Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cute kid

Make sure your sound is turned on. This kid is too cute!

video

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Everything is sacred

For you mothers that get bogged down with the "drudgery" of life, get a fresh perspective from Nancy here in this article.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The God of the Full House

This is a very thought-provoking article.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Announcing...


Baby #4 is on their way!!! Yeah! I am just shy of the three month mark in my pregnancy. We wanted to wait until this point to make our announcement just in case we miscarried. So... coming late June 2008, our newest edition to the Duckwall family will be making their grand appearance. Thankfully with this pregnancy, my morning sickness is tolerable. It actually turned out to be more of an evening sickness- which works out well because RD's home to help out.
God is so good. We are just thrilled to be welcoming yet another child into our family!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Feedblitz

For anyone interested, you can now receive e-mail notifications when this weblog gets updated. Look at the right side of the screen, directly under my profile information. You can subscribe there. Thanks.

Submission (Part II)

Let's start at the very beginning.
A very good place to start.
When you read you begin with "A B C".
With the Bible you begin with "Gen-e-sis".

(Sorry, I had to. I felt a song coming on. For those of you that have no idea what that was all about, go and watch "The Sound of Music".)

Anyways...

Genesis- the book of Beginnings. There in the first three chapters lies the blueprint of all existence as we know it. We're going to take a look at both pre- and post-Fall attributes of mankind so we can see more clearly how God intended life to be and how it was marred by sin. When we can see the backdrop of God's beautiful, original, created design we can then see the ugliness and scarring of sin upon the earth in the foreground.

As we look into the book of Genesis, we must fight the temptation of "familiarity". Sometimes when we've seen something countless times we face the tendency to "tune out" and miss the opportunity to learn new information. Pray that God will give you a fresh view and understanding of His Word, an open heart, and new eyes to see. May our hearts and minds be transformed.

How are man and woman alike?

"27 Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
28 And God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
Genesis 1:27-28

These verses tell us a few things:
1) man and woman are created with equal worth and value in God's eyes
2) man and woman are created in God's image and likeness (meaning that both genders have the following God-like attributes: mind, will, emotion, conscience, intellect, creativity, and personality)
3) man and woman's bodies were fashioned and created by God Himself (bearing similar structure and function)
4) man and woman were both given the Garden Mandate (that is: to rule, subdue, and produce upon the earth)
5) man and woman are designed for work
6) man and woman are given reproductive capacities

These were just a few of the ways (from Genesis) that I have noted similarities between man and woman. Later in Scripture we see other shared characteristics of the genders:
1) Christ died for both man and woman; both can accept and receive Christ's forgiveness of sins and enter into eternal life (John 3:16)
2) both have equal access to God
3) both can have a vibrant, active, growing relationship with God
4) both can equally participate in prayer, Bible Study, memorization/meditation, etc.
5) both can attend church and participate in baptism, communion, and missions
6) both can teach the Bible (more on this topic later)
7) both have been given spiritual gifts that are to be used
8) both are expected to witness and proclaim the Good News of salvation
9) both are expected to confess sins and grow in sanctification
10) both are expected to show fruit of the Spirit
11) both can read and receive understanding about the Bible
12) both have been given the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide, direct, convict, and give spiritual understanding

ETC.

As you can see there are many MANY ways in which men and women are alike that are recorded in God's precious Word.

More to come...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Submission Series (Introduction)

I am so excited to be sharing with you ladies through this new series what God has been revealing to me in His word about the Biblical roles of male and female. It's a topic that has slowly grown to be very near and dear to my heart and walk with Christ. In today's society, there appears to be so much confusion about what it means to truly be a man or woman. (The lines are so terribly blurred.) I do not claim to be an expert on this subject as I am (and will be until I pass from this life) "in training". Yet within my heart, I have an ever-growing burden to unmask many of the lies of Satan that so many women (Christians included) are unknowingly believing. Only the truth will set us free.

Now I realize that I am walking headlong into very treacherous waters as I venture into the realm of explaining Biblical male headship and female submission. This may be completely new teaching to some of you ladies. Some of what I say may even cause some of you to burn with anger as it goes against your lifestyles, feelings, desires, or previous teachings. All I say as I begin this topic is that you listen with an open, pliable heart. At the core of a truly converted woman is the willingness to listen and adhere to hard, yet Biblical, teaching so that they will be further conformed into the image of Christ. If what I say causes strong negative feelings within you, ask yourself some tough questions, like: Is this material Biblically wrong? If so, how? Where in Scripture does it say else-wise? Why am I angry? Am I feeling conviction from the Holy Spirit about how I'm living my life? Is what I'm feeling really pride? Is it that I don't want to make tough choices or changes in my life? etc...

In blog posts past, I've mentioned a few things here-and-there in regard to Biblical womanhood and submission and have had some pretty nasty comments sent my way (even from fellow Christians)- some of which were so completely un-Christlike that I couldn't in good conscience publish it. It was rather disheartening, to say the least. I am NOT interested in hearing comments of such nature again. They will not be published, answered, or read for that matter. What I am willing (and wanting) to hear are comments, responses, questions, and concerns that are Biblically-based.

Please be Berreans and search the Scriptures alongside me.
"And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so."
-Acts 17:10-11

May you be encouraged to live more fully for Christ as you better understand your role as women...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fabulous new web site I just found!

I just found the most amazing website concerning Biblical manhood and womanhood by popular Christian authors/speakers such as John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Susan Hunt, Carolyn Mahaney, C.J. Mahaney, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, John MacArthur, Erwin Lutzer, and many more! If any of you ladies are interested, you can check it out here: The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW)
Highly recommended reading!

Thought this was cute...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Or it was Genesis 1...

Check this out from Yahoo! news:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071010/ap_on_sc/cosmic_dust

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Journey to Contentment (Part VI)

I was reading in the book "Feminine Appeal" a rather interesting analogy that I thought might shed further light on this contentment issue. Here go's:

Sponge Theology
Let me ask you a question. If I squeezed a sponge and made a puddle on the floor, what was the actual cause of the puddle? Was it my squeezing? No. It was the water that was in the sponge already. If I squeezed a dry sponge, there would be no puddle.
So it is with our hearts. The squeezing (that is, difficult & trying people/circumstances) do not cause us to sin/get angry. It only reveals what is in our hearts already.

Look back at these verses from the book of James.

"Consider is pure joy, brothers, whenever you experience trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you are mature and complete, not lacking in anything."
-James 1:2-4

How many of us, and I ask in all honesty, consider it "pure joy" when trying people or circumstances come our way? Well, I got to "practice what I preach" in a very real way these past two weeks. All three of my children contracted some sort of virus that started off with a fever for 3-4 days and then turned into a rather debilitating sinus/upper respiratory thing. Now, I don't mind administering drugs, taking temperatures, rocking/cradling, wiping noses, etc. But what I do find most difficult to undertake is the way my children respond to such illnesses: an all-over discontent/restless attitude (I want food-no I don't want food; I want a nap-no I don't want a nap; I want to watch a movie- no I don't want to watch a movie, etc.), incessant whining, waking up 3+ times in the night, etc. After two weeks, it'll wear on you. Any of you mothers out there that have multiple children can relate.

