Monday, September 19, 2011

Household Management: Or Lack Thereof

"She is like the merchant ships,
      She brings her food from afar.
       15 She also rises while it is yet night,
      And provides food for her household,
      And a portion for her maidservants.
       16 She considers a field and buys it;
      From her profits she plants a vineyard.
       17 She girds herself with strength,
      And strengthens her arms."  Proverbs 31:14-17

It's been a crazy couple of weeks here since school started back up again.  I think that we're finally getting into a groove with the school time- we know what we're doing and how our day is going to go, but where I'm really having issues is with everything else!  I need some lessons in household management, and when I went to my faithful first lady in Proverbs 31, I was dismayed to read that she had maidservants.  That meant that she actually had assistance in caring for her household.  Something that I don't have, and I honestly don't really want anyway.  I couldn't imagine having someone else do what I need to get done.

And yet, I'm having issues with my time.  My blogging is suffering in the morning, because I'm sleeping a little later- which is necessary, because by the time I crawl into bed I'm exhausted!  We do our schooling together, and by the time we're done I have very, very few precious hours to cram everything else into before we dash off for dance classes or church for the evening, and there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day.  The housework isn't the only thing suffering either.  I do my Bible reading during my lunchtime- a time when I am guaranteed to be sitting and taking a little break.  Except that I haven't been doing that much either!  Some days I skip lunch entirely, because if I don't take the 30 minutes to eat something, that's a whole bunch of something I can get done.  Other days, I eat lunch in small handfuls, while I'm working to accomplish something else.  It's pure craziness, and while this post may seem like I'm whining, I'm really not.  I love homeschooling my kids, and I love that they love our evening activities. Those are not going to change.

But what I am doing is spending what little time I can praying about this, because I clearly need some wisdom.  And some supernatural energy to get everything accomplished that needs to get accomplished in a weeks time.  I've actually had days where I told the kids to pull something out of the dirty hamper that's "not too dirty" to wear again because the laundry has fallen behind!  And don't get me started on the spiders that are ruthless in their attempt to entirely swathe my home in cobwebs...

Anyway.  Sometimes I think my blog posts make me come across as saintly or all-knowing, and today I just thought I'd throw out some humble pie.  I am so far from perfect, and while the crazy life is a good fit for us, I need some wisdom in how best to approach those small, small bits in between the craziness. God knows, and it's most definitely His grace that keeps me from turning into a maniac some days. 

God is good, all the time.  And when I reflect on that for even a moment, I just feel like everything is all right, that it's okay if the dishes wait just a few more hours.  Because it's God's Goodness that is most important in my life- and if unexpected company ever drops in, I can believe that whoever it is will not see all the clutter and disarray and un-vacuumed floors, and instead will focus on the joy and the goodness that our home is bathed in. 

But I would still like that wisdom and supernatural energy to get everything back to rights and kept that way.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Feeding The Hungry

"If you extend your soul to the hungry
      And satisfy the afflicted soul,
      Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
      And your darkness shall
be as the noonday."  Isaiah 58:10

The hungry have been on my mind a lot in the last week.  More than that, it seems like everything I read has hungry people in it, everything I see has hungry people in it.  Just this Sunday a missionary shared about finding a starving child in the bush in Africa, and all I could think about is this horrible injustice that there are people in this world who are starving.  And there are- there are millions!  You think I'm exaggerating?  Last year 925 million people worldwide were identified as being undernourished.   925 Million.  That's so, so horribly disgusting.  That's 13.6 percent of the entire world's population. 

What on earth?

How can there be so many starving people.  Just thinking about a child going without food for one meal is enough to turn my stomach, I cannot imagine an existence where even one meal a day doesn't happen.  There are times where I am at the dance school with the kids, and I will hear a child talk about how their mom forgot to pack them a dinner as they eye everyone else's sandwiches or Easy-Mac enviously.  I am always hopeful that this is just a case of the mom deciding that dinner will be after dance is done.

Last Friday as part of our school day, we spent some time talking about people in other cultures and what they ate, and it was really eye opening to my little boy.  His favorite food on the planet is pizza, and in his mind, he cannot imagine wanting to eat something like porridge every day, twice a day, when there is such wonderful food as pizza available.  It was a sobering discussion- to realize that there are people who have absolutely no choice in what or when they eat.

