Titus 2:11-13

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Take His Life, Lord

How do I begin such an important post....

The date is December 4th, 2011.  It's a Sunday morning, and the Squires family is headed to church.  From the back of the van comes Abel's voice.  "I want to ask Jesus into my heart today."

Travis and I look at each other in surprise, and as my eyes fill with tears, all I can say is, "Really?"

"In fact, I want to do it right now."

Some mixture of joy and awe and shock washes over me.  Travis and I have prayed that Abel--all of our children--would come to know Jesus at an early age; and Abel's own prayers have been giving us hints that something very important has been happening in his heart.  Indeed, we have expected that Abel's salvation would come, and yet we couldn't have known it would be at this moment....

"Okay... but can we wait until we get to church so we can sit with you and talk?"...

...That particular morning, the children of the church had been invited to the stage to lead the body in singing "Joy to the World."  Abel and Amariah were among the many youthful voices that together created a choir whose sound certainly caused the listeners to consider the purpose for which we were created.  And looking back, I realize what a beautiful backdrop that was to what was about to happen next....

Soon after Abel and Amariah had joined us back in our seats, we reached the point in the service where we would be celebrating communion--a perfect time to talk to Abel about the desire he had expressed on the way to church that morning.  During our talk, Abel confirmed his understanding that all have sinned and need God's forgiveness--including himself.  And after stating in that beautiful, childlike way that he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart because "I want to show Him how much I love Him," Abel began his prayer.

"Dear God, please forgive me for all my sins, and please come into my heart...."

I remain in awe of the goodness of God towards us and our son, that He would extend His grace and grant His salvation to our tenderhearted little Abel.  I realize that we (the human race) are so undeserving of this free gift of salvation which is available to all who will believe; and I feel indebted doubly--first for my own salvation and now for my son's.

As I have listened to Abel's prayers over the past several months--prayers such as, "Dear God, please help me to love You more," and, "Dear God, please give me a wise heart," and, "Dear God, please forgive me for all my sins, and please come into my heart,"--I have witnessed a miracle.

Abel's prayer has been answered, and in that, Travis and my prayers have been answered.  But this is not an end.  It is a beginning.  It is the beginning of a life being lived for Jesus.

Oh, Dear God, I cannot express my gratitude to You for Your grace, Your mercy, Your salvation.  Thank You for the work You have done in Abel's young heart, where Your Holy Spirit is now residing.  As you have answered his prayer for salvation, please also answer his prayers both for a growing love for You and for a wise heart.  Take his life, Lord, and let it be consecrated to You.

"Jesus Dying on the Cross" by Abel Squires, 12-09-2011



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kids Say, vol. 14

Amariah:  "Abel, I hope Ande is a boy because you don't have a brother."

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Elliana (pointing at the alphabet poster):  "There's the O."
Mommy:  "That's right!  What does an 'O' say?"
Elliana, confidently:  "/k/!"

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Amariah (praying for my parents' dog who has an ulcerated eye):  "Dear God, please help Barney's eye to not fall out and not hurt so bad.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen."

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Abel tripped up the unfinished basement steps a few days ago and scraped his shins on the front edge of the step.  I, of course, offered my motherly comfort and sympathies; but after his crying had gone on a little too long, I politely asked, "Abel, how are you ever going to play football if you can't fall down without crying?"  His smart reply came, "Mommy, that's why they play sports on grass and sand... so they don't get hurt."

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Abel and Amariah were looking out the front door this evening, admiring the stars in the sky.  The next thing I knew, I heard them around a corner praying together.  Abel passionately prayed, "Dear God, thank You for the beautiful sky that You created, and thank You for Your Son Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.  Amen."


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cleaning: A New and Improved Routine

Being that I haven't blogged in so long, there is plenty I could write about today.  However, I have to choose for this post that which I can't get off my mind:  cleaning!

Not just any cleaning, though.  It's cleaning with Norwex that is crowding my thoughts--and has been for the past few weeks.

At our Lighthouse (the name given to our church's small groups) meeting earlier this week, the group leader commented that sometimes, when lacking spiritual fervor, we need to do something new that breaks us out of our lackluster routine.  Not at all to demean the truth of what he meant for a spiritual application, I was pondering my new found excitement for cleaning and realized that his statement could likewise apply to any routine... even cleaning.

I wouldn't say that I don't like to clean, but I think it would be a stretch to say that I've ever gotten excited about cleaning (until now...).  It's just one of those things that you have to do, and you do it joyfully because you are thankful that you have a home to care for.  That has been my attitude, anyway.  You develop a routine that maximizes your efficiency, and that's just what you do... often without giving it any further thought.

That was true of me until a couple months ago.  I had a certain cleaning schedule, certain cleaning methods, and certain cleaning products that together made up my cleaning routine.  It was working for me... I guess... and so I didn't really consider making any changes to it.  That was until I started learning about a company called Norwex and the great products they have to offer.  The more I learned about how Norwex reduces the use of chemicals in cleaning, the more I questioned my use of chemicals in cleaning.  As I learned that with Norwex I could save time and money while at the same time creating a cleaner and safer environment in my home, I began to question just how clean and safe my current home environment really was.  I started wondering just how much bacteria I was both breeding and redistributing with the wash cloths, towels, sponges, etc., that I had been using; and I wondered just what unknown effects my various cleaning chemicals might be having on our bodies.

My learning and questioning resulted in some quick conclusions for me.  I wanted to not just revamp my cleaning routine, but to make it better.  And I wanted to do that with Norwex.  My "Norwex Wish List" grew rather large in a hurry, and having been told of the unmatched hostess benefits offered by Norwex, I decided that the most economical way for me to get started with their products was to host a party.

That is just what I did a couple weeks ago, and having just received all my new cleaning supplies yesterday, my new and improved cleaning routine begins--with excitement, I might add--today!

I'm excited to be excited about something as humdrum as cleaning.  I realize that the excitement will probably wear off as the newness does, but I believe the reassurance that I have made a change for the better of my family will only grow with time.

My new Norwex supplies, most of which I received free through the Hosting program (and all of which I will use)!


Monday, September 19, 2011

I Guess They Were Right

"You're a busy mom...."

I can't begin to number the times I've heard that statement upon making any type of public appearance with my four young children.  I must admit, its overuse over the past couple years has bothered me some, mostly because I haven't felt all that "busy."  I suppose I have been... busy, that is... but I guess when you're busy doing what you have to do, you don't always take time to think about how busy you actually are.

Lately, however, I can say that the common opinion that I am a busy mom has felt quite true.  For one thing, the return of the school year has taken a considerable chunk of time from my days.  After only four weeks of teaching a kindergartner and a preschooler simultaneously, I have found myself further behind in housework than I've been in while.  Indeed, I can't deny that homeschooling is keeping me busy.

