July 16, 2014

Looking Up (Revisited)

This is a post I wrote almost 2 years ago, and it's still so applicable for me this day. In it, I said I was learning to look above the messes... that things were getting easier... I will say today, almost 2 years later, that I'm still learning to look up (focus on Christ rather than the nitty-gritty of life), and things still don't feel so easy. I don't know what my frustration has to do with more---how truly irritating individual situations can be, or the fact that I still struggle with being irritated by these sorts of things.   :)  

All I can pray now is, after messing up over and over and over, losing my cool over pointless things in my house, perhaps causing my kids to feel less than they really are to me, or not showing them enough how much they're loved, 

"Jesus, thank you for your grace! 
They are in your hands. They have to be, because mine are slippery and clumsy."

So the post from almost 2 years ago revisited.......


"Usually, my house looks lived-in. I have never been one for the house magazines and home decorating. There's nothing wrong with making your house beautiful, mind you. There are days when I wish I had the 'eye' for it. But, alas, I don't think that's my niche.

Often, I allow my living space to affect my "mind-space", if you will. Example, if my home was cluttered and untidy, my mind felt the same. If physical things were misplaced and disorganized around me, it was mentally exhausting to try making plans for anything.

I find life is just easier when I'm organized. For example, getting ready for an outing is obviously more difficult when things are just scattered everywhere. It's one thing to grab my purse on my way out, but when I'm caught wondering where I placed the keys last, things can get a little tense! "Why can't I find my keys at the exact moment I want to go somewhere?!" I've often shouted. So as much as I desire everything to be put in its place, I'm no expert at it myself. It would take me a short novel probably, to write about how I got over my need to having everything "organized" and tidy. In a nutshell? I'll try.

Rob and I married young. He was 23, and I was 21. We bought our fixer-upper house 9 months into our marriage and began a 6-year long renovation. Yes 6 years. This was no redecorating folks. He lifted the house 3 feet, doubled its square-footage with 3 more bedrooms (1 with an ensuite bathroom), a playroom, and garage, plus he rebuilt the kitchen and another bathroom and laundry room. Except for the priceless help of precious friends from time to time, he did the majority of the work himself without hiring trades. Living in the middle of a major renovation like this raged war on our relationship countless times. And, I had 4 babies during 5 of those years. When all I wanted to do was "nest" for the new little one, we were bashing down another wall, or vacuuming up drywall dustagain. (And let me just say for the record, drywall dust is awful stuff to clean up). I groan with ladies who lament about these things! I did not have a place for everything, and keeping everything looking tidy and Better Homes & Gardens ready was a far away dream. Cooking in an unfinished kitchen whilst competing with power tools and screws and plumbing materials on the counter was my reality. If renovations didn't help change my compulsive need to be organized and tidy... having kids helped push me even more in that direction. We are trying to train good habits of cleanliness and tidiness into our children. But a 3 year old can only clean so much. My 6-year old is learning the value of being organized however--after she loses art work, or special treasures, only to leave them on the floor for someone else to pick up. "Find a special spot for those things." I often hear myself say. Tripping over toys, or random socks taken off after the morning chill has worn off... or a discarded tea-towel once used as a super-hero cape earlier, are not really frustrations to me as much anymore. Yes, I still get into a dither (to put it lightly) sometimes about getting everybody to help tidy up. But I don't feel so tired now when I am in my house among what some people may think is chaos if they walked in.


Today I realized I have started to look "up". Yes, above the scatterings on the floor. I remember there was a time when all I could focus on were odds and ends strewn all over the floor. But I don't notice it near as often anymore. I find myself looking up above the mess.

Looking Up. 

When I was pondering this more today, I thought to myself, "Yes, I am looking up, physically. I am not so focused on what's going on down there... on the floor. What about spiritually? Am I looking up spiritually? Looking above and beyond the nitty gritty of daily life spent with small children? During those lonely, or frustrating, or disappointing times, am I looking up to my Heavenly Father?"  "


July 10, 2014

To Give You a Hope and a Future

Life doesn’t seem to be going the way people around me expected it would go, or even the way I would expect for them. Living abroad is forcing us to recognize, or remember, that life is even less in our control than we realized at first, and completely in God’s. Circumstances often play a large part in showing us His will; sometimes dramatically, sometimes gently. And even when circumstances seem to take a change for the worse, it’s all in His plan. We must not become weary or discouraged. If our plans have had to change, what we were doing according to His will was not in vain, even if the job doesn’t feel or seem finished to us. We are comforted in remembering that God knows the plan of our lives. God promises us prosperity, and not harm. But we can’t get tripped up in expectations of what this prosperity or  harm may mean for our lives. Prosperity may not be the newest car, or endless funds in the bank account. Nor may it mean perfect health all our days, the children or spouse we always dreamed for, or the perfect job. But we do know that prosperity in God’s economy can mean a peaceful relationship with Him on earth—forgiveness of sin, and comfort in difficulties. Prosperity in hope. We don’t need to become discouraged in our circumstances when life seems as though it is spinning out of control, or taking a turn we never would have imagined for our friends our ourselves, because we know that it’s in God’s hands. We know He has promised us a greater hope than our finite circumstances, which is glory with Christ forever one day.

