Friday, April 27, 2012

Easy Pot Roast Dinner

I made pot roast for dinner last night, which my family loves. I remember being intimidated by this dish as a new wife. Some people cook it in a pot, some in the oven some in a crock.  Which is best?  My favorite way is in a pot because it's easy and I like to sear the meat.  

Now that I've made it so many times, I can't believe how forgiving this simple dish is.  Cook books can make it seem complicated.  I hope my directions will not. :)

Just remember that you need to start this meal about 3 hours before you plan to eat dinner.  I usually start mine by 3pm. 

All you need:

A 2-3 lb chuck or round eye round roast, rinsed and patted dry
1 TBSP oil for browning
2-4 cups water (or beef broth) depending on size of meat. (More meat, more water.)
1 TBSP minced garlic
1-2 TBSP good sea salt (celtic is the best)
2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar (quality counts here)
1 TBSP Oregano
4-6 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 cups sliced (or baby) carrots
1 onion, quartered

* The approximate measurements are because Roasts come in varying sizes. The bigger the roast, the more of each thing you would want to use.  Just common sense! :)
* The vinegar is so good, you should not skip it.  It helps tenderize the meat and gives fabulous flavor

Heat large pot over med-hi heat. Pour in oil and swirl pot to cover surface. Sear meat (do not lower heat) on all sides working with a strong metal spatula and metal tongs to keep positioning it. Let each side sear for a good minute or two. When all sides are seared, pour water over all.  Pour vinegar over meat. Slather meat with the minced garlic (the jarred kind is a great time saver).   Sprinkle with the Oregano and salt.  Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 2 hours. 

After two hours, add all the vegetables, making sure they go around the roast in the liquid. Sprinkle with a little more salt. Continue cooking for 30 more minutes or until potatoes can pierced easily with a fork.

Remove meat and vegetables to a platter.  Combine 2-3 Tablespoons of cornstarch to 1/2 cup water and stir till dissolved. Add to liquid in the pot, bring to boil and stir till thickened. This is your gravy.  Spoon over meat and veggies.  So good. Mmmmmm. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Picky Eaters

Do you have picky eaters in the family?  This article suggests that childhood experiences do influence how picky a person becomes as an adult.  It can be confusing with so many different voices in media today on how to feed well. But I really think balance is key. It is key in both a parent's attitude and what they expect. In short, God's wisdom is very much needed. It's a good thing that it is free for the asking. :)

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Research shows that eating a variety of foods leads to better overall health. I've known some picky Moms who actually pass on their food dislikes to their children which is a shame because they may like things that she doesn't.  I don't happen to be a picky eater and I've somehow managed to pass on my appreciation for variety to my kids. They try most anything I serve which I am so grateful for.

It's wise to leave out some foods, such as mushrooms, until they've matured enough to accept them. Mushrooms aren't that nutritional anyway. :)

I used to make my kids "eat just one' when I'd add them to homemade pizza but I stopped a couple years ago because I didn't want them to grow up hating them before they had a chance.  I love mushrooms, but I didn't taste one until I was 17 so my taste buds had matured enough to appreciate them. Now they are one of my favorite foods.  

I think there is a lot of wisdom needed on a mother's part to deal with feeding her children and the ones who are never taught how veggies taste in the original state are at a great disadvantage.

Hiding veggies in food is beneficial, but can't replace the discipline afforded from eating them au naturale.  I have always served them in a variety of ways - fresh, raw, steamed, broiled, simmered, grilled or sauteed -  and my kids eat them without issue.  I don't know if I'm just lucky or if my gentle but firm approach is the cause.

Balance Begins in the High Chair.

When my children were babies. I always introduced small tastes of common "unfavorites" baby foods (like peas) along side their more their palatable favorites (sweet potatoes, green beans and fruits) and then increased them gradually until they became normal to them. Variety was key.  Over time new foods were accepted and their taste buds and palates slowly matured.

At our house, vegetables are always given and expected to be eaten. When I serve a food that isn't their favorite, I give them a very small portion and this is usually successful in eliminating battles. It's also very healthy to slather them in real butter and sprinkle with real sea salt. These not only aid in digesting veggies, it makes them so delish.

And while we all have personal favorites and aversions, none of my kids are picky eaters now. They like and eat healthy foods of all kinds and I'm confident that they are getting good, balanced nutrition.  What about you? I would love to know your favorite ways to teach your children not to be picky eaters? 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Respecting Persons

So a couple of weeks ago, we found a church to go to after a long search. It has been a challenge to find a King James Bible reading and believing church. And even this one has some errors.  Yes, I know...there is no "perfect church".  But we aren't looking for perfect.  Just a truly Bible believing group of saved people walking in holiness. But so far, this church is the best we've found yet. And we've been looking for a long time.


