"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:4-5

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recovery

Hi everyone!  Wow, what a whirlwind the last month has been!  We are in recovery mode right now.  Next year, I am definitely scaling down.  I take on way too much, and end up frazzled and don't even enjoy the Christmas season as much as I could.  Today it was so nice to just enjoy my little baby.  I had so much fun--not having to spend the whole day baking or whatever--just holding and playing with him.

Today we officially took down the Christmas tree and all the decorations, and got the house back to "normal".  It's nice to get everything all organized.  I'm also back to working on the kids' school and getting everything updated...correcting papers that haven't been done yet and developing a plan for the rest of the year.  This is the time of year that I tweak parts that haven't been working.  Today I worked on my high schooler's transcript and overall high school plan, and finalized his Composition and Personal Finance course work for the rest of this year.  Yesterday I ordered books from the library for the girls' history reading assignments.

Okay, well that's all I have time for in this post...short and sweet!  The baby has awakened and I need to finish up dinner.

God bless you all as you finish up this year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Staying Peaceful and Not Stressed

I am so so busy right now that it is really easy to become completely stressed out and lose the joy of Christmas.  I keep having to stop and remind myself that it is CHRISTMAS and to be JOYFUL!  This post on another blog really helped me this morning:

http://womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com/2010/12/this-means-war.html

Enjoy....and Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Day Menu

Because I do two dinners in a row, and because I have two different groups of people, and because I like to relax a little on Christmas, I usually do the same hors d'ouevres and drinks on both days.  I usually buy a lot and there is plenty for both days.

Dinner:

Prime Rib
Garlic Mashed Potatoes & gravy
Gourmet Holiday Yams
Green Beans (or casserole from night before if any left)
Rice Pudding
Rolls

Dessert:

French Silk Pie
Pecan Pie

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Eve Menu

Well, I was planning to be superwoman....I really, really wanted to be....but alas, there is this thing called reality.  I am making homemade gifts.  I'm baking up many treats.  I'm making two big dinners, one Christmas Eve and one Christmas day, complete with hors d'oeuvres and dessert and drinks.  I wanted to make every single dish myself, and I have some great ideas!  But I finally realized that I was going to totally stress myself out doing that, and so I accepted help from my mom and sister on Christmas Eve.  Christmas day is all me. That being said, here is my Christmas Eve plan:

Hors d'oeuvres:

Crackers
cranberry chutney over cream cheese
smoked salmon
cheese
spinach & artichoke dip
roasted red pepper tapenade
tortilla chips
seven layer dip
olives

Drinks:

Punch
Hot apple cider
Cranberry juice

Dinner:

Honey Glazed Ham
Twice baked potatoes
Yams (mom bringing)
Broccoli salad (mom)--Christmas Eve tradition--soooo yummy
Green Bean Casserole (Pioneer Woman's version)
Jell-O Salad (sister bringing)
Rolls

Dessert:

Mom's Pumpkin Spice Cake
Fudge tray

Christmas Day Menu will be posted tomorrow!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chocolate Covered Coconut Balls

Here is a recipe for one of our favorite Christmas treats.  If you like Mounds bars, you will love these!  They are pretty easy to make, delicious, and make great gifts.

Ingredients:

1-3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 T. vegetable oil

In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, coconut, and walnuts.  Mix well.  In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, vanilla, and sweetened condensed milk until well blended.  Stir into coconut mixture, blending well (I start with a spoon and then use my hands) until mixed.

Form mixture into about 35 (1-inch) balls.  Place on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet and refrigerate until firm, 1 to 2 hours.

In a double boiler, combine chocolate and oil.  Heat and stir until chocolate is melted, then pour into a small bowl.

With tongs, dip chilled balls, one at a time, into melted chocolate.  Let excess drip off, then place back onto wax paper-lined cookie sheet.  Chill until set, then place in container and store in refrigerator.

*Note:  If you want a nice shiny look, you can do what my mother-in-law does and add a small bit of parafin wax to your chocolate.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Family Christmas Party

Well, the busyness continues!  Yesterday we went out to my aunt's house for our annual Christmas party.  I brought some of my homemade gifts, a tray of my fudge, and my yams.  It was good to spend time with everyone.  The cutest thing was Adam falling asleep on Grandpa's lap!  "Santa" came and brought big huge stockings for each of the kids.  Adam's stocking contained, among other things, a big huge bear.  I have never seen such a big stocking stuffer...it took two of us to pull it out of there!  You can see my husband holding the bear in one of the pictures below.  Here are pictures from the party:


Andrew and Santa


Annamarie and Santa


Abigail and Santa


And here are a few of Adam and Santa...



Who on earth is holding me???


Hi Santa!

Me, hubby, and the kids with Grandpa John and Grandma Debbie
 More pics tomorrow...I must get going.  I am also hitting the stores tomorrow to do some serious Christmas shopping.

God bless!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Busy busy!

Hey there everyone...yes, I am still alive...just busy in the land of homemade gifts!  I can tell that blogging is going to be less frequent for me this month, but I will do my best.  The kids and I are busy making homemade hot cocoa mix, cookie mix in a jar, cranberry chutney, peppermint bark, and fudge...all to give as Christmas gifts.

I'm making this hot cocoa mix.  I've made two batches so far, which equals 16 quart sized jars.  We are putting a decorative top on the jars, and tying a candy cane and a bag of mini marshmallows on top with pretty ribbon.  I will try to get pictures up soon.  The girls are giving them to their piano teacher, horseback riding instructor, gymnastics coach, Sunday school teacher, etc.

I will try to post more in the next couple of days, with more recipes and pictures.  I hope you are all having a wonderful, busy month with friends and family.  We have a family Christmas party coming up, and the girls are practicing for the upcoming Christmas pageant at church.

JESUS is the reason for the season!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Menu Plan Sunday

Did everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving?  We sure did.  It is always so good to spend time with family and reflect upon the things which we are thankful for.  Now it is the Christmas season and a busy schedule ahead...all fun!!  I took some time this afternoon to throw together a meal schedule for the week, and we did some shopping....but I confess:  I would much rather just focus on Christmas baking/cooking right now!  But alas, I must keep plugging away at homeschooling for a couple more weeks, and there is still other real life work to be done.  But I will be starting on baking this week!  First up....my white chocolate fudge!

Here is my dinner menu for this week:

Sunday--Burgers & baked beans
Monday--Hearty Turkey Stew & cornbread
Tuesday--Salmon, risotto, corn
Wednesday--Split pea soup, salad, bread
Thursday--Meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans
Friday--Dinner @ church, so no cooking...but bringing fudge

Honestly, I haven't figured out Saturday yet, so I don't have that down.  Since I normally do my grocery shopping on Saturdays, I sometimes figure it out then!

God bless you at this wonderful time of year!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Yams

I thought I would start my Thanksgiving post with my favorite Veggie Tales song lyrics:

Thank you God for this day,
For the sun in the sky,
For my mom and my dad,
For my piece of apple pie!

For our home on the ground,
For His love that's all around,
That's why I say thanks every day!

Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!
I'm glad for what I have,
That's an easy way to start!

For the love that He shares,
'Cause He listens to my prayers,
That's why I say thanks every day!


I love it!  I'm always telling my kids, "a thankful heart is a happy heart", and it's good for me to remember that also!  I am thankful for so many things: a wonderful husband, beautiful healthy children, my precious baby that I never knew I wanted whom I can't imagine living without, a warm house and a roof over my head, plenty of food to eat, JESUS of course....just to name a few.  Thank you God for everything!!

Thanksgiving will be one day late for us this year, as we are buried in snow and aren't able to travel until Friday morning.  Then we'll take the 2 hour trip to my mother-in-law's, where we'll enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving on Friday.  The first Thanksgiving was a 3 day feast anyway!  Here is the recipe for my yam dish that I am bringing, that everyone loves.  It is quite good:

Gourmet Holiday Yams

Ingredients:

5 yams
1/4 tsp.salt
1/4 c. butter
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. cream

1/4 c. butter, softened
3 T. flour (if you're gluten free, use this )
3/4 packed brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Peel yams and chop into chunks; put in a pot of water and boil until soft, about 20 minutes.  Drain yams and transfer to a large bowl.  Add 1/4 cup butter and mash with a potato masher until smooth.  Add salt, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and cream.  Beat with electric mixer until well combined.

