Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Sad and Heavy Heart

I'm sitting here at my computer at 1:30 in the morning. I can't sleep. I'm just too sad.

I just got word that the husband of one of my dearest friends died as a result of a plane crash in Honduras today.

They were an amazing couple - funny, hospitable, loving. Now she must go on alone.

Yes, she'll have the comfort of friends and family, as well as her God, whom she serves wholeheartedly. But she will miss Harry. She'll miss his presence, his companionship, his love.

Sadly, in the last week, I've heard of two other women I know and love whose husbands passed away this month, one to cancer and one to heart failure. I pray for all three of them that God will comfort them and wrap His loving arms around them during these dark days.

But it puts a sad post script on the series I've been doing here about respecting your husband.

None of us knows how much time we have left with our husband. It could be decades or it could be minutes. Don't let yourself fall into the mistake of merely "planning" on changing your attitude towards him if it needs done. Don't spend one more minute wasted on anger and regret and resentment.

Your husband is a precious gift from God. I know that there are times when we don't feel that way, but it's true even in those moments. Honor him and love him while you have the chance.

Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should” (Psalm 90:12, TLB).
Friday, May 30, 2008

Loneliness

So I've been dealing with some loneliness. Moving to the opposite side of the globe will do that to you.

I've been missing my friends back home. I've been lamenting the fact that I haven't made any real friends here - not the kind that you just pick up the phone and call to ask what they are doing. I've been feeling invisible because no body knows me.

Back "home" everybody knew me. They knew that I am great with kids and that I'm always in charge of the preschool area during our church's huge VBS. They knew that I'm a good cook and what I bring to a church potluck is almost always yummy. They knew that I ran the church bookstore. They knew that I led women's Bible studies. They knew that I have a heart for women who want to be godly wives and mothers. They knew that I can be a little sarcastic, but that I'm so tender-hearted, I'll cry if I hear good news from a friend.

They knew I was a good friend.

But, alas, when you move, nobody knows any of this. To them, you are just a new person. A blank slate. A question mark. Should they take the time to get to know you? Do they have room in their already busy lives to fit someone else in?

For the past couple of weeks, I've been in a pretty sad state. I've spent hours crying on my bed, and on Hubby's shoulders, about not having a friend.

It's been pretty pitiful around here, y'all.

But thankfully, God led me to bring along a book called "After the Boxes are Unpacked." Now, I had purchased this book way back before we ever thought of moving to Qatar. Before we thought of moving to Tennessee. It was purchased several years ago when I foolishly thought I could get Hubby to move to Colorado Springs.

It snowed in May while we were there. In May, people. That sealed the deal right there. Hubby is definitely a warm weather guy.

Anyhoo, I bought this book from the Focus on the Family headquarters and then set it aside, figuring I'd never actually get out of Miami. I'd forgotten about it until this huge bout of loneliness came over me.

It was such a blessing.

Through it I have been reminded that God is always with me and He is the BEST friend I could ask for.

I've come to recognize that this is a time for me to slow my life down (something I think just might have to do with the purpose statement of this blog above!!).

I realize that this solitary time in my life is a time for me to dig deeper into the Word and into God Himself.

I understand that sometimes God needs to strip away all the outer facade of who we are (you know, all that stuff I listed above) and re-make us into something new for His purposes.

I've got a little bit more to share about the book and about what's going on here, but I just wanted to encourage anyone who is feeling lonely, whether it's through a move or other circumstances, that God is with you. He wants to do something with and through you during this time.

He is not silent and He has not left you. Seek Him out and let Him be your friend and sustenance.
Thursday, May 29, 2008

For Those of You Who Wondered...

how the Chapman family would deal with the tragic loss of their 5 year old daughter, Maria, here is a beautiful report about the service for her and how the family is doing now.

I was sobbing as I read of their faithfulness at what surely must be one of the most difficult times a family can face. May we all be found so faithful.

Thanks to Lynn for allowing me to share it with you.

Thankful Thursday


I haven't participated in Thankful Thursday several weeks. And yet, I have so much to be grateful for.

* I'm grateful for my husband, who has been a rock for me during this transition to life in Qatar.

* I'm grateful for my children, who are kind and loving and considerate of me.

* I'm grateful that I have finally begun to feel a little bit like people know who I am. Feeling like a stranger all the time is painful.

* I'm grateful for our home here. While it's still coming together, it's a lovely home and I can't wait to make it feel like it's really "homey."

* I'm grateful that God taught me so much during the Bible study I just completed, "Discerning the Voice of God." It's an excellent, excellent study I can highly recommend.

* I'm grateful that God is so wise. I've been going through some minor stuff here and I feel like God is just speaking to me and guiding me so clearly. Just when I need to hear His voice, I do. I'll be sharing more about this in the next day or so, so let your curiosity drive you crazy. LOL!! There's nothing earth-shattering, just a delight to see how God smoothes our way for us.

It's so good to come to the Lord and to tell Him we are thankful. We so often forget to say thanks and just go about our way. But we are commanded throughout Scripture to be thankful. In the good times, and bad times. Even when we think there is nothing to be thankful for, we are called to still be thankful.

So what can you find to be thankful for today? To see what other women are saying, click on the box above and visit Iris.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

WFMW - Be A Professional Homemaker



*** Please note: This article is reprinted from last fall. Sorry, but I'm fresh out of ideas this morning and this one seemed to hit home for a lot of people so I thought it wouldn't hurt to share it again.

* * * * *

As a wife and mother, for many years I considered myself, "just a stay at home mom." I dressed in sloppy clothes, didn't bother with makeup unless I had somewhere special to go, and generally just tried to make it through each day.

That all changed when I realized that homemaking is a career. It is the career that I have chosen - willingly, happily. I don't regret it for a second. But I did realize that I needed to make some changes. That I needed to take pride in myself and in the job that I was doing. And that my "career" was just as valid as any other career choice. Here are a few epiphanies that I had which helped me turn things around:

I needed to be willing to invest in the right tool for the job. In the early years of homeschooling my children, I couldn't justify to myself spending the money for an electric pencil sharpener. Consequently, there was never a sharp pencil in the house! Similarly, Swiffer brand products have made keeping my home sparkling much, much easier. Switching to their bagless vacuum from my big bulky one alone has made caring for my tile floors a breeze. Recently I invested in laundry hampers that have three separate sections. Each bedroom got one and now sorting laundry is a breeze. My point is that we would never expect a lawyer to practice law without the right set of books, or a firefighter to fight fires without the proper equipment. Your career as a homemaker is just as valid and you shouldn't feel guilty about setting aside funds to help you do your job.

Get up each morning and do your hair and makeup and dress nicely. I'm not saying you need to wear heels and pearls a la Mrs. Cleaver, but look presentable enough that if you have to make a quick trip out or if the doorbell unexpectedly rings, you aren't mortified. I personally like to be ready before my Hubby leaves the house so the last image he sees of me as he heads off to work isn't my just-rolled-out-of-bed look. Remember, our husbands are often surrounded by women who are primped and prettied up - we need to not look like slobs next to them.

Actually DO your work. One day my husband said to me (back in my slobby days when the house was always a wreck) that he felt it was only fair that I worked, honestly WORKED, at least as many hours a day as he did. Now, he didn't mean in a legalistic sense of keeping track of hours and minutes, but the point is that he's out working hard all day to provide for our family. My role as a homemaker is to spend my time at home investing it in "making our home." Making it a beautiful place. Making it a sanctuary for my husband and children. Making it look nice and smell nice. Making it a place where God is glorified. And all that takes work and effort. I shouldn't try to skate by on just the bare minimum. If he is working 8-9 hours a day, I ought to be putting in a similar effort (I do include my time spent homeschooling in this time as I review my days).