Our (my husbands and mine) personal misgivings are titles, traditions of men and tampering with Scripture.  To explain:
    2. Titles: these are the names people like to call themselves and mostly, to be called. Preachers want to be called "Pastor".  Do you think Jesus is going to call them "Pastor John" in heaven? Titles mean an awful lot to men. It's a pride issue I believe.  The positions people have in the church, be it preacher, teacher, bishop, elder or usher, doesn't warrant a precursor title to their name. I think titles should describe their position. Like, "this is John, he is the pastor."  And "this is Paul, an apostle of God".  But in Scripture God opposes having respect of persons:
Romans 2:10-11 ...For there is no respect of persons with God.                                                                                     
Psalms 138:6 Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.                            
Ephesians 6:9 ...neither is there respect of persons with him.
Respect of persons means to respect someone's person - who they are because of their position.  This is not to be confused with giving honor due to those due it. (Rom 13:7) But when someone treats one person with higher esteem than another due to their title or fame, that is respecting persons. 
Some titles reference belief systems.  In our family, we call ourselves Bible Believers or followers of Jesus Christ. Or simply, Christians. But because their are so many 'systems' or doctrines of men, people feel compelled to add titles to their beliefs in order to distinguish themselves by which man they follow.  
Many people at the church we're attending call themselves "Baptists".  But unless their main activity consists of taking people down to the river and baptizing them, there is only one person in history who deserved that title and that was John the Baptist. Some friends of ours call themselves "Reformists", some Presbyterians, and on and on it goes.  
2. Traditions of men.  Doing certain things at certain times in certain ways. Traditions of men. This is offensive to God.  One example: the habit some preachers have of yelling while they preach.  I know they must think this makes their earnestness more apparent, but to me it is the opposite.  I am not deaf.  
Other traditions include certain church protocols. I particularly cringe at the "every head bowed, every eye closed" routine.  Why on earth do some church leaders call for this?  Is humbling yourself before Christ something to be ashamed of? 
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.                                           
 Matthew 10:32-33 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

There simply is no call for people to act or do things any different in a church setting than they would in any other setting. The Lord is with us all the time and our behaviour should be the same no matter where we go or who we're with. If it's done for show, it's insincere.

3. Tampering with the Word of God. There are particular doctrines of men which are simply not in the word of God, such as "once saved always saved". We cannot play "cut and paste" with the Word of God.  Either we believe it as its written or reject it as its written.  But let's not tamper with it. 
Another common but false doctrine of men is the "sin nature".  This is the preaching of having two natures and two men (old and new). This is an anti-scriptural doctrine as well. The Bible contains many scriptures that teach the opposite. 
Colossians 3:9-10 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.
So anyway, we found this church, it happened to be Easter weekend and I was concerned about the stigma attached with people who show up at a church for the first time on Easter, you know?  It's the one time people with guilty consciences attend church in the whole year.  Well, this is not the case with us, but my husband said we wouldn't worry about it, so we went anyway, stigma and all! :)

This is a somewhat newly planted Baptist church (2 yrs old in June) and it's very small, which we actually prefer. I think I counted about 20 adults in the congregation. Yup you heard it right - twenty. :) It could be because the preacher is earnest about preaching the Word of God, and the Word of God is narrow.  And in society today people don't like narrow, they like liberal.  But God said "Narrow is the way that leadeth to life" so we know that narrow, if it is biblical, is actually GOOD.  :)  

So yesterday during the get acquainted time, I enjoyed getting to know some of the people.  One conversation I had with a lady yesterday was particularly interesting. She shared the same name as me only with a different spelling and her first day attending was the same as ours - Easter. So we shared some laughs about the stigma attached to being a first time visitor on Easter.  We shared how we each found this little church and she mentioned Peter Ruckman's college referred her.  She actually called herself a "Ruckmanite" because she agrees so heartily with his teachings. While I understand apprecitate someone's contributions and character, I would never call myself an anything-ite.   

Why is there such unquenchable desire in people to associate themselves with someone they like to the point of becoming a follower, a fan (fanatic), or an "-ite"?  The Apostle Paul noticed this same odd pursuasion and rebuked it:
1 Corinthians 1:12-13 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

I told her that my family and I were not Baptists and she gave me a look of intrigue mixed with surprise. lol. :)  I also shared that I don't call or consider myself a "Ruckmanite" but a Bible believer.  I hope I gave her some food for thought; she looked as if this hadn't occured to her before - to just be a believer and follower of Christ and him alone. 

Sometimes the church today reminds me of the mentality public high schools with all its cliques, groups, clubs and popular kids.  Everyone wants to be associated with the popular kids.  The same thing goes with celebrities. How many people kick themselves because they once knew someone who is now very famous. But they're no longer in contact with that person or perhaps they didn't appreciate them at the time.  But they'd give their eye teeth to know them now.  Why?  Respect of persons
 

Another example of this was in the tv show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  Didn't the builders who volunteered their skill, time, effort and resources do it for the fame, glory and honor?

Psalms 8:5  For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Men love glory and honor. How many of these same individuals would do those same things for some poor soul if ABC and Ty Pennington weren't involved?  If you or I were to organize a humble little building project for someone local, could we get that kind of support for free?  See?  Respecting of persons. 

