Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More Than Conquerors

I am sitting here tonight going over my calendar, adding dates and times (it seems like I add a lot more than I get to take away these days). I find it somewhat overwhelming to look at my calendar, because although we aren't as busy as some people, when you add in everything that I don't write on my calendar, it gets busy with appointments, meetings, travel, sports, etc, etc. I know that  everyone reading this can probably relate on some level. So, as I brought up my calendar tonight, it automatically brought up today's activities first. And I realized that I had forgotten something. Again. Last Thursday I forgot that I was going to take my kids to the library to see a magician. And today I forgot that I was going to take Jack to Lego Club.

It wouldn't be so bad if I had just flat-out forgotten, but I had it written down on my digital calendar and then I wrote it down on a weekly calendar that I keep right by the door in our mudroom so that everyone can see what's going on the week. I even looked at it earlier in the day and made a mental note to myself: Jack has Lego Club this afternoon.

Ugh. I absolutely hate it when I do stuff like that; it makes me feel really bad about myself. Like when I let the afternoon get away from me and I don't get as much accomplished as I wanted to, or I forget something, even something as inconsequential as Lego Club.

I have believed in my heart for a long, long time that I am not as capable as some people of "keeping it all together". I think that phrase means different things to different people, but to me, it means this: Staying organized. Good time management. Keeping the house clean and straight. Getting people where they need to be on time with the appropriate gear. Being prepared. Remembering things on my calendar. Just to name a few :)

The problem is, I have very high expectations for myself. I expect that I should do each thing, and do it well, every single time I do it--no exceptions. But I don't stay organized, I have deplorable time management skills, my house has more messy days than straight ones, I am not always fully prepared, and I forget things that I have written down (multiple times) on my calendar. When things like this happen, I am so hard on myself. I hear negative thoughts telling me things like I knew you couldn't do it and Of course, it's not surprising, you do stuff like this all the time or _______ (fill in the blank with someone you know) would never do this.

It's so frustrating.

And a little embarrassing.

Why in the name of all that is good in the world can I not "keep it all together"?

This really does no good for my confidence and insecurity. If anything, all these negative thoughts in my head are destructive and damaging. And destructive and damaging thoughts cause stress, which causes me to be more frazzled and forgetful than before, and in no time at all I am in one nasty cycle of defeat.

I've heard it said before that "God is a God of organization, so it's okay to want to be organized and orderly." While I won't argue this point (mainly because I really don't know), I think that it's more important to recognize that God doesn't want me or you living in a cycle of constant defeat. My issues are heart issues, not issues of disorganization or forgetfulness.

 Proverbs 4:23 says "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (NIV). The ESV says "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.", and the Message puts it this way "Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts." No matter which way you read it, the message is clear: all your "stuff" starts in your heart.

When I start having those negative thoughts, I need to recognize them and replace them with ones that are true. So when I hear the negative I'll never change, I need to remember God's promise to me: And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18). Or when I hear I feel defeated, I need to remember this:

In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)*

*see Rene Swope's book A Confident Heart for more of God's Promises.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Food For Thought: Mirror, Mirror

Every Friday night, our family has what we call "Pizza/Movie Night", which is simply a night where all of us commit (or we commit ourselves, as the kids have no choice!) to staying in on Friday night and making it a night just for us. I make home-made pizza, and we pick a family-friendly movie that we will all enjoy...and that's a tough assignment. This week, we were discussing Mirror, Mirror, which just came out on DVD not too long ago. It features Julia Roberts (who I love) as the evil queen, and the trailers seemed cute, so we looked up the movie reviews. I thought it was really interesting how the reviewer wrote the "Positive Elements" section of the review:


Mirror Mirror, based very loosely on the Grimm Brothers fairy tale, comes equipped with a nice, albeit obvious, moral: Looks can be deceiving.

For eons, we've associated beauty with goodness, and our preoccupation with how we look, I think, reflects that: The better we look, we figure (often subconsciously), the more people will like us—and the more worthy we'll be of their regard.

Audiences who see Mirror Mirror will see a queen who is a very pretty woman, but isn't particularly likable. She works quite hard to make herself beautiful (even getting bees to sting her lips so they'll plump up), but we see it all for what it really is: vain, shallow pointlessness. Her beauty can't disguise the ugliness inside.

And the theme of what's inside not matching what's outside doesn't stop with the Evil Queen. Everyone seems to be concealing something in Mirror Mirror—even from themselves. It's a reflection of how none of us are quite the people we see in our own mirrors. The film's seven dwarfs (not a disparaging term in this context, I'd assume) wear collapsible stilts to appear taller and more intimidating. But when we get to know them, we see that their smallish bodies hide reservoirs of strength and goodness. A fearsome forest beast turns out to be something else entirely—and something far better than we suspected. Even Renbock, faithful steward of the story's handsome Prince Andrew Alcott, is revealed to wear padding underneath his clothes to make him look stronger.



