Friday, November 4, 2011

Godly Conduct

Draw a line.
Establish a border.
Separate a lifestyle.
Godly conduct is about getting God's heart on every issue.
Do all things as unto Him.

Source: James MacDonald

(Oh, and that loud thud you just heard? That was the collective sound of the jaws of my blog readers hitting the ground over the shock of a blog post from me after five months of silence!)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ten Years Ago This Month

Ten years ago this month, our niece and nephew moved in with us, and our family has never been the same. :) 

For ten years, I have tried to fulfill the "mom" role in their lives.

I've tried to teach them about fashion.

I've tried to teach them about modesty and about biblical manhood/womanhood.

I've tried to make dental hygiene a priority.

I've tried to encourage them to stand out in a crowd and not try to be like everyone else.

I've taught them to have good table manners... always stay clean and neat...

...and to never fall for practical jokes.

I require total attention to schoolwork...

...and I've also tried to encourage an interest in politics, particularly during the historic event of the election of President Obama.

And last but not least, I require that the children at least TRY to get along.

**You may want to click on the pictures for a larger view of them!**

And on a more serious note, I'd just like to say that it has been a blessing to have the privilege of mothering these two. God knew that they would need me when their mother walked out... and that I would need them years later when my son moved out. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

31 Days to Clean... Day Five

You can find all previous "31 Days to Clean" posts here!

Today's Mary Challenge:

Come up with a list of priorities that make sense for you and your family (I suggest rating them, 1-5, to evaluate how you're doing).

I have yet to do this one! I put it off that day in order to wait until I had enough time to really put some thought into it, and now I just keep forgetting to go back and spend some time on it! I'll try to remember to post a revised blog post on this once I've done the challenge.

Today's Martha Challenge:

Kitchen - Wash your window treatments and/or clean your blinds. Wash the inside of your windows.

31 Days to Clean... Day Four

You can find all previous "31 Days to Clean" posts here!

Day Four's lesson was about creating a home where people feel free to just relax and "put their feet up." My favorite thought of this lesson was: 
"Cleaning isn't just about scrubbing floors, making beds, and clearing out clutter (although those are good things), it's also about creating an environment that encourages people to feel welcomed [and] loved."
It also talked about how most people know what it feels like to enter a home that is just too perfect; a home that feels untouchable. I personally don't know if I've ever actually been in such a home, but I can certainly imagine that feeling. On the flip side,I have been in some homes in my life that were so dirty (I'm talking about filthy homes, not homes that are cluttered, or just haven't had a good cleaning lately. HUGE difference!) that it's impossible to feel comfortable. So I can imagine that homes on both ends of the spectrum could give visitors an uncomfortable feeling. A happy balance is definitely the key! 

However, I don't believe AT ALL that visitors can only be happy in a clean home. I don't think I'll ever forget the time that a man from our former church invited us over for lunch after church, completely on the spur of the moment. His wife didn't even realize that he had asked us until we were all leaving the parking lot to drive to their house, which was about three minutes away from the church. (Now, I can't say for sure what was said in that car during the three minute drive, but if she was upset, she deserves an award for the world's best actress, because NEVER did I sense an upset vibe from her at all.)

This was the first time we had ever visited their home. We got there, walked in the door, and... WOW! When I say that every inch of the living room and hallway was covered with toys and clothes and miscellaneous items, I'm not exaggerating at all. I know from personal experience that if anyone had walked into MY home while looking like that, I would have been mortified. And, in fact, I would probably have done whatever it took to keep anyone from coming in! But they led us into their house without batting an eye. The wife started pulling some individual serving size containers of leftovers out of the refrigerator and telling us of our options for lunch. And never once did she or her husband say a word about the state of their house. No "please excuse the mess" or "I have to warn you about how messy our house is"... no nothing! 

It was awesome. :) I can't really put it into words, but that experience really taught me a lot that day. I learned the value of putting hospitality and fellowship before your own pride...and I learned the importance of obeying God rather than fearing men. I also learned to have more of a "this too shall pass" attitude.  

Today's Mary Challenge:

Invite over a friend and allow them to "put their feet up." Don't worry about making everything just right; instead, enjoy their company.

Today's Martha Challenge - Kitchen:

Clean your oven and microwave. Try putting slices of lemon in a bowl of water and microwaving for 2-3 minutes; the steam will loosen up food particles. Don't forget to wash the exteriors!

