Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What do I really believe in?

Okay, so it's kind of been a while. Sorry. I was busy dealing with a large slice of life-pie. Or cake. Or whatever. Anyway.

I've been struggling a little with my faith lately, so I thought maybe I'd hop on here and write out a list of the things that I believe. Not just things I've been taught (which is why I'm struggling, I think - if I'd been taught something else, I would probably have grown up believing in that), but things that I deeply believe, because they make sense to me or because I've experienced something... I want to believe 100% in what I've learned about God over the past twelve or thirteen years. I want to... I just don't want it to be even remotely based on blind trust in the stuff I read and the people I've listened to. Because if that's all my faith in God boils down to, it's not going to be solid enough to get me through the hard times in life, when everything else is crashing down around me and nothing is sturdy enough to stand on.

So. My list. We'll start with the basics, shall we?

I believe life, the world, the universe... was all created. Because it just had to be. It had to come from somewhere. There's too much logic, too much obvious DESIGN for it to have just happened. And stuff can't come from nothing. Therefore... Someone put it here.

I believe God is good. I believe I can trust God to do good towards me. Because I believe that God loves me. Even when something doesn't look good from here, I believe I can trust God that it is somehow better than what I think I want that I'm not getting. Anyone who was willing to allow his only (and perfect) son, mysteriously also somehow a part of himself, to die in my place obviously loves me and wants the best for me.

I believe God created me and knew exactly who I would be and every decision I would ever make from the BEGINNING OF TIME. Which is unfathomably cool.

I believe, therefore, that I have value because I was created by God.

I believe God not only created me and gave me life, but also that he purposely created me imperfect. Incomplete. Because that's what draws me, as a human being, to him. That's what creates the desire for relationship in my heart. Also, that's what allows me to understand and know the vastness of his love. To love someone who is perfect is no feat at all. But perfect love can love the flawed. The incomplete. The broken. The human being.

I believe we somehow have the freedom to choose, but that also God is the author of all of life and foreknew every decision every person would ever make. I believe this is impossible to fully comprehend. But I also believe it's okay not to understand everything. Because knowing something is beyond your understanding... that's what causes WONDER. And to have wonder and awe is a very cool thing. It's okay because God understands and knows, and we don't have to worry about it. It's liberating, really.

I believe Jesus. Tons of people heard him speak. Heard him say what people were thinking in their hearts. Saw him heal illnesses and cast out demons. (Not sure what that looks like.) People saw him back from the dead. If these accounts were not true, I believe there would have been a lot of dispute against them from the beginning when they were written. Right? Plus the timing of his birth lining up with the planets and the appearance of a bright star in the sky moving and then standing still over Bethlehem... that's crazy cool. And other prophecies... The prophecies about him all turned out to be 100% accurate. How does that happen apart from God's inspiration? Therefore, I believe God speaks to and through people. Somehow. I've never experienced it, but I'm sure it's not the same with everyone he speaks to because from what I've read and heard of people's experiences with God, there's a lot of diversity in his approach with various people. Dreams, burning bushes, angels...

Also, I feel. I feel guided. I guess that's the Holy Spirit in me. I don't remember ever feeling that guidance before I believed in Christ. That conviction of "you need to do this now." That sense of "this is right, this is true. That isn't." Don't remember feeling any of that before I believed, either. But then, I was only 12, so it could have been that I was just young and hadn't experienced those kinds of feelings yet. Hadn't reached that level of self-awareness. Conscience. I don't know. I just know I feel things. Things I couldn't know from experience. There are deep truths that are somehow inside of me, and I don't know how they got there.

I believe I don't know much. And I'll never know much, compared to how much there is to know. Relative to God, I know pretty much nothing. I believe humility is important in relating to God. I believe... I don't know where I'm going with this.

I believe it is good to be intentional. And organized. And humble. And wise. And in-the-moment. And loving. And kind. And peaceful. But I believe it is hard. I believe life is a journey and not a destination. I believe we struggle for a reason. Because we were created with shortcomings. Because how else can we learn and grow? How else can we appreciate God's mercy and grace? How else can we learn to depend on God? How else can we comprehend his love? That's the purpose of life, isn't it? To bring joy to the Father, and to learn to comprehend his love? To receive his love?

Hmm. I therefore believe that life, at it's core, is really quite simple. I believe we make it complex. I believe it is very complex, in many ways. But what really matters is what I just wrote in the paragraph above. The other stuff we get tangled in isn't the real stuff - the good stuff. Well, no. It's real. But it's not forever. It's not as big as it seems. It's just another obstacle. And it doesn't have to be overwhelming. I believe God doesn't put us through things we can't handle - so long as we rely on him. If we try to rely on ourselves I believe there's plenty we can't handle. Because we're not whole. Not perfect. Not complete apart from God. We were created to be the receiving end of a love relationship. How can we then function without the Lover on the giving end? Not well. Not well at all.

Still. I believe it is difficult to turn from the distractions and everything around us that fights for our attention. I believe it is hard to feel certain about things we can't see. I believe it's hard (sometimes) to really feel loved by a God who is spirit, when we are flesh.

But I believe life is a struggle for a reason. I believe it is somehow best this way. Because like I said before, I believe that God is good. I believe that he loves us. I believe he is trustworthy and knows what he's doing. And I believe I'm going to stand on that.

Yeah. I feel better now. Still would love to see some more evidence of God in my life. Experience him more. But you know, I probably am and I'm just overlooking it because I'm so freaking distracted by all the STUFF. So. Maybe this is just another lesson. Another obstacle to draw me closer to him and help me to understand the depth of his love for me just a little bit better.

Or I could be wrong. Who knows? But I rest in the faith that while I may be wrong about this - and about a LOT of things - God is right. He knows, he understands, he's got it under control. And that's okay with me.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Make the Most of Every Opportunity

The title really says it all this time. I heard this on the radio yesterday and just wanted to jot it down here so I wouldn't forget. Time is precious, and we waste SO much of it. As followers of Christ, we need to make the most of every opportunity we have to reach out, to serve, to bring God's light into the world while we have time.