Looks can be deceiving, can't they...even for the one who looks in the mirror.

The two most interesting points made here to me were these:
1) The better we look, we figure (often subconsciously), the more people will like us--and the more worthy we'll be of their regard.
2) No one's physical beauty can disguise the ugliness inside.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Now THAT'S A Great Idea!

I've lately come to realize that sometimes my so-called "great" ideas, well, they aren't always actually all that great all of the time. My latest idea to paint my kitchen green was such a good idea that I repeatedly reminded my husband of it. When he finally acquiesced to my pleading and begging, I was (well, first I was surprised) happy--until I started googling "green kitchen walls" and didn't like anything I saw (with similar kitchen cabinets, of course. There were plenty of green kitchen walls and white cabinetry that looked beautiful, but I can't have it all, can I?). I sheepishly went back to my husband and told him that after some reflection on the topic of green kitchen walls, which I have nagged him about incessantly for 2+ years, I have come to realize that perhaps my idea {gulp} wasn't the best.

The current color of my kitchen. Not bad, I know. I also know that this is not a life or death situation. Just expressing my feelings on my kitchen. Please excuse the blue streamer, we were celebrating daddy working so hard for us and basically being the best dad EVER! And please ignore the mess, but it never actually goes away, so it had to be part of the picture.

Then he said the sweetest thing (or he actually texted me the sweetest thing, since on some days we text more than we talk. This is what the world is coming to.). He said, "I know you don't like the wall color, so lets try to find color that suits you."

Just what I wanted to hear!

Ever since that (text) conversation, (just as an aside, can you call texting back and forth a conversation??) I have spent precious time that I could should be using elsewhere perusing websites for kitchen ideas.

And this is what I have determined:

  • every paint color is wrong, wrong, wrong and I need to paint every room
  • all furniture must be sold and new bought
  • new light fixtures are a must
  • basically the whole house needs a make-over
I noticed as I was vacuuming today that paint colors were all I was thinking about. While I was washing dishes it was furniture placement, and laundry was spent thinking about a new laundry room.

Can we all say DISCONTENT?

It's true. I was comparing what I have to what others have, and second by second my heart was becoming more and more discontent. It's not a good feeling, either. I feel very flustered and frustrated because it seems like nothing works, and I keep saying to myself If only _______... 

Now for the hard part.

Turning back (it seems like I do a lot of this "turning back" business, when I wish that I could for once just stay focused on Him so that I wouldn't have to keep turning back).

I have taken my focus off of The Light. It's time to reach out for my lifeline so He can reign this girl back in. Again.

I haven't been spending much time with God lately, doing more of what I'll call a  "quick quiet time" thing (it doesn't work. I do not recommend this method.), and all this focus on what color my rooms should be has taken my thoughts away from Him. And with every minute that goes by that I'm focused on anything other than Him, the more discontent I become.

I wish I could say that it really doesn't matter to me what color my kitchen is, but it does, and I think that is okay--as long as I'm not using my house to fill that void that only God can fill. Thankfully, He's willing to heap His grace and mercy on me no matter how many times I have to turn back, because "out of his fullness we have all received grace..." (John 1:16).

Turning back to truth so I can be loved and accepted, no matter what, and the void that is crying out to filled actually filled to overflowing? Yes, you probably knew this was coming: now THAT'S a great idea!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Midweek Confessions

Today, I am linking up with Elizabeth from E, Myself and I, who is hosting her weekly "Midweek Confessions".

Midweek Confessions sound fun, right? OK, then, I have a few...

-When my kids discovered a sound I will politely describe as "passing gas" on the iPad, while they laughed hysterically, I should have gently reminded them that such sounds are...in poor taste. However, I could not help but turn my head and laugh along with them. Seriously. A grown woman.

-A service man came by my house today to work on our hot water heater, which has been having the same problem for months, and I am not exaggerating here. Then, he said he had to charge me a diagnostic fee for looking at the hot water heater. What?  Normally, I would say "Um...okay..." Today, I said I would call the office to pay, and when I called, I got up enough nerve to challenge the fee.

-I received phone call today from a contractor we have hired to do some work at our home. Said contractor had a slightly irritated tone of voice, which would normally send me into "fix it" mode, meaning I will bend over backward and agree with whatever he said (even if I don't agree). Today, I took a deep breath and was very forthright with him. I even left out the word please.

-Lastly, I have been treating my daily devotion like it's a fast food drive-thru. Quick verse, quick devotion, rehearsed prayer (while thoughts are anywhere but on God), and off we go. Time to return to my lifeline!

Sooooooooo? How about you??

