Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pain, Truth, Love and Light

This is not a fun post.  My heart hurts.  I'm watching worlds fall apart in the lives of so many people that I care about.  Friends of mine are hurting and grieving.  Many, many friends.  My heart hurts and I am angry.

I am angry not at flesh and blood, because I believe the bible when it says in Ephesians 6:12:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 

I am not angry at the people doing the things that are hurting my friends.  Okay, I'm a little angry at the people, but I'm trying not to be.  I'm angry at satan.  Satan is trying to destroy much that I hold dear and he's using people I love to do so.  Satan is the father of lies.  He brings death and destruction.  (John 10:10)

My heart is hurting for so many people that are unaware of the truth or are being deceived.  My prayer is for God in all His glory to reveal light and truth.  This deception is causing more than a little pain. 

Friends are mistrusting one another.  People's motives are being questioned.  It reminds me of the story of the serpent asking Eve "Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  We are questioning ourselves "Was that really what God said?"  And satan is questioning us "Is that really what happened?  Whom do you really trust?  Is it really that bad?"

During our family bible reading tonight (Job) my 5 year old said "So Satan is evil in this story."  I replied with "Yes, Satan is always evil."  Then my little girl, very bright and perceptive as she is said the words that made my heart fall: "But Satan used to be an angel.  He's a fallen angel."  

In light of the pain being experienced in my circle of friends and the mistrust of one another I see this statement with its great weight.  Satan was an angel.  He fell.  His pride led to his fall.  If an angel can fall from God, how much more easily can we?  It is no wonder great men of history have collapsed and average men have destroyed their lives and families.  It is no wonder we can be caused to gossip and murmur about who is saying what and who is talking to whom about what.  No wonder we can let the father of lies whisper in our ears and turn us against our friends, our brothers and sisters. 
But I am joyful.  I do not rejoice in the pain of people I love.  There is no win for anyone involved in this.  At least not now.  I rejoice because, with God and if we trust Him above all else, there IS a win, a win for all involved.  God can use this so that ALL come out better in the future, not despite but because of the pain.  I rejoice because God is in control.  He loves us and knows all, He knows our hearts and loves us all the more.  I rejoice because in Him is truth and life and there is no other way. 


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Heart of the Matter

When one of my children was very young, I won't say which to protect the guilty, he had a habit of trying to lie to me.  The problem was, he wasn't very good at it.  You could always tell when he was lying.  I would talk to him about being honest and ruining my trust, but the truth was, I didn't worry much because he simply never could get away with it.  So for several years he quit lying.  If anyone told me he did something and he denied it, I trusted him because I had no reason not to.

Then came the day that I discovered he had lied about something and I had trusted him.  My trust was shattered.  I told him I couldn't trust him and had to verify everything he told me.  After a while it became apparent that he was lying, and sneaking, much more than I thought.  Every time I gave him a chance to regain my trust, he would ruin it by lying again.

I have really be struggling with this with him because I know that trustworthiness is a part of your integrity.  Integrity isn't what you do, it is who you are.  When you give people reason to doubt your word once or twice, they begin to question every thing you ever told them.

Have you ever had a friend who told you things about their past, then through the course of events in life, you discover that they are less then truthful or perhaps tend to shade events to protect themselves from looking bad?  It makes you begin to look at and question the things they have already told you.

Let's look at a hypothetical, silly example.  Let's pretend you have a friend named Sally.  You get a new haircut and Sally says it's lovely.  You go shopping with Sally and she tells you that the outfit you are trying on looks great on you.  One day you overhear Sally telling a mutual friend how nice her rather gaudy and outlandish outfit looks.  Slightly surprised, you ask her about it.  Sally's response is that she just likes to make people feel good so even though she thinks it looks rather bad, she tells her it looks great to make her feel better.

Suddenly. you wonder about all those clothes she helped you choose.  Every time you dress in that outfit, you worry that it really looks awful.  Each and every thing she has told you becomes suspect.  Does my new hair color really look natural?  Does this shirt really look good with those pants?  Does that skirt really make me look thinner?  You find your desire to be with Sally has suddenly diminished.  You no longer trust her and wonder what else she might me misleading you about.

Every time you sell out a small piece of yourself for gain, whether it be monetarily, for chocolate, for the admiration of a friend or whatever, you destroy a piece of your integrity.  It becomes easier and easier to do until the day comes when you have no integrity at all.  Once you begin crossing that line, you begin a long slippery ride without an emergency stop button.

