Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Being 'IN' the World and Not 'OF' It

I came across this quote in someones response on Sarah Mae's blog Stretching Into Blue

"There is one thing worse than failing before men and that is being successful in things that don't matter to God"

The above quote stuck out to me. How many times I have added too many things to the plate in an effort to 'please man' without consulting my heavenly Father?  Far too many to count.  It's not out of malevolence that I've acquired too much on my to-do list.  I really do feel led to try and serve, learn, teach, etc. all in the name of God.  But do I consult God first? . . . . Um, not as often as I should.  The second I seek to accomplish what I think it His will without actually bringing Him along for the ride is basically a recipe for true failure.  I've replace God with my own pride.  Seeking accomplishment of the world and acceptance of others.  Seeking to be a part of the 'group'.  Being OF this world and not simply living IN it. 

Matthew 16:26
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

1 Corinthians 7:31
Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.

Lord forgive me, because if I struggle with this so much - how am I ever going to be the role model to teach this to my children?  So much of the pleasures/desires of this world call to them. . . . materials, status, money, belonging to the crowd, outward appearance, latest fashion/music/trend, etc.  How can I teach them to quiet that inner voice calling them to move ahead without taking God with them?  How can I better discern and weed out the negative influences that aim to steal their heart and taint their spirit? 

Matthew 18:7
What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.

John 12:25
Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.

It is a delicate balance.  Understand that I don't want to take everything away in an overly legalistic way.  How would they ever be able to cope, persevere, stand firm if they're never tested by the sins of this world?  How can they reflect on their own sin if I put them in a bubble, overly protecting them from what's truly out there?  They cannot learn love and mercy if they are never tested with the grave reality of sin - theirs and of others. 

1 Corinthians 5:10
But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that.

Then on the other end of the scale, I don't want to overindulge - allowing them to be supersaturated in what 'everyone else' is doing.  Akin to leaving my children to the 'wolves'. . . . fend for themselves and pray that God helps them work it out.  No, my job as their parent is to strike that balance in between.  It's that balance that I'm also trying to learn for myself. . . . . .

Matthew 10:16
Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.

. . . . . thoughts to be continued. . . .

***Linked to:  Women Living Well

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Birthday - What Another Year Has Taught Me

Wow, it's been a whole year past since I've been here before.  Another 365 days, or would you say 366 since Feb. 2012 had a Leap Year day???  Either way, it's been awhile.  A lot can happen in a week around our house, let alone a whole year.  With baby #5 due in June, basement finishing project currently underway, and a whole myriad of misc. to keep us busy - it's no wonder a lot can change.

So what has a whole year done for this birthday girl? Hmm, time for some inner reflection . . . .

Over the last year, I've learned that some things in this world really aren't that important. . . . or at least not as important as I used to make them.  And some things are not negotiable; up for debate.   In a nutshell, I've learned more about what to let go of and what I should grasp onto harder.  For instance. . . .

  • Some people really are mean-spirited, won't change and are not content until you are discontent
  • Other people are a blessing and I am forever thankful they've been a part of my life.  Don't know what I'd do w/out their encouragement
  • Being home to raise my kids is most important in this season of life vs. a career
  • Baseboards/ceiling fan/ledges being dirty are not the end of the world.  Who looks at those things anyways?!
  • The 5-second rule reigns supreme in this house. . . . unless what was dropped was wet/gooey.
  • Underwear/burp rags really don't have to be folded
  • Kids being crazy actually helps calm the chaos. . . they have to run out of energy sooner or later! *wink*
  • Pets are a great addition to a family, but some family dynamics no longer fit the ability to have/care for a pet as needed
  • Fighting the laundry 'monster' in a house with 6 people is a futile effort.  As long as they have 1 clean outfit & 1 clean pair of undergarments - we're all good!
  • Having less $ has caused us to focus more on what we DO have, what we can afford to GIVE away and how to better UTILIZE what is currently in our possession.
  • Coordinated nap times with both Wookeese & Nattie Bear is a blessing
  • The human body can actually function on less sleep than what I think is ideal
  • Patience!  Wish I had more but I do see its benefit when I'm of the right mind to use it. 
  • No longer do I harbor an aversion to minivans.  I really like our orange 'party' machine.  :)

But most importantly, over the last year I've learned that even in my moments of doubt, fear, resentment and lack of faith - God STILL continues to stand by and show me that He hasn't given up on me!  When we've run short on supplies, he provides.  When I become frazzled, he is there to calm. 

And when I hurt, he has brought others in my life to show me love.  There really is no greater lesson & gift than that. ♥

**Linked to:  A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Women Living Well

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter the 'American' Way

I remember many Easter mornings coming into the living room and seeing the large basket filled to the brim with candy, toys and other misc. goodies.  My heart and taste buds leaped for joy as I ravaged forward toward my morning reward.  The more candy the better and I'm sure my parents paid dearly many holidays. 

One article I found online from The Fiscal Times listed expected Easter spending for 2012 to increase (from 2011 stats) by 11% to the budget crippling tune of $16.75 Billion. . . . . YES, I said BILLION!  
The article also lists the avg. spending of Americans age 18 or older at approximately $145.28.  As you can imagine, these figures are materialized in everything from new Easter outfits, candy, baskets, decorations, cards, and we can't forget Easter Dinner!  I'm sure there's something I'm missing to make up the $16.75 BILLION. . . . . sorry, but I can't resist bolding and highlighting that figure in red.  It's so astronomical that I can't bypass it's significance relating to how we view holidays in our society.

