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?


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
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.

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.
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.