One of the things not part of my challenge that I’ve always wanted to do is to take pictures every day for a month. I don’t know if I’ll make it everyday, but I’m really going to try. By goal is to post something for which I’m thankful each day. Today, we had the most awesome looking storm come through. It didn’t do any damage, I’m not even sure that it did more than sprinkle, but I love seeing the beauty and splendor of the Lord especially in the sky. The first picture is a view of our backyard (and neighbor’s barn- oh, how I love their old barn!) and the next one is from our front yard, where we witnessed the dancing sun through the clouds. It is always uplifting.



When I had originally decided to write this post I had just finished my morning reading of The Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. It was February 8th and the title of the entry was “The Cost of Salvation”. Before I go much further, I will mention that if you click on the first link above, you will get to a homepage that has the original text and KJV scriptures. You can get “today’s reading” or you may browse whatever day you’d like. I did not know about this, so I purchased an “updated” version at my bookstore. It claims that it is “An Updated Edition in Today’s Language” and uses the NKJV; I didn’t think twice about purchasing it. Now I wished I had just purchased the original! Anyway, I wanted to quote what I had actually read, but I will just copy the original version (or what I should have read). Clear as mud?

February 8th

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

When we pray to be sanctified, are we prepared to face the standard of these verses? We take the term sanctification much too lightly. Are we prepared for what sanctification will cost? It will cost an intense narrowing of all our interests on earth, and an immense broadening of all our interests in God. Sanctification means intense concentration on God’s point of view. It means every power of body, soul and spirit chained and kept for God’s purpose only. Are we prepared for God to do in us all that He separated us for? And then after His work is done in us, are we prepared to separate ourselves to God even as Jesus did? “For their sakes I sanctify Myself.”[John 17:19] The reason some of us have not entered into the experience of sanctification is that we have not realized the meaning of sanctification from God’s standpoint. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the disposition that ruled Him will rule us. Are we prepared for what that will cost? It will cost everything that is not of God in us.

Are we prepared to be caught up into the swing of this prayer of the apostle Paul’s? Are we prepared to say – “Lord, make me as holy as You can make a sinner saved by grace”? Jesus has prayed that we might be one with Him as He is one with the Father. The one and only characteristic of the Holy Ghost in a man is a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, and freedom from everything that is unlike Him. Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit’s ministrations in us? [Emphasis added]

So there you have it. Need I even comment on it? When I read this the other day I just sat there, shocked. I want to go out on a limb and say that this process of sanctification is not taught anymore. I have been going to church all my life and though I hear rhetoric like, “become more like God” no one has really ever pointed me to a place where I can confront this issue. It is an unpopular one! Modern Christians are satisfied with grace by faith with the mistaken notion that we don’t have to do anything else! How else do we read Philippians 2:12, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

I have always been a little bit confused about what to do now that I am a Christian. I knew that I was supposed to do the right thing, but I have always heard it describes as something that just naturally happens, that now that you are saved, you suddenly begin to act like a Christian. I just could never understand why I didn’t. Am I not really saved? Did I get saved but not receive the Holy Spirit? Why can’t I do the right thing? I seriously tortured myself with these things thinking that I was a faulty Christian and that the process just didn’t work for me! Of course that’s not true!!! What has happened is that I’ve been sold a pack of lies, that the Christian life is a sudden, instant change and it’s not! Salvation might happen in an instant, but it is a constant struggle then to die to your flesh and actually become more like the God you now serve.

So what does this mean for me? It is so easy to become me-centered. People have this defense mechanism that they use to ward off sanctification. They call it legalism. That somehow having to improve yourself or follow the letter of the Word is somehow adding to the gospel. In my computer’s dictionary it defines legalism as, “excessive adherence to law or formula; THEOLOGY- dependence on moral law rather than on personal religious faith.” Hmm, very interesting. I depend on moral law to live my life, I don’t just have faith that I am doing it all right. If that were all that was required, why do have a Bible with 66 books worth of information? Obviously, God has a plan and a way of doing things. However, I can’t take that Bible and do all the right things without any faith, for faith without works is dead, James 2: 14-26.

