Thursday, July 28, 2011

What I'm into this Month- July 2011 Edition

Oh boy, time for the July edition of "What I'm into this Month!" Are you super excited? I am! Let's begin, shall we?

Want to Read: The other books on my shelf! I seriously need to stop this compulsive accumulation of books! I have tons of books that I haven't even cracked open yet. (Don't tell my husband I admitted this problem- he might try to keep me accountable! Lol!)

TV Show Worth Watching: None. Sorry. I just haven't been into television.

Movie I've Seen (in or out of theater): Did You Hear About the Morgans? Actually, I don't remember if this was July or not, but it's the most recent movie I've watched. It was really cute, and it had a positive message that's in favor of marriage, which you don't see too much of in romantic comedies.

In My Kitchen: This month, I made pickles, applesauce and tomato paste.

The pickles didn't turn out so well. I think I used the wrong kind of cucumber.

The applesauce was made in the slow cooker and turned out good, but I made the mistake of adding a touch of cinnamon, and my son (the purist) wouldn't touch it (the teeny-tiny bit I added turned the whole batch brown)! My daughter loved it though. I peeled and cored & sliced about 5 lbs of apples, added them to the slow cooker with about a half cup of water (not necessary though, the apples have plenty of water). When they had cooked for a few hours, and were tender, I just put them in the blender. (You can probably just use an immersion blender if you have one).

It's nice to know how to make tomato paste (or tomato anything that I would normally buy in a can) but you use so many tomatoes to make such a small amount of finished product. It's kind of a let down in that sense, but at least I know what's in it! I've generally stopped buying canned tomatoes as most cans are lined with BPA and the acidity of the tomatoes causes it to leach into the product. It's good when tomatoes are in season and you can find them in the market for really cheap!

In My Ears: Can we talk about this? I love music, but I often find myself completely forgetting to play it unless I'm driving somewhere. But...I'm home most of the time, so I don't hear very much music. Does anyone else have this issue? I know that it's totally uplifting when it's played in the house and puts me in a better mood. Do you normally make it a point to play music in the house?

Three Newest Blog Reads: Isn't the internet a never-ending source of new stuff to read? Oh my. This month, I found Taste is Trump, I Heart Mesa, and All that is Good. (The first two being a taste of some local bloggery. :P)

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month: My anniversary. It will be five years! It's our "Wood Anniversary." Ack! I need gift ideas! Hopefully we can have a date night at some husband's been working exceedingly long hours. Boo! (I mean, yay! He has a job!) But we haven't been spending much time together. Anywho. I need a wooden gift for my guy.

So, tell me: what are YOU into this month?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Finding Contentment in Lean Times

The Bible warns us about comparing ourselves to others. It's an unwise thing to do. (2 Corinthians 10:12)
I think the reason for that, at least in part, is that you never know what another person has been through. We may look at another family that seems to be more financially comfortable than we are, for example, and begin to be envious of their situation.

In this instance, however, what we don't know is what's hurting us.

I know many times I've looked at various couples or families and felt jealous of what I perceived their situation to be. But is it always the situation I think it is? Probably not.

Consider these possibilities:

  • Maybe they work a whole lot more (or a whole lot harder) than I do.
  • Maybe they have some kind of income that isn't obvious, like an annuity or settlement of some kind.
  • Maybe they have sacrificed something precious to them in the area of giving, and now God has blessed them (Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38).
  • Maybe they're much more diligent in the area of budgeting and saving.
  • Maybe, just maybe, they're in debt up to their eyeballs!

It's easy for us to look at someone else and think that they simply have it better than we do. Life is easier for them, and we want our lives to be like theirs. We get frustrated with God and feel bad about where we are in life.

Personally, I feel that in our society (and especially my generation), we are much more tempted to be discontent with our lot. Not that we need to stay in the same place forever, and we shouldn't strive to do better, but it's challenging to simply "be" and wait for God to bring us increase.

Our trust gets put in the wrong places and we look to things to make us happy. We strive in our own power to get to that place of being fortunate, happy, "to be envied", when the only way to get there (really!) is to trust in God and find contentment in Him.

I love what the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:12 (Amplified):

I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.

"...the secret of facing every situation..." We learn that secret in the next verse, "I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me..." God gives us strength for our situation! Not what we think someone else's situation is! Ours.

Have you ever fallen into the trap of comparisons? What Scriptures help you find peace and contentment in your current situation?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Goals for 2011 Revisited

I know if I were the truly goal-oriented type, I would check in on my goals more than semi-annually. I'm working on it! Just this morning, I was reviewing my goals from half a year ago in my journal.