How did I do with contentment and "pure joy" do you ask? To be honest, not so well. Come about this past Tuesday/Wednesday, I started to lose my cool. Cabin fever and the overwhelming annoyance at declining invitations and canceling plans started to takes its toll on me and I started to get snippy and outright/sinfully annoyed toward both the kids and RD. Just when I didn't think I could handle much more, God brought to my attention this "sponge theology" concept. I saw James 1:2-4 from a completely different perspective... a perspective that is helping me get through the tail end of these "sick days". Let me explain.

I should consider it "pure joy" whenever I face various trials because I know 1) my "sponge" is getting squeezed, 2) my sin will rise to the surface, 3) I can then confess/repent from my sin, 4) grow in further Christ-likeness, 5) develop perseverance, and 6) be mature/complete/lacking in nothing. See, what I realized is that the squeezing (kids getting sick, being stuck at home, having to deal with the children's overall discontent with life, etc.) caused a lot of yuckiness to rise up out of me, that is, sin. Anger has been a rather unfortunate reality of my married/mothering years. I just realized yesterday AM during my quiet time that I have ALWAYS been an angry person, it's just having a husband and kids has brought it up out of me. They are forcing me to deal with sin that I might not otherwise get the "privilege" of dealing with (by confession and repentance). I SHOULD consider it all joy when "squeezed" because I have a great opportunity to have sin removed from my life!

No, it's not fun to go through a difficulty. That's crazy! BUT, knowing what the end result should be (further righteousness/Christ-likeness)... now that should be something to revel in and take great joy in. Let me tell you, I now have a renewed vigor to tackle those sick kids. Not that I like experiencing the difficulty, but because I know the sin of anger and bitterness that I struggle so much with will arise and I can deal with it appropriately.

How do you look at trials? Are they something you run from? Are they something you begrudgingly endure? Or are they something you willingly and joyfully embrace because you know that the sin in your heart (the water in your sponge) will get squeezed out of you and you will have the opportunity to grow up in Christ?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Delight of Loving My Husband (Part IV)

2) Behave tenderly toward him

This can be done in three ways:
-prize him
-cherish him
-enjoy him

As Linda Dillow said:
Now that you know your husband's admirable qualities, why keep them to yourself? It's good to admire your husband secretly, but how much better to admire him actively!

Prize him:
Speaking from personal experience, I know what it's like to get caught up in the midst of life (for me, mothering) and totally lose sight of your spouse. Unfortunately, I went through a rather long season where I was so engrossed in mothering that RD was basically an afterthought. By the time he got home from work, I was exhausted and had nothing left to give him. I'd forgotten that I was to prize him.

Perhaps I am counter-cultural when I say this, but it must be said... HUSBANDS COME BEFORE CHILDREN! There is a God-ordained order to the home. God first. Spouse second. Kids third. Mahaney says this: "... one of the most loving things we can do for our children is to prize our husbands. It provides a wonderful security in their lives, and it presents a biblical model for them and their future marriages."

How do we begin to prize our mates? Cards, letters of encouragement, seek his opinion on matters before anyone else, get a sitter and have regular date nights, plan a night/weekend getaway... Use your imagination. Be creative. Prize your husband above anyone or anything else.

Cherish him:
Remember the traditional wedding vow that says: to love and to cherish till death do us part? To cherish means "to hold dear, to care for tenderly or to nurture, to cling fondly to, or treat at precious". This is another area in which to freely use your creative juices.
-if he's not feeling well, make him some food/tea and bring it to him
-warmly embrace him when you meet him, esp. in front of others
-notes of encouragement in his lunches
-thank him for the good things he accomplishes
-plan simple, sporadic surprises for him
-where that outfit or nighty that you know he loves
-pray for him
-praise him for his commendable qualities to friends/family

Remember, this doesn't have to be expensive. You can cherish your mate without spending money.

Enjoy him:
Mahaney writes: "Phileo is not a dutiful love; it is to be characterized by joy and delight. We are to find great happiness in our relationship with our husbands. We should prefer his company above all others. We should find genuine pleasure in serving them, and we should take an interest in what they enjoy."

Well, if our spouse is to be our "friend", that would entail that we do things together because we love one another's company. I don't suppose a wife and husband that live two completely separate lives and only see and connect just before bed are truly enjoying one another. Nor is the couple that are home together but doing their own separate "thing" with hardly a word said between them truly enjoying one another. We are to be our spouses friend. What do we do with our friends? We spend time together. We talk about all sorts of things. We share our deepest feelings and thoughts about life together. We do activities together. It's active. It's alive.

What does your husband like? Sports? Traveling? Movies? Motorcycles/cars? Computers? For me, my husband LOVES computers, football, movies, Star Wars & Star Trek, camping and video games. Do I like that stuff? Heck no. But now that I've read the Biblical command that I'm supposed to be husband's best friend, I am starting to do those things with him... and you know what? He LOVES it! In fact, he's planning a "surprise" for me tonight. Could it be in part because I am seeking to do more "friendship" things with him? Maybe.

I remember when the Colts won the Superbowl. (Go Colts!) RD had a bunch of his guy friends come over so they could watch the game. Following the game, the guys stayed up until 3AM playing the Nintendo (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Against what my inner femaleness was telling me, I sat diligently with RD during the game and even served snacks at 2AM (figuring they were hungry since they'd been up so long). And do you know how RD responded? I say this in a modest way... he couldn't keep his hands off me. He was ecstatic that I chose to be with him and the guys all that time. He even said in front of all the guys that he had the best wife ever. *blush* I don't say this to pat myself on the back, but rather so you ladies can see the potential blessings of taking the time to enjoy your spouse. If I would have gone to the other room to sulk and pout because of the boring game and lack of estrogen to keep me company, I would have missed out on a huge blessing.

Ladies, do something with your husband that he likes. You don't necessarily have to adore whatever "it" is, but at least show an interest. Your husband needs and wants your company. He wants you to be his friend. Enjoy him. Learn to enjoy what he enjoys.

The Delight of Loving My Husband (Part III)

In order for us to cultivate a tender/friendship love toward our spouses, there are three things we must do:
1) think tender thoughts toward him
2) behave tenderly toward him
3) pray for God to grant us tender feelings for him

Lets take a look at the first one.

1) Think tender thoughts toward him
"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
-Phil. 4:8,9

Wouldn't this verse apply to our spouses? In an earlier post I wrote about how in a very real way, we are what we think. If all we are doing is harping about every little "wrong" thing our spouses are doing, I can guarantee that our joy and excitement toward them will evaporate. Rather, we should diligently be seeking to point out the very areas in which to praise and admire our husbands. As we begin working our "praise muscles" concerning our spouses, the more commendable qualities we'll begin to see.

Elizabeth Elliot wrote these words of wisdom in her book entitled "Love Has A Price Tag":
A wife, if she is very generous, may allow that her husband lives up to perhaps 80% of her expectations. There is always the other 20% that she would like to change, and she may chip away at it for the whole of their married life without reducing it by very much. She may, on the other hand, simply decide to enjoy the 80%, and both of them will be happy.

According to Scripture, we are to be dwelling on the good things concerning our husbands.