Gift baskets from Meijers
Anything your Easter-filled heart desires from Target
Do I even need to mention good ol' price cutting Wal-Mart?  Really?  Are the inflatable bunnies on the lawn really necessary???

*SIGH*  I must admit that I've bought into the Easter myth for many years, mindlessly buying more stuff, more candy. . . . MORE JUNK.  Apparently, not much has changed with the 'meaning' of Easter from when I was younger.   This is clearly evident when you look around at the merchandising machine of the 'American' way.   No holiday is safe from the marketing ploy to buy more stuff for others or in a shallow attempt to make yourself feel good. :(

In my opinion. . . I think the devil created peeps, lol!  ;)

But S-Money$ and I  don't want to keep doing things this way simply because it's how we've done it in the past.  In the past we missed the main point of this holiday. . . . and that was JESUS.  I wonder, like us, how many others call themselves Christians yet leave out the key component of this holiday - the key to our salvation, the answer to our sin???  But not anymore!  We can't keep going on the wrong path.  S-Money$ and I are determined to make this change - not just for us but for our children's sake.  I don't want them to get older and celebrate Easter thinking it is only about candy, baskets, people dressed up in awful bunny costumes coaxing the kids to 'smile for the camera', etc.   It makes a total mockery of all JESUS has done for us by conquering sin, death and Satan yet not even acknowledging Him during this time.  Rising from the dead to show that the evil one and death cannot hold Him.  AMEN!  THAT is what I want our children to remember.  That is the essence of this day.  And THAT is the TRUTH! 

We made sure this year to cut our spending to $15 per child with gifts, very minimal candy and even a small egg hunt that the kids knew were from Mom & Dad; not the Easter Bunny. We also did an activity making resurrection rolls to signify Christ's death, burial and resurrection (hence the name of the rolls) along with the story of why this is so important to us and our eternity.  See, we can be in the world but not of it.  We can take some aspects - like the joy of gift giving - and redeem it in a more positive way.  We don't have to live blindly when Christ has so graciously given us a chance to see.

Have a Happy Easter remembering first and foremost that He Is Risen!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Coolest Mom Ever!

No matter how hectic the day or how much margin I'm in desperate need for. .. . sometimes God gives me a nudge that just letting go can do everyone a great world of good!  The three oldest kiddies decided to take advantage of my 'more lenient than normal' mood and commenced into a full out indoor water fight. . . .

Besides, being dubbed the 'Coolest Mom Ever' by my oldest helps make it all worth it!  ;)

p.s. Don't worry S-Money$ . . . . they cleaned up their mess w/no fuss. ♥

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Margin.  Do you have it? 


And NO I don't mean the outer area on your paper. . . . though the concept is similar.  I'm talking about the space we have left in the day for meaningful things.  Do you know what that is in your life?  Many days it doesn't seem like there's much margin left at the end of the day.  Many of our nights are fraught with a non-sleeping baby, early waking toddler and night owl older kids (13 and almost 9 yrs.) so you can imagine the yin-yang pull on both S-Money$ and I to accommodate and meet everyones' 'needs. . . . Oh, I guess S-Money$ and I should be meeting each other's needs too - OOPS! 

Due to some of the craziness in our life, I decided to pick up the book 'Breathe - Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life' by Keri Wyatt Kent.  I received it several years ago through our church's MOPS group (Mothers of PreSchoolers).  Years later, the words Keri shares are not only uplifting but definitely an encouragement for me to not get discouraged. . . but to keep aiming for that 'Sabbath Simplicity' that she speaks about in her book.

Within the first chapter I am convicted and humbled by the point she brings up,
"As much as you may think you want that intimacy with your heavenly Father, if you keep yourself too busy, you will squeeze that relationship to the edges of your life.  It can happen whether you are too busy with your kids and home, your career, or even doing 'religious' things like teaching Sunday school or doing your homework for Bible study."  

Having good intentions that don't materialize into action is futile.  Each day, though, I'm faced with this reality.  The issue with margin lies in my own choices - I know this.  Like I shared with good friends the other night over dinner, I try to be everything for everyone - SuperMom for hubby, kids, etc. - but is that really glorifying the Father if by the end of the day I'm ready to collapse in a heap in my bed?  If I volunteer only to dread the impending date out of sheer exhaustion & stress?  Jesus was busy yet he was able to carve out the margin he needed to rest and be with the Father.  Shouldn't this be more my example than everyone else I see running ragged as I mindlessly follow?

But I am not alone.  I am not the only mother/wife/person searching for some sort of balance in life.  Searching for that area of margin where I can live out 'Sabbath Simplicity' - or even just take in the moment and breathe.  It's not just Keri's words that bring me to this realization that I need some change in my life and attitude, but also God's Word.  His promise in Matthew 11:28 seem like a cool drink for my already parched heart. . . "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

He sends the invitation - "Come to me. . ".  All I have to do is respond.  I don't have all the answers everyday.  If I did, then stress/exhaustion/frustration/tiredness wouldn't exist.  But I do have an invitation.  An invite to not only come to Him but also to seek his calling on what the margin in my life should be . . "and I will give you rest." 

Dare I respond? 

**Linked to: Raising Homemakers / Raising Arrows  / Women Living Well