Oddly enough, though, that wasn't what changed my mind on the "busyness" assessment.  It was the countless number of times in a day that I hear, "Mom, Mommy, Mom!" that caused me just the other day to stop and say to myself, "Yes... yes, I guess I am busy."  I am the go-to person for four kids.  I am the helper for every need.  I am the answer-er for every question.  I am the listener for every story.  I am the entertainer of every idea.  I am a mother of four, and I. Am. Busy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Long Awaited Reunion

I think our busy (but fun!) summer is unofficially over.  This past weekend saw us traveling once again, this time on the road to my hometown for my 10-year high school class reunion.  I have looked forward to my class reunion(s) since before I ever graduated from high school, and I can say that 10+ years down the road, I enjoyed being there just as much as I had anticipated.

I grew up in small town Nebraska, and though I now live neither in a small town nor in Nebraska, a piece of my heart will always remain there.  It's part of who I am.  My past is there, and that means a lot of memories are there.

Obviously, I have been back home many times over the past 10 years.  However, when the purpose of the trip was to attend a class reunion, more memories and emotions were evoked than what I would get from the typical we're-going-to-Grandma's-house trip.

Reuniting with old friends--people who share so much of my past--really was a most unique feeling.  We engaged in good conversation almost as if it hadn't been 10 years since we last did so.  There was a sense of camaraderie in the comfortableness of it all.  It felt good to be back together again.

Some of the girls at our reunion luncheon
Two of my best girlfriends from high school
11 of 35 classmates

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer Fun

Boy, has it been a fun-filled summer in the Squires household!  I haven't blogged in a little over two months, and I guess that's in part because we've been so busy having fun.  (According to my last post, June was a fun month, too, so I guess I didn't even miss a beat in my blogging absence....) ;-)

Are there any other sun-loving moms out there who feel like they need to cram as much fun into one summer as possible?  Perhaps it's partly because I don't like to go out in the winter, or perhaps it's because summer brings a break from school... but for whatever reason, this mom is heavy on the "summer fun"--this year, at least.

In early July, we made a trip to my sister's house in Omaha to celebrate both the Fourth of July and Amariah's 4th birthday (July 3rd).  While there we not only went to the best fireworks show we've ever seen (and put on a little backyard show of our own that wasn't too shabby!), but we also took our kids to the theater to see the newly-released Cars 2 movie and to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo.

July also provided each of our kids, two at a time, the chance to visit their grandparents (my parents) all by themselves for a week.  The kids had been begging to make the 400+ mile trip for a while, and we were glad for the opportunity to make that happen for them.

That wasn't the end of our July travel, though.  The month also saw us making the trip to Minneapolis twice--once for Travis' business meetings (which gave the kids and me an entire day to "waste" at the Mall of America!) and once for personal reasons (my long awaited shopping spree at IKEA!  More to come on that later!..).

The first part of August has also brought lots of fun, as we took our first real family vacation AND started our second year of homeschooling!  But, both of those exciting things deserve a post of their own, of course.  So, stay tuned, because there's more to come at Eternal Outlook as soon as I can take a break from having fun (oh... and from all the other things that keep me busy... ;-)) and find some time to blog!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fun is Good for the Soul

So far, the month of June has brought Travis and me a couple of what I think have been the most fun weekends we've had in a really long time, and I think it's due in part to the fact that we are moving beyond the baby stage of parenthood.

I'm certainly not saying that parenting babies isn't fun.  In fact, saying goodbye to the baby stage has been bittersweet for me.  I will definitely miss all the pleasures of babyhood, and yet, I am excited by the prospect of moving on (presuming that is what God has in store for us...).  I think our recent weekend fun has been a foretaste of what I was sure would come someday--an increased ease in getting out....

Saturday, June 4th, was Travis and my sixth wedding anniversary, and we celebrated it as a family.  After a nice dinner out with the kids that evening, we decided on a whim to visit Bass Pro Shop.  A store recently opened in our area, and since we hadn't all been there yet, we thought it would be fun to walk through it.  We joked that it seemed kind of redneck-ish for an anniversary date (Ha!), but we really enjoyed looking at the fish, the stuffed animals, the camping supplies.  We even tried out the little shooting range/hunting simulation thing.  (Okay, so I don't even know what it was called, but it was fun!  It was actually my first time ever holding a (fake) gun!)

This past weekend brought lots of fun, too, but this time of the kid-free sort.  (Thanks, Mom and Dad Squires!)  Thursday night, Travis and I went out for dinner and a movie and had a wonderful time.  (We saw Water for Elephants--pretty good!)  When we got home at 1:00 a.m. in the middle of a hard rainstorm, we went directly to the backyard to put a tarp over our new and as of yet un-shingled shed.  By the time we were done we were literally dripping with water, but I tell you what... it was fun.  We were together, we were laughing, and it didn't matter that we were wet and cold because we were simply enjoying our friendship.

The next day, Travis and I attended our first homeschooling conference, and I don't think "fun" is a big enough word to describe it.  Tons of useful information, books everywhere we looked... this information-seeking, book-loving couple was on Cloud 9.  I already knew going in that I'll be using Sonlight Curriculum again this year, so that took all the stress out of weeding through vendors and sifting through books.  Instead of looking to buy, I could simply enjoy the browsing!  (Although, I did heftily buy from one vendor.... :-))

Saturday we were without childcare, so Travis and I took turns attending portions of the homeschooling conference.  That afternoon, our family was honored to attend the beautiful wedding of our neighbor followed by a most lovely reception and super fun dance.  We haven't been able to really enjoy a wedding dance since our own, but this one was different... because we have exited the baby stage.  Instead of our children having to be held during the dance, they were right there beside us dancing the night away.  I can't remember the last time we've had so much fun together as a family as we did on that dance floor.

All that being said, I'm feeling a little lighter than I have in several years, and I'm enjoying that.  My responsibilities as a mother, homemaker, and wife have by no means lifted; but the ease of leaving the house--with or without kids--seems to be finally setting in.  I hope that as I find more freedom this summer I can strike a proper balance between work and play; because though there is work that has to be done, a little fun--even if it's just standing out in the pouring rain--is good for the soul!

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Women "Knead" Power Tools, Too!

I have some new power tools, and I can't wait to use them!...

A little over a year and a half ago, I started making my own bread; and after several months, lots of practice, and many failures, I finally started turning out loaves I wasn't embarrassed of.  Going into bread-making, I had no idea how much of an art it really is; but my perseverance eventually began resulting in consistently good bread, and I began feeling like I finally knew what I was doing.  I even got confident enough to try a different recipe and was extremely pleased when I found quick success with it.