Jesus said he will have none of it.  And neither should we. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

More Than My Necessary Food

Job 23:12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

I was thinking today about how easy it can be to "forget" to read the precious words of God.  Job tells us that he esteemed them more than his necessary daily nourishment.

Can you imagine going days without breakfast lunch and dinner  -  regularly?  Yet this is what is like spiritually for us when we go days without reading our Bible, "the words of his mouth".
Even just a few verses to meditate on throughout my housework is helpful and nourishing to my spirit. But I would like to get into the habit of making it my daily nourishment. 

I'm so thankful that I have God's Word to read anytime I wish. When I think of the many people in this world who don't have the same privilege it makes me cherish it all the more.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Time Management and My Schedule

My personality tends to be a bit "abstract random" and I do better with a list than a time schedule.  I also think a smooth running house begins with a smooth running woman.  


So it's important to take care of ourselves so we can take good care of our husbands, children and homes.  Some things I do...


  1. Sleep Needs: I like to be in bed by 9pm every night (my husband is usually there before I am due to his early work schedule) and asleep by 10:30pm or sooner. For hormone related sleep trouble, I take 3-5 capsules of the herb Valerian. 
  2. Spiritual Needs: I like doing a crossword and reading from Scripture before I go to sleep.
  3. Exercise Needs: I like doing walk at home aerobics, light weight lifting and walking outdoors. 
  4. Health Needs. I drink filtered water throughout the day, try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible, take good vitamins (Mighty 90) and use herbs for nutritional supplements as well as first aid. 
  5. Beauty Needs: I use good quality eye cream and moisturize my skin with extra virgin coconut oil.
Optimal daily routine:
  1. Start a load of laundry first thing in the morning.
  2. Dress in workout clothes first thing in the morning and get on the treadmill before breakfast.
  3. In the mornings I do a quick clean around the house.
  4. Do any homeschooling and chores.
      Some of my household habits:
  1. I try to have some fruits and vegetables available for snacking and meals.
  2. I like making Saturday the day for changing bed sheets trimming finger and toe nails. 
  3. I like keeping simple staples and baking supplies around so I can whip something up if I need to.
  4. Magnetic shopping list on the refrigerator is great for jotting down items needed.

Cleaning house and regular meals are a big part of keeping the home, but when the well is running dry, I feel like I don't have enough to give my family. It can be very easy for my spirit to run dry. If that is you, too, have some things in place for the low tides and try to keep taking care of yourself.  A relaxed and nourished woman is a happier woman.

So if you keep a schedule, make sure you are in it!


Pray Without Ceasing
I'm in the habit of carrying on an internal (and whenever possible, vocal) 
conversation with God throughout the day.  The Scripture I read in the evening or morning gives me something to meditate on the while I'm cleaning, cooking, organizing and homeschooling. 

Some women place too high a priority on their "spiritual life" to the point of even neglecting their husbands, their children and their homes.  Sadly my mom did this while I was growing up and it was not a good influence on me.  In fact it had quite the opposite!  A mother with an honest, real relationship with the Lord will shine aournd her and light her home.

 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. Matthew 6:7-8

God is not impressed with a woman who neglects her family and home on her journey to spirituality.  God is impressed with a hard working woman who knows God is with her, listening to her and knows her needs. If a woman's household isn't running smoothly, I see a direct link to her own fulfillment or lack thereof. 
So back to time management and schedules, I do have a mental schedule that I follow. 

Each morning I try to:
  1. Make the bed as soon as I get out of it. It's nice to climb into a made up bed each night. I also launder and change the bed linens once a week (sometimes it's more like twice a month, but it gets done.)
  2. Start a load of laundry.
  3. Make breakfast and clean the kitchen.
Each night I try to:
  1. Set the coffee to brew for the morning.
  2. Prepare my husband's lunch for the next day.
  3. Tidy up the place a little. 
  4. Wash my face and apply moisturizers and eye cream. 
I try to tackle one or more weekly chores like vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, mopping, laundry, general bathroom cleaning and organization.

I call my method "list cleaning" because I have a list of work and each thing gets done by the end of the month as time and energy allow. This method works better for most lifestyles than a schedule that dictates "Mondays are wash day, Tuesdays are vacuuming," etc.  When I tried to follow that kind of schedule, I was always getting mixed up or behind. 

I have come to discover that there are many different ways to run a household and really isn't one "Best Way".  In the end, the best way is the one that works best for you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Women of God

Short post today, but I just want to encourage you as women of God, that we have a choice before us. 

Every day is an opportunity that will never pass by us again. 

Today we can
be gentle, kind and pure before the Lord and others. We can soften our voices, smoothe out rough edges, and let our femininity be evident to all.

We can let the love of God flow through us and onto others.