Grease a 9 x 13" pan and pour yam mixture into it.  Spread evenly. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


In a medium bowl, combine the remaining butter, flour, brown sugar, and pecans.  Squeeze all together with hands until well combined. Crumble over top of yams.



Bake for 30 minutes, until topping is crisp and lightly browned.  I normally make this a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate, then bake.  If you do that, then add on another 10 minutes or so.

Enjoy!  This is really yummy.  Have a very happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

God Provides

This Above Rubies post was so good that I had to repost it!  Enjoy!

Is God Able to Provide for Another Baby?

Blessings to you, April

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Tried and True Home Remedies

Good afternoon!  I have been battling a cold this last week, and have been pushing my home remedies big time, as I do not want to be sick on Thanksgiving.  Thankfully, I am almost better, and I attribute much of it to these wonderful natural remedies that I thought I would share with you.  Here is what I have been using:

Fresh squeezed orange juice--I'm not talking about any orange juice here.  Don't go into the store and buy a carton of Minute Maid for this.  Store bought juice has been pastuerized and many of the beneficial enzymes that promote healing have been destroyed in the process.  Even if it says "fresh squeezed", how fresh can it be, really?  It's been sitting in the store.  When juice is squeezed, it immediately begins to loose potency, so for the best possible results it needs to be consumed right away.  Sooo....for some marvelous healing benefits, grab a few oranges and a citrus juicer and make some juice, and drink it immediately.  When I'm sick, I do that at least three times a day.  It's good to have it once a day for health maintenance even when you're not sick. The stuff is amazing...it's a cold remedy straight from God!  Who says there's no cure for the common cold?

Garlic--Did you know that garlic is a natural antibiotic?  If you want to avoid a bacterial infection, ingest a lot of garlic to prevent one.  Studies have shown that garlic destroys bad bacteria.  Now, to reach the levels needed to really attack bacteria, you would have to eat a LOT of garlic, so I recommend taking supplements.  You can get the odorless pills so you don't reek and scare your spouse away!  I generally take 2 garlic pills, 3 times a day, though this time around I've only taken 1 pill 3 times a day so I don't flavor baby's milk.  If you live near a Trader Joes, they have the best price on these.  The other benefit of taking garlic is that it improves immune function, so you fight off that cold faster.  Garlic is another amazing natural remedy from God!  Google it...you'll be amazed at the long list of health benefits!

Probiotics--Entire books have been written on the health benefits of probiotics; in fact, I will recommend a great one: The Probiotics Revolution by Gary Huffnagle.  You may not know this, but much of your health is determined by your intestines!  It's very important to keep the right balance of bacteria in there.  Read the book for more detailed information.  But for the purposes of fighting colds, probiotics enhance the function of your immune system, helping you fight off viruses faster.  I take the probiotic supplement from Trader Joe's, and when I'm sick I take 2 tablets, 3 times a day.

Tea tree oil--One of my favorites...I love this stuff!  Tea tree oil is an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal.  It's benefits are amazing!   It prevents and heals sinus infections and bronchitis, so it is very beneficial to inhale this during sickness.  I run a humidifier with a few drops of the oil in it.  I sometimes even boil some water on the stove, pour it in a mug, add a some tea tree oil and breathe it in until the steam goes away.  This is another one worth googling...there are so many wonderful benefits.

Lemon and honey--This is an old tried and true remedy that most people know about, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.  The lemon and honey have been very helpful for my cough, and lemon contains vitamin C.  I usually squeeze half of a lemon into a mug, fill it with boiling water, then add a tablespoon of honey.  It tastes good too!

And of course, the obvious: Vitamin C supplements--Again, the best value I have found is at Trader Joe's.  I take several of them a day.  We take them daily for prevention purposes, but I usually triple (at least) the dose during sickness.

Well, I think that's it.  I love sharing this info, because I am always so amazed by God's creation and what He has provided to us.  I also know that antibiotics and prescription drugs are WAY overused, and the more natural remedies we can use, the better.  God bless!

"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." ~3 John 1:2

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Menu Plan Sunday

It's Thanksgiving week--woohoo--so my plan this week is very short.  We go out of town to my mother-in-law's, so I've planned just Sunday through Tuesday or Wednesday.  We're not sure if we'll be here Wednesday evening or not.  Some wonderful people gave us a ham yesterday, so I'm cooking it today--yum!  Here's the plan:

Sunday--Ham, baked potatoes (in crockpot), yams, green beans, rolls
Monday--Salmon, roasted potatoes, peas
Tuesday--Shepherd's Pie
If we're here Wednesday--Burgers and baked beans

I usually keep it pretty simple right before Thanksgiving.  I'm making a wonderful yam recipe to take out to my mother-in-law's...I will post that recipe soon!!

God bless you!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Clean Fridge Friday

Come on....no one else wants to "play"?  Not even you, Sara? ;)  I may discontinue these clean fridge Fridays as they seem to be a bit boring...we shall see.  If nothing else it is accountability for me, right? :D  So here we go...drumroll please....my clean fridge:


So there you go, now that you've seen the inside of my fridge, your day is complete.  I am now off to finish up my shopping list, which will be short this week because of Thanksgiving!  We're going out of town so I won't need to get much for home.  I'm also working on my menus for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as I host both at my house.  I will eventually post my menus.

Have a blessed weekend!

"The joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Be Alert!

Today, I ran across one of my favorite verses:

"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." Ephesians 5:15-17

I love this verse.  It is so true that the days are evil.  Deception is EVERYWHERE.  And unfortunately, even the church is falling prey to deceptions.  Many have been deceived into thinking that children are a burden, rather than a blessing, and that what a woman does outside the home is more valuable than what she does inside the home.  Prosperity is being pursued rather than giving what we have to the poor. Sermons are being watered down more and more and the much of the church is oblivious to this.  1 Timothy 4:3 says, "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."  Doesn't that sound like the world today?

Be very aware my dear sisters.  Know your Bible.  If you don't know truth, then you won't recognize deception when you're confronted with it.  Your Bible is your guide.  When you're out in an unfamiliar place trying to find someplace you've never been, what is your most valuable tool?  A GPS, right?  Your Bible is like your GPS.  It is your guide in this crazy confusing world.  You could call it God's Positioning System.  It'll position you right where you need to be: firmly grounded in His Word.

Blessings to all my dear sisters!  Keep alert and keep your armor on!

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." Ephesians 6:11

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

"So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled." 1 Thes.5:6

"Be on guard!  Be alert!  You do not know when that time will come.  It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.  Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back--whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!"  Mark 13:33-37

(What is YOUR assigned task??  Will you be found doing it when He returns?)

Monday, November 15, 2010

How We Dress

1 Timothy 2:9-10 (NKJV): "in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works."

Wow, God has really been showing me a lot!  I have heard this verse so many times in my life, and whenever I would hear it, I would automatically associate it with two ideas: 1)dress modestly, as in not causing a man to stumble, and 2) let my beauty come from within.  These are very true concepts that are taught here;  however, this time around the Lord has taught me one more truth from these verses, that had never occurred to me before.  And it happens to be an area where He wants me to change!  Uh oh....

Modesty...what does modesty mean?  What definition comes to your mind?  If you're like me, you think of shirts that are not too low cut, skirts that are a decent length...basically not showing off too much.  That IS one definition, and it is an important one.  But if you look the word "modest" up in the dictionary, the first definition that you will get is "having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one's merits, importance, etc; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions".  The second definition is "free from ostentation or showy extravangance". 

Ouch. OUCH.  What?? Huh??

There was a time in my life when I wanted to plug my ears and run away from this verse in the first place, for two reasons.  One, I didn't want to hear about dressing modestly, because I was blessed with a figure and I didn't see any need to hide it (I'm being very candid here); and two, I wanted my beauty to come from outside!  And now....here we go with a third whammy to the verse!

Let's take a quick break and give you a little background on me.  Growing up, I was the poor kid in a rich kid's school.  I never had the "in" clothes, and the kids were mean, and the teasing was constant.  As a result, I came to believe that my identity came from what I wore...not true, my identity is in Christ....but I believed that at the time.  If I just had the right clothes, then I would have lots of friends and everyone would like me.  This concept followed me into adulthood.  It followed me to the point that it became an obsession... I'll even go as far as to say it was an idol.  Then from there, as I bought nice clothes and started looking more pretty and "in fashion", it turned into being prideful and showy and arrogant ....dressing to get attention.  This was not good either!