But the success was fleeting.  After several good batches of bread with the new recipe, I suddenly began having problems again.  Lots of troubleshooting revealed a couple adjustments I could make to possibly return to better results--and though they did help some, I still wasn't happy with the loaves I was producing.

It was only just a few days ago that I finally realized my 18-month old KitchenAid mixer was the true problem.  It started acting up a couple months ago--dragging at times during both the wheat grinding process and the kneading process--but I didn't know how much this was affecting the quality of my bread until I finally broke down last Thursday and hand-kneaded my dough, producing the best loaves I've made since switching recipes.

This was proof enough to me that my mixer needed to be replaced.  I had in mind to buy another KitchenAid one with a little more wattage, but perfect timing stopped me from making that mistake before it was too late:  I attended a bread-making presentation by Paula's Bread, an authorized Bosch distributor, the next day.

"Kneadless" to say, I was sold on the Bosch Universal Plus Kitchen Machine before the presentation's end, and my awesome husband bought me one later the same day!  (He bought me a L'Equip Nutrimill, too! :-))  I am putting my new power tool to work for the first time today, and I anticipate some great results!

Photo Credit


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kids Say, vol. 13

Me (after reading a children's poem about Jesus' death and resurrection):  "Where is Jesus now?"

Amariah:  "In heaven!"
Abel:  "In your heart."

Me:  "Yes, Jesus is alive, and the Bible says He is in heaven at the right hand of God the Father!  And, He wants to live in your heart!  So, how does he get inside your heart?"

Abel:  "You have to believe."

Amariah:  "No, you have to open your mouth like this... and hold real still, and then close it when He gets in."

Friday, June 3, 2011

24-Month Stats

Isabel and Elliana had their two-year well child exams this morning. Their stats are below. (Notice that Isabel has finally made it onto the charts with her weight!)

Isabel (24 months)
Weight: 22 lbs (3rd percentile)
Height: 32 in (10th percentile)

Elliana (24 months)
Weight: 24.5 lbs (25th percentile)
Height: 33.5 in (50th percentile)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Double the Pleasure

I think there may be nothing cuter than the way a 24-month old child talks.  Well... maybe there is--the way two 24-month old children talk....

Isabel and Elliana are in the cutest stage of communication right now.  Their speech is still slightly unclear, and many of their sentences consist of about one word; and yet I can understand almost everything they say.  In their innocent and imperfect two-year old way, they ask me questions and tell me stories, they converse with each other and with Abel and Amariah, and they get better at it every day.

That's what panics me a bit.  It's not so much the fact that they are outgrowing their clothes or learning to dress themselves or climbing ladders or keeping up with their big brother and sister that gets me.  No, it's their developing communications that make me confront the fact that my "babies" are becoming "kids," and they'll never be babies again.

I know as well as any other mother that each stage of childhood has joys of its own--and, because of that, I've never had much trouble saying goodbye to babyhood in the past.  I suppose what makes this time a little different is that, as far as we know, this is our final goodbye to babyhood.  As I say farewell with reminiscent eyes, my heart rejoices in the blessing it has been to be able to enjoy each special stage doubly this last time around.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Our Last Day!

Today in the Squires household marked the final day of a great first year of homeschooling!  Bringing something so big to completion is always super exciting and rewarding; yet the kids and I have enjoyed our schooling so much that we all seem to have some mixed feelings about it being over for the year.  The last day of school was always a little bittersweet for me when I was a student because I loved school so much, and I guess I'm finding out that the same is true for me even now as the teacher.

As we've been finishing up several different books over the past few weeks, Abel and Amariah have already been making plans for reading them again.  I must say, going back through such great books won't bother me any.  I tell you, I never knew children's books could be so lovable and so educational!  In fact, one of the best parts of our homeschooling journey so far has been the fact that I'm not only the teacher--I'm a student, too!  I have learned and re-learned so much!  Learning alongside my children even as I teach them has re-ignited in me my love of books and learning, and I am so excited to be on this learning journey with them!

Indeed, Summer Break is just beginning; but this 28-year old Mommy-Teacher-Student is already asking...

Is it time for Kindergarten yet?... :-)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Family Pictures 2011

(L to R) Isabel, Angela, Amariah, Travis, Elliana, Abel

Our 6-year wedding anniversary is coming up on June 4th!

(L to R) Elliana, Amariah, Abel, Isabel

Abel Ray, 5 years

Amariah Grace, 3 years 11 months

Isabel Hope, 2 years

Elliana Faith, 2 years

Abel and Amariah, our "A Team"

(L to R) Elliana Faith and Isabel Hope

Travis Ray and Abel Ray

Angela

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Beautiful Girls

Isabel Hope, 23 months

Elliana Faith, 23 months

Amariah Grace, 3 years 10 months

Amariah's first up-do

Isabel and Amariah

Friday, April 29, 2011

Kids Say, vol. 12

Me:  (singing)
Abel (in an irritated voice):  "Mommy, don't sing!  You're making me dance!"

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Amariah:  "Mommy, did you know that mouths are like 'chewing trashcans' because the food goes into your tummy and turns to poop?"

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Abel:  "This motel only has a toilet and toilet paper.  Can you imagine that they don't have poop spray or fart fans?"

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Abel:  "If you obey the Lord, He will do great things for you.  John 25:4."
Me:  "Where did you learn that?"
Abel:  "I just made it up in my head."


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Snippets of Life

Hands busy in the soapy dishwater, I glanced out the kitchen window from where I stood working.  A couple blocks down an elderly couple walked side-by-side, both of them moving in a manner that told of the number of their days.  As I watched them, my eyes flooded with tears while my mind flooded with thoughts.  How long have they been married?  What experiences have they come through?  What were they like in the vibrance of their youth?  I pondered these questions while internally battling the conflicting emotions they produced in me.  Oh, Lord, will Travis and I have the privilege of living to a ripe old age together?  What experiences will we go through in the days and years ahead?  What will it be like to live in a body racked with age?...

....

It was late.  The kids had been in bed for several hours, and I was sitting at the computer catching up on the day's Facebook statuses.  My mom, who worked as a nurse for 20 years--and in a nursing home for 19 of them--had penned a status that struck me and stuck with me:  "When I visit my mother in the nursing home, I talk to so many who never get calls or visits from their families.  They tell me about the loved ones they miss so much and long to 'just get a call from them.  Have they forgotten me?'  Please, if you have an elder in your life, take time to talk to them.  If you don't, adopt one as yours.  Their days are difficult and lonely.  You can make a difference."

....