And yet, I keep thinking about this.  This last week was one of those rare weeks where the finances did not quite work out as planned, and when all was said and done, there was no money left for groceries.  None.  It really wasn't a big deal- I had made a meal plan for the coming week and a shopping list, but I simply set them aside and we've been managing just fine with the food already in the pantry, freezer, and especially the garden.  It made me realize just how truly blessed we are.  I mean, we may not be the wealthiest people, but we at least always have good food to eat.   We could probably go an entire month without going grocery shopping if we had to- meals would get scary, and the kids would definitely not be happy, but it's certainly possible.  But what about those people who really and truly have no food in the home.  None.  And they have no money, no job, and actually, no food to be had where they are living.  They have to rely on various world health organizations to deliver aid... how many people are perishing while they wait?

It's terribly heartbreaking, and as I've been dwelling on it this week, it's reminded me that we have been a little slack in our giving in that direction.  Look what it says up there in Isaiah- if we give our attention to feeding the poor and hungry, our darkness shall be as the noonday- meaning, there won't be any darkness.  We need to be more purposeful in helping to feed the hungry.  I keep thinking about the starving people worldwide, but the reality is also that there are starving people right here in our country.  There are children all over the country who don't get even one meal when they are at home with their families.  They get breakfast and lunch when they go to school during the week, and that's it.  Can you imagine?  Can you imagine eating a hot meal around noon every day, and then having to wait to eat again until the next morning?  And in some schools, lunch can be as early as 10:30 in the morning.  It's awful to think of it.

As I'm thinking on all this and writing this morning, I honestly am not entirely sure of the purpose of this posting this morning.  It is reminding me that I've had an idea of a project on the way-back burner that I've been thinking about trying to work on.  It is also reminding me that it's been a while since we've made a grocery shopping trip for the purpose of helping stock the food pantry.  Maybe there's someone else out there who needed the reminders.  Maybe we all needed it pointed out that it IS scriptural to feed the hungry.

"He who gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes [from their want] will have many a curse."  Proverbs 28:27

I know a lot of people as of late have been more in a preparedness/stock-up frame of mind.  Organizations say that in an idea situation, we should all have anywhere from a week to a full years worth of food on hand.  A years worth of food on hand.  Think about the obscene amount of food that would have to be.  It's actually turning my stomach to think of all these "caches" of food being socked away when there are neighbors wondering where their next meal is going to come from.  I think that there is a way that people can both be prepared for an emergency, and also help the people in their community who are going hungry.

My prayer this morning is for opened eyes to the hunger around us.  May every one's eyes be opened in our communities, and may the food pantries and soup kitchens suddenly find themselves with an abundance of food.  Too often we hear of shortages in these areas.  May the hungry be fed, and may they be satisfied, and may they know the love of Jesus- the love that feeds them so much more than a meal ever could.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Repelling The Darkness

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Last week was a rough week for me. Which was odd, actually, because I had been really looking forward to the week.  We started school, and it simply wasn't the picture-perfect event that I'd been expecting. Then we had some other issues creep up, and truly, by Friday I just wanted to crawl into a hole and not come out until it was a new week.  I was in such a bad mood.  And while things were not going terribly well, it wasn't awful, and I really couldn't pinpoint the real reason I was in such a foul mood.  I was also very, very tired.  Nothing was helping shake this feeling all day, every day, that all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed.

And then yesterday came.  The Sunday morning service just totally lifted that mood right off me.  Worship started, and it was as though I'd been hooked up to an IV, I could feel the healing flow through me and wash away the yucky week I'd had.  That gave me the opportunity to really think about where that awful mood had come from, and what caused it.  I immediately assessed my diet, sleep habits, and anything else I could think of.  I stalled for a while as I thought about the fact that yesterday was mine and Andy's 12th wedding anniversary.  We don't do anything to celebrate, but we at least recognize the fact that another year has accumulated in our time together, and we laugh about this and that over the years.  I wondered if maybe my bad mood last week was the devils way of trying to mess with our wedding anniversary.  I really thought about this for a while before I concluded that it just wasn't it.  Why would the devil work so hard to mess with something that isn't really that super important to us?

And then I thought about the other thing that Sunday commemorates.  On top of being our wedding anniversary, it is also an important day for our country, as we remember the day the terrorists tried to break our nation in two and caused the loss of thousands of lives.  That I thought upon further, and it was as if the light bulb went on.  THAT was the reason for my bad mood that seemed to increase as the week went on last week. 