Look into your heart and life today.  Begin to pluck away those little areas in which you are untrustworthy or dishonest.  Realize that there may well come a day when your heart will become known to the world and you really want that heart to be shown to be filled with integrity, not deceit and dishonor.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cheaper Than Dirt

This is an interactive blog post.  Reading this is a non-binding agreement to submit your own tip. 

I am cheap.  Some people would like to call me thrifty, but I'm really just cheap.  I'm also lazy.  Sometimes it's hard to decide if I am more cheap or more lazy.  This blog post is an attempt to get you, my dear readers, to interact with one another and me and give us your frugal, thrifty or even plain cheap tricks to save money.  However, I request that you give easy suggestions, as I am too lazy to work very hard. 

Here is my tip:  Homemade Laundry Soap
I found this recipe and love it.  It is easy and super cheap.  It costs about $2 for 10 gallons.  There is an initial outlay of a little more money as I will explain after the recipe, but it still is minimal cost.

4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Washing Soda

½ Cup Borax
- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads
Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate.
We have had good luck finding washing soda and Fels-Naptha at Kroger and Rural King. 

We got a FREE 5 gallon bucket from the Wal Mart bakery.  The first one would not give us any, but another one gave us several, so ask at different locations.  Bakeries get their frosting in 5 gallon buckets.  I bought a special ladle that stores in my bucket with my soap.  

The Borax and Washing Soda will cost you a few dollars each for initial outlay, but you will get many, many sets of this recipe out of one box of each.  I have started using Borax and Washing soda for lots of things since I have it around now.  

I put the undiluted stuff in a spray bottle to use as a pretreat for stains.  It works quite well.  I have an HE washer and I use it regularly.  I was tired of spending so much money for those little bottles of laundry soap. 
Now, it's your turn.  Comment below and share your favorite cheap tip with us!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mommy Wars

A wise friend has told me "I don't get involved in Mommy wars."  This is a sentiment I have been trying to follow for many years, yet it's easier said than done.  Largely because it isn't just about your children.  For some reason, at least in my world (the one in my head), there is an ongoing "mine is better than yours" battle.

I cannot remember anyone with whom I currently socialize ever making comparisons between their child and mine or their husband and mine or their church and mine with the intention of making me feel bad.  So why do I sometimes?

I am declaring that life is too short to compare yourself, your spouse, your child, your home, your job or your church to another.  No one and no situation is perfect.  I do not need to constantly try to convince myself that my situation is as good as Jane Doe's.  I am refusing to participate in this battle (even though it is just in my head) anymore.

I want those reading this to know, I endeavor to actually mean what I say and will presume you do as well.  I will refuse to listen to the voice that says "Maybe they didn't mean that" or "What did they mean by that?"  

We are called to live together and should be attempting to build one another rather than destroy one another.  Since that is my desire, I am going to presume that it is the desire of those around me.  I am wholeheartedly glad for my friends with great kids, husbands, jobs, homes, churches and know that I am content in my life just as it is.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fiddler On The Roof

Have you ever seen The Fiddler on the Roof? There is a scene in the movie that has really been making me think a lot lately. 

Pondering the announcement by their daughter that she is in love, the husband and wife get into a discussion about their arranged marriage.  The husband begins to ask "Do you love me?" The wife asks "After 25 years, why talk about love right now?"  She goes into a list of all she has done with and for him and then questions herself "Do I love you?"

I think my favorite part is where she says "Do I love you?  I'm your wife!" and he responds with "Yes, but do you love me?"  After determining that they do in fact love one another, they end the scene with "It doesn't change a thing, but even so, after 25 years it's nice to know."

I have found myself pondering this scene for many reasons lately.  The first is the idea of arranged marriages and "learning" to love your spouse.  As a child I never understood how arranged marriages could work.  How could they ever be happy?  Didn't one need to fall in love and get all goosebumpy for a marriage to work?  As an adult with 6 kids, I'm liking arranged marriages more and more. 

But it's not so much the idea of someone else choosing your spouse for you that has recently been intriguing me.  It is the idea of choosing to love the one to whom you are married.  Perhaps you are thinking, "shouldn't you already love the one to whom you are married?"  Perhaps.  However, with the rate of divorce as it is, perhaps we need to redefine this idea of loving your spouse. 

I know that there are married people who either don't love their spouse or, like the wife in this movie, question whether or not they do love their spouse.  If that is you, take heart.  There is hope.  If you don't love your spouse, or don't know if you do, here is a simple plan to help you.  Ready?  Okay.  Love your spouse. 

