Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Do it Again

My heart is heavy today for a number of reasons. One of the big reasons is that I'm finding it hard to wrap my brain around the fact that our state passed a vote yesterday to allow late-term abortions up to 9 months old for any reason. It's such an evil world we live in and it makes wish Christ would return soon. What kind of society cares more for animals than they do for babies?

Stephen is anticipating a rejection for yet another job as he found out last night that they didn't call any of his references and my heart is hurting for him. He is being dropped from our health insurance at the end of February and the cost of insurance is ridiculous for someone who has no income at the moment and our government requires him to have it. Nathan turned in all of his fire gear and officially resigned from the local department and that hurts too as it was something that once brought him such pleasure. Then I took Emily to the doctor yesterday and my 19-year-old was diagnosed with fibrocystic breast disease. It's non-cancerous, and more of a condition than an actual disease, but still a lot to deal with.

It's enough to make me want to pull the covers up over my head in despair. But I'm a strong woman and I don't do that. Instead, I have a good cry and then get back up and keep moving forward. I keep trusting that God is going to work all my personal situations out. And in the larger picture of the evil that is in the world, I also believe as Job 19:25 says, "I know that my Redeemer lives and in the end He will stand on the earth."

It's only Wednesday but feels like an entire week has gone by in just a few days. I've kept busy with different household activities. I've baked bread, delivered a cookie platter, made broth from a chicken carcass, made meals, and found a nifty way to get scorch marks off the bottom of a pot (1 part water to 1 part vinegar and let simmer for a while). I've done laundry, gone grocery shopping, visited a friend in the hospital, sat for 2 1/2 hours at the doctor's office, had a meeting, vacuumed and done countless dishes. 

They've kept my hands busy but I also kept my mind busy by praying for these situations. The gray weather and frozen landscape cause it to feel like winter in my heart too, but I know spring will be here before I know it. Circumstances change and things get better eventually. 

Even though my circumstances can cause me concern, I have Christ in my heart and my hope rests in Him. And that brings me joy every single day! And God has never failed me and He will do it again.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

What's Your Language?


We were chatting as a family after dinner last night and the topic of love languages came up. How do we show love and how do we receive love? It was interesting because the things we do to show love to others isn't always the way they feel it. 

The concept of there being love languages was introduced in the marriage book by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages. He proposes there are five different ways to show and receive love: Acts of Service (Devotion), Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, and Physical Touch. The book was written for husbands and wives on how to create a better marriage, but I find it useful in many of our relationships, including our children.

Steve shared with us that the way he receives love is through words of affirmation and it was a lightbulb moment for me because I wonder how many times I give him what he needs? The answer is probably not enough. More often than not, I'm afraid I'm critiquing him even though I think I'm being helpful. He feels quite deflated and ready to give up at the moment, and I'm afraid at times I deflate him even more. 

I'm using him as an example, but I also need to think about Dan and Nathan and Emily also, and what their love languages are. I'm not going to meet every need but I certainly can do a better job of being aware of how my family feels and expresses love. Sometimes I'm doing things that reflect the way I receive love but that may not be another person's love language.

Having adult children living at home is challenging, no matter how temporary it may be. But as we are working through these issues, I am finding it to be a rewarding process as we continue to stretch, be challenged and grow together as a family.

Some questions for reflection: What is your love language? What is your spouses love language? Your children?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Multitude Monday

Each month I travel an hour and a half away to participate in a Speaking Intensive Workshop. This workshop is made up of pastors and ministry leaders in our district who want to hone their public speaking skills. It's a small group and we offer positive feedback to one another as we speak on a particular topic we are given ahead of time. We have 5-7 minutes to present on the topic.

This month the topic was on gifts and one of the other speakers presented it in a way that struck a chord with me. It was on the idea that our trials and struggles are a gift that God gives to us. I know that I often have reflected that God uses our trials to help us grow, but never thought about them being an actual gift-wrapped present from Him.

Are the things I'm going through - the hard times, the sad times, and the breaking times - an actual gift from God that He gives me? Are they given for my benefit because through them I am stretched and because He longs for us to grow in faith? 

I think some things happen because we live in a fallen world and so we struggle. But as I reflected, I do think this idea is true. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I want to grow in faith and become more like Him in every aspect of my life and often that happens through struggle. I don't like the hard times but if I'm keeping my eyes on God and walking with Him, I get through them.

So if I have grown closer to the Lord and have grown in spiritual maturity and in the way I handle trials and situations in my life then, "Yes!" I have been given a wonderful gift. And that is something for which I can give thanks.