31 Days to Clean...Day Three

You can find all previous "31 Days to Clean" posts here!

Today is my seventh day of working through the book 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way. It's really been a helpful book! Although I made a decision to focus on the Mary challenges, rather than both the Mary challenges and the Martha challenges. I have bigger fish to fry during this month off of school; namely, a couple of big household projects, as well as studying different ways of saving money on grocery shopping. So my focus really needs to be on those things right now.

One last thing about this book: I think this would be a great book to re-read every single month. At the very least, it would be a good way to stay motivated and stay focused on the goal of a clean and organized home. And if you're a person who needs (or prefers) to have someone else telling you what cleaning task you should be doing that day, this would be great for that. I already have cleaning routines written out for all various scenarios (daily, weekly, monthly, twice yearly, etc.), so I don't necessarily need the cleaning task assignments each day, but what I do need, and have been getting from this book, is motivation to work on better time management skills.

Ok, so here's what I have failed to post in the past week! I'll post each day separately.

Day Three

Today's Mary Challenge:

Ask your family what makes them feel the most loved when it comes for you caring for your home - ask them to be specific so that you can begin (or continue) to give life to your domain.

This question was met by blank stares. When I pushed my nephew to try to think of something (anything!), he gave me a classic answer: "When you tend to my every need." haha!

Although the asking of the question went nowhere fast, after putting some thought into it, I was able to come up with some ideas, based on my own observations. If your family can't answer this question, don't be discouraged! You probably know your family members well enough to at least take at least an educated guess. 

My own educated guesses: I can tell that my husband is happiest when he has clean clothes, his own food supply (he is something of a health fanatic and doesn't eat with the rest of us), and a clean cooking area. So if I were to answer this question for him, I would say that he feels most loved when his laundry has been kept up, the groceries have been purchased on a regular basis, the dishes are kept up, and the sink/stove area is uncluttered.

I can tell that my brother-in-law is happiest when the kids and I do things to make things easier or a little more relaxing for him. He feels a large amount of stress when he is running around trying to get ready in the mornings, or any time when he feels like his hands are full and/or feels crowded and/or feels like he's running late... whether it's him getting ready for work, or ready to go to bed. So if I were to answer this question for him, I would say that he feels most loved when the house is picked up, and his family is helping him to accomplish things that are stressful to him. For instance, making his lunch for him the night before, getting his lunch out in the morning and gathering the things that he needs to take to work that day, and making sure that there's no clutter, etc that would cause him unnecessary stress as he tries to get ready in time.

And as for the kids, I think it's pretty basic. They are most happy when we stay on a good cleaning schedule, because when we keep on a good schedule, it allows us to have free time. :) As opposed to falling into the trap that I so easily fall into... I start working on a big project. The house falls down around me. The kids and I then have to work for two days straight on cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, and everything else that has been neglected, and then we all start feeling like we haven't had any down time in months! So if I were to answer this question for them, I would say that they feel most loved when I am feeling good about the state of the house, and when we aren't having to run ourselves ragged trying to get caught back up.

Today's Martha Challenge - Kitchen:
Dust tops of refrigerator, cabinets, and shelves. Clean and shine the outsides of drawers and cabinets.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

31 Days to Clean... Day Two

You can find all previous "31 Days to Clean" posts here!

Today's Mary Challenge:

Start looking at your domain as something to make come alive! What can you do today to bring life to your home, your children, your husband, and your sphere of influence?

Hmmmm. Well, this doesn't have much to do with the cleanliness or organization of my home, but for me I think my answer has to be relationships and attitudes. My relationship with God, my relationship with each member of my home, and my attitude can make or break my family. The opposite of life is death. So if I let any of these relationships become sick or die, or if I wound others with my attitude or my tongue, I am doing the opposite of bringing life to my family.

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. Proverbs 14:1

So this is a good reminder to me to not get so caught up with cleaning and organizing my home that I end up (a) neglecting my time with God, (b) neglecting relationships with each family member, and (c) not controlling my attitude and tongue.

Today's Martha Challenge:

Kitchen - Clean out and scrub down the refrigerator and freezer. Try using 2 tablespoons of baking soda per 1 quart hot water to wash interiors.

