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Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

By two or three o’clock each day, my house looks like a toy monster exploded in a library.  Schooling my elder two children while keeping the youngest three entertained, fed, happy and out of trouble takes its toll on the house.  By this point in the day I have started laundry, started doing dishes , and started (sometimes) supper.  But all the unfinished tasks seem to scream for my attention all at once.  In the laundry room I notice that my washer and dryer haven’t been wiped in ages and there’s a strange  green substance spilled over the dial panel on the dryer, but as I’m closing the door to the dryer and turning the dial to start another load, Punky, who was “helping” put in the laundry, falls and needs to be consoled.  Then  I notice that Bud’s math book is on the counter and I haven’t checked it, yet, like I’d promised.  Oh, and there’s that letter I’ve been meaning to find an address for so I can mail it.   But before I can do any of that,  I need to find out where Li’l Britches is because when he’s quiet, it usually isn’t a good sign.   And I can’t forget to call the doctor about that prescription that needs refilled….

The list of things that I never get to seems to be multiplying.   I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been feeling angry, and I had a good idea it had something to do with the condition of the house.  I honestly am tired of feeling embarrassed about and making excuses for it.  I clean.  I just don’t ever seem to get the house to look like it’s been cleaned.  I can’t clean as fast as the kids can “unclean”. 🙂   So the situation isn’t really going to get better until my little ones are older and my older ones are better helpers– or until they all move out– so I need to do something, instead, about my anger.  

Last night as I lay in bed it kind of hit me.  The real problem is not that the house needs more attention than I give it.   It isn’t that the kids don’t put their things away (though that would help!).  It’s not that we have too much stuff (although we do).  It isn’t that I am not organized enough (though that, too, would help!).  No the real problem is that I feel like a failure, all the time, because my house is not as clean and neat as I would like it to be.  Somehow, even though I’m teaching my kids each day, reading to them, loving on them, training them (some!), and even though I am fixing meals to meet the special diet needs of my oldest son, teaching Missy how to sew, recording firsts and funny moments with the camera, and keeping clean clothes available — if not always folded– for all…. somehow it all seems to mean nothing.  The stacks of clutter on the counters, the dried toothpaste in the sink and  and the crumbs under the couch seem to be whispering to me, ” If you were a really good parent, like ________, then I wouldn’t be here.  You aren’t good enough.”  And it makes me feel like I’m failing everything because I’m not great at everything.  It’s no wonder I get irritated when I see the tupperware scattered  over the floor or the school work scattered on the dining room table instead of filed neatly. 

I’m glad I recognized that I’ve been having such negative “self talk”, as they say in psychology circles, because now I can confront it with truth.  Just because I’ve had the same can of dusting spray for five years, that doesn’t make me less loved by God.  I never did anything to deserve His love in the first place, so there isn’t anything I can do to make Him love me less, not even sitting down for a cup of tea when I know good and well that there’s a sticky spot on the floor under the couch.  

So, again, I’m reminding myself of the goal, which is to seek Him first above all things.   I may never have a spotless floor and a counter free of clutter at the same time.  Some people can do that, and it amazes me.  I look on it as a gift that I obviously didn’t get.  So, I’ll keep the house livable as best I can and try to ignore the condemning taunts of the cobwebs and dust bunnies.  Really, when I’m 80 will I think back to these days and sigh, “If only I’d scrubbed the tile more….”    I doubt it!   I pray that God will help me prioritize the important above the urgent.

 

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”  Romans 8:1

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Here are some things I wish I was doing:

  • Writing everyday
  • Singing more
  • Getting up before the kids
  • Spending time with God each morning and night
  • Teaching my kids logic
  • Sighing at my children less and laughing with them more
  • Eating healthy
  • Making DH feel like a super hero
  • Living simply
  • Taking more risks
  • Calmly training my kids
  • Remembering the important things
  • Letting life experiences teach my kids most of the time and using the textbooks to supplement, instead of vice versa
  • Managing our home well
  • Spending more time looking my kids in the eyes
  • Finding contentment in the now 😀

Ok, so that’s just some of the stuff I feel like I could improve or start doing.  Sometimes I get a little discouraged thinking of how imperfect I am and how I “should” be doing better — but that kind of thinking only leads to defeatism.  The real challenge is seeking after the One.   If I can do that, the rest takes care of itself.  Wait…. that reminds me of a verse I learned long ago.  “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Alleluia!

