Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday!

Ok, so I can't really take credit for this idea - I got it from Lisa Whelchel's wonderful book "Creative Correction." If you don't have it and you have kids - you need this book!!

Let's just say that once in a while (certainly not every single day of my life!) certain people of the short variety decide to have some ugly stuff come out of their mouths. It might be sass, it might be unkind words to a brother or sister, it might be a lie. Anything that involves a sin of the tongue, I have a special "reward" for. Picture me here rubbing my hands and doing my best evil laugh here.

If something yucky comes out of their mouth, something yucky goes in - vinegar. Now, to adults such as you and I, vinegar is a delightful ingredient in salads and many other things. But to a child? Pure torture, I tell you. My children would rather be grounded, rather get a spanking, rather be locked outside for 6 days straight than have to get some vinegar put in their mouth.

But it has helped them to remember to keep their words "sweet" not "sour." I know lots of moms use soap or hot sauce, both of which I just could never bring myself to do. But vinegar is an actual food product that's safe to ingest, and isn't actually painful, just, well, sour.

It works miracles, I tell you!! And that works for me! For more great ideas, be sure to visit Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Identity Crisis?

Who are we?

As Christian women, there are often many different roles we fill. Wives, mothers, friends, daughters, sisters, church members. If you work, whether in or out of the home, there is more to do there. If you homeschool, you are teacher, administrator and principal all rolled up into one.

Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. There can be so many demands on our time it's exhausting. Just today, I have to:
  • teach my children math, science, Ancient Greece, vocabulary and more
  • bake brownies for our homeschool group's Fall party at noon
  • maintain (oh, who are we kidding!!) CLEAN the house,
  • go to buy paint to re-paint our rental property
  • make several phone calls to get necessary information to fill out forms for our homeschool group
  • take my son to speech therapy
  • repair my son's Zorro costume (damaged in a party over the weekend, but needed for tomorrow night's Harvest Fest at church)

But what helps is to remember our priorities - our Biblical priorities, that is. What is it that God has called us to do?

First and foremost, we are called to worship Him. We are called to live in fellowship with the Creator of the world. This must take precedence over all else.

Second comes our callings as wives. Honoring my husband's requests (such as going to Wal-Mart) must be seen as our highest priority after our relationship with God is tended to. I know that as busy moms, it's very easy to put our children in this place, but that is a mistake. Our children will grow and live their own lives, but our marriages must last our lifetime. When we put our husbands in second place, we damage that relationship, sometimes irretrievably. Ladies, always make your husband your priority!

After our husbands come our children. This is usually the easiest need for most women to meet, primarily because it's the most urgent. Children need this or that and they need it NOW. But in your meeting of their needs, be careful to be discerning. Meeting every desire and whim can be dangerous. Be careful to allow your children to learn to be content with simple things - a hard thing to do in today's world. More than this, allowing your children to dictate your schedule can be overwhelming as well. Remember that you are the parent and children need your wisdom and guidance. Be their parent, not their friend. It's very easy to set up an almost idolatrous relationship with your kids - allowing meeting their needs to be your ultimate goal and highest priority. Be careful, Mom, to keep your precious children from bearing that burden.

Next comes our homes. Making a beautiful home for your family is a high calling. You are able to create a place of refuge and beauty - a place for your family to come to where they can be fed, restored and loved after being buffeted by the world. Please don't see caring for your home simply as cooking and cleaning - dreaded chores that must be done. Try to see it as creating a haven. No one else can do this - a maid can clean, but she cannot make home the special place your family needs. It is something only a mother can do.

All other activities enter into the picture after these things are cared for. If you need to take a break from outside things in order to get the other priorities in order, seriously considering doing that. It will be a blessing to your family and yourself.

Monday, October 29, 2007

This is Hard

Waiting, that is.

Waiting to know if I will be, indeed, moving to the other side of the world. Waiting to know if our lives will be turned upside down. Waiting to know what new adventures await us.

The reality of the situation has begun to set in for my kids. They, understandably, are experiencing some very mixed emotions. They are sad at the possibility of moving away from friends, from the only church they've ever known. They are heartbroken that they may have to give up our dog (but shhhh...I'm investigating how costly it would be to get our dog over there. I don't want to tell them in case it doesn't work out, but I'd sure like to do it for them).

Personally, I'm just anxious to know so that I can move on with life. I'm a big planner (not always so good at following the plan, but I have to have the plan!) and being in such a state of uncertainty is causing me a lot of stress.

Each time one of my kids mention something that will be happening past, oh, say February, I panic because I don't know - I don't know if they'll be here to have a birthday party (Emily's 13th! I'd hate to pull her away from that!), I don't know if Daniel can go on the 4th and 5th grade retreat in April, I don't know if we'll be here for VBS - one of their favorite times of the year. I just don't know. And I hate that.

But maybe, just maybe, this is what God had planned. Maybe He is trying to teach me something through this. To just let go and trust Him. To let Him do whatever it is and to just follow His lead.

I have to say that I think I'm handling the whole thing pretty well. I mean, moving to the Middle East was never part of the plan, to be honest. But I find myself perfectly at peace with the idea. Actually, I'm kind of excited about it. It's just the uncertainty that is disconcerting to me.

But I find myself learning more and more that all of life is uncertain. Regardless of all the "planning" I do, I'm not really in control. I may have that illusion, but it's just that - smoke and mirrors. In the end, God is sovereign and His will will be done. He has ordained our steps from the beginning of time.

And I'm so thankful for that.

Menu Plan Monday!

Wow - it's the end of October already! Can you believe it? This year seems to have just flown by. The holidays are almost here. I love this time of year - once October is over, you can bet I'll be pulling out my Christmas cds. By December 26th, I'll be so sick of them, but I can't wait to get into the holiday spirit!!

On to this week's menu.

Monday - Spaghetti, cheese toast, tossed salad

Tuesday- Bezella with white rice and salad

Wednesday - Mezze (hummous, tabouli, cheeses, pita bread, pickles, olives, etc.) I know I serve this every Wednesday, but now that the kids and I are at church on Wednesday evenings, this is the perfect meal for my Middle Eastern hubby to enjoy - easy to prepare, keep and clean up after!