That's it.

Untapped Potential

Haven't finished this sermon yet, but this is definitely something I want to write down and remember. The sermon title is "We Are All, pt. 1." The guy was talking about how we live our lives with this attitude like we have some great, hidden reserve of untapped potential, and if we could just tap into it, we could do anything. We think so highly of ourselves, like Peter did when he said that he would never deny Christ, even if he had to die with him. We think we won't fail because we're "better than that." Or we feel disappointed in ourselves when we do fail, because we think we should have been "better than that."

But we're NOT. That's why we need a savior.

So in reality, being disappointed in ourselves is actually a kind of pride. We're not better than that. And try as we might, we can't change ourselves and become better than that. The only way we can ever become holy or good is by drawing near to God. We have to remember how needy and dependent we are, or we'll let go of the only One who can help us.

One more point from the sermon that I'd like to include before I wrap this up. Some people say Christianity is a crutch. That it's only for the weak. That is true. But what so many people don't realize is that we're ALL weak. And if you refuse a crutch because you don't want to seem weak, but in reality you're missing a leg (and somehow you haven't noticed), you really won't be any better off. You still won't be able to walk, no matter how hard you try. The guy who accepts the crutch, however, realizes and accepts his weakness, and ends up getting around a lot better than the other guy.

So I guess my point is, accept your weakness. God's strength is made perfect in weakness, anyway. And he knows you can't be holy on your own. So (this is especially what I need to hear) stop being disappointed in yourself, stop trying to be holy on your own, and just draw near to God and let the Spirit guide you.

Simple, but incredibly, incredibly hard to do.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's All About Jesus

Simple but profound lesson today. Matter of fact, it can be summed up in one sentence. "It's not about us - it's about Jesus!" Seriously. The sermon title was "Jesus Is Healer," I think. That or "Jesus Heals." It was good. It was especially good for me because I'm learning to die to myself right now, and that's easier (not easy, but easier) to do when you remember it's not about you anyway. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Epic Homemade Muffin Cereal

Okay, guys. This is EPIC! I was looking for a good soaked grain muffin recipe, and I found this one and decided to give it a try. It seems like a pretty cool website, too - not just for the recipe, but in general. You should check it out.

Anyway, the muffins turned out a little crumbly and dry, and they were slightly overdone around the outside edges, although that might just be our oven. I've been having trouble getting used to it - it seems hotter than most ovens I've used. But moving on... Kaira and I enjoyed the muffins over a couple of days, and while we were enjoying them I left them sitting out on a plate in the open air. The crumbs, which were all over the plate, because did I mention the muffins came out CRUMBLY? Like super super crumbly? The crumbs dried out, and I thought, hmm, I wonder if I can pour these in a bowl of milk and eat them like cereal? And OH! It was GOOD!!!! Way better than the muffins, though again that could have mostly been the fault of my oven. Also, they might have been more moist if I had used honey or maple syrup as the sweetener instead of whole sugar. Maybe I'll try that one day.

So anyhow, today I made another batch and I just baked the whole thing in a huge stoneware rectangular cake pan thing. Like a batch of brownies. And when they were done I ran a spatula through it and crumbled it to bits, then put it back in the oven at 150 degrees for several hours to dry the crumbs out. And YES! Successfully made cereal. On purpose this time!

I'll try to get some pictures up here one day. But WOW! And this is unprocessed, GOOD FOR YOU cereal! Not slow suicide in a box. :) It's amazing!

My Food

I'm having a really tough time right now, but the message I listened to this evening really helped. Not even five minutes into the sermon, the guy talked about how Jesus said that his food was to do the will of his Father. Not just to hear about it, not just to think about it a lot, but to DO it. And I realized... that's my whole problem right there. I want to be satisfied in God. (The message was entitled "Jesus Satisfies.") But so often I try to find satisfaction through people, accomplishments, and material things instead. Why? Because I'm NOT fully satisfied in God. Because I can't be. I'm not doing the will of the Father. In some areas I am, but in many areas I am either struggling or not even trying. So tonight I prayed that God would put a new heart in me - to help me be more passionate for him and to give me opportunities and words to speak. Basically, just to guide me in general.

I am hopeful. I want so badly to be transformed. I want to change!

I really need to get to work on that book. That's one thing I know God wants me to do, and I keep putting it off. No wonder I don't feel fulfilled.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Riches of His Love

This is gonna be a quick post, 'cause I'm going to go take a nap in a minute. But I wanted to make sure I got this down before I forgot.

Yesterday was Easter. I did listen to the first half of one of the sermons, but I want to write about something I heard at Southside. It was actually part of one of the songs, but it didn't really hit me until Darrel said something about it near the end of the evening. The words go like this: "Oh, I'm running to Your arms, I'm running to Your arms. The riches of Your love will always be enough." The riches of God's love will always be enough. And here's why this impacted me so much. I'd been struggling with feeling kind of unsatisfied. Unfulfilled, like I didn't have enough. Enough love from my husband, or enough free time to enjoy life, or enough money... whatever. The list goes on. But there I was singing that the riches of God's love would always be enough for me. Uh, hello? Anyone else seeing a problem here? We ought to mean what we say when we sing to the Lord, and even though I did mean it, I had been blind to the fact that I was living contrary to what I was saying. We can be satisfied in Christ if we just focus on him and stop running after other things. They don't truly fulfill us anyway. They might bring some measure of happiness or satisfaction, but they really only do us any good when they're added to a life that's already satisfied and abundant in God.

Lesson learned. For now, at least. :)

Also, today I finished that sermon I started watching yesterday. The part that struck me the most was the idea that God is actively and forcefully pursuing us, but not in such a way that he drags us to himself against our will. He pursues us in such a way that our will actually changes, and a genuine desire for Him is ignited within us. And it struck me that this is, once again, similar to natural horsemanship. It's also very similar to the way a man pursues a woman. If he wants her to truly love him, he doesn't just take her by force. He may put a great amount of effort into winning her over, but he doesn't take her anywhere against her will. He works to cause her to fall in love with him so that she desires to follow him.

