Light

Darkness. Sin. Worldliness. Hate. Anger. Hurt. Grief. Gossip.
They’re all part of life everyday. We’re surrounded by them, we’re affected by them and we’re involved with them. This weekend we remember the death of Jesus (and His resurrection). As I read through the story this last week with the boys, I couldn’t help but imagine the despair His followers felt. The hopelessness and darkness. What always astounds me is that they didn’t remember what Jesus told them. They had a heads up. He told them that He would rise again. But they were so surrounded by darkness and the world around them that they didn’t have hope.
We are like that sometimes. We get so wrapped up in the world around us, in the sin and despair that we forget the promises we have from God. We’re not promised an “easy” life, but we are promised that He will be with us every step of the way. We are promised that He will give us strength to endure the trials we go through. But yet we are like the disciples and Jesus’ followers. We forget.
I think too, this weekend of the sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf. Apart from the fact that He was put to death a completely innocent man, and I think of not only the physical pain and suffering He endured, but the despair He felt. Because Jesus took on my sin and yours, God turned away from Him and poured out the wrath that you and I deserve on His own son. The worst thing I can imagine is being apart from my God. Being isolated, attacked without defense and left alone. I am so thankful that because of the sacrifice of my Savior Jesus Christ, I am able to have a relationship with God. I don’t have to be alone, I don’t have to be engulfed by the darkness that rules this world. I am promised eternal life in Heaven with God.
The light of Christ gives me hope in this dark world. It is His light that guides me and leads me through the trials. I am so thankful that I have hope because of the sacrifice that was made for me. Jesus died on the cross to pay the price of my sin so that I wouldn’t have to. Isn’t that awesome? I have light in this dark world…I have hope and I have a future.

I wish I could hide

I thought that losing 20 pounds would make me feel a little more confident when I wore a swimsuit.
Nope. Not at all. Not even a little bit.
We took an impromptu trip this week to a place with an indoor pool. The kids were stoked, I was nervous. I am generally a pretty modest person, swim suits are not my forte. I would prefer one that covered me from head to toe.

I stand there at the side of pool and debate. I feel like I have a huge flashing sign above my head…I am terrified that I am being judged. I wonder if other people feel as self conscious as I do.
Not only that but I wonder how some women have the confidence to just be out there. I wonder how I can get me some of that confidence. The kind that allows them to not walk around with a towel covering them from head to toe. And scramble for cover the minute the step out of the pool.  I wonder then…do I really want that kind of confidence?

Of course, I want to swim with my children, but do I really want to be totally confident showing parts of my body that don’t see the sun to complete strangers? Let’s face it, no matter how modest the bathing suit, you still show more of your body than your probably should. Truth be told, even if all my muscle groups were toned and I was the size I was in high school, I wouldn’t be comfortable.
So what is the solution? How can we be God honoring but yet engage with our families? I wonder if there is room for both modesty, comfortable without baring too much, and swimming.

 

New Recipe Monday — Ham rolls

So probably not the healthiest thing in the world, but a student brought these last week to a class potluck. They are super easy and make the perfect potluck food. They’re also really yummy!
1/2lb sandwich sliced ham (you can also use turkey)
1 brick cream cheese
1 bunch green onions.
Soften the cream cheese so that is it spreadable. Lay one slice of ham out on a plate, spread cream cheese over entire slice. Place green onion at one end and roll up. Continue with remaining ingredients. I put the rolls in the fridge for a few hours to allow the cream cheese to firm up. Then slice the rolls into 1/2 inch slices. Serve.
That’s it! They were way easy!! I think the next time I make them I’ll probably stir in an can of drained green chilies to the cream cheese and then prepare as directed. These little treats have summer barbeque written all over them. 🙂

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Turning a corner

I had a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders this week. Friday was a day I never thought would come. Friday was the day…

I quit my job.

Whew! I feels so good to say that. I have been teaching at PCC for 5 years. I have taught many night classes and summer classes and been on overload more than I would like to admit. But Friday, I told my boss I would not be renewing my contract in fall. I have committed to teaching a couple of classes this summer, but I will officially be done in May.