Okay, now that you understand where I'm coming from, back to the verse.  The third thing that the Lord has shown me recently in this verse, is that we are not to dress in a way that draws attention to ourselves.  This meaning never, ever occurred to me before!  But really, it makes total sense, as it fits in with the rest of the theme of the Bible.  Dressing to bring ourselves attention is being self-focused, and when we're self-focused we're not Jesus-focused.  It becomes all about what I look like, what I can do....hey everybody, look at ME!  So let's review the definitions of modesty again: "having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one's merits, importance, etc; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions"; "free from ostentation or showy extravangance".  1 Timothy 2:9-10 states that we are to be modest in our dress.  Being modest in our dress takes the attention OFF of us, and keeps it where it should be: on JESUS.

Jesus is what life is all about.  It's not about us.  We are here to bring people to Jesus and to work for kingdom purposes and for God's glory.  We should be working on bringing people's attention to God, rather than to us.

Am I saying that we shouldn't dress nicely?  That we shouldn't wear make-up or jewelry?  Not at all!  But we shouldn't be purposely drawing attention to ourselves by our jewelry, our hair, or our clothes, AND we need to keep our motives pure.  For many years my motives were not, and it is our hearts are that the Lord looks at.

"for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Now, there is one last thing I want to throw out there....dress for your husband!!  He is the one person whose eyes you should be attracting!  That is one exception the the "rule".

I really hope that this post doesn't sound too disjointed.  I haven't had a lot of quiet time to write and I've had a hard time pulling my thoughts together.  May God bless you!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Menu Plan Sunday

This week's dinner menu:

Sunday--Crockpot roast, mashed potatoes/gravy, green beans
Monday--Chicken a la king w/brown rice, biscuits
Tuesday--Fried sole w/tartar sauce, baked potatoes, peas
Wednesday--Burritos
Thursday--Spaghetti, salad, bread
Friday--Tacos
Saturday--Burgers, baked beans, milkshakes


"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters..."

Praise the Lord for green pastures and still waters!!  Have a wonderful week!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Clean Fridge Friday

Today I am working on a half day of school, cleaning/organizing the fridge, organizing the pantry, making my menu for next week, and hopefully making more progress on another post that I'm preparing!  This will be short, but as I promised I must post a picture of my clean fridge.  Thanks for the accountability!


"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth." ~Psalm 34:1

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Consider it ALL Joy

Good morning!  I have to admit something....I have been MEAN this morning.  SIGH.  Baby Adam has been getting me up a lot at night, which I'm not thrilled about because he is going on 7 months old.  I can't tell you how I long to sleep more than a few hours at a time.  I've been up since 5:00.  I like getting up early, but that is IF I have slept all night first!

Adam got me up at 5:00, like I said, and then I was able to put him back in his bed after he nursed.  He was awake, but he is a good boy that way.  I went back to bed thinking that I would catch some more sleep...and then my dear hubby decides to get up.  Normally I would just go back to sleep anyway, but this morning he needed to get out the door early, and he really needed my help getting some food ready for him.  I stormed into the kitchen with a horrible attitude.  I made his food, but my heart was in the wrong place.

We are called, first and foremost, to be our husband's helpers.  This is why woman was created.  God said that it was not good for the man to be alone, and so he formed woman out of the man's rib, and made him a "helper suitable".  As wives, we need to be aware of our particular husband's unique needs, and how we can best be a suitable helper to them.  It's not always easy, but it's what God calls us to.  For my husband, good food and nutrition is at the top of the list of what he needs help with.  He needs breakfast made and a lunch packed.  He is a sweet husband and not at all demanding, and really...it's the least I can do...even when I'm tired. :)

That being said...I was not good at doing that this morning.  Sure, I made the food, but I let him know that I was not happy about it.  I was not a blessing to him.  He told me that the food does not taste as good to him when I don't make it with love.  He is sweet.

Being tired definitely makes it harder to be kind, but it is NOT an excuse for rudeness.  The Bible says to serve one another in love, and to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS....not just when I've had enough sleep.  If I get a little less sleep, the Lord knows that, and He will give me grace for that day. (Especially since I've been able to sleep later almost every other day since Adam was born 6-1/2 months ago...so what am I complaining about anyway?)

"Consider it ALL JOY, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endururance.  And let endurance its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-3

This morning was a trial.  Today may be a trial because I'm a little tired.  But I am to consider it all joy.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I will say, rejoice!"  Philippians 4:4

May the Lord bless your day today!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Simple Cheap Meal

I am working "behind the scenes" on other posts on 1 Timothy 2, but thought I would throw together a quick post for today.  Here is a quick, cheap, healthy, and good dinner idea.  I apologize that there are not exact measurements, but that is the way I often cook!  Hopefully this will give you enough info to use!

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables:

You will need a whole chicken, around 4 lbs.  Wash the chicken (after taking the lovely innards out), pat dry, and place in a 9" x 13" pan.  In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp onion powder....or, really...whatever spices you like!  I change it around all the time.  Loosen the skin of the chicken and rub the spices all over the chicken UNDER the skin.  Chop up an onion and distribute around chicken.  Chop up as much potatoes, carrots, and celery as you need for your family and place around chicken.  Pour 1 cup chicken broth over veggies; sprinkle chicken and veggies with sea salt and Mrs. Dash (this is what I do; feel free to use whatever seasonings you prefer).


 Cover tightly with foil and roast at 325 degrees for about 2 hours.  I had to be out of the house last time I made this, and was able to cook it at 300 for 3 hours or so.

Enjoy feeding your family!

"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace." Numbers 6:24-26

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Menu Plan Sunday

Happy Sunday morning!  These menu plan Sundays sure sneak up on us fast, don't they?  Did you all set your clocks back last night?

What a responsibility to nourish and grow these children, and keep our husbands healthy!  I'm up for the challenge...how about you?

This week's dinner menu:

Sunday--Crockpot roast, baked potatoes, green beans
Monday--Chicken parmesan w/pasta, roasted vegetables
Tuesday--Salmon, risotto, corn
Wednesday--Crockpot vegetable soup, salad, bread
Thursday--Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans
Friday--Burritos
Saturday--Burgers, baked beans, milkshakes

"This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Saturday, November 6, 2010

1 Timothy 2:15

Okay, so I am going to go through 1 Timothy 2, starting at verse 9, eventually....but I'm actually going to jump ahead to verse 15 first.  This is the verse that has had me perplexed, and apparently I am not the only one.  I've been doing a lot of research and praying over this verse.  There are many interpretations and explanations out there, but I have finally come across a page written up by Andreas Kostenberger.  I feel that this is the best and most accurate explanation and interpretation of that verse.  It also just happens to fit perfectly within the theme of this blog!  This is long, but worth reading:

"But women will be saved through childbearing" (NIV): this simple statement has mystified average Bible readers as well as Christian scholars for centuries. Is Paul here suggesting salvation by works? In what sense can a woman be "saved" by bearing children? What would be so virtuous about bearing children that could become the cause of women's salvation? And what about single women or married women who do not or cannot have children?  How are we to understand this passage, and how are we to apply it?

Consulting The Translations

Turning to existing translations does not alleviate the difficulty. The NASB reads, "But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children"; the NIV has, "But women will be saved through childbearing"; the New Living Translation adds to this in a footnote, "Or 'will be saved by accepting their role as mothers,' or 'will be saved by the birth of the Child.'" To which the Contemporary English Version adds, "Or, 'saved by being good mothers.'" Clearly, there is no agreement on what this passage means!

Checking The Commentaries

Consulting commentaries likewise does not solve the problem. Indeed, the array of alternatives surely must cause most to throw up their hands in utter despair of ever arriving at the verse's meaning. Some church Fathers, such as Augustine, thought Paul was here speaking of the bearing of "spiritual children," that is, good works. Other ancient interpreters, such as Chrysostom and Jerome, thought women's salvation was contingent on their (physical) children's perseverance in holy lives of faith, taking the latter part of the verse ("if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint") as referring not to the women themselves but to their offspring. Or perhaps Paul, as G. Knight claims, is here speaking of "the" childbirth, Mary's giving birth to Jesus the Messiah, which became the cause of our salvation. But then why is 1 Tim. 2:15 merely referring to women and not also to men, since surely men are the beneficiaries of Christ's saving work as well?