This week I'm thankful for blessings #3,556 - 3,567.

3556. God continuing to work in me through the hard times. 

3557. Safety on the road and good weather for traveling.

3558. Learning to take each day one step at a time and one moment at a time. 

3559. Board games.

3560. The scent of roast chicken wafting through the air.

3561. Boys that get out and help their dad shovel.

3562. I'm thankful that Nathan's boss told him not to come in yesterday because of the storm. Church was canceled and it really was a nice and different kind of day. I'm thankful for snow days.

3563. I registered for our denomination's national conference at the end of May and I'm thankful for the ability to attend. The women's organization that I'm the director of sends me and I'm thankful they see the value in doing so. Because Dan is unable to come, I decided I'm going to use this time for prayer, reflection and listening to what God has to say - a retreat in the midst of a thousand or more people. 

3564. Heat that works in this crazy freezing weather. It's -7 this morning.

3565. I'm thankful that it's a long weekend. Dan and I are heading out this afternoon to visit a friend in the hospital. I still need to add ribbon and frills to this to pretty it up, but I made a cookie platter at her request for her to give to the hospital staff as a thank you for caring for her the past 3 months. I'm thankful that she is starting to turn the corner and get stronger each day.

3566. I'm thankful for my husband and being able to be in ministry together. Our strengths and weaknesses compliment each other well.

and finally....

3567. God's gifts which help me grow.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Looking Forward

As I've journeyed into this new month, God has given me some reminders that I need to keep looking forward at the new things He is doing, and stop looking back and wishing things were the way they've been. This has happened in different ways - certain scriptures He's guided me to, articles I've read and conversations I've had.

Looking forward isn't always easy because I can't see what's coming around the bend in the road. I don't like the unexpected and unfamiliar. I worry and get anxious. But God can't work in a new way if I refuse to budge and keep looking over my shoulder at what's familiar and comfortable.

Sometimes I wonder, and people ask me, "Why are you going through the process of consecration?" "What will you be able to do with it?" And I struggle with those questions because sometimes I'm not really sure. I don't know what the future has in store and it's easier to want to slide back to my safe places. The old roles I've had feel safe and familiar. But God has been nudging me forward into this new place and to be honest, it's not always comfortable and it's scary. 

I also get easily distracted with the old things and slip back quite easily into the patterns and activities I've always had. But God is faithful to remind me again and again that He is bringing me along new paths, new roles and is doing a new thing in my life. 

So while it's scary and I'm uncertain, I do know that God has called me to do this. And I also know that if I'm faithful to follow, He is faithful to not just lead, but walk alongside me. I don't need to know what the future holds; I need to just be obedient in the present. And no matter what, I know that God is with me.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Multitude Monday

As my eyes opened this morning and my brain adjusted to being awake, it took me a few moments to even remember what day it was. And then when my thoughts kicked into gear, I remembered the events of yesterday and felt some of the emotions come flooding back - sadness, anxious thoughts for my eldest child, anger at the unkindness of others. 

Nathan texted us from work very upset over a conversation two co-workers who are college students had in front of him. They were talking about people with disabilities who need job coaches. Both Nathan and another young man have one. Nathan's job coach shows up periodically for a short bit just to see how he's doing and these young men didn't necessarily realize that. They were talking about the other person who has the job coach. One of them wanted to know what a job coach was and the other guy sarcastically said, "Well, to put it nicely, it's for people who can't do anything on their own." Then they continued to talk about people with disabilities who can't function on their own in life.

It caused all of Nathan's insecurities and frustrations about his disability to come flooding back in a moment. Another person reported the incident to Human Resources and Nathan's supervisor texted him a very kind message last night to let him know they took care of it discretely so that Nathan's name wouldn't come up. 

But the damage has been done. We did our best to talk him through it last night but he was very down, angry and defeated. And it really stinks. 

The only thing we can do is to continue to help our son walk through these situations but it does make me sad as a parent. And it deflates me as well because for all of our hard work in helping our son to feel valued, there are twice as many people out there ready to knock him down.

I do know though that Nathan is strong and he will bounce back from this eventually and get back to his normal good humor. He is resilient and will keep moving forward. He has a family who loves him and we do our best to encourage him. And God loves him more than we ever could and is using these things in his life to strengthen him and helping his roots to grow deep.

This week I'm thankful for blessings #3,541 - 3,555.

3541. Stephen got turned down for both job interviews he went on the past two weeks. However, I'm thankful that he has another interview this morning and we are praying that this one gets him the job. 