So. Thought that was a pretty cool analogy of the love and pursuit of God for his people. How awesome.

I think I'll sleep on that for a while. :) I'm exhausted. I need to try that "go to bed by ten every night for six nights" thing again and see if I can't do any better this time around.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jesus Is After Our Hearts

I could probably write a REALLY long entry tonight, but I'm going to try to keep it fairly concise if I can. The sermon I watched today was another really good one. "Jesus Is More Than Enough Part 2." What stood out the most to me was when he said that Jesus isn't after getting us to do all these things and fulfill commandments. He's after our hearts. Because if he can get our hearts, we'll WANT to do the things he's commanded. For example, don't steal. If someone's heart had been totally won over and they were absolutely devoted to Christ, are they going to take something from somebody else? No. So love fulfills the law. On the other hand, if someone could do every action required by the laws of God, they could still lack love. And there's a phenomenal difference between someone who's driven by love and someone who's doing all the right things but whose actions are empty.

The reason this one part stood out to me so much was because it made SO MUCH SENSE to me as a horse trainer. The difference between natural horsemanship (which is all about gaining the horse's heart first, and then using that bond as a basis for all other training) and other schooling or training methods is huge. You can teach a horse to do all the right actions, but you can see such a huge difference in the horse that has a genuine bond with the trainer. Everything is... just fuller. That's what Jesus wants in us. Not empty actions. Heart.

I didn't actually get to the end of the sermon. The computer was having trouble downloading the whole thing for some reason. But I'm glad I got that part.

As far as how my day went, I haven't felt particularly lonely today, but I have felt unfocused and kind of shallow. I prayed a couple of times today, and that really helped me organize my thoughts a little. Also, it helped me come to an interesting conclusion about my "shallowness." I don't remember ever being deeply impacted by anything growing up. Every time I read about someone who remembers something from when they were like four, and they tell you exactly what they felt at that time and how it influenced them, I think... is something wrong with me? I just feel like my whole life things have only kind of scratched the surface. Stuff doesn't affect me a whole lot. Internal stuff does, but not external. I want to have a crazy passionate love for God, but I don't think I have the capacity for crazy passionate love. And that's something I'm gonna have to let him work on in me. Because here's the conclusion I came to. I don't feel "shallow" because I'm actually shallow. If I were a glass, I don't think I'd be a super shallow glass. It's just that something can only go so far into it because the bottom of the glass is full of all kinds of junk that gets in the way. If you tried to stick your hand in and touch the bottom, you wouldn't even get close. When I say junk, I'm thinking of all the stuff that I've been trained. All the actions that I learned that were empty and un-motivated. All the proper responses. All the time I spent doing activities and playing games and feeling like nothing really meant anything.

When a horse has been overly "trained" and seems to have no heart left and all kinds of emotional problems and fear reactions and stuff, before they can start doing any natural horsemanship training, they have to give the horse a long period of re-naturalization time. Time for it to just learn to be a horse. To be free. To be itself, not just what it was taught to be. I think that's what I need right now. I think that's what God wanted me to understand today. I need to somehow simplify my life enough that I can really slow down and just learn how to be me. I'm so distracted trying to get things done that I really can't focus very well on that right now. So I need to try and get organized, 'cause I need to figure out who I am, particularly in light of who God is. I need to let God get all the junk out so that I can become deeper and have the capacity to love and worship and serve like he wants me to.

So. That was kind of long, and that's not even everything that's going through my mind right now, but it's pretty good, I think, so I'll sign off. Plus Wes just got home. :) Gotta go spend some time with the hubby.

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Goal

So it just occurred to me how much I really benefit from listening to good, solid teaching about God. Maybe it's partly because I'm alone here so much (well, taking care of a two-year-old and a six-month-old... but as far as adult conversation and socialization goes, very alone) and it fills some kind of gap in my life. Or maybe it's just because it keeps me on track spiritually - helps me to remember my priorities, which are very easily forgotten. In any case, the more I listen, the more "right" I feel. So with that in mind, I've just decided that my "thing to work on" for the month of April is this: I'm going to watch a sermon at every day, blog (maybe) about what I learned and what really stood out to me or touched me, and see where I am at the end of the month. I have a feeling this will effect a great deal of change in my life. We'll see soon enough.

Today I watched the second half of the sermon entitled "Jesus Is More Than Enough." Two things really stood out to me. First, the thing where Paul had the thorn in the flesh deal going on, whatever that was. He prayed that the Lord would take it from him, but his answer was "My grace is sufficient for you." God/Jesus told him that his strength was made perfect in weakness, and then Paul wrote that he would boast more in his weaknesses because of the way it magnified God. I may be misunderstanding (often a possibility with me) but when I read that it seems like it's saying that the fact that we are weak and fail in certain areas only increases the display of the goodness of God. His mercy and strength and patience are just HUGE, and it shows when we fail and he continues to love us. I also think this verse is about being honest and real about where you are, so that God can meet you there and work on you.

Also, the pastor talked about how important it is to know the REAL Jesus; not some Jesus we've invented in our own minds. What he cares about is our holiness. And stuff that we go through (like Paul's trials) serve to increase our holiness in some way.

Also, we really don't have anything to offer God. But he doesn't need anything from us. (The verses the sermon covered were the ones about the loaves and fish that Jesus multiplied.) So that's what we can give to God as an offering - our nothing. Our helplessness. And he pulls us through these things and strengthens us and makes us more like himself. So everything - marriage trials, hunger, sickness, financial troubles... whatever. We're weak, but we give him our struggles and let his strength be made perfect in our weakness.

It was a great sermon! I feel really... hmm, good word for this... positive. Hopeful. My trials seem small right now, and the reminder that God brings us into various trials in order to benefit us and make us more holy... I needed that reminder. It makes everything make sense. Gives everything a good and divine purpose. I feel so much better right now - I feel so trusting. I'm very happy right now.