Well, since today is Sunday and we have church and family obligations, I'll be putting this one off until tomorrow. However, may I say that this is quite timely!!! Be afraid of my refrigerator. Be very afraid!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

31 Days to Clean... Day One

I recently received a free copy of the e-book 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way. I realized the other day that this was perfect timing, because the kids and I finished our school year yesterday, and we have exactly 31 days until our next year of school starts! (We do nine weeks on and four weeks off, year round.) So my hope is that by the time we start back to school, I will have a firm housecleaning schedule that is part of our daily routine, and that I will have accomplished several household projects that really need to be done! As I mentioned to a few people recently, May 22nd was my one-year anniversary of being home full time... and my house STILL isn't clean! (Ok, it's clean today, but it wasn't clean on the actual anniversary date.) :)

So today was Day One. And true to form, I am finally tackling this at 11:00 at night! In this book, each day has a "Martha Challenge" and a "Mary Challenge". 

Today's Mary Challenge:

Identify specific reasons you want to make your home a haven, and then complete a mission statement based on those reasons. 

  • I want my home to be a haven because my home should be a haven. You should enjoy coming home! The saying "Home Sweet Home" should really be true. I can say from personal experience that it is awfully depressing to come home to a messy home. I have been heard walking in the door and announcing "Home Sweet Trashpit" more times than I would care to admit! I have really stayed on top of the housecleaning this past week, and the mood of me and the kids this week has reflected it. It makes a huge difference (at least to me) for us to start our day with a house that is already in shape, as opposed to working around messes... or spending all day straightening up the house instead of being able to accomplish other things... or to have the luxury of not needing to accomplish anything at all!
  • I want to be able to enjoy company, rather than being disgusted with the state of my house...or worse: being irritated by unexpected visitors. Unexpected visitors can be a delight when your house is in order, and can be a fright when your house is a mess! :)
  • I want to keep the stress level down in our house. By most people's standards, our house is too small for our family, since we have one person sleeping on the couch. To us, it's pretty much just right (there were six of us in the house for seven years, so in comparison, having just five of us for the past almost-three years has seemed down right roomy!), BUT the doorways get rather stressful. A common phrase heard in our kitchen doorway from a certain adult member of the family is, "Doorways are meant to walk through, not stand in!" :) All five of us in the kitchen at the same time (generally when I'm trying to put away groceries, and everyone else has swarmed to the kitchen to see what food we have) could cause major coronary failure. So there are definitely areas of the house that tend to be more stressful than others, and if you add messy rooms to the mix, it's just a disaster waiting to happen.
  • Some people seem to be able to function well in disorganization (or worse), but I am not one of those people. I get easily frustrated, so life goes a lot more smoothly for me (and those who have to live with me!) when things are organized.
  • Lastly, I want to run my house, rather than letting my house run me.   
In summary, I want to maintain a clean and organized home so that I and those I live with can enjoy coming home, being at home, and having other people in our home.  

Today's Martha Challenge:

Look over all of the Martha challenges in this book and make a list of any supplies you need to get - organizing supplies, cleaning supplies, etc.
Luke 10:38-42Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I Interrupt This Historical Announcement...

A semi-humorous story in the midst of the serious situation of Osama Bin Laden's death...

As posted on my Facebook:

What a difference one little letter makes! I woke my husband up a little while ago and accidentally announced to him that the United States had killed Obama!! Aaakk!!! And to think I'm homeschooling these poor children. :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Free E-Book... Today Only!

I'm so excited about this e-book! Today only, if you post about it on your blog, you can receive a free copy. I keep meaning to order it... and forgetting. Finally, my procrastination pays off! Don't worry... if you don't have a blog, or don't get a chance to post this to your blog before midnight (eastern) tonight, you can buy your own copy of this e-book for just $4.99. Totally worth it, in my humble opinion, based on the reviews I've seen on this book from bloggers whose opinions I respect! You can read about getting the free e-book here, and read about ordering the e-book here. Let me know if you end up getting a copy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I've posted this before, but I keep thinking about this tonight... so I decided to repost it.

If you're willing to sin in order to get something...

or sin in order to keep something...

or sin because you don't get something...

that thing has become an idol in your life.

~paraphrase of a quote from Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick (which I have not read)~

Thursday, April 21, 2011

In Our Classroom: Virtue

The kids and I have just started working through a unit study based on The Book of Virtue. Here are some things on the subject of virtue that we learned last week. I am learning as much and probably more than they are in this study!