The point is to see your role as a wife and mother as a something that is worthy of your best effort. This shift in my view point has made a world of difference in our home. And that works for me! For more great ideas, visit Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. , Part 6

We made it!!! Today we reach the end of the word "respect" and finish up our series on respecting our husbands.

I know that for some of you this has been hard. Heck, it's been hard on me. It seems that as soon as you start to talk about something, that's what God suddenly tests you on, ya know? Every little thought and word I've spoken to Hubby over this time I've had to stop and think and ask myself if I'm living up to what I'm sharing here.

Often, I'm not.

Like I've said, this is a process. Much of what God does in our lives is a process. We don't always change overnight, but rather gradually as we come to know Him and to understand Him.

Anyways, let's look at today's words:

1) Trust - I cannot stress this enough. This is probably the most important word in the entire series. Without trust, you can never get to the point where you truly honor and respect your husband.

But who is your trust in? If it's in your husband, that's great, but it's not enough. He's human, just like you. He will, at some point, let you down. He will fail. He will make mistakes. Mistakes that may hurt you or, gulp, your kids.

However, if your trust is in God, the creator of the universe, you will be alright. Even when your spouse makes a mistake - something that you saw coming - God will honor you for your obedience to His command to respect your husband.

Now, I'm not saying that we jump in the car and let our husbands drive off a cliff with the kids in the backseat. Obviously, as his wife, you are called upon to give your husband godly counsel and, if you feel he is making a mistake, to appeal to him and explain your reasoning. But it must be done gently and with love.

Trusting God is really the only way you can do this whole respect thing. Because if you understand that He is ultimately sovereign over every detail of your life, that NOTHING can happen to you unless He allows it and has a plan and a purpose for it, then you know that no decision your husband makes can interfere with God's plan.

Go back and read that sentence again. And maybe a third time. Then read what Scripture says.


For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

So, you see, it's really all up to God in the end. Even if your husband makes mistakes, God can use them to train you and teach you. And you will have a stronger marriage for what you have gone through and because you chose to honor your husband and encourage him rather than tear him down and criticize him.

2) Transform - Do you ever watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? It's a favorite in this house. And we are always amazed as the reveal of the new home takes place. Gone is the shabby, run down, too-small place the family once called home. In its place stands a thing of beauty that, in all honesty, the family never thought they would be able to live in.

But getting there? Well, it's not easy. First the family had to admit that their home isn't all it could be. It's still their home, though right? The place holds memories. They had to ask for help and allow the show to come in. Then a crew comes in and has to completely destroy all that was there in order to make room for the new home. A lot of work goes into it.

It's like that with us. We have to step back and see if we are all that we could be? Are we living up to what the Bible has called us to be? If not, ask God to help you be that woman. Ask Him to flood into your life in such a way that He changes you from the inside out.

We have to allow God to come into our spirits and tear down all the old stuff that is not honoring to Him. We have to be willing to surrender what He wants us to surrender. Sometimes that is painful, but the end result will be a thing of beauty.

If we can allow God to change us, we can honor Him in a way that we never could if we resist and stick to what we've always known.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Allowing God to renew your mind leads to doing His will. Following the ways of the world and refusing to change blocks what God wants to do in your life.

Be willing to open yourself up to God and all that He has to give you. Respecting your husband and honoring him can seem like such an old-fashioned, out-dated concept. But it's God's plan for married women. And God's plans never go out of style.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Menu Plan Monday



Back again for another yummy Menu Plan Monday! If you are looking for the last part in the series I'm doing on respecting your husband, I promise it will be up tomorrow. The past few days have been a little off for me. Nothing major, just still trying to adjust to our big move. It's been two months now and, while I'm doing fine with living here, the emotional issues kind of had their way with me the past few days. I've been very lonely and missing my friends. But more about that later! On to the menu plan!!

I'm on Week 7 of my 8 Week Menu Plan. As usual, things get shifted around and some things carried over from the prior week that I just didn't get to. But here's the plan for this week.

Sunday - Shepherd's Pie

Monday - Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya with rice and a chopped salad

Tuesday - Roasted Chicken, roasted potatoes and a tossed salad

Wednesday - Chicken Tortilla Soup with rolls

Thursday - Fish fry with cole slaw

Friday - Sandwiches, cole slaw and chips

Saturday - Chili and cornbread

There you go! Basic and simple and yet delicious. Oh, and exciting news!! We have officially received permission from the government to purchase alcohol. Now, before you go judging me, I don't drink. Not that I think it's sinful to drink at all. I just never got the taste for it. However, I do use wine in my cooking quite frequently and some things just aren't the same without it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Shame on Me!!!

I've been tagged for a couple of memes and have put them off long enough. Right now, I could use a little bit of fluff in my head, so today's a good day to tackle at least one of them.

First off, I was tagged by Leeann for this fun one ages ago and she probably thinks I forgot, but I didn't - I was just being lazy!

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player tags 5 people and posts their name, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

***

What I was doing 10 years ago: Ten years ago I had a three year old and a 1 year old. I was overwhelmed with mommy-hood!! We were very involved in our church and I was leading a woman's Bible study and on the Women in the Chuch council. It was a precious time, allowing me to get to know beautiful women, making friends with women of all ages. I was also probably at the time planning my children's education through college. No lie - I was a bit obsessive. I ordered my first homeschooling catalog while I was pregnant with Emily!!

Five Snacks I Enjoy:

In a perfect, non weight-gaining world 1. Potato chips with bacon and horseradish dip 2. Tortilla chips with either black bean salsa or mango salsa 3. Nuts - cashews, pistachios, honey roasted peanuts 4. Carmel sundaes with pecans 5. Toffee candy bars

In the real world 1. popcorn with Parmesan cheese on it 2. cucumber with almonds 3. Avocado and tomato sandwiches

Things I would do if I were a billionaire: 1. Fund our retirement 2. Establish a fund for helping people to cover adoption expenses 3. Travel the world 4. Buy a house for my parents 5. Fund research for a cure for cancer

Five jobs that I have had: 1. Missionary (now don't you think I'm spiritual!!) 2. Montessori preschool teacher 3. Children's ministry preschool director 4. Babysitter 5. Administrative assistant to the meanest man in the world and his mean wife

Three of my habits: 1. When I get into bed, I lie on my back. Then I turn over with a pillow between my knees. Then I turn over onto my tummy (always facing to the left of the bed). I know I'm not going to go to sleep in the first two positions, but still I always go in that order. 2. List-making!! I'm obsessed with making lists! 3. Running my fingers through my hair - I do it all the time. I just love the feeling on my scalp. I'd be worried about going bald if I didn't have enough hair for myself and 1800 of my closest friends.

Five place I have lived: 1. Tucson, Arizona 2. The O.C. (trust me, my experience was nothing like the tv show!!) 3. Ternitz, Austria (a small little town an hour south of Vienna) 4. Miami, FL 5. Doha, Qatar (for the past two months and counting!!)

Five People I Want to Get to Know Better: (a nice way of saying TAG!) Ok, I know some of you hate doing stuff like this. Don't feel obligated!! Just play along if you want to and laugh at me if you don't!