Another thing to think about is what Charles Spurgeon once said:
He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks 10,000 of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks 20,000 in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it.

Who am I to nit-pick on my husband's faults when I myself am the recipient of God's grace for so many more transgressions?!... Like I'm a perfect specimen of righteousness...

More to come...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Delight of Loving My Husband (Part II)

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."
-Titus 2:3-5

Did you know that the Greek translation for the word love in "so train the young women to love their husbands" is NOT agape love? Get this... it's phileo!
Agape is defined as a "self-sacrificing love; love that gives to others even if nothing is given back; the type of love described in 1 Corinthians 13". Phileo is defined as "love between very close friends; a tender, affectionate, passionate kind of love; emphasizes enjoyment and respect in a relationship."
In Biblical commands specifically related to wives, agape is never used. Does that mean that we as wives don't have to show an agape-type love for our husbands? No. Take a look at Mark 12:31 when Scripture states that the second greatest command is for us to (agape) love our neighbors as ourselves. Since our husbands are our closest "neighbor", I guess we're not off the hook.
BUT... husbands ARE commanded to love their wives with an agape love. See Ephesians 5:25 where husbands are told to love their wives "as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her." Mahaney states:
I believe that Scripture's specific commands to husbands and wives regarding their duties in marriage attest to our respective weaknesses. Men may be weaker in showing sacrificial love and are exhorted to undertake it. But I believe women are generally weaker in exhibiting an affectionate love- thus the instructions given us in Titus 2.

Douglas Wilson (author) stated this: "Women are fully capable of loving a man, and sacrificing for him, while believing the entire time that he is a true and unvarnished jerk. Women are good at this kind of love".
Can any of you women attest to this sort of thing? Serving and submitting but out of duty and without tender, affectionate feelings toward your husband? Unfortunately, I have. There have been times where I have very dutifully went about cleaning house, doing laundry, making meals, attending to the children without phileo feelings toward RD. I hate to admit that, but it's a reality. And I'm sure it's a reality in other women's lives as well.
Mahaney goes on to discuss how this phileo love has no conditions attached. She says that according to Scripture, we are to love our husbands with a tender, affectionate love regardless of their response. It's an unconditional love.
So I've been pondering this phileo thing in accordance to my own marriage for a couple days now. It was actually quite a shock to hear that I am Scripturally commanded to friendship-love my husband. What does that mean? How do I do that? First of all, I need to be filling my head with tender thoughts toward RD. Second of all, I need to be exhibiting tender behavior toward RD. Thirdly, I need to be praying that the Lord helps me in this process.

More to come...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Delight of Loving My Husband

My pastor's wife just recently gave me a book to read entitled "Feminine Appeal- Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother" by Carolyn Mahaney. Another MUST READ!!!

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."
-Titus 2:3-5

"There are many Christian women who agree with and adhere to the virtues listed in Titus 2, but are unaware of the ultimate purpose of these practical applications. These women are avid proponents of society's need to return to "traditional values;" yet that is not what this passage is advocating. We are not commanded to love our husbands and to love our children so we can have strong, happy families like those from a previous era. To be sure, we experience enjoyable and fruitful family relationships when we follow God's instructions. But there is a higher call. On the other hand, there are Christian women who reject some of these virtues because they regard them as restrictive and outdated. They single out "working at home" and "submissive to their own husbands" as purely cultural requirements that are not applicable in modern society. However, that idea is erroneous. This passage remains authoritative and relevant for women today."
-excerpt taken from "Feminine Appeal" pg. 16

So what is the "ultimate purpose of these practical applications"?
-that the word of God may not be reviled... (v.5)
-so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us (v.8)
-so that in everything (we) may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior (v.10)

By our behavior, people see the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we live out our days, we are a reflection of what Christ did on the cross. People don't judge us according to our beliefs/theology. They judge us by our behavior and whether what we believe effects how we live our lives. By our actions, we either honor God or misrepresent His truth. Mahaney wrote "How sobering it is to realize that our behavior has the potential to discredit the gospel. But how exciting it is to think that we can actually commend the gospel!"

I love how Mahaney finishes her first chapter:
"Consider the loveliness of a woman who passionately adores her husband, who tenderly cherishes her children, who creates a warm and peaceful home, who exemplifies purity, self-control, and kindness in her character and who gladly submits to her husband's leadership- for all the days God grants her life. I dare say there are few things that display the gospel jewel with greater elegance. This is true feminine appeal."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Journey to Contentment (Part V)

I AM THANKFUL:
FOR THE WIFE
WHO SAYS IT'S EGGS N BACON TONIGHT,
BECAUSE SHE IS HOME WITH ME,
AND NOT OUT WITH SOMEONE ELSE.


FOR THE HUSBAND

WHO IS ON THE SOFA
BEING A COUCH POTATO,
BECAUSE HE IS HOME WITH ME
AND NOT OUT AT THE BARS.


FOR THE TEENAGER

WHO IS COMPLAINING ABOUT DOING DISHES
BECAUSE IT MEANS SHE IS AT HOME,
NOT ON THE STREETS.


FOR THE TAXES I PAY

BECAUSE IT MEANS
I AM EMPLOYED
.

FOR THE MESS TO CLEAN AFTER A PARTY

BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE
BEEN SURROUNDED BY FRIENDS.


FOR THE CLOTHES THAT FIT A LITTLE TOO SNUG

BECAUSE IT MEANS
I HAVE ENOUGH TO EAT.


FOR MY SHADOW THAT WATCHES ME WORK

BECAUSE IT MEANS
I AM OUT IN THE SUNSHINE


FOR A LAWN THAT NEEDS MOWING,
WINDOWS THAT NEED CLEANING,
AND GUTTERS THAT NEED FIXING

BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE A HOME
.

FOR ALL THE COMPLAINING
I HEAR ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT

BECAUSE IT MEANS
WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.


FOR THE PARKING SPOT
I FIND AT THE FAR END OF THE PARKING LOT

BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM CAPABLE OF WALKING
AND I HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH TRANSPORTATION
.

FOR MY HUGE HEATING BILL

BECAUSE IT MEANS
I AM WARM.


FOR THE LADY BEHIND ME IN CHURCH WHO SINGS OFF KEY

BECAUSE IT MEANS
I CAN HEAR.


FOR THE PILE OF LAUNDRY AND IRONING

BECAUSE IT MEANS
I HAVE CLOTHES TO WEAR.


FOR WEARINESS AND ACHING MUSCLES AT THE END OF THE DAY

BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN
CAPABLE OF WORKING HARD.


FOR THE ALARM THAT GOES OFF
IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS

BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM ALIVE.


AND FINALLY, FOR TOO MUCH

E-MAIL
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE
FRIENDS WHO ARE THINKING OF ME.


I just got this in my e-mail. Most fitting for the topic at hand.