The "I Wills" of Virtue
  • I will do what is right and encourage others to do the same.
  • I will guard my eyes, ears, words and thoughts.
  • I will learn to stand alone.
  • I will abstain from anything which might damage or pollute my mind or body.
  • I will treat others as I would want them to treat me. 
Virtue in the Home Includes...
  • A parent establishing a standard of moral conduct in the family and upholding it by example.
  • A parent teaching children to make wise choices about friends, music, and clothing.
  • Family members dressing modestly, inside and outside the home.
  • Family members filling their minds with God-honoring music and good influences.
Consequences in Sons and Daughters When Parents Allow Unrestricted Television
  • It establishes the practice of tolerating evil to enjoy some good.
  • Its amusement format lowers their resistance to evil.
  • It provides constant access to the world's system and its false concepts.
  • It deadens their conscience by providing comparison with new lows of immorality.
  • It allows them to relate to evil individuals whom you would otherwise never allow into your home.
  • It devours one of their most precious resources: Time.
  • It stifles creativity by deadening their responses to conscience and Scripture.
  • It ultimately makes them an enemy of God.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Truer Words Have Never Been Spoken!

My "nephson" and I were in a store today and we walked by a rack of t-shirts. I read one out loud to him saying, "Beer is now cheaper than gas."

To which he replied, "And gets you nowhere."

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Blogging Miracle

Just thought I'd point out the miracle that has occurred... This month, I have posted FIVE times on this blog, and THREE times on my recipe blog! I hope you were sitting down for that shocking piece of information.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Girls Will Be Boys

Wow.  In light of my pastor's recent blog post about unisex fashion, which in turn inspired a friend's post, this headline JUMPED out at me.

Girl Wrestler Wins After Boy Won't Compete Against Her

An excerpt from the article (you can read the complete article here):
High school wrestling star Joel Northrup had his eye on the Iowa state championship – until he found out he'd have to compete against a girl in the first round. 

"As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner," the statement continues. "It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most other high school sports in Iowa." 

Northrup's father, Jamie Northrup, is a minister in the independent Pentecostal church Believers in Grace Fellowship, which teaches that young men and women shouldn't touch in a "familiar way," said Bill Randles, the church's pastor, according to The AP.

"We believe in the elevation and respect of woman and we don't think that wrestling a woman is the right thing to do," Randles said. "Body slamming and takedowns, that full contact sport is not how to do that."

Though he gave up his shot at a championship, it's not over yet for Northrup. He was still eligible for the consolation rounds, and he won his first match later Thursday by major decision. 

Wow. I have to admit that I was blown away by this article.  If you click through to the article, the first thing you'll notice is the picture of the girl wrestler.  I don't want to say too much about this, because although I'm sure the possibility of this girl ever reading my words is slim to none, I'm not fond of the idea of saying something that a teenage girl might read and be hurt by.  But as a mother who is raising my niece to walk the path of modesty and femininity, this picture sickened me.  This is everything that I do not want for my niece.  This is everything that I do not miss about the "old" her, and the old friends of hers.

One of the most interesting things in the past year and a half since my niece and I stopped wearing pants was a period of time when everyone that we saw looked so strange to us.  We went through a period of time in which seeing a woman or girl in pants looked BIZARRE to us (and my nephew as well).  And the most bizarre time of all was last winter when my niece, nephew, and I went to my son's alumni game at his old school (where my niece and nephew had attended the previous two years).  Watching the girls' basketball game felt so unreal to us. After being used to being surrounded by girls at church, the majority of whom dress very femininely and modestly, I remember all three of us being shocked by the way the girls at the school were dressed (even though less than a year before, my niece had been one of them), and how masculine the girls playing basketball looked to us.

But modesty and coed sports aside...

I am so proud of this boy for taking the stand that he has taken!  It's one thing to believe something in theory, and a whole different thing to prove it by living it out... especially when it costs you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Forty by 40: Update #2

In light of the suffering that a family that we dearly love is going through right now, this post feels somewhat frivolous.  However, I do want to try and maintain some sense of accountability when it comes to my weight loss goal, so... here is my second Forty by 40 update.  (I missed updating last week.)