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Throwing It Away

It's late, I'm yawning (the older I get the longer it takes for me to recover from late weekend nights, and here's the sad story--on those "late" nights, I was in bed before midnight. Pathetic, you might say, but I would beg to differ. I need my 9 hours of beauty sleep, for without it I wither like a delicate rose), and people hanging over my shoulder, reading every word I type, I simply cannot concentrate on writing! {sigh} Go figure!

Google Images

With that being said, I hope you will forgive this short note, and ponder the following verse:

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36

That's an interesting way to look at it, isn't it? Because in order to throw something away, you would have had to have it in the first place, right?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Be Careful



I'll never forget one of the last episodes of CSI I watched. I've always hated horror movies and the like, but found the crime-solving aspect of CSI intriguing. I won't go into the gory details (and yes, like all of those shows, it was horrific), but it involved these infected people who acted...well, zombie-ish is the only word I can think of. And we all know what zombies do to people. Yuck. 'Nuff said. The memory is making my stomach turn while I'm talking about it.



Google images
That's why it was one of the last crime shows I watched. It made such an impression on me that I couldn't get the image out of my head, no matter how hard I tried to forget about it. It's weird, because I'll still to this day remember a particular scene from the show at the most random times--and it happens to be one of the most gory and disturbing, too. I had to stop watching all those types of shows, like Law and Order, CSI, and Criminal Minds. They are all like mini horror movies for me, and not only could I not get the offensive images out of my head, but they were scaring the living daylights out of me. Honestly, I was becoming afraid that something like that might happen to me--especially when Law and Order did the RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES stories. {shudder!}

Google images


The other day, I heard the Casting Crowns song Slow Fade, and I realized that the children's song that it's based on isn't just a cute little tune that we sing as kids and then forget about as adults, as if it doesn't apply anymore. I realized that it has a great deal of truth to it, and I've just never taken the time to pay attention to what it really means. It struck me as so applicable to my own situation that I couldn't ignore it: Be careful little eyes what you see. Now I know why. Those images that I've allowed myself to watch are ingrained in my head, and even if I temporarily forget about them, they are still there. I think that the images from tv shows, video games, movies, billboards, suggestive titles, the Internet, as well as lyrics from songs, all have an effect on my mind. Sometimes it's subtle, sometimes it's not. It's so important to be careful what you see. And that applies to music, too. It's important to be careful what you listen to. I like the line in the song that says:

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking



Sometimes it's hard to break away from my favorite shows, movies and songs. Especially my favorite songs.  It's like we, as a people, cannot get enough of the gory, the scandalous, the disturbing, the offensive, the evocative, the scary (Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes. Proverbs 27:20)...but those suggestive lyrics paired with a fun beat, or those gory images paired with a great story line, equal a dangerous combination. I'm beginning to realize that God didn't set walls and boundaries for me so that I would be frustrated and want out. He did it to protect me.

Be careful little eyes what you see,
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see,
For the Father up above is
looking down in love.
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Food For Thought-Taming the Tongue

"If you
tell the truth,
you don't have to
remember anything."
-Mark Twain

Definitly one of the upsides of telling the truth :)



Thursday, July 19, 2012

You Spin Me Right Round

I love music. Can you tell? It seems like every other post I write relates to a song--and this one is no different (at least as far as the title goes!). Everyone probably knows this song, so I won't put a link in here for it, but let me tell you--it's one thing to hear the original version in all it's glory. It's another to hear the Chipmunks sing it!

I feel like I need to clarify a few things from my post "Playtime", where I said that I need to work on putting my kids first instead of putting them off to do what I want to do. I talked with a friend of mine today who expressed similar feelings, but she went on to say that she feels like there is a very fine line between not putting our kids off all the time and dropping everything to do something with or for them. I do feel like I need to put them first, but I do not feel that dropping everything teaches them anything but that the world spins around them--and so do I. I don't want them to think that they can spin me around whichever way they choose. There is a healthy balance, and it's one I seek to strike daily, but of course I don't always get there.



Kids need to know that the universe does not revolve around them exclusively, and they also need to know (in my house at least) that I am not their live-in maid. They need to learn responsibility (which my kids do not take to very well...) and accountability, they need to learn to respect authority figures, and they should know who is in charge. And it shouldn't be them. Kids need boundaries, I think they actually like them because otherwise they feel like they are adrift, without any firm foundation. Now, I will say, they don't always like the boundaries that I set, but it's just like my mother used to tell me: I've already been there. I've made those mistakes, and I don't want you to make the same ones I did. I took my mom's advice too lightly, and got in trouble for it, and chances are, my kids are going to do the same thing at one time or another. But by setting boundaries, and reminding them of those boundaries frequently (because we may assume they already know something they don't or remember something we've told them that they don't).