I quit, so I could stay home with my children. I quit so that our family could be obedient to what God has called us to do. For some time, we have been doing things backwards at our house. In 2006, we packed up everything and I started working as a travel nurse. Kerry was home full time and in school full time. We moved here in 2007, for my job. And to be totally honest we have been miserable with the whole situation of me being outside the home and him being here. Kerry is a wonderful father to our children, but God designed for mothers to be at home.  Me working outside the home has served it’s purpose, but it’s time for that season to be over.
I am delighted at the prospect of spending my days at home raising my children full time, instead of just 2 or 3 days a week. Kerry and I are both delighted at the idea of not having to juggle our schedules around each other or feel like 2 ships passing in the night. More than anything though we are thrilled to finally be in God’s will for our family.




You might ask…”What are  you guys going to do?” Honestly? We don’t know. We have felt like this was the first step in being obedient to God. We are trusting in Him to provide for us because we are being obedient to His call. We are both incredibly peaceful about the future. Kerry would like to be in  ministry full time. He will be searching out job opportunities that will allow him to minister as God has called him. Where and how that will be…we don’t know. Someday he would like to pursue seminary, if God provides that opportunity for us, right now it’s just not feasible for our family financially.

I will still be teaching online and I plan to keep my nursing license up to date. Someday there may be a season where I am called back into the workforce or to use my nursing education to serve God. I do miss the hospital and witnessing the miracle of birth. I have missed that, but both Kerry and I have resolved that we will not sacrifice our children or our family for me to work outside the home. Raising children, godly children, is the most important job there is for me. I am excited about what lies ahead for our family, even if we don’t know what that is.
 
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Thoughtful Thursday — Now THAT is serving

So last night I had an experience with a mother’s nightmare (okay, major embarrassment). My son got sick at Wednesday night church, on the floor in front of everyone. After I made him eat his supper. I felt terrible. I was embarrassed for my son and I was dreading the clean up.

Kerry came to get me to let me know our son was sick. Here’s the kicker though, when I went to go clean up the “getting sick” part, one of our highschoolers from Journey was cleaning up after our son. I told her I would be happy to clean it up and that she didn’t have to. She said “I know you can, but I am happy to help.” She cheerfully helped clean up after my son.
Her grace in that situation astounded me. It’s one thing to clean up after your own child, but completely different to clean up after someone else’s. Not only that, but she is in highschool. There aren’t many highschool aged girls who would willingly jump in and clean up after a kiddo has been sick on the floor. It’s gross for anyone, but I was thoroughly impressed with her behavior and her willingness to serve our family.

Words could not express my gratitude or the humbleness I felt at her attitude. We try to teach our boys to serve others and serve their siblings through character training and giving them practice in service. I don’t think any lesson could have been driven home more than the one that was demonstrated last night to our family.

New Recipe Monday

I have a busy day ahead. So busy in fact, that the boys did their schoolwork for today already last Friday because I knew there was no way we were going to get to it. Our youngest has a doctor appointment this morning at 10:45. I don’t know why I made the appointment for so late in the morning, it completely cuts up our day. Then it’s off to buy a few groceries that I didn’t pick up this weekend, post office and to the cell phone place to deal with some things there. I’m hoping we’ll be able to meet Daddy for lunch today since we’ll be out and about.
I have our menus planned out for the next two weeks, complete with notes about when to take meat out of the freezer (I’ve been forgetting lately and I don’t like to defrost it in the microwave). I prepared this crockpot dish last night and put it in the fridge. I turned it on this morning and by evening we should have a nice warm dinner waiting for us.
It’s a new recipe for our family and I’m excited to try it. I really like sauerkraut. I think this soup will go nicely with some wheat bread or dark rye. If I have time I’ll make some in the bread machine I got from my Grandma Quiring (Thank you!).
6 c. Chicken broth (I used 8 cup water)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 (bigger lengths) of Polish or Kielbasa sausage cooked and sliced
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (I didn’t have green, so I used red)
2 med onions, chopped
4 potatoes, chopped (I used 6 so I could use up the last few in the bag)
4 carrots, chopped
16oz mushrooms, sliced (I omitted these, they just didn’t sound good for this soup)
2 cans sauerkraut drained (I wish I would have had homemade, but used canned)
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp dill weed.
Cook on low 10 hours.

