Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Everything's Coming Up Daffodils?...

It is January 29th. 

It is going to be 67 degrees today.

Now that is my idea of a perfect winter's day!

Already daffodils are poking through the grass in my yard.  Last night, I heard the song of frogs outside our house.  Bless their hearts!  Today is only a teaser; winter will return again.  She is like a clingy ex who just can't stay away.

I love that the weather is so nice today.  I love that it's almost February, and that February is short and that soon it will be spring.  Makes me think of this song:

There's just something about sunshine and warmer temperatures that does my soul good (not to mention my body!  Vitamin D is a powerful elixir and who doesn't love being less pasty white?)  I love that spring is a season of new beginnings and renewed hope.  That our eyes and ears are awakened to the sounds and smells of new life.  God is so wise in his design of the seasons. 

God laid Psalm 128 on my heart this morning, and I loved the Message version of it.  (I have found that reading a verse or passage in different versions really adds to what I get out of it). 

"Stand in awe of God's Yes.  Oh, how He blesses the one who fears GOD!"

Wow!  How's that for an uplifting word?  "Stand in awe of God's Yes".  I think so often in life it's easy for us to think that all God says is "No", or "Not yet".  I remember once telling a friend that I was tired of God's plan B; why couldn't plan A work out for once?  God is not a miser.  He's not mean.  He is abundantly, exceedingly generous and oh my, how he loves to shower and lavish us with good things, the best thing being relationship with Him.  

Today I will choose to stand in awe of God's Yes.  To focus on the things He has given, the blessings He has showered me with, the miracles He has done in my life.  May my faith spring up like those daffodils in my yard, brave and trusting that God's provision is always there.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

DIY Stinky Pete

My nephew has had a slight (and by slight I mean phenomenally huge) obsession with Toy Story for the past couple of years.  He has every Toy Story character...except Stinky Pete.  When he was really little he would often say "I want Stinky Pete."  

Now, they don't make Stinky Pete toys anymore.  You can buy them on ebay for approximately half of my weekly take home pay.  I love my nephew, but I also like eating and being able to pay my rent.  I was determined to give him a Stinky Pete, though.  So, I decided to make one!

First, I found a pic online that I liked and drew a pattern for the size I wanted:

Then, I traced the pattern onto colored felt:  There he is!

Next, I traced the felt pieces on heat and bond paper (You can get sheets or rolls of it at any craft store).  I messed up on a few because I forgot that I would need to trace the reverse side of everything to make it work right.  Here are the pieces all ready to go:

Then, I followed the directions for the heat and bond and affixed all the pieces to a clean, ironed piece of fabric.

I then sewed the fabric into a little pillow, stuffed it, and there you have it:  STINKY PETE!

Not the best most elaborate toy in the world, but for a novice sewer like myself, I thought it was pretty good.    
Sometimes you just have to make do with what you can come up with! Happy Crafting (and making things work when you think there's no way it could happen!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When I Get the Urge to Make Homemade Mayo

My hubs works late a couple nights a week, and I use them to clean and watch things he has no interest in seeing.  He got me the DVD "Julie and Julia" for Christmas so tonight I took advantage of his absence to watch it.  I so love this movie!  Mostly because I am completely obsessed with Julia Child.  And I love the story of two women who are in their 30's trying to figure out what the heck they are supposed to do with their lives.

I've read just about every book there is on Julia Child.  Own quite a few of them.  Ironically enough, I don't own "Mastering the Art of French Cooking".  I haven't wanted one.  First of all, because it's full of complicated recipes for foods that, quite frankly, I don't think I would ever have the desire to cook.  Secondly, our house is tiny and that book rivals our TV in size and weight; where would be put that sucker?

After tonight though, I am eager to get my hands on a copy, if for no other reason that to read all that Julia has to say on homemade mayonnaise.  I don't even really like it, but I want to make some.  Dave uses mayo on his sandwiches that he takes to work each day.  Imagine making it homemade and not getting the chemical laden junk from the store.  I wonder how long homemade mayo lasts?  Is it hard?  Perhaps this needs to be something that I try out.

I like this movie too because it features a woman making complicated dishes in her tiny NYC apartment kitchen, which is slightly larger than mine.  It is no secret that my tiny kitchen is a major source of frustration. But if a woman can make do in NYC, then I make do here (and I have a dishwasher, too).

(enter resolve to not be so frustrated with tiny kitchen here)

My cooking endeavors of the day include toasting bread onto which I put dark chocolate peanut butter.  I am a grade A chef. :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lusting or Believing?

I was listening to Joyce Meyer talk recently and she was talking about lust as being wanting something so bad that we can't be happy without it.  Of course it's not wrong to want things (unless it's something sinful like wanting another person's wife or wishing someone harm, etc).  Joyce talked about how when we want something so bad we can't be happy that that is lust, and it's wrong.