See?  Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

What?  Not good enough?  Okay, how about this.  You have likely heard "love is a verb not a feeling" blah, blah, blah.  Well the good news is it can be both.

You know those crazy people that actually like exercise?  Why do they like it?  Because at some time, they forced themselves to get up and do it.  They forced the mechanics, made themselves run, walk, zumba, whatever.  And on the days they were tired, they got up and exercised anyway.  Soon, they discovered that they actually felt better after they exercised. They began to see that on days when they didn't exercise they felt yucky.  At some point the mechanical act of forcing the behaviour of exercising rolled into an actual emotional and attitudinal change toward exercise. 

Love is like that.  Force yourself act in loving ways.  Each day think of one thing that would be nice for your spouse and do that one thing. It doesn't have to be earth shattering.  You may be surprised to find what small things it actually will take to show your spouse that you love him or her.

Early in our marriage, if I didn't have to work, I stayed in bed while my husband got up for work.  He went to work and ate instant oatmeal at his desk.  He ate PB & J at his desk for lunch, and if he was really lucky got to take me out for dinner.  At some time I decided it would be nice to fix him breakfast.  Now I get up (something I hate) and make breakfast for my husband.  I pack his lunch, make his coffee and (usually, barring nasty weather) walk him to his car.  If he's really lucky, he still gets to take me out for dinner.  This little thing has changed our marriage.  It shows love to him while allowing us a little alone time.

I don't tell you this to brag.  On the contrary,  I'm a miserable failure in dozens of other ways, but the fact that I make him a priority sort of hides some of my faults.  He doesn't go out of his way to find things I'm doing wrong.  The mechanical discipline of getting up to show love to my husband by making breakfast and lunch has become an emotional connection for us.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to ask my spouse in 25 years "Do you love me?"  I definitely don't want him to ever have to ask me "Do you love me?"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Looking Back, the View after 15 Years.

I spent yesterday at a pow wow with my family.  If you've never attended a pow wow, you should take the opportunity to do so sometime.  It's an interesting event to view. 

My husband and I met somewhere around 20 years ago in the pow wow world.  I was 16 and he was 15 when we fell head over heals deeply in love.  Or so I thought.  Who knows the heart of a teenager.  They are crazy.  But I do know that it is to this world of pow wows and friends that I owe my opportunity to meet the man who was to become my husband.  Okay, honestly it was to the great and awesome God who orchestrated the whole thing.  It amazes me that while I did not yet know Him, He was situating me for a future life so full of His blessings that I would be unable to deny Him, not that I want to.

I can pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with my husband.  I remember exactly where we were and the circumstances surrounding it.  We were, surprise surprise, at a pow wow in Oklahoma.  It was a dance that years later we would attend together as a freshly engaged couple.  I remember that moment, sitting on that picnic table when I realized that I was in love with this kid. 

We were such kids.  Of course we wouldn't have believed that if you had told us that.  We knew so much.  We knew what we were going to be doing for the rest of our lives.  We couldn't imagine a life where one didn't pow wow 6+ times a year.  We loved our week long trips to Oklahoma, or our long weekend trips to Oklahoma.  We even spent our honeymoon at a pow wow.  Okay, not a pow wow, THE POW WOW.  The biggest and best pow wow in this area, the National Pow Wow.  This dance is held only once every 3 years.  It is this same dance that we attended yesterday, 15 years and 6 kids after our honeymoon.

God is so awesome.  I got to see a few old friends who I don't see much any more.  I got to share something I used to love with my kids.  I got to enjoy the music and dancing I often times miss.

Despite the fun I had, I got a much bigger message.  About 8 years ago, my husband and I walked away from this life.  The reasons are complicated.  We didn't know at the time how complete our removal from this world was going to be.  Where we once imagined ourselves raising our kids, we suddenly were no longer.  I don't think either of us intended to remove ourselves so fully from this lifestyle.  But it was several years before we returned with our kids to visit a life that had become so deeply ingrained in us.

Now, looking back, I can totally see God's hand and wisdom.  We cannot believe some of the things that we thought were so important.  We see danger and harm in things we once felt were so benign, even helpful.  Now we see the bigger picture with our children and understand that the things that are such vital values and beliefs to us would be practically impossible for us to teach well in this environment.  Not that others cannot.  I know many good people in the pow wow circuit who love their children and teach them well.  I am not criticizing them.  However, I know that my husband and I would not have been able to do so. 