How does a parent do all this? Where is the parenting handbook I at times so desperately need? Unfortunately, that doesn't exist, but the good news is that God's "Book of Boundaries" (if you will) does exist, and we can read it and learn from it. His Word is full of boundaries set for us--not so we would look longingly out into the world and wish we didn't have so may rules to live by, but so that we have a firm foundation to set our feet on; so we wouldn't feel like we are floating by ourselves in the middle of the ocean, alone.

As a parent, the best example I can set for my kids is living by the boundaries that have been set for me. Then they can see their mother actively living out what I am asking them to do. They see me respecting the authority of God's Word in my life, they see me taking His advice seriously, and they see me accepting responsibility in my life and learning accountability.

They can also see me loving them through my actions, by listening to what they have to say instead of ignoring them or only half-way listening. By putting them first in some situations, but in others, when they are calling for my attention, telling them that they have to wait until I am done what I am doing. By explaining to them that our world has 7 billion other people living on it, and it's not all about them all the time. By setting firm boundaries for them, and not waffling back and forth on them. By loving their father and coming together as a unified front. It's not easy, and no one is perfect. We probably are not going to get it right every single time, but we weren't designed to be perfect. We were designed to put our trust in the One who is.


The best part of having kids? Fun and Laughter :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What If...

Sad.

Sometimes that's just how I feel.

It's not anybody's fault. I'd like to blame it partly on just being female (I mean honestly, why else do I go from happy to flaming mad to crying in matter of 8 short minutes?).

I saw a friend at the grocery store who shared some exciting news with me, and I was overjoyed with her and for her--or at least I knew I should have been. And, really, I was very happy for her. But a teeny, tiny part of me was a little sad because I wasn't able to have what she has. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not unhappy because of it, but sometimes I think that if I could go back in time, I might do things a little differently. My life is how it is right now, and looking back won't change anything; plus, I know and trust that God is actively guiding and leading me, so who am I to really question? But sometimes I do...what do I do with that?

Do you ever do that? Even though life is great, do you ever allow yourself to wonder "What if...". Do you ever get the tiniest bit envious when someone else gets what it seems like you've always wanted? It's hard not to, and for me, if I allow that envy to settle on my soul, then I start looking back at the past instead of forward to the future. Not that looking back can't be helpful, because lessons can certainly be learned from past missteps, but allowing God to use the past to move us forward is how we grow and mature.

It all goes back to that God-shaped hole in my heart, created by Him to be filled by Him, and only Him. Nothing else will ever compare, and will always fail me in some way or another. In this particular instance, I allowed myself to be a little envious of a situation because I let myself  believe for just an instant that what my friend had would fill that familiar void in my heart. Many times, I think I want these things because I believe they will bring  joy to my life, and many times, they do. But I have to distinguish between gifts from God and God Himself, and not make the mistake of thinking His gifts will fill the void when only He will do.



“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?

This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”

[This is from page 75 of Blaise Pascal's Pensees (New York; Penguin Books, 1966).]
Google Images

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Playtime

I started out the day with a loose plan in my head. I had a number of things I wanted to accomplish in the house, and a few errands that I needed to run. As most loose plans go, mine fell apart pretty much from the beginning (much to my chagrin). *sigh* Just when I think I have got things under control, I lose my grip and things feel like they are spinning around me. I mostly just hate that feeling.

So, when my sweet girl asked me to play dollhouse with her this morning, I immediately told her that of course I could--but it would have to wait until after I exercised. After all, I had to stick to some sort of strategy for arranging my day. She was seemingly fine with my polite way of putting her off, and we all went about our business...until I really started to think about the interaction I had with my daughter.

I say all the time that my kids are important to me, that they mean so much to me, that I'd do anything for them, that I want to be a good mother...but it all comes out of my mouth as complete blather when I'm unwilling to follow through with my actions what I say with my mouth. This morning, I said to my daughter, "Yes, I will play with you. Can we do it after I work out?". What I intended for her to hear was, "Yes, I do want to play with you because you are important to me and I like spending time with you". But what came across was, "My workouts are more important to me than you are and I will only play with you if I get that done".

Ouch.

I didn't mean to be insensitive, it's just that my exercise is important to me. But is it the most important? I would absolutely say "No". But my actions absolutely say "Yes".

I went to Anna and apologized for putting her off, and we went off downstairs to play dollhouse. No harm, no foul, right?

Well, as I started thinking on this situation more, I admitted to myself that my exercise is important to me because, frankly, I want to keep from gaining any more weight than I already have. It's my way of trying to stay in ultimate control. Now, exercise is important for health and quality of life--we've all heard the benefits of exercise and a healthy diet--but for me, it's about more than that. It's a way for me to negate what I've eaten during the day so that I can feel okay about myself. I am at times still terrified (I am a work in progress, and sometimes the progress is S-L-O-W like molasses. But, like a friend told me, molasses is yummy and quite worth the wait!) to gain an ounce. I've gotten better, but it still occupies my thoughts way too often. Like I said, I hate feeling like I'm losing my grip in certain situations.