Journey to Contentment (Part IV)

"By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name."
-Hebrews 13:15 (emphasis mine)

Let's face it. Sometimes (and some-days) we simply do not FEEL like giving God praise. There are even entire seasons in our lives in which we struggle giving God praise. We consciously know that "... God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Rm. 8:28) but our feelings are screaming otherwise. How can I praise God when I am experiencing financial strains, a health problem, a move, or a teething/screaming infant? Take it a step further into the extreme... what about a job loss, an insurmountable medical bill, cancer, haunting memories of past abuse, death of a family member or friend, house fire, etc.? During these life-rattling situations, this Hebrews passages comes alive with reality: "... let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually...". Sometimes, finding a way to praise God is going to be a sacrifice. It's going to be hard, maybe seemingly impossibly hard, to come up with a way to praise God and give Him thanks. Also notice that this passage doesn't say "give praise to God when you feel like it". It says "praise God continually"... whether you feel like it or not. Whether things are going swell or falling apart at the seams. We must give God praise continually regardless of our circumstances... regardless of our feelings.

Let's look at another passage:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you are mature and complete, not lacking in anything."
-James 1:2-4

As a Christian, isn't it one of our main goals to become mature in Christ, complete, lacking in nothing? Our only other purposes in life are to know God more fully and glorify Him with our lives. Listen to Scripture: "consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds...". Pure joy? Is THAT how you perceive difficulties that arise in your life? I don't know about you but rarely, if at all, do I just leap for joy when another new difficult, painful, tiring, and/or potentially anxiety-causing situation crops up in my life. More times than I'd like to admit, a very more real thought is along the lines of "not again... not more...". But as a follower of Christ, according to Scripture, we are to be overjoyed when another trial comes our way because it's another step closer to God both in faith/trust and in sanctification. We should be working to the point where we willingly and openly embrace trials because we know we're going to grow up and mature in our walk with Christ. It won't be fun to endure the trial, but the end result is priceless. The majority of our spiritual growth will only come through adversity.

Trials will either make you bitter or better.

More to come...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Journey to Contentment (Part III)

"4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
-Phil. 4:4-9

Peace: tranquility; serenity; calmness within the soul knowing God is in complete control; anxious for nothing

Peace, serenity, and contentment is not something that just automatically occurs in a Christian's life. So what do we need to "practice" in order to attain an inner peace?:
1- choose to give your anxieties to God
2- choose to pray specifically
3- choose to be thankful
4- choose to dwell on the positive

If we have time to worry, we have time to pray. We should try substituting prayer for worry, the positive for the negative.

Read Phil. 4:8 specifically. What's our part?:
-to continuously & consciously think things that are true, good, and pure
-to refute those thoughts that are contrary
-to trust in God's eternal will- that He will use bad/painful/evil circumstances for His good purposes

I don't say these things in order that we completely discard and/or ignore the difficult, anxiety-causing situations that crop up in life. But what I am saying is that we shouldn't dwell on them. Even in prison, Paul preached the gospel. He never complained about being dirty/smelly, being chained to a guard, having to use the restroom with no privacy. No, rather he focused on the positive: he could still preach about Christ! Even better, the guard was chained to him and he couldn't get away from Paul. He HAD to listen!

The more you focus and dwell on the negative things in life (financial problems, singleness, difficult marriage, inability to have children, a wayward child, health problems, etc.), the more whining, complaining, depression, and negativity become a part of who you are. Even in the most dismal/painful circumstance, there is SOMETHING to praise God about. Seek it. Look for it. Dwell on it. In the opposite direction, the more you seek to praise and give thanks to God, the more it becomes second nature. In a very real way, you are what you think.

What about you? What stream of thoughts play in your mind all the day long? Are you dwelling on the positives in your life or the negatives? Are you quick to judge, complain, find fault? Or are you quick to see God working, find a praiseworthy item, give thanks?

If practice makes perfect, why not try practicing being thankful. Practice giving praise to God. Practice always looking for the positive. Practice thinking that which is true, right, pure, and excellent.

More to come....

Monday, August 27, 2007

Journey to Contentment (Part II)

"Not that I (Paul) speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity, in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
-Phil. 4:11-13

The author asked for us, the reader, to paraphrase this Scripture. Here's this Scripture in the ADV (amplified Duckwall version):

"God has taught me (through much training) how to be content regardless of my circumstances. It did NOT come naturally. It was something I had to learn through repetition. I've had food and money... I've also gone hungry and have been poor. In each situation, I've learned to be content. It was a "secret" that I had to discover. It was not a bit of knowledge available for all to see and attain. I had to diligently seek it to find it. The secret: true contentment is found in Christ alone. He is the One who gives me strength in all circumstances, regardless of how bleak/hopeless or wonderful/joyous the situation. He will help me. He will sustain me. He will provide for me. Keep your eyes on Christ, and contentment will become a reality in your life."

Contentment: an inner peace that is "learned" by repeatedly fixing your eyes on God and trusting Him to guide/protect/provide; accepting God's sovereign control over all of life's circumstances; accepting your "cup" in life; walking by faith; TRUST IN GOD regardless of circumstances and feelings.

Miscellaneous ramblings: It has got to be a slap in the face of God when we, as His children, don't trust in Him. Has He EVER done anything to break trust? Has He EVER broken a promise? Has He EVER failed? ABSOLUTELY NOT! So why why why is it so difficult to crawl up into His lap and entrust our lives to Him? It HAS to be our flesh that wages war against the spiritual realm. In a way, to NOT trust in God is insanity.
*For example: It is God who created the earth, the universe, the sun/moon/stars. He created our bodies... our mind, will, emotions. He is a God of intricate design and detail (as evidenced by pretty much everything in our world, esp. science). If He is so powerful, creative, wonderful, good, and awesome, then why can't we trust Him with our finances, families/children, health, future? It makes no logical sense! It's insanity. Our sin has truly made us "crazy"...

More to come...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Family weblog gone private

Recently, RD and I decided that our family weblog should be a private blog. Unfortunately we live in a fallen world and we felt, as a protection to our family, that not just anyone should be allowed to view our family happenings. We have sent out several invitations but if you have been missed somehow and would like access to our family weblog, please e-mail me at: duckwall_ms@yahoo.com

Sorry if this has been an inconvenience to anyone.

Journey to Contentment (Part I)

Wow... I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted here! Let me tell you, though, these past few months have been packed with much spiritual growth. What I want to share with you here in the next few weeks (perhaps months) has been my walk into Biblical contentment. If you are interested, please walk with me.

In an earlier posting (April 7- "Cool Things II"), I had discussed a huge turn of events concerning my mothering. As I continue walking the path of healing and maturing, God has been teaching so much, especially in regard to contentment and peace.

About a month ago, I sort of hit a crossroads in my walk with God. I was really wanting to step forward and get into the meat of Christianity (so to speak) and was really feeling the Lord leading me to pursue a Titus 2 mentoring relationship with an older woman. Someone to teach me, encourage me, rebuke me, pray for me, and to keep me accountable. God so very faithfully led me to a wise and mature woman, Sherry C. We have just recently started to meet regularly and it has already been a tremendous blessing. Together, we are starting to work through a book entitled "Calm my Anxious Heart" by Linda Dillow. If you have never read it, it is a MUST READ.