The thing is, it wasn't just me who was having a bad week.  It seemed like everyone I talked to was having a foul week- and everyone was tired as well.  It didn't help at all that, for most people, it was also the beginning of the school year, so it was like a double whammy.   As I thought on this more and more, I really think that last week was a product of the atmosphere.  As I grow more in more in the understandings in the Bible, I'm becoming more and more sensitive to what is going on around me, and I believe that our whole community was bathed in a depression last week as we led up to the 9/11 anniversary.  It could be much of the country was feeling the same way.  As the day went on yesterday, I felt my spirit get lighter and lighter, most likely as the threat of some kind of repeat diminished, and people all over breathed a collective sigh of relief.

But what to do about this the next time it happens?  I would like to think that I could recognize those feelings again were they to happen again.  I'm simply not a depressed person- ever- for any reason, and last week was so tough!  Well, I went to my Bible, of course, to see if it held any secrets to defeating this spirit, and I found it in 1 Samuel, chapter 16.

"But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him. 15 And Saul’s servants said to him, “Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. 16 Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp. And it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well.”
So Saul said to his servants, “Provide me now a man who can play well, and bring him to me.”
Then one of the servants answered and said, “Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the LORD is with him.”
Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 And Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine, and a young goat, and sent them by his son David to Saul. 21 So David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armorbearer. 22 Then Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Please let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him."  1 Samuel 16:14-23

Worship is key.  Worship, and rejoicing, as I shared in the very first verse up above.  What I should have done this week, when I was feeling overwhelmed and yucky, was to cue up a great worship song or two, and just spend some time soaking in the Lord's goodness.  I didn't do that.  In fact, when it came to time to listen to a few songs that were to be practiced over the weekend, I didn't even feel like listening to them.  It was just that crazy of a week. 

But now I know.  The next time I feel that awful feeling, I WILL be better prepared.  I will know how to chase it away, and I will dance before the Lord, full of joy and gladness, and I will NOT allow that yuckiness to come into my home again.  And I would hope that as I work to keep the joy in our home, and repel the sadness, that it would spread from our home like a bubble, and that the joy would be felt in our neighborhood and community.

May we be a light to others in dark times.  May they see the light clearly, and want to know how they too, can have this wonderful light in their lives. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Warfare Wednesday: Remember, And Stand Guard

"Remember the days of old,
      Consider the years of many generations.
      Ask your father, and he will show you;
      Your elders, and they will tell you:"  Deuteronomy 32:7

I spent some time in thought this morning about what to post for my Warfare Wednesday post.  I went and glanced at all the news sites to see if there was something pressing that needed some prayer, but nothing jumped out at me.

Instead my thoughts took a different direction when I thought about (of all things) football.  I am not a big football fan- I can simply think of a hundred other things I could get accomplished in the three hours it takes Andy to watch a football game.  But this Thursday (tomorrow) is the opening of the new football season, and the big NFL sponsored party is going on just a few miles from home.  The event is going to be huge- the city of Green Bay has a population just over 100,000 people, and they're expecting that to literally double on game day.  As I thought about this, I felt prompted to pray about it.  I felt prompted to pray for the safety of all those people- that any plans of the enemy to try and ruin this celebration would be thwarted.  I also felt that I needed to pray for wisdom for the people in authority over the event on Thursday- that they would make the right decisions and would remain watchful and on guard for wrongdoing.  Tomorrow could truly be a joyful and fun day for the people of Green Bay, and football fans all over the country.  I pray that joy is the order of the day.

Thinking of this massive football celebration led me to the big day of remembrance this coming Sunday.  Sunday is the ten year anniversary of the attacks on our country by terrorists.  I cannot think about that day without very clear pictures in my head- and I cannot think about that day without thinking about all the people who are still hurting because of some very bad men.   And yet, when I also think about that day, I think about the days that followed.  Yes, there was so much confusion and pain and questions, but there was also a resilience that came out in the American people.  For a time, all thoughts of partisanship and sides were tossed away, and everyone came together in unity to try and heal from this horrible disaster.  The terrorist attacks on September eleventh literally changed this country, and ten years later I am still praying that the change is for the good.