Total weight lost in week two:  0.5 pounds 
Total exercise completed in week two:  28 minutes  

Total weight lost in week three:  1.5 pounds 
Total exercise completed in week three:  N/A

Total weight loss since January 17th:  7.5 pounds
Total weight left to lose by July 9th: 34.5 pounds
Time remaining in the Forty by 40 challenge: 21.5 weeks

Also noteworthy:  My nephew G is doing Weight Watchers with me, and has lost six pounds!  :) 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Winter Wonderland... Part Three

Parts one and two can be found here and here.

Well, the "blizzard" has come and gone. I still haven't heard whether or not it ended up meeting the criteria for being called a blizzard, but WOW! That was a fun snowstorm to watch. From the comfort of my own home, that is. I don't like driving in the snow to begin with, and trying to drive with that lack of visibility would NOT be fun.  

It's impossible to know how much snow we got. The trusty picnic table still denies that we got any snow at all. The various snow drifts are two and three feet tall. So I've decided to go with the average driveway measurement, which is 10 inches. The menfolk are off of work again today, and have been shoveling off and on since early morning. My car had huge drifts around it, which certainly didn't help.

Vic, does this picture meet the new rule of your photo challenge? He's even wearing a coat!!!  :)

Cold weather sometimes brings out selfishness. Can you see it? Look closely.

Maybe you can see it better here. Look who popped out to see what in the world was lying on top of her! I guess you can't blame a girl for trying to keep warm... no matter WHO had the chair first.

When attempting to stay warm and survive a blizzard, it's best if everyone sticks together.

Well, that's it for now! We have survived the 2011 Blizzard of Oz, and are enjoying our second Snow Day. I hope everyone is safe and warm, wherever you may be!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Winter Wonderland... Part Two

Part One of this post can be found here.  I'm continuing this post in an attempt to meet my pastor's photo challenge, although I have no idea how many inches of snow we have gotten!

It's been such a hoot today to watch all the snow falling and blowing all over the backyard ("snowing sideways" is how I would describe it), and to see our picnic table remain basically untouched.  So funny!

And so you can get an idea how big the snow drift next to the picnic table is...

A snow day isn't complete without some father/son bonding...

And lastly, a look at how G will look as an old man!  :)

P.S.  Please note that a miracle has occurred, and I have actually updated my recipe blog!!  I hope to start being much more faithful with posting to that blog... maybe even (gasp) posting every time I cook something that hasn't been posted before!

A Winter Wonderland... Part One

We are in the midst of heavy snow right now, and under a blizzard watch until tomorrow morning, with a prediction of 5 to 25 inches depending upon the part of the city. What the prediction is for my part of the city, I really can't tell! But the bottom line is: Snow, and lots of it. I have no idea how much snow we have here, because it's basically been snowing sideways all day.  Our yard is covered in snow, but our picnic bench is almost completely clear.  It's rather humorous to look outside at a winter wonderland with a naked picnic bench in the middle of it.

We're enjoying a "snow day" off from homeschooling today, and the menfolk are off work as well. We also have a house guest, my brother-in-law, who we picked up on Sunday so that I could take him to his doctor's appointment today. WELL, that didn't happen.  It seems that every time he comes to town, he brings the snow with him, so if you're looking for someone to blame, consider him.  :)  

I'm enjoying watching the snow, and especially enjoying watching our kittens stare at the blowing snow for hours until falling asleep right in front of the sliding glass doors.  I'm very hopeful that nothing will happen to cause us to lose our electricity.  We lose our electricity at some point every year (either during rainstorms or snowstorms), and the fact that we have an extra person with us this week AND that two people in the house seem to have caught some sort of stomach bug... well, I just don't think that losing our electricity would be beneficial to my mental well being.  :)

And now, in the spirit of my pastor's photo challenge, here are two pictures from earlier today of a frosty spider web that I noticed on the outside of our living room window.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Forty by 40: Update #1

Week one of my "Forty by 40" challenge has come and gone... and I have survived. Actually, 5.5 pounds of me didn't survive. But that's the point, right? :) 

I am following the Weight Watchers PointsPlus program. It's the newest Weight Watchers plan, and wow, am I ever happy with the new changes to the program!  If you're not familiar with Weight Watchers at all, none of this will make sense to you... but if you are familiar with the Weight Watchers points system, here are the changes that I've noticed in the plan.
  • The number of daily points has increased.
  • You have 49 weekly points for "treats, extras, and special occasions."
  • The way a food's value in points is calculated is different now.  Instead of the old way of calculating it by taking into account calories, fat, and fiber, it now takes into account fat, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. This has caused some point values to have changed, so sadly, my beloved fruit rollups are now TWO points instead of one.  But since the number of daily points has increased, it's all good.  :)
  • The most exciting change, in my opinion, is the fact that ALL fruits and most vegetables are now ZERO points, no matter how many servings.
So there you have it... the updated plan in a nutshell. 