This has lately become so important to me as I read about headcover, modesty, staying at home…without these commands being from God I am wasting my time. If these commands are from God, then I am wasting every minute that I am not obeying them! I can see that my path of sanctification is going here: to learn to be a woman of God; to dress the way that God wants me to dress (even when it doesn’t follow current trends), to submit where He wants me to (even though its unpopular), to live my life in a way that is, at its very heart, different. I want to call attention to God to glorify Him and His perfect order of things. My flesh gets in the way and needs to be removed. The question remains now, am I prepared for the cost?

Lantern Light and Laptops

I found a cheap oil lantern and oil at Wal-Mart the other day and my husband filled it up for me this morning. Upon realizing this evening that he had done so, I decided to light it.

I have had a very bad day. Not only was I feeling under the weather (I had a migraine and resulting severe nausea) but, despite the fact that it is Sunday, my husband has returned to his “Friday’s off” position and was not at home. To top it all off, I woke up in the middle of the night with a screaming tooth ache. I really need to see a dentist, immediately. [Ironically, it didn’t bother me much during the day…] Because I was feeling ill, we stayed home from church and I spend some time reclining in my bedroom while my children “watched TV” in the other room. I put that in quotes because that is what they were supposed to be doing. What they were really doing was playing with my flour. I have a gigantic container of whole wheat flour (probably about 10-15 lbs worth), a 5 lb container of unbleached bread flour, and a smaller container of corn muffin mix (from bulk, maybe about 4 cups worth) stacked right in front of the pantry. They were not inside the pantry because there isn’t much room, but if I reorganize it there probably  will be, but I hadn’t done it yet. First mistake. Anyway, the kids had dumped in some of the bread flour into the large container of WW flour and then poured a bottle of red juice into it and then added a bag of 6-7 apples and covered it with the rest of the bread flour. Of course, their aim was off and several cups of flour hit my carpeted floor. The entire container of corn bread mix also hit the floor, though a small amount made it to the bucket. My daughter had flour in her hair, that’s how I knew that they were up to something. Of course, wonder child that she is, she blamed the whole thing on her brother. I was too upset to deal with them, so I sent them to play in their room while I figured out how I was going to go about salvaging what I could from their cooking disaster.
While they were in their room, they took about half the clothes off the hangers and their bedspreads off the bed. What little toys they have in their room were also in the middle of their room. They helped me straighten that (minimally…remember, my head was throbbing and I had the awful feeling of morning sickness, without the pleasant reminder that I was pregnant…) and I put the TV on again only this time, I was watching with them. They wandered around and started playing again, so I flipped it to something a little more stimulating for my adult brain. One can only take so much Dora. It was around this time that they dumped a cup of water onto my bedroom floor (also carpet) but I didn’t realize it until several hours later when I stepped on the soggy animal cracker that was also dropped. They also stole and ate an entire can (small) of almonds. I was ready for naptime by now. I got out those Uncrustable sandwiches (you know the frozen PBJ sandwiches…how much more convenient can you get than frozen PBJ…you don’t even have to slather on the PB, just open a plastic wrapper…all for the low low price of…nevermind, they are ridiculously expensive and only about half a sandwich, plus they are on white glue, errr bread, but the kids like them and they are a special treat). Then it was naptime.
After naptime, I was feeling slightly less nauseous but my head was killing me worse than ever. I rested in my room again. I don’t know why because it didn’t work the first time, but the kids are usually more interesting in the afternoon TV programming, so I thought it would just work until the medicine I had finally resorted to taking kicked in. (Mind you, I’m still in my PJs). That is about when I realized that my son had my bottle of Febreeze and had succeeded in spraying it all over the place, the hall carpet was literally soaked, there was a pool on one of the chairs (thankfully, wood chair), he “washed” one of the apples in it and then headed to his room. After covering that room in lavender fragrance, he headed into my room which is where I intercepted him. There were a million different times where I stopped a child from doing something they shouldn’t have, so I suppose I should rejoice  that it could have been worse.
So, to get to the actual point of why I am writing this…in the evening, I realized that my husband had filled up the oil lantern and the kids were curious what it was all about, so I read the instructions and lit the wick. After enjoying the warm light for about 20 minutes, I told them that we had to turn it off because the living room was too dirty. So, I flipped on the lights, blew out the flame and began to clean the living room. For the first time all day, the kids and I actually worked together. Jordyn and I had done some laundry, she was very excited to get to be the one that actually switched on the machine and put the soap in it. (Hmm…I think I see a daily chore here…). While that was running, we picked up the million different random things that were laying around and the kids did fairly well as “go-fers” and we had it all picked up and vacuumed before they tired of the game. I didn’t pick on them when Jordyn decided that she was some sort of animal so every time I told her to put something somewhere, she carried it with her teeth (ouch!) while crawling on hands and knees. I just allowed them to help out whenever they came back into the room and I had a steady supply of things for them to run and do.
Finally, we gathered the candles out of Mommy’s room (I love candles) and we put the lantern on the coffee table in the living room and we went around the house turning off the lights. It was late, so the kids didn’t get to enjoy the candle light too much, but they still had fun. Now, here I am, sitting on my couch with my coffee table full of candles and one oil lantern, while I type away on my laptop. What a juxtaposition. I remember seeing that exact same thing on one of my favorite blogs, Lentils and Rice. She is taking a blogging break right now otherwise I would link to the post I am talking about. I think I could really get used to this type of lighting. It probably isn’t as cheap as a battery-powered flashlight and it definitely isn’t as poweful or bright, but I am thinking that in the evenings, when I want to wind down and when I want the kids to wind down, a little lantern glow and the wonderful flickering flames of candles might just be the ticket. I love it.
The lantern and oil combined cost less than $10.00 and the amount of oil I got will last for a long time. I will be doing this again, definitely. Totally worth it!!! Now, I may look into some nice beeswax candles. What a relaxing tone to set for the evenings and a wonderfully peaceful way to end this crazy day.