In light of the high rate of women dying in childbirth in the ancient world, some, such as C. Keener, have suggested that the verse speaks of women's physical preservation through childbirth. But what of the Christian women who were not kept safe but rather died while giving birth? Non-evangelical interpreters may claim that the author (not the apostle Paul) really believed, for some odd reason, that women would experience spiritual salvation by fulfilling their procreative role, however that may be understood. This, of course, would introduce a contradiction into the canon, since the statement could hardly be reconciled with Paul's adamant insistence that it is "by grace you have been saved through faith — and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).

Finally, the most common interpretation among conservative evangelical interpreters today is that women will eventually be spiritually saved by adhering to their God-ordained role centering around the home. This view seeks to alleviate the difficulty of the phrase "saved through childbearing" by interpreting the term "saved" as referring to a woman's consummated salvation on the last day rather than the salvation she already has received at the time of her conversion. And "childbearing" is understood as referring not merely to the birthing process but, by extension, also to the raising of children and the managing of the home.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Is this really the best interpretation we can provide? Even the most common current view does not entirely remove the dilemma of finding Paul here speaking of salvation by works. Merely shifting the temporal point of reference from past or present to future does not completely solve the difficulty. Moreover, the meaning and significance of the statement "women will experience final salvation by giving birth to and raising children" remains unclear. This interpretation has little explanatory value and still leaves us without adequate help in knowing how to apply the message of this passage to our everyday lives.

I believe that there is a better way to interpret this puzzling verse. While I hasten to add that not all conservative evangelical scholars (or even members of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood!) hold to this view, I submit the following attempt to find a way out of the interpretive labyrinth of 1 Timothy 2:15 to all those who are, like I was, dissatisfied with the above efforts at getting at the meaning of the verse.

Interpreting 1 Timothy 2:15

The close parallel of 1 Timothy 5:14-15

We start by examining the only other passage in the New Testament where the word for "bearing children" is used, a close parallel passage in the same epistle. In 1 Timothy 5:14-15 we read, "Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; for some have already turned aside to follow Satan." Three observations arise from a comparison of this passage with 1 Timothy 2:15: first, both passages deal with the proper role of women; second, in 1 Timothy 5:14-15 the phrase "to have children" (teknogonein; compare teknogonia in 1 Tim. 2:15) is linked with the expression "to keep house" (oikodespotein). It may be that Paul used the phrase "childbearing" in 1 Timothy 2:15 as a shorthand for the woman's involvement in the domestic sphere. This would alleviate the difficulty of applying the verse to childless women, single or married, since concern for one's family and the home are not limited to women with children.

The third observation pertains to Paul's concern that women be kept safe from Satan. In 5:14-15 Paul explicitly refers to Satan as the enemy from whom women are to be kept safe: "for some have already turned aside to follow Satan." And how is this to happen? Women (in this case young widows) will be kept safe from Satan if they devote themselves to marriage, family, and the home. Our study of the close parallel passage in 5:14-15 sends us therefore back to 1 Timothy 2:15 with the following questions: from whom or what are women to be "saved" there? Could it be Satan and his efforts to subvert the woman's natural and spiritual callings? And what does "childbearing" mean? Does it merely refer to the birthing process or extend to the entire realm of marriage, family, and the home?

"Saved Through Childbearing" In 1 Timothy 2:15

Arguably, the question of the meaning of the term commonly translated "save" (sōzō) lies at the heart of the interpretation of the present passage. A look at the usage of sōzō in the New Testament reveals that the Gospels usually employ the term in the sense of "to be healed," "to be made whole," "to get well." Thus the woman who sought to receive physical healing from Jesus thought, "If I just touch his garments, I shall get well" (Mark 5:28 par.). But the meaning assigned to sōzō in the Gospels can hardly be the correct one in 1 Timothy 2:15. How can a woman be "physically healed" or be "made whole" by having children? Note also that people often approached Jesus and were healed physically, but sometimes there is no indication that they were also saved spiritually (see e.g. John 5:1-18).

Paul uses the term sōzō differently. In the vast majority of instances, the expression refers to spiritual (religious) salvation. Romans 5:9 may serve as an example: "Much more then, having now been justified by his [Christ's] blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through him." However, this meaning for sōzō can be applied to 1 Timothy 2:15 only with difficulty. As mentioned, Paul's teaching of salvation through childbearing in 1 Timothy 2:15 would appear to stand in direct conflict with his teaching of salvation by grace elsewhere in his letters, a fact that even the best efforts at reconciling these two strands of Pauline teaching cannot entirely escape. In our search for possible alternatives, we turn to several remaining passages in Paul's writings where the more common meaning of "spiritual salvation" cannot easily be squared with the context. This last group of passages includes the following references:

•1 Corinthians 3:15: "If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire";

•1 Corinthians 7:16: "For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?";

•1 Timothy 4:16: "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you";

•2 Timothy 4:18: "The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom."

Let us briefly consider each of these instances. In 1 Corinthians 3:15, the phrase "shall be saved" may include the notion of experiencing ultimate spiritual salvation. Yet the reference is still unusual. A person's "salvation" here seems to be spoken of in terms of an escape from danger, a common Greek idiom in Paul's day (see Josephus, Vita 304; Strabo, Geog. 3.5.11; 9.2.11). This reflects the common non-religious Greek usage of sōzō in the sense of physical preservation from any kind of danger, be it enemy forces, shipwreck, or any other harm. The specific danger was implied or explicitly stated in the context. Christian usage then merely applied this secular usage to the religious sphere by identifying the danger from which people were "saved" as sin, death, Satan, or the curse.

Still, the original secular usage occasionally persists in the New Testament, such as in Acts 27-28 where sōzō is found several times with reference to Paul and his fellow travellers' preservation from death and dangers at sea (sōzō: 27:20, 31; diasōzō: 27:43, 44; 28:1, 4).

The difficulty with the next two references, 1 Corinthians 7:16 and 1 Timothy 4:16, is, of course, that a spouse cannot in an ultimate sense said to be the "savior" of his or her marital partner, just as Timothy can hardly to be said to literally "save" his hearers. For in Scripture it is always God, not man, who saves. Moreover, seeking to alleviate this difficulty by distinguishing between ultimate and intermediate agents, in the present case God on the one hand and the spouse or Timothy on the other, does not entirely resolve the problem. It may work in 1 Corinthians 7:16, where the reference is to the conversion of an unbelieving spouse, a conversion of which the believing spouse may be said to be the intermediate agent.

But the reference in 1 Timothy 4:16 is to Timothy's ongoing efforts to "save" his hearers by watching his life and doctrine closely. In what sense can Timothy be said here to be the intermediate agent of his hearers' salvation? A better solution involves the recognition that being "kept safe" from harm or danger is a perfectly legitimate meaning for the Greek term sōzō. In that case, Timothy is merely said to help keep his hearers safe from the dangers of succumbing to false teaching in their beliefs and practical life application.

Finally, 2 Timothy 4:18 ("The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom") also seems to carry the connotation of "providing safe passage to" in the sense of preservation from all (spiritual) harm, an understanding corroborated by the fact that translations such as the NIV or the NASB translate sōzō here with "bring [Paul] safely" into God's heavenly kingdom.

What do we learn from all of this? Simply put: that sōzō, the term in the passive frequently rendered "be saved," may in certain contexts denote a person's physical or spiritual preservation from danger or harm. This is further confirmed by the fact that three standard Greek lexicons (Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich; Liddell and Scott; and Louw and Nida) all include preservation from danger in the range of meaning of sōzō. Is "be kept safe from" therefore the meaning of sōzō in 1 Timothy 2:15? (Note that the NASB translates the passage as follows: "But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children.")

Indeed, this rendering would cohere well with the passage already discussed which is found in the same epistle, 1 Timothy 4:16. Will Timothy, by his example and teaching, literally "save" his hearers who are already Christians? Of course not. Or will he perhaps "save" them in some other sense, such as "ensure their (ultimate) salvation" on the last day? If so, this end-time reference point is not made clear in the context which seems to be concerned with Timothy's present ministry and believers' present experience. Arguably, a better understanding of the passage is that Timothy will help to keep believers safe from falling into the errors of the false teachers, heretics who, in turn, are frequently unmasked in the Pastorals as instruments of Satan (see e.g. 2 Tim. 2:26).