I sat in the local nursing home while the residents were being brought in for the church service which was about to start.  It was my third time volunteering to help with the monthly service led there by members of my church. The times before had been only joyful and rewarding; but, this time another emotion began to play in my heart.  I looked across the room full of women and men--mostly women--whom I assumed had probably known Jesus for many years, who each had lived unique lives full of real experiences, with each of whom God is every bit as intimately acquainted as He is with me.  I looked at these people who needed help because they could no longer help themselves, and I began to fight back tears.

....

"But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God." (1 Timothy 5:4, ESV)

"But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."  (1 Timothy 5:8, ESV)

"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."  (James 1:27, NASB)

....

I have elders in my life.  It's about time I invest in theirs.


Friday, April 22, 2011

I've Been Occupied.

I haven't been here to share my thoughts much lately.  So, what's been on my mind?  Shopping, American Idol, and Heaven, mostly....

Shopping
I've admitted before that there is something about the change of seasons that makes me want to shop.  New clothes, outdoor toys, lawn and landscaping enhancements... Spring never leaves me short of ways to spend money.  And, yes, I have been doing some spending.  I've hit a couple huge consignment sales during the past month and have pretty much taken care of my kids' clothing needs for spring and summer.  Travis and I have also purchased a new outdoor playset for our kids to replace one that a storm destroyed last summer.  The kids are dying for us to build it, and if the weather will cooperate this weekend, we are hoping to do just that!
And, I suppose I should admit that I've done a little shopping for myself, too.  In Dave Ramsey style, Travis and I allow ourselves a certain amount of "blow money" each month; and, anticipating my Spring Shopping Fever, I let my blow money accumulate through the winter so that I'd be able to get a few new things for spring.  My best find has been a cute little black dress off Von Maur's sale rack, marked down from $68 to $17--a deal which, as my mother-in-law teasingly chided Travis, left plenty of room in the budget for a cute new pair of shoes. :-)

American Idol
I admit it.  I'm kind of obsessed with American Idol this year.  I've watched many of the past seasons, but this one is different for me.  I am totally awestruck at the talent, and I've gotten pretty wrapped up in the show.  Each week I can hardly wait for Wednesday to come, and I'm disappointed when Thursday is over.  One of my favorite performances of the season, though it's not necessarily my style of music, was Haley and Casey's duet performance of "Moanin'."

To hear the unique and extraordinary talents of the contestants makes me stand in awe of the Creator God from whom such beautiful gifts come.  If singing can be this good on a fallen Earth, what will it be like in Heaven?!  Which, brings me the last thing that's been on my mind....

Heaven
I never had much motivation to understand what Heaven will be like until I had a baby go there.  I knew it's real, that God is there, that I'm going there, and that it's wonderful beyond my comprehension; and, I guess I thought that was enough.  In July 2008, however, I suffered a miscarriage, and I began longing for Heaven more than I ever had before.  While still in the acuteness of my pain, a sister in Christ who had also lost a baby offered me just the comfort I needed--a better understanding of the Place I was longing for.  She told me about Randy Alcorn's book Heaven, and I've been working my way through it since.  Most of my free time over the past couple months has been spent reading Heaven.  The more I read, the more I think.  The more I think, the more I wonder.  The more I wonder, the more I long.  To think that everything good in this world is only a dim reflection of the glories that await us in Heaven!  To think that I will one day meet Ande Lynn there for the first time!  To think that we will have eternity to live, work, play, eat, worship, enjoy, and discover on the New Earth!  Now that's enough to occupy my mind for a very long time....

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This is Me

Frugality is this: using a badly broken hand mirror for 7 1/2 years by choice.

Wisdom is this: going to Wal-Mart during the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship to replace it. (Empty parking lot, empty store.)

Stupidity is this: discovering that my long-delayed expenditure would total a whopping $2.28.

Embarrassment is this: realizing when I returned home that I had barbecue sauce all over my face.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Expecting a Visitor!

I.  Am.  EXCITED!  My mom is on her way to my house today for a week-long visit, and I can hardly wait!  With 400 miles in between us, we don't get to see my parents as often as we would like to; so when we do get time together like this, it's all the more special.

Mom and I have been looking forward to this week for over a month and have been talking about all the things we want to do during it, so we started joking that we needed to make an agenda.  Well, the list-maker that I am, I decided to do just that.  I sent Mom an email last week with my proposed plan and entitled it, "If the Lord Wills...".  :-)  Some of the things on our schedule include going out to lunch for my birthday, going to the Mother's of Multiples Garage Sale, going to the mall, attending my church's Women's Retreat, and, of course, spending lots of time with the kids.

And, speaking of the kids, I'm clearly not the only one excited about my mom's pending visit.  Abel called Grandma Tammy last night to ask her what time she would get here today.  When she told him it would be around supper time, he said, "How about closer to breakfast time?"

I'm with him, Mom.... Are you here yet?! ;-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Right Where I Belong

During school today, I gave Abel several word cards--dad, cat, can, lad, rat, pot, sis, pan, mom--and asked him to divide them into like categories.  Providing a little hint, I began by asking, "Which words are animals?"  Abel easily located 'cat' and 'rat' and separated them into a pile.  Moving on to the second category, I asked, "Which words belong in the kitchen?"  Abel quickly glanced over the cards and then held one up, saying, "'Mom' belongs in the kitchen...."

It wasn't quite the answer I was expecting (and probably not an answer that our feminist society would appreciate...); but, it was a good answer nonetheless.  After all, I do spend a large majority of each day in the kitchen--right where I belong, apparently.... ;-)

It's true, though, isn't it (in most cases, anyway), that the kitchen is Mom's territory?  When Travis and I were house hunting in early 2007, we laid out some must-haves for our new house; and, right at the top of my list was a kitchen with lots of cupboards, plenty of counter space, and good lighting.  The kitchen would be my primary work space as well as what we deemed the "hub of the household"; so, having the right kitchen was imperative.

And, I must say, the kitchen is what sold me on the house we bought.  I loved the kitchen.  I still do love my kitchen.  On occasion, while working in my kitchen, joy and thankfulness will suddenly overflow from my heart and I will randomly say to my husband, "Honey, I love my kitchen."  I do.  And, I enjoy caring for it.  Scrubbing the floors, polishing the stove top... it truly gives me great joy to maintain the kitchen which belongs to me to which I belong.

Maybe that's why I spend so much time there.  Or, is it because I have four hungry little mouths to feed?... Whatever the reason, I am thankful.  No matter how many times a day I have to sweep the floor, no matter how many fingerprints I have to scrub off the refrigerator door, I will enjoy being in my kitchen.  After all, it's the hub of our household, and it's right where I belong.



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Doing It Without Debt!

Last Friday, Travis and I made our first significant purchase since becoming debt-free; and, boy, did it feel good to do it without "fleasing" (Dave term) or financing!