Thursday - Scallops Charleston, wild rice, roasted broccoli

Friday - Blackened Chicken Salad (we have our small group meeting this evening so this will be what I bring to that - it's an Applebee's recipe)

Saturday - Lentils & Rice with a lemony salad

Sunday - Sandwiches, cole slaw (made up on Saturday), chip (I'm trying to keep Sunday meals very simple and easy to prepare and clean up after)

So that's it! We are having some repeats - I'm still trying to use up ingredients I have in the fridge and pantry to cut back a little on our grocery expenses. I'm hoping that things will ease up a bit soon so I can get back on to my 8 Week Menu Plan - it really does save me so much time and make life so much easier!

Thanks for visiting me today. For more wonderful ideas, click on over to The Organizing Junkie for lots more Menu Plan Monday participants. There's always loads of great ideas there!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Favorite Ingredient Friday - Baja Beef & Beans with Tex Mex Rice

A while ago, someone asked me to post this recipes and I apologize for not having gotten to it sooner, but here it is!!

Baja Beef and Beans is a delicious, slow-cooker meal that I make very often for company it's that good! The Tex-Mex rice just makes it that much more delicious. Plus it is a super-easy to make meal - literally just minutes...well, the entree part anyways. The rice maybe takes 20 minutes total of prep time.

I hope you enjoy this yummy meal!!

Baja Beef and Beans

  • 1 1/2 lb. round steak
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. yellow mustard
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 8 oz. salsa
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 t. beef bouillon
  • 1 can of kidney beans

Combine the garlic, mustard, chili powder, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture over the steak, rubbing it in well. Cut the steak into bite-sized pieces. Place in a crockpot and stir in salsa, beef bouillon and onions. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 30 minutes before serving, stir in drained kidney beans. Serve atop Tex Mex Rice.

Tex Mex Rice

  • 1 cup rice
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Stir in rice and saute until rice is slightly browned. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add spices. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in red pepper. Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy your meal!!

There are some wonderful sounding recipes posted at today's Favorite Ingredient Friday. Be sure to stop over at Overwhelmed by Joy and take a look. You just might find a new favorite!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thankful Thursday

"Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." Psalm 143:8

I have much to be thankful for this week, as always. God is so good in his wisdom that it blows me away sometimes.

  • I'm thankful that in the midst of all the changes that are looming on the horizon for our family, I'm so totally at peace with it. Each new things that comes my way, that I thought would upset me, has instead just strengthened my faith as I allow myself to fully trust God to lead us where He wants.
  • I'm thankful that my parents have accepted our decision to move to the Middle East and are being supportive about it, even though I know they aren't happy about it.
  • I'm thankful for my two wonderful children. They bring me to my knees and make me want to pull my hair out sometimes, but they are great kids who love the Lord and I am so thankful to God for letting me be the one who gets to be their mom.
  • I'm thankful for my husband who I know that I can always trust. I know that he will always do what is best for us and that he will always provide.
  • I'm thankful that today the weather is cooler. It's still been in the low to mid-90's. It's October already!! The high today is supposed to just reach the low 80's - a veritable South Florida chill is in the air!!
  • I'm thankful for all my wonderful blogger friends who visit and who leave such encouraging comments. You have become a real source of encouragement and blessing to me!

For more wonderful blessings, visit Crystal, who is generously hosting Thankful Thursday for us through mid-November!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday!!!

For years I have suffered the embarrassment of rosacea - red skin that flares up and has made me feel very self-conscious. Especially when I am embarrassed, angry or about to cry I can just feel the flush and wish I could crawl under a rock!
Finally I worked up the courage to see a dermatologist about it. I'm not a doctor person. Unless it's something fairly urgent, I tend to avoid doctors. But I made a promise to myself to take care of this issue (along with many others!).
So, to spare those of you who struggle with rosacea from a trip and the expense of a doctor's visit, I want to share with you what I've learned.
First of all, the cleanser and moisturized my dermatologist recommended are the Cetaphil brand. They are very gentle and non-irritating. I've seen a big improvement just from switching to these products. Unfortunately, I have break-outs occasionally as well as some minor scarring from teenage bouts of acne, so I had been using some Retin products to try to smooth out the skin. Big mistake!!! These products worsened the rosacea. Since I've switched to the Cetaphil products, the redness has lessened greatly and my skin is softer and smoother! Also, make sure to use lukewarm to cool water, not hot water when you wash your face.
Now, she prescribed a prescription topical gel for me, Metrogel. It wasn't covered by my insurance and the tube cost me $60. It wasn't worth it! Don't waste your money if it's not covered by your insurance plan. I noticed no difference at all when I used it or when I didn't use it.
Finally, she recommended using Almay brand cosmetics. Truthfully, I tried them and didn't care for them. But that was a personal preference. Maybe my skin would be even more bee-you-ti-ful if I was using them. So you may want to give those a try.
I still flush a lot - I don't think anything is going to stop that. But at least my skin is a prettier tone and color day-to-day. And that most definitely Works for Me!!!! Be sure to pop on over to Rocks in My Dryer to find more great tips!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Media Overload

Moving on in our look at Dr. Richard Swenson's book, The Overload Syndrome, today we are going to look at one of the most pervasive, yet probably also one of the most controllable, factors in the overloaded life - Media Overload.

I don't even need to spend much time discussing where all this overload comes from - the television which dominates many hours of the day and evening, movies which constantly push the envelope and target ever younger children with their agendas, music - much of which carries highly objectionable messages which hide behind catchy tunes, and computer usage and the Internet (which I'm giving bloggers and homeschoolers a free pass on - NOT!).

What's the big deal, you might say. Let me tell you.