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Post-Election Pause

Well, for someone who claims to enjoy political discussion, I totally dropped the ball this election season and didn’t even blog once regarding politics of any kind!  This isn’t because I was uninterested, because I was watching, listening, learning, and reading avidly.  But I was reluctant to blog because my faith in the reliability of any of the media or the sincerity of any of our government leaders has been shaken.  When I went to the poll to vote, I felt like I had no voice because either way I would lose.  Ah, see.  I said “either way” as if I only had two choices on the ballot.  I had more, of course, but if you don’t vote Republican or Democrat, you don’t get heard.

Well, I cannot even begin to go into all the things I have been studying in regard to our nation’s path, so I won’t. There is just too much.  So, I will tell you what the result has been in my life.

First of all, I had a time of conviction from the Holy Spirit recently.  Can I just say that those times do not come often enough for me?  Not because I don’t need convicting, but because I am rarely still enough before the Lord to hear His Spirit speak to me.  But, oh, how sweet it is when He whispers so tenderly that I have been chasing after everything but Him, and that He wants me back.  So gently, He guides me to first see my sin, then repent of it.  Then He reminds me of His mighty work, and I again find that faith and zeal burn strong; I am renewed for the fight. 

So, I am eager to fan the flames of passion that God stoked in me.  I am praying, not once, not half-heartedly, but persistently and fervently for revival.  Revival in me, revival for my husband, revival for the men in my extended family who are the spiritual head of their homes, and revival in the Body of Believers.  God will bring revival if we humble ourselves and pray.  If we turn our faces to Him and seek Him with all our hearts, will He not draw near?  And, if He is near, we cannot be unchanged.

Secondly, I am looking with new eyes at the values and priorities I have established for myself and for the training of my children.  Nothing major has changed here, but I am trying to re-evaluate things a little at a time to make sure that I am not exchanging the eternal for the temporal.  This process is slow and painstaking because I have let too much of a worldly attitude seep into me, and I cannot always distinguish the subtle lies of Satan like I should.  But, little by little, with the power of the Spirit, I pray that I will become more aware of my priorities and be empowered to change them.

Thirdly, as a tool of introspection, I am trying to write more regularly, whether in journal, blog, or email form.  I am finding already, that this is a rewarding discipline (I use that term loosely).  When I write, it helps me slow down and consider all the things that buzz around in my head.  I am hoping that writing will bring clarity as well as consistency, though in truth, neither has been a strength of mine.

So, the election buzz had a rather unexpected, though not unwelcome, impact on me.  I am looking forward eagerly, and I pray to see God’s hand in whatever lies ahead.

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As I have written before, pregnancy seems to be a time for increased worrying.  While I don’t worry constantly, I have noticed that I go through “worry phases”.  As the birth of our little one draws near, being now only two months away, I find that my worries have started plaguing me again.  This time, however, I am not so concerned about the pregnancy and the baby so much, but rather I have been worrying over my other three children.  Am I schooling them well?  Are they getting out enough to socialize well?  Am I fair and equal with them?  Are they happy?  Am I too critical?  Am I communicating unconditional love to them or do they feel they have to earn my approval?  Do they each receive enough time with me one on one?  When they look at me, do they see a smile in return or am I too often looking past them to something else?  Do they know their value, not only to me, but also to their Father God?  Do they have too little structure to really thrive?  In short, Am I doing a good job? 