A couple years ago, Travis and I looked into getting both a water conditioning system and a drinking water system installed in our home; and, as much as we wanted the goods, our quest for debt-freedom stopped us from making the purchase at the time.

Once we were debt-free and able to make the purchase in cash, though, there was nothing stopping us!  We re-researched companies last week, settled on Culligan, and on Friday became the outright owners of both a water softener and a reverse osmosis drinking system!  No talk of lease terms or interest rates or down payments--just the signing of a check and the shaking of a hand!

I tell you, as much I'm enjoying my new water, I'm enjoying the fact that we made a pretty significant purchase WITHOUT DEBT(!) just as much.  And, I think Dave would agree that that makes good water taste and feel even better!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Toy Storage

Toys. They are a never ending problem around here. Well, not the toys themselves, but the organization and storage of them. Every toy has a place, but I've never been quite satisfied with the look of those places. In my eyes, the kids' bedrooms and the basement family area, though they be picked up and tidy, just never really look good.

I'm itching for a solution. Just ask my husband. He knows. :-)

Part of the problem must undoubtedly be that we have never spent any money on toy storage solutions barring two inexpensive wicker baskets and a used cabinet, all of which I purchased to provide hidden toy storage for our living room (the look of which I am well pleased with, mind you :-)). For the bedrooms and the basement family room, however, we have basically relied on two plastic dressers which Travis had in his college apartment, a couple empty ice cream pails, and a few empty Velveeta boxes to adequately house the kids' toys. Admittedly, these frugal solutions worked well for a time; but now that the kids are growing and beginning to accumulate toy collections which will be kept and loved for years to come, I feel that the purchase of some practical, flexible, presentable toy storage solutions is moving beyond justified and verging on necessary.

Okay, maybe "necessary" is a little too strong a word... BUT!... In my defense, I am the manager of this household and I do hold a certain responsibility and desire to make my house be welcoming, accommodating, and eye-pleasing; and the lack of appropriate places to keep various toys is becoming an obstacle for this already decorating- and organizing-impaired woman. :-)

So...

I've been doing a little a lot of online shopping (the kind where you look but you don't spend... ahem... yet...); and I've come up with some reasonably priced ideas that I think might just work! Ah! Just the thought of having every toy in a place that makes sense and looks good makes me smile!

Now, onto the next obstacle--convincing my husband to take me to IKEA.... ;-)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Time

This has been one of those weeks for me where the days just slip by in busyness that can't even be accounted for.  At the end of each day, I felt like I still needed an extra five hours, and I wasn't even sure why I had run out of time.

As I thought about the constant race against the clock that this earthly life seems to be, I began pondering what it will be like in heaven when we are no longer constrained by limited time.  Time will still pass, but as Randy Alcorn says in his book Heaven, "[its] passing will no longer threaten us" (pg. 269) because "[it] won't be a diminishing resource about to end" (pg. 269).  "When the Curse is lifted... time will never work against us.  We won't run out of it.  Time will bring gain, not loss" (pg. 268-269).  How incredible is the thought of time working with us, giving to us instead of taking from us?!  I, for one, can hardly wait for that!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blog Party: Meet Me!

Lynnette at Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground is hosting a blog party that begins today and goes through March 8th, and I'm linking up!  If you would like to get in on meeting some other bloggers and even be entered in a drawing for some fabulous prizes, click on the button below to see how!

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Welcome to Eternal Outlook!  I'm Angela, and this is my blog.  I love to write, I love to learn, and I love to share; and, I strive to do it all in the light of eternity.  You can learn more about me and about this blog by clicking on the About Me link near the top of this page, by perusing the archives, and by checking out the answers to Lynnette's party questions which follow!

How would people describe your personality (if they could use only ONE word)?
Positive.

What celebrity/celebrities would create in you a "star-struck" feeling if you saw them in real life?
Michael Jackson would have.  And, I think Lynnette would, too, because she is well-known in Blogland while still being real and approachable. :-)

Who is your favorite blogger?  Why?
Of course, I love Lynnette.  I don't know her in real life, but her blog tells me that she is loving, sincere, wise, and fun.  But, how can I pick just one favorite blogger?  I also love September--another sweet, smart, caring woman whom I would love to know personally--and Amber--my best friend in real life.

What is your comfort food/drink?
I suppose that would be chocolate, although I try not to eat much of it these days.

Be brave--tell us something very weird and random about yourself.
I wash and reuse Ziploc baggies.

Movies:  Action, Drama, Romantic Comedy, Documentary, Comedy?  What are your favorite genres?
I like Dramas, especially those that are based on some historical truth or event.

Books:  Fiction, Non-Fiction, Romance, Biographies, True Stories, Self-help, Devotional/Study?  What are your favorite types of reading material?
I enjoy Bible study books, certain non-fiction books (if the topic is right), and some Christian fiction (specifically, Francine Rivers!).  Several of my favorite books are listed under the My Bookshelf tab near the top of this page.

Music:  Funk, Rock, Country, Jazz, Classical, Film Score, Blues, Classic Rock, Crooner, Alternative, Heavy Metal, Techno?  What are your favorite types?
I mostly listen to Christian music for the sake of lyrical content; but I do enjoy the sound of pop, rock, and some country.  Oh, and I recently discovered that I love the sound of African music!  (Check out this song by the Soweto Gospel Choir.  I love the harmonies, the energy, and the way it builds!)

If you inherited a million dollars, what is the first thing you would do with your money?
After taking at least ten percent off the top for a tithe, I am certain that my husband would agree that we would immediately pay off the remainder of our mortgage!  Then, we would be completely debt-free!

Name one weakness of yours.
I tend to get lost in my own thoughts--especially when I am writing--and not hear others who are speaking to me.  I am aware of this and have been working on it, because I know it hurts those whom I love the most.

If you could live anywhere at all (and take all your loved ones with you), where would you go?
I would love to live where the temperatures are in the 80s all year round.

Do you have a strange talent?
I suppose my strange talent is that I can write with both hands.  When I was in college, I slowly and mysteriously began losing the ability to write right-handed (I was eventually diagnosed with a focal point dystonia of the forearm, more commonly known as "Writer's Cramp."); and, out of necessity, I taught myself to write left-handed.  I am thankful to say that the effects of my dystonia have now greatly subsided to the point that I am able to once again write with my right hand.

What is something you consider yourself to be good at?
I consider myself to be a good writer.

What is one of your favorite things to catch a whiff of?
My husband. :-)

If money wasn't a factor, what stores would you shop in?
Honestly, I'm not really aware of the stores that are outside my current price range since they aren't an option; but there are a few specific items that I would buy right now if money were no object. :-)
  • a right-hand ring
  • fashion jewelry from Lia Sophia
  • a gym-quality treadmill

What is your greatest accomplishment?
Well, I recently potty trained my 20 1/2-month old twins in a total of eight days, and I think that's pretty amazing!  Oh, and... my husband and I just became debt-free (besides our mortgage) at the young age of 27!