Here are some of the insights that I have received in reading her book:

*Prescription for contentment:
1- never allow yourself to complain about anything- not even the weather
2- never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else
3- never compare your lot with another's
4- never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise
5- never dwell on tomorrow- remember that tomorrow is God's, not ours

These words were penned by a woman named Ella that worked with the pygmies in Africa for 52 years. She left all that was familiar and comfortable. No electricity. No air conditioning. No modern conveniences. Sometimes the heat reached 120F+. Yet in all of her discomfort, she found contentment and peace in God.

I must say, I hear this woman's testimony and am ashamed at how I can complain about so many things in my life.

Complaining seems to be a deep-seated issue for me. My two closest companions in life (RD and Rebekah M.) have both, on numerous occasions, rebuked me for complaining. Why am I so discontented?...

Perspective. Webster defines it as: looking through; seeing clearly; the capacity to view things in their true relation of relative importance". A way of seeing. An eternal perspective, then, is God's way of seeing. When we have God's perspective, we view our lives and evaluate what is important from His perspective.

THAT'S why I have a discontented spirit... I do not have an eternal perspective. I focus on the circumstances surrounding me rather than on God.

More to come...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Check out Family weblog

There is a LOT of new stuff on the family weblog. Enjoy!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Watch Out!

I don't know how any of you ladies feel about the chicken pox vaccine, but that is one that RD and I have chosen NOT to give our children. Well, today I went in to give Cassandra her immunizations and the Health Department tried to slip in the Chicken Pox vaccine with her MMR. It was called "Vericella". At all of our past visits to the "Shot Doc", we have declined the Chicken Pox vaccine (then having to endure the "bad mom" glances from the receptionist). But today, there was no asking at all. They were simply going to slip it in unannounced. I wouldn't even have caught it if I hadn't seen her shuffle the immunization info pages together for me to take home. Good thing I said something because the nurse was just about to make the MMR/Vericella mix in the back room. If any of you are thinking about declining the Chicken Pox vaccine, WATCH OUT. I even read some stuff this afternoon that here soon the MMR-V will automatically be mixed with Vericella. You may have to specifically ask for MMR-V alone (if they'll even make it). RD and I have been meaning to do some research on immunizations because we just don't know how we feel about it all. But the Chicken Pox is a definite NO. Our Dr. even said that it wasn't necessary unless your child doesn't get the actual Chicken Pox virus by age 10. After that, they could possibly contract it as shingles, which is WAY worse than Chicken Pox. Just an FYI for you ladies as you take your kiddos in to be vaccinated.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fully Female

This is a beautiful article (from Above Rubies) that clearly portrays what it means to be a Biblical wife and mom. Our society is so confused about what it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman. May this article help motivate you to be fully feminine!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Advice- PLEASE!

For several months now (I'm talking 12 mo. +), naptime/bedtime has been an on-going struggle with Benjamin. He NEEDS a nap. Without one, he's a neurotic basket-case by 5:30pm (which is too late to give him a nap). I get him up pretty much every day at 8am. I take him outside pretty much every morning to run off all that testosterone laden energy. Between 1-1:30pm is when I "try" to put him down for a nap. Most the time, he's by himself. Sometimes though, on occasion, Arianna will need a nap and will go down along with him. Whether alone or with company, he fights tooth & nail not to fall asleep. I'm terribly frustrated. It's the same fight at bedtime (8:30pm) as well. What could I (should I) do about this?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Purge & Refuel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
-Phil. 4:8

I just got done working through a 4-week devotional by Nancy Leigh DeMoss concerning our use of words, whether we bring life to others... or death. There is TREMENDOUS power in the tongue. (Praise God we only have one of them!)

As I was pondering the Scripture Nancy had me looking at, it struck me this morning that my use of words is much more involved than just what I say. I realized in a profound way that my choice of words is directly linked to what is in my heart. Unfortunately, I've had a rather unbalanced perspective on this subject.

The imbalance looks like this: I have been so focused on seeking forgiveness for the evil that crops up in my words and actions that I have been neglecting the other half of the equation: filling my heart and mind with God's Word, His truth, His knowledge and wisdom. Yes, I go to church. Yes, I read my Bible. Yes, I pray. Yes, I fellowship with other believers. But do I make a concerted, purposeful effort to replace sinful thoughts and words with the truth of God's Scripture? Shame on me, but... no.

Here's an example from my life:
Child #1 disobeys me for the umteenth bazillionth time and I get angry, spewing forth bitter words of chastisement and filth. I think to myself: "Now, that wasn't nice. I shouldn't have said and/or done that. See how I hurt his/her feelings?... Lord, I shouldn't have thought such nastiness about child #1. Nor should I have said such hurtful words. Will you please forgive me? Thanks, God, for Your mercy and grace." I've sought forgiveness from God. I seek forgiveness from child #1. And then I move on with life. Yes, seeking forgiveness from God and from the injured party(ies) is great and should be done, but it doesn't stop there. Sure, the offense has been forgiven, but it has to be replaced with something good, true, pure, and holy... such as:

"Whoever restrains his words has knowledge and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding." (Prov. 17:27)

"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body." (Prov. 16:24)

"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Prov. 12:18)

"Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." (Prov. 21:23)

"A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one's right hand." (Prov. 27:15-16)

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Prov. 15:1)

Etc.

What is in the heart WILL come out in our mouths. It's not enough to simply seek forgiveness for our words and actions. We must be replenishing and refueling our heart and mind with the truth from Scripture. Then, and only then, will a righteous, pure, holy, and honoring fragrance pour forth from our lives.

Lord, today, may I not just stop at seeking forgiveness from You for the sin I conduct in my life. May I make a purposeful effort to seek Your Word and Your truth, to fill my mind and my heart with Your wisdom. May my heart be so overflowing with knowledge, wisdom, and praise, that it spills out into my words and actions. I love You, God."

Friday, May 04, 2007

Tearing down your house

I found this excerpt from a weblog a while back. Unfortunately, I don't remember where I found this or who penned it. Anyways, it has been a huge reality check for me as a wife and mom. Thought I would share it with you ladies. May it motivate you to be a "wise woman".

"The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands."
-Proverbs 14:1

In what ways can we tear down our own homes?:

-Do I nag to get people to respond to me?

-Am I raising my voice continuously to my family?

-Am I respecting my husband's authority?

-How about honoring him?

-Are my children being disciplined consistently to bring about peaceful coexistence?

-Do I share my husband's faults with others?

-Am I quick to overlook my husband's faults?

-Do I spend time in the Word, daily, seeking God's wisdom and strength?

-Am I striving to be gentle and kind to my family?

-Am I serving my family to the best of my ability?

-Time... am I using it well?

-Am I argumentative most the time?

-Am I ill-natured? Do I find fault with most everything?

-Am I trying to make my home a place without discord? Being harmonious instead?

-Are my children being encouraged to seek God?

-How much time do I spend being angry?

-Do my children know that I love them? Have I told them? Shown them?

-Does my husband know that I love him? Have I told him? Shown him?

-How is my overall attitude?

-Do I spend time whining about circumstances?

-Do I strive to be good-natured?

-Do I complain too much?

-Are the Fruits of the Spirit evident in my life? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control?

...