This is the day that the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Every Idle Word

Acording to the word of God, every idle word has a permanent record. Every single one.
Matthew 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Words are born from thoughts. Although we can't always control our thoughts the Bible does instruct us what we're to do with them - take them captive! Imagine the President at a White House ball. He doesn't just allow anyone to come in, but has armed men guarding every entrance for any suspicious characters. It is certain that anyone not invited is not only held captive but thrown out.



2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
We are responsible for what we do with our thoughts. Holding thoughts captive gives us the opportunity to discard the bad ones before they come out of our mouths and become part of our permanent record. 
The man was on his knees, trying to retrieve each of his ugly words that were now scattered on the floor.  But, of course, it was too late.  ~Dr. SunWolf

Today you are the judge -what you will do with Jesus.  But when your life is over, the roles will reverse and Jesus will decide what to do with you. On that day, Jesus will either be your judge or your lawyer.



Hebrews 10:30 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
 
One day, Jesus will divide all people into two groups - believers and unbelievers. The believers will have eternal life and the unbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire. 

Luke 12:4-5 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Thoughts are the birthplace for all that is said and done.  And we will be held responsible for all of them.  We can choose what to speak, what to do, where to go and how to behave.  Let us choose the right.  And when we fail to, let us seek forgiveness from those we've offended.  King David encourages us to this standard:
Psalms 119:101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.


Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him

We all have moments when we will feel discouraged, afraid and angry.  We will put our foot in our mouths and unintentionally hurt someone when we speak without restraint.  It happens. 

But when we do, we can ask forgiveness from one another.

Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.  ~Margaret Lee Runbeck

It's good to know that as believers, we have an advocate with the father - our Saviour Jesus who makes intercession for his own. I am so thankful for that!

So I just want to encourage you to use your tongues today to bring blessing and life to those around you.  Take your thoughts captive before they become irretrievably spoken.


James 3:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 

Why Homeschool?

My husband and I know a family who is considering homeschooling their son. He's only 3 right now, but we have encouraged them that it's never too soon to decide. In fact, the sooner the better because you can begin planning and researching all the things there are to learn about home education before it is suddenly upon you and you feel panicked about how to begin.

What many parents who go the route of government (public) schools don't seem to realize is that, assuming their children aren't punching a daycare clock 40 hours a week, they're already homeschooling. Good parenting and homeschooling are the same thing. 


I cannot comprehend why any Christian family thinks it's a good idea to hand their children over to strangers 40 + hours per week. And 40 hours is a conservative estimate. The reality for many children, after packing back packs, waiting for and riding a bus (round trip), homework (designed to reduce precious family time), and the many school functions, 50+ hours is probably more accurate.


Some families rationalize that their private schools are better. But the truth is that these merely emulate public schools in nearly every aspect except for illegalizing God and prayer. But the key issue remains that the child is spending nearly all his time away from home in company other than who God intended and authorized - their family. Specifically, their parents.


In private schools, the influences from other kids, even though they have the "christian" label, is still there. To opt for a Christian School still does not compare in the least to the rich care that a loving mother can offer her own children at home.


Been There, Done That


I was home schooled myself until 9th grade. It's something I am very grateful for. Public high school was like wading through a thick soup of Sodom and Gomorrah. And I did not emerge unscathed. But as children, we are all the recipient of our parents choices, good or bad. 

Our children are the same.

We are writing an un-erasable story on the blank pages of our children's lives. Their youth is something that can never, ever be retrieved. The majority of parents today are letting strangers, people who could never love them as much as their parents, write on most of the blank pages of their children's lives. 


 And the story is disgraceful.


Homeschooling, simply put, is a major part of taking good and proper care of your own children.

Homeschooling is feeding the minds, bodies and souls of the precious souls in our charge.

Homeschooling provides healthy home cooked meals.

Homeschooling includes instruction in God's laws and nurturing experiences within the safe boundaries of the family.

Homeschooling is picnics, reading together and snuggling in the morning instead of running to catch a bus.

Homeschooling is learning how to live in real life. I can think of nothing more artificial than the classroom environment.

Homeschooling is exploring history from a Godly perspective, praying openly and often, and freely pursuing God-given talents.


But perhaps most importantly homeschooling is being a family.



Children are a sponge

They are constantly soaking up everything around them. What are public schooled kids soaking up for the majority of their day in their parent's absence? Humanism, immorality, defiance, deviance, profanity, rebellion, disrespect to name just a few.


God-Given Teachers
God gave every child built-in teachers from birth - their parents. Think about all the teaching that is credited to parents in the first few years of life - how to clap, smile, wave, sing, laugh, talk, walk, eat, wash, drink from a cup and use a toilet just to name a few!

So why then, all of a sudden, when a child turn 5 years old, do parents abruptly feel compelled to give up their children to strangers.  Where does the compulsion originate - from within or out? It comes from without. Our society and culture has ingrained it into us and it's been reinforced through government, television, books and movies.

But what is the truth? Is the public school model found or supported anywhere in God's Word?  


It is so abnormal for a parent to hand over a child to an institution to raise, teach and train.