3542. We have a couple of teens at church who want to go to a winter retreat our denomination's campground has but they can't afford to go. I started a cookie fundraiser to help raise some money and ended up raising enough for them to attend. I'm so thankful for other's generosity in purchasing.

3543. I had a very productive week of work and was able to get a district mailing out.

3544. I had a breakfast meeting on Saturday which was the first I've done with my fellow children's workers. I'm thankful for an encouraging and productive meeting.

3545. I'm thankful for the ability to bless my family with my cooking and baking. Last night's dinner was beef stew and biscuits and it's a good feeling when there are no leftovers.

3546. Hugs from children. A little boy who was in my 3D Kids program last year moved away. His family moved back this past week and he came to church with his grandmother. When he saw me he ran and jumped into my arms. That's the best feeling in the world!

3547. My daughter is working through her own anxiousness about possibly joining a sorority on campus. I am so proud of the good head on her shoulders. She is still working it out but I'm impressed with her reasoning skills and ability to think through all the angles and pros and cons of doing that. 

3548. Emily was also asked to be a teaching assistant next semester and I'm thankful that she is having these types of opportunities which will help her in the future.

3549.  I'm thankful for a good mechanic. Our cars are old and have over 200,000 miles on them. Our latest issue is the shock/strut broke on our Toyota and it's going into the shop today. I am thankful that we have a mechanic we can trust who does a good job keeping them going.

3550. I'm thankful that my friend, Pat, who I've asked prayer for a few weeks ago is doing better. She's been through a rough time and they finally took the gall bladder out, but she's back in the hospital because one of the drains they put in to drain fluid from her pancreas broke and was leaking into her abdomen. But she is on the mend and able to eat now. Thank you for those who prayed.

3551. It's 13 degrees at the moment but our house is warm and cozy. I'm thankful for that.

3552. I'm thankful that God continues to work on those areas in my life that need to growing and stretching. It's not always easy, but definitely beneficial.

3553. I'm so thankful for the family God has given me. 

3554. I'm thankful for parents and inlaws who while they are getting older are still in fairly good health. Dan's dad turned 84 yesterday and is still active. We are blessed by our parents.

and finally...

3555. Even though it was a rocky start, I'm thankful for this week and the new possibilities of God's blessings.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Frugal Friday

Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one’s self?

I was doing laundry the other day and as I added laundry detergent to the machine I was reflecting on how many of the things I use around here were made my me. 

For example, I made the laundry detergent I was using. The apron I wrap around myself was put together with my sewing machine. I churn out delicious meals each night using just a few simple ingredients. I wash dishes with dishcloths that I have crocheted. We take showers with bars of soap I made. Various table runners decorate table tops and again, I sewed them. My hands mixed and kneaded the bread we had for lunch. The jam I spread on it was made with berries I picked and then cooked down into yummy sweetness.

I'm so thankful that I took the time throughout the years to learn new skills. Those skills have served me well as I have worked to make our dollars stretch. Those wants we do have, I'm generally able to do myself. And that is a satisfactory feeling!

I want to encourage you to not let fear get in the way of trying new things. It's such a good sense of accomplishment when you work to learn a new skill and then get to reap the benefits of that skill. Will it always turn out perfectly the first time you try it? No! But don't give up. Try again and again until you master it and finally, have a success. It's a great feeling!

Some specific ways I've saved or earned this week:

$ Dan flipped the switch on our dining room light the other day and it wouldn't turn on. It's a chandelier that plugs into the wall. After some investigation we discovered a cut in the wire. We aren't sure how it happened but there are no other lights in that area of the room and it is so dark in that corner without the light. So we went out and picked up the necessary materials and I was able to look at some YouTube videos and did the repair myself. According to the video I didn't need the electrical tape, but used a bit anyway on the ends of the wire. Better safe than sorry! 

$ I made chicken soup the other night with a leftover chicken carcass from the meal we had the day before. I decided to make dumplings and they turned out great. They just took some flour, salt, baking powder, milk and oil and in less than 5 minutes were whipped up and simmering in the broth.

$ I've been working in the church all week but don't want the church to incur a large heating bill. So I use the room in the front of the church that has a small gas-powered heater on the wall. I close the door and turn that on with the blower and it's enough to heat the space without me having to turn up the main heat. Well, that....and some warm clothes and a hot cup of tea. ;-)

$ Okay, the following is a way I have NOT made money this week. A woman who saw my items at a craft fair back in November called me and asked if I could make her a KitchenAid mixer cover. She told me she had the fabric so I told her I'd just charge her for my time. Well when I received the package in the mail it turns out the fabric was a small round table cloth, along with the batting. There wasn't enough to use one large piece for the panel that would cover the front and back of the mixer. 