Paul's Concern For Believers' Protection From Spiritual Harm

Once alerted to the possibility that sōzō may refer to spiritual protection rather than salvation in 1 Timothy 2:15, we discover that Paul's concern for the spiritual protection of believers pervades his writings. In 1 Corinthians 7:5, he counsels that husband and wife not make themselves vulnerable to Satan by prolonged abstinence from sexual intercourse. In Ephesians 4:27, he warns that unresolved anger would give the devil a foothold.

The theme of believers' spiritual protection is particularly prominent in the Pastorals. In 1 Timothy 3:6 and 7, Paul warns that new converts should not be appointed as overseers and that overseers must have a good reputation with outsiders lest either group fall prey to Satan. Younger widows should remarry and devote themselves to their family and the home, which some have failed to do, turning away and following Satan instead (1 Tim. 5:14-15). Paul also is concerned that those who want to get rich might fall into temptation and a snare (1 Tim. 6:9-10; see 2 Tim. 2:26). The entire epistle of 1 Timothy closes with Paul's warning against succumbing to heretical teaching (6:20-21).

Numerous references in 1 and 2 Timothy speak of a person's need to guard what has been entrusted to him or similar expressions (see e.g. 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:12, 14; 4:7, 15, 18). Conversely, Paul warns against following the example of those who "strayed" or "turned aside" from the right way (see e.g. 1 Tim. 1:6, 19-20; 2:14; 3:6, 7; 4:1; 5:12, 13, 15, 21; 6:9-10, 21). This list impressively demonstrates that underlying Paul's writing to Timothy was a strong concern that believers under Timothy's care be kept safe from the errors of false teaching (including life-style implications) and the false teachers themselves, who ultimately were instruments of Satan. Paul conceived of the pastoral task therefore as a struggle for the protection of believers from Satan and for God.

Women's Protection From Satan

If this be so, and "women shall be kept safe by childbearing" is the likely rendering of 1 Timothy 2:15, what are women to be kept safe from? On the basis of what has been said thus far, and without much further demonstration, it can be argued that what women are to be kept safe from is being deceived, ultimately by Satan himself.

Three factors combine to make this the probable understanding of the passage: first, the close parallel of 1 Timothy 5:14-15 where, as mentioned, Satan is explicitly referred to and where "childbearing" is likewise mentioned as the way by which women will be kept safe; second, the fact that Satan is clearly in view in the preceding verse, 1 Timothy 2:14, where Paul conjures up the scenario of the Fall as one of two reasons why women are not to occupy roles of ultimate authority over men in the church (see vv. 12 and 13): "And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner." Eve, Paul implies, was not kept safe at the Fall; she was deceived. Why? Because she left her proper domain under her husband's care. What happened as a result? She became an easy prey for Satan. How can women under Timothy's charge (and in churches everywhere) avoid repeating the same mistake? By "childbearing," that is, by adhering to their God-ordained calling, including a focus on marriage, family, and the home. 1 Timothy 2:15 thus turns out to be Paul's prescription for women as a lesson learned from the scenario of the Fall described in the preceding verse.

Third, the understanding of 1 Timothy 2:15 in terms of women's being "kept safe" through childbearing is supported by Paul's above-mentioned concern for the spiritual preservation of believers which pervades the Pastorals.

What does it mean, then, for a woman to be "kept safe [from Satan]"? It means, among other things, that she will not yield in her mind to false notions of what it means for her to be a woman and in particular a woman of God. It means that she will respect divinely set boundaries in the exercise of her spiritual gifts and ministry calling in trust and obedience to God's Word. It means that she will find fulfillment in her domestic calling, in her relationship with her husband, in her role as mother and maker of the home, and in proper ministry involvements in God's "household," the church (see 1 Tim. 3:15).

The women who overstep these God-given boundaries, on the other hand, will not be "kept safe from being deceived [by Satan]." By pushing and transgressing the limits set by the Creator, those women will actually suffer a degree of loss of their God-given femininity. They will forfeit, at least to some extent, fulfillment in marriage, family, and the home. They will fall prey to error in interpreting Scripture, error very possibly not confined to their understanding of women's roles in the church. They will disrupt (male-female) harmony in the church, creating division rather than promoting harmony as women and men serve God and others alongside each other in appropriate, Godordained roles. And there may be other consequences, not the least grieving the One whose commands are ignored.

Conclusion

We've come a long way in our efforts to understand the true message of 1 Timothy 2:15 for women in Paul's and our day. What we have argued is that Paul here expresses concern that women be kept safe from being deceived by Satan, and that he therefore encourages women to embrace and pursue their God-ordained calling centering around the family and the home. Our concern today should be, like Paul's, that women discern and adhere to their God-given calling in life. This involves many people. Husbands ought to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain, wrinkle, or any other blemish, but holy and blameless, fully kept safe from (being deceived by) Satan and kept safe for God (see Eph. 5:25-33). Pastors are to help women embrace their God-ordained calling and to encourage their involvement in appropriate ministry roles. Mature Christian women are to "encourage the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored" (Tit. 2:4-5). Men are to treat women as fellow-heirs of grace, seeking to encourage them in their quest for godliness and as participants in the life and mission of the church. Women themselves are to learn through formal and informal study of Scripture, to serve at home and in a great variety of functions in the local church. And we all are to praise our Creator and Savior who has made us male and female and who is faithful to keep us from all harm and will bring us safely into his heavenly kingdom (see 2 Tim. 4:18).

The above presented interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:15 also strongly affirms a complementarian understanding of biblical manhood and womanhood. Women, like men, were assigned by their Creator certain roles, and it is part of "working out our salvation" (Phil. 2:12) to adhere to these roles in our Christian lives and ministry. Salvation in Christ does not obliterate these role distinctions, as egalitarians claim-it rather aids believers in living once again within the parameters originally established by the Creator, as creatures saved from the curse of sin and restored to God's original design for men and women.

At the same time, the interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:15 advocated here has explosive implications for so-called "biblical feminism." For if our reading of 1 Timothy 2:15 is correct, women will be vulnerable to Satan if they devalue and abandon a focus on the family and the home or encourage others to do so. They would be an easy prey for his age-old enticement (see Gen. 3) that the roles assigned to creatures by their Creator are too confining and that people must rebel against these roles and find self-fulfillment apart from God. In light of the fact that teachers will be judged more severely (Jas. 3:1) and that Jesus held the Pharisees responsible for not only failing to abide by God's standards themselves but also leading others astray, those who encourage women today to ignore God-ordained parameters in the way they function in the church need to ponder seriously the weighty consequences of their actions.

By clarifying the message of 1 Timothy 2:15, we also hope to commend the passage's teaching to those who previously did not apply it because they did not understand it. 1 Timothy 2:15 does not merely contain an obscure, situation-bound injunction for women in Timothy's Ephesus at the end of the first century A.D. It is grounded in the wise counsel of the Creator and pertains to the sphere of the outworking of our salvation in this life. How are women kept safe from the allurement of Satan? How are they to avoid falling into temptation as Eve, the mother of women, did? By adhering to, and finding fulfillment in, their God given role centering on the family and the home.

Does that mean that women are to be "confined" to the home? Not at all. The mandate for women to center their calling around the home does not mean to limit it to the home. As passages such as Proverbs 31 make very clear, women will participate in a great variety of activities from their home as a base and thus be great blessings to their husbands and children. More than that, women, by bearing children and thus fulfilling their natural procreative and biological functions, actively participate in humanity's rule over creation (see Gen. 1:28: "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it"). Single women, likewise, can take an active part in God's work as they devote themselves to matters pertaining to "God's household" (1 Tim. 3:15; see 1 Cor. 7:29-35).

But these concluding observations cannot be exhaustive, nor has the primary purpose of this essay been to prescribe specific detailed points of application. Women can expect to be kept safe from (Satan's) deception and the spiritual and life-style implications of false teaching if they adhere to their Godgiven role centering in the family and the home. While the interpretation suggested above may not solve all problems of application, it should nonetheless be obeyed if it faithfully reflects biblical teaching. May God give today's Christian women grace as they ponder their God-given calling and as they live it out for his glory and their good.

Phew!!!  Did you read all that?  What do you think?  I'd really like audience participation on this one.  Please comment???