Am I the only one who cares about communication?

Not having seen a healthy Christian relationship work…ever…I am a bit at a loss to know exactly how husbands and wives are supposed to relate to one another. I LOVE talking. It is how I process my thoughts and feelings and how I get close to another person. It is my “sex” if that is okay to say. The thing is, the person I want to talk to more than anyone else (my spouse) is not a talker.

How to I negotiate this? How do I “get all my words out” and still submit to his authority? Is my desire to discuss all my future hopes and dreams really my own assertions that he can’t do the job properly, my way of taking back some control? Or is this just a need that should be met by my husband? Am I being selfish? I definitely can’t trust the world’s view on this and even in some Christian circles the male/female relationships have gotten convoluted. 
I have been reading some good blogs lately and like I posted in the previous post, I have been doing a lot of thinking about the Christian Agrarian lifestyle and the community that can follow (or does follow if you live in Santa Anna, TX). [See Biblical Agrarianism and Lazarus Unbound and my personal favorite Country Mom, whose blog I follow on my sidebar] These issues that I keep mulling over are the ones that I so desperately want to discuss with the one person that can truly impact these decisions, my husband. He does allow me to talk about them, but the discussion is usually one-sided because he doesn’t have any new information to add. It is always a sermon; me giving away information and not knowing how to ask for any reciprocation. I can’t jump into this lifestyle on my own besides being completely impractical, it feels out of the bounds of womanly submission. I know that once Eric gets into this stuff, I think he will really like it (which scares me a little bit too!) because he has never been a “city boy.”
Argghhh!!! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Do I just stay silent, on my knees waiting for the Lord to move in my husband? How much do I say, when do I say it? Ladies, please just pray for discernment on my part. I tend to focus on other people so much (and their flaws…if only he would change…) that I miss what the Lord is trying to show me. Perhaps He is showing me that I should run to Him for discussion on these topics and trust that Eric will be moved in the direction the Lord wants us to go.