  1. Media has re-set the moral acceptability threshold - We've been enjoying old re-runs of "I Love Lucy" lately. Remember how married tv couples would sleep in separate beds? How you couldn't even say the word "pregnant?" I'm not advocating that, but do you remember what it feels like to watch a movie or tv show with your children and not cringe and hope that they didn't catch that off-color joke or curse word? It's becoming a rare event. Movies that are rated PG-13 very often have completely inappropriate material for 13 year olds. The f-word may be used up to 3 times, drug use is acceptable, violence (without bloodshed) is fine. Think how far down the road we have gone in the last twenty years. Now extrapolate that out for another 20 years. Scary, huh?
  2. Media has re-sent the shock threshold - Remember how when Jaws came out in 1975 that people were sick and had to get up and leave the theater? Now they show more gruesome things every day on television and it doesn't even phase us. Many news outlets have an "if it bleeds, it leads" philosophy. As we become numb to each new level of horror, the media has to keep ramping it up in order to get our attention.
  3. Media re-sets the boredom threshold - I can attest to this! My children were recently grounded from electronics for two days (two whole days!!!!) and you would have thought there was nothing else to do in the world. Remember when we were kids and we could entertain ourselves for hours? Our kids are losing the ability to entertain themselves and use their imaginations.
  4. Media presents a more negative view of the world - Bad news is big news. We hear about every missing child, making it seem as if the world is a much more dangerous place. Yet statistics show that kidnapping rates have not changed - it's just that we are more aware of them now. And fictional tv? They present us with about 350 characters a night - seven of whom will be killed on screen. According to media critic Michael Medved, if this murder rate reflected reality, "in just 50 days everyone in the United States would have been murdered."
So we all know that the problem is there. The real question is how do we reduce the amount of media that floods into our souls, our homes and our families?

  1. Guard against media being your barrier to loneliness - Visit someone who would appreciate the contact (shut-in's, hospital patients, a friend who's been down). Get on the phone and make a call. Write someone a letter. Invite someone over for coffee. Don't turn to the tv to keep you company.
  2. Allow boredom to nourish the imagination - Over the summer we had our satellite tv disconnected for 2 months. No local channels - nothing. It was a great experience once we got over the initial withdrawal pains! My kids came up with tons of creative ways to fill their time. Here's a list we made up of things to do - click here.
  3. Create rather than consume - Go out and play a game rather than watching one on tv. Bake bread, sew, visit people, make your own music, learn something new. Live your life - don't live vicariously through watching people on tv.
  4. Establish limits - Set a weekly limit on screen time. Agree that nothing will be turned on before homework or schoolwork are done. Set limits on what you watch/listen to/visit on the web. Limit the channels you and your kids have access to - more is not necessarily better.
  5. Resist advertisements - They create a need where there wasn't one before. Trust me, millions of dollars are spent on each commercial to get you to believe that you NEED what they are selling. It's a lie.
  6. Zap the set - Be willing to turn off objectionable material. Change the channel, hit the mute button, turn it off. You control the tv, not the other way around.
  7. Go on a media fast - Turn off the tv for a week or two. Pray in the car instead of listening to the radio. Cancel the paper. Just tune out for a week or two - it can be very restorative.
  8. Be aware - Don't hide your head in the sand. You need to know what's going on so you can deal with it with your children. It's better they get your opinion on something than their friend's opinion. When my daughter asked me why we don't listen to groups like Green Day, I spent time looking up their lyrics and showed her some of the ones that were inappropriate. She instantly understood and has never asked about our music choices again. But if I hadn't been willing to discuss it with her, she'd still be wanting to rebel.
  9. Hate evil - For some reason, we always find evil more interesting. This isn't how things should be, but it's how they are. Learn to hate evil, pray, ask for wisdom.
  10. Substitute soothing music - Playing soothing music, if you really need background noise, can be a soothing substitute for the tv or other musical choices. Classical may sound strange to your family's ears at first, but over time they may come to appreciate it.
  11. Use a movie viewer guide - This way you know what you are getting before you go see a movie. One that I use and recommend is It will give you a detailed description of any violent, sexual or language issues. Another good choice is, from Focus on the Family. They give a broader picture of the movie - spiritual overtones, underlying messages, etc.
  12. Watch videos - Use videos instead of broadcast and/or cable tv. Now, we don't ever go to Blockbuster. I don't have a problem with them, but we get any movies we rent from the public library. Yes, we don't get the latest releases, but we get years worth of quality movies for FREE.
  13. Encourage reading - Read the book BEFORE seeing the movie. Have a set time or evening when the family reads together as opposed to watching tv. You might even want to consider paying for reading - maybe a nickel a page or so.
  14. Include only the best - Look, we can't totally eliminate media from our lives. But we can seek out the best and try to eliminate the worst. Often our busyness overwhelms us and we, in exhaustion, just turn to the easiest thing. Make a conscious decision to promote music and television which offers positive messages and values.

Pray about all of this and see what the Lord would convict you and your family about. Then work to make those changes.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

We've got another busy week coming up - meetings, church, extracurricular activities, etc. Most of the menus take that into consideration - easy, fast and tasty. The Bertolli frozen meal on Friday night is something I bought when they were buy one/get one free, so we'll see how it tastes. It looks good, but you never know!

Monday - Shrimp Scampi, pasta

Tuesday - Vegetable Stew, freshly baked bread (Tuesdays are busy for us so I like to keep it simple)

Wednesday - Hummous, tabouli, pickles, olives (I'm at church that night, so this is for Hubby)

Thursday - Lentils & Rice, salad (I've got a homeschool meeting this night and this dish reheats well so I can make it and Hubby can warm it up when he gets home)

Friday - Bertolli Frozen Pasta meal

Saturday - Lasagna, garlic bread, caesar salad (I like to make good-sized casseroles on Saturdays that can double as lunch for us when we get home from church on Sunday)

Sunday - Homemade Pizza, salad

For more yummy meal ideas, jump on over to The Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. Last week, over 200 bloggers participated!! Now, you just know there was lots of goodness being spread around over there!
Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Sad Anniversary and a Reminder

I'm sitting at church right now. I run the bookstore and it's during the Sunday School hour, so I'm not posting during the service, don't worry!

I was just out in the courtyard and met up with my best friend, Jan. We cried together and hugged and cried some more.

Jan's husband, John, died one year ago Tuesday.

John had been diagnosed with colon cancer just 10 short months before. He spent the last 6 weeks of his life in the hospital, fighting with every ounce of who he was to live and be with his wife, two teenage daughters, son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. But it wasn't God's will and he was taken home to be with Christ.

This year has been so hard on all of the family. All of the kids have struggled in one way or another. For Jan it has been unbearable to lose her best friend.

So today I want to remember how precious my time with my husband is. Too often, we fall into arguing over stupid, petty stuff. I can't remember the time we had a long weekend together without this happening.

I'm just not going to do it anymore.

I'm going to tell myself that whatever I'm arguing over isn't as important as the love that we share and the health of our relationship.

I want to live my life to the fullest and have as few regrets as possible.

I'm going to make a conscious effort to remember that time is fleeting and there are no guarantees.