We need to recognize sin for what it is, repent and ask God to help us gain victory in the area we each struggle in. We need to also ask our families for forgiveness as well. If we do not have self-control over these areas we will continue to tear down our homes. Join with me in the pursuit of building up our homes not tearing them down.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Broken Expectations- Part I

A few weeks back, I was invited to speak to a group of ladies that had gathered at our church for a Celebration of Life party held for my sister and her new baby, Aiden. I spoke on "broken expectations" and how they can frustrate mothers. Thought maybe some of you women may be interested in reading my presentation. This is just an excerpt... more to come.

I'm sure everyone here is familiar with the book series entitled "What To Expect When You're Expecting/the First Year/the Toddler Years" etc. What I wish they had created 4 years ago was a book entitled "What To Expect When You're A Mom".

Here's a brief history of my life:
-youngest of two children
-youngest cousin was only 4 years younger than myself
-worked (1) summer at a Day Care (all ages)
I have had VERY LIMITED EXPERIENCE with children. In fact, the first few diapers I have ever changed were Arianna's (my firstborn). I was CLUELESS when entering into motherhood.

I have recently been struck with the realization that much of my frustration/anger revolving around motherhood stems from broken expectations, either of myself or my kids.

I brainstormed and created a list of my top 10 most false expectations of motherhood. (Perhaps you young moms can relate. You seasoned moms, go back in time and see if you caught yourself with some of these, too.):

1) that I would be able to spend just as much time in God's Word and in prayer that I used to

2) that my husband and I would naturally fall into a parenting routine/groove and that we'd be on the same page concerning discipline (or other hot topics)

3) that once the baby began sleeping through the night they would NOT relapse into sleeplessness again

4) that I would be the exception and would not experience postpartum depression; or if I did, it would be mild and manageable

5) that I would be able to maintain order and cleanliness in my home consistently

6) that I'd always be willing and available to meet my husband's intimacy needs

7) that I'd adequately be able to balance husband, children, chores, meals, church involvement, fellowship, acts of service, friendships, extracurricular activities, hobbies, finances, etc.

8) that by 6 months postpartum, I would be back to my pre-pregnancy weight AND shape

9) that there'd always be that sense of awe and wonder every time I gazed at my children (like in all those Hallmark commercials)

10) that I'd wisely be able to interpret and handle every mothering experience

This list is not only humorous, but it's also sad because these were just some of the MANY false, but real, expectations I carried walking into this role as "mom".
The reality is (as I've slowly come to realize) is that my expectations are typically not met in my way or in my timing... if at all.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

New stuff

More new pics on the Family Weblog.

White vinegar

I never would have imagined, but white vinegar is apparently an extremely useful household item. For anyone interested, here's 1001 uses for white vinegar.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Pics

LOTS of new pics on the Family Weblog. Check it out!

Touching Lyrics

Here's a song entitled "Beauty From Ashes" by Crystal Lewis that is so fitting for where I am spiritually:

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When sorrow seems to surround you
When suffering hangs heavy over your head
Know that tomorrow brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When what you've done keeps you from moving on
When fear wants to make itself at home in your heart
Know that forgiveness brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

I once was lost but God has found me
Though I was bound Ive been set free
Ive been made righteous in His sight
A display of His splendor all can see

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

I think one of the ways Satan keeps me down/keeps me from moving forward in my walk is by constantly bringing back up all my past failures. It's not that I don't think God can forgive me of my sins, but where I find myself struggling is with the thought that I've ruined my family, that we won't recover, that my children with have emotional scars or bad memories of their mom blowing up. As I write this, it sounds silly. Come on... they're all under the age of 3. What could they possibly remember by the time they're adults?! But it's a real fear. One thing that gives me comfort is that God is a God of healing, of second chances, of restoration. He thrives on bringing dead and broken things to life. The house that I've built, I have torn down with my own hands (like the foolish woman portrayed in Proverbs). But I know God can make beauty from ashes. He will rebuild what I have torn apart these past 5 years and will rebuild an even more beautiful, fruitful, blessed, prosperous home than I could ever fathom.
I've repented of my anger. I'm forgiven for fighting God's plan for my life. All the angry, hurtful, biting words and actions I've ever committed are laying at the feet of Jesus. I want to change. I no longer want to fight God and His will for my life. I am completely surrendered. And that's exactly where God wanted me all along. Now, God can finally come in build up a godly foundation & home.
Oh, to see what God will do in, with, and through our family.

Monday, April 09, 2007

True Happiness

I'm convinced that TRUE happiness comes when we're serving others.
As a stay-at-home-mom, I am really left with little "alone time". Even during potty breaks, I am guaranteed a visitor of some sort. And now that Arianna's no longer needing regular naps, my alone time got zapped to even shorter stints.
So anyways... back to the topic at hand. One of the top job requirements of my position as a Domestic Engineer is "service". From wiping off peanut butter on little faces and fingers to disinfecting the toilet with a 10 ft. pole to making spaghetti for dinner (again), I am serving my husband and my children.
To be honest, for the majority of my mothering years I have begrudgingly served my family. I was really only doing it out of obedience to God ("Don't smite me!") because I didn't FEEL like serving anyone. What I really wanted was a vacation from it all to do whatever pleased and suited me (like I had done the first 23 years of my life). In nine months after getting married, it went from "me" to "three". And in the next 3 years, the equation went on to include two more children.
WHAT ABOUT ME?!!!- was the cry of my heart for the past 5 years.
This Saturday was an eye-opening experience for me. Bless RD's heart, he gave me all the alone time I thought I wanted/needed. I went to a ladies Bible study, I went tanning, I piddled about the house doing this and that, I blogged... all while he watched the kids for me. I thought it was FABULOUS. Basically, the first half of the day was all about me me me. And I loved it.
Until later that afternoon...
I found myself taking my alone time for granted. I found myself completely ungrateful for RD's babysitting. I found myself whining and complaining about all sorts of crazy stuff. It was like the "all about me" switch got turned on and I found myself miserable. I was given what I wanted and it wasn't enough.
I realized for the first time that I am truly happiest when I am serving other people rather than myself.
Believe me, I still need alone time. But, I think next time I am blessed with an extensive break such as 1/2 a day off, I'm going to give thanks to God rather than think "sheesh... it's about time I get a break". Instead of relishing in having it "all about me", I want to think about how I can bless others after I'm rejuvenated.

Please forgive me, God, for being ungrateful for the "breaks" in motherhood You graciously give. I took it for granted, God, that I had some time off on Saturday to relax and rejuvenate myself. I'm sorry I had such a selfish attitude about it. Thank You for such a wonderful, loving, and caring husband. I am so undeserving. May I look to You with an attitude of gratitude next time I'm blessed with alone time. May I use my renewed strength to serve You by serving others, especially my family. Amen.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cool things II

OK, so here's the story:
*I'm going to be quite transparent in this posting because I feel that many of you moms could be encouraged by my story (as some of you may be walking a very similar path).

When I walked into these roles as wife/mom I was completely clueless as to what all that would entail. My head was SO full of false expectations. (In a future posting I'll talk more on broken expectations and the frustrations they cause.) Anyways, to be boldly honest, I have struggled with my roles as wife/mom for these past 5 years. I KNOW that it is what God wants for me and it's the path He wants me walk, but I have been fighting Him all along.