Debating Simplicity

Here I am debating simplicity again. I have so over-debated this subject that I don’t want to post this subject until I can say that I actually have a cohesive thought or revelation. It seems like my post are always on the same things…dresses, dirty house, wanna be simple but it’s too hard..blah, blah, blah.

Lately I have been wondering how simple I have to get. Is just a simple way of life, ie. less stuff, simple food, simple clothing, enough? Can I still be “simple” if I live in an apartment? Do I have to make my own soap? Can I use electricity?

I am already out of time for journalling today. It is Mom’s birthday and need to get going…

Labor Pains

Labor hurts. I think most (if not all) women approach labor and the impending delivery with mixed feelings; joy for the new life and fear of the unknown (and sometimes known) pain. At some point you feel like it just can’t be done, you can’t stand the pain any longer, can’t push anymore…and then they tell you the baby is crowning, you’re almost there, just a little more….with a little more effort, your hard work, blood, sweat and tears have resulted in a beautiful baby. The sound of that piercing cry announcing their presence makes it worth it, and you forget that you ever thought you couldn’t do it. I’m in labor right now, albeit a different variety. I won’t produce a crying baby from this labor, but I might just push through to find a happier, more content family.

We had a busy day today, all in different places, but we ended our days at Wal-Mart doing some grocery and random things shopping. By the time we brought in all the stuff, we were ready for a quick dinner and a nice relaxing evening. Noah, on the other hand, had other plans. He wanted to watch TV. My little 2 year old plopped himself on the couch and repeatedly said, “T-view” which is his version of “TV”. This isn’t abnormal and most of the time, he gets his way. Tonight, I told him no, but he kept repeating himself (he does that often). Then Eric stepped in and told Noah no. Eric has a louder voice than I do. Noah bust into tears. The tears didn’t dry up so Eric sent him to his bed (where are children are told to go if they feel the need to cry). Eric was so upset at Noah’s need to have the TV on that he removed the whole thing several minutes ago. Not only that, but he took out the DVD player (which wasn’t a whole lot of good without the TV, I must admit). I feel like Noah, ready to bust into tears.

The kids might enjoy watching TV and Noah really does seem to have a “need” to watch TV, at least it is the first thing he turns to for comfort and in boredom, but it’s really me that has the need. I love being able to “sleep in” on the couch when I have a bad morning. I love being able to shower during the day. I love being able to direct my children somewhere and have them go willingly and stay there so that I can get something done. I love sitting in front of it myself, watching brainless shows. I love being able to put it on even if it serves as only background noise. What don’t I like? I don’t like that I like those things! I want my children to grow up watching me doing the cooking and cleaning and be working right along side me. I want my kids to break out a game to play when they are bored. I want to have time to read to my children. I want my kids to learn at home, and actually learn! But it still hurts.

This is the labor pain; where I must endure something painful in order to give life to something completely new and wonderful. A woman rarely labors alone, she always has a support system in place, people to comfort and to encourage. She sometimes has a knowledgeable person present who can tell her how much further she has to go and to remind her about what she will gain from persevering through this trial. I find that comfort system in the blogs I read, my family, my husband, and mostly in my Lord. He is my Comforter, the one shouting at me in a mixture of excitement and angst, “you’re almost there, don’t stop yet!”

In many ways, labor is just like anything else in life. We go through the fire in our spiritual lives and come out sanctified and closer to God. We struggle to build up a marriage and end knowing each other better than we know ourselves. As a family, our goal is to be beacons to the world, to support and edify each other, to learn to serve and to unconditionally love each other. A family is a safe place to try new ideas, develop lasting friendships, to learn values and beliefs and bring glory to God. The television doesn’t help any of those things. It is a time waster. There is very little material benefit, and though there are good shows to watch (I personally like watching The Duggar’s show, 17 Kids and Counting), not watching them is just fine as well.