Now I realize that these thoughts are all completely natural.  They occur (for the most part) to all of us.  And it is not lost on me that these increased worries about my “job performance” come at a time when my responsiblities are about to increase.  God has entrusted me with three small souls, His children given in my care, and I am about to receive another.  And I wonder, “Am I worthy of caring for another of His precious ones?  Have I been faithful with what He has already entrusted me?”  The answer is, of course, “No.”  I cannot be worthy of this high calling.  I cannot live up to it.  I have failed in many ways, and I have found myself lacking.  We, none of us, are truly worthy of God’s calling in our lives.  Yet He calls us.  And not because we will be good at it.  Not to show how great we are.  No, He calls us to bring glory to Himself.  And His glory shines through the best when we are weak, for then we can take no credit, but must give all credit to Him who gives us strength and wisdom.  If I have done anything well, if I have shown love, if I have ever been selfless, if I have been even a little bit wise, if I have taught my children any good thing, it is because God has done it through me.  He gets the glory.   There is no good thing in me that did not come directly from Him, through His Spirit who lives in me.

So my only real concern needs to be, “Am I allowing the Spirit to flow through me?”  If I take care of that, all those other worries that plague me will be taken care of.  Sometimes the biggest obstacle to God working in my life is me, trying to do God’s work for Him.  Oh what peace there is in focusing on that one thing!  So my prayer today is, “Let me keep in step with the Spirit, God.  I will trust you with all the rest.” 

 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Galatians 5:25

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Well, as many of you know, there was a pretty good-sized earthquake out here in Hawaii this morning.  A little after seven, Dh and I woke up thinking that four or five big burly guys were shaking our bed.   Once we were good and awake, though, we realized it was an earthquake.  We had experienced one or two small ones when we were in California, but this one was a bit bigger.  Even the aftershock shook things up a bit.   Thankfully there were no major incidents as a result.  Everyone was safe and sound, and the biggest difficulty was not having electricity.  But then, that was a welcome little surprise for me.

I have blogged a couple of times about living a more simple, less technological lifestyle.  Today we got to try it out via an act of God.  Now, if we had known ahead of time that we were going to be without power, we could have planned for meals a little better and made sure we were prepared, but as it was, we got a chance to use our brains a little to make do with what we had.  (For instance, we grilled frozen pizzas for supper tonight…)  But outside of that, I’ll tell you what I appreciated about being without power, and why I am thankful we have the power back.

First of all, I enjoyed the quiet.  I heard so many things today that I wouldn’t have had the power been on.  The rain was gentle and quiet.  The birds outside were busy chattering.  I could hear the neighbors talking and kids outside playing.  I could even hear the wind blowing.  I didn’t realize how much I was missing with the constant hum of the air conditioners, the electrical buzz of the tv and computer, and the general noise of all the various machines that we use throughout the day.

Secondly, I enjoyed the sense of community.  Since there was no tv or internet to inform us on what was going on, people headed outside or over to their neighbor’s house to find out what they knew.  Kids with no video games to play or tv to watch went outside during the lulls in the rain to play.  Everybody seemed to feel a little bit closer with their windows open, sharing a common “hardship.”  Overall, our “neighborhood” felt a lot more neighborly.

Third, I enjoyed the need to use ingenuity.  We had to solve little problems, such as how to boil water for hot tea (on the grill, of course!) and how best to use up the food in the refrigerator/freezer and other minor “inconveniences” such as that.  It felt good to be able to say, “See, I can do it.  Even if I don’t have electricity, I am still gonna have a cup of tea!”

And finally, I enjoyed the family time.  With no tv or video games or internet and the rain keeping us mostly indoors, we enjoyed an afternoon of games and reading.  In fact, I was looking forward to an evening of candlelight and Dh playing his guitar.  But…the power came back on just as it was starting to get dark.

Which brings me to my second point.  I am thankful for electricity.  Hot water, readily available, is one perk.  A working phone system is another.  The actual light that we take for granted (I can’t count the number of times I thoughtlessly flipped a light switch today, even though I knew the power was out) is also something I am thankful for.  The house just seemed dim to me.  Of course it was cloudy, so that could be why it seemed dark.  But that was also why it was cool enough in the house.  If it had been hot out today, I would have been longing for the a/c or at least the ceiling fans.