What are your favorite animals?
I love horses.  I grew up with them; and, as much as I enjoyed riding, I even more enjoyed just being with them.  I used to think that I would one day try to work part-time in a stable.  I also thought I was going to go to Law school.... :-)

What movie or book character can you most relate to?
I don't know that I necessarily relate to her, but my all time favorite movie character is probably Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail.


Monday, February 28, 2011

We're Debt Free!

WE'RE DEBT FREEEEEE!!!  On Saturday, 40 months after beginning our Total Money Makeover, Travis and I officially completed our "debt snowball," bringing our grand debt-payoff total to $47,873.92.  Included in that total were three student loans, two vehicles, two store credit cards, and three babies. :-)

As exciting as it is to be moving beyond the bondage of debt and into the blessings of preparing for the future (financially speaking), we recognize that our security must always be found in God alone and not in our finances.  We must keep an eternal perspective, knowing that even as we begin saving money for the future, we more importantly ought to be storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21)... like Abel did on Saturday....

In order to allow our kids to share with us in the excitement of being debt free, we gave Abel and Amariah each $20 to spend as they would choose.  As I began asking Abel what he might consider spending his money on, he decidedly announced, almost through tears, that he would be using his money to buy something for a couple kids who he apparently thought needed a new toy more than he did.  Travis and I were so blessed to see his selfless and sensitive heart as he confidently and joyfully carried through with his decision.  We watched as he, with humility of mind, regarded others as more important than himself, looking out not merely for his own personal interests, but for the interests of others (see Philippians 2:3-4).

As we enter into our newfound debt-freedom, we seek to--like Abel--be faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted to us.  We are so thankful for God's provision in our lives, and we give Him the glory as we scream, "WE'RE DEBT FREEEEEE!!!"

Friday, February 25, 2011

The "Dawn" of Laundry Success

In honor of Laundry Day--and in light of the many loads of laundry I processed over the past week and a half of potty training--I would like to share my latest and greatest laundry discovery!

I've mentioned here before that stain removal has been one of my unsolved laundry problems.  Aside from finding that Fels-Naptha works great on baby poop stains (and on the stains that form around the collars and cuffs of my husband's dress shirts, I've recently found), the past several years of dealing with child-induced clothing stains has left me frustrated and perplexed.  The frugal perfectionist that I am, I am scarcely able to accept a stain as irremovable on even the oldest of child play clothes.  I suppose I could say that I've made it my unofficial mission to keep my family's clothing in as "like new" condition as possible.

A while back when I discovered melted chocolate all down the front of Isabel's brand new white shirt, I was determined to salvage it.  I went to the trusty Internet and did a search for "how to remove a chocolate stain from cotton."  I found this eHow.com article, and decided to give it a try--with Dawn dishsoap.  Here are the steps I followed in order to save a white shirt from what could have been certain death by M&Ms.
  1. Run cold water from the back of the item to loosen the stain.
  2. Saturate the stain with Dawn dish soap and rub lightly.  Allow the soap to set for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Gently rub the ends of the stained fabric together to help agitate the soap.
  4. Soak the stained fabric in cold water for about 15 minutes, lightly rubbing the stained area every few minutes to help loosen it.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until the stain disappears, and then launder as usual.
Since the M&M incident, I have also used this same stain removal process to conquer both a tomato-based stain (on another cotton shirt) and a black stain which I believe was grease (on a pair of poly/wool dress pants).

Fels-Naptha bar soap and Dawn dish soap:  two common (and cheap!) soaps for the most common of laundry stains!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Joel Northrup: Conscience and the World

Joel Northrup, an Iowa high school wrestler, has been all over the news for his recent decision to not wrestle a girl at the state tournament.  When Joel, a contender for the title, drew Cassy Herkelman (one of the first two females to qualify for Iowa's state wrestling tournament in its history) as his first round opponent, he was faced with a decision that put his Christian faith up against his hope of athletic success.  In a move of great character and integrity, Joel defaulted the match in favor of following his conscience; but, all the the world will see is that he refused to wrestle a girl.

Despite Joel's explanation of his decision (in which he stated, "Wrestling is a combat sport, and it can get violent at times. As a matter of conscience and my faith, I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner."), the media and countless others are hung up on the so-called disrespect Joel has shown Cassy and even women in general.  Really?  Since when has it been disrespectful for a young man to treat a young lady like a lady?  Since when has it been chauvinistic for a boy to not seek to dominate a girl?

I don't get it.

But, then again, neither does the world.  The world does not understand Joel's decision because it was based on Christian faith and conscience--two things the world is utterly opposed to.  I feel both angry and disheartened as I read and listen to the irrational and hollow arguments of those who fail to see beyond the gender issue they have chosen to make of this.  Admittedly, there is a definite gender component involved.  After all, Joel defaulted on the match because his opponent was a female.  But, what the world fails to recognize is that underlying Joel's decision to not wrestle a female was his resolve to not violate his conscience.

Travis and I happen to know the Northrup family personally, and we can attest to the fact that they are an upstanding Christian family who in no way seek to diminish women.  What a shame that Joel is being painted on a national level as anything less than the fine young man of integrity that he is.  And, what a shame we live in a world that is rocked and shocked by one of the most honorable conscience-based decisions this generation has seen.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Potty Training: The 3-Day Method

When I found out several months ago that a method existed for completely potty training a child in three days, I knew I would likely be using it for my twin daughters.  Any method that could guarantee I wouldn't have to relive the 18-month long nightmare that was Amariah's potty training would be worth a shot, I thought.   As it turns out, I was right.

There are at least a couple different 3-day potty training methods out there; but, I chose this one because it was the one for which I had heard personal testimonies.  I purchased the eBook, emailed the author with a few twins-specific questions, chose a start date after carefully studying my calendar, and began preparing myself for what I expected to be the toughest three days of my life.  (Okay, so maybe not THE toughest, but pretty intense nonetheless.)

As the author had warned me might be the case with training two children at once, three days was not quite enough to simultaneously potty train my girls.  Isabel was trained by the end of Day 6 and Elliana by the end of Day 8.  So, while it was indeed a longer process than the method's guaranteed three days, I feel that six or eight days is still astounding--especially after the overly long periods of time I spent potty training my first two children.

If you are looking for a method of quickly and effectively potty training your child, I would definitely recommend www.pottytrainingbasics.com.  The eBook was only $17, and with the purchase I got email support from the author (which was very helpful).

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm Back!