Think About It
If these things never occurred to you, I encourage you to think about it. Could it be that you have been deceived?  There are very few feelings as awful as realizing that you've been deceived.


The real question isn't why should you homeschool? The real question is why wouldn't you homeschool? Finances? You can be very poor financially and still homeshool, so economics aren't a real reason. And with determination and ingenuity you can even be a single mother and homeschool. It is being done. (For help, contact www.hslda.com.)


So why DO parents send their children to government (public) school?

So many excuses float around - socialization, academics, sports. But is it really to learn the three R's and make "friends"?

This simply can't be the real reason because these godless prisons we call public schools are churning out reprobates who can't spell correctly but know plenty about immoral behavior, profanity, promiscuity, substance abuse and humanism.


The public school brand of socialization is the reason that "school" and "shooting" are now a bizarre yet familiar phrase. Teen suicide rates are at an all time high, more than any other group of people combined. A must read: The Socialization Trap.


The Public School Deception

Many parents have really fallen for the lie that a kid can't learn without being taught by a "professional". It's a good thing that Albert Einstein's mother didn't believe this lie or we might not have gotten E=MC2. Also Lincoln, Leonardo De Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.


The shocking and repulsive truth I've discovered is that, for many families, the real reason for sending their children away from home is to get rid of them for a while... in the name of education.

Training up children properly anymore has become a rare quality in a parent. 

 Many parents are the product of broken homes and working mothers and by the time they have children of their own, they're ill prepared to raise children. So they are eager to hand them over to the "pros". Only what many parents don't realize is that truly loving a child makes you a 'pro', no matter what your background or lack of skill.


Here's what I think: the world's philosophy of "positive affirmation", calling old fashioned spanking "hitting" and parking kids in front of televisions and video games has turned many children into little monstrous tyrants. And when they turn 5 or 6, their parents are anxious to unload them. This may sound harsh, but it's the unfortunate and ugly truth.


Have You Been Deceived?

The very nature of deception is a lack of knowledge, wisdom or understanding (or a cocktail of all three). I know there are many good, loving, Christian parents who have simply been deceived. Their thinking is...

"this is just the way it's done. My parents' parents' parents went to school, so my kids will, too."
But in reality, compulsory education is a very short lived tradition of the last century. Parents educating their own children at home has been going on since creation began.

How else could God's people, the Hebrews, teach their children God's laws "when they sat in their house, and when they walked by the way, when they lied down, and when they rose up" if they'd sent their children off to government institutions?


Hitler once said,

"If you tell a lie big enough, loud enough and long enough, people will believe it".
It's time for people to realize (admit) that public schools are not education facilities anymore. It is up to each of us to seek the truth and not stop until we find it. The bible says that wisdom is crying out in the streets. Do you hear it?  


Every single one of us must be humble before God and seek his forgiveness, redemption and mercy that is being offered new every day and then seek the Lord with all our hearts. He promises to lead and guide us. Our job is to believe and follow him and ignore the opposing voices. The voices that say public school is natural are LYING voices.


The Big Lie: send your kids away from home so they can be socialied and learn academics (and be babysat until they're an adult - for free!).


The Truth: send your kids away from home to hand them over to Satan where they will learn everything BUT academics. Any "good" you've done will be swiftly undone. The child's loyalty will shift from you (family) to his "school family" (teachers & "friends").


Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. - 1 Corinthians 15:33


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hospitality and Opening our Homes

As homemakers, we are like little magpies feathering our nests - a little twig here a little piece of string there. God gave us such an amazing instinct to make homes and we were created to nest and make comfy, cozy, soothing nests to nourish our families up in.

But sometimes, in this busy era we are in, we can get a little too comfy and forget to share hospitality with others. Our homes are a great place for ministering and blessing others.

It's interesting that the word hospital comes from the Latin "hospes" or host. From that word we get hospital, hostel, hotel and hospitality. These words all have to do with taking care of someone.



Furniture Placement for Hospitality

When I arrange and decorate, my first priority is our every day lives and the needs of my family. Most family room furniture is arranged for tv viewing, but that doesn't always accomodate entertaining.  When I'm expecting more than a few guests, I will nudge a chair or a couch over a bit for better flow and conversation.

Personally I don't like feeling "cornered" when I sit down at someone else's house, and I just assume that others feel that way too.  So I try to keep that in mind when I arrange things so guests can get up without any fuss.

It's a good idea to make sure that guests are within arm's reach of a coffee table or something sturdy to set down their beverages.

It's also nice to have some interesting magazines or books out so guests have something to keep them occupied if you need to tend to a child or something in the kitchen.

Preparing for Little Ones

When my children were small, I did not baby proof my house, I house-proofed my babies.  I carefully trained them to know what they could and could not touch. Baby-proofing is one of the most counter productive ideas of modern parenting. The world is not baby-proofed. 

Still, when having guests with children, it's a good idea to put away anything that is especially breakable or valuable, as well as keep lit candles at levels above their reach.