More than that though, this year I really feel the need to be on guard.  I feel like I need to spend serious time in prayer for my country- for my home.  I am praying that the angels will be on guard throughout this whole country, and that our borders will not be crossed by anyone wishing to do harm to this beautiful, God-loving nation.  I am praying that any thoughts of disaster will be thwarted, and I am praying that God will win this weekend as we celebrate our rise from the ashes . 

I am also praying for President Obama and his family, that they will be under extra protection this weekend, and that as they participate in various services of remembrance, that they will truly remember and will understand what God would have them do for this country.  And I pray that our Commander-In-Chief will bow his knee to the King of Kings and will thank God for the peace this country has been enjoying, and that He will seek Godly counsel for the answers for the many problems facing Washington today. 

May we all remember the days of the past- the struggles of so many, the victories, and the losses.  And may we thank God each and every time for how far He has brought us, and may we turn to Him for the solutions to all our problems.  Most importantly, may God Bless the U.S.A.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Back To School!

"Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth."  2 Timothy 2:15 (AMP)

This morning is a special morning in our household- because it's back to school day for us!  I feel incredibly blessed this morning that my children are just lounging around in their pajamas, relaxing and enjoying their morning before we hunker down and hit the books.  Scads of people have been walking and driving past this morning, everyone anxious for the first day of school... but I get to keep my children right here at home with me, and together we're going to adventure around the globe and learn more about this amazing world that God created. I'm incredibly thankful for this journey that He has set before us, and every day I find myself praying that we are successful in our endeavors.

One of the biggest ways that I think I educate my children is by example.  The verse I posted above talks about studying the Bible constantly, and that's something I try to do with my kids around.  When they see me reading my Bible, it shows them its importance in my life.  When we sit and read it together and point out a few things together, it shows that there is always something interesting in the Bible, just waiting for us to discover.  Most importantly though, I think I show them that Bible reading is never to be viewed as a chore or something to trudge through.  When we open up our Bibles it's with the same eagerness with which we open up some of the best fiction- it's with anticipation and excitement, because we know there is something great there for us to discover.

I study myself so that when the time comes, I will be able to skillfully teach that which God has shared with me.  I do that a lot here on my blog, but the days will be coming where I will need to share God's Word more intently with my kids- as life happens, and they grow and mature.  Right now it's easy to point out the small things- the truth telling, the kindness, and praying for other people.  It's not going to be quite so easy when the questions about other gods come into play- or why other cultures have different beliefs.  We're going to be tackling those very things big time this year, and I'm looking forward to the challenge!

So happy Tuesday!  We start school in just a little while, and I'm going to do my best to try and continue with the daily blogging here as we get the school year rolling.  Don't be concerned if I take a day or two off though, it always takes us a few weeks to find our new groove!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Gifts For Gracias

Hello my dear internet friends!  Has this been the craziest week for me or what! I'm sure I will work my adventures into a blog post or two in the future, but for now, as we get ready to hide away for the coming holiday weekend, I wanted to share about another holiday weekend.


There are so many children in this world who have never in their lives received a Christmas gift.  There are parents who wish they could give their children gifts, but can't.  And then there are the orphans in other countries who have no one to give them even the tiniest of gifts.

A friend of mine lives in the country of Honduras, and one of her family's ministries there is to distribute Christmas gifts to the poorest of the poor.  You can imagine, in this day and age, with the economy so topsy-turvey, that support for this type of activity has gone way down.  And that's why I'm blogging about it today, because I'm hopeful that my blog readers can help.

You can help in many ways- one of course, is to assemble a gift for someone and ship it to a location here in the United States to be packed in a container, which will be shipped to Honduras, then unpacked and sorted by my friends family and volunteers.  A second way you can help though is to help get the word out and get others involved.  Whether that's through a blog, facebook, or simply asking someone face to face if they would like to help.

It will only take you a few extra minutes the next time you are at Target or Wal-Mart to pick up a plastic shoe box and load it up with goodies for a deserving girl or boy.  That gift could be the only Christmas gift that child receives in their lifetime- think about that.

All the information you need can be found here on their website:

Gifts For Gracias 2011

Please note that the gifts must be received at the shipping points by October 1st.

And if you can do nothing else, please take a few moments and just pray for this years efforts- that they would find enough generous participants to make this year's Christmas a special one for the poor people of Honduras.

Thank you dear friends. It only takes one person to make a difference.