At the end of a two-week break from blogging, I'm back and feeling spiritually refreshed but physically exhausted.  (Extra time in the Word was refreshing, potty training twins was exhausting.)  I have missed writing, but it seems that I truly did need a little break from it.  There are only so many hours in my day, and sometimes something just has to give.

Thanks for your patience during my absence here.  I hope to tell more about the events of the past two weeks in the coming days; but, for now, I must call it a night. :-)

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Note to My Readers

Dear Readers,

I have decided for a couple different reasons that I will be taking a break from blogging this week.  Not only am I preparing to potty train Isabel and Elliana this coming weekend, but I am also feeling the need for a time of refocusing on my first love--Jesus.

If all goes according to plan, I'll be back at Eternal Outlook early next week!  Thanks for reading, friends.

With love,
Angela

Friday, February 4, 2011

Not Fun, but Fruitful!

My mom always says that she can count on one hand the number of times she had to spank me when I was a child.  I think I remember a couple of those instances myself.  Not fun. :-)

No discipline is pleasant, is it.  Hebrews 12:11a says,
"All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful."
Chastisement is never fun.

I couldn't prepare a blog post for yesterday because when it came time for me to write, I was busy having some "not fun."  I was in the midst of some discipline from the Lord, and my heart was sick with that feeling you get when you know you've done something wrong.  You know the one.

The thing is, the wrong which I had inadvertently committed and of which I had been immediately convicted was one that I had already confessed to God.  I knew He had forgiven me, so when that awful feeling of guilt still hadn't left me even after several days--at which point it actually greatly intensified--I realized that God was disciplining me.  He was requiring me to confess my sin to the person who was affected by it even though unaware of it.  (As our pastor said on Sunday, sin is never singular.  It always affects both the sinner and at least one other person.)

I felt mortified.  I found myself thinking, "Please God, tell me I'm misinterpreting this.  Can't it just be enough to keep this between You and me?"  But, of course, I knew what must be done.  God had disciplined me in this same way twice before; and as "not fun" as His requirement of me had seemed, my obedience in the matter had resulted in great peace.  I knew it would be the same way this time.  I knew that I must obediently face the consequences of my sin and that when I did my burden would be lifted.  And, it was.

You see, there is a second half to the verse I shared above.
"All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Hebrews 12:11)
The moment I finished confessing my sin to the person whom it had affected, a great weight lifted from me.  That heart sick I-know-I've-done-something-wrong feeling departed from me, and I was relieved and blessed to be past the "not fun" part of the Lord's discipline and on to the "peaceful yields" of it.

I "do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, for [I know that] those whom the Lord loves He disciplines" (see Hebrews 12:5-6); and I also know that "He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness" (Hebrews 12:10b).

It would take several hands to count the number of times that God has disciplined me.  Among them there are a few especially painful instances (this one included) that I will never forget.  They weren't fun at the time, but ultimately they made me more greatly aware of not only my need for continued sanctification but also of my Savior's love for me.
"My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights." (Proverbs 3:11-12)
I am thankful that my Father loves me enough to correct me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Refuge

As I write this from the warmth and safety of my comfortable home, the 26 mph northerly wind outside my window is angrily blowing the snow that continues to fall and is causing the 11 degree temperature to feel like a -10.  What a night to be thankful for the haven that is my home, my refuge from the storm.

Winter storm or not, we all need a refuge, don't we?  The mother of young children needs a refuge from the noise.  The husband with great responsibility needs a refuge from the stress.  We all need a refuge from something.  One frazzled mother flees to the shopping mall while another retreats to "FaceBlogging" (as Abel calls it :-)).   One mentally and physically tired husband zones out in front of the television and another escapes to the gym.  We all need relief from time to time, and we have all found our ways of coping with the demands of life.  But, no matter how seemingly effective are the temporal saviors to which we run, they are just that--temporal.

There is only one Savior who is a sure bet.  There is only One on whom I can rely to never fail me.  There is only One who will be there to help me no matter what happens.  What an assurance is mine when I reflect on the fact that "God is [my] refuge and strength, [my] very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1)!  What joy I feel in knowing that I can "trust in Him at all times... [and] pour out [my] heart before Him... [because] God is a refuge for [me]" (Psalm 62:8)!



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Not Done, But... Over!

About three months ago I became convicted that I was spending too much of my time online and not enough on task; and, with a renewed focus, I began taking extra effort to not "eat the bread of idleness" (see Proverbs 31:27).  The changes I made were spurred on by nothing more than a simple desire to live out the Word of God.  I gave no thought to what the rewards of obedience might look like (or even if there would be any); but, I must testify after the fact that there have been benefits of "look[ing] well to the ways of [my] household" (Proverbs 31:27)--benefits that go beyond the obvious pleasure of having a neat, clean home.

They say that a mother's work is never done--and, indeed, it isn't.  There is always "just one more thing" (or twenty) that we could do.  So, no, a mother's work is never done.  But... it can be over.

There are for me certain tasks that almost have to be completed before I can call it a day.  This has only ever been a problem for my family when too much of my work spills over into the evening hours because I failed to work hard enough during the day.  Too much of my day wasted in idleness meant that the time of day that should have been spent relaxing and enjoying my family (evening) was instead spent doing the most necessary of the stuff that should have been done earlier in the day.  The elimination of this problem has been the greatest reward for my increased efforts to "look well to the ways of my household."

At the end of a busy and successful day (where success is measured by the number of items checked off my list :-)), I not only have fewer tasks that must still be done but I also have greater peace in just being done.  I know that I have accomplished much during the day, and I know that I will be working hard to accomplish much again the next day; and that allows me to see my work--while never "done"-- as simply "over" for the day.

The peace and joy I feel in my heart each evening while sitting carefree on the floor enjoying my kids and engaging with my husband is just another confirmation to me that God's ways are better than mine.  I have eaten the bread of idleness, and I have tasted the fruit of hard work.  With God's help, I'll stick with the fruit.
"She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." (Proverbs 31:27)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Grandma Verla

I have been working my way through Debi Pearl's Created to be His Help Meet, and some of the reading I was doing yesterday got me to thinking about how so much of who I am and what I know has been passed on to me from the older generations of women in my family.  Whether I have learned from their direct teaching or from my passive observation of them, they have undoubtedly held great influence in my life.

One of these women whose life has impacted me both directly and indirectly is turning 80 today!  It's neat to think about the fact that the 80-year life of my maternal grandmother, so much of which is a mystery to me, is a part of my history, too; because, whether I realize it or not, who she is has affected who I am.

My grandma isn't fond of the camera (although it has always been very fond of her!), but she did happily take a picture with me this past Thanksgiving.