I measured and started out just trying to make it the way I do the teapot cozies. But then realized it wasn't going to fit properly. Because I didn't have enough fabric I had to improvise and I ended up spending about 4 1/2 hours cutting, piecing, ripping out, resewing, ripping out again and pasting together this cover. It has side panels that had to jut out to fit and they don't sit right. I used my own fabric to line the inside and the pocket that she has already sewn together and left with unfinished edges. 

I am NOT happy with how it looks and to be honest, she probably won't be either when she gets it. I charged her $15 for my time which didn't cover my time. So I made about $ 3 per hour and that didn't include the fabric I used for the lining. I couldn't bring myself to charge the time I really spent, especially given the fact that I don't like how it looks. 

Which is another reason I don't like doing custom orders that involve other's fabric!! Okay, rant over. lol

So I learned how not to make a mixer cover, but in the process have discovered what should be done in the future. So I may actually try again because practice makes perfect.

Those are my frugal (and not so frugal) offerings for the week.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Treading Water

The winter blahs have hit and it's a bit depressing in my house these days. There are times when I feel as if I'm treading water and trying to keep from sinking.

There are a number of reasons for this. Some of it is the time of the year it is. I crave sunshine and we get very little of it here during the winter. So there is a perpetual gray blanket over everything. Because my vitamin D levels are fairly low I take a supplement each day. I'm not sure that's necessarily helping with my mood, but it helps with the physical aspects of the deficiency. Because it hasn't snowed like it normally does, I've also gotten out to walk and that helps a bit.

Some of the discouragement is for my son who is trying so hard to find work and yet gets rejection after rejection. So he is depressed and anxious which comes often comes out as anger. So we are walking through this depression with him.

And then the other night without thinking I squatted down to get something, felt a jolt in my knee and heard it make a sound. The MCL which hasn't hurt at all in the past month and a half is aching again. Sigh. I'm sitting here with an ice pack on it this morning so that's discouraging.

However, I've been pushing through the gray feeling and taking some steps to alleviate it. I've been taking all of my work next door in the church just to get a change of scenery and I'm finding that's been one of the best things for me. I'm not distracted with other things so have been getting a lot of work done. It gets me out of the house for a while which is a good thing.

Last night I found a box of lights I bought and never used, and I've strung them up. I like them and they make me happy! 

Dan and I get out to walk when we can. Just being out in the fresh air is invigorating. The wind was whipping off the lake so much yesterday that we could barely stand and couldn't hear each other above the roar of the waves.

And I've been praying each morning that God would give me a heart of joy for that day so that no matter what is going on around me, I'm not sinking down beneath the waters of discouragement. And it's helping!

So while things are discouraging, there is hope. There is peace. And I have a deep down joy in my heart that God is bigger than all these problems and He will provide what we need!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

I'm currently reading through the book of Acts and in fact, finished up the last chapter this morning. The thing that struck me as I read of the story of Paul is that his perspective was always one where his goal was to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

He was flogged, imprisoned, threatened and mistreated and yet, he didn't give up. He kept right on preaching. No matter what happened to him, he kept his mission in mind. Even when he was shipwrecked and had to swim for his life to shore, he seemed to have little thought for himself, but for those around him.

As I reflected on Paul's life this morning, I was also reminded that the things God allows in our lives should be instruments we can use to share His Good News with others. When I'm going through a hard time, do I talk about God's faithfulness? When I'm struggling do I continue to tell others about how the Lord is working through the struggle? Do I remain faithful even when I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were in prison and the text tells us that they were singing hymns of praise to God and the prisoners were listening to them. Amazing! They weren't in a modern day prison with beds and all the amenities that come with it. They were in a cold, dank dungeon and in chains. And yet they were praising God and as a result, God drew people to Himself.

Dan and I had a good talk with a friend last night who is in a hospital bed. And we all came to the conclusion that we don't know why God allows certain things in our life. Sometimes, the hard times are just part of living in a fallen world. Bad things will happen to everyone of us at some point in our lives. But the questions is, what is our response to those things? Will we praise God and draw others to Him, or will we curse and whine and carry on? And if we do the latter, the reality is no one will come to know Christ and we ourselves will never grow and will drift further away from Him.

It's been a challenging read, but a good one and a reminder that I want to remain faithful no matter what my circumstances. How about you?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Multitude Monday

Another Monday and the start of another week. I continue to count my blessings each week because it's in the counting that I see the many ways that God is working in my life. There are times when I think, "Why do I continue to do this?" But I know that it's beneficial because no matter what I'm going through I can see little glimmers of God's hand. 