A Word About Bathrooms

Of course keeping the guest bathroom clean and uncluttered is the goal. (And when guests come it should sparkle.) But consider also having a few things in stock for accomodating  special or embarrassing needs.

  • A pretty lidded container (those upholstered sewing kits function well for this) near the commode that houses various feminine products for female guests. 
  • A hook on the wall or door for hanging a handbag or sweater is a nice touch.
  • Assembling a bathroom "emergency kit" with a few things such as pepto bismol, mini mouthwash, dental floss, band-aids, trial size baby wipes packet (good for stain removal), antacids, mini sewing kit, safety pins, nail trimmer, etc.  Guests who might have an awkward personal need would find these items a great comfort.
  • It's important to keep a roll of extra toilet paper near the commode. As a guest it's very awkward to run out of toilet paper and rummage through cabinets in hopes of finding extra rolls. Seeing a roll out in the open is reassuring.
Focus On Your Guests

The moment your guests arrive, all preparations should cease.  This is the time to shift your focus from preparation to gracious host. Guests should feel like they've just walked into their home away from home - welcome and comfortable. Not like they've just interrupted something.

If a flow of guests is expected, as with an open house invitation, it's polite to remain near the front door to allow you to greet each guest as they arrive. If something prevents you from that, then enlist the help of a friend or older child for this job. It is a bit of an awkward feeling to enter a home where the door is left open and there is no one to greet and welcome you in.

Is Your House Perfect Enough?

We all want to put our best foot forward, make good first impressions and make our guests feel good.  And a clean house is a welcoming house. But it's not about your house being perfect.  It's about receiving people, taking care of them and showing them the love of Jesus.

Things may go wrong. I have come to expect that my family or (cough) husband might do something to embarrass me. We might have a food dilemma or worse a joke that bombs.  (Don't you hae that?) But it's best not to point out what isn't perfect. Unless you are trying to usher in awkward and uncomfortable moments! :)

Remember to laugh and have a good time. Guests are only as comfortable as the hostess. If you're uptight, you can be sure they are, too. Life is unpredictable even when we have plans. Keeping this in mind will smooth out your hospitality and give you and your guests maximum ease.


Conversation

Have some conversational topics picked out if you have planned guests. Think of things that are pertinent to the people you will be entertaining and ask them questions suited to their interests.

Occasionally, you will have one person dominating the conversation.  If it gets to the point where no one else has much of a chance for input, a good hostess will subtly direct conversation away from the chatter box and over to the wall flowers.  The goal is balanced conversation, not a monologue. (I'm not great at this, but I'm trying to learn.)

Refreshments

In many cultures, it is actually considered rude not to give guests something to drink and eat. In the middle east, food is always, always given.  That is so different than what Americans are used to. And though it's not a strong tradition here, I've found that just putting out some munchables without asking if they're wanted is usually appreciated. 

If you have to offer than just water, ask guests what - not if  - they would like to drink. For example, "would you like iced tea, ice water, or lemonade?"  If they try to decline the offer, I just pretend I didn't hear it and get them a glass of ice water anyway.  It can't hurt and they usually end up drinking it. 
Casual Gathering, Casual Food

It's wise to keep a few things stocked in your pantry for unexpected guests who drop by. A quick and easy food tray can start with a box of crackers from your pantry. Arrange the crackers on a plate with some sliced or cubed hard cheese, olives and toothpicks and you have a snack that is virtually fuss and worry free where  refrigeration is concerned.

Not every situation will call for a tray of snacks, but if you feel it does, this one's a great "go to" idea.  Sometimes for casual afternoon visits, I just put a bowl of Goldfish Crackers (with a few napkins) on the coffee table for guests to nibble on.


Relax

This is most important  - treat your guests like family. Being down to earth and comfortable in your own skin and your own home puts people perfectly at ease.  And when they are at ease, the door is open to show them the love of Christ.

As Christians, it doesn't mean our lives are perfect. Sharing from the heart and showing grace to others is where we are fruitful and most useful.

Again, it isn't about having the perfect house, it's about love and joy in a home where the Lord abides.

Then we can truly minister to others. And no matter what magazines, books or tv shows might say, that is what hospitality is all about.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Observing Days

For so long, my lack of care for traditions made me feel a bit of an outcast. Everyone I know is steeped in tradition.  Some people ooze tradition from every pore. I grew up with no traditions to speak of.  After I was married, the addition of traditions in my life always felt artificial to me. 

After reading and studying the Scripture, however, I found out that it was not I who had it wrong, but the world who had it wrong.

Am I saying the traditions of men are all wrong?  It depends on the tradition.  Some of our family traditions have been tucking our children in every night, reading them stories, fixing pancakes on Saturday morning and going golfing together.  These are family traditions. 



Christmas, Easter, Passover, Good friday, these are religious traditions.  These are the ones that, ironically enough, are biblically wrong!


This month many will celebrate what we call "Easter".  Some, knowing the pagan roots of Easter/Ishtar will call it "Resurrection Day". 