Brief history:
All through H.S. and college, my teachers and professors made several remarks about my abilities and accomplishments, feeding into my brain all the limitless opportunities that awaited me outside graduation. With all my heart, I truly believed my stay in Peru was going to be very brief. Peru seemed like a great place to live cheaply and attain my masters degree, all the while having the company of my sister. After my masters, I was off to take on the world, spread my wings, experience life, change the world, etc.
Then I met RD... and my life changed completely.
"Ok", so I was thinking. "I could get married and still get my masters and pursue my dream career in counseling."
Three weeks after I said "I do", I found out I was pregnant and proceeded to struggle through 4 long/weary months of terrible morning sickness. With two simple words, all my dreams, aspirations, and goals for both my life and my marriage got completely shot out of the water. They would NEVER come true. For nearly FIVE years now, I have been angry at God for "screwing up my life" by giving me children, for ruining my dreams, for taking away any and all possibilities of doing something amazing with my life. Now, I'm "just a stay-at-home wife/mom" changing diapers, cleaning up spit-up, and doing pointless, mundane tasks like laundry, sweeping floors, etc. I busted my rear attaining that degree. I even pushed myself SO HARD in college that I had to be hospitalized (due to ill health). I was in debt over $20,000 to IWU FOR WHAT?!!! To change poopy diapers?! To clean house?! To cook meal after meal after meal?! To scrub floors?! To take the trash out?! To do laundry?! I can't even tell you how many times I bawled my eyes out because I worked so hard for a degree and career only to flush it down the tubes to be a stay-at-home wife and mom.
In one regard, I knew that staying home was what I was supposed to do... the best thing to do... but my heart and my feelings just weren't following.
Add to my anger toward God for completely altering my life plans, 2 home moves (both of which while I was pregnant), three pregnancies very close together (and all with horrible AM sickness), postpartum depression, thyroid complications, weight gain, MAJOR financial strains (as I quit my job to raise babies & RD started up his computer business) all the while not knowing a soul (but my sister) in Peru, attending a new church, having to learn on my own how to clean house, get on a chore schedule, how to properly wash clothes, how to meal plan & make a grocery list, how to cook, how to take care of babies properly... AND learn how to be a wife (submitting to RD, meeting his needs, helping/completing him, etc.). I was overwhelmed, exhausted, angry at God, frustrated, and anxious. I walked head-long into depression.
This past October ('06), I had a near break-down. I was seriously planning on leaving both RD and the kids. I remember very clearly the afternoon when I was contemplating how much money and gas I had, where I could go, where I would stay, what would I do... Praise God RD came home early from work that day! At that point, both RD and I decided I needed to get into Christian counseling.
At my very first session, my counselor (Phil), after listening to me vent my pent-up feelings and frustrations looked me square in the eye and asked me this piercing question:
"Do you feel cheated?"
"Cheated"?... That was the PERFECT word! YES, I felt CHEATED!!! I thought I could do and become so much more than what I had done/become. I felt like God had ruined my life, stolen my dreams, squashed my aspirations and goals... all to stay home all day with three very young, needy, illogical children!!!
Coming to terms with my anger toward God was the first step in the healing process. It's taken me several months to let go of my anger toward God and to trust His plan for me. This past winter has been a long, dark season of my life as I've had to work through a LOT of personal issues of faith and trust. It's been so hard to be obedient to God because the feelings just weren't there. I didn't WANT to stay home. I didn't WANT to be a mom. I didn't WANT to learn how to take care of a house. I didn't WANT to learn domestic skills. But I stepped out into obedience, threw my hands up in the air, and finally, after struggling against God for nearly 5 years said: Not my will but Yours be done. This act of surrender and submission happened about early March '07.
I can't say things were magically transformed for the better right away, but it was a start. To help curb some of the depression I was experiencing so I could better walk this path of healing, I started taking (on a short-term basis) a combination of St. John's Wort and 5-HTP (which I do believe is helping). Within this past month, I've started to see new growth in my life... much like the new growth I've started seeing outside. Nothing drastic, but I am starting to see "buds"... like my heart softening. I'm starting to have a burning hunger for God's word. I've started desperately wanting to rise early to meet with God. I've started to enjoy being home and with my family. I've started to see the long-term (eternal) benefits of being a stay-at-home mom. I've started seeing my house as more of a home. I've started to see joy in "keeping house". I've started wanting to serve both RD and the children (not just out of obedience, but because I really want to). And I've started to see my children in a new light... that they are a "reward" and a "blessing" because they are causing sanctification in me.
These past 5 years have been probably the most difficult, painful, strife-filled, frustrating, anger-provoking years of my existence. I think what has happened is that marriage & children brought to the surface my absolute depravity. My hidden sins were brought to the surface in full-force. I've been "unsettled". But, because of these trials and difficulties, I have been forced to deal with all kinds of sin. I've learned what it means to fully depend on God. God's grown bigger while I've grown smaller.
So anyway, I share all this because I KNOW there are moms out there reading this that have struggled with similar issues. As I've started to share my experience with other women, angry/frustrated/at-the-end-of-their-rope moms are coming out of the woodwork. Perhaps you, too, have sought a degree and career and are no longer using it because you're now a stay-at-home wife and mom. Perhaps you're at your breaking point. Perhaps you, too, are angry at how your life has unfolded. Perhaps you're thinking about leaving...
There's hope. There's God. God had bigger and better plans for me. I couldn't see it at the time because I was so blinded by the world- that there were great and glorious things to be accomplished in a career outside the home. But God's ways are not mans, as I'm slowly starting to figure out. I'm starting to see that I have a much bigger mission field before me... my children. He has given RD and I these precious/little/impressionable lives to not only nurture, but to provide a godly "greenhouse" for them to grow and thrive in. It's not just about changing soiled diapers, doing pointless chores, or taking the trash out. But about cultivating lives, teaching my children to love and serve God, raising up a godly army. I can change the world by raising God-fearing children. What a CAREER!!! What a job description to fulfill!!! It's not something to take lightly!
There is OH SO MUCH that God is teaching me about being a godly wife and mom so there's going to be LOTS of stuff coming up on this blog. Hopefully what I share here will bless and encourage some of you ladies.

Friday, April 06, 2007

An incredible Easter idea!!!

Got this the other day from one of the Yahoo groups I'm apart of. I just HAD to share because I thought it was an incredible idea. Maybe a new tradition in the making!



Have you ever made Easter Story Cookies?

EASTER STORY COOKIES

To be made the evening before Easter

You need:
1 cup whole pecans
1 tsp. Vinegar
3 egg whites
pinch salt
1 cup sugar
zipper baggie
wooden spoon
tape
Bible
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Immediately
(this is important-don' t wait until you're half done with the recipe)!

Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with
the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after
Jesus was arrested. He was beaten by the Roman soldiers.
Read John 19:1-3.

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. Vinegar
into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty
on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink.
Read John 19:28-30.

Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life.
Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life.
Read John 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand.
Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.
Explain that this represents the salty tears shed
by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.
Read Luke 23:27.