Take a Closer Look at Huckabee

Jess over at Making Home has written an excellent post about why Mike Huckabee should be the Republican nominee for '08. She is much more eloquent than myself, so I won't even try to restate her case, but I urge you to go and read it for yourself.

I've heard some people say that Govenor Huckabee just doesn't have a chance, that he's "second-tier." Well, he's moving up in the polls and with Sam Brownback having now dropped out of the race, I believe many of his supporters will head over to the Huckabee camp.

If people will only take a good, hard look at him, I'm sure they will like what they see.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Smart Habit Saturday

Here we are, back at Saturday again. Time to check in and see how we are doing with the development of habits we wish to develop. If you aren't taking part, blog or no blog, you are missing out. Just the very act of setting goals for yourself is very motivating.

What I've done is to make up a chart of the habits I'm working on. It's posted on my bathroom mirror so I see it many times throughout the day and am reminded of what I should be doing. While I am still far from perfect, I have seen improvement in just about every area. Here's a quick update:

  • Devotions each morning Doing better with this since I started my "Daniel" study. I am loving digging into the Word.
  • Vitamin each morning Still haven't gotten this one down.
  • Bed by 11:00 Only managed to do this once this week :(
  • Bedtime Routine (wash face, moisturize, brush teeth, floss) About 50:50 on this one
  • No Sugar Doing really good on this one - hardly had any sugar at all this week
  • At least 5 Servings of Produce Much improvement here - I'm loving fruit and veggies
  • Shoes on in the House Still hate to wear shoes so no go here
  • Mini-Pedi each night (file calluses and slather with Vaseline) Doing this about half the time
  • No Binging Starting to see much improvement here - down to maybe once a week instead of almost daily
  • No Food After 8 pm I've been out almost nightly this week, so having dinner late has been causing a problem here
  • 5 Min. Stretching Starting to implement this a few days a week
  • Walk at least 20 Min Still struggling with fitting in exercise :(
  • Breakfast Doing really well on this
  • Calcium Tablet I hate doing this (it's huge)! Need work on it.
  • Floss Improving, although I hate this too.
  • Strength Train Also struggling with this. It's a laziness issue, I know.
  • No Soda This is where I'm seeing the most improvement!! Yeah!!
  • Don’t Salt Food Doing really well here too!!
  • Drink 64 Oz. Water Doing super good here too!
  • 1 Hour of Quiet (No tv, no radio, no yelling kids - just time for my mind to be quiet) This, I have come to think is a fantasy, but I will continue to strive for it!!

For more great Smart Habit Saturday participants, hop on over to The Lazy Organizer!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Whee!! Something new to play with!

So...I've mentioned that I like to cook. I love trying out new recipes and playing with them, tweaking them. I've just learned that Overwhelmed with Joy has a regular feature called Favorite Ingredients Friday - a weekly place to share all those yummy goodies!

This week's focus is on soup. Now in many places, soup is a hallmark of fall. It brings to mind sitting wrapped up in a blanket in front of a fireplace. But here in Miami? Uh, we don't really get fall. We get "Hot" and "Not as Hot." Those are our seasons. But still I love soup regardless of the temperature. Here's one of my favorite recipes. It's a vegetable stew with tons of flavor. It's very good for you, as an added bonus. I like to serve it with buttered toast.

Vegetable Stew

4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
2-3 T. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk chopped celery
3 stalks of broccoli, cut into bite sized florets
1 cup of lima beans
1/4 t. celery seed
1/4 t. dried sage
1/4 t. dried marjoram
1/2 t. sea salt (you could use regular salt too)
1 vegetable bouillon cube (chicken would be an ok substitute)
water to cover
Steam your potatoes and carrots for about 10 minutes. Melt butter in a large pot. Add potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, broccoli and spices. Saute a minutes or two, stirring veggies around constantly. Add enough water to cover. Add bouillon. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add lima beans (trust me - they are delicious in this soup!) and return to a boil. Reduce heat ans simmer, covered for 10 more minutes.




As I mentioned yesterday, I've been feeling lately as though I've been in this pit of self-doubt. I haven't felt very productive here on the blog, or in real life for that matter.

So imagine my surprise when
Java Mama presented me with an award. And not just any award. An award that recognizes bloggers who are acting in the role of a disciple of Christ. The Mathetes Award originated over at management by God and was designed to acknowledge those that have a heart to share God's Word, and further His Kingdom. The role of a disciple of Christ is to carry His message to the ends of the earth.

I certainly have a heart to carry Christ's message to the world, but sometimes I feel as though I'm a miserable failure at it. I stumble more than I soar. I feel sometimes as though I spend more times in the valleys than in the mountaintops.

But, truthfully I think that's ok with God.

I mean, this is the same God who called David "a man after my own heart (Acts 13:22) ." You know David, right? David, the adulterer and murderer? And yet, God chose him to sit on the throne and to place in the line of Christ. And while we are talking about the line of Christ, let's not forget Rahab, the harlot. She was blessed enough to also be in Christ's bloodline and yet she was hardly the model citizen. And then there's Peter, who denied Christ in His hour of greatest need and yet Christ restored him and used him greatly.

So, yes, I fail, and often, in my life. I fail as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter and sister and friend. I fail as a child of God. But just as I love my children when they fail, God loves me regardless of my failings. Scratch that. His love for me is so much more than my love for my children - it's incomprehensible.

And so, beloved, is His love for you.

Now it is my honor to pass this award along to five others who I feel are examples of what a disciple should look like. I know that probably not all of them participate in "awards" and that's ok. I just wanted to thank them for their influences on me and let you know about them.

  • Mylinda - a dear friend who is wise beyond her years and a wonderful example of a godly woman
  • Heather - an amazing woman of God who, even in her darkest hours, still glorifies God
  • On Fire for Jesus - a true servant of God who pours out her life to those around her
  • Jana - a true encourager and teacher of godly principles for women
  • Lyndsey - whose efforts to live a godly life come through so clearly in her blog

Thank you to all of these ladies, who have helped in some way or another to disciple me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thankful Thursday

"For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds."

Psalm 57:10

I have to admit that I have been in a bit of a pit lately. A pit of self-pity, self-condemnation and just general unhappiness with myself. It's very hard to be disappointed in yourself - to know that you can and should be doing things differently, yet aren't - and to still be happy.

