Monday, October 25, 2010

Putting the Word First

"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" Matthew 6:33

Well, it doesn't get more simple than that, does it?

Seek Him first.

Today, I was motivated (in part due to this post by Ashley at AP Freewriting 101) to get up and before anything else, read my Bible and pray.

So often, it's get up, check my email, read all the new blog posts, check Facebook and otherwise find ways to dawdle online, and THEN read my Bible and pray, hoping that the children sleep just a little bit longer.

Sometimes they wake up in the middle of making my "blog rounds". My day ends up chaotic and usually pretty unproductive.

On the other hand, if I spend that time in the Word and in prayer first thing, it gets that upward momentum going in my day. I am more positive. I am filled. I have something to draw on for strength, for giving into other people's lives (starting of course with my sweet children).

It's not about legalism. My pastor often says "God is not trying to get something from you; He is trying to get something TO you". How true that is. I even had to remind myself of that this morning as I was trying to breeze through my devotional time...anxious to get to the part when "I get to talk". (You know what I mean, right?) But something in me said "slow down, let God speak to you through His Word". And speak He did.

If we will just take the time to sit and listen and HEAR from Him before we get our minds all clouded up with...whatever, He will give us such clarity for the day ahead. For the week ahead. For our husband, for our children, for our homes and whatever else that concerns us. He will also help us weed out those things that DON'T concern us.

I know it works. God's Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). I encourage you to seek Him first at your next opportunity.

What steps can you take to make sure you meet with Him first thing in the morning?

Let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Servant Motherhood

Are you washing these feet?
Warning: Proceed with caution if you are the squeamish kind, okay? :)

Today I saw probably the fifth pair of poopy underwear in about a week. (You mamas that have been through potty training your little ones will know what I'm talking about).

I seriously had a "pause and think on that moment" during this time, and I believe God dealt with me about my attitude toward cleaning up the boy child's poo...when I know very well that he knows how to put it in the potty.

It was not pretty. (Poop seldom is). Okay, I'm talking about my initial response. It may have involved shouting (certainly not the "hallelujah" kind). It also may have involved me making some kind of ungodly growling sort of sound that hurt my throat. Okay, it did. I'm not proud to admit that I was really angry about this latest "accident".

To make matters worse, after the underwear was removed from the child, he continued to do the "potty dance", and refused to get on the potty to finish what he started.

(More anger).

After reassuring him that it was okay, and I was going to be there with him (I think he's a little bit afraid of going number two in the potty) he finally finished. I cleaned him up and sent him on his way.

As I was angrily cleaning up the mess, and washing the poop stained underwear, I continued complaining and expressing disgust.

It was at this moment that I was reminded of how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. And if their desert is anything like ours in Arizona, it was nasty dirty man feet. Sweaty, stinky. Filthy. In these parts, it doesn't take much to get dirty feet in the summertime- and we have pavement. I can't imagine what ones feet would look like at the end of a sweaty, stinky day in the hot sun complete with natural desert landscaping.

God showed me a picture of how Jesus didn't complain about this act of servant hood. He didn't let His own natural reaction to this menial task stand in the way of showing humility to His followers. In fact, He practically had to force one of the disciples to let Him wash his feet. He humbled Himself.

Jesus is better than me. And though cleaning poopy underwear could be only slightly more foul than washing man feet after the end of a sweltering day spent in sandals in the desert, His act of quiet, humble service to His disciples shows me how I should be as a mother. For the first time I received God's grace for this task and was able to smile contentedly while doing something I personally find repulsive.

Yesterday, I saw a definition of a servant of the Lord while reading Isaiah 54:17 in the Amplified. "Those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced". Jesus is the Ultimate Servant. Anything I could possibly do pales dramatically in comparison to all that He has done for us. And isn't that reflection of one "in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced" what we want to show our children?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Faithful in Little

"He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much."  Luke 16:10

Can I just say that we are "outgrowing" our home?  Well, we kind of are.  I live in the same apartment I lived in when I was single!  In fact, I only live in a two bedroom (as opposed to a one bedroom) because about six years ago, my younger sister came to live with me (she has since moved on and started a family of her own too).  So in a little more than four years, I've added a husband and two babies.  We've stayed here mostly for financial reasons.  In fact, when my husband and I got married, we tried to move to a one bedroom, in hopes of saving some money, but since my rent was already really discounted, a one bedroom was more expensive (yay!).