Total weight lost in week one:  5.5 pounds
Total exercise completed in week one:  84 minutes  

Total weight left to lose by 7/9/11: 34.5 pounds
Time remaining in the Forty by 40 challenge: 23.5 weeks

Friday, January 21, 2011

Forty by 40

I interrupt this Frugal Friday to bring you a public service announcement.  Although I am "39 and holding"... and would love to permanently keep that title, the truth is that I will be (gasp) 40 in six months.  And on that note, I hereby commit myself to "forty by 40."  My goal is to lose 40 pounds by July 9th.

About ten years ago, my (then) workplace had a "Weight Watchers at Work" program, and several co-workers and I signed up and followed the program together.  I have no doubt that my success (I lost about 25 pounds) was due to the accountability... we all would traipse off each week to our meeting together and announce to each other how much weight we'd lost that week, and so NOT sticking with the plan was really unthinkable to me.  Was it that I was motivated... or was it that I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of my co-workers?  Well, it was probably both. Hence my decision to make this announcement to my blog friends. Hopefully you all will motivate me... or embarrass me... into sticking with it.  :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What Happened to Modesty?

While searching tonight for various things online, I came across the book Christian Modesty: The Public Undressing of America. I haven't yet read the book, and so I can't vouch for it, but it looks VERY interesting. Here's how it's described on Amazon: 

The Church is being destroyed by sacred cows. A "sacred cow" is an untouchable subject that we are not supposed to discuss. To do so impinges upon another's "Christian liberty." Certainly, there are few sacred cows quite as sacred as the right of modern Christians to dress however they please. But in this groundbreaking work, Jeff Pollard challenges us to embrace God's standard and to understand the historical roots of the rise of nudity and immodesty in modern culture. His perspective is thoughtful and balanced. Most importantly, he accomplishes what few authors on this subject have achieved: a treatise that avoids both license and legalism. A courageous booklet.

I have found the book available for free here (in PDF form). Enjoy!  

P.S.  I would still love to have some feedback on my last post... anyone??  Hello?  Is this thing on??

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Open for Discussion: To Help or Not to Help...

I would love to have some "reader participation" on this one. For those who don't already know, I have several extended family members who have difficult lives, and in turn make life somewhat difficult for me. They don't purposely make things difficult for me, but one thing I've learned in life is that sins have far-reaching effects, and so oftentimes I get a bit caught up in the tangled webs that my relatives weave.

Earlier today, I heard something on a Christian broadcast that I've tweaked into a motto that I think will be helpful to me in decision making in regards to relating to/helping people in our extended family. Or for that matter, people in general... but specifically I’m thinking of our relatives.
As Christians, we should help others.
But we should NOT help others to live sinfully.
My questions for you, my blog readers, are these...

1.  Can you think of a better way to word this?
2.  How would you define "helping others to live sinfully"?
3.  Is there such a thing as "the lesser of two evils"?

Some things are clear to me. If a relative wanted me to sin for them, I would refuse. But some things are not as clear. Here's an example:

Let's say that a relative is applying for disability, and is lying on his/her application. If he/she put me down as a person who could answer questions about his/her disability, I would not lie for that person. That much is clear to me. But what about driving that person to a disability interview? Or what about something as small as making photocopies or mailing the paperwork in for that person? 

How far should we take the quest to not participate in other people's sins, and to not assist them to remain in their sins? How far is too far? Where is the fine line between being committed to not helping someone to remain in their sins and appearing to be a stark raving fanatic? This may be a ridiculous example, but how about an unmarried family member who is living with a boyfriend/girlfriend? Technically, even driving that person back to their home would be assisting them in their sin.

I guess a lot of this would call for independent judgment calls. To me it seems pretty obvious that helping someone move in with a boyfriend/girlfriend would be helping them to live sinfully (and would give the appearance of approval). But what about visiting that family member? Eating dinner at their house?