But today I am so thankful for the promise that God is unchanging. He loves me regardless of my failings. Regardless of my own feelings, God's view of me doesn't change.

I am the same Lori for whom He allowed Christ to die. The same Lori He rescued from the pit where I was wallowing in sin. The same Lori who He accepted, not because of anything worthy in or of myself, but because of the covering blood of Christ.

And yes, I fail. Daily I fail.

But God still loves me. I'm so thankful that He doesn't sit back and wait for me to impress Him with my holiness. I'm thankful that His love for me is not based on anything I do or don't do. I'm thankful that even when in my own eyes I'm a miserable failure, to God I am a beautiful daughter, washed clean and all prettied up through Christ.

Thank you, God, for your unfailing love.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I am a failure.

Well, specifically in one area for the purposes of this post.

Back over the summer I had grand plans. I was going to be the next big thing. I would reduce my grocery bills and increase our health. I was going to grow my own vegetables.

I did tons of research. Every book in the library on vegetable growing here in the South Florida region came home with me. I wrote out pages and pages of notes - planting times, feeding schedules, pruning information...anything I could find.

And I bought. Oh, did I buy! Once Hubby rejected my plan to make a raised bed garden in the yard and insisted I work with pots on the patio, I had myself a pot purchasing party. Big ones, little ones, round ones, square ones. And or course, I needed to buy the appropriate soil stuff - peat moss, lime, perlite, sand, blood meal, moon dust. Ok, no moon dust actually, but just about everything else that comes in bags from Home Depot. I figured it would all be worth it in the end once we reaped the bountiful harvest.

Then I hit a snag. Except for a peppers and tomatoes, almost everything I wanted to grow was to be grown from seed. But apparently there is a seed shortage here in South Florida. I couldn't find seeds anywhere. Well, flower seeds, yes, but that wasn't what I needed. I could order them online, but Hubby hates it when I shop online and I'd already pushed his patience to the limit with all the pots and bags now filling our garage.

So I decided to be content with peppers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and herbs.

To date, I have harvested one (did ya catch that? ONE!) cherry tomato. My peppers are growing - I'd say that there are about 3 on the vine that will be ready to harvest soon. But my tomatoes? I don't know what happened. They have been plagued by everything they could be plagued by and are just spindly and dying. I have no idea what happened. None of my books or notes address the problem.

Hubby has kindly begun returning the pots. I say kindly because he has not completely ridiculed me as I had expected him to.

As for that one lone little cherry tomato?

It was the best darn $100 bite of tomato I've ever had.

Works For Me Wednesday: Cutting out Cookbook Clutter

I love to cook. I love experimenting with new recipes and new ingredients. And most of all, I love to peruse through cookbooks. They are always just chock-full of wonderful ideas and promises of delicious meals just waiting for me to attempt.

However, in my current home, I have a small kitchen. Like-I-live-on-a-boat sized kitchen, even though our home is firmly planted on the ground. It's just a narrow galley-style kitchen. The only space I have been able to make for my rather extensive cookbook collection is above the range in that awkward cabinet that you can't get to if you are cooking something and even if you aren't you need a step-stool? Yep, it's been a real pain.

But now that I am in the process of trying to decide what I REALLY need since I might need to separate myself from most of my possessions I have decided that it's time to part ways with almost all of my cookbooks. Of course, there are some that I can't get rid of - like the one that my daughter almost died over, and the Middle Eastern one my sister-in-law gave me that has names for ingredients in English and Arabic (that might come in handy one day soon). So, what's a girl to do? Certainly I can't just part with all of those yummy recipes?

I bought a big 5 subject notebook and in each of five sections, I'm making my own personal cookbook. I'm transferring recipes from every cookbook I have, from every Taste of Home or other cooking magazine that's been sitting in this tiny little cabinet. My sub-sections are Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Salads (I do a lot of salads!), Breakfast Foods and Desserts.

I'm having fun doing it even though Hubby would rather I just scan them all into the computer. This way, I'm creating something. It's going to take a while, but when I'm done, I'll have my own personal favorites all in one place and it will be something I can eventually hand down to my daughter.

For more ideas of how everyday people are improving their lives a little at a time, be sure to hop on over to Rocks in My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas!

Ok, Be Honest. Who Hasn't Wished For This?

I know, I know. It's not funny.

But c'mon - it's FUNNY!! Once in a while I could really use this stuff!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

ETA: Oops!! I misunderstood. Menu Plan Monday is on as scheduled!! Sorry for the confusion!

Laura isn't feeling well, so there's no official Menu Plan Monday today, but I thought I'd post our week's menu anyways. This is really helping me to keep accountable in preparing good, healthy meals for my family.

Monday - Stuffed Cabbage Casserole, salad

Tuesday - Bezella, rice, salad

Wednesday - Hummous and tabouli

Thursday - Scallops, pasta and salad

Friday - Potato Lover's Salad

Saturday - Spaghetti, garlic bread, Caesar salad

Sunday - Tostadas

Hurry Up!!

How many times a day do you say that to your children?

How many times a day do you tell it to yourself?

The world today seems to be moving at light speed. We are rushed in everything we do. There is little time to slow down and relax.

And speaking of relaxing, how often do you get to do that? Do you feel like falling asleep as soon as you sit down? Are you constantly exhausted?

I am. This week has been particularly hard for me. I'm trying to kick my Pepsi addiction and I've been dragging, let me tell you. I guess that caffeine and sugar did more for me than help me gain a whole lot of weight! I've just been too darn exhausted to post this week. Each afternoon I've taken a nap, even when I didn't want to. Friday I found myself falling asleep at 11:00 a.m.!!!

That's what we're looking at today in our series on The Overload Syndrome , by Dr. Richard Swenson - hurry and fatigue. I think that these two conditions are the 21st century equivalent of the plague. They affect almost everyone and people can literally die from them.

We've already looked at why our world is so hurried - many of us take on too much and refuse to accept natural, God-given limits. We feel pressured by the many expectations on us and try to keep up with everyone around us.

And where does all the fatigue come from? Well, short of saying it's from a lack of caffeinated drinks, there are many reasons. The stress we are under is a huge fatigue inducer. And, as we saw before, we are never at rest having made ourselves available to everyone all the time. On top of that, millions of us are sleep-deprived. In 1850, the average American got 9.5 hours of sleep nightly. That number has now dropped to 7 hours per night, thanks to electricity and the light bulb. We are a 24 hour society that never shuts down.