Yesterday, I was working on some things around the house to make it make more sense for us.  I've really been dealt with in the area of minimizing, and also starting to embrace where we are at right now.  I think in the back of my mind, I feel like we'll be moving soon anyway, so why try to make everything work?  Why turn our apartment into a "home"?  Well, because I really believe that God isn't going to take us to the "next big thing" until our attitudes toward the "current little thing" are right.  I have visions of a three bedroom house with plenty of storage space, more drawers and cabinets in the kitchen, a yard for the children to play in, etc...but I don't think God will bless us with all that until we prove that we can handle (and really enjoy) the small area that we have.

So here are photos of some of the progress I made yesterday:

I hung up this ABC chart for the little son has already mastered the alphabet, but I know he enjoys seeing this anyway.  My husbands aunt (who was a teacher) gave us this and the other posters in upcoming photos.  And yes, I know it's crooked! :)

I moved these shelves into my sons room- they were previously in the living room, as you can see, the children have already been "enjoying" the new location of their toys!
A couple of my son's bigger toys.  Reason number 534 why we need could really use a bigger space.  We do have a wee little patio, but I know if those toys go out there, they will just become a home to bugs and dust, and get ruined by the sun.  To the right is the big armchair where I have my morning study time...can I say this room does double (okay, probably triple) duty?

I hung up more posters! 

I dug this thing out of our storage closet.  It was a wedding gift.  I think it's time to use it, don't you? :)
Also, I found this painting.  It was done by my husband's grandmother or great grandmother (I don't remember which) but seriously, we have at least twelve of her paintings in our storage closet on the patio.  My mother in law made us take them blessed us with them when my husband moved in.   I like some of them more than others, and I think I may start displaying them.  I thought this one would be nice in our front bathroom.

So, there are more things on my to do list, but I'm really happy with the progress I made yesterday.

Also, I've been working on my Fly Lady (see her link in the side bar) "27 fling boogies" (actually, I haven't really been counting) but as I come across something, I think "am I ever going to use this?" and if the answer is "no" then into a box it goes.  I'm glad to say that I actually made a trip to Goodwill on Monday!

What about you?  Are you finding yourself in a season of "rearranging"?

Linking up here:

Friday, October 8, 2010

You're a Cheap Date! My Favorite Inexpensive Date Night Options

I'm not endorsing Sonic- eat there at your own risk! :-)

  1. Going out for coffee: My husband and I have spent many evenings just chatting over caramel macchiattos. It's so much fun just to focus on each other and talk, with no plan to go anywhere else...just be. Potential cost: $5-$10 (a little extra if you indulge in the pastries!)
  2. Browsing the Bookstore: It doesn't matter which one. We love books though our interests are pretty different. Sometimes we purchase something, sometimes not. We love finding deals on clearance! Potential cost: Free-???
  3. Staying home to play Scrabble (or watch a movie, or have nice meal together): Though my husband is ridiculously competitive and makes up words. Don't tell him I said that. My mother in law is usually gracious enough to let us drop off the children for a couple of hours. If you don't have a gracious mother in law, maybe you could swap babysitting services with a watch her little ones one Friday, and she can watch yours the next. Potential cost: Free!
  4. Going for a drive: My husband loves driving. We don't have to have a destination, we enjoy something as simple as just going and looking at homes in the area. This one is also fun during the holidays when you can drive around and look at the Christmas lights (our little ones are still too young to really care about this- but it's a fun family night option too). Potential cost: a few dollars for gas.
  5. Going to the Dollar Theater: Our local one has movie tickets for $2 I think, and all the concessions are about a dollar each (at least I think they were last time we visited!). It won't be the latest blockbuster, but it can be cheaper than buying the movie on DVD, or in some cases- renting it- it you're not a prompt movie return-er! Potential cost: $4-$10

    The point is that you made an effort to be together!  Having fun with your husband doesn't have to cost a lot (or even any) money!  

    What are some of your favorite inexpensive date nights?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Determines Your Family Size?

How many children will you have?

That's a question that you hopefully answered before you got married and started having them!

Are you trusting God to determine that number?

Are you believing for a "quiver-full"?

Are you going to have as many as finances allow?

Or have you determined that number some other way?

I don't have a good answer to that question! (And by the way, I don't think there are any "wrong" answers to the above questions). Before my husband and I were married, we desired a large family of maybe 5 or 6 children. Fast forward 10 months into our marriage, after the birth of our son, and our answer changed a little bit!

At one point during my son's first few weeks, my husband looked at me and said "maybe one's enough!"

Of course, you know the story, we also have a daughter, so, obviously one was not enough.