I thought back to my own childhood, and how precious the times when my own mother would stop what she was doing and play with me. In my little world, it was the best thing that could happen in my day. I'm very similar to my mom. She was an exercise fanatic and hardly ever missed a workout, even if it meant she had to walk in the rain (and guess who her lucky walking partner used to be?). When I reminisce on those good times, I don't think fondly about how thin my mom was or about what she looked like. I think about how much fun I had with her and how I wish I could share life with her now. But I can't. She's gone. All I have left of her are memories, and they are beautiful not because of her physical beauty but because she loved me and I felt it.

Ah, time. It's said to heal all wounds. I don't know about the healing part, but it does make the pain of losing a loved one a little less hard each year that passes by.

Hopefully time will allow my daughter to forget all about my parenting faux pas and we can play dollhouse again tomorrow like we played dollhouse today. I won't forget, though. I learned an important lesson today about where my priorities are, and I didn't really like what I saw. I am determined for my actions to match my words. I want people to know that I mean what I say. I want my kids to not just hear that I love them, but to know without a doubt that I love them. I'm making memories today...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday, Monday



I can't write today's title without humming the song by the same name, and of course all the credit goes to the group The Mamas & The Papas. It kinda makes me chuckle to recall some of the lyrics, like Monday, Monday, can't trust that day and Every other day of the week is fine, but whenever Monday comes, you can find me cryin' all the time. Now, understand, my Monday hasn't been bad at all. But it seems like today brought challenges that only a Monday can bring, which is why I'm sitting here at 9:23 PM rather than 9:23 AM. Regardless of the time, I'm here, and I have to say that although I had a super vacation, I missed being here! 

This evening, I went outside (just like I do every evening...ok, intend to do every evening) to water my plants on the front porch and in my window boxes, only to discover that those cursed little pests (a.k.a. the deer) had been at it again. My coneflowers stood beheaded, my pansies nibbled off at the end and some of my geraniums had been eaten down to the stem. Upon this discovery, I narrowed my eyes, bent my head, and declared war on those bothersome creatures, with their innocent little doe eyes. Ha! and double HA! Innocent my behind, because they wait until the dead of night to sneak around my house, finding good eats in the window boxes I planted. I found my self wishing they were someone elses' problem to deal with.

And all this before I even made it around to the back of the house, where the real treat of the night was awaiting me--that wicked and vile plague known as weeds (if I could only get the deer to eat the weeds I'd be a rich woman). The particular variety of weed I have growing in one of my beds causes me much vexation. This weed, known in these parts as thistle (I spit the name thistle out of my mouth), has little thorny things all over the stem, making it impossible to pull up and as an added bonus the roots seem to run 100 feet underground, so even when you do pull said weed up, you don't ever get the entire root. I really, really wish they were someone else's problem. My mood went from positive to sour in 3.5 seconds flat, and after I sprayed the flowers mightily with Deer*B*Gone (a.k.a. Liquid Fence--nasty, stinky stuff) and sprayed the weeds with a heavy dose of Round-Up, I stomped into the house and announced to all who would listen (read: my sweet husband who has already heard all this before) my displeasure with the entire deer/weed/flower situation.

They only look innocent...

Before I could get too far into a funk, though, I realized that although I don't like dealing with the aforementioned issues, they are actually mine to embrace, annoyances and all. I actively participated in the purchase of our home, which happens to be in deer territory. Wishing my problems away (however minor these problems might be) is a waste of time and energy.  I really hate dealing with them, and I often find myself wishing they would just quietly either go away on their own or someone else would take care of them for me. No, the issues I described here aren't serious, and they can be taken lightly, but many of life's issues are painful and can seem debilitating when we try to work on them.  It's work to deal with problems, and the more distasteful the problem, the more work it is dealing with it. But the alternative is so much worse: I find that I end up with a bad mood, a poor attitude, and a short temper. When we don't deal with the problems at hand, and instead try to ignore them or wish them away, then over time we become bitter, despondent and angry on the inside, and it only takes a tiny spark to cause an explosion.

God is called our Counselor ([f]or to us a child is born, to us a son is given,...and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6) for a reason: He can take on our bitterness, our anger, our displeasure with life. His shoulders are big enough to carry even our heftiest weight ( “[l]et the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12). When no one else is around to listen, He is.

