Thursday, February 23, 2017

What if?

What if.

What if, for just a moment, we believed.

What if, for just a moment, we were children again, spinning in circles, watching the sky dance above, giggling and carefree.

What if, for just a moment, we remembered when life was simple, right was right, wrong was wrong, gold stars were special, and hope could really, really win.

What if.

Life seems so heavy anymore. 

It isn't just a "grown-up" thing... a life-is-here now face it kind of thing.  It is a fact.

A mere twenty years ago, a blink, a forever, a lifetime, a moment... twenty years, I was a young mama with little darlings gathering around.  I walked with confidence and joy and excitement at allll the future held for them and me and us and we. 

We didn't look over our shoulder then.  We didn't worry about wrong teaching or who was safe to play with who.  Everyone was friends.  Life was simple.

What if.

What if it was simple again?  I know it can't be.  I know time has changed and people have changed, policies have changed, schools have changed, government has changed. 

I know this well.

I know because almost 10 years ago these changing times halted my degree, halted my hope, halted my ambition when I learned, as a mama of 4, returning to higher education so I could teacher lower education, I learned the hard truth:  if you won't play the game, you have to sit down... you get put back into the box... you get thrown out.

But what if.

What if I quit sitting?  What if I started to stand and blaze a trail?  What if I remembered when life was simple and glue and paper and love and fun was all a child needed and all that was needed to give?

What if.

What if I burst out of that box and grabbed a hold of Titus 2 and really really lived it, teaching what is good, and training the young women to love their husbands and children.  

What if I revived the old ways, the simple ways, the ways which grew tender hearts, simple hopes and technicolor dreams?

If I don't, will anyone?  Does anyone else remember those days?  Those once upon a time, hi-didly-o, climbing over the mountains to see what we could see and off we would go?

I do.

What if.

What if I dared to dream again and share that dream again.... to hope again, and share that hope again.

What if.

What if dreaming and hoping and believing sparked others to dream and hope and believe again?

What if?


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Imitations and Implications, Join Me?

Posed in my high back chair at the head of our dining room table in the early, quiet, dark hours of the morning, a dim bulb illuminating from above, I poured over the passage sprawling across the warn pages of my ESV...

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk 
according the example you have in us.
Philippians 3:17

How many times had I pressed into this passage over the years?  How many times had I grabbed a hold of the robes of my Lord to be kept from dark places because my heart had cried, sisters, join in imitating me.  My children watch.  My friends watch.  My family watch.  Those God gives me to disciple watch. What will they see.

On this chilly February morning, I saw. 

...keep your eyes on those who walk according the example you have in us.  What was this example?  In Paul's letter to the Philippians he shares some but digging deeper, a vast world of understanding opened before my eyes...

For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to menWe are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ.  We are weak, but you are strong.  You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.  To the present hour, we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own handsWhen reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreatWe have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.  

I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.  For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers.  For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.  I urge you, then, be imitators of me....
1 Corinthians 4:9-16

Paul is not complimenting the Corinthians.  On the contrary, he is admonishing them.  He is pointing out how they stand... and the contrast it is to how he and other disciples of Christ stand in the Lord.  And while the epistles are replete with evidence of how the faithful of faithful followed Christ, something in this passage of Corinthians stirred inside of me.

Not-one-positive-thing-is-said of Paul and his companions and their condition and consideration... at least by worldly standards.  They are spectacles, fools for Christ's sake.  They seem down-and-out.  YET, and here is the one positive, in harsh situations, instead of retaliation, they bless, endure, and entreat.  While the Corinthian believers  appear wise, strong, and held in honor... Paul doesn't commend them for this.  Instead, he stops just shy of condemning them.

But, Paul, I thought wisdom, strength and honor were desirable attributes.  Yet, I don't think he is saying they are not.  Rather, I believe he is pointing to WHO counts believers as wise, strong and honorable... because, by the world's standards... few (if any) believers would attain such praises. 

As Christians, we can see the work, devotion to scripture, sacrifice and endurance of fellow believers and whole-heartedly and rightfully so consider them wise, strong and honorable.  Yet, these same people, according to Paul, would seem fools to the world.  Their work and devotion: a spectacle.  As a result the world will revile, persecute, slander... even consider such faith-filled believers scum.

My mind was drawn back to the now.  To the implication of Philippians in the face of Corinthians.  To thinking on church and Christianity and this rat race to be the example, to follow me as I follow.  Leaders, followers, all looking.  But looking where?