I've been struggling today with loneliness. Wes worked all day, was home for a little over half an hour (almost all of which he spent with me and the girls, though! Yay!) and then he left again to hang out with Noah and Kevin. I knew he was going to go, but still, I was a little depressed when he left. But he needs that time, and I need to trust God with my husband. (We've been having some communication issues lately and I'm frustrated and want to work through them, while Wes is more of an "I need time and space" kind of guy. So my patience is being tested as well.) Anyway, all that to say that this sermon was exactly what I needed! I feel more attached to God now and I think I'll be able to back off and be less flung about and tormented by my emotions. Or, in other words, I think I'll be less needy and dependent on Wes and other people to fill my needs and help me work through my feelings, and more dependent on God. Which, of course, is exactly how things should be.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Prayer update

Okay. So I haven't been keeping up with my blog at all. Sorry about that - if there's anyone actually reading it, that is. Haha.

Thing is, I've been facing some pretty tough spiritual and emotional trials, and I haven't really felt much like blogging. I did write a little bit in my personal journal. I'm just trying to work through some things right now - hurts and stuff from the past that apparently I haven't processed and completely healed from yet.

Anyway, I have been praying. There were a few days there when I didn't pray much at all. Too deep in my hurts, I guess. Too deep in myself.

God has been teaching me through all this. One day, there were several things I came to understand a little better. The first was letting go of pride. There's a song that says "Letting go of my pride, I lay down my desires, just to worship in spirit in truth." That's a pretty profound line to meditate on for a while.

Then there was this: Don't pray just to pray. I don't think "small talk" with God is a good way to pray. Like when you decide you want to pray, and then after you make that decision, you start thinking about what you could pray about. Because that's doing it backwards. I think we should pray about things that are truly on our hearts. Things that we care deeply about. Things we won't forget about an hour later. Because when we take things before the almighty creator of the world, I just don't think we should be thoughtless or careless about it. I think we should be very deep about it. If that makes sense.

And then this: Don't stress - just do what you need to at the moment and then get to the next thing when you can. I've been having a hard time staying calm and self-controlled whenever two or more things seem to demand my attention at the same time. For example, I'm cooking a meal and Rachel wakes up and starts to cry. But really all I can do is decide which is more urgent at the moment and do that thing first, then get to the other thing as soon as possible. There's no need to worry about it. It isn't going to hurt Rachel if she has to wait for me for a few minutes so that I can prepare dinner for myself and Kaira. It's that simple, really.

So those are some of the things I learned. I've also been learning a lot about how to work through pain - the right way, not by stuffing it and letting it tear you apart later and lead you into depression.

Yeah. So that's it for now. More later.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Focus on Prayer

Yesterday I decided I wanted to focus on growing in one area for the next couple of weeks. There are so many areas I want to improve in that I usually don't focus on any single thing long enough to really make any progress, so it seemed like a wise thing to try. One thing at a time. Plus it should help me with my focusing in general, which is one of my four big goals for 2012.

Anyhow, I prayed about it and it felt like the Spirit was leading me to focus on... well, prayer. Then this morning I got a text from a friend - a simple Bible verse. "1 Thessalonians 5:17. Never stop praying." Well, that pretty much confirmed it for me, so until the end of the month, I will be focusing on prayer - praying more often throughout the day, going to God in different situations for guidance...

So I'll be blogging about it (hopefully) every evening, to record my experience and (hopefully) growth in this area. I'm also expecting, and actually already experiencing, some spiritual opposition throughout this journey, since that tends to happen whenever someone really tries to seek and follow the Lord.

Yesterday went really well. I was more focused than usual and on several occasions I pulled myself away from the activities and tasks of the day to pray and kind of regroup. Get my mind focused and remind myself of my priorities, and also give God a chance to sort of teach me and guide me. There's something about quiet solitude, even if it's not completely quiet or you're not completely alone? Even just a little quieter and... uh, solitudier? It makes a big difference. Hard to really listen for the still small voice of the Spirit when you're super-distracted by everything around you. Though I'm sure it's possible to learn to kind of pull yourself away from everything without actually physically going anywhere, I'm, uh... not there yet. Lol.

I will say something that I learned yesterday was that I'm very bothered by the fact that I pretty much go on autopilot whenever I'm talking to people. I've known this for some time, but it was the one thing that kept breaking my focus throughout the day, the one thing that I kept struggling with and then feeling bad about. I know I'm too hard on myself too, but I REALLY want to be good at this - more in the moment and more real, and not just this whole automatic response thing where at the end of the conversation(s) I look back and feel like I missed the entire thing. Like I wasn't really there at all.

So that was yesterday. Today I was really tired, (we stayed up late last night hanging out with Matthew, who's visiting from Germany) and I even though I prayed quite a bit I also spent a lot of time over-thinking things and then over-complicating my thoughts and feelings, and just laying on the couch watching TV with my girls. Spiritual opposition? Maybe. Maybe I just don't do very well on my own with two little ones all day. Wes was gone all morning with the Germans doing mission stuff (which is awesome!) and then he had to leave for work almost as soon as he got back, so I've been kinda lonely and I've had my hands full... And it's hard for me to process thoughts and feelings in my head. This is something I learned from talking to Sarah yesterday. Apparently I need to either talk or write things out in order to really process them. Which I guess is another reason I'm blogging, huh?

So today I felt pretty down at times. But I continued to pray and sing to God and try to focus on Him and on my blessings, and on being content. I won't say I did a fantastic job, but... well, there's always tomorrow, I guess. Forgetting what's behind and pressing on to what is ahead. Living in the moment. Seeking the presence of God.

Yeah. So this is me signing off for tonight. I gotta get some rest. I think that'll make a big difference in my emotions. Guess I'll find out tomorrow, haha.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Great day, plus an amazing recipe for EPIC CHOCOLATE ALMOND COOKIES!!!

I had an amazing day today. We have some new friends, Joshua and Sarah, that we met a couple of weeks ago at Southside (our church). Apparently they've known Wesley's uncle/our pastor for quite some time, but our paths have only just now finally crossed - and I'm so glad they did! What a BLESSING!!!