God’s plans are not always our plans, or the way we would imagine life to go. But He invites us to be a part of His plan: to be a willing participant in His sovereign will.


Once we are made alive in Christ, truly nothing can harm us. No illness, no persecution, no earthly difficulty. We are always safe in Jesus, because even when our physical bodies are no more, because of Christ’s victory over death we will share in this victory in glory with Him one day.

June 23, 2014

The Dry Season - When God Seems Quiet

Sometimes seasons seem go by where each time my Bible is opened a scripture pops out at me in fresh and amazingly applicable ways. Every need is met by the perfect words of God. It’s really speaking to my soul. God’s words are raining down! His voice couldn’t be more clear in these rainy seasons: I hunger, and am filled, hunger and am filled.

And then there are seasons when silence and more silence seems to be the theme. No longer are the comforting promises of God raining. In fact, it feels more like the middle of a dry season. Those long months of watching dust fly up and around and cover everything. Every surface and crevice becoming dustier, dirtier, thirstier. The plants are waiting; the people are waiting. Waiting for that first wonderful rain! 

And it will come. It’s the cycle of the seasons.

And I start to hear Him again, and the promises are popping out, and the life-giving words of grace in His Word.



The thing is, Scripture hasn’t ceased being relevant or applicable to my life in those dry spells. Sometimes God’s spirit is quieter, forcing me to listen even more carefully. To that “still small voice.” Afterall, He promises to never leave me nor forsake me! God is a missional God. He wants us. He pursues us. He makes Himself known to every one in all creation! It’s part of His grace.

What seems like a dry season, could be the time when God is actually telling me I need to slow down, major on the majors, rather than every little thing I try and control in life, and really truly listen. His quiet season is really the time when He is drawing me in, and patiently waiting for me to listen to the “still small voice.” Rather than expecting to find Him in the big things, He is still there in the small. In each sibling squabble I must pray for wisdom to wade through; He is in each traffic jam, wanting me to slow down and live in step with the Spirit; He is in every “owie,” when I have to stop and comfort the hurting baby. He is in every little interruption, reminding me that the world doesn’t revolve around me.

Lord, thank you for the dry season!

  Linking up here at a Little R & R

May 30, 2014

Go to The Source

It has been nearly a month since a post, and not on purpose, but sort of. For no real reason except lack of inspiration have I neglected writing much of anything. When this happens, you may see recipes or kitchen tips pop up instead!  J

But I have been thinking about the endless resources available to us… whether it be blogs online, online radio, in our local Christian book store, on the (real) radio, even local church programs we may have access to. There is an abundance. Thus my silence on this blog. I don't want to be another distraction--offering a self help tip or whatever. Do we really have to try and feed ourselves anymore? I’m talking about Word-feeding; getting 'spiritual' input into our lives daily. It kind of seems like we don’t have to put too much effort in. There’s so much ready for us to access at a whim--endless blogs on endless topics ready for us to spend our time reading on our laptops, desktops, our mobile phones, our tablets, even our e-readers! 

On the surface it seems pretty easy. Like… it just comes to us and there can be an ongoing supply of spiritual food and encouragement streaming (literally) into our homes. But, I’m getting the impression that it actually isn’t adequate and many moms are really starving for real truth, for real interaction with friends, for truth. Our schedules can look so frantic, at any given season of life—we’re trying to fit it all in. From spending quality time with our kids, to quality time with our husband, and time with the Lord, and fitness, and cooking nutritious meals for our families, and then making sure our kids have an abundant access to great extra-curriculars outside of the home. Phew.. that list makes me exhausted. When a problem arises, it’s easy run to a self-help book or tap into a sermon or blog. When something just isn’t working right in our homes we wonder if a professional answer could be found somewhere in a book we haven’t read yet. Did we do something wrong? Is there another method? A different system? (I love systems.)

What did the Christian moms, wives… women do generations before us? Before this stream of endless information.

They had the Bible.

They knew their Bibles because that’s what they had. They had to depend on it alone.

And are we going to the Source (God, and His Word) first? Or do we jump online or on the phone or into a book looking for our answers?