Somehow, even when a Monday rolls around, knowing that I can give Him my junk and in return He will give me a fresh, clean spirit is enough to make even this sour-faced girl smile :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gimme A Break

You remember the commercial for Kit-Kat bars? The one that said: Gimme a break, Gimme a break, Break me off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar...well, the time has come for me to take a small break from being plugged in all the time. I'll be taking a hiatus from all things computer-related--including writing posts--for the next few days :(

I'll miss blogging but definitely need to spend some quality time with my family!

I hope you will enjoy this yummy recipe (click here) I found for homemade kit kat bars :)

Enjoy your weekend, and I'll see you on Monday!!




Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Big Enough Lie

"It is amazing how complete is the
delusion
that beauty is goodness.”
― Leo Tolstoy,
The Kreutzer Sonata

Somewhere, at some point in my life (and I'm not even sure I could tell you exactly when that point was), the lie that my worth as a person is based on how pretty I am was told to my heart. Did I believe it at first? Maybe. I don't know because I can't remember. But slowly, over time, that lie began to wrap itself around my heart and intertwine itself with the very fabric of my soul.

It's easy to believe. After all, the lie is reinforced by what we see and hear in magazines, catalogues, TV, and movies. Air-brushed pictures of perfection meet us at every newsstand in the grocery store. Make-up companies promise flawless complexions, lingerie companies vow an irresistible sex appeal, clothing companies swear an instant boost to self-esteem, hair products guarantee silken tresses, herbal products promise a beach body in a single dose pill, toothpaste companies insist that their whitening products make for a better smile, and don't even get me started on push-up bras...and I, for one, have believed them all. Somehow, I have come to believe that if only I looked (fill in the blank here: my hair was shinier, my skin was smoother, I was thinner, my clothes were better, my nose was smaller,  my skin was tan, my hair was blond, my eyes more blue, my teeth whiter, my smile straighter...I could go on and on) then I would feel beautiful. Then I would be completely satisfied and happy; complete.

After some time passed, I began to accept this lie as truth. I started to act as if it was truth, and I allowed my thoughts to be influenced. As I got older, I actually told myself these same lies, over and over, until I couldn't tell the difference between the truth and the lie. I had bought into these lies hook, line and sinker, and my behavior proved it. I couldn't go anywhere without make-up on. My hair color changed every six weeks. I got blue contacts even though my eyes are already blue.  I whitened my teeth, use self-tanner (I admit I think this is actually one of the best inventions ever because I am a pasty white without it).  But I couldn't see my worth because I did not measure up to what I thought was beautiful.

The lie is one that is so common in our society that hardly anyone, save a few brave souls, is even aware that we are being mislead. It's like a modern version of the Pied Piper, where we are lured into thinking that beauty will make us happy, and we go happily skipping along with the story, with no awareness of the cost involved.

Google images

Now it's time to call a spade a spade, because now I am aware that I have believed and accepted as truth something that is very simply this: FALSE.

My worth is not determined by anything or anyone other than my Heavenly Father, and I can be "confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6).

God, the definition of Beauty, created me, and He created me with a purpose (...I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. Exodus 9:16). When I allow Him to work through me, then His beauty will shine through me like the noonday sun, and I will find that my security and confidence lies with Him. It comes from a realization that He is the answer and from a dependence on Him for what I need. There is a God-shaped hole in my heart, and no amount of make-up, white teeth or beautiful clothes will fill it. Only He can fill it, and then I will be satisfied and happy; complete.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Am I Pretty?


 

A couple of months ago, there was a disturbing newspaper article about a new YouTube trend. Young girls are making videos of themselves and asking the world "Am I Pretty?", and people are responding. Predictably, some people responded with such nasty comments that the poor girls who read them had to feel even worse about themselves. So, I wonder, why did they put themselves out there in the first place?

The first thought that ran through my mind was akin to desperation, because I saw in those girls an example of what my daughter could possibly do one day, and it breaks my heart to think that she would ever doubt her beauty. The second was sorrow, because I could see myself in their eyes, asking for someone, anyone to fill their cup full of confidence and security. The third was this: will this insatiable need of girls to feel beautiful ever go away? It's like this ravenous, unquenchable desire that we can touch on but never really fully identify or satisfy. When will we feel beautiful enough?

Is it only our young, sweet girls that feel this way?

Absolutely not.

I ate my dinner alone this evening, since I got home after everyone else had already eaten, so I just grabbed some mail that I had sitting in my bag and sat down. As I looked through one particularly popular lingerie catalogue--boasting beautiful, toned, tanned and perfect women--I found myself asking the same question: Am I Pretty?

My head is telling me that no, compared to what you see here, you are not pretty. But God says that I am. So how do I move from a head knowledge that yes, God says I'm beautiful to a heart knowledge and receive His gift of true beauty?