1. Mylinda (a good IRL friend who blogs about her adventures as a homeschooling mom of 4)
2. Lynn (a new friend here in Doha who is in the process of trying to adopt a baby from Ethiopia - her heart on her blog is so amazing!)
3. Erica (another new Doha friend - so into the scrapbooking that I can't do!! This site is full of great ideas if you are a scrapbooker!)
4. Karen (one of my loyal bloggy friends - Karen is a godly woman who I have enjoyed getting to know)
5. Tracye - (a bloggy friend who is doing an amazing job of being a single mom while her hubby is away)
Friday, May 23, 2008

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. , Part 6


In the home stretch now of this series on respecting our husbands, today we look at some words that begin with the letter C. These words are just to be used as tools to help us remember ways to show honor and respect to the husbands God has blessed us with.

1) Consider - Always consider the impact of your choices on your husband. Will accepting that invitation allow you to still meet his needs? Will he be happy with your choice of clothing? Will you still be able to be home to spend time with him if you take that volunteer position?

While it seems old-fashioned to put your husband's needs above your own, it's actually a timeless piece of wisdom. When your husband is happy, you will be too.

2) Comfort - Is your home a place of comfort and rest for your husband? Does he look forward to coming home to the haven you have created for him? Or does he dread walking in the door, knowing he will be subject to nagging, whining and yelling?

I would encourage you to keep an eye on the clock each day. When you know he will be arriving soon, take a few minutes to prepare yourself. Pray, asking God to give you a joyful heart to see your husband. Take a few minutes to straighten up the home. Perhaps change your clothes and touch up your hair and make-up.

Make your home a place he desires to be, where he is allowed to be himself. Don't constantly correct him or nag him to get to your honey-do list. Create a "thirst" for home. He has spent the day at work where people have possibly been pestering him all day. Make your home his refuge.

3) Check - Frequently do a self-check. Refer back to the Self-Assessment we did at the beginning of the series. Check your heart...do you find yourself harboring resentment or ill feelings? Find a way to communicate your frustrations in a gentle way. Ask yourself if you are keeping your priorities in line? It's easy to slip back into old patterns, so constantly check yourself to see if you are where you want to be.

Tomorrow will be the last installment of the series. I've learned so much myself and I hope you have as well.
Thursday, May 22, 2008

Prayers for the Chapman Family

Please join me in praying for the family of Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman. This family suffered a horrible tragedy yesterday when their 5 year old daughter, Maria, was accidentally struck and killed in the driveway of their Nashville home. To compound the tragedy, the driver of the car was Maria's own teenaged brother.

Steven and his wife, Mary Beth, have a beautiful story of love. They have three biological children and three adopted girls from China. Their journey of love and hope have translated into worldwide attention into adoption. Maria was one of the girls who was adopted in love from China.

Please pray for the family to be comforted in this time of enormous loss and grief. Pray especially for the son who was driving the car. This must be a horrible thing for all of them, but particularly him.

Pray that God will hold the Chapman's up in the palm of His hand. We know that our God gives and He takes away. We don't often understand His plan, but trust that He does have one.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday!!




Summer is here!! Time for picnics and watermelon, swimmin' pools and barefeet.

And time for mosquitos
.

Why God, in His infinite wisdom, created this little creature whose sole purpose is to annoy others is beyond me. And yet, He did and we must deal with them.

Back when I was living in Miami, they would gather by the hundreds near the front door of our home, lurking there, just waiting for some unsuspecting person to open the door so they could make a beeline for my bedroom and wait until I was asleep that night. I can't tell you how many times I awoke with 20 or more bites covering me. Meanwhile, Hubby blissfully slept through and got not a single bite.

Some people are just naturally sweeter, I guess. *Ahem*

Anyways, the best way I ever found to calm the itching was just to dab a little bit of rubbing alcohol on the bites. The itches went away for hours and hours and often didn't return at all.

Voila! Instant cure for mosquito bites.

For more ideas on everything under the sun, be sure to stop by Rocks In My Dryer.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. , Part 5



We are more than half-way through our series on respecting our husbands. Hang in there - we'll be through before you know it!

Today we will return to the letter "e." There are two more words that begin with e that I'd like to look at for the purposes of respecting our men.

1) Eliminate - You know what it is. I don't, but you do. You know that there is something that you do that bugs the heck out of him. Maybe it's a look you give him or a skirt you wear that he hates. Maybe it's a tone of voice you use or a television show you watch.

Remembering that our husbands are the ones we are married to, they are the ones that we are supposed to be pleasing. If we are looking to please anyone else, we are making a mistake. Maybe we want to wear something fashionable, but which our husband doesn't like. Or we want to wear our hair in the latest style, but he prefers your hair long. Maybe you want to show how smart you are in front of your friends by correcting him in public.

HE is the one whose pleasure we should be seeking. Friends and fashions will come and go, but you and your husband are supposed to be together for the rest of your lives. Do you really want to build resentment in him because you wanted to please others?

2) Enrich - There are two facets to this - enriching both yourself and your husband's life. They are somewhat intertwined, but you have to work on them separately.

First, yourself. You need to keep growing and learning. You need to have something interesting to talk to your husband about. We've all sat there with our husbands and had nothing to say. While at times that can be comforting, it's often uncomfortable. Keep your life fresh by challenging yourself to grow. Come up with a 101 in 1001 list. Take a course in something you are interested in. Read something that you can share with your husband, along the lines of an interest of his. Be willing to try new things.

Second, enrich your husband's life. Well, really, your family's life. Keep the home beautiful for them. Make it a place of rest and haven for them. Do what you can to make your husband's life better. Help him out. If he can never find his keys, designate a special place for them and when you see them laying around, put them in the right place. If he wants to spend a reasonable amount of time hanging out with his friends, encourage it. If he wants something, and you can afford it, don't give him a hard time about it.

Enrich your lives together and bring joy to your whole family.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Priorities? Husband vs. Children

Pennie commented on my last post that it is hard for her (and I'm sure for many, many women) to put her husband before her children. I think that is natural.

God has given us as mothers a tremendous drive to protect our children. We are meant to bond with them in a way that we don't bond with anyone else. They need us for every thing, particularly as babies.

However. . .they are not our first priority.

Of course we are to give them love, shelter, food, tenderness, support, encouragement, chauffer services, clean clothes, kisses on boo-boos and all that good stuff.

But we are supposed to make sure that our husband is taken care of first. Not, of course, to the point of neglecting our children, but certainly they can take their rightful place behind Daddy.

We have become a child-centered society. In ages past, children were not the center of the family. Joyful additions, to be sure, but not the center. They were expected to contribute to family life, to be respectful and, let's face it, to do what Mom and Dad said.

If it's a choice between making sure that your child gets to a playdate or making sure that your husband has clean clothes and a hot meal, it shouldn't be a contest.

Now, Pennie in her comment seemed to have concerns about her children being actually, physically hurt. I'm not exactly sure what you meant, Pennie, or where you are coming from, but I would never expect a woman to stay in a relationship that is abusive either to herself or her children. NEVER. In that situation, a woman must seek help for herself and for her children.

But for the vast majority of us, this is not the case. For most of us, it's simply a matter of our choices. It's easier and, yes, more enjoyable, to put our children first. We don't want to have to submit. That's the real truth.

But if we truly understood that respecting our husband will lead to so many blessings, we wouldn't hesitate.

It's simply a matter of understanding two basic things:

1) Men thrive on respect. They wither away when they feel unimportant to you. And nothing leads you down that road faster than allowing your children to consume your life. But when you restore him to his rightful place of honor, he will blossom and you (and your children) will be the beneficiaries of his newfound self-confidence.

2) We are called to respect our husbands by God. It's not a choice really. And while Titus 2 tells us to love our husbands and our children, we are told over and over again to respect our husbands and to be submissive to them. This is God's plan, not mine. And God's plan is always smarter than anything we can come up with.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. , Part 4


Thanks for coming back for part 4 of our look at respecting our husbands. I think that the words we will be looking at today are some of the most important ones in the entire series, so let's get started.

1) Prioritize - Honestly, you have to make this a priority if you want to see fruit here. If you don't you will be pressed in by the demands of the urgent things in your busy life and may not make the choices that get you where you want to go in the long run. Here is a list of priorities for Christian homemakers that I have tried to live by:

1st - God
2nd - Husband
3rd - Children
4th - Home
5th - Others
6th - Self

Now, just because I have "self" last on the list doesn't mean that we don't take care of ourselves. Each and every thing that comes up in our lives must be weighed carefully and thoughtfully decided upon. Decide what is important and then act on it. One thing that I try to do each day is to make a list of what needs to get done that day and prioritize them. This way I can still make sure that I am taking care of myself so that I can give back to others.

One thing I would like to point out is that husbands fall before children on this list. Oftentimes, particularly if you are a stay at home mom, children become the focus of our lives. This is because they just consume so much time and their demands are so, well, loud. I would caution you against allowing yourself to put your children above your husband though.

Remember that one day your children will leave your home and make their own lives and you will still have a husband to live out the rest of your life with. You want to have a good relationship at that point still, don't you?

Also, one of the best things you can do for your children is to give them a living model of a strong, loving marriage. Helping them to see that will not only give them a sense of security while they are younger, it will help them to have their own successful marriage as adults.

2) Plan - You have to plan to make this happen. You have to plan to leave time in your busy schedule to accomodate your husband's requests. You have to decide to do it or it just won't happen.

Ask your husband each day (or the night before) if there is anything he needs you to do the next day, or maybe what is his most important priority for you to get done. Is it more important for you to work on the taxes or take your son to get his haircut? Would he rather you work on paying bills or ironing his clothes? Allow him to have some input on how you spend your time.

Don't pack your days so full that if your husband calls and asks you to do something for him that you can't help him. Leave a little margin in your day so that you can do something he needs done on the spur of the moment. This is something I struggled mightily with in the early days of our marriage. I hated it when he would call and ask me to do something. Didn't he know that I was busy with two little ones?

Then I realized that women were created to be helpmeets for their husbands. Shouldn't I help him? Shouldn't I make his life easier? After all, I was home all day with the children, yes, but my schedule was more flexible and I could really decide to control it. If I was not managing my time well and had to go to the store everyday to get something for dinner, that was my responsibility. If I was choosing to use my time to work on ministry projects at church, but couldn't be there to help my husband, I was choosing wrongly.

One great idea, from Linda Dillow's book Creative Counterpart, is to make a list each week of your priorities and come up with a project each week to demonstrate your work on it. For instance, under "Husband" you might decide to plan a romantic date or to do something helpful to him like wash his car. Under "Children" you might schedule a time to take your son out for ice cream or listen to your daughter play piano. Under "Home" you might set a time to repaint the kitchen in the color you want.

The point is to plan to be accessible to your husband in order to honor his wishes.

3) Practice - This is not going to be easy to do at all times, particularly if it's something you have always struggled with. Remember that God perfects us over time - it's a process. I know that you will have times when you lose it with your husband and totally blow it. I still do. In fact, writing this series has shown me that I have a long, long way to go.

Don't give up. Keep working at it and as time goes on it will become more natural to you to show respect to your husband. It's not easy in our culture where everything around us tells us to "have it your way" but we aren't supposed to fit in to this culture, are we? We are to be counter-culture people, living according to the Word of God.

Menu Plan Monday - May 18th


Can you believe it's Monday again? It seems like time just flies by, doesn't it?

Sadly, last week's menu didn't turn out so well. The Shrimp and Scamp Bake? Well, Hubby decided to call his sister 5 minutes before it was done, so by the time we got to it, the shrimp was lukewarm and rubbery. Ugh. And the Vegetable Stew? This is normally one of my favorite meals ever, but I hadn't made it here in Doha yet. I couldn't find either sage or celery seed (two of my most favorite flavors in the soup) and then I couldn't find lima beans. Now, normally I'm not a huge lima bean fan, but in this soup they are fantastic. So I tried to replace the lima beans with something that LOOKED similar called broad beans.

They are NOT similar. Somewhere along the cooking, they turned from a pale green (lima bean color!!) to a dark purple. And the taste? Let's just say I won't be using these again. Ever.

Let's just hope that things work out a little better this week. Here's the plan:

Monday - Easy Yummy Taco Salad (recipe below)

Tuesday - Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Wednesday - Bezella over rice with a chopped salad (bezella is a Lebanese style beef stew Hubby loves)

Thursday - Fix your own dinner night - no "Mommy of the Year Award" here - LOL!!

Friday - Fish fry with cole slaw

Saturday - Baked ziti with garlic rolls and a tossed salad


Easy Yummy Taco Salad

*1 lb. ground beef
*1 packet taco seasoning mix
* Lettuce of choice
* 1small onion, chopped small
* 1 bunch of cilantro
* 1 small can of sliced olives (optional)
* 1 can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
* shredded cheddar cheese
* Catalina dressing
* Bag of Doritos

Brown the ground beef. Add the taco seasoning and half the water called for on the package and cook as directed.

Meanwhile, combine lettuce, cilantro and onion. Add in olives, if using, kidney beans and cheddar cheese. Mix well.

When beef is ready, place it on top of the salad and mix in. Pour Catalina dressing over salad and mix well.

Crush the Doritos into smaller pieces (bite-sized) and pour over salad. Mix well and serve!!

Be sure to visit Laura at The Organizing Junkie to find more great Menu Plan Monday Posts.
Saturday, May 17, 2008

Oh, Happy Day!!!

Today is the day I have been longing for.

The day I've been dreaming of.

Today is the day my life of slavery comes to an end.

For today is the day that this will arrive:










Isn't life good????

As I may have mentioned, I've been doing dishes by hand since moving into our new home and it's not been going well.

I've scalded my hands innumerable times (since there's no temperature gauge on the hot water heaters), sliced my thumb open while washing a knife, and suffered more dishpan hands than any woman should be allowed to.

I've had to change clothes every time I wash dishes, because the water pressure changes randomly going from just a trickle to Niagra Falls in a flash, splashing all over me in the process.

I've ruined one brand new shirt because my apron bled onto it while wearing it during one dishwashing session.

But now?

Free at last, free at last!! Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!!!

(I'll be back on Monday with the next part in the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. series. The kids both had friends sleep over - and decided to spend the whole night playing pranks on each other. I'm a little too bleary eyed to cohesively put together anything truly important.

Not that my new dishwasher isn't important.)
Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thankful Thursday


(If you are looking for Part 4 in my series on respecting your husband, scroll down or click here)

* * * * * * * * *

It's good to be here this morning, taking a few minutes to stop and count my blessings. I know that I frequently get so wrapped up in the day to day busy-ness of life that I forget to be thankful.

I do have a lot to be thankful for though. God has been good to us.

** I'm so thankful that I'm able to walk pain-free now, three weeks after a bad fall.

** I'm thankful that we are beginning to make friends here. We've been invited to go swimming with a couple of families this afternoon and both kids are having friends sleep over on Friday night!

** I'm thankful that our finances are finally beginning to get straightened out after everything went crazy last month. Moving across the world certainly confuses things!

** I'm thankful that our family is becoming closer. The move has placed us in a situation where it's just us for the past couple of months. We've had to rely on each other more than ever before.

** I'm thankful that we are getting the hang of living here. Driving isn't so scary, finding things is becoming easier. It's becoming home.

** I'm thankful for God's overwhelming love. Being in a new place without friends drives you to turn to God. He's an amazing friend, let me tell you.

Thanks to Iris for hosting Thankful Thursday. It's such a great way to stop, take a breath, and remember to be thankful in the midst of life.


R.E.S.P.E.C.T. , Part 3

So you know for the letter S there are LOTS of words we could look at today in our search for better understanding how to respect our husbands, right? Like a zillion.

Well, I'm not going to look at a zillion. I'm going to keep it down to, oh, say, 100. LOL!

No, really, we will be looking at just 5 words that can make a difference in your marriage.

1) Study - Study your husband. Know what makes him tick. What is his "love language?" That will help you greatly in knowing what is really important to him. Does he get cranky if dinner isn't ready at a certain time? Does he feel unsettled if the house is a constant wreck? Does he turn to jello when you give him a backrub? Does he need help getting organized and getting out of the house in the morning?

Find out those things that both please and displease him and try to honor them. Now I know that we won't always be able to do everything he wants, but we can make the effort.

2) Submit - Whoa! Hold on! Don't click away just yet!

I know that submission is a hard subject. I've tackled it more in depth here. But it is something that Christian wives are called to, regardless of who or what your husband is. He might be a great guy, or he might be a drunk. He might be a CEO or maybe he hasn't held a job for more than 6 months. But you can still submit, because...

When we submit, we are not putting out trust in our husbands. We are putting our trust in God.

It's that simple. When you submit to your husband, you are doing it as an act of obedience to God and His word. And He will be the one to take care of you. Now, that doesn't mean that everything is always going to turn out just the way you want it. Sometimes there are lessons that God is trying to teach our husbands, and maybe even ourselves. But you can trust that you are under the umbrella of God's protection when you choose to submit to your husband.

3) Serve - Ok, coming on the heels of submission this might be hard to take as well. But I don't mean to be a servant. I mean to serve joyfully and with love.

Remember the early days of your courtship and marriage? You LOVED to do things for your husband, I bet. Anything you could do to make life easier for him, you were there! But somehow the joy of serving each other fades away over time.

Picking up dirty socks no longer brings you a giggle about being a new wife, but now incites anger that he left them out. Again. You opt to sleep late in the morning rather than getting up and making him coffee and breakfast. You have more important things to do than help him with the bills.

If we begin to serve our husbands again, out of a heart overflowing with love, I think it will bring back some of that joy and tenderness that we used to feel.

4) Support - When your husband makes a suggestion or has an idea, what is your reaction? Do you instantly shoot him down, listing off all the reasons it won't work? Or do you encourage him, striving to find a way to make his dreams come true?

Do the latter whenever possible, ladies. Even if it is a wrong choice, you will have built him up. He will feel free to come to you, rather than withdrawing into his own shell.

If you have concerns about his goals, share them, but share them with love and compassion. Allow him to be the one to decide whether or not to pursue them. If he does, jump on board and enjoy the ride!

Several years ago, my husband decided he was going to be the next Donald Trump and, like millions of other Americans, began to invest in real estate. I was initially very skeptical and, often times critical. Eventually though, I came to my senses and saw the wedge it was putting between us. I stopped complaining and did whatever I could to help him. While we did, and still do, have one property that is a constant problem, the vast majority of his investments paid off and he was right.

5) Show - Be demonstrative with your love. Allow him no doubt about how you feel. Hold his hand, rub his back. If he's not into public displays of affection, do it at home. Send him love notes in his lunch or hide them in his wallet. Write a message to him in lipstick on his mirror. Kidnap him for a dinner out, just the two of you, to spend time talking. Tell him often how much you appreciate him - for every little thing he does.

I highly recommend The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. It will help you and your husband make sure that you express love in a way that is meaningful to each other. What you may do as a loving gesture may not even register as love to your husband and vice versa. This book will help you "fill each other's love tanks."

Tomorrow we'll have some good words to work with as we look at the letter P in respect. Be sure to come back and join in the conversation.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. , Part 2


We now find ourselves at the letter E in our study of respecting our husbands. Of course, there are two "e"s in the word respect, so I'll be splitting them up.
Lucky you! Shorter post today!

Here are our words for today:

1) Examine - I believe that the first step on this road is to truly examine our own hearts. Sometimes we don't even realize when we are doing something wrong, because it's become so normal to us. While I would encourage you to look at the Self-Assessment we did on Monday, this will require a deeper look into your heart and attitudes.

I know this from personal experience. I know that whenever my husband disciplines the kids, I feel that I would do it better, that he shouldn't have done or said this or that. I know that when we are not finding our way, I feel that if he would just listen to me we would be there sooner. I know that when he asks me to do something that I don't have the time (or more likely the inclination) to do, I feel that he just doesn't understand how busy I am.

All of these attitudes stem from a place of disrespect. They stem from not trusting him and assuming that I know better. Now, granted, maybe sometimes I do indeed know better. I'm not saying that men are inherently smarter than women. But I am saying that we need to learn to trust them and and allow them freedom to work, freedom to make mistakes without condemnation, freedom to be who they are.

Perhaps you disagree with your husband on child discipline. Do you remember that he is just as much a parent as you are? Even though you may stay home with that child all day, husbands often see things in our children that we overlook.

We need to examine our hearts to see if there are areas where we feel superior to our husbands or where we might, unknowingly belittle them.

2) Encourage - Once we have done this self-examination, we can move forward and begin to build up our husbands. Everyone can use more encouragement!

Sometimes our husbands are like flowers (don't tell them I said that!). Have you ever seen flowers that are wilting, but then with just a little water, come back to their full beauty? That is what encouragement can do for a person - particularly from spouse to spouse.

Encourage them in the things they do around the house. Encourage them for being good providers. Encourage them for being a good dad. Encourage them for every positive thing they do. It will inspire them to want to do more to please you.

Positive reinforcement is a much more powerful motivator than criticism. Rather than nagging at them for what they have failed to do, be it painting the bedroom or holding a job, find something good that you can praise and encourage them for and focus on that. You will probably find that he will begin to flourish under your attention.

The definition of encouragement is "the expression of approval or support." Even if you don't feel that approval or support, begin to treat him like you do. Feelings follow actions. If you begin to show him your approval of him, he will do what it takes to keep that approval.

Just a word of warning here - if you have been overly critical of your husband for some time, it may take him longer to come around and to believe your words of encouragement. There may be damage that you need to repair. Hang in there and commit to continue blessing him with the gift of encouragement. Eventually he will see that you are being genuine and come to trust your words.

Ok, now, just a warning - tomorrow I have LOTS of things to talk about, so bring your coffee or tea or whatever you want and be prepared to settle in for a good long talk!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. , Part 1

Respecting our husbands...Where to start?

Well, because I am clearly such a brilliant scholar, I've chosen to start at the beginning.

Of the word.

Yes, nothing inspires confidence as much as someone who uses acrostics, right? Nevertheless...

Each day in this series we will look at words that begin with the letters in "Respect." It may not be the most impressive method, but I think that we can still learn some things along the way. So let's look at a few words that begin with the letter R which relate to respecting our husbands.

1) Recognize - One of the first steps in learning to truly respect and honor our husband is to recognize that it is not an option. It is something that God has called each wife to do. And, importantly, it is not based on anything our husbands do. Truly it has nothing to do with whether or not they earn our respect - it's just what we are to do regardless. Just as they are called to love us without conditions, so are we called to respect them without conditions. It's what they need in the same way that wives need to be loved.

You also must recognize that, in light of above, God's call to respect our husband doesn't mean that men are better than women or more important to them. It simply means that it's a functionary duty. Just as someone in a company has to be the one where the buck stops, for His own reasons God chose that person to be the husband and father in a family. It doesn't mean that you are any less valuable or worthy in God's eyes.

2) Resolve - Now that we know that it is our job to respect our husbands regardless of whether or not they deserve it, we must resolve to do so to the best of our abilities, regardless of the situation.

(Let me start by saying that if you are the victim of abuse, you must seek help and you DO NOT have to endure one more day like that. I am NOT in any way advocating staying in an abusive relationship. Please do not believe that God would want you to be treated that way - you are His precious child.)

Perhaps your husband has failed you, and your children, in the past. Maybe he can't hold a job or drinks too much. Maybe he hasn't lived up to your expectations in many areas. Remember that by respecting our husbands in these situations, when it's most difficult, it's not about him, it's about GOD. You are choosing to honor Him and He will bless that.

If it's simply a matter of you being a strong woman who, secretly in her heart, looks down a little at her husband (you are smarter, you are more educated, you know how to deal with the children better, etc.), please know that God looks at the heart. He knows (and believe me, so does your husband) whether or not you truly respect him. It comes across in your attitudes and looks.

Make the decision that you WILL respect your husband. Resolve to do so regardless of what's going on. This doesn't mean that you will agree with his every decision, but that you find a way to deal with it respectfully and that allows him the freedom to be the leader of the family. Even if he makes a mistake, it will give him the opportunity to grow.

Ask yourself, is it more important that you be right or that you build your marriage by respecting him? Does it really matter if you are late to that party because he wouldn't ask for directions? Or if he wears clothes that don't exactly match? And even if it is something that is important - is there a way that you can express your concern or opposing view with respect, acknowledging and even believing that he may ultimately be right?

3) Raise - Ladies, I cannot stress this enough: When you raise your husband up, he will raise you up. If we build up our husbands, they will feel so inspired to love us that we will be amazed at the results.

We get so locked into worrying about what we deserve, but if we would throw that mindset away and just focus on encouraging our husbands and building them up, many of our problems would be solved. They will be inspired to be more loving, more protective and they will gain the self-confidence that many men lack. Don't let this be a situation where you will only give as good as you get - pour out lavish love and respect for your husband. Do it without thought of what you will get back. I can almost guarantee that you will be blessed in return, but even if you aren't it will be the right thing to do.

As mothers, we teach our children to do the right thing because it's the right thing. We tell them it's not about whether or not someone is watching you or what you can get away with. We want them to have a desire to do the right thing.

Respecting your husband is the right thing.


(For more on this subject matter, I encourage you to read Fascinating Womanhood, by Helen Andelin.)
Monday, May 12, 2008

Menu Plan Monday



Back again for another great week of yummy food!! Thanks, as always, to Laura for hosting Menu Plan Monday. There are such great ideas out there floating around the blogosphere - this is a great way for people to share delicious meals and recipes.

By the way, the post below is the beginning of a series I'm starting on respecting our husbands if you'd like to check it out.

Here's this week's menus - with a holdover or two from last week. I'm currently on Week 5 of my 8 Week Menu Plan, but as always, it's flexible.

Monday - Bezella (a yummy Lebanese style beef & veggie stew) with rice

Tuesday - Shrimp and Scampi Bake (which I never got to last week), with buttered pasta and a salad

Wednesday - Pot roast with potatos, onions and carrots

Thursday - Zesty Mac and Cheese with a tossed salad

Friday - Hamburgers, Potato Salad and chips

Saturday - Vegetable Stew and rolls

That's what we'll be eating around here this week. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. , A Self Assessment

As promised, I'm back to talk a little with you about respecting our husbands.

Before I get into the actual meat of the matter, I'd like to post a self-assessment taken from The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace. This is one of the most powerful books on being a godly wife that you will ever read. It is Scripture, through and through. Mrs. Peace does a wonderful job of illuminating Scripture and applying it to our marriages. I've lead a group of women through the book before and we enjoyed it immensely.

One woman in the group struggled greatly, believing that we were talking about being a doormat to our husbands. That couldn't be further from the truth!! While we are called by God to respect our husbands, we are also still to be strong women in our own right. It takes strength to follow this particular order, let me tell you!! Sometimes it's not easy and you have to dig down deep to be respectful, but it's worth it. I firmly believe however, that when you are doing your part (respecting him) and he is doing his part (loving you, which he will be even more motivated to do by your respect) that you can have a truly heavenly marriage.

And, please, before we start let me make perfectly clear that respecting my husband is not something I have mastered. I struggle and continue to learn and work on it. My point in this series is not to sit on my high horse and preach, but to encourage myself and anyone else who may be interested to work on this very important part of marriage. And so, without any further ado, on to the assessment.

Self Assessment

** Do you speak to your husband in a condescending, "put down" manner? For example, "What's the matter with you?" "My dad would never have done that." "Can't you do anything right?" "I should have known better than to depend on you." "Don't be stupid." "Don't be ridiculous."

** Do you treat your husband in private as respectfully as you do your pastor, your neighbor, or your friends in public?

** Does your countenance show your disrespect by angry looks, looks of disgust, eye-rolling, crossed arms, etc.?

** Do you talk for your husband or interrupt him?

** Do you try to intimidate or bully your husband by making threats, verbally attacking him, crying or in some other way manipulating him to have your way?

** Do you bring up his shortcomings to others?

** Do you inappropriately contradict him in front of others?

** Do you compare him unfavorably with other men?

** Do you listen carefully to your husband's opinions, trying to understand him?

** Do you respect his position in the home so much that he can depend on you to do as he asks even when he is not home?

** Do you respect his requests by trying to do as he asks, even if it doesn't seem important to you?

** Would your husband say that you have a meek and quiet spirit?

** Are you obeying God by being respectful to your husband?

* * * * * * * * *

Were you convicted by any of these as you read through? I know that I was. I could pick out some of those issues that I struggle with again and again. My prayer as I work through this series is that we will be able to learn to show love to our husbands through respecting them. Join me tomorrow for the first part.
Saturday, May 10, 2008

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

No, no. I'm not going all Aretha Franklin on you here. But I do want to talk about respect.

Did you know that, when surveyed, most men say they would choose to live without love for the rest of their lives than live without respect? To us as women, that seems ridiculous. Who would choose respect over love?

Your husband.

This is just the way God made us. In His Word, you can clearly see that these are innate desires given by God.


"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5: 32-33

This isn't just some arbitrary idea God is laying out here. It's what He, in His role as our creator, knows that we need. Men need to be respected. Women need to feel loved. Love is what comes naturally to us. But if our men don't feel respected, they won't feel loved -- regardless of what else you may try to do to communicate your love for him.

Over the next few days, I want to take a look at some of the components of respect and at some of the steps we need to take to get to the point of truly respecting our husbands. But for right now, I'll leave you with the Amplified Version of the above verse. (If you have never used an Amplified Version I highly recommend it for study purposes. It takes the verse and expands upon it, giving you a better idea of what was meant in the original language but doesn't quite translate in the same way in English. It's a great tool!)


However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self;

and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [ that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].

Ephesians 5:32-33, Amp.
Just take some time and mull that over. I'll be back on Monday with some thoughts and maybe we can encourage each other to minister to our husbands' need for respect.
Friday, May 9, 2008

Socialization


I would say that the concern over a child's socialization is the number two reason, behind lack of confidence in themselves as teachers, why people tell me they can't homeschool.

The sad thing is that this is such a prevalent misconception about homeschoolers. Most homeschool parents bend over backwards to make sure that their children are well-socialized. But the bigger question remains what is socialization exactly? And what part should it play in our child-rearing?

Wikipedia defines it as, "Socialization is the process by which humans or animals learn the values, norms and culture of their particular society. They learn to conform to the way of life in their society."

Basically socialization is the process by which our children learn to be healthy, productive, responsible members of society. Now, do I want my children to be socialized by other children their age - immature, cruel children often. Or do I want my children to learn how to be a happy and healthy adult from other happy and healthy adults? I would much rather be the overseer of who is teaching my children the "values, norms and culture" by which they will live their lives, than turn that task over to any random child who happens to be assigned to their class.

All this is not to say that I think we should keep children away from other kids or even away from those who have different opinions than ourselves. But we need to be able to be there to offer guidance and feedback. We need to protect and shelter our children from those who would, unthinkingly, hurt our children's tender spirits and faith.

Now that I have that off my chest, I'll step down off my soapbox and share ways that we have provided opportunities for our children to interact with other kids their ages. Having just moved to Doha, Qatar we are right now in a bit of a lull as we are still trying to get settled in, but I'm sure that we'll be getting in the swing of things soon.

* Church - this has always been the basis of our social lives, even before we had children. Sunday school classes, youth groups, retreats, social activities - these are all opportunities for our children to spend time with mostly like-valued children.

* Homeschool Groups - We have belonged to numerous homeschool groups over the past 9 years of homeschooling. Some have been warm and welcoming, others have been difficult to break into because of cliques. It can be hard, but with persistence you can find a group that is right for your which will bless both you as a parent and your children.

* Sports - Neither of my children has a competitive bone in their body. We are not into team sports, though we have given it a try with soccer and basketball. However we eventually settled on karate. Though they were in a large group of kids who they made friends with, karate served to give them physical activity, but in a way in which they were really competing against themselves.

* Enrichment Classes - Throughout their homeschooling lives, my children have always participated in some type of enrichment classes. Whether it was through a co-op put together casually by a few moms, a huge homeschool program, or courses offered by local parks, they have found both education and friendship here.

* Neighbors - I know that for some people, neighborhood children can pose a problem. But I see them as an opportunity. Be the kind of mom who opens up her home, where all the kids want to hang out. You'll not only be there to guide the conversation and activity, you'll also get to see your child and be able to be a blessing to those children in the neighborhood who don't have a strong relationship with their own parents.

Those are the main areas where we have found social opportunities for our children. They are both happy, well-adjusted children who are comfortable both with children their own age as well as adults. Think about it - when was the last time you were confined to being friends solely with people your own age and socio-economic background? I would wager it was in school. Homeschooling opens up the world to your kids, allowing them to take part in all the normal activities that they will participate in as adults. It also provides them with the opportunity to observe YOU as you go about your life ~ all the little things you do in your effort to honor God as you go through your day.

That's real socialization.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

As I mentioned, I'm working on being more disciplined and less prone to obey my selfish old self. To that end, I spent the day yesterday working on bills and paperwork, something I've just been avoiding since I left Miami.

This was at the request of Hubby (the working on it, not the avoiding it). We attended a seminar at church Tuesday night about the five love languages. His, of course, is acts of service. I've known this for ages, and truthfully, I think it sucks. Acts of service, for those of you who aren't up on your love languages, basically means, "I feel loved when you do things for me like wash my clothes, do the dishes, iron my shirts, mop the floors, pick up my dirty socks." So basically Hubby would enjoy being married to a cleaning lady. Sigh...

Nevertheless, I recognize that this is how I show my love and appreciation for him so as we left the seminar, I asked him what specific thing I could do to show love for him. So my day yesterday was spent sorting bills I had collected while wewere separated, calling companies to find out what our account status was, checking our bank account and scheduling payments, etc.

That man better feel the love.

Today, as he also appreciates a beautiful clean home, I intended to clean and "pretty-fy" the house from top to bottom. I woke up at 6:30, had breakfast, checked and my email and started a load of laundry. Still in my cute little pj's, I started up the stairs only to hear the doorbell. Workmen were here to work on the water pump on the roof. With no appointment. At 7 am.

They have now turned off my water as well as my electricity. Basically I can do nothing.

Well, except try to move a big table that was left here by the previous tenant that is actually owned by Hubby's company. And while moving it, breaking off ALL four legs. Snapping them right off, yes sirree Bob. It was a nice mahogany table. I'm sure someone will now enjoy it as firewood. Does mahogany burn well?

So, I'm hanging out at home right now totally hamstrung. I can't go anywhere because there are people here. I can't do any of my household chores - laundry, mopping, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, etc. without water and/or power.

Hubby's love language will just have to go unspoken today.
Monday, May 5, 2008

The Obstacle to a Disciplined Life

Kelli asked me to elaborate on what I thought is the biggest hindrance to living a more disciplined life. Sadly, this is not a subject that is new for me. I've re-posted an article below that I originally wrote in August of last year addressing the same issue.

If I were to speak very candidly about my struggle for a disciplined life and what has been my biggest obstacle, I would say it is selfishness. I don't know that this is the case for everyone who struggles with this same problem, but it is for me.

I choose to spend time blogging rather than spend time tending to my home. I choose to watch tv until late at night rather than get the appropriate amount of sleep. I choose to eat what I enjoy rather than deny myself in order to be healthy and lose weight. I choose to read a novel rather than the Scriptures. If I don't want to do something because it's hard or unpleasant, I make excuses and choose to do something that I enjoy instead.

The bottom line is that I choose to please myself rather than to please God.

A verse that I am choosing to commit to memory this week addresses this very issue. In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." I have to make the decision to deny myself. It's that simple.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, "When Jesus bids a man come, he bids him come and die." We are called to die to our selves. It's that simple.

* * * * * * * *
(Originally posted August 2007)
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."
Titus 2:3-5


One of the biggest struggles in my life is to be a disciplined woman of God. Unfortunately, I am not yet living up to the call given here in Titus. While I have made great strides in recent years, I still find myself every day making poor choices.When I have some unpleasant chore hanging over my head, I will ignore it in favor of reading, watching mindless tv, or my new favorite hobby - blogging. When I tell myself that I should go to bed so I can be fresh, rested, and energetic the next day, I find myself making excuses for staying up late - my stock answer being "It's my only time to be alone." When I know that I am making poor food choices, I tell myself, "Just this one last time."

Why is it that I have not overcome this? Truthfully, the fact is that I have not yet learned, no, decided to subjugate my selfish desires to what I know God to be calling me to do. God has called me to be a homemaker; to make our home a beautiful place of refuge for my family. God has called me to take care of the one and only body He has given me so that it can be ready and able to fulfill all that He has planned for me. I have not yet learned to be self-controlled. Not the way that Paul intended in the passage above anyways. In some ways, my problem is that I am TOO self-controlled. Whatever my "self" wants to do, I do it.

What I need to do is be open to allowing God to mold me and remake my heart so that my inner desires line up with God's desires. When that happens, the "self" that's in control will be a self that is fully yielded to God. Here are some areas where I need to allow God to come in and fill me with His will.

Accepting that my role as a wife and homemaker involves tasks that I find mundane and never-ending (laundry, dishes, cleaning the bathrooms, etc. Fill in your most loathsome chore here). This does not absolve me from doing them. Every career has tasks like this. I must learn to do these tasks as unto the Lord. I may not ever enjoy doing them, but I can do them with joy because I am in the Lord's will.
Making the daily decision to take up my cross in the area of food issues. Now, to some of you, this will sound ridiculous. But to those of you that know the pain and the shame of being addicted to food, that use food as a way to stop stress or pain or boredom, you know what I mean. By taking up my cross I mean choosing to die to my self. It's not just about enjoying the food, it's about using something to fill the void that is meant to be filled by God and so can never be satisfied with anything else.

Understanding that my daily decisions, big and small, affect my ability, and even my desire, to serve the Lord. When I stay up until 2 am, I cannot possibly be at my best to serve my husband and children. When I choose to eat in an unhealthy manner and not to exercise, I place myself at risk of needlessly cutting short the very life God gave me. When I opt to not properly fulfill my role as a homemaker, instead allowing my home to fall into disrepair, I lose my desire to offer hospitality to those God may put in my way.

These are just some of the examples of the ways that I am seeking to learn to be a more disciplined woman. I think the trick is to focus less on the results and more on the journey. Instead of trying to work up the discipline to do all that I've discussed here, I need to spend time with God, allowing Him to fill me with His spirit and renew mine. My mind needs to be renewed. Only then can I be fully used by God.

Menu Plan Monday



Right now I have cheesy game show theme music running through my head and I feel like saying, in my deepest voice of course, "Hello and welcome back to Menu Plan Monday here at The Simple Life at Home! Today's contestant is Lori - a stay at home wife, mom and homeschooler from Doha, Qatar! Lori enjoys cooking, reading and training iguanas! Welcome, Lori!"

Ok
, seriously, that is much funnier if you click the link for the music and have it playing in the background while you read that. And no, I don't actually enjoy training iguanas. It's work. Hard work, people.

So, can you tell I'm feeling a little silly today? Perhaps we should get on to the menus before I do something silly like throw big kisses at my monitor a la "The Dating Game."

This week I'm on Week 4 of my 8 Week Menu Plan. Last week was so great being back on plan. Shopping was a breeze and there was no last minute panic about what to have for dinner. If you haven't done up a menu plan for yourself, even if it's not an 8 week one like mine, you are missing out on a great tool for running your home. It saves time, money and stress.

So here is what we will be having in our home this week:

Monday
- Cauliflower Soup with pita bread wedges

Tuesday
- Hubs and I will be going out (hooray! a date!!) - sandwiches for the kids

Wednesday
- Crockpot Mexi Chicken with tortillas

Thursday
- Chicken Stir Fry with rice

Friday
- Homemade Pizza and salad

Saturday
- New Recipe Day! Today I'll give Shrimp Scampi Bake a turn since it somehow (gasp!) was left off my menu plan. Definitely a delish dish!

That's it for us this week. There is a couple of carry-overs from last week since I wasn't up to cooking for a few days. For more great menu ideas, be sure to visit The Organizing Junkie!
Be sure to come back next time and visit!!
Sunday, May 4, 2008

Lentils & Rice (Mujadarra)

As per Tammi's request, here is the recipe for Lentils and Rice, referred to in my 8 Week Menu Plan. Now, I will admit that I did not care for this dish when I first tried it. But over time, I have come to love it. It is tasty and inexpensive to make - a bonus in these times of food costs going out of control.

Lentils & Rice (Mujadarra)

2 cups whole lentils
several garlic cloves
2 onions, sliced thinly lengthwise (like crescents)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup rice
1 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Boil lentils and garlic in water (enough to cover) until the lentils are almost tender. While they are cooking, fry the onion slices until golden brown in the olive oil. Drain and set aside.

Add the rice and spices to the lentils. Top with 3 cups of hot water. Cover and simmer gently until the rice is soft and the water is absorbed. Serve topped with the fried onions. The traditional salad served with this dish is below.

Lemony Salad (my name - clearly not the official Arabic name!!)

Lettuce, chopped finely
Tomatoes, chopped finely
Onions, chopped finely
Cucumbers, diced small
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Salt

Make the salad in proportions according to your likes (more or less onion, etc.). Then add a drizzle of olive oil, a good size squirt of lemon juice and salt to taste. Stir well and serve. (Hubby - official Arab - actually mixes his salad into the lentils & rice.)
Friday, May 2, 2008

Pulling It All Together

First off, I apologize for not being around much this week, either here or visiting your blogs. It seems that the fall that I took did a little more damage than I realized. Once the pain from the bruising went away, I was still left with a painful golf ball sized swelling on my ankle as well as pain in my knee. I know, I know, I should go to a doctor. But I'm still nervous about going to a doctor in a brand new (to us) foreign country. If it doesn't go away in a couple more days, I guess I will. I'll keep you updated. In the meantime, I covet your prayers and your patience.


So this has been a week of trying to be more disciplined all around. It seems as though there are times when every area of my life kind of spirals out of control and I run around from here to there just trying to put out fires.

I've begun to read Ordering Your Private World, by Gordon MacDonald. People have been recommending this book to me for the past 20 years almost. I must admit that I have begun it before and not finished it, but now I find myself being more and more drawn into it. I want to have that sense of inner peace and order he describes. I find myself all too often in the characterizations he draws of someone who does not have order internally.

Some of the areas I've been working on this week include:

Homeschooling - Unfortunately, I often allow myself to be too lax and undisciplined here, just allowing my children to skate by doing the minimal amount of work. We've made a great deal of progress in the past week or two. I'm still not caught up to where I would like us to be, but then again, we did fall behind in part because I was a little busy what with moving across the world and all. However, it's time to stop using that as an excuse and get cracking.

Parenting - I have been lax in this area too, much to content to just send my kids upstairs to their rooms rather than deal constructively with discipline issues. It's too easy when you are weary to just stop the immediate problem and not deal with the underlying issues that cause the problems in the first place. I would like to give my children credit though. I have seen tremendous growth in them over the course of the last two months. Yes, they still fight, but they have also become much closer. They are much more willing to try new foods, having been picky eaters all their lives. They have also pitched in and are much more willing to help out with the chores around here, sometimes without even being asked!

Nutrition - Not just for me, but for my kids too, this has always been a problem. And it's my fault. I give in and buy them unhealthy snacks because I want them too. But in the last couple of weeks, I've definitely been encouraging them to eat healthier as I'm trying to as well. We've made a decision as a family (well, ok, Hubby and I imposed it upon the kids) that we are going to stop buying chips and junk food for at least the summer. Yesterday they didn't even ask for any junk food. Emily asked for sunflower seeds as a snack. Progress!!! Happily, I've lost about 5 pounds without really struggling for it since we moved into this house about a month ago.

Homemaking - I have floundered with this since our move. I was on a fairly good schedule in our previous home, but have been struggling to adjust. However, I think I'm getting it worked out and the house is usually neat and tidy by the time Hubby comes home, dinner is either on the stove or ready, and the laundry is kept up on.

Sadly there are two areas that I am still not seeing improvement in.

My Bible reading is woefully behind, although I do feel as though I am more often in a mode of prayer. I often take time while driving or washing dishes or doing laundry to just talk to God. But I would like to get back on my reading straight through the Bible plan.

And then there is exercise. Ugh. I did go for a walk with Hubby on Friday morning, but that resulted in the most excruciating pain and swelling in my ankle, so that may have to wait a little bit. Besides, Doha is not exactly a "walking" city, if you know what I mean. There are duststorms frequently and there are no sidewalks near us. Hopefully Hubby will figure out how to get our treadmill working (apparently it needs a special converter) so I can begin to use that again.

So while there has been lots of progress there are still areas where I need to instill discipline into my life.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. Prov. 23:23

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. I Timothy 1:7

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. Prov. 25:28

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

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