We had a great time the other night starting a game of Lord of the Rings Risk, which we finished today. And even more exciting, both Josh and Sarah are writers, so we got to spend a ton of time discussing our books, our reasons for writing, characters, plot outlining, and all that good writer stuff. :) They also really reminded me WHY we do this - we're writing not just to entertain, but to share a message. We're essentially teaching God to the world through the art of story, and as teachers of God's message we bear a tremendous responsibility to do our absolute best. It was very motivating, and I think we're going to be a great encouragement to one another, not to mention how wonderful it is to have like-minded people to bounce ideas off of... I'm so excited about this new friendship!!!

They were here all day, so we did some other stuff too - among which was BAKING! :) Sarah is very sensitive to gluten, so she eats only gluten-free foods... so we made THESE. They were SO GOOD. I should have taken pictures. Sorry about that.

Anyway, Sarah and I adapted this from a recipe I loved from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, written by Sally Fallon. (You can find the original recipe either in the book, obviously, or copied down on another blog here:

Here is my and Sarah's variation: Epic Chocolate Almond Cookies :)

1 1/2 cups almonds
1/2 cup softened coconut oil
1 cup arrowroot flour
1/2 cup whole sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Place almonds in a blender or food processor and process to a fine meal. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well blended. (I didn't have enough almonds, so I made up for it with extra arrowroot flour. My dough turned out pretty dry, so we added some water to moisten it.) Form dough into walnut-sized balls and place on cookie sheets. Press down on the cookies to flatten them a little.

Bake at 300* for a total of about 20 minutes. Let cool completely before moving to an airtight container. Store in refrigerator.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Profound Revelation

This is going to be really quick, as I have some writing I'd really like to work on this evening. But I had to jot this down so I wouldn't forget. I was just heating up some dinner for myself (a seemingly mundane task, right?) when I suddenly realized something very profound. It was one of those Holy Spirit things, I think. And here it is:

I should be spending a great deal more of my energy in striving to love God and serve him where I am, rather than spending so much of it on trying to get someplace better.

Whoa. Right? Enough said. I could meditate on that thought alone for... well, weeks, probably. Maybe it'll be some help to some of you out there, too. I hope so.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quote of the day

Ran into this on Facebook and wanted to share it here. Going through some internal struggles right now, and this really spoke to me.

"You need faith for the big picture, to never lose sight of the outcome God has prepared for you. But the moment brings a deep need for trust, in that the God awaiting you at the end will guide you toward getting there. Trust is today’s experience with God." –David Stephens

Monday, February 27, 2012

"She watches over the ways of her household."

I've been looking at Proverbs 31 a little lately, (about the virtuous wife) and one verse has really been sticking out to me. "She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness."

To me, at this moment in my life, it is speaking about financial stuff. Wes asked me before we were even married if I would manage our finances. That was one thing that really stressed him out, and he didn't think he could handle it. I agreed to do it, but I haven't always been very consistent.

For instance, we're pretty tight on money right now, and have been for a while, though some times are a little less tight than others. I've tried a few times to put us on a cash system - it's so much easier to know how much you have and how much you're spending when you can actually SEE it! Cards make it hard to keep track of - at least for us. We're more likely to go over on spending if we're using cards, because it's convenient and you can't tell when you're running out.

Anyway, I never was consistent enough with making withdrawals and keeping track of income and outflow to see how much we could spend and how much we could save... so we've had some trouble putting any money back for savings. This is something I would really like to get better at, and after reading that verse, I'm happy to say that I have added "check on finances" to my weekly list in my homemaking organization notebook. Every Monday, along with my other tasks, I will now be checking on our bank account and looking at our income and outflow, making sure things are on track and calculating how much money I can withdraw for us to use for groceries and spending.

To me, it's a way that I can "watch over the ways of my household." It's also a way that I can honor my husband, by doing what he requested of me to the best of my ability and by not being inconsistent with it (which would show that his requests are not a priority to me like they should be).

Teacher or student?

This is another lesson from a sermon at "You can't be a good teacher unless you first become a good student." Or something like that.

Deep stuff. Our own pastor (also Wes's uncle) Darrel Auvenshine is one of the greatest conversationalists I've ever met. He is a wise and good counselor. A while ago, another pastor, Scott Sharman, explained to me why that was. Darrel is a good listener. He goes into a conversation as a student first, a teacher second. He genuinely cares about what you have to say, and he listens and forms a wise and honest opinion before saying anything.

Me on the other hand - well, I'd like to be like that. One day. But right now, I tend to speak before I listen. When I'm listening, I'm also trying to work out what I'm going to say next, so I'm not really fully listening. (There's that focus thing again, popping up to nip me in the rear.) I'm so caught up in thinking about getting MY point across that I don't really listen to THEM. Selfishness. Another major struggle for me.

Also, I think it's a matter of mind vs. heart. I'm thinking more than caring. I do that a lot. It's something I've really been working on lately.

But I really do want to learn to be a better listener. I want to speak less, but speak more thoughtfully. I want to truly care. I want to consider my words well before I say them. I want to be wise!

I think it'll come with learning to slow down, focus, and be more in tune with the Holy Spirit.

The concept of being a student before you can be a teacher doesn't just apply to conversations, though. It applies to everything. If you want to have a solid opinion about something, you'd better listen to some other opinions first and make an informed decision about what you believe. If you want to teach something, you'd better make sure you understand it well first. We shouldn't rush to be teachers. The good teachers are the ones who really take time to learn their stuff first.

And if you haven't done so yet, you should definitely check out! They have some AMAZING sermons!!! (Cornerstone is Francis Chan's church - the author of Crazy Love.)

No evolution from flesh to spirit

Some thoughts on a sermon I just heard at

The pastor said (among many other things) that "there is no evolution from the flesh to the spirit." I may not have quoted him word for word, but it was something very close to that. At any rate, it reminded me of Galatians chapter 3 where it says:
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

We can't be righteous on our own. Can't be holy. Can't be perfect. Not by God's standards. No matter how hard we try, (and I have tried VERY hard, many times) flesh can never become spirit. Only by drawing near to God do we become holy - not because WE change, but because HE changes us. We grow and learn to walk in the spirit by loving and seeking God. And we seek God and draw near to him by following Jesus Christ.