There will be festivities and feasts.  In many homes, there will be Ham dinners  (ironically, a forbidden meat for Jews), bunnies, egg hunts and dyed eggs.  Anyone in opposition to these pagan aspects of the holiday will be brushed off as "legalistic".  After all, it is all in fun. 




I recently learned the history of dyed eggs for Ishtar/Easter and it's nauseating and abominable. Look it up. It has to do with infants and blood. (shudder)

We have never dyed eggs. Not for any particular reason. It's just that dying eggs has always seemed like a rather abnormal thing to do. Why do so many do it?  Why is our country so immersed in traditions of men that we mindlessly follow weird acts? 

Let's look at what scripture says. The Bible is the final authority on every matter.

The entire book of Galatians is about Paul's astonishment at the newly converted Christians who were so soon turned to "another gospel".  Their big crime?  Observing days. Holding one day over another.

Galatians 4:9-10  But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?  Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

Why did they these new Christians turn back to observing days, months, times and years?  The desired to. They wanted to. It made them feel good.  It gave them some kind of satisfaction.  But what did Paul call it?  Weakness and bondage. This is what the word of God says, it is in context and it is relevant for today. But there's more.

Let's take a look at what God says concerning days.

Psalms 118:24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.


Psalms 96:2 Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.


2 Corinthians 6:2 behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Clearly, every day is precious and meaningful before the Lord.  So shouldn't it be for us?  There is no biblical ground or call to hold one day above another.  In fact, it is a sign of weakness of faith.  


Romans 14:1,2,5 1)Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2)For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 5)One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Note: the Apostle Paul is not teaching us that it's okay to do these things. He is teaching how to handle those people who do them because those who do are weak in the faith.  Notice also his warning that we (as believers) recieve them BUT not to doubtful disputations. In other words, dispute over the issue could lead someone to doubt, which would be even worse.

Did Jesus command us to observe his birthday, Easter or any other day? No. No where in the gospels will we find the traditions of men a part of Jesus' commands.  In the following passage, Jesus rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for their traditions.

Mark 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

Notice that in order for them to hold the tradition of men, they had to lay aside the commandment of God. Could this be what we are doing in our culture today?  Are we so enraptured by traditions that we lay aside God's commands?

Reading each of the gospels will reveal what Jesus taught. And he taught many things, but observing days was not one of them.

Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Later in the book of Acts concerning the newly converted Gentiles, Paul commands that the laws of the Jews did not apply and lists basically three things that should be observed for a Christian. 
Acts 21:25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

I heard a new one this week - Maundy Thursday!  What in the world?  I had to go look it up.  I couldn't find it in the bible. Hmmm.  Then where did it come from?  Who cares?  If it is not in Scripture, do Christians have any business following it? 

What is happening? People seek traditions rather than God.  Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Christmas.  Even passover is a Jewish tradition that we have no business observing.  Some assert (argue) that the ten commandments haven't passed away and we still follow those. But the bible says that it's not the law passed away - I passed away. And dead men don't observe days.

Romans 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.



What is the ONE thing that God has called ALL of his people (Jew and Gentile) to observe? 


1 Corinthians 11:24-26 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

The only "observance" we're told to do is remembering the Lord through bread and wine for his awesome sacrifice for our sins.  This is the only observance we are given in scripture.  It's important to note that there is nothing in scripture  - anywhere - that indicates transsubstantiation as taught in catholicism. Scripture is clear: the bread and wine are symbols of his body broken for us and his blood shed for us.  They are not mystically transformed into his body and blood or that would be cannabalism which is a sin.


So in light of scripture, celebrating certain days above others is NOT taught.  We do it from traditions of men.  It does not please God. It does not make him smile and say 'isn't that cute'. 

However, Scripture DOES teach that we are to recieve those weaker in the faith who DO observe days. 

I am still in the process of learning myself.  We "celebrate" Christmas with a tree and gifts but only as a pleasant and decorative occasion like decorating with pumpkins and cornstalks in the fall. We don't symbolize the tree, presents, etc.  And I'd give it all up in a heartbeat if my husband wanted to. But I am not his boss. It is better to have a happy home and accomodate our husbands in love than make a stink and cause derision.

Ladies, please don't read this and then start nagging your man. It is not our job to lead our husbands.  That is strictly Jesus Christ's business and I suggest you don't mess in it other than in prayer and petition. 

I have done both and prayer is BY FAR the most effective approach! :)  I've prayed and given God my concerns and then watched God work in our lives.  A man's life is holy ground.  It is God's territory and a reverant woman is wise to leave it up to God.  (And pray, pray, pray!)

So, if your man wants to do Easter up big (though I have noticed that it is mainly women who make a big tadoo over it) then honor his wishes.  You will be following the Apostle Paul's advice in Romans 14 and God's command in 1 Corinthians 11:3.  Your children will not care either way.  All they know is they either have a happy home or a troubled one. Make yours happy. 