I was thinking about what she said and I was thinking about contentment and wanting things in life, especially big things (spouse, children, career, house, etc).  And I started thinking about how sometimes we are called to contentment, and sometimes we are called to faith.  Both are Biblical, both are "right".  I think that at different times, in different circumstances, God calls us to sometimes one, and sometimes the other.

Recently, I have been wanting some "big things" in life.  I have been telling myself to be content, to be OK with what I have.  I have been telling myself that perhaps God doesn't want those things for me; that I should set about in my heart to be OK without them (at least for now).  After hearing what Joyce said I told myself that I was right; that I needed to stop lusting after things and to be content with what I had. 

But you know what?  It didn't feel right.  You would think that if I were in sync with what God was calling me to (contentment in this case), that I would be at peace. 

I wasn't.

I started praying through things and realized that, for this particular time and area of my life, this "contentment" I was trying to be at peace with was actually unbelief.  I was choosing to be content not because I felt God calling me to it, but because I was too scared he wouldn't come through with the things I wanted.  I was choosing unbelief over faith in His goodness.  Sometimes, being OK with little things or trying to get by isn't being content.  Sometimes it's an Ishmael.  What I mean by that is that sometimes God wants us to live trusting Him to deliver something big.  Instead of doing that, we settle for a right now or a less than (sometimes both).  Instead of trusting for Isaac, we settle for Ishmael.

I realized that that's what I've been doing.  Instead of trusting God to bring about these big things, I tried to force contentment because I was afraid he wouldn't deliver. 

Psalm 106 says this:
"The (Israel) believed His words (trusting in, relying on them); they sang His praise.  But they hastily forgot His works; they did not (earnestly) wait for His plans (to develop) regarding them, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness and tempted and tried to restrain God (with their insistent desires) in the desert.  And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls and (thinned their numbers by) disease and death (verses 12-15, Amplified Bible)

I think these verses speak to both contentment and belief.  The first part reminds us how we are so quick to forget all that God has done for us; how we push and rush and don't wait for His good plans but push our agenda (Ishmael).  The latter part of the verse tells us that sometimes God gives us what we beg for just to show us it's not what we really wanted.  There is a place for contentment, and a place for faith. 

There is a place for believing that God is going to give us what we so eagerly pray and wait for.  Now, I think there is a danger here because Scripture does not give us specific promises, and even some promises Scripture speaks of are specific ones to the historic nation of Israel that does not apply to the church today.  But, that being said, I do believe that there are times when God is going to put desires is our hearts for a reason.  If you are walking with God and in constant communication and communion with Him and His Spirit and His word, then I believe that those desires are there on purpose.  If I am praying that God would give me (and my husband) desires for what He wants for us, and there are desires in both of us that align with who God is and what we believe He wants for us, then I choose to believe that those desires are there for God to fulfill, in His own way and in His own time. 

So here's to trusting God.  For not settling but daring to believe that He is as big as He says He is.  I dare you at this season in life to look back on your life and recount and recall all the times He has proved Himself to be good and faithful.  Dare to have that audacious faith; the faith that waits for a baby promised, a longing fulfilled, a dream reached.  Here's to having Isaacs this week, and not Ishmaels.  What is God calling you to believe in Him for?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 Resolution

Got an email from my dear friend Ashley recently, and in it she wrote this:

"I want so very badly for this to be a great year and a year spent in victory and overcoming defeat and strongholds."

Wow!  Forget resolutions and lists, let's do THAT for 2013!

Strongholds seems to have been the theme in my life for quite some time now. Identifying them, overcoming them, ridding myself of them.  So often when I am defeated and discouraged after committing the same sin once again, I will beg of God to obliterate this mess within me.  Oh how right Paul was when he warned against the sin that so easily entangles!  (Hebrews 12:1)  Often I get it so tangled up around my feet that I fall flat on my face, again and again.

How thankful I am for a Savior who keeps working on me!  Those areas that are a constant between me and my Jesus--those strongholds that are stages of war within me--are the areas where I meet his grace.  Where I fall and am lifted up again and where I will emerge victorious.

Anger is a big stronghold for me.  Oh, how I hate how it bubbles up inside of me!  It wasn't until adulthood that this anger first revealed itself within me.  I didn't get to experience a lot of emotions growing up because I was so busy keeping my family (who are not well known for their even keel of emotions) calm.  I didn't get angry or upset over much because everyone else was getting angry and upset enough for a whole town of people.  Boy, have I made up for lost time.  Now I have fits all the time.  I HATE it about myself.  I get so mad at being mad that I can't separate all the madness out.