Also, we are out of shape. The work that we do from day to day is now automated or done at a desk. Even as homemakers, our work has changed dramatically over the years. Our "servant girls" are time savers such as dishwashers, Roombas, vacuum cleaners, washers and dryers. These all replaced hard, physical labor that needed to be done. As a result, we must force ourselves to do exercise when it was once just a normal part of a woman's day.

So how can we combat the hurry and fatigue? Here are some tips from Dr. Swenson:

  1. Consciously slow the pace of life - Say no. Say no. Say no. This is the best advice I think anyone can hear. Say no to all the extra activities you (or your children) do just to keep up with everyone else. Say no to buying the extra things that will require extra work either to pay for or maintain. Say no to people who would suck you dry. And say yes to opening yourself up to God's blessings.
  2. Use technology wisely - Use cell phones, answering machines, fax machines and alarm clocks judiciously. Learn when to turn them off and when to ignore them.
  3. Throw away the alarm clock - God has a plan; that we wake when we get enough sleep. Now, I know some of us have to get up and go places early in the morning. But if you don't, consider whether or not you truly need to use an alarm clock or whether it's just habit.
  4. Repent of the pride of busyness - "The busier we appear, the greater the respect afforded us. While the person sitting on the porch swing is scorned, the speed of light jet jockey is venerated. . . It is not busyness that we should honor in our midst, but love. Busyness and love are not the same. One is speed, the other is God."
  5. Take your time - Persistence is more important than speed. Life is a marathon not a sprint. To finish sooner - take your time. Measure twice, cut once. Avoid shortcuts - they take too much time in the long run.
  6. Set an earlier ETA - Plan to arrive at your destination a little early. By planning to arrive just in time, you remove any margin for error - traffic, the need to stop for gas, getting lost, etc. This leads to a sense of urgency, which leads to stress. Of course, this means setting an earlier time to leave, but it's well worth it.
  7. Develop healthy sleep habits - Sleep is restorative. It's part of God's plan for us. Value it. Choose to get enough of it. To be well-rested is a blessing. Learn to enjoy a nap without feeling guilty.
  8. Exercise - This can greatly counteract fatigue. We conveniently never find time for it, but if we make the time we can reap a bountiful harvest of blessings - greater health, longer life, more vitality.
  9. Understand the will of God - He is not so desperate for resources that He needs to double our workload. Yes at times He will demand more from us, but this is for the purpose of refining us, not because His will will not be accomplished otherwise. God will give us all that we need when we need it. If we are overstressed, perhaps it is because we are not in His will.

I hope that these simple ideas can help you find some peace and rest. Remember that God wants us to enjoy our lives!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday!

Ok, so I'm a ditz. I start something and then forget all about it. One thing that I am notorious for in this house is allowing all the water to boil out of a pan, thereby ruining said pan. I get started doing other things and clean forget about my pan on the stove. It happens all the time; boiling eggs, steaming vegetables, boiling water alone - you name it, I've ruined a pan doing it.

But now I've found a way to prevent this. Just toss a few clean marbles in the water (I only do this if the food doesn't actually come in contact with the marble (eggs - shelled, steaming veggies - the food sits above the water, etc.).
Once your water gets too low, the marbles will start to rattle in the pan, alerting you before the pan runs completely out of water and turns into a black, charred mess.
And that works for me!! For more great ideas, visit Rocks in My Dryer and check out more Works for Me Wednesday posts.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Check it out!

Tonight at 9:00 ET, there is a debate between Republican candidates. It will be broadcast on MSNBC. Please, if you watch, pay attention to Mike Huckabee.

While he's a dark horse in the race, he is moving up the ranks as more and more people hear his message. He's a genuinely nice guy, a Baptist pastor, a two-term governor of Arkansas, and he's got great ideas for America (bye-bye IRS!!).

Go Mike!!


Continuing on in our series looking at The Overload Syndrome, by Dr. Richard Swenson, today we move to the pressures that expectation puts on us.

And it's expectation from every corner - from our families, our friends, our society, ourselves. Especially in the Western media-saturated, affluent society there is the pressure to "keep up with the Joneses." But it's about more than money. We expect health, wealth and ease and are discontent if more doesn't come - no matter how well off we are.

We are supposed to be beautiful, thin, fashionable; to drive a nice car, live in a nice house that's always clean, and own nice things; to be the perfect parent and perfect wife.

Let's look at some of the expectations most of us hold:

  1. Car - one befitting our status so people can see where we stand just driving down the road
  2. House - Americans have doubled the size of our homes, while halving the size of our families over the past 40 years. Part of the problem is we have too much "stuff." But part of it is that we expect to buy the biggest, best house we can stretch ourself to afford.
  3. Careers -We expect that our jobs (or our husband's jobs) will provide for us, that the benefits will insulate us, for our companies to be faithful to us. In this age of downsizing, though, millions have been disappointed by their expectations in this area.
  4. Retirement - This is a completely modern notion. It is found nowhere in the Bible. Try to find it - I've looked. Actually, there are very few countries where this is even possible. And yet, we fret over whether our savings will be enough.
  5. Looks - Don't have the perfect body/face? Buy it with plastic surgery! Aren't thin enough? Your skin isn't peaches and cream? Don't have the currently in vogue stick-straight hair? There are thousands of companies willing to sell you as much as you will buy of whatever product will cure your beauty woes.
  6. Government - Through its many social welfare programs, government has helped many people. But it's also created a dependence on itself and a culture of entitlement. We must learn to be self-sufficient.
  7. Medicine - No doctor can know all the answers - they are human after all. And yet, we expect every treatment to work, to be healed of every illness, for our insurance companies to pay all the bills and mostly, for our doctors to know all the answers.
  8. Marriage - We place on our mate's extraordinary expectations to meet our needs and to make us happy. And yet, the divorce rate is out of this world. We expect more and put up with less.
  9. Parenting - This goes two ways. We expect ourselves to have all the answers, to be able to "produce" good and godly children, forgetting that they make their own choices. But also, we place huge expectations on them - they have to be super-smart or beauty queens or star athletes - something that shows that we are doing it right.
  10. Traditions - Weddings must be grand, lavish affairs. To show our love to our kids (and others) we must lavish them with presents at Christmas. We expect our holidays to look like something out of Currier and Ives.