So I guess my conclusion is, I don’t want to give up electricity; I just want to reserve it for a few things that are basic needs.  Warm water, cool air, light, etc.  If I could leave behind some of the other things, I’d be glad to.   It was a fun little mini-experiment today.  I’m glad God gave us the opportunity.  And I am thankful that everyone that was here remained safe throughout the day’s events.

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I didn’t get around to that post I promised a few days ago.  I’m at the beginning of my third trimester, and starting to slow down I think.  Sleeping all the way through the night is a memory now as I trek to the bathroom every couple of hours.  The lack of sleep, I think, is starting to affect my energy levels. 

Today, however, was a productive one.  DH and I spent the majority of our time de-cluttering.  I was starting to feel as if the house and our many things were beginning to take over.  I threw away a lot of stuff and tried to negotiate the sale/donation of some larger unnecessary items with my husband (though I admit with little success).  I have long felt the need to throw off some of the worldly weight that seems to steal time and space from me, but the inspiration I needed to act has come from that book I mentioned before, Better Off.  Reading this “experiment” of a young couple living a life of minimal technology and no electricity has given definition to a feeling of dissatisfaction that has grown in me over the past couple of years.   I have long felt “robbed” by the technology of computers and television (who hasn’t lamented the time “wasted” on these devices?), but I never stopped to consider how thoughtlessly I have accepted, used, depended on many other devices that have in turn taken more from me in the way of community, time, sense of purpose, mental agility, and physical strength than they could ever make up for in their attempt to “save labor”.  

Now, granted, de-cluttering is hardly a leap toward simple living.  It is more like an inching, a mere baby step toward controlling these “things” that I have unthinkly allowed to take control in my life.  Perhaps a bigger step could have been take, but I am not the only one whose sensibilities need be considered.   My husband’s help today was an act of pure sacrificial love on his part.  He would rather not part with anything if he can help it.  So for him, it was a stretching.   It is good that we balance each other.  I am libel to throw out too much and then regret it, and he is apt to keep everything until we can’t find eachother or the children amid the mess.   I am sure our path to a simpler way of life will have to be carefully navigated if we are both to come out as winners.   For now, all I’m asking is for some clean countertop space. 

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Dreaming

This weekend has been one for dreaming.  For a long time I have longed for a change in lifestyle that would lead us out of the “rat race” and into the “country life”.  A simpler lifestyle.  Kind of a “Little House on the Prairie” only with electricity way of life. 

Unfortunately, I am completely ill-equipped for such a lifestyle.  I am not at all “self-sufficient” or even all that pioneering.  But I’d like to learn.  I’d like to give it a try anyway. 

I’m not the only one that feels this way.  It seems to be a growing trend.  Perhaps God is calling us out of the industrialized wasteland of the “world” so that we can glorify Him through honoring His creation, working with our hands in honest labor, and supporting our families and others off the fruits of the earth.  I don’t know what it is, but there is a movement toward natural living…and I want to be a part of it.

So does my family.  This weekend was full of phone calls back and forth between my mom, brothers, sister, aunts and cousins as they discussed making this dream become a reality.  They are looking at land and developing a plan, and I am so excited for them. 

Meanwhile, DH and I are discussing what we can do to be a part of it.  We want to live close to our family and make a spot for ourselves in the country, but how best can we do that with the skills and knowledge that we have?  Honestly, we don’t know.  DH has one year left before his enlistment is finished in the Army and we know one thing for certain.  He wants out.  He does not plan to re-enlist.  But how can he provide for us in a way that will satisfy his love of music?  Music is his passion and I doubt he will be truly happy doing anything else.  So we don’t want to settle.  But we don’t want to starve, either.  🙂 

So, we are praying.  Our church is doing their annual “Forty Days…” campaign and this year is the Forty Days of Prayer.  I am glad.  I am not a natural prayer warrior, and I know that this decision we face is one of the most important ones we’ll make and needs to be led by God.  So I am eager to bring this to God over the next couple of months and see where He leads us. 

 In the meantime, I’m gonna keep dreaming.

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