So far, the ingredients are not very appetizing.
Add 1cup sugar.
Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that
Jesus died because He loves us.
He wants us to know and belong to Him.
Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes
until stiff peaks are formed.
Explain that the color white Represents --in God's eyes --
the purity of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.
Read Isa. 1:18 and John 3:1-3.

Fold in broken nuts.
Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper-covered cookie sheet.
Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb
where Jesus' body was laid.
Read Matt. 27:57-60.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven,
close the door and turn the oven OFF.

Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door.
Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed.
Read Matt. 27:65-66.

GO TO BED!
Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in
the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair
when the tomb was sealed.
Read John 16:20 and 22.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie.
Notice the cracked surface and take a bite.
The cookies are hollow!

On the first Easter, Jesus' followers were amazed to
find the tomb open and empty.
Read Matt. 28:1-9

Cool things

I don't have time to get into it right now, but a lot of cool things have been going on in my life, esp. in regard to motherhood. No, mom... I'm not pregnant... (yet). ;-)
Hopefully this weekend I'll have some time to share with y'all what's been happening. Stay tuned.

Something new I learned today

Never... NEVER... let your 3 year old child sleep with a down pillow.
-sigh-
Arianna had her first "accident" in months last night and had pee-pee all over her bed, esp. all over her big fluffy down pillow. OF COURSE the expensive beast is "dry-clean only". Figures. I called two different local dry cleaners. One wouldn't even touch the thing and the other one said they would have to send it out-of-town somewhere for a full week to get it "re-stuffed", which would cost us at least $20.
Hmmm... let me think about that.
Looks like we're heading off K-Mart to purchase a new COTTON pillow.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Even more new pics

Hey, once again, check out our Duckwall Family Weblog for some more new pics.

Monday, March 05, 2007

LOTS of new stuff

Check out the Duckwall Family Blog.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Results of my "Joseph" Audition

Well... I didn't get it. I found out yesterday afternoon but I wasn't in "the mood" to write about it. After much prayer (and a good night's sleep) I'm finding that I'm OK with the results. The part that bothers me is that the musical director (the very lady that auditioned us Narrator ladies) decided to cast herself. I know... how fair is that?! Such is politics, I guess. I'm OK with it because apparently God didn't want me to have it and He's got other things in store. There's ALWAYS musical things to get involved in at church. There's also a Cole Porter Festival thing coming soon to Peru that I could get involved in. They're in need of female soloists. So anywho's, I'm disappointed yet joyful in God's sovereignty at what all happened. Thanks for everyone's encouragement and support.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

One week now

Been following Dr. Gott's diet for one full week now. Still going strong. And I lost 2 lbs!!! Only eight more to go!

March/April "No Greater Joy" newsletter

For any of you interested, check it out here.

Health Freedoms

For anyone interested in the Gardasil issue, look here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ask Dr. Gott

Many of you are familiar with Dr. Gott's column in your local newspaper. He recently published a book entitled "No Flour, No Sugar". The basic gist of the book is that any refined flours or sugars should be eliminated from our diets as much as possible. It's not the "low-carb" diet that was the fad not too long ago because you can/should eat carbs... albeit healthy/natural carbs from veggies, fruits, and whole grains. Dr. Gott calls it a lifestyle. So, you can eat corn, popcorn, corn chips, peas, potatoes, apples, pineapples, millet, oatmeal, brown & wild rice, etc. because those are natural carb foods. But anything with refined flours/sugars or even raw sugars should be avoided. I've heard a lot of positive things about a new sweetner called Stevia. I think I'll look into it. My in-laws have been following Dr. Gott's dietary advice and in one week, my FIL lost 8 lbs!!! Here goes... I'm going to try it. And then maybe just maybe I can shed the remainder of these last 10 lbs of stubborn baby weight. ;-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My sweet hubby

Ok... I just want to take a moment and brag about what a wonderful and thoughtful hubby I have. A long while back, I briefly asked for a tanning package to boost my moods. It's pretty dark here in this basement apartment. I've heard and read lots of stuff that suggests tanning if your feeling blue. Something about tanning beds increasing your vitamin D levels which make you feel better... Anyways, I had briefly mentioned it several months ago not realizing that RD took a mental note. Well, come this past Valentine's Day, RD comes home from work and at the bottom of the mail pile he brought home was a T-shirt from Exotic Tans and an appointment card. Woo hoo!!! RD is so not into celebrating Hallmark holidays so I wasn't expecting anything. He sure surprised me! What a sweetheart! Love you, babe!

I crack up every time I read the sign for Exotic Tans... "We make you look good!"... what, like I need help or something? Kinda like Maybelline ads... "Maybe she's born with it"... or maybe she really needs help and therefore "Maybe it's Maybelline".

"Joseph" auditions




I auditioned this past Monday evening. I think it went well, but we'll see. (I was actually the only one who auditioned for the part of Narrator that night... but, there are also (3) other days of auditions left). They first make you sing scales to find your range. I was able to hit a strong high B and we discovered I am SO not an alto. Then they made me sing a brief clip of one of the songs the Narrator sings. After that, I had to learn and perform a bit of choreography. I think I was born with two left feet. Dancing is apparently NOT my forte. Hopefully they judge more on vocal performance than on leg performance. ;-) We'll see what happens. I've REALLY been praying about this whole theater thing and I'm not really getting a strong "yes, go for it, Mel" or "no Mel... not right now" from God. That's why I posted my desire to be in "Joseph" on my weblog earlier to see what you all thought about it. I didn't get a single negative response. I took that as my OK from God to at least try-out. So, I've auditioned and now... it's just waiting to hear back from the directors. I'm really ok with whatever is decided. If I get it, great! If not, then that was God's way of shutting a door and there's something else I am supposed to be available for. As soon as I find out the results, I'll be sure and let y'all know!!! Also... the performance dates are NOT in August. They are in JUNE... like the weekends of June 17 and the following weekend (20-something). Keep you posted on that, too.

My new sling




Thanks, Cyndi! We LOVE it!!!

Organic Gardens

Well well... it's that time of year... time to begin planning this year's garden. RD and I've been talking and we're decided on starting off with a small organic garden. We're definitely going to plant Roma tomatoes and hot peppers (for homemade salsa), but that may be it veggie-wise. We're wanting to focus more on herbs like lavender, chamomile, peppermint, oregano, basil, etc. I've gotten a couple good leads on organic gardening books, but I wanted to hear from you ladies if you had any good book/website recommendations. We're looking for info not only in regard to planting & caring for our herbs, but also how to dry, store, and use them (like in teas and herbal remedies). We would love any info you can provide! Thanks so much!

Aiden pics




This is Grandpa Easley & Amara (the big 'sis) with Aiden

No joke... Aiden's hands were the size of Cassandra's!

Proud Aunt!!!

Cyndi's labor went on-and-off all last weekend (contractions started last Thursday). We were hoping she'd get to go naturally, but it actually worked out well that she was induced on Monday. Come Tuesday, we had a blizzard come through, dumping off a couple feet of snow. If Cyndi hadn't gone in Monday, there's a good chance she would have been stuck at home/unable to get to the hospital. She maybe would have had the child at home... which could have been dangerous considering my sister's medical condition. Everything worked out great and there were no complications whatsoever with her labor & delivery. PRAISE GOD!!! What a blessing from God!