In the now, people want fads.  People want to be told they can look like the world, be excepted by worldly friends, do worldly things, be honored, wise and seen as strong... commended.

Yet, we are not called to be of the world.  We are required to be in it.  Sojourners through it.  We are called to look like fools to the world.  We are called... to be spectacles.  We aren't meant to be of the culture, rather, counterculture.

Now.  People gather around the latest fads and trends in ministering.  They clamor to praise, and be praised.  They search for the wide, easy, road where all self-propelled pursuits, desires and passions are justified.  Fads and trends which allow them to keep status-quo.

A comfortable faith.
A praiseworthy faith with applause from the world.
A rusting honor.
Crumbling strength next to faulty wisdom.


Imitate me

Not just any me. 
Not just an idea ... follow my ideas
Not just interpretation... follow my interpretation.
Not just a message... my message.


Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

Funny.  The scripture address just happens to have a lot of 1's! Aptly so because there is only....
One idea.
One interpretation.
One message.
And all from One person in Jesus Christ.

As we lead others to imitate us... let us not forget to lead by Jesus' example... not our own or someone else's idea, interpretation, message or self-desire.  Simply Jesus.  What did HE do?  What were HIS ideas?  How did HE interpret? What was HIS MESSAGE. 

As we follow in imitating others... let us be real in asking if that person is really imitating Christ... or are they simply an imitation.  Do they speak their own ideas, words, opinions and interpretations... are they speaking others' ideas, words, opinions and interpretations... OR are they sharing God's amazing Word as-it-is... raw, hard, and, at times, uncomfortable and convicting.  Are they making themselves look like fools... a spectacle to the world - or are they honored by the world because they are so good at looking like it?

I heard Francis Chan recently speaking at a conference for leaders (I shared the video on my Facebook page.)  I loved how he explained he didn't know everything there was to know about God's Word, BUT, if he came across anything that differed from what he thought.... he didn't try to make God's Word fit His ideas or the latest fads.... no... he would recognize he needed to change his pattern of thought to fit the pattern of Scripture.

Paul did.  He only imitated Christ.  Not Peter, not John.... just.Christ.  And I believe the only reason he called others to imitate him, wasn't because he was special, but because he was humble and because he sought, with his whole heart, to look like his savior.

Shouldn't we?

I pray, whether you are a leader or a follower... or both.... that you see and imitate only that which is wholly and completely Christ.




Monday, February 20, 2017

Keepers at Home & Menu Monday: Well Planned Day and Alot of Soup!

This past week was a tough one in the world of Domestic Engineering in my household.  Sickness hanging around kept me without energy until Friday... it slowed the rest of the household down as well.

Being down and under sparked a renewed appreciation for keeping a schedule.  Kids not feeling good as well, school days ending earlier than expected, gaps of un-planned time and a million things to do and not knowing where to start (or what I felt up to)... it actually left me irritable by week's end.

That's the funny thing about refinements and awakenings though... we can either give-in to the difficultness and go crazy, OR, we can allow God to show us something... and then walk in it. Sickness is an inevitable part of a fallen world.  Two weeks of it is an eye-opening, appreciative opportunity in my book!  This one reminded me how keeping a concise planner is vitally important for making good use of time... even fragmented time... when running a household.

Planning days may seem like a self-centered mama thing.  However, it is very much a God thing.  Proverbs is replete with examples of hard work, planning, and its rewards.  Among my favorites:

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. 
-Proverbs 21:5

Any good manager knows a good plan is a fundamental part of success.  All of this prompted a revision of my current day-planner pages (I create my own with a binder... details in next week's Menu Monday):
This is the blogging version
This is the NON-blogging version
 Then I went to task this weekend filling the new page out for the week ahead...
This week I am going to be trying a switch to a clipboard since it will be more portable with the piles of school books we tend to accumulate throughout the day as we learn (and I grade)!
I keep my weekly chore checklist clipped under this page so everything is in one spot.  (I talk about the weekly chores and offer a printable worksheet in last week's Menu Monday post.)