Some days I really think that I might like to experience another pregnancy and have at least one more child. But then I'll have one of "those" days as a mom, and really begin to doubt myself and my ability to "stay sane", though I know that God is faithful to provide grace for me should He decide to bless us with another child.

One major thing that keeps me from fully trusting God with my fertility (and just having as many children as occur naturally- without any birth control) is the amount of stress that pregnancy and the several weeks postpartum can cause for not only my marriage, but also the other children in my world. (And this concern only because somehow I think that I'll have like, twenty children if I just let my body do it's thing! Okay, not really, but you see what I mean right?)

When I was pregnant with my son, for example, I absolutely lost all desire for physical intimacy. (I'm just being real here...hopefully that's not TMI!) Whether that dramatic change was due to sub-par nutrition, or wacky hormones, or something else altogether, I know it came as a major shock to my new husband (and me too- I had no idea what was going on). Thankfully, that situation was resolved, and we had a much easier time with my next pregnancy. But it was still a season of trial for our marriage. And it seriously had the potential to cause things to really go awry in our relationship.

Other women may deal with other kinds of anxiety during pregnancy, like the woman that has dealt with depression before becoming a mother (not to mention those that deal with postpartum depression). Pregnancy may be a time of real struggle for some women to simply cope with life let alone nurture a marital relationship.

Then there's the issue of pregnancy and subsequent children affecting the older children. We did everything we could think of to help our son prepare for the arrival of his sister. I told him on a very regular basis that a baby was going to come to live with us. We even sent a picture message to his grandma to share with him once she was born (he wasn't allowed in the hospital due to the swine flu scare at the time). More than anything, I think having another baby affected my relationship with him in a way that I didn't anticipate. Obviously, he's still my baby, but at least in the earlier days of his sister's infancy, he started to become closer to his dad, and a little less receptive to me. That was something I wasn't prepared for.

So, while I do believe the Scripture that tells us that children are a heritage from the Lord, and that every good and every perfect gift comes from above, I also believe that God gives us wisdom. I am in no way saying that pursuing a "quiver-full" is not the way to go, but I think God directs each individual family. Besides, nobody ever said that all quivers are the same size. Plus, with a smaller family size, we are more motivated to take better aim with the arrows in our quiver (at least that's my opinion).

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5

All that to say that a large family may not be for everyone. You must pray and seek God in your individual situation. Perhaps He has called you and your husband to a certain area of ministry, and it just wouldn't be practical to have a large family. Then again, you may hear Him speak the words "trust me" and direct you to not intervene in any way, and see that He'll bless you with just as many (or as few) as you can handle in your situation. After all, He knows what you're capable of more than you do. Don't you think?

What's your experience in this area?

Has God directed you to have a specific number of children?

Are you fully trusting God with your fertility?

Leave me a comment! I would love to hear your thoughts. :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This week, I'm trying to do some easier meals since I'll be gearing up for my daughter's birthday party on Saturday.  And of course (until further notice, that is) all our meals are allergen-free.  

Monday: Turkey Burgers and French Fries- I take two pounds of ground turkey, season with salt and pepper, add in some good mustard (at In & Out Burger, they cook the patties w/mustard when you request "animal style", by the way). Then I form the patties, and cook in a pan w/olive oil.  I just eat the patty served w/lettuce and tomato (maybe a little bacon).  My husband and son can eat it with the bun.  The French Fries will just be from the freezer.  (Keeping it simple as much as possible this week!)

Tuesday: Today I am cooking a batch of chicken stock (Nourishing Traditions recipe as featured in The Makers Diet), only because I'm out, and I don't want to buy it at the store (that's how much I love the home made stuff).  

              Chicken Tacos: Made with the chicken leftover from the chicken stock.  I make my own taco shells using corn tortillas and coconut oil. I cook them just until they are goldenServed with Mexican rice. 

WednesdayWhite Bean and Chicken Chili- I usually don't cook on church days (Sunday and Wednesday) but this will be a slow cooker meal.  This recipe is sooo good.  

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday: Pasta Seashell Casserole- I use a pound of ground turkey and brown it with half an onion, diced, and three cloves of garlic, minced.  I mix it with 8 oz of cooked sea shell pasta (I use rice pasta- which by the way is really good...I can't really tell much of a difference between it and regular pasta) and a jar of store bought spaghetti sauce. 

Saturday: Not planning to cook.  We will probably have birthday party leftovers.    

Sunday:  Ditto, though I'm sure we'll have something on hand! 

For more great menu planning ideas, visit!