Just some thoughts. I frequently struggle with trying to change, so this is very meaningful to me. I try and try, but all I do is frustrate myself every time because I CAN'T change. Then I am reminded some way or another that God changes us - we don't change ourselves. Then I'm good for a while, and then at some point I start drifting back into my old habits again - I stop seeking God as much and start putting more effort into trying to change myself. Again. And then after I'm so frustrated I'm ready to pop, God reminds me (again) that drawing near to him is what's important, and that true, lasting change comes only when I put him first and seek him with all my heart.

You'd think I'd have learned by now. Well, I can be a pretty slow learner sometimes. I'm just thankful that God is so patient with me and loves me enough to put up with my slowness. :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

The other day Wes took me out to play miniature golf. We had a nice little bet going, too. If I won, we would get some Italian food and watch a sermon online together. If he won, we'd go to the store and get a package of crescent roll dough so I could make mini cinnamon rolls.

Well, Wes won, but we didn't go to the store right away. We came home to let Rachel take a nap. And she slept a little longer than we expected her to. As it turned out, Wes was planning to take me out to an Italian place anyway, whether I won or not. (I was very happy about this!) But we were running out of time before church, so we woke Rachel up and drove to the restaurant. I say all this to explain why we didn't end up going to the store to get crescent roll dough. And after church my brother came home with us and he and Wes hung out and played XBox.

While they were gaming, I thought I'd just try to make some cinnamon rolls from scratch and surprise Wes. (They thought I was just making Epic Cookies - which I was, but in between batches I was finding and making THESE.)

They are SO GOOD!!! I didn't have cream cheese, so I just made regular frosting with powdered sugar and water. (I doubt Wes would have liked cream cheese frosting, anyway.) I also didn't have brown sugar, so I just used white (organic), and I didn't have quite enough butter for the recipe, so I used some butter and some coconut oil. What else... Oh, I didn't have buttermilk either, but I did have some raw milk that had started to sour, so I used that plus a little bit of vinegar - and it turned out I had EXACTLY one cup of milk, which was what the recipe called for. :) I was very happy about that.

Wesley LOVED them! He said they were even better than the mini cinnamon rolls I used to make with packaged crescent roll dough. I'm so excited, because I'm trying to make as much food as I can from scratch now - this was kind of a special thing since he requested them, so I didn't mind, but I'm so glad things turned out the way they did! Now I have this great recipe that I'm sure I'll use whenever I make cinnamon rolls from now on.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stuff I'm learning about myself

As I strive to become more organized, I'm learning there are some things that I'm taking to pretty well and others that I'm really struggling with, for whatever reason. For example: I'm doing pretty well keeping up with my new home management binder, making to-do lists and meal plans and grocery lists, but I'm struggling with consistently doing some of the tasks I've set out to accomplish. Particularly making the bed on a daily basis and going to bed before 10:30.

I don't know why making the bed is so hard. I did it every morning growing up, but for some reason, now I'm slacking in that area. Maybe it's because nobody ever comes in our room, so making the bed seems unimportant in relation to some of the other things I could choose to do with my time. But on the other hand, it's not like it takes that long, and I feel much better about myself when I get it done. I like keeping a neat home, and having an unmade bed keeps it from feeling neat (to me).

I know exactly why getting to bed earlier is hard. After the girls go to bed, I have free time! Well, sort of. I use a lot of it to catch up with chores that I didn't finish during the day - it's a lot easier to get them done when nobody needs feeding or changing or holding. But after I catch up on tasks around the house I usually take some time to get on the computer or read or do something else that I enjoy. And then I don't want to stop! I could be as tired as... well, I can't think of any clever endings to that phrase at the moment, but I can be extremely tired and still I will choose to stay up and blog, or read, or whatever. Which is honestly a little selfish, because my family depends on me and being well-rested is one of the ways I can keep my strength and energy up and make sure I'm fully capable of meeting their needs. Yet I choose to have a little more "me" time instead. And that's turning out to be a really hard habit for me to break! I want to make the selfless choice, but it's really been a struggle!

So I'm thinking in order to overcome this, I'll set a goal to go to bed early every night for six nights, (unless we're not at home or something) and then maybe I'll let myself stay up late one night and do stuff I enjoy, and then back to the six days.

I'll let you know how it goes. My goal is to start getting enough rest so that I can get up before my husband and kiddos and have some quiet time with the Lord in the mornings before the day begins. I'm thinking maybe I can take the dog out and fix breakfast, too, which will make my mornings much easier! (Not easy taking the dog out and cooking once the girls are up - they both need changing and Rachel needs to be fed, and sometimes it seems to take forever before I get breakfast made.)

Anyway, now I'm kind of rambling, so I'll sign off for now. Later!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Speak less, but speak more thoughtfully

Something the Holy Spirit revealed to me today. Or at least, I think it was the Holy Spirit. I have a hard time telling - sometimes I think it's just my imagination. But anyway, that's a whole different post and a whole different struggle.

Moving on. So I've really been having a hard time with one of my goals - focus. I'm doing pretty well with the organization, and I haven't really started concentrating on patience and contentment yet... but focus is turning out to be REALLY hard for me.

This is one aspect of focus that I would like to, uh, focus on for a while. :) Focus in my speech. This includes prayer. I would really like to learn to speak less, but to speak more thoughtfully. Something I really admire in people (and really desire to have more of myself) is wisdom. And if you think about it, the people who are truly wise are rarely, if ever, the people who talk a lot. They're the quiet ones, who only speak when they actually have something to say. And even better, they actually THINK before they say it.

Words are powerful. We really need to choose them carefully. But instead of thinking and considering before we speak, we sling words around mindlessly all day long (at least I do). This is something I really want to work on for the next couple of weeks, or however long it takes me to improve.