So how do we avoid expectation overload? How do we choose to live simple, godly lives? I think the first step is to first and foremost seek to please God and let that desire be your driving force. Here are some tips from Dr. Swenson.

  1. Respect Limits - accept that you aren't Supermom, that you can't do it all. God is the one who created limits, don't forget. We inflate ourselves and our importance in life, we crash and burn. There are other people who can pick up what you can't do (bake sale, anyone?).
  2. Adjust your expectations - Our world has taught us that we should always expect more. But the truth is if we adjust our expectations downward, we will find less to be unhappy about. Bishop Wellington Boone (who I know nothing about save for this quote) said, "We thought the way up was up. But with God, the way up is down." If we understand that humanity is fallen and life is difficult, we are more likely to be content with the simple blessings God sends our way.
  3. Redefine enough - What does "enough" mean to you? For many, it means "More than I have now." Try defining it instead as, "What I have now." Know that God provides all your NEEDS, though not necessarily all your wants.
  4. Compare yourself to the less fortunate - Don't look at the celebrities. Look instead to the simple lives of those who live in Third World nations and yet are satisfied with their lot. They find joy in small things and in community.
  5. Tune out advertising - 'Nuff said.
  6. Simplify holidays - Reduce money expenditures. Focus instead on spending time with family and friends and on the faith you have. Keep it simple. I know, harder said than done, but remember, we are learning to live with new expectations.
  7. Resist inflated housing expectations - Just because we can afford that expensive house, doesn't mean we have to buy it. Choosing not to do so will give you a financial boost for decades to come. Be content where you are.
  8. Free your spouse - They will never be able to meet all your needs. Only God can do that. Our spouses will always disappoint us. Only God won't ever disappoint. Remember that you are the only one you have control over.
  9. Love your kids unconditionally - Let them be children and play. Let them grow up at their own pace (which is much slower than the one promoted by the media). Have age-appropriate expectations and lavish on the love.
  10. Don't serve on a silver platter - Even if you are able to afford to give your kids whatever they want, don't. Let them learn the value of hard work. Help them learn to be content.
  11. Free yourself from the opinion of others - For me, this is the hardest one. A.W. Tozer said this, "The heart's fierce effor to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of his friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest. Continue this fight through the years and the burden will be intolerable. Such a burden as this is not necessary to bear. Jesus calls us to His rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort."
  12. Deny yourself - This is what Christ preached - to deny ourselves and follow Him. It's a normal and expected part of the Christian life. But in today's world, we deny ourselves nothing. Self-denial is not about punishing ourselves, but about focusing us and freeing ourselves. It points us in the direction that matters most.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Menu Plan Monday (and other stuff!)

I have some exciting news to share, but first I'll give you our week's menu. Last week, I wasn't feeling well for a couple of days, so I've moved some of last week's menu up to this week.

  • Monday - Baja Beef & Beans, Tex-Mex Rice, Fiesta Salad with vanilla ice cream and Apple Enchiladas for dessert (I'm taking dinner to our youth pastor and his wife who just had a new baby, so I'm making double portions to serve both families. This is an awesome crockpot recipe!)
  • Tuesday - Pot Roast with baby carrots and potatoes, tossed salad
  • Wednesday - Lentils and rice, chopped salad
  • Thursday - Stuffed Cabbage Casserole
  • Friday - Chicken Fajitas with Corn, Avocado & Black Bean salad
  • Saturday - Blackened Chicken Salad (recipe from Applebee's)
  • Sunday - Scallops, yellow rice, tossed salad

If anyone is interested in any of the recipes, just let me know and I'll be happy to post them.

Now on to the big news! No, I'm not pregnant so let's just get that out of the way, shall we? It seems pretty certain that we will indeed be moving to the Middle East. This morning Hubby interviewed (via phone) with a company in Qatar and they definitely want him. The problem is that's not where we want to go.

But this morning he also received an email from the person he's been talking with in Dubai (which IS where we want to go) and he will be calling him for a phone interview this week and he said that he's very optimistic about Hubby getting the job. Whoo-hoo!!

We do have some big decisions to make. Going to Qatar would probably mean significantly more money. But in Dubai, we would be close to Hubby's sister and her family - cousins for my kids to be around. Also, there is so much to do in Dubai - an indoor ski center, a huge waterpark, an amazing theme park set to open soon and more. I've learned that there's a nice-sized group of people there who homeschool (as opposed to Qatar, where I can't find a single homeschooler to save my life!). It's a very child-friendly place and we have gotten very excited about what life might be like there.

After having done some research following my previous post on this subject, I don't think we'll be able to save quite as much money as I had thought. The cost of living is much higher there than I realized. But we will still be able to sock away quite a good deal of money for our retirement and it will be a huge adventure for all of us. And for those of you who are thinking, "What on earth are they thinking about?? How could you move to the Middle East??!!" I refer you here. This site will give you some basic information about Dubai.

So, Hubby may be leaving us as soon as December and the kids and I would follow a few months after that. There's ALOT to do between now and then! Anyone want to rent a fully furnished house in Miami?!?!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style!

Overwhelmed with Joy is hosting a mega-blogger cooking event in preparation for the upcoming holiday season. There are tons of great recipes there - from soup to nuts.

I'm a little late getting this post in as the carnival began on Friday, but hopefully, you'll like these recipes enough not to mind my tardiness!

Lace Roll-Up Cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped nuts (your preference)
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour and nuts. In medium saucepan, heat corn syrup, shortening and brown sugar to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and gradually stir into flour-nut mixture.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls about 3 inches apart onto lightly greased baking sheet. Bake only 8 or 9 cookies at one time. Bake about 5 minutes, cool 3 minutes before removing from baking sheet. While still warm, carefully roll cookie into cylindrical shapes - a wooden spoon handle works well. If the cookie hardens before you get it rolled, return it to the oven for just a moment.

Great-Grandma Edward's Pumpkin Pie

  • 2 deep dish pie shells
  • 30 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 heaping tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cans evaporated milk
  • 7 Tbsp. cold water

Mix all ingredients, except the shells of course. Put mixture into pie shells and place on cookie sheet. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 and bake for another 60-70 minutes. Remove when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Homestyle Turkey

  • 12 lb. turkey, rinsed and patted dry
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 3 Tbsp. chicken bouillon
  • 2 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. minced onions
  • 2 Tbsp. seasoning salt

Rub butter under skin on each side of turkey breast. Combine water, bouillon, parsley and onions and pour mixture over turkey. Sprinkle with seasoning salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 3 1/2 hours. Be sure to check internal temperature with a meat thermometer.

Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing

  • 1 1/2 cup cubed wheat bread
  • 3 3/4 cup cubed white bread
  • 1 lb. Jimmy Dean sausage
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 1/2 tsp. sage
  • 1 1/2 tsp. rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup turkey (or chicken) stock
  • 1/4 cup butter

Place cubed bread in a baking tray and bake at 350 degrees, turning often until browned. Meanwhile, cook sausage and onions until cooked through. Add celery and herbs to sausage mixture. Cook an additional 2 minutes. Add sausage mixture to bread. Add apples and cranberries; toss well. Drizzle stock and butter over stuffing. Toss well and allow to cool. Use as you like, baked alone in the oven or stuffed in your bird.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Smart Habit Saturday

Good Morning and welcome to another edition of The Lazy Organizer's Smart Habit Saturday!

Well, Smart Habit Boot Camp continues this week. Just in case you missed the habits I'm working on, here's a list:

Devotions each morning
Vitamin each morning
Bed by 11:00
Bedtime Routine (wash face, moisturize, brush teeth, floss)
No Sugar
At least 5 Servings of Produce
Shoes on in the House
Mini-Pedi each night (file calluses and slather with Vaseline)
No Binging
No Food After 8 pm
5 Min. Stretching
Walk at least 20 Min
Calcium Tablet
Strength Train
No Soda
Don’t Salt Food
Drink 64 Oz. Water
1 Hour of Quiet (No tv, no radio, no yelling kids - just time for my mind to be quiet)

Some of these I'm not doing well on (like being in bed by 11 and the walking), some I'm doing great on (cutting out soda, getting my water quota in, and having breakfast). Most I'm doing so-so on.

So I continue to go on, each week, earning more and more checkmarks. I know that I didn't get to where I am now overnight and I won't get to where I want to be overnight either. But having this whole big list of things to work on has really proved something to me.

It's showing me that I can make small steps and still be succeeding. Sure, maybe I don't get every checkmark every day, but each one I do get gets me closer to my goal. I don't need to make a huge overhaul of my entire life in one fell swoop - I just need to slowly change the small things.

It's all those small decisions that got me to this point - this weight, this lack of taking care of myself, this kind of dry desert my spirit sometimes seems to be in. Each little decision over the course of the last few years NOT to do something for myself has led me here.

And each little decision now to take care of myself will lead me home.

Friday, October 5, 2007

I Promise I'll Be Back!!

Sorry I haven't posted sooner. You know how it is, busy, busy, busy.

I spend most of last night at our friendly local urgent care center (although this time the doctor was so much better!!). Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

At park group on Tuesday, something bit/stung my arm. I didn't think much of it, but between Tuesday afternoon and yesterday morning, the small bite mark turned into a red, warm to the touch, quarter-sized lump. A-ha!

Been there, done that! The same thing happened to me 4 years ago. I waited until I had red streaks beginning to run up my arm before finally going to the doctor, where I was told if I had waited another day I would have needed to be hospitalized. So I decided to get myself up to the doctor before that happened.

Apparently, those little bugs can have bacteria on their stingers, which gets deposited under your skin and becomes cellulitis. So now I am super-strong (because the bacteria could be antibiotic-resistant) double-strength antibiotics.

I promise, I haven't forgotten about our study through The Overload Syndrome. I can't wait to share with you what else I've learned, but it is going to have to wait until I've got a little more time. I'm overloaded. Ha! Irony, shm-irony!
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Seduced and Captured

Wow. Oh. Wow.

People, let me tell you that I have been taken prisoner. I was lured in. I thought I was in control, that I was making a new friend.

But my new imaginary BFF, Beth Moore, taught me last night that there is nothing more dangerous than friendly captivity.
Last night I began Beth's study on the book of Daniel. It was amazing the things I learned. We talked about Daniel's refusal to eat the choice things of the king's table; things that would defile him. He chose to deny himself of the luxuries in order to stay true to his God.
This is in contrast to the attitude of the Babylonians, where Daniel and his friends were led away into captivity. What was it, you ask? Well, in Isaiah 47:8, God tells us their attitudes - "I am and there is nothing beside me."
In other words, it's all about me. Hasn't that become the motto of our society? Do what feels good. Have it your way. It's my right to do what I want.
It's heresy. And yet...we all fall for it in one way or another.
It's easy really. After all, the devil doesn't come up to us and say, "C'mon, I want to lead you to the pit of hell" and offer us his hand. No. He disguises himself as the thing you most want. Or as something harmless. The original wolf in sheep's clothing.
That huge beautiful house? It can be yours (although you'll be forever struggling financially). You deserve it.
That extra serving of food? What can a little bit more hurt? You can start your diet tomorrow (and so add another link to your chains of bondage). After all, you've had a hard day and deserve to be treated .
Looking younger? Plastic surgery is so reasonable now, and why shouldn't I feel better about myself (although you'll never be happy with the outside if your spirit isn't right with God).
Society glorifies the opposite of what God promotes. What will we choose to seek after? I know that for too long now, I have lived a life of overindulgence. In food, yes. That is a big, big struggle for me spiritually. But it's spread into other areas of my life as well - my care for my house and family, how I spend my free time, my devotional life.

My whole life has become one great big altar to...ME.

But I'm taking a stand. Throughout this study I am going to begin to exercise the muscle that says NO to myself.

Yes, maybe I want that 20 oz. bottle of Pepsi. But I'm going to say no to myself. (Actually I've made a commitment to myself that I will not drink any soda during the duration of this study. This is a huge thing for me, but it will be a huge step in denying myself.)

Sure, I don't feel like cleaning my bathroom. But I'm going to do it anyway.

The point is not that Pepsi is bad (although one could make strong case for that) or that my bathroom is dirty (you could probably make a case for that too!!). The point is that I have to learn to say enough is enough. I was not put in this world just to meet my own needs.

I was put here to serve God. And His desire for me is to be healthy, to serve my family and others and to be a witness to the world of His love.

But I can't do that from a Babylonian prison cell. Even one of my own making.


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