Why is keeping a to-do list/planner so important?
  • People with a plan accomplish more.
  • Without a plan or a reminder of the things needing to be done, you are more likely to forget or put those things off
  • Without a plan a person is more likely to feel un-accomplished (like nothing is getting done... even if a ton is getting done)
  • People with a plan often actually have more free time and are able to relax in it (because they know things have been taken care of!)
  • Planning saves money.  Whether it is that bill you forget to write down on your planer to pay and now you have a late fee or being prepared for meals and events without last minute high-cost substitutes... there are many hidden costs in being unplanned and therefore unprepared.
  • A well-planned day = a happier marriage. Hubby (whether he openly admits it or not) will feel blessed to come home to a house that is taken care of and a wife who is not totally frazzled because of all the last minute things she forgot about and is working late on for lack of planning
  • A well-planned day = a happier family.  A mama well-planned at the helm = a family that knows what is expected of them.  I'm not saying they will always do it with the best attitude but I have generally observed better attitudes when they know what is coming down the pipe.
Doesn't that make you want to start planning now?  Whether you use my planner sheets or go out and buy a nifty planner that fits you... just start planning!  You will be grateful you did!  Just remember:

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. 
- Proverbs 16:3

Life this week...

We enjoyed warm, spring-like weather melting off almost all our snow this past week.  However, the mercury is suppose to drop back down mid-week and there is talk of more snow.  (After all, it is, technically, still winter!)  Hence, a stew on the menu!  Pay-day and grocery shopping this week as well which means grocery list and menu prep along with budget planning.  A task my oldest daughter has expressed interest in learning and shadowing me on.

I'm most excited this week to start a new work-out routine with my youngest.  She is wanting to get more in shape and (best part) she was hoping for a her and mom activity!  I desperately need the heart rate boost and shape up thingy too.  I'm excited.

Hopefully I can get some more garden planning done as well.  It will be time to start seedlings before you know it!

Food from last week...

Hubby had a potluck at work on Monday to celebrate a Vegan Co-worker's birthday.  I found this awesome recipe for Chocolate Wacky Cake on Pinterest and garnished with strawberries.
It was a BIG hit!

It also inspired the dessert for Valentine's Day using the left-over frosting and a different recipe for single-layer chocolate cake I also found on Pinterest (and then lost track of the pin, sorry).

It was a big hit too!  I have a heart-shaped baking pan and Ashley frosted it for me.  I need to teach her how to use a scraper to avoid frosting on your serving plate!  For the center heart I gently set a heart cookie cutter on the cake and sprinkled in red sugar sprinkles then carefully lifted the cookie cutter. 

When Brenden came down with the family bug on Thursday, soup was the order for the day... again! I felt blessed the little grocery store in our neighborhood put chicken breast on sale for 99 cents a pound!!  I didn't have any rice ready-made (it takes an hour to cook and my sickies were hungry immediately!) so I improvised with Ramen noodles broke up into approximately 1" pieces.  They loved it!

Anther sort of 'get well soup' I tried this week for dinner was my own take on taco soup with extra garlic and onion to kick the sick out!
Everyone went back for seconds!

Waking up Friday finally having my energy back I decided something delicious and loaded with vitamin C might help Brenden kick his bug quicker.  It felt good to have the energy to be in the kitchen! I tried these lemon muffins, loaded with lemon juice!  I made a double batch, the batter was beautiful! 

Also, I snapped this picture this week:

My throat was still really sore at the beginning of the week and I wanted warm mushy stuff inside of me so I made oatmeal.  No one ever eats the banana packets in the Fruit Assortment boxes of instant oatmeal I buy.  I hate seeing them go to waste so a while back I figured out a Banana Bread Oatmeal knock-off by mixing:

1 packet banana oatmeal
1 packet maple brown sugar oatmeal
1-2 Tbsp nuts sprinkled on top  (walnuts are best but I only had almonds)

Prepare oatmeal according to package directions and enjoy!

Menu for this week...

- cereal/oatmeal
- eggs
- fresh bread with butter and jam

hubby: sausage and rice
me and kids: leftovers, grilled sandwiches, grilled tuna sandwiches, mac-n-cheese


Creamy Meatballs, Mash Potato, Green Beans


Roast Chicken Breast, Cauliflower and Cheese, Corn

Spaghetti and Cheesy Bread Sticks
(You aren't seeing double, I had this on the list last week but it didn't get made so I am shooting for it again this week!)

Chicken Stew

(This isn't a double either, we didn't get to have it last week but Friday is pay-day and hubby has been begging for it so we will take the pizza plunge!)

Chicken and Cheese Chimichangas and Salad

What are you doing and cooking this week?