Dan and I walked on Saturday and it was such a beautiful day. It felt more like March than early January and this is the first time since we moved here 5 years ago that we haven't had snow measuring feet. It's wonderful!

As I walked and breathed in the scent of pine and lake air, I felt so overwhelmed with happiness. I truly am designed to be out in nature. It's amazing that no matter what I'm going through if I'm out walking with my camera all the stress melts away. 

As I walk I feel thankful and blessed. I'm led into times of worship and prayer. I am overwhelmed with God's provision and work in my life. It was sweet!

This week I am thankful for blessings #3,530 - 3,540.

3530. Stephen's job interview went well and now he is just waiting to hear if he got the job. Please pray for him as waiting is difficult.

3531. I was able to get some major reports and work done last week. I'm thankful for that and the time of refocusing on the task at hand.

3532. Christmas decorations are put away both in the church and at home. I'm thankful for a productive week.

3533. My daughter comes in our bedroom every night before we go to bed so we can pray for her. I'm so thankful that she still wants to do that and I know this precious time will be coming to a close soon.

3534. Children that make me laugh. They've been quite witty lately. lol

3535. I feel so blessed this morning by a very sweet video that a woman in our church organized and put together as a thank you to Dan and I for our ministry here. She showed it as a surprise in church yesterday.

3536. I started a cookie fundraiser yesterday to send a few of our teenagers who can't afford the fee to Teen Chill Winter Camp. We had such small numbers in church yesterday but even with only a few people raised enough for one full camper to go.

3537. Thankful for clarity as I finished putting together a message for this morning at the nursing home I go to twice a month. 

3538. Hope. No matter how bleak things may seem, I'm so thankful for God's hope because it always seems to be there in abundance.

3539. Discovering a new trail to walk on the other day; a new adventure.

and finally...

3540. Another week of seeing God's hand on my life.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Frugal Friday

It's a new year and a new slate as far as finances go so I thought it would be good to start this first Friday in January with a Frugal Friday post. 

Each year I make up a spread sheet on Excel for both our personal finances and my business finances. It makes it so much easier to figure out where our spending is happening when I have it categorized. It also makes it easier for our taxes. Of course, I usually get busy with "life", forget to enter information in, and then have to spend a ton of time going back through the checkbook and entering in a few months at a time. My plan this year is to do it at the end of each month.

Dan and I want to try and do a better job of patching up the holes in our "ship." Because things are tight we do need to work on watching every nickel and dime. We are finding a lot of money gets frittered away in our trips to pick up Emily, stopping at Dunkin Donuts for coffee and little things like that. I think one of the ways I can control some of that is by packing some snacks or a lunch when we are off on a trip. This way we aren't tempted to stop to eat out. 

Another thing that happens is if we run out of milk or something and Dan decides to stop at the store and pick it up. Inevitably, he'll pick up 5-10 other things he thinks we need. And sometimes I'm the one doing it too. The problem with that is that it adds up and I can usually get it cheaper elsewhere because I'm up on prices. So we've talked about only sticking to getting what the stop was for, and curtailing some of that type of spending. 

As I looked at our grocery bill for the month, I think we would be better off shopping once a week and spending a bit more on that end which may help some of the other things I mentioned above. Even though it costs more at the time, I've been trying to buy the bigger family pack items of things such as toilet paper, tissues, and other items because it's cheaper by the unit price. 

I like the new year because it's a time to sit and look back over our finances for the year, and then look forward to see how we can tweak things. I actually am making enough with my sewing business that I can take the burden of one or two of the bills off of Dan which will help. 

I'm looking forward to not just a frugal year, but also a fruitful one!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

On the Tenth Day of Christmas: For Your Amusement

The day we got it.

I decided to do one more day of Christmas for your amusement. I took all the decorations down in the church yesterday, but decided to wait and enjoy ours for a bit longer. My plan was to do it all on Saturday.

However, for the past day as I've been sitting in the living room and doing work, I keep hearing thuds and rustling in the tree. The ornaments are starting to fall off the tree on their own. I think the tree is telling me that it wants to be free of them! It is getting droopy and sad looking. The color isn't has vibrant and the scent is definitely getting stronger which generally is sign of dying branches.

6 weeks later
So the decision has been made for me. I'll be taking all the ornaments off today and then on Saturday the whole thing will go out into the woods. I think I'm not going to turn the lights on anymore either since it's starting to have the look and feel of kindling! lol 

It had a good run and I'm not looking forward to vacuuming up all those needles once it starts moving towards the door.