Picky picky

I have picky eaters in my family. In fact, as we speak one of my older children has been sitting at the table for the last hour and half trying to choke down his dinner. I’m at a loss. I don’t want to raise my children to be ungrateful for the food they’ve been given or to be wasteful. We want them to be appreciative of the person making the food.  But this is the second time this week we’ve had this struggle.

We have tried a number of strategies when it comes to eating. We’ve tried taking away snack and dessert after supper if you don’t finish, or at the very least eat as many bites as you are years old. We’ve tried taking away privileges, or sitting at the table until said amount has been eaten, there were nights we sat at the table until bedtime.

So for the last year or so we’ve had a “veto” rule in our house. Every member gets one veto food. That means they don’t have to eat it if mom makes it. They don’t get to complain about how it smells, or that they hate it, or that everyone else is eating it and it’s grossing them out. They just don’t have to eat it. The veto food can’t change, except for once a year on their birthday. Otherwise, we’d have a new veto food every week. Our current veto foods are Mom: Carrots (I was made to eat them as a child, but have never liked them, I do eat them once a year just to make sure). Gabe: Green beans, Otto: Verenika, Zeke : Onions (although he’ll eat them if he doesn’t know they’re in something), Titus: We haven’t found anything he won’t really eat yet. Dad eats everything even if he doesn’t like it so he doesn’t have a veto food.

The veto system has cut down on the number of struggles we have at dinner time about what to eat and the expectations when we’re eating, BUT it hasn’t ended them completely.

For the record we don’t make them eat everything on their plates, at minimum they eat as many bites as they are years old and I don’t make wild exotic foods that no one would like. I make regular stuff like fajitas, stir fry, chicken casseroles and grilled cheese.

I don’t want them to be served a dinner that someone (me, dad, grandma or future wife etc) worked hard to prepare and turn their nose up at it and then ask for a peanut butter sandwich. Not only that but I don’t want to raise a kid who only eats 3 foods by the time they’re 20. I mean seriously did you see the article about the girl who only eats chicken nuggets?

I also don’t do the “if they don’t eat they go hungry” stuff either. Something about it just doesn’t sit right with me.”They” say you have to introduce foods 21 times before kids acquire a taste for them. But I’m not sure I believe “them”. I’m really not sure what the solution is here or even if there is one.

So what are your solutions for picky eaters? I need suggestions.

Spring

I am so ready for spring it’s not even funny. I don’t know why, but I’m sick of winter and we haven’t even had a particularly hard one at that. It’s supposed to be in the 60s here on Wednesday and I can’t tell you how excited I am , even though it’s going to be very windy. I’m hoping to be able to run outside instead of on the dreadmill. (I feel like a hamster on that thing).

I wonder some, if my desire for spring is because I’ve been in  a funk since Knox was born. I’m eager for more sunshine and the “fresh start” that spring brings. I’m anxious to start planting our garden and watch things grow. I’m ready to see bits of green on the trees and ground rather than brown and dull.

There is something about watching things around me come to life again after a long cold winter. To hear the birds singing and see the little plants poking through the ground. There is always that day when you look around and suddenly realize how green everything has become. And then there’s the first time you smell that someone has cut their grass. Unfortunately here in PW, there isn’t much grass to be cut.

I think it’s the optimistic freshness of spring that I want more than anything these days. The HOPE of something new on the horizon, the HOPE of something better, of something yet to come.


Most of the time pruning is done in winter, just before new growth begins. One of the reasons for this is because the “wound” on the tree is exposed for a shorter period of time before the new growth emerges. It seems like it’s that way with God sometimes. He prunes us just before we start growing. And He prunes those He loves. Pruning is a way to care for a tree; it prevents disease, damage, it promotes health and most importantly we prune so that trees will bear more fruit. 

John 15: 1-3
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.





God uses our trials and our winters to prune us, so that we can bear fruit. Sometimes that’s so we can bear the fruits of the spirit or the fruits of leading others to know Him.


I am so thankful that God gives us a time of renewal after a trial. That we have the opportunity to bear fruit again after being dormant. I’m thankful that He puts people in our paths to help guide us through that difficult and long winter.