If he cares not one way or the other, then it is your heart that needs the change.  If you have been enlightened to the heart and desire of God through His word, then it may be you who has layed aside the commands of God to follow the traditions of man.  I would encourage you to put away the bunnies and eggs.  My prayer is that this year God would move through my husband to put away the xmas tree and tinsel.

But either way, our hearts are what God is looking at.  He knows when a woman is really into it, or just following her husband for the sake of peace. I choose to serve the Lord. There is no day above another. THIS day is the one that matters because it's the only one we have. Serve the Lord heartily this day!

Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Phases of Life

It is no question that stay-home mamas are very, very busy and often even more tired. Our days are filled with decisions and regular nights of interrupted sleep don't help with that.  Being tired and feeling overwhelmed can make the best of us feel like we are dragging through the day.

I was just thinking last night as I tossed and turned in bed how life just doesn't get "easier". And that's when I chuckled to myself. It's foolish indeed to think that as soon as this tough phase is over, things will get easier or better.  The only time that is true is when this life is over and we are eternally with the Lord. Oh happy day!  But until then...



Around 20 yrs old, we're young and feeling great for having just survived adolescence.  We look forward to marriage, our own home and freedom to do things the way WE want to. lol  Then we get married and our brood of blessings grows. And make no mistake about it - children ARE blessings!  But they also present us with the biggest, most exhausting challenge of our lives! :) 

The next 20 years are a blur - from diapers to diplomas.  And when your brood begins entering adolescence and your house feels like a hormone factory, you find your kids become almost as fragile as when they were infants. (And need to be treated just as delicately!)

You begin to see the day coming just over the horizon when it will be just you and your husband again. You pray for your children's future spouses and for God to help you get through their teen years alive. lol :)

The next 20 years have their own set of challenges! Your joints aren't quite as strong, your hormones shift around like sand on a windy day, sleepless nights return with hot flashes and mood swings.  And if you're not prepared for an empty nest, loneliness can strike.  This doesn't mean that any of these phases are bad - just challenging! :) 

You begin to reap the rewards - good or bad -  of how you have (or haven't) taken care of yourself.  In other words, life never gets any easier.  Each stage of life presents us with its own set of obstacles to overcome.

So what's my point?  :-)

Enjoy your life whatever stage you find yourself in because it will never get any "easier"; just different.  Fully enjoy each day you have to live.  But at the same time, do something every single day to invest in your future.  Whatever is burdening you, find a way to laugh at it and send up your prayers of thanksgiving and cries for help to the Lord.  He knows it is hard for us. 

Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Psalms 78:38  For he [the Lord] remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

Reading blogs is fun and can even be educational. (Like this one!)  Blogs can either be a source of inspiration (in a vicarious sort of way) or be very depressing (how does she DO it all?).  But it is still the internet and it can blur the line of reality. And the truth is, no one has it all together.  We are all in the same boat - humanity.  And we all have the same needs.

So I got to thinking about some things I've learned along the way that may help others:

  • Don't neglect to take care of yourself.  You'll be with yourself all of your life, so take an hour a day for basic maintenance.
    3 John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
    1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
  • Exercise!  I aim for 30 minutes a day. Proverbs 31:17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
  • Use anti-aging eye cream. I started using some at 22 yrs old and I still have no wrinkles around my eyes 20 years later. :)Song of Solomon 4:7 Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.
  • Take a soak in the bathtub at least once a week and completely relax. I like to watch an old black and white movie while I soak.  Mark 6:31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
  • Stop worrying.  If it's too small to pray about, it's too small to worry about.  And once you pray about it, know that God is on the case. Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
  • Get a good night's sleep.  I need at least 9 hours a night. Jesus could sleep through a storm!   Matthew 8:24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
  • Take vitamins and herbs. The Bible says they are our MEAT. Our food. They heal, restore and cleanse. Genesis 1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
  • Keep your house clean and tidy.  Research shows that a clean and organized environment promotes health by increasing feelings of calm and happiness. Proverbs 31:27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
  • Speak life to your family. Make yours a happy household.  Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
    2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
  • Unforgiveness is like drinking poison in hopes that your enemy will die. So forgive others and hold no grudges.   Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
  • Life is fun, so laugh and smile every day of it. Laughter is medicine.  Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
  • Guard your time and beware of time stealers - the internet is a big one. Don't waste precious time on facebook or even reading too many blogs! :)  You can never get that time back. Ephesians 5:16-17 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
  • Read the word of God every day. It is food and nourishment for your spirit.  1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.
  • Live your life to please an audience of One.   Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
  • Be careful what you say. Matthew 12:36 says, But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
  • Keep a careful watch on your actions, for God is always watching and accounting.   1 Corinthians 3:13 says, Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
  • Whenever possible, help others.   Hebrews 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
These are just a few of the things that I have done and do that help me to keep the right perspective and weather life's storms.  I have in no way "arrived".  I'm paddling the boat right next to you! :)  But as a mom, I know the struggles that life can bring and how easily they can get us down. 

I hope these things will be a blessing to you and help you keep your perspective.  God is good and he gave us life so we could live abundantly.

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.