Thank you for reading!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Clean Fridge Friday

Today I'm going to throw a challenge out to you.  How clean and organized is your fridge?  This is something that I have struggled with in the past, and I'm working on changing it.  I normally clean out my fridge on Fridays, but it tends to get messy SO fast, so now I'm putting a little more effort into it.  I'm making sure that I straighten/organize it a little every day to keep it in order.  I am really loving the results!  To keep myself accountable (yikes), I'm going to post pictures of my fridge each Friday.  Anyone else want to play?  If you're up for it, please post pics of your fridge too!

Why Fridays?  Well, besides the fact that "fridge" and "Friday" go well together, I've always used Fridays as my menu planning day.  Then it works well to clean out the fridge to see what I have, and then make a shopping list.  On Saturdays I do grocery shopping. Then that way, on Monday everything is set and ready to go, and meals are organized for the week!

That being said, here is my fridge (disclaimer: the big pack of hot dogs was bought by my hubby! I don't buy hot dogs unless they are the "healthy" version.  In case you were wondering. :)  ):

Yes, my drawers are broken.  But I'm thankful. :)  Now that the pic is up, I see that the top shelf looks a little sloppy in the middle, but perhaps that's just the OCD in me!

Blessings to you and your family, as you organize your home a little at a time!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Submit and Multiply?

I have a confession to make.  I believe in women submitting to their husband's authority, and I believe women should be willing to bear as many children as God calls them to. Surprised? ;)  If you've been reading my blog for any period of time, I'm sure that didn't shock you!

I'm in the process of typing up a post on 1 Timothy 2.  I've been spending a lot of time studying verse 15 in an attempt to grasp its exact meaning.  What I discover will be written up in the post that will eventually be finished and posted (and if you have insights into that verse, feel free to contact me or leave a comment).  In my research process, I stumbled across a webpage that I found pretty amusing and ridiculous...and ultimately I ended up feeling sorry for the person who wrote it.  It's a place called the "atheist foundation of Australia", lol.  They really knock  Above Rubies (which I love), and some of the things they said just cracked me up!  Here are some examples:

"a woman is expected to voluntarily imprison herself in domestic drudgery in order to be regarded as a .proper mother."

LOL!  That just made me laugh....such drama.

" I find it very disturbing that the religious right makes it its priority to perpetuate women's enslavement."

Enslavement?  Huh???

Here is the very very sad line that caused me to feel sorry for the writer:

"If achieving equality and independence are "Satan's deceptions" then so be it! Supposing that god and Satan do exist, I would rather pay homage to Satan who encouraged Eve to seek wisdom, rather than submit-to a god who condemns women to everlasting misery and slavery!"


Yikes.  He doesn't have any idea what he's saying.  Very sad.

http://www.atheistfoundation.org.au/articles/submit-and-multiply

 I don't know about you, but I don't feel like a miserable slave imprisoned in drudery.  Do you?  I feel like a woman who is embracing her calling to serve the Lord Jesus by fulfilling my biblical role...being my husband's helper, bearing and raising children, and caring for my home.  There is much joy in that!

If you are miserable, I would encourage you to look at your role in a new way.  It's likely that your perception is clouded by the enemy's deception, and he's making your job look unappealing in his own destructive way.  Don't listen to him!  Ask the Lord for a fresh perspective and and new eyes to view your calling through God's eyes.

God bless all of you!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Women Working Outside the Home,Part 5

Here it is, the fifth and final post in this series by Kristi !  Be sure and read parts 1-4 first if you haven't done that! (Check my archives.) Here we go....

Welcome to our 5th and final post in our series!  Whew!  This has been quite the series…and even though this is the 5th post, it doesn’t feel like we’ve covered everything…there’s just no way to do that!  It is such a big subject.  My hope and prayer for this series though, is that it has given you something to think and pray about.  God has been revealing things to me along the way and I hope to you too!
I would like this post to reflect God’s heart.  For us as women and as homemakers.  One word that has been coming into my head and my heart over the last few weeks is, PEACE.  I have personally been working on doing things in my house that cultivate peace.  (1 Peter 3:11 says; He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.)  Because you know what?  God is a God of peace.  He is a God of order.  No matter where I am, whether it be at home while cleaning or cooking a meal, or out at the grocery store or running errands, I need to be reflecting peace.  Because that is who and what God is.  And if I believe that my calling is to be the keeper of my home, then my home is my domain and it is my job to reflect God as much as I can in my domain.  I believe wholeheartedly that God wants us to have peace.  And He wants us to reflect His peace to the rest of the world that is drowning in chaos.
Satan is the author of chaos.  I believe that Satan will use anything and everything that he can in order to distract us.  He doesn’t need to talk us into taking drastic action like leaving our faith or our families, he just needs to keep us busy and immersed in chaos in order to be successful.
And how easy is it for us to be so busy and to feel so chaotic while working, running errands, cooking dinners, making lunches, doing laundry, helping with homework, driving to soccer practice, and gymnastics and youth group that we just are too busy to pay attention to God!  Too busy to read the Bible, too busy to pray, and certainly too busy to be able to hear Him.  I know that I’ve been guilty of this, and I’ll bet you have too.
So, I will ask you this… Does working outside the home create peace?  Or does it create chaos?
Did you know that Jesus is a Homemaker?  Read John 14:2-3.
In my father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also will be where I am.
As Sandy Snavely says in her book, Called to Rebellion, “If Jesus doesn’t feel that being a homemaker is a waste of his life, maybe we would do well to follow his example.”
I believe that we are to view our homemaking as MINISTRY.
I’m not going to write the whole passage, but I would like to direct you to Matthew 25:34-46 where Jesus is talking about when we care for the “least of these” then we are caring for Him.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me….
…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like motherhood to me!
“Many people pray, “Lord, give me a ministry! Show me what I can do for you!”  While the answer is right there under their noses.  Yes, the world needs Jesus, but our spouses and children desperately need to be the primary recipients of our ministry efforts.  If we save the world but lose our marriage or family in the process, what does that do to our witness?  Can we really do more for others than we can do for those living under the same roof?”  (Greg Ethridge,)
“Often we don’t view our daily activities biblically.  We wrongly believe that the more mundane the task, the less significant it is to God.  As difficult as it may be to believe, the hands that tenderly bathe your baby at night are no less holy than the hands that serve you communion on Sunday.  Every small act of love to your family- every diaper you change, every meal you prepare, every toilet you scrub, every errand you run, every fever you tend to, each tooth you pull, every moment of undefiled intimacy with your husband- each is a  holy act when it’s done as unto the Lord.”  (Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God)
“What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God.  We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow.” (Martin Luther)
God loves you.  He really, really does.  He wants what is best for you and He knows what that best is for you.  But in most cases, I’ve found, His best looks very different than what I think “best” is.
Is it a sin to work outside of your home?  Is it a sin to contribute financially to your family?  I would say no on both accounts.  There can be a time and a place for both of those things.  But if contributing financially to your house begins to take priority over your family and your homeward responsibilities, if you are doing it out of fear, or control, or pride, or rebellion against the calling that God has given you, then I think it can be a sinful thing.
“While I believe that it is harmful for those of us in the household of the Master to impose guilt upon one another for why we do or do not work outside the home, I believe that there is legitimate guilt we need to face individually regarding this issue.  There is a right cause for our consciences to be in conflict if we are in a place where we should not be…
….When we are in the right place with the Master, peace is inevitable.”  (Sandy Snavely, Called to Rebellion)
So, the question is; Are you going to trust?  Are you going to seek peace and pursue it?
“Homemaking isn’t about starched aprons, pearls and high heels.  It’s about doing the will of God even when the world scoffs.  It’s about loving the high calling that God especially has given to women.  It’s about learning to trust when circumstances would tell us to doubt and fear.
We are called to be different- not conformed to the pattern of this world but transformed by Christ.  We are to live in such a way that others may have hope.  When we trust in the Lord and submit to His design for marriage, family, home and church, then our homemaking accomplishes far more than just making homes.  It has the power to impact countless lives and generations for the glory of God.” (Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Women Working Outside the Home,Part 4

Okay, here we go....part four of Kristi's series!  If you haven't read the first three, please see my archives and read them first!  Here is part four:

This post was written entirely by my husband, and I’m so excited to be able to share it with you. He did a great job. He also speaks right to men, so feel free to grab your boyfriend, your husband, your uncle, your dad, your brother and your grandpa’s, nephew’s, uncle’s, brother.