I was actually quite pleased at my progress. That's not to say that I've already accomplished what I set out to improve on entirely, but I'm closer than I was at the beginning of the year. Yay!

Here's the original post about my goals to read in it's entirety if you missed it.

(And for those of you who may desire more rapid growth and more accountability for reaching your goals, check out the 3 in 30 Challenge if you haven't already! There's some great encouragement as well as awesome ideas for making improvements in your life!)

Spiritual Goals:

  1. Spend moments alone with God (in prayer and Bible reading) everyday. Put Him first before anything including computer time and chores. Well...I've done alright here. I have kind of been hit & miss with my commitment to have my quiet time before computer time and chores. Maybe that's why I've only been averaging about four days a week in the Word. Hmm.
  2. Cultivate the fruit of the Spirit- Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Not really sure how to measure this one. Perhaps this one would be best broken down into mini-goals, kind of like #4. As in working on one area at a time.
  3. Make church a priority. Be excellent in my areas of service. Do what God directs me to do regardless of whether or not my work is acknowledged or appreciated. Keep my eyes on Him! I've been much happier in this area so far because of this attitude. There have been a few times when I didn't make it a point to be involved, but overall, I've done a lot better. Last year, I think I technically attended pretty regularly, but wasn't really "there."
  4. Make a habit of speaking the language of praise- stop complaining! Tame my tongue! I'm still working on this one! I've been more challenged in this area lately, so it's time to really focus on this!

Marital Goals:

  1. Be positive with my husband. Don't criticize, complain or condemn. Criticizing, complaining and condemning was a habit last year. I think I can say it's less of a habit now. :P I've read one really good book that addresses this called The Surrendered Wife (read at your own risk, it is not by a Christian author) and it really helped me to break the cycle on some of this behavior. I even wrote a post about one attitude change of mine.
  2. Keep "covenant" in the forefront of my mind- by doing a Scripture study and/or reading books/listening to teachings that promote covenant in marriage. Honestly, I haven't really gone out of my way to do this! This is one I'll need to focus on in the latter part of the year, apparently! :)
  3. Be flexible (this one is a biggie for me!)- Let your immediate answer be "yes" or at the very least "I'll think about it". (So often I am immediately opposed to new ideas- this is a habit that I would like to break this coming year to promote peace in my marriage). See #1.

Maternal Goals:
  1. Actively direct P & C to the Lord by sharing Scriptures with them, weaving Biblical lessons into the everyday- don't be afraid to show them my need for the Savior when I mess up, too! Keep them in prayer on a daily basis! I've been fairly diligent to my little ones in prayer (when I have my prayer time!), also, I've been trying to communicate to my son "We treat others they way we want to be treated" especially during those times when he's "less than nice" to his sister. It's been relatively easy to confess my faults to them (when it has something to do with them, of course). I just read this post the other day that gave me some ideas on how to share Scripture with them.
  2. Focus on spending quality time with them in instruction, creative play, and just for fun (with no agenda)! Get out of the house on a weekly basis (in addition to church- i.e. to the library, park or elsewhere). Institute regular TV turn-off weeks/days. We did our "Screen-Free Week" but I haven't done much in the way of limiting television other than that. Maybe I will schedule another one for the second part of the year...maybe in the fall. I've also started having "floor time" with them, which is essentially just that. I sit on the floor, and they get to come up with what to do. Sometimes it's reading books, other times it's climbing on top of me. Lol! Getting out of the house has proven more challenging lately since my husband returned to work. He's been gone for most of the day six days a week, and he works too far away for me to drop him off. Hopefully that will change soon! (Though I am thankful he has a job!)
  3. Work toward having "real food" be the basis for their diet (and ours too of course)...phase out store bought/processed foods like chicken nuggets. I was really excited when I realized my progress here. I don't remember the last time I bought chicken nuggets! We have had a few times of fast food or tacos from the local Mexican restaurant, but for the most part, they eat real food. I've even been able to phase out the snack-y foods like crackers and such and even cereal to some extent.

Domestic Goals:

  1. Cultivate order and beauty in our home. Make it a place of tranquility and hospitality. Go the extra mile to make things "pretty". Fail! Lol! Actually, not really. :) I've been better about keeping things in order, and teaching the children to help out with clean up time. This has been more or less a daily thing, so that's good. I don't know that our home has become any "prettier" since last year. (Unless you count crayon and highlighter scribbles on the wall) :P Just keepin' it real!
  2. Find and use one new recipe each month. I have not been purposeful about this. Though I would imagine that I probably do come close this without even thinking about it.
  3. Pare down our possessions by doing "27 Fling Boogies" or something similar on a regular basis. Keep stuff I/we love and use, but sell, donate or dispose of other stuff. I have done probably all of 2 "27 Fling Boogies" so far this year. But that's okay! That means we now have 54 fewer unneeded or unwanted items in our home!

Personal Goals:

  1. Continue to develop friendships with other women...pray for and be on the look out for a Titus 2- type mentor. I think I've done okay with the first part of this one. As far as a mentor is concerned, I still have not really become "connected" with someone like I need to be. My Pastor's wife is an awesome choice, and I actually have had a couple of meetings with her this year, but I know it would benefit me to meet with her more regularly.
  2. Continue to blog regularly- make a schedule of posts every month (you know, so I don't sit around wondering what to blog about every day!). Gain 60 new blog followers in 2011. Well, I don't know if I've blogged as regularly as I set out to, but I've posted usually at least once (sometimes twice) a week. And actually, I think I've come at least close to half way on my goal to gain followers! So that's exciting. (Not sure of the exact number, as I did not record my number of followers at the beginning of the year).
  3. Read! Commit to two books per month for a total of 24 in 2011! (And, try to read one book at a time! :D) I've been reading...just not sure how much! I have joined the adult reading program at the library, so that has helped motivate me (I so want to win a reusable bag full of goodies! ;-) It can just be so stinkin' hard to stay committed to a book. Mostly because right now, I'm not reading frequently enough that I guess I get bored with whatever I happen to be reading. And I definitely have not stuck to one book at a time!
  4. Contribute $400 per month to our family's income (with the purpose of covering "non-essential" expenses like gifts and other nice-but-not-necessary things) through my Pampered Chef business. The closest I've come to reaching this goal is about half way! I need to really get busy on this, at least for now, as it's not really "fun money" at this point. I have a couple other ideas to contribute monetarily (you know, without getting a "regular job" hee hee) so we'll see how those ideas pan out.

How have you done on your goals for 2011 so far? Remember, it's not too late to create some goals if you missed the "resolution making" of the New Year!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No Corrupt Communication

Oh, crap!

I don't freakin' know!

How often do we say things like this? I know I've been guilty of more than my fair share of verbal slip-ups...and ones even less tame than that!

One day I was going about my business, when I tripped on a toy or something, and something awful came out of my mouth.

Holy Spirit brought the Scripture to my remembrance from Ephesians 4:29-

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

I was stopped in my tracks. For the first several years of being a Christian, I really didn't have any issues getting over changing my speech patterns. Gone were curse words, I didn't talk about ungodly things like I once did before Christ. Now, years later, when I should know better, I was embracing angry speech, and just letting whatever fell into my brain instantly fall out of my mouth as well.

The root of the word "corrupt" means "broken in pieces." Immediately I think of how this indicates the state of my heart. We all know our words come from the heart, right? Not broken in pieces in the sense of emotional heartbreak or anything like that, but broken in pieces as in unwholesome or lacking integrity. Faulty. Defective.


But thanks be to God, there is a way of escape! (1 Corinthians 10:13) And that is through repentance:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

I repented, and God has cleansed me, and given me the grace to stop myself before I continued down the path of corrupt communication. Before I sowed unwholesome speech into the hearts of my lovely children. He showed me the error of my words, and filled in the cracks in my heart with His love!

I love that when we are humble enough to ask for His help, He freely gives it!

What has helped you avoid corrupt communication?

Linking up here:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Amazing Motherhood in Christ Jesus

Are you an amazing mother? Why, yes! Yes, you are!

Whether you are a stay at home mom or a working mom...

Whether you prepare completely nutritious meals from scratch everyday or...not...

Whether you allow hours of television or none at all...

Whether you are peaceful and serene every moment of the day...or you just really wish to be...

I believe most moms are doing the best they can. And if you really don't think you are, you have immediate access to the throne of God to seek His help for every possible "mommy conundrum" that can come your way. (Hebrews 4:16)

Romans 8:1 states "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."

There's no room for "mommy-guilt" in Christ Jesus! Are you there?

"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men..." Colossians 3:23

We all have our vision of what a "perfect" mother is. I have one, you have one. What really matters is not my opinion of what you do (or even yours!), but God!

If you stay connected to the Vine, He will show you what you need to do. He will direct you and cause you to learn what you need to know. He will make situations line up in your favor, and give you creative ways to get it all done (whatever it may be!).

Seek Him. Trust Him. Do what He tells you to do.

The Bible tells us "But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31:30 (b)

Are you secure in your status in Christ Jesus? I'm praying that each one of you remains confident in your calling as a mother!