If I think about these things too hard, I fear my brain will explode. And so I have chosen you, dear blog readers, to do my thinking for me.  :) PLEASE comment with any thoughts you might have on this subject... or if you'd prefer, drop me an email!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

22 Years Ago Today!

Twenty two years ago today, my life changed forever.  I became a mother.  It strikes me more and more every year how long my son has been a part of my life.  I lived for 17 years without him, and now have lived for 22 years with him.  I knew him in my teens, my twenties, and my thirties (and sooner than I would care to admit, I will know him in my forties!).  

I am so thankful that God allowed me, a pregnant teenager who ran away with her boyfriend, the privilege of raising the sweetest boy who has become a God fearing man.  I know that most teenage pregnancies do not have such an outcome, and for that I am eternally grateful!

And so to celebrate 22 years of motherhood, I present to you my favorite picture from the day of his birth... father and son.

And for good measure, here's a picture of me with the birthday boy earlier today!  Am I the only one who thinks it's neat that he turned 2-2 on 1-11-11?

I love him more than words could ever say.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ten Things That Happened in 2010

**1/4/11... I can't believe I forgot to mention the kids' baptism in this list!  So I'm cheating and adding it here in this note.  :) **

Here are ten big things that happened in 2010.  Some are more exciting than others... but here we go! :)

1.  In January, my son turned 21.  Sniff sniff.  (And in ten days, he will turn 22!)

2.  On January 24, K&G's dad drank his last two beers... and has not had a drink since.  So on the 24th of this month, he will be alcohol-free for a year!!  This has made a huge difference in so many ways.  We are so thankful and so proud of him!

3. January was a big month. By January, the decision had already been made for me to quit my job in May in order to stay home and homeschool the kids. By the end of January, though, we had reached a breaking point, and pulled the kids out of school.  The following week we began a cooperative homeschool effort with our pastor and his wife. Their willingness to keep the kids during the day for us saved us from four more months of stress and unhappiness.  This was a big turning point in our lives, and I am so thankful for the way that God worked it all out for us!

4.  In March, I gave my official two month notice to my boss.  This was such an exciting time for me, but also a somewhat sad time, because of my attachment to my boss.  He hired me as an 18 year old (in a different job) and took me with him as he moved on to manage a brand new department.  I left for a better paying job at one point, and he worked for a long time to be able to create a position in his department so that he could bring me back.  It worked!  So we worked together off and on... mostly on... for 21 years.  We have the same sense of humor, and that resulted in 21 years of a fun work friendship.  

5.  In May, I quit my job and came home full time!  Words cannot even describe how excited I still am about this, 7-1/2 months later! 

6.  In July, I started homeschooling K&G.  Oh, and I turned 39...and holding!! Rik and I also celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary. 

7. August marked the one year anniversary since K and I stopped wearing pants.  This reminds me that I meant to write a blog post called "One Year in Skirts"... but that must have been filed away in my senility file.  Surprisingly, we made it a year without anyone ever commenting or asking about the change in our wardrobe... but soon after that one-year mark, the family comments started coming!

8.  In October, the kids and I went to Texas to visit my sister and her family!  This was the first time that G had ever been on an airplane, and the first time K could remember being on one.  It was also the first time that they were able to meet my sister and her family, and a great time was had by all!  xoxoxo 

9.  November came and brought with it an ongoing medical issue for my sister-in-law. We had all stopped speaking to each other about two months prior, due to some family "drama" that our household was no longer willing to participate in.  In early November, she was hospitalized for ten days, and then later in the month she was back in the hospital for about two weeks.  After losing a half of a lung, she is back home and probably on oxygen for the rest of her life.  Her being in a near-death situation has caused her to reflect on her life more, and at this point, we are now enjoying a less stressful relationship with her.  Please pray for her health and her salvation!

10.  I am happy to announce that as of December 31st (yesterday afternoon) K&G completed their 2010 Bible reading plan.  Before you congratulate them too much, I should mention that I know neither of them truly read every word of the Bible.  I know that some portions were skipped in an attempt to get through their daily reading more quickly. :( However, they definitely read more of the Bible than they ever have in their lives, and I would guesstimate that they DID read at least 90% of the Bible.

2010 was a life changing year for me... and I hope that in 2011 and all the years to come, I will never forget to be thankful for all that God has done in my life this year.  I never want to forget how much God blessed me this past year by allowing me to stay home full time!