Do not get the wrong idea here. I'm not suggesting we abandon all books, available teaching, seminars, or friends' advice. But a balance must be found. And hopefully it will slope more towards going to the ultimate source of Truth.

Let's dive into God’s Word for comfort, correction, direction, and wisdom?

PS) This is completely a mini-sermon to myself on the topic… because really, honestly, I do like hearing others’ takes on issues and challenges, and find myself—more often than not—seeking advice from “them” or “they” before Him or He.

April 29, 2014

Creamless Cauliflower Soup


So this is a new quick favourite in our house! Simple ingredients, full of flavor and creaminess, without cream or milk! I'm sure there are endless ways to utilize this recipe as a base for other cream soups and transforming them into a creamless smooth delight.  :)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 medium sized onions, sliced
1 head of cauliflower cut up into smaller florets
3 small golden or white skinned potatoes, chopped, peel on
Salt
Pepper
Curry Powder, medium (optional)
5 1/2 cups Water (divided)
Grated cheddar cheese for garnish (optional, but so nice :)

In a 6qt soup pot or dutch oven, saute onions on low-heat. Saute these slowly and on low temperature so the onions caramelize and you don't overheat your olive oil to smoking! If your heat is low enough, you can leave them without much attention for 10 to 15 minutes. Season your onions with salt.

Once the onions have reached a nice golden colour, toss in the cauliflower florets, give them a stir, and then toss in the chopped potatoes. Add your curry powder if using, and season with salt again. Add 1 cup of water, cover with a lid and let steam until the florets are completely tender and your potatoes are also fork tender; about 10 minutes.

Once the vegetables are tender add the remaining 4 and 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then carefully transfer soup into a blender and puree until smooth.

Pour soup puree back into your pot and check for seasonings. Add more salt and pepper until it tastes right for you.

Garnish with cheddar cheese if desired.

Makes 6 small portions, or 4 meal-sized bowls.


April 28, 2014

How To Have A More Successful Monday

Too many Mondays have gone by with mommy being terribly disappointed and frustrated with how slothful everyone seems to be, and how un-organized (ah! Me? Unorganized?!) the week's school work seems to be laid out and ready.

Mondays are just tough. Why?

If you are a family who takes your children to school, and your schedule is laid out for you, you may not have much choice in how you adjust things to make your Mondays run a bit more smoothly. (Or maybe you do! Chime in on the comments if you've figured it out for your public/private school-going family.) But for those of us who are homeschooled, well.... us mothers have total control over our home schedules, barring any crisis or other unforeseen event that happens with the kids or others needing our help.

1. Rather than viewing Monday as the beginning of another week of trying to motivate the kids to excellence in their attitudes and school work, pray and ask God to help us enjoy the start of a new week. A fresh start, an opportunity to forget the challenges and frustrations from the previous week.

2. Lower my expectations! This doesn't mean lowering my expectations for obedience or correct attitudes, but expecting things to take a little bit longer today. And that's OK!

3. Pray.

4. Plan for a less busy day. Don't try and fit everything in on Monday. Avoid grocery shopping, avoid unnecessary errands. Avoid cramming stuff in, rather ease into a new week.

5. Read out loud more together.

6. Pray.

7. Plan a crock pot meal for supper. (Key word here is, PLAN)

8. Exercise, or do some physical fitness. Get the blood moving and the heart pumping--always a great energy booster for a slothful day.

9. Pray some more.

10. Reflect on reasons we stay at home together, and be so thankful. Recognize these days are fleeting, the kids are growing up so fast.

Does your family struggle with getting moving on Mondays? I'd love to hear some tips on what has worked for you!

Blessings




Linking up here today:

April 22, 2014

"Seek and You Will Find"


This is what I told my kids as we were preparing for our annual egg hunt on Easter Monday. Partly because I was trying to "spiritualize" :) this part of the Easter holiday, but also because it's a great reminder for us. I told them we must look for God around us.

As I was thinking about the dads in our compound hiding eggs all over the place and us watching excitedly as our kids would come nearer and nearer to the prizes, I wanted them to be reminded that it's similar with our Lord. The dads hid the eggs hoping that the children would be successful. And some were laid bare, within easy view and reach. And some took a bit more seeking to find; a bit more faith that there were still more eggs to discover.

And I was reminded that we must seek after Him, and when we seek, we are promised in the Word that we will find Him.

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 
Mathew 7:8

And yet scripture also tells that the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands (Ps. 19:1)

God has not hidden himself from us so we cannot find Him, yet He also enjoys a good "egg hunt" if you don't mind the comparison. God wants us to seek after Him. He wants us to yearn after Him, to anticipate the prize. And our reward is great! We will find Him.