I was at my strongest over four years ago when, after having pushed for three and a half hours, my daughter was still unwilling to come out. They told me that I would need a C-Section and the doctor left to go prep the room. The last thing that I wanted was a C-Section. The nurse in front of me knew that and she told me that I didn’t need one, that I could do it. During the next 30 minutes I was pushing well and my daughter was crying on my stomach. Without that nurse, I might have given up. I knew better, I knew what I wanted but I didn’t think I could do it. I DID IT!!! I pray that I can go back to that moment when my will overcame my want.

Blogging Breaks and Moving

I am not taking a blogging break, but it seems like some of my favorite blogs are. It is probably only one or two, but it feels like a lot more than that. I am realizing that I am addicted to these blogs and that is a dangerous place to be. I remember reading in Created to Be His Help Meet, by Debi Pearl, as she discusses Titus 2: 4-5 that women should be keepers at home. I am a stay at home mom, and I am fighting for the ability to stay at home with the kids during our financial problems yet, am I really at home? When Debi says, “Modern inventions have provided a way for a woman to stay at home and still not be a keeper at home. We can sit at home in body while traveling in spirit by means of the telephone and the computer,” (pg. 212, emphasis hers). What a fitting description of me! I recognize where I am sinning, though I haven’t put that word on it. I call myself a “late-riser” or justify myself by saying that “I’m just not a morning person” as though that somehow gives me the ability to lounge about in the mornings, sipping coffee and surfing the internet while the dishes build up in the sink, the laundry piles grow ever more daunting daily and my children hang out with their friends from Nick Jr. After working so hard during the morning hours, I usually feel the need to nap with the children. If this is not idleness, what is? I have recently started adding a daily chapter from Proverbs into my daily Bible reading and I have found a new favorite verse: “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and they want as an armed man.” Proverbs 24:33-34. And that’s not the only one!!! Proverbs has at least 6 other references to indolent sleep! Guess my problem is a common one? The good news, it isn’t a problem, it is a SIN and since it is a sin, I can go to my Heavenly Father, confess it and be forgiven. Not only that, but He has given me His Holy Spirit to guide me so that I don’t keep sinning!!! What a blessing, praise the Lord!!!

So, where do I go from here? I am starting, as I posted those 5 Simple Rules, to eliminate those distractions from my mornings, in particular. Instead of napping, I want to give myself the ability to read the blogs and surf the internet or call a friend (or my sister, as the case may be) but this way I avoid actually sleeping and I still get the refreshment that is important. The other thing I want to incorporate is “outing days” where the kids and I go out at least twice a week. We have a wonderful Hands On Children’s Science Museum with all sorts of fun activities and we have an annual pass! So it costs us only what we spend to get there…and we can take the bus! I would also like to add a weekly trip to the library. Between those two activities, I would love to add a “community service” type of activity but I don’t know how to go about finding one that is appropriate for young children. Suggestions? I know it is important to instill this into my children and this is a good time in their lives, before schoolwork consumes them (which is still a few years off anyway, I plan to start slowly). Hopefully, adding in a few extra morning activities will be enough to get us going.

The major thing that this gap in other people’s blogs has reminded me is that it is time to pack up my belonging and get moving. For starters, I need to decide, room by room, item by item, what I want to keep and what needs to go to Goodwill or yard sale. Then, after the non-essentials have been packed, they need to be sent to my mother’s house for the time being. After that, we should only have the few possessions that we use on a daily basis. This is a harder step than I anticipated and I find myself holding on to the strangest things. I have sorted my books recently, but deciding which ones to leave out temporarily has caused me some grief (I want to keep them all!) and I am noticing that we have far too many clothes, towels, and sheets. Time to downsize!!! We each only need one towel, right? I am really looking forward to this process, even though it is a slightly painful one; it is good to confront the issue head-on. We might be forced to move quickly and not knowing is allowing me to procrastinate so I am trying to set mini-goals for myself; like a box a day or something similar. It’s all gotta go eventually!!!

Thanks for your prayers and concern over the last few days (and weeks).