I'm going to try to work out some sort of system to enable me to be more efficient in my cleaning. I have nothing very structured set in place, but am going to ask my husband to help me find something that works. I have a feeling that he could definitely point out some areas where I'm being very inefficient. I'll try to post my system when I have something definite and that works set in place.


Martha Challenge Day Two:
Clean refridgerator and freezer. Surprisingly this part again was way easier than the introspective and *gulp* convicting Mary challenge. I will not tell you how old some of the expiration dates were or what was lurking in the back. We have a deep freeze in the basement, but I haven't had the opportunity to tackle it yet. It needs to be thawed out anyway, but I may have to wait until my husband's here to help watch the kids for that. 


This picture was actually taken while I was still pregnant and is completely unrelated, and actually unposed ;)
For those interested, Shelby is still working on getting her own blog started, and I'll keep you posted on it's progress.
I hope you all are making progress in your cleaning and hope that we all emerge not just with cleaner homes, but with homes filled with "life". So, how are you changing the way you clean? Are you being as convicted as I am?

5.05.2011

31 Days To Clean Homemaking Challenge: Day One :D



Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean


Okay, so first know that you don't have to purchase the book, but it definitely will help you to follow the challenge. Second that the idea of the challenge isn't really about always having a spotless home per se, but more about examining our hearts and growing in our understanding of how keeping a home is glorifying to God.

Each day has a Mary and a Martha challenge.

Day One's Mary challenge is to as the question, "Why do you want a clean home?" and to come up with a mission statement. This is to keep you motivated to be consistent (the main problem I have). You are to place it where you can read it each day and it should take you no more than a minute to read it. I am long winded in everything I write or say, so here are my reasons. I've written them for our family, mostly in the hopes that I can teach these to our children. I call them my Dirty Dozen (I wasn't aiming for twelve, it just came out that way).

Mrs. W's Dirty Dozen:
1. We clean to honor God by being good stewards with what He has given us and showing our gratitude for it.
2. We clean to honor our husband/father by making and keeping our home a welcoming and restful place.
3. We clean to be an example of productivity and stewardship to each other and to others outside of our home.
4. We clean to practice self-discipline.
5. We clean to practice self-denial.
6. We clean for the sake of cleanliness, sanitation, and sanity.
7. We clean to serve others, and not just those in our family, but also our guests.
8. We clean to keep from falling into the temptations of being slothful,        
laziness, and idleness.
9. We clean to keep things orderly and create a beauty in our home reflective of God's order and beauty in creation.
10. We clean to keep things where we can find them easily.
11. We clean to reduce stress, anger, and frustration.
12. We clean so that we may truly set aside a time of rest from our work.

Day One's Martha challenge is to gather supplies. Oh yeah, I've got that one down ; )

5.04.2011

31 Days To Clean Homemaking Challenge


Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean

Yes, I am a little late in joining the challenge, but I'm going to try to do it by God's grace :)
Click here to read the introduction to the challenge and  here to read Day One's challenge, and let me know how you're doing, and hopefully we'll all have cleaner homes ;)

5.02.2011

"Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead"

I'm sure by now all of you have heard the news that the terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden is dead. I have been reading the literally hundreds of responses to this news on facebook and elsewhere this morning, and I feel as though I can't quite join in the sentiments of many others. 
First, let me say that I am not in favor of terrorism. I am forever grateful to sacrifice of life and family that has been made by our brave armed forces. I am not a strict pacifist. Nor am I muslim. 
However,  I can't help but notice how many people are rejoicing in his death. Yes, I am glad that he will no longer be encouraging or leading others to kill and terrorize our country, yet to rejoice blindly in the justice of  anyone's death seems morbid to me and grotesque, especially knowing he got what we all deserve. I am saddened that he didn't know the Lord, that the gospel wasn't where he had put his trust.
"And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,"-Hebrews9:27
And foremost in my mind is where Mr. Bin Laden is right now. I know he's in hell. I know that he was misled by a lie from Satan into believing a false religion for his salvation, and that hell is not only where he is, but where he belongs, where the justice of God demands he be.
"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."-Ephesians 2:1-3
Still, I know that I deserve such justice just as much as he, and that my nature is no different than his. Apart from the grace of God, I, too, would be just as destructive and have as much propensity for evil in my own selfish and dark heart and mind. I can't help but be reminded that but for the blood of the blessed Son of God, Jesus Christ, I would and should be in hell myself, and that should be the shared fate of all mankind. 
""The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. AGod of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he."-Dueteronomy 32:4
I cannot help but think that this does not fix the problem of terrorism. Yes, justice was served, but there are many, many, others following the lie of Islam ready and willing to take his place as a leader. So many ready to plan the death and destruction of all who will not submit to Islam and it's perversion of a god. 
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."-Ephesians 2:4-7
The answer to terrorism is the answer to sin, the answer to death, the answer to guilt, the answer to peace, the answer to illness, the answer to Satan, and the answer to man's inability to reconcile himself to God from whom we are forever separated from in our sin. The only answer to all of our problems is alone salvation in Jesus Christ, and submitting our lives to His Lordship and Sovereignty above all else. 
The only way the muslim world will stop following the quaran's orders to kill all those who do not convert to Islam is for them to be saved by the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
So, I am glad that justice was served in the case of Osama Bin Laden, and I know that this brings glory to God Almighty. I cannot rejoice in the fact that so many have died to affect this, nor that so many have been deceived in the falseness and perversity of Islam, and I cannot rejoice in death, period. 
But I rejoice in the eternal life found only in the Lord Jesus. I rejoice that such life is abundant and meant to more than just myself, that such life is a gift and can illuminate the pagan darkness that the muslim world and surely all the world with the glorious light of the gospel. I rejoice that death has been overcome by Christ for all that are His redeemed!
And I hope this man's death and the reality of his eternal death in hell can and will be a reminder to my own heart of it's own propensity to evil. That this will remind me of my own hardness towards those who are lost when I won't or don't agonizingly take them to my God in prayer, when I won't or don't go our of my way for the sake of His gospel. 
"Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."-Matthew 24:30
And may I rejoice in the hope of the end of all terrorism when my Lord returns in all His glory! 
"And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe andlanguage and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."-Revelation 5:9-10
May we reach out to those lost about us, and especially to those in bondage to the lie of Islam. Only this will put an end to terrorism and bring about the ultimate justice, either in hell or in the blood of Jesus Christ at Calvary.