Happy birthday, Grandma Verla!  I am thankful for your life and your legacy.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Free Time, Fresh Air, and a Friend

I love my job as a homemaker, and I wouldn't trade it for anything; but... sometimes, especially after a week as big as this one has been, I really enjoy getting out of the house by myself for just a little while.  Yesterday was a beautiful January day here in central Iowa; and with only a few things on my grocery list for the rest of the month, I decided that a leisurely late-night trip to the grocery store was a perfect and timely excuse to get out.

While I was at the store, accomplishing my shopping without the usual hurriedness of a mother of four, I ran into a friend who was also enjoying a little late-night outing.  We got to talking about everything from vaccinations to homemade bread to android applications.  It was wonderful.

When I finally made it home with my handful of groceries, I felt totally rejuvenated.  I was encouraged, I was thankful, I was refreshed.... It's amazing what just a little trip to the grocery store can do for this mama. :-)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kids Say, vol. 11: Baring the Heart

"But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart...." (Matthew 15:18)
Raising children is a lot of work for a lot of reasons.  Parenthood requires sacrifice, selflessness, sometimes sleeplessness.  It involves teaching and training, preaching and praying.  From diapers to discipline, nothing about parenting is easy.  Yes, bringing up kids is hard work; but it certainly isn't without reward.  Reward may look like a lot of things--the child's unquestioning obedience, sincere thankfulness, true repentance, happy countenance--and these, among other things, are the results we hard working parents want to see in our children.  We want to see these rewarding behaviors because through them we see the state of that which is really at stake--the heart of the child.  When I catch glimpses of my children's hearts through words like these that follow, I know without a doubt that Travis' and my parenting efforts are paying off....



Abel (pumping his fist and trying to psych himself up):  "Mommy, I really wanna eat all my soup to make you proud.... I'm attempting to do it.... I'm gonna do it...."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Abel (while hugging me):  "I'm so glad God gave you babies.  I love my sisters."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Abel (just after getting reprimanded by me for a bad attitude):  "Mommy, I just want to go pray.... God, please change my mind.  I really want to be nice.  Please just help me, God.  I really want to change.  Please change my mind...."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Trusting Now Despite Later

Sometimes I find myself getting caught up in the unknown and even becoming slightly fearful of it.  As a person who has placed her faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, I feel slightly hesitant to admit that the potential realities of the uncertain future trouble me at times.  I know that God has promised to never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5) and that He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7) and that He will supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19); and I even know that He has told me not to fear (Isaiah 41:10).  But still I allow myself to think that there are certain "you never know"s that I could never handle.

I was chatting with my sister about some of this a couple nights ago, sharing with her one of my "fears," when she simply and wisely said, "Don't be fearful.  You just have to live with faith."  I hadn't gone into the conversation looking to learn anything; but God, in His marvelous way, was reminding me through her succinct words that I just have to trust Him.  Never has He failed to see me through a trial and never would He.  In a future that is filled with uncertainties, He alone is the constant on which I can rely.  Nothing could ever happen that would separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

What the Lord seems to be showing me is that I need to trust Him not only in the future but also with my future.  I will continue to pray for spiritual and physical protection for myself and those whom I love; but I must also trust God now despite what might happen later.
"'Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'" (Isaiah 41:10)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Becoming a Help Meet

I've just spent most of what is supposed to be my blogging time reading.  Debi Pearl's Created To Be His Help Meet, as hard a book as it is to pick up, can be a pretty hard book to put down.  Because of its challenging nature, I normally limit myself to reading only one chapter in a sitting in order to allow for ample processing time; so now that I've just read three chapters at once, I feel like I need to just sit and stare at a wall and think... and pray.

The next time I pick up Created To Be His Help Meet, I will be beginning Part 2 of the book--what Debi refers to as the "Eight Practical Game Rules" from Titus 2:
  1. to be sober,
  2. to love their husbands,
  3. to love their children,
  4. to be discreet,
  5. chaste,
  6. keepers at home,
  7. good,
  8. obedient to their own husbands.
Sounds good, doesn't it?!  I'm pretty excited to dive in.  I expect that it will take me years to thoroughly understand my role as Travis' help meet--and years more to fully become that--but my heart is ready to learn.    

Monday, January 24, 2011

Battling Discontentment

There is something about Winter that tries to make me discontent.  I think it's the part where I stay cooped up in the house all season long because I don't like to drag my family out in the cold.  When I'm stuck (by choice) at home, I have more time to look around and notice all the things I'd like to change--to think about all the things I'd like to do or to buy--and I start to become discontent.

Discontentment is a hard thing for me to admit, because I neither want to be discontent nor have I any reason to be discontent.  God has blessed me with all that I need and more, and to respond with anything less than utter gratefulness and contentment seems so... ugly.  I have already been given so much more than I could ever deserve.  How dare I seek for more?

As the Bible instructs in Hebrews 13:5a, I want to "make sure that [my] character is free from the love of money, being content with what [I] have."  I know that "the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and [that] some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:10); and I know that I must flee these things, pursuing not the things that money brings, but pursuing instead righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness (see 1 Timothy 6:11).  These are the things that profit.

I often instruct my children that when they are about to complain they ought to instead think of something for which they are thankful.  This week, I am going to purposely practice what I preach.  When I am tempted to express a lack of gratitude by longing for a Winter getaway, I will instead thank God for a steady job and a warm home.  When I am tempted to feed discontentment by shopping for new storage solutions, I will instead thank God for a pantry full of food and supplies and closets full of clothing.  ("If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (1 Timothy 6:8).)

Forgive me, Lord, for my grumbling.  Forgive me for my ungratefulness.  Keep me from the love of money, and help me to always be content with what I have.  You know what I need even before I ask You (Matthew 6:8), and You have promised to never desert me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).  In You I trust, and to You I am thankful.  You are all I need.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Mission of Motherhood

Well, I said I was going to start reading more this year; and, thanks to September and the book read she is hosting, I am ready to officially begin working my way through my reading list!

Nearly two years ago, my sister-in-law gave me Sally Clarkson's The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity; but, my lack of time for pleasure reading has kept this book on the shelf... until now!  I was pretty excited when I learned that September is inviting her readers to go through this book along with her.  If you are interested in joining up, there's still time--we start this coming Tuesday!  Just head over to One September Day for the details, and leave a comment for September letting her know you're in!

I'll leave you with this excerpt from the book's back cover....
"No calling is greater, nobler, or more fulfilling than that of motherhood.  Every day, as we nurture our children, mothers influence eternal destiny as no one else can.  Tragically, today's culture minimizes the vital importance of a mother's role.  By catching a vision of God's original design and allowing it to shape your life, you can rediscover the joy and fulfillment that can be found in the strategic role to which God in all his wisdom has called you, for a purpose far greater than you can ever imagine." 

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