I am ready for spring, I am ready for the hope that comes tomorrow.

Sneaky

It caught me this week. It snuck up on me when I thought I was doing okay. 

Last weekend marked 2 months since Knox was born. I thought I was doing okay, but I have been really angry this last week. I mean really angry. And I’m not an angry person. I’ve been angry at God for taking Knox from our family. I have been angry about women who are complaining how uncomfortable they are in their pregnancies. I have been angry at people asking for my time. My internal dialogue has not been nice or kind. Thankfully my “filter” has been engaged most of the time and the comments running through my head stay there and don’t spew angry stuff all over those around me.

I know that anger is a normal part of the grief process, but to be honest I thought I’d moved through it and it was over. I would rather be a crying mess part of the time than be an angry person. So in an effort to get some of this whole anger stuff out I’m going to share some of the things I was thinking this week.

I broke down in hot tears several times this week while I was driving to school or coming home. I would be praying to God about whatever was on my heart and it would just come bubbling up from out of nowhere. I would just let Him have it. I am angry that we had to go through this. I am angry that our family lost a child that was so wanted, desired and prayed for. I don’t understand. I know God doesn’t have to tell me and I trust that there is a purpose for our loss, but I don’t get it now and that makes me angry. I feel robbed.

I struggle with feelings like God “owes me one” because He took our son. In fact, there was one point this week as I was driving that I remember shaking my finger and saying “You owe me God.” Pretty irreverent, and totally not my call. God doesn’t owe me anything. He sent His son to die on the cross for my sins. His sinless perfect son suffered so that I could spend eternity with Him. He doesn’t own me anything…He’s already given me the best gift there is. But…it’s hard not to feel that way in my flesh.

But you know…because we’ve decided to let God plan our family it is up to Him whether we’re blessed with more children or not. As much as I don’t want to end on a failure (and it does feel like a failure), it’s not up to me. Part of trusting Him means we’re okay with it even if He doesn’t add to our family. To be honest, I’m not at that point yet. I don’t want to be done being pregnant. I don’t like the thought that my first home birth could also be my last. I’m not okay with that. I’m still learning and “discussing” this issue with God. I know it’s not my call, but I’m praying for peace.

I’ve been angry pregnant women. Something I thought would never happen. I love pregnant women. I’m angry that they get to have their pregnancies (and eventually their babies) and I don’t. I have been really irritated lately when I see or hear a pregnant woman complain about how “uncomfortable” she is or how bad it sucks to be sick. I would give anything to feel those things rather than the black hole in the middle of my chest. I really just want to grab them by their shoulders and say “Just be THANKFUL! Cherish it…You don’t know how special it is.” I get it though. I don’t blame them, it’s not their fault, but I have a different perspective. My view is jaded now.

My prayer has been this last week for God to take the anger away. And it’s still here. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s something that I just have to work through or if it’s to teach me another lesson (I’m guessing it’s this one). I have made the deliberate choice this last week to not let my anger affect how I treat those around me. I have prayed everyday, sometimes before I speak every sentence, for God to give me kind and compassionate words for those around me. To not let it spill over into how I interact with my children, my husband, my friends and my students. He has answered my prayer. For that I am thankful.

I have resolved to not let my anger consume me. I’m not denying that I feel it, but it will not be the only thing I feel. I have been reminded in Proverbs 16: 32 “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” 


I pray that I will be restored emotionally. That I will be able to rest in Him. That the anger will go away and be replaced with the kind of peace that only God gives. I trust that God will do that for me because He loves me. I pray that one day He will bless us with another baby. That I will be able to deeply inhale the smell of my newborn child and that we will rejoice in the blessing of watching our boys welcome a sibling. But I also pray that if that isn’t His will that He will give me peace and will heal my heart. I trust that will all come in His timing. 



In the mean time though, I am praying that the anger that rages inside me will be replaced with peace and understanding. I will look at things from a different perspective. I will remember to cherish the blessings I already have. That I won’t be so anxious to look for the next one, that I forget about the ones I have right in front of me. 


Ecclesiastes 11:10

So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting.