Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Favorites

It's been quite a while since our last Friday Favorites and since I have a collection of random things to share with you, I thought I'd break it out! 

Pregnancy Update
I'm 32 weeks tomorrow! That means only 8 more weeks until we see the little man! I cannot wait to hold him and see what he looks like! (Actually I can wait; he needs to stay where he is.)

And you get this picture because you saw my latest belly pic yesterday!

In other pregnancy news, I had forgotten the things people say to pregnant ladies. This week, a complete stranger greeted me with this encouraging statement: "Wow, you must be completely miserable!" I have to admit that I only assumed that she said this because I was pregnant but wow! I don't think I act or look completely miserable so I decided not to worry too much about it. And be grateful that I have a better attitude than that (most of the time anyway!). 

What I'm Reading
 Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot
GraceLaced, the blog by Ruth Simons. Love, love her Instagram too! 
2 Corinthians 9:7 (of course not just that, but I've really been thinking this verse over)

Online Favorites
Here's a few links for you. Once again I avoided sharing these on Facebook, where I really do try to be as uncontroversial as possible. 

Matt Walsh with some thoughts on spanking

Club31 Women with 12 lessons for boys

A For the Family post on infatuation, love, and weddings

And there's this post from The Better Mom. My favorite part is that before modern technology people didn't know all the bad news from all over the world, just the bad news they could actually do something about. That's helpful when you're feeling overburdened by all the bad in the world. 

The boys listening to Daddy's radio show! 

Kevo was a little tired after co-op last week. 

Micah got to help spray the fire truck hose at co-op this week! 

We're finished with the nursery! (Isn't that a cute photobomber?)

"Climbing a tree" and playing the harmonica!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Welcoming Fall!

It's well into September, folks! (Just in case you hadn't noticed.)  We seem to have finally hit some fall weather and it's beautiful, although I must ask where the sun went. It seems we haven't seen it in a week! But with cold weather approaching, school starting, and schedules changing, it seems time to talk about tweaking our home life a little. Just for kicks I thought I'd start off with some of my...

Favorite Fall Things: 
-apple pie
-falling leaves
-soup and homemade bread
-crisp morning air
-Missions Conference
-oh, and this year we're having a baby! See? I'm really not making it up!  (31 weeks!)

Adjusting to Fall: 

1. Schedule changes. Homeschool co-op has started and the boys are really enjoying it! It's a fun afternoon for them once a week and gym should come in handy for burning off some extra energy. We're going to move some of our indoor work to the evening hours when we have to be inside to make the most of the daylight hours. Justin's back in class, teaching and taking them and preschool is back in "full swing." Or at least as much as I feel any four-year-old needs "full swing" education. 

2. Activities. I've kept some games and the playdough put up most of the summer so that the boys will have new things to do this fall and winter as it's getting colder and dark earlier. I've also kept a cardboard box with a puppet window for this season. Of course we'll tromp through the leaves, go on more walks, watch some local college football games, bake pies, and hopefully visit the pumpkin patch! And I'm on the lookout for some plastic bowling pins for the boys to do some hallway bowling. Anybody seen any? 

3. Counting blessings! As much as I don't like the dark evenings there are some great things about them! Justin doesn't have to mow and we will love the extra time with him! And don't forget it's time to break out the hot chocolate! And as for the darkness, turn on some lights and play some fun music. The sunshine is really supposed to come from within, right? 

What are your favorite fall things? 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Small Work

"The things that Jesus did were of the most menial and commonplace order, and this is an indication that it takes all God's power in me to do the most commonplace things in His way. Can I use a towel as He did? Towels and dishes and sandals, all the ordinary sordid things of our lives, reveal more quickly than anything what we are made of. It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the meanest duty as it ought to be done." Oswald Chambers
So often we long for glory, to be noticed and appreciated, to be admired for our accomplishments. We desire to serve in grand ways and accomplish great things for God. But what about those little things? 

What about the breakfast dishes and the diapers? 
What about the board books and the blocks? 
What about the laundry and the dusting? 
What about the teaching and training? 
What about the faithfulness to our daily Bible reading? 
What about the kind words instead of a sharp tone? 
What about the evidence of our love for our husband? 

What about the small things that seem to be nothing? 

Yes, I write something about the small work frequently but that's because the small work matters. The work right in front of our hands that God has assigned us for today is our glorious calling. The Apostle's Paul's life is what we would call a life of accomplishment. He traveled over the known world winning others to Christ and planting churches. He wrote books of the Bible and witnessed in front of huge crowds of people. But most of his life was walking; they didn't have cars or trains then. His life was teaching people who seemed to not get it. His life was writing down the words, suffering through hardships, and serving in the most menial ways. We should not search for the fame or the glory. We must serve in the mundane and routine. 

We must serve in the Tuesday that comes every week and seems to hold nothing special. (Of course it really does.) We must serve in the daily routine of bedtime with our children even if we are tired and worn out mentally. We must serve the same people who show up every day dirty and misbehaving. And not just serve, but serve with joy. 

After Jesus washed the disciples feet he said, "For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." (John 13:15) Can we really think that any task is beneath us if we are following the footsteps of our Savior? 

We cannot do it on our own.  Too often we try to serve on our own and we quickly realize the task is beyond us. It takes "all God's power in me to do the most commonplace things in His way." ALL God's power for the most commonplace things. Isn't that true? It's easy to think that we only need God for the big things but we need Him for the small things too. Surrender yourself and your day to Him and obey what He says. 

All small work is not the same. Your small work may be filing or waiting tables or taking complaints over the phone. But it's the same truth. It takes all of God in you to do your work well regardless of what it is. Be faithful to the small work in front of you today. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

By the Time I'm 30

A favorite blogger that I follow on Instagram (and her blog, of course) turned 30 a few weeks ago. And I suddenly realized how close to 30 I am. I'll be 28 in January and two years will fly by. 30 doesn't scare me at all; it seems rather exciting actually. I'm enjoying growing and learning and you couldn't pay me to go back to being younger. Getting older is where it's least for most things. 

But I started thinking, "What do I want to have done with my life by the time I'm 30?" 

The year I turn 30, Micah will be 6, Kevin 4, and Caleb 2.

So what would I like to have accomplished? I started sorting through some ideas and came up with this list. It's not all-inclusive or in any certain order and some things are just assumed. (Note, for instance, there's not a marriage goal here; I do intend to still be married.)

-have steady blog readers; people who are learning and working just like me
-homeschooling actively (micah 1st grade, kevin k-4)
-have a cute wardrobe for daily life
-be able to play the piano competently for church if needed
-be more confident telling others about Jesus in daily life- proclaim Jesus; love Him supremely
-have a closer walk with God; that daily growing from spending time with Him and obeying what He tells me

Nothing "huge" by the world's standards. I don't want to be famous or well-known or rich. I don't want to be a speaker or an author or a famous blogger. What I would really like to be doing is the same thing I'm doing now just as a more mature person. A more mature by walking with Jesus for two more years person. 

To get there I just keep doing what I'm doing: my work that God gives me every single day. Keep on learning and keep on working.  It's very reassuring that I don't need to revamp everything I'm doing. The list is not impressive and neither is my current work . But I am fulfilling God's purposes for my life with my obedience. That is important. 

Have you considered what you would like to accomplish over the next two years? Of course your list may be totally different from mine. You may not be married. You may have a career or a home business. You may have six children or none. But where do you want to be then? And this sounds very self-focused but I don't intend for it to be. The reason I was even considering this is that I don't want to waste my life; I want to spend it for Jesus. 

Have you thought about where you want to be in a few years? About who you want to be? What you are doing today is shaping your future. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Coveting Made Personal

I'm friends on Facebook with many people that attend the church I grew up in. I love that church. I loved it so much when I attended there that Justin was afraid we would never find anything I liked as well. But God tends to take care of such things. A few weeks ago a lady posted about her Sunday School class; she stated that they had discussed being covetous of qualities instead of things. 

Let's be honest, it's easy to talk about the sins we don't do. Or are at least less likely to do. Drinking. Homosexuality. Adultery. Coveting someone else's house (although that's nearer the mark, isn't it? With pretty social media posts and blogs?) We tend to not discuss the sins we really have problems with: things like gossip, self-indulgence, pride, or rebellion.  Those are sins too. And maybe worse ones because they are the ones we try to overlook. 

So when she started talking about being covetous over qualities I was immediately convicted. She listed beauty, wisdom, and talents as examples. How often am I jealous of someone else's beauty or body size? Do I covet that quality instead of thanking God for what I have and making the most of it? What about other ladies' talents? Do I wish for those, thinking mine aren't as impressive or important? 

It's easy to look around and say, "I wish I could write like her, or sing like her, or teach like her, or care like her," and never think we are being covetous. But if we were to say, "I wish I had her clothes or her house or her husband," then we would know we're in the wrong. God put us where we are with what we have for a reason. God will give us something different if that's His will for us. We can even pray about it but we need to leave it up to Him. 

So what do we do instead of coveting? 
1. Be thankful for what you have. Thank God for the health you have, the home, the talents, your appearance. Thank God that He has a purpose and plan for your life. Gratitude makes such a difference in our attitudes and our lives. 

2. Make the most of what you have. Why on earth should God give you more if you aren't using what you have? Maybe you wouldn't have picked the talents that God gave you but are you using them? Are you being a good steward of what you have been entrusted with?  Make the most of your home instead of comparing it to someone else's. Make the most of your appearance by dressing nice and fixing up a little. Make the most of your talents by using them even if it feels like small work. 

Coveting really starts when we start comparing. Instead of doing our work and running our race, we are looking at someone else's work and race. Instead of focusing on what God has given us to do we are looking at how much better someone else's work seems. Stop that. We are to be "looking unto Jesus," not staring at our neighbor's race and wondering why it's so much more exciting than ours. Everything becomes ordinary once you start doing it every day. Everything. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

When You're Feeling Big and Sloppy (Or On Adjusting Your Thought Life)

A few weeks ago I was feeling big and sloppy. Now I realize that I'm 29 weeks pregnant but I don't think I'm really big and sloppy and it's not a typical pregnancy feeling for me. So I started to ask myself why I might be feeling that way. 

(And yes, I know I don't look big and sloppy in this picture, ok??)

Now granted it doesn't help that this scenario has been repeated multiple times over the past few weeks. 
Sweet lady gives me the once-over and says, "Oh, when are you due?" in a nice, gushing voice. 
I smile, put my hand on my stomach, and reply, "November." 
She stares at my stomach and responds, "OH!"

Thanks, lady, thanks. Now I feel like a whale. 

1. I banned a few outfits. There were a few things that I felt huge in whenever I wore them. So I stopped wearing them. 

2. I'm spending an extra five minutes or so on my hair in the morning. Fixing my hair is one of my least favorite things to do; I can always think of so many other better and more interesting things to be doing. Having said that, I fix my hair every single morning. So I'm putting a few more minutes into it to help it look nicer. My hair really affects how I feel about how I look. 

3. I'm wearing my contacts as often as possible. I have an eye problem that keeps me from wearing my contacts all the time but I can wear them occasionally. They make me feel much more put together. 

4. I'm not  skipping my freshen-up minutes in the afternoon. I typically spend 5 minutes touching up my hair and makeup before I start cooking dinner. 

5. I decided to quit saying, "Wow, I feel big and sloppy." Instead I said, "I really like this shirt." Or, "Look how nice my hair turned out today." Quit saying "big and sloppy" to yourself, Lisa! Goodness. The way we talk to ourselves is just as important as how we talk to others. 

These issues aren't just related to body image during pregnancy or any other time. There are many things that we can adjust to in order to remove some mental barriers in our lives. I believe if we are going to care for our families and other people that is is imperative that we take care of ourselves. The Bible says to "love thy neighbor as thyself." We are not to pretend that we aren't human beings with needs and issues. 

Thinking about the things that bother you in life, especially little things like this, can be so beneficial. Get some idea of what's bothering you and then pray about it. Nothing is too small to take to God. Psalm 62:8 encourages us to "pour out your heart before him." Instead of being weighed down by little things you can solve them and save your mental energy for things that really matter. 

Obviously most issues aren't this easily resolved. I'm not pretending this little exercise will solve most problems. But there is always that collection of little things that we can fix. Think about your little issues and deal with them so that you can better serve God. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Discipline is a Set of Habits

To a great degree, discipline is a set of habits that can be cultivated.
I read that quote in a blog post last week and was arrested by the thought. We behave as though we are either disciplined people or we aren't. As if it is some sort of cosmic choice out of our control. It's not. We all learn discipline; we aren't born with it. 

There are some habits that I am so grateful to have. They are part of my life and I don't really think about whether or not to do them. Reading my Bible every day, cleaning up the kitchen after each meal, planning out our work, brushing my teeth multiple times a days are all things I do without debating when or if to do them. That is so helpful for my life. I started to consider some thoughts about this personal discipline. 

-One habit won't make you a disciplined person but it will make you a more disciplined person. We can start one habit at a time and build our personal discipline. We can start reading our Bible, even just for five minutes, every single day. We can start working out, even just for five minutes, every single day. We can start doing, to some small degree, whatever it is that we want to be a part of our lives. Maybe you want a cleaner house. Clean, every day, for five minutes. Make a list and do something from it every single day. Pick one thing and start small. Once you do that daily (or pretty close to it) add another habit. You'd be surprised at how quickly life can change this way. 

-It requires work. The habits have to be cultivated. You have to make yourself do the work even when you don't feel like it. It will require attention and effort on your part to make these habits part of your life. Think about raising your children. It requires attention and effort to make sure your children learn to brush their teeth on a regular basis. But once it's part of their lives you don't really have to worry about it after that. Give yourself the same gift and cultivate some discipline for yourself. It's not a punishment; it's a blessing. 

You would be surprised at what you can accomplish in one day if you simply keep working. Don't stop to check facebook or read your emails (unless it's time to do those things). And I'm not talking about being busy; we live in a culture that glorifies being busy. I'm talking about doing God's work for your day. That may include sitting on the couch with your kids reading, spending some time on your writing/painting/crafting, cuddling your baby and enjoying his baby grins, taking a nap so that you can be gracious with your family all evening. I'm not suggesting that we use discipline as an excuse to be so busy that we have no time for the important people (or tasks) in our lives. Sometimes the most important things can feel the least productive. But if you want to learn to do God's work for you well, you will need some discipline about yourself. 

Know what it's time to do and do it. Don't do anything else. Of course when you are raising small children you have the training of your children as the trump card. It might be time to clean the bathroom or conduct circle time but that may need to stop so you can deal with a discipline issue or an attitude problem. Don't be frustrated; that is your overall mission. Deal with the interruption and then go back to the task at hand. But don't stop for things that don't matter. Let the phone ring if it's not important. Leave the internet alone. Don't sit and watch tv. Be about your work. 

How do you form new habits? What are the habits that have been most beneficial for your life?