In other news, I am getting a little better about reminding myself to "be here, now." I'm also getting a little better about consciously choosing the single most important thing (or two) that needs to be done at the moment and focusing fully on it, rather than trying to do or think about ten things at once.

A little better. Not a lot, and I'm certainly not satisfied yet, but at least I'm improving. :)

Yummy rub recipe

Last week we hosted Lifegroup at our apartment (members of our Lifegroup, a small group from our church, take turns hosting), and Wes wanted to cook a nice dinner for everyone, so I bought a nice brisket at Central Market and Wes was going to fix it in the slow-cooker like a roast. But we didn't have any barbecue sauce, which is what he's used to using for roasts. (I was glad - most barbecue sauces are pretty unhealthy anyway, and we haven't found a healthy one that Wes likes yet.) Anyway, I went online and searched for seasoning recipes for brisket, and I found one to try. I had to modify it a little, as we didn't have all the seasonings it called for... but it was fantastic! Here it is:

5 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder

I used organic everything, of course. Except salt, which obviously can't be organic because you don't grow it, lol. But I did use nice pink Himalayan sea salt. :) It was so delicious! And today I used it again to cook Wes a nice grass-fed steak. (The steak was also delicious.) I mixed up a batch and put it in a little glass bowl so we can just use however much we want and it's already mixed up for whenever we need some. Unless we go and make a huge brisket again, which used the entire batch by itself.

Anyway, just wanted to share. You can find the original recipe here:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Not good enough.

Lately I've kind of been struggling with the feeling that I'm not good enough. I feel like I'm failing in my attempts to glorify God with my life. I keep doing things I know not to do, and then on the other hand I keep not doing things I know I should do. (Sound familiar? Romans 6, anyone?) I feel the same way with my mothering and... uh, wifing?.

On the spiritual side, I think it's just hard for me to accept the fact that I don't have to be "good enough" for God. That I'm accepted already, just like I am... it feels kind of like I should have to do better or something. Not to earn salvation or anything, but to honor him, I guess. I don't know. To thank him properly. By living for him. You know what I mean, right? But I don't feel like I'm honoring him very well. Like I'm not doing "good enough."

I mentioned these feelings in an email to my sister-in-law, along with my frustrations about not being able to focus and be "all there," and her response was so incredibly eye-opening that I had to share it here.

...maybe it has to do with the focusing part. You feel all over the place, so in the end you don't feel like you have accomplished anything at all, thus feeling not "good enough". I'm not sure that that exactly makes sense...

It totally made sense! It's not like I think I have to be better than I'm capable of being. Life is a journey, after all. You don't just pop up at the end. You develop as you go. God sort of molds and shapes you (if you let him, anyway), and you learn and grow and mature... So no, I don't feel like I have to be perfect. I just feel like I should be doing my best and putting my full effort in, and when I'm trying to do several things at once, or when my mind is wandering or I'm thinking about the next thing that has to be done, I don't give my full effort and attention to what I'm doing at the moment. So therefore I end up feeling like I didn't give it my best (because I didn't) and then I feel guilty because I want to give my best for God.

So there it is! Now it makes sense. But just because it makes sense doesn't mean I'll overcome it. God, please HELP ME WITH THIS!!! Haha, isn't it ironic that we need God's help to honor God? Lol. We're so useless on our own. But, you know, if we could be godly and righteous on our own we wouldn't need a savior, would we?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Worry isn't worth $20

Intriguing post title, isn't it? Well, here's the story behind it. Yesterday I bought a new phone with some of our tax return money. Out of all the things I was considering, it seemed a good choice - not because I needed a new phone, but because my current phone plan is around $50 a month, and this phone is for one of those no-contract service providers and will end up being only $30 a month (and I'll have texting!). So it was sort of an investment intended to give us an extra $20 a month, which is going to be really important now that we're going to be kind of tight living off Wes's income.

Anyway. I was very excited... until I got home and went online to activate the phone. While I was online an ad popped up at the top of my screen - the same phone was on sale if you bought it on the internet - $20 less. (I paid $60 for the phone.)

$20! That's a lot for us right now. I considered taking the phone back, but it was already late and I didn't want to go the next day because then I'd probably have to take Kaira and Rachel with me and it would take quite a while... plus I'd miss out on time with my husband (or as it turned out, a trip to the grocery store so my husband could sleep in - he wasn't feeling well so I think he really appreciated that).

But I asked Wes what he thought, and he said not to worry about it - just to go ahead and activate the phone. So I did.

And then this morning I was online and they had a smartphone for the same service provider - it was on sale, too (if you bought it online), and it was $50 off it's regular price. With the sale price, the smartphone would have been $10 cheaper than the one I bought!

I started kind of wishing I'd waited - but the truth was, I didn't know about the internet sale until after I purchased the phone. I was just making the best decision I could with the information I had at the time. So feeling guilty about it didn't really make sense.

And I wasn't only feeling guilty - I kind of started coveting the nicer phone. Until I caught myself. What the heck? The phone I bought was already way nicer than any phone I had ever owned, and I was still going to be saving $20 a month on my phone bill. Why was I investing so much mental energy on being negative - worrying and regretting and coveting a better phone - when I had gotten a great deal and a great phone?

I told myself - I would gladly pay much more than $20 to take all the worries and regrets and covetous thoughts out of my life. So why am I worrying over $20? So what if I could have saved it? I didn't know at the time. And I still got a great deal - I was perfectly happy with it until I started comparing it with something else. I think that was the main thing - it kind of reminded me of Jesus' parable about the workers who worked all day getting paid the same amount as the ones who were hired in the afternoon and only worked a few hours. The ones who worked all day were happy with what they had... until they compared it with something else.

So, lesson learned. Keep my eyes on where I am and what I have, and have a thankful heart. Worry isn't worth $20. Or maybe I should rephrase that - $20 isn't worth worrying about.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Home organization binder

I read a post yesterday at about creating a home organization binder, and it seemed like a really good idea, so I think it's something I'm going to try this year. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Here are some things I'd like to incorporate in mine:

A page for my life goals, both for godly character traits I would like to possess and things I would like to accomplish

A page for my goals for the year - goals in food preparation, writing, homemaking, loving my husband, raising my children, and honoring my God

Pages for goals for each month

A list of my weekly chores

A list of my daily chores

Paper for daily to-do lists

Paper for weekly grocery lists

Paper for weekly meal planning

Any ideas or thoughts about this? Am I missing anything?