God led us, without our knowledge or understanding, to walk away from that which would have been detrimental to our marriage and our children and led us toward a life far more fulfilling than we could ever have imagined. 

I still miss my old life sometimes.  I miss the fellowship, the late nights, the music, the dancing, the flashy clothes.  We now feel more able than before to take our children out to experience this occasionally without getting pulled into all that goes with it.

But yesterday I was given a gift.  God gave me the opportunity to fall more in love with Him, seeing much of what He has done without my understanding.  God also gave me the opportunity to fall more in love with my husband, the man God gave me to share this life with. 

I can truly say, as I watched my husband of 15 years dance around the arena carrying our 6th child in his arms, that I love him more now than I did during that National Pow Wow 1996, just days after marrying the man of my dreams.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

More on Love and Relationships

After a 6 month break and major crazy life chaos, I am returning to my challenge to help myself - and hopefully you - learn to love like the bible commands in I Corinthians 13.  I urge you to reread my January post On Love and Relationships.  I had to reread it myself.  

In the first post, I challenged us to pray for God to show us ways to show patience to our loved ones.  I must admit, that though I daily feel like I am failing, as I look back I see overall progress.  I feel as though I am I offering my children more grace when they frustrate me, hurrying them less and in general losing my temper less.  If you have been working on patience in relation to the I Corinthians model of love, please comment below on your successes.  Encourage one another, you may well find it encourages you.

After "Love is patient", we find that "Love is kind."  What does that mean? I honestly can't say I know.  Today's challenge is to seek God in how He wants us to show kindness to the person you have challenged yourself to show more love toward. (If you feel lost, you really want to read or reread the previous article.  Go to the Archive button in the left column and click January.)

According to an online dictionary, the following are synonyms for kindness: benignity, benevolence, humanity, generosity, charity, sympathy, compassion, tenderness,  good turn.  A person who is kind is described as being of a good or benevolent nature or disposition.  Reading the synonyms still didn't help me a lot, so I looked up the antonyms.  The opposite of kindness is malevolence or cruelty.  Malevolence is defined as hatred.  So the opposite of kindness is essentially hatred. 
Wow.  Now THAT spoke to me.  So I began to wonder, is there a middle ground, a neutral?  Something between kindness and hatred?  The best I can find as a word that is neutral, somewhere between kindness and hatred is indifferent.  

I'm not sure being indifferent toward your loved one isn't equally as bad as hating them.  Honestly, who among us want to think our parents, our spouse or even our best friend is simply indifferent about us?  Would you care if your parent didn't hate you, but was simply indifferent toward you?  As if your very existence means nothing, good or bad, to them?

That may sound really harsh, but it seems to me you have 3 choices as to how you behave toward this person you have chosen to love better:  with kindness, with hatred, or with indifference.  Looking at it that way, I pray please Lord help me show kindness to my children each day.  Help me to never cause them to feel as though I either hate them or that I am indifferent about their existence.  Help me, today, to be the mom they need and You have created me to be.

Holiday World 2011!

Holiday World 2011!

Baby # 6

Baby # 6
Welcome to the world and welcome to our crazy family!

Fort Benning

Fort Benning
We finally made it to Georgia!!!

Just a day at the park!

Just a day at the park!

My Hero!

My Hero!
I don't do dead things. Fortunately for me, God gave me boys!

Much awaited 2009 PJs from Daddy!

Much awaited 2009 PJs from Daddy!
Daddy and Grandma make Jammies every year for the kids, They love it!

Christmas in PJs

Christmas in PJs
Don't I just have the cutest kids?

2010 Jammies

2010 Jammies
Once again Daddy pulled it off. They look cute!

Round 2 birthday parties

Round 2 birthday parties
Cake number 1 of 3 done. I am so not an artist, but I think it came out pretty well!

My Girls

My Girls
Borrowed dance clothes, my girls sure look cute.

Couped up

Couped up
More images below showing the children feeling a bit "couped up" from the long winter!

Chickens: Take 2

Chickens: Take 2
Cute chicks!

The robot cake. I am glad my kids' standards aren't as high as mine!

Tree Climbers

Tree Climbers

Summer Fun!

Summer Fun!
Hi Daddy! Hope you are having fun at work!

This one is so bad, I had to label the cake so you would know it's not a cow!

Dressed for Church!

Dressed for Church!
Come as your favorite Bible character night!

Too cute for words!

If the boy wasn't so tall, I could get a picture of his face!

Establishing the pecking order!