I've tried to convince myself that what I see in these catalogues isn't an exact representation of the real woman, but when it comes down to it, I am processing what I see on the pages of these magazines and catalogues as real, no matter how Photoshopped they are. It's common knowledge that all of the images in print advertising are altered (see this really interesting video on Photoshopping), and so in my head, I'm comparing myself to the altered image, and I will never, ever live up to that. The models themselves can't even live up to that! But even though I know this in my head, my heart still wants to be that beautiful. What's a girl to do? Kill herself trying to achieve the impossible or accept the inevitable and stop caring? Give up? Turn to YouTube?

Turn to God?

I read somewhere that when you finally realize God has shut down all other avenues of escape from Him, when you realize that He's the only game left in town--this is when you will finally decide to turn to Him.

So I turn to Him. Then what?

Seeing as how I am currently a work in progress, I don't have the ending all tied up in a pretty bow for you. But what I can tell you is that I am learning day by day, moment by moment, and thought by thought, to turn to God for my confidence. There are wounds from my past that caused me to start doubting myself a long time ago (some I'm not even fully aware of), and it's gotten to be quite a nauseating habit. I'm sure that it breaks His heart to think that I have ever doubted myself. By turning to God and opening my heart to His healing grace, I can allow Him to heal those wounds that I have tried to Band-Aide all these years. As my heart is healed, I begin to find my confidence, my worth and my purpose in Him, and I am filled with His love and beauty.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Food For Thought: God Is Big!

I heard this on the radio the other day, and honestly, I had to take a moment to really think about it. So, ponder this:


Don't tell God how
BIG
your mountain is;
Go tell the mountain
how BIG
your God is.




It's a different perspective, isn't it?

What if I was more willing to absolutely trust that God actually is bigger than my problems, rather than going to Him all the time fussing about how big my problems are (or seem to be...)?


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Summer Berry Trifle

Most of you are probably well prepared for your summer-time cookout. Me? My middle name is...not so prepared all the time. Anyhow, I thought this looked yummy, easy, and could be done day of.

Happy 4th!

Summer Berry Trifle

From FamilyFun Magazine
  • Rated by 237 members

Summer Berry Trifle


Serving this traditional English dessert in a glass pedestal bowl shows off its impressive layers of ladyfingers, pudding, and colorful fruits. If you don't have one, a regular glass bowl will also do the trick.



Ingredients
  • 1 package (3.4-ounce) instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 cups fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries), washed and hulled, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 24 to 36 ladyfingers


Instructions
  1. To make the fillings, prepare the pudding according to the package directions and chill it.
  2. Slice the strawberries, if you're using them, then toss all of the berries with the lemon juice and the 1/4 cup of sugar. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the berries to release their juices.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whip the cream, vanilla extract, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  4. To make the layers, set a layer of ladyfingers (around 7 or 8) on the bottom of a large, clear serving bowl (ours was 4 quarts). Top with the berries with half of the pudding.
  5. Add another layer of ladyfingers, another third of the berries and juice, and the rest of the pudding. Add a final layer of ladyfingers and berries. Top with the whipped cream and a berry garnish.
  6. Refrigerate until you're ready to serve. Serves 8 to 10.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

This Means War

I took a walk this morning in an effort to keep up with my normal exercise routine in the midst of anything but normal. While I understand that fixing the aftermath of any severe storm is monumental, and massive efforts are underway, my level of patience with toilets that don't flush and not being able to do laundry or dishes in my own house is nearing the end. As I walked, I just let my thoughts wander this morning, and was surprised at the utter selfishness that was the basis of all my thoughts. It's not like I'm the only person who doesn't have power, and for goodness sake, I just said yesterday how lucky I am that I am merely inconvenienced, while true hardship is a reality in many people's lives. I found that I was complaining to myself about 1) my insecurity around the way I look, 2) the inconvenience of a power outage, especially for any length of time,  3) why I don't have more energy, 4) why I can't lose weight when it seems like I'm doing all the right things, and 5) everything else that doesn't fall under items 1-4 (I'm just kidding, I'm really not that bad...I don't think...).

I had my iPod turned up as I made my way past the houses in the neighborhood where my in-laws live. Houses where on the outside, everything looks nice and neat, but on the inside? It could be a totally different story. Isn't it funny? You could be crumbling like blue cheese (I got that from a sweet woman in my bible study group--isn't that the best saying??) on the inside, but insist that you're fine. You make it so you appear to be fine. When people ask, you say you're fine. You want desperately to be fine. We can only hold up for so long before the pressure starts to wear down that "fine" exterior, and it becomes painfully obvious that we are not fine.