I so want God to do away with that ugly portion of me.  I want to be known as someone who has a calm and gentle spirit (1 Peter 3:4).  I want to rebuke gently (Galations 6:1) and disarm anger in others with a gentle word (Proverbs 15:1).  I think more than any other stronghold (trust me, there are many), overcoming my anger is the one I most want God to work on this year.

May Ashley's words ring true this year; may it be a year spent in victory! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Children and excess

Do you ever worry about the type of culture and environment you'll end up raising your kids in? 

Kids for us are still a few years away, and lately I have just been so disgusted when I think about the atmosphere our kids will live in.  I'm not talking about the evils of society and all that big picture stuff, though that is important and certainly has the ability to make me anxious.  What I mean are the little things; all these subtle (or not so sublte) changes in culture that have left us in a world where kids and young people expect so much, mostly because we as adults give it to them.

Couple of examples:

1.  Newborn photo shoots.  ALL of my friends who recently had babies (like, all 15 of them, no lie) have gotten these done.  It is the new trend along with trendy engagement shots and wedding pictures.  Do you know how much these cost?  Average price around here is $250-350--and that's just for the session and the disc of pics.  You still have to pay for all the pictures that you want printed out. 

Now, hear me say, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting cute little pics of your precious bundle made when they are a week old.  If you have the money and want to do that, that's your right.  What bothers me about it is that now dropping hundreds of dollars on an artsy newborn photography session is the new normal.   It's expected.  Everyone drops money on that, and then on Christmas card pictures, and maternity photo shoots.  You can't just snap a picture on your digital camera anymore; you have to have artsy shots outside where everyone's color schemes match.

I am all for family memories, but it strikes me as odd that we spend so much money for "cute" pictures.  Is it excessive?  I will take tons of pics of our kids, and they will have scrapbooks galore, but I can guarantee you that there will be other things we will spend money on before I take out a second mortgage to photograph my newborn baby sitting naked on my bed with a cute hat on.  I can do that pretty cheaply myself, you know.

2.  Prom.  Oh mercy.  Have you heard about all the different, creative, out of this world ways that guys asks girls to prom now?  It is insane.  I would hate to be a guy in high school nowadays because evidently it's not just having a date to prom that matters anymore, it's how you ask her.  At first I thought these stories were cute, but then one day I started wondering if it was setting girls up for a huge let down.  I mean, a guy asks you to prom and it involves a flash mob and balloons and half the student body of your high school, and where do you go from there?  Do you want to be getting engaged and think, "Well this isn't as good as when I got asked to prom?"  I'm not a huge fan of over the top proposals either (that's just my personal style), but asking someone to prom should not rival a Broadway production.

I also wonder if this isn't giving our daughters a false definition of romance.  We are teaching our girls that the guys who do the big creative, "loud" things are the ones to go for.  And a lot of times, those guys are all for show, and have no substance. We aren't teaching our girls that it's the consistent, dependable guys that are worth going for.  Instead we tell them to desire the things that are showy and that get you attention. 

A co-worker of mine's daughter went to prom a couple years ago, and they spent hundreds of dollars.  Because you don't just buy a dress anymore, but all the girls get their hair and nails done, and go to the tanning bed, etc. Again, are we setting them up for disappointment later in life?  Are we making prom out to be a "little wedding" for our girls?  Is that OK?  I don't think proms are bad in and of themselves (though goodness they can be).  I just hate how we put so much emphasis on it (and money into is!) when really, it's just a high school dance.  It's not a wedding or graduation party.  It's just a dance.  Just. A. Dance. 

3.   Emotionally.  Ah, this is one that I think has snuck up on us.  After all, isn't it our job and role as a parent to give our kids all the love we can?  I think we have gotten the definition of love wrong.  I know so many parents whose house is ruled by a 25 pound 4 year old, because the parents have set no limits and are so afraid of giving their child negative attention that they now have created a devil child.  We are so afraid now to tell our kids "no".  We are so afraid to let life NOT revolve around our child. 

I know of several couples who won't go out to dinner or hang out with friends because "the baby goes to bed at 8:00 so we can't".  For the love people, take the kid with you and put them to sleep on your friend's bed.  Then when you want to leave you simply pick up your sleeping child and take him or her home with you.  It is not rocket science.

Your child feeling loved and your child feeling happy are not the same thing. 

You can love your child and have your child be unhappy sometimes. 

Really, it's OK to hurt their feelings when needed.  Your life, time, schedule, budget, etc should not revolve around your child.  They are not the sun.  Your family life includes them, but it should not be based around them.  What sort of self centered creature are you trying to create?

I tell my husband often that we are going to raise our children Amish. Though, to be fair, that wouldn't automatically save us from temptation #3 listed above.  How I pray more than anything that God gives us a good heaping or good old fashioned common sense when it comes time for us to parent!