UPDATE: Oh! Here's a thought. Maybe I can do this here on the blog. Hmm. Which would be better, on paper or on the computer? Paper I can take with me. On the computer I'll never have to replace or add pages, and I won't have to buy anything. What if we stop paying for internet?

Huh. Maybe I'll start on the computer for now and see how it goes. The only thing I really need on paper is my grocery list, and that takes all of two minutes to copy down onto a scrap of notepaper from the computer, so that's not much... Okay. We'll just try it and see how it goes for now. Can always change my mind later if it doesn't work.

Weekly housekeeping list

All right. I've really been in an organize-my-life sort of mood lately, so while I still feel this way I'm going to go ahead and make a list of some stuff that should probably be done around here on a weekly basis. I'm thinking divide the chores up and do them throughout the week so that there's never too much to do at once, and since everything's being maintained, the place will (hopefully) stay looking pretty nice.

There are also some things that have to be done daily (or every other day for some, as needed), so I'll get those out of the way first.

Daily - dishes; clean kitchen; vacuum; make the bed; wash diapers; fold diapers; take out trash; pick up clothes, toys, dishes, trash, etc.; check next day's menu and do any necessary food preparation (soaking, marinating, etc.)


Monday - laundry
Tuesday - organize something (one drawer, shelf, etc.)
Wednesday - dust surfaces
Thursday - grocery store (can be moved to another day depending on Wesley's work schedule)
Friday - clean bathrooms
Saturday - make up day for anything that got missed
Sunday - NOTHING! YAY!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stuff I'd Like to Do This Year

Thought I'd make a list of some stuff I'd like to do this year - maybe it'll help me remember so I'll actually do it, lol.

March - make clarified butter
April - make sourdough bread (goal - get a good sandwich bread that Wes will like)
May - learn to make kombucha
June - make filmjolk yogurt
July - learn to make mustard
August - make (good-tasting) cream cheese
September - learn to make kefir
October - learn to make mayonnaise (that tastes good)
November - make (good-tasting) cultured raw butter
December - learn to make vinegar

Other things I'd like to do before the end of this year:
Finish the first book of The Legend of Talis
Learn about essential oils and massage
Go a day without talking
Go a week without asking for anything (selflessness)
Create a home-organization binder
Finish a scrapbook

Another thought on "being fully there"

This is going to be short - it's just something I've realized (something new) about the struggle to be fully focused and present and just being where you are. (Not distracted.)

I may be wrong, but I feel like being thankful and striving to glorify God in whatever you're doing are good ways to keep focused - and not just focused, but focused in the right way! Which may be a part of what I'm struggling with, too. Not just being there, but being there and being united with God at the same time.

Now THAT is true life - life at its fullest! And that's what I'm hoping to achieve, if God will be gracious enough to allow me to learn it! (Please, Lord, help me with this! It's soooo hard for me.)

Thought for the day

God revealed this to me tonight while I was lying in bed nursing Rachel. Lately I've been kind of struggling with the whole concept of Christian living. If we died with Christ and were raised to new life, why do we still struggle SO MUCH with sin? Why is it sometimes I feel like I'm no better now than I would be if I never knew God? People say that God gives us the strength to get through each day, and that only through prayer and closeness to God can we ever hope to grow and mature and become better people - they say that only through Christ can we overcome our temptations and our weaknesses.

But I don't think that's true. (Bear with me.) There are plenty of people in the world who don't follow Christ at all but who overcome temptations and weaknesses just the same. Maybe it's still through the power of God - he's the God of everyone, after all, lost or saved. But this whole concept of needing Christ to do anything... I don't know. I'm just really struggling with it.

After all, before Jesus there were still godly people. People who overcame the temptation to sin. People who got through the day without losing their patience. Weren't there? I'm definitely NOT saying anyone was perfect, or worthy of God's grace on their own - I know Christ's sacrifice was THE only way to repair the shattered bond between God and man. I'm just saying, if the only way to overcome anger is through the power of Christ in us, why are there people who don't know Christ who overcome their anger?

But I'm getting off-topic a little. So I've been struggling with this mostly because I feel like I should be living differently. Like I shouldn't be having so much trouble overcoming things like selfishness, pride, thoughtlessness, shame, and impatience. And this is where my thought for the day comes in. Maybe the reason I'm having so much trouble dying to the flesh and living in the spirit is because... get ready... there are still parts of the flesh that I WANT to keep alive. I'm not willing to die in certain areas. There are times when I still WANT to be selfish. Times when I want pity. Or chocolate. More than I want God. There are times when I want to be angry and just lash out instead of seeking the Holy Spirit. And what I realized tonight was this:

If you want to truly take hold of God, you have to let go of everything else.

Everything else.

It's like if you were hanging off a cliff and someone in a helicopter came to rescue you. The guy reaches down from a dangling ladder or something and tries to help you up. It's obvious he's a strong enough guy, and the ladder is more than sturdy enough to hold the both of you. But even though you can see him and be sort of close to him, and maybe even talk with him and get to know him a little, YOU CAN'T GET INTO THE HELICOPTER UNTIL YOU LET GO OF THE CLIFF. The guy can't save you if you're still holding onto the rocks.

Duh, right? But sometimes the most obvious things can become quite revelational when you look at them in new light.

Organization - cleaning the home

Hmm. This is something I've always admired and never been good at - keeping an area of space organized and clean. I was one of those kids that would go on a cleaning rampage and spend hours straightening up my room in one afternoon... and then neglect to keep up with the maintenance side of cleaning, so before too long it would look pretty much the same as it had before I cleaned.

But I would really, really like to be able to get my home clean and then keep it that way! Especially now that it has become my responsibility to demonstrate desirable disciplines (try saying that five times fast, ha!) and character traits