She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. Proverbs 31:17

My bride outworks a good majority of the men I know. If I were being completely transparent, I would reluctantly admit that a lot of days my wife outworks me. For those of you who haven’t met me, I own a small business and for or a while now, the majority of my work is done in my home office. I’m not saying it’s an easy job, and trust me I work hard. It’s just that there’s hardly a day that goes by where I wonder which one of us is working harder. I say this for a few reasons: First, because I want you to know that I have some understanding and knowledge of what it takes to be a stay at home mom because I have the rare opportunity to be at home all day and see how much my wife accomplishes and how many tasks are on her plate every day. I am aware that sentence was too long. Second, I want to applaud loudly for my wife and share my appreciation for the amazing amount of work she gets done every week.

In our house, we have a 10 year old boy, a 7 year old boy and 4 year old triplet girls. In many ways it’s an awesome time in our lives. But I have to admit, this combination of ages makes for some hellish automobile rides. Our kids take after Kristi and I in that they aren’t the best at picking up after themselves. So every day is an all out battle against the evil dark forces of messiness. My wife fights valiantly. I help a tad in the evenings and from time to time get some extended hours with the kids by myself to fully understand the stakes in this bloody war.

It’s hard for me to imagine a world where my wife works significant hours during the week outside of the home. My bride happens to enjoy cooking, so our family is blessed almost every day with 6 star home cooked meals. Not only are they home cooked, the majority of them are wholesome, healthy and extremely tasty meals. I just started salivating a bit… What was I saying?…

I could go on about the fruits of her hard labor everyday, but I need to go deeper. I need to get to the heart of how her focus blesses our family. There is a peace at our house. A deep peace. In the midst of a crazy fast paced world, we have a Home where joy exists. My bride smiles. I occasionally hear her singing. After the fourth load of laundry and picking up after our five demolition experts (truly nothing compares to the destructive capacities of kids), Kristi is steadfast in her purpose, her mission, her calling and her focus. And she’s happy. I’m not saying that when I get off work there’s not a normal amount of “family of 7” chaos, but there is underlying peace. I can see in her eyes why she’s making dinner for me and the kids. I can hear in her tone the satisfaction of a hard day “at work”. I can see contentment and stability in our kids as they fight to avoid their homework or wrestle while laughing/screaming. Trust me, I’m not painting a Thomas Kincade serenity here, but I think you feel what I am saying. I know it’s different at our house. And I know why. My wife has chosen us. She’s chosen what culture values as garbage. She’s chosen what God values as gold.

I love you babe, thanks for making God central and putting a large priority on our family.

Now, turning to men. I realize this site is primarily for women, but I’m betting a few men are reading over their wives shoulders. I’m not going to go extremely deep in this post about our responsibilities (it’s coming later). But let me call us to action and point us in the direction where we can set our compasses. Please know I do this out of humility. If you’ve been following along, you know I have struggled in leading my home well. But I am compelled to now.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Ephesians 5:25

I don’t think we can feel any greater weight than that. How can we even begin to give ourselves up like Christ did? We’d have to give everything. We’d have to relinquish ownership of all we have; our time, “our” money, our dreams, our selves. Have you ever heard that kind of call in our culture? In any movie, any book, any song? There’s never been a greater call to love our wives than that verse. And if we’re honest, it’s humbling. So where do we set our compass?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12: 1-2

The greatest weight. And yet the greatest goal. There is nowhere in this world where we are both called to such a high calling and also given such a perfect example. We are given the hope and reasons to stand up as men and serve. So let me end with this. More weight for your shoulders yes, but we know where to go to strengthen ourselves and set our compasses.

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8

At my church this past year we learned a definition of a man:

A man…

Rejects Passivity

Leads Courageously

Accepts Responsibility

Expects the Greater Reward

Let’s man up and serve our families, looking to the only Source that can begin to provide the strength. You have been called to lead, to follow after Christ and to lay down your life for your wife and family. Responsibility lies on your shoulders for what happens in your home. You bear the curse of “sweat and toil” in the ground from Genesis. Don’t share that curse with your wife. Provide and protect with every last ounce of strength you have been given.

Is it a sin to ask your wife to work outside the home? Again, the answer is not a black and white yes or no. But if you are being passive, not leading your family, ignoring your responsibility and focused on the temporary, you can be sure that you are sinning and not laying down your life as Christ did for us. Do you have toys worth more than what you have provided for your family? Do you have hobbies that have taken more time than your wife will end up working? Do you have addictions that undermine your character and push away the blessings of God? Sobering questions that I haven’t always been able to say no to. But sobering questions we all need to ask ourselves.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Menu Plan Sunday

Well, last week some unexpected events came up, so meals got switched around.  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday's meals did not end up being what was on the menu, so some of them you will see on this week's menu again!  Such is life.

Sunday--Burgers, baked beans, milkshakes
Monday--Turkey Pot Pies
Tuesday--Fried Sole, baked potatoes (trying these in crockpot...I'll let you know how they turn out), roasted asparagus, corn
Wednesday--Crockpot Beef Stew, cornbread
Thursday--Roasted chicken & vegetables, biscuits
Friday--Tacos
Saturday--BBQ Ribs, baked potatoes, corn

Be blessed this week in the joy of the Lord, and in following Him as you care for your dear family!

"The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy."  Psalm 103:8

Monday, October 25, 2010

Peace in our Purpose

The Lord has been doing quite a work in me lately.  I am a person who, in my flesh, has a besetting sin of anxiety.  Without the Lord I am a bundle of nerves, full of constant worry and fear.  So I am ever so very, very grateful for Jesus!  I can truly give HIM all of the glory for the peace that is in me, because there is NO way that I would have it on my own.  And I'm sure that is WHY that anxiety was allowed in my life...to show the glory of God.

Lately the peace has been amazing.  Why?  Because I let go of things.  I let go of...

worrying about what people think (I only answer to God)...

constantly second-guessing my decision to homeschool, and just simply following the Lord in what He's called me to do (He will enable me to do what He has called me to)....

wanting material things (we are not to lay up treasures on earth)...

wanting to control the number of children I have (this is not for me to decide)...I'm sure this is a controversial one but I am just telling you where God has brought ME...

wishing for a nicer house (compared to most of the rest of the world, I live in a mansion and I am truly rich)...

I have let go and let God.  Truly.  I am not in control.  I am here on this earth for His purposes. I am His vessel. I am here for whatever He may have me to do. 

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." Matthew 6:19-20


It is so easy to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth without even realizing it.  Our culture is so full of it...he who dies with the most toys wins, right?  WRONG.  It is so sad the number of people who are so busy doing things that are not going to matter one bit in the end.

"For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.  If anyone's work which he has built on endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." 1 Corinthians 3:11-15


I'd like to go farther in that chapter because it is just so meaty, but I will stop there (for now).  Did you really grasp what those verses said?  Everything we do will be tested by fire, and everything will burn that is not of eternal value.  Everything we do should matter in eternity.  We need to be laying up treasures in HEAVEN.

How?  How do we lay up treasure in Heaven?  HOW have I found peace lately?  By simply keeping my eyes on Jesus.  As long as my eyes are fixed on HIM, my focus stays on eternity and following Jesus in everything I do.  This results in peace, and kills any anxiety that may want to creep in.  Anxiety comes when we focus on our circumstances, which means our eyes are on them instead of on Jesus where they need to be.  Here is a good illustration of that:

"And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying, "It is a ghost!" and they cried out for fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."  And Peter answered Him and said "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."  And He said, "come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him,  "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"" Matthew 14:25-31

WOW.  I have heard this story practically my whole life, but I have to say that this is my new favorite Bible story.  It is an amazing passage.  Peter walked on the water, as long as his eyes were on Jesus.  When did he become afraid?  When he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind (circumstances).  Wow.  That is when WE become afraid.  We take our focus OFF of Jesus, and instead we focus on: the fact that we don't have money...our kids are being disobedient...homeschooling is just so hard lately....there is so much work to do....I have yet another load of dishes to wash....the baby is fussy....the car is in the shop so I don't have transportation. This is anxiety...fear....worry....NOT peace.  Take your eyes off all of those things, and just look to the One who loves you and cares, and wants to carry your burdens.  That is how you find peace.  Keep your eyes on Him and He will show you the next thing to do, and then the next thing, and then the next.  There is incredible peace in following the will of God for you, and not looking to the right nor to the left.  That reminds me of a quick illustration.  When we were at the fair, I was usually walking behind the girls.  Annamarie had a phone, so I knew if I somehow lost track of her, I could call her.  Abby, however, does not have phone, so I was very vigilant about keeping my eyes on her.  As I walked through the fair, I thought of how the whole time I hardly looked to the right or the left, but looked straight ahead with my eyes on Abby.  Dove's eyes.  If you don't know, the phrase "dove's eyes" comes from the fact that doves don't have peripheral vision, but they can only look straight ahead.  That is how we are to be.  Eyes fixed on Jesus, looking neither to the right nor to the left.