All of the sudden, I became aware of the song I was listening to. It's called Make War by Christian rap artist Tedashii, and when I listened to the lyrics, it was like a light bulb went off above my head (remember the Light. Bulb. from Despicable Me I wrote about yesterday? Same deal). Here I have been complaining about everything that I view as frustrating or unsuitable for me, and I've even prayed about it. Prayers like God, please change me and Lord, I need your help are common for me to pray. I mean, sometimes, in the back of my head, I think God should be kinda proud of me because I am so willing to change, to allow Him to change me. But it struck me today like a lightening bolt: I am very unwilling to move myself. I want to God to come all the way to me, I want Him to change me, but I don't want to have to try to make any improvements myself.  I want God to make me fine, but mostly I don't want to have to work at it myself in order to be fine.

In the beginning of the song, the lyrics go like this:

I hear so many Christians,
murmuring about their imperfections,
and their failures,
and their addictions,
and their shortcomings.
And I see so little war!
Murmur, murmur, murmur.
Why am I this way?
Make war!

It's almost as if I think that if I see no change, then I can place all the blame squarely on God's shoulders, because after all, I asked but He didn't deliver. I don't have have to take any of that responsibility myself?

It's time for me to stop complaining and start making war on the sin that stands ready to suffocate me in it's stranglehold. I have been given everything I need to stand at the ready. Ephesians 6:11-18 describes what we need in order to be ready to make spiritual war:  11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

This war isn't against any person, tribe or nation. This war is spiritual, against everything that is designed to bring us down, to make us quit, to make us doubt His existence, to turn against Him.

Make. WAR.

Monday, July 2, 2012

In the Dark

Well.

Here I am.

In the dark. With no power. But still here!

Thank goodness for in-laws who are willing to take us in. Don't know how we could ever repay them, but it would have to be BIG!

I have spent much time over the last couple of days stumbling around in the rooms in my house, absentmindedly flipping on lights that don't work, and feeling around in cabinets for things I think I must have. Like today, I was feeling around in the laundry room, hoping to the Lord that no big gross spider that likes the dark was in there waiting to take a bite of me, looking for the bleach. I needed it to clean out my refrigerator, the freezer, and the toilets (when you have a well, and the power goes out, then you can't flush. That's all I'll say bout that.). 

As I was feeling around in the cabinet, I was pondering how blessed we actually are. I do my fair share of complaining, but when I stop for even 2 seconds to think about it, I am so thankful it's just my power that's out. Some people, in some countries, somewhere in the world, don't have power. They don't have food. They don't have clean water. They don't have hope. I'm so thankful that, while this power outage is inconvenient, that it is just that--an inconvenience.

I was also thinking about how helpful the light is. It helps me see things clearly. It lights my steps so I know where it's safe to place my foot. I often take the light for granted, because the sun has never, ever failed to rise in the morning, and power outages don't happen all that often. In the dark, it becomes so very obvious how much I need the light.

And I don't just need the light in my house. I need the Light of the world in my whole life. Without Him, I am in perpetual darkness, with blinders on my eyes, with no ability to see my circumstances clearly. I stumble through life, absentmindedly flipping on the same light switches I know don't work, repeating the same mistakes time and time again. When I open my eyes to His glory, the blinders are taken off and I am able to have a new perspective; I'm able to see my circumstances from a new point-of-view. Isaiah 35 describes it like this: "..they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God... Then will the eyes of the blind be opened  and the ears of the deaf unstopped" (verses 2,5). I love those moments when I'm suddenly aware of a new idea (a small aside: have you seen the movie Despicable Me? This reminds me of when Gru is sitting there and he gets an idea and he goes, "Light. Bulb." Click here to see it. Those of you with kids will probably know exactly what I'm talking about...).


Sometimes, even though I ask God to light my steps and lead me, I still don't feel like I know exactly where I'm going. It's very frustrating, because I feel like that if God would just tell me what to do and what to expect, then it would be so much easier on everyone involved (including Him...just sayin').  I know I can trust Him to guide me (Your Word is a light for my feet, a lamp on my path. Psalm 119:105), so why do I get so frustrated when I can't seem to understand what the next step is? Sometimes I blame myself for not listening; more often I blame Him for not telling. I've heard Beth Moore talk about it a couple of times; she calls it getting "only enough light for the step I'm on". While I might be disheartened when it seems like I'm not getting any direction, His Word gently counsels me in Deuteronomy 31:8 that "[t]he LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”, and Joshua 1 says something similar (Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”).

Light. Bulb.

There's the light for the step I'm on that I don't feel like I'm seeing any light: Do not be discouraged! The Lord is with me wherever I go. A-ha! So since the Christ is the light of the world (When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" John 8:12), then my steps can never be in the dark because He is always with me! I don't need to be discouraged, I don't need to be frustrated. He has a plan for me (For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11), so at the times I most feel like I need to move, I should probably just sit back and be patient.

I love it when things like this come together in my mind. It's like finding that missing puzzle piece that starts to make the whole puzzle make more sense.

Thanks for searching for it with me :)