What happens if we do take our eyes off him, and start to sink and  become afraid?  What happened with Peter?  I love this part.  He cried out to the Lord, saying "save me!", and the Bible says that, "immediately Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of him."  What a beautiful illustration for our own lives!  When we become afraid and cry out to Jesus, he immediately reaches out his hand and takes hold of us!  What a comfort for us.  What a beautiful, precious Saviour we have!



"You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3

All I want when this life is over is for Jesus to say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  That is all I live for!  That is our purpose here on this earth...to keep our eyes on our Lord and do what He tells us to, and to be watching and ready when He returns.  This is where true peace lies.

(PHEW.  The Lord has been giving me this message bit by bit over the past several weeks!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Menu Plan Sunday

My menu plan for this week:

Sunday--Salmon, risotto, mixed veggies, apple pie
Monday--Roasted chicken, baked potatoes, green beans, chocolate chip cookies
Tuesday--Chili, cornbread, salad
Wednesday--Burritos
Thursday--Turkey pot pies
Friday--Tacos
Saturday--BBQ pork ribs, baked potatoes, corn

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9

May God bless you this week as you serve your families!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Women Working Outside the Home,Part 3

I am really curious what others think about this series that I have been posting.  I'd love comments!  Here is part 3 of the series from Kristi at Courageous Homekeeping:

Oh boy, oh boy! Am I geared up for this subject today! I have some really great things that I think God has revealed to me in order to really get to the heart of this subject. I was going to put this verse at the end of my part 2 post, but it was just so good and I was encouraged by a friend to really unpack this issue…so I’m taking the advice! If you haven’t read Part 1 or Part 2 of this series yet, please do that before continuing on…I’m starting at the beginning and building on the ideas, so you’ll need to catch up first.


I read something the other day while studying this subject that I found really, really interesting. Do you ever have those moments when you’re reading the Bible and you read something that absolutely leaps off the pages at you? Maybe you’ve even read it before, but all of a sudden God just opens your eyes to a new way to look at it? I sure hope you’ve had that experience, cause if not, you’re totally missing out! Such was the case the other day, when I read this passage in Hebrews. I’m not a Bible scholar or anything, and so I can’t speak with authority whether these verses were really meant to go together or not, maybe he was just making a list…but since they’re right next to each other, it seems like there may be a good reason.

Hebrews 13: 4-5 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

I find a few interesting things there that should be considered. First of all, we’ve all heard that part of the verse, “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”. Originally, God said this to Joshua as He was telling him about how he was going to go back and win the promised land. And now it is quoted here in reference to being content and not having a love of money. Could it be that God has to remind us that He will take care of us, especially when we are faced with what looks to be an impossible situation? Taking back the promised land seemed to be an impossible situation. Learning how to be content, not envious, and not “stuff-driven” seems like an impossible situation sometimes too, doesn’t it?

I also find it interesting that the part about being content, not loving money, etc comes directly after the part about honoring marriage and keeping the marriage bed pure. Do you think there’s any correlation there? The part about being sexually immoral is pretty self-explanatory. But what about the part about the adulterer? Is that also self-explanatory? I would argue that the word ‘adultery’ can mean several different things other than just having sex with someone who is not your spouse. I believe that the word adultery could also mean sinning against your spouse and being unfaithful to the marriage vows…completely apart from the act of sex. So then…does that mean that keeping the marriage bed pure might possibly have something to do with money– loving it? Or learning how to be content with what you have and not envious of others? Could it be that the “Love of money” can somehow affect the purity of the marriage bed?

Whoa. Did that just rock your world like it did mine?

Here’s the big idea. You are selfish. I am selfish. We live in an incredibly selfish society. We want big houses.  We want nice, new cars. We want our kids in the “best” private schools. We want nice furniture. We want what we want and we want it now. We are motivated by money. Our identities are wrapped up in which neighborhood we live in and what kind of car we drive. And the terrible, dangerous reality is that our society caters to our selfishness. Want a new car? Sure, go get one! No money down and only $450 a month car payment! Want new furniture? Sure! Check out our 90 days same as cash payment plan! Want a new wardrobe? Sure! Here’s a credit card, go get whatever you want and you only have to pay a little bit of the total next month! No worries! We can have everything that we want and we don’t even have to have the money to pay for it. Right?

And could it be… could it be, that we have elevated our standard of living above our marriages? If the Bible warns us against having a love of money directly after telling us to keep our marriage bed pure, could it mean then, that loving money, valuing money could somehow be dishonoring to our marriages? If we are out working to bring in money so that we can afford that big house, and keep up that standard of living, and yet we have no time or energy left at the end of the day for our husbands and our children, do you think we are honoring God?

No.

No.

No.

I think, that actually breaks the heart of God.

Some of you may read these words and think, “I agree with you…but you have a choice. I don’t have a choice.”

That. Right there. Is a deep, dark, lie right from your Enemy. You have a choice. You ALWAYS have a choice when it comes to how we order our priorities. When Josh and I first got married, I was working and both of us were making right about minimum wage. When I got pregnant with my first son 11 months after we were married, (Surprise!! Wasn’t planning on that one!) I ended up quitting my job because I was working around food, and the morning sickness was awful…and my employer wasn’t real supportive. I always knew that I would be a stay at home mom, so why not go ahead and start early?

We lived for several months on one income, barely over minimum wage. And then Josh lost his job. Thankfully, God provided right away for us, without much drama or time to panic, another job where he was earning more! A full $10 an hour job! I remember feeling rich! He had that same job for several years, and then moved on to another job, where he earned something like $11.50/12 an hour. We had two kids at that point. Money was never something we’ve had a lot of. We’ve never made perfect financial decisions…in fact, we’ve made a lot of financial mistakes along the way. But we made that decision long ago, to value me being at home with our (now) 5 kids. We still are not rolling in money. But over the years, we have NEVER gone hungry. God has ALWAYS been faithful. He has always honored our decision for me to be home.

How did we do it?

We’ve lived in tiny places.

We’ve never had a brand new car.

I buy 95% of our clothing second-hand or on clearance. Same goes for our household items.

I make meal plans and cook mostly from scratch.

I use coupons.

The list could go on and on. But my point in this, you have a choice. Do you have to live in that neighborhood? Can you sell that car and get something cheaper? Do your kids have to attend that private school?

God says, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” That is His promise to you. There are so many verses that could go here…throughout the Bible God promises to take care of us. Always.

On the other side of the coin is the verse in Psalms (106:15) that says, “He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”

I don’t know about you, but that is frightening to me. I can probably talk God into giving me what I want, if I ask enough…I’m really good at talking people into things…just ask my friends and my husband. And God has shown that He is willing to be moved by us. But is getting what I want, worth gaining a leanness in my soul?

Don’t hear me wrong…it is not sinful to have a big house or a new car. Not in the least. But what I do believe is sinful, is placing those things above our marriage and above our families.

I also believe that a way to cultivate that “leanness of our soul” is to not allow God the opportunity to take care of us. He wants us to depend on Him. He wants us to know that He will provide for us. He wants us to know how important we are to Him. And sometimes we don’t allow that. We get caught up in our own strength, and our own ability to provide for ourselves. And we miss the absolute joy of having a dependence on God.

I am absolutely so excited for part 4 of this series. What? You didn’t think I was done, did you? There is definitely going to be a part 4…and likely a part 5 to wrap it up. But part 4 is going to primarily written by my husband, from the perspective of a husband who’s wife has stayed at home. I’m really excited to not only give him an opportunity to write, but to hopefully help us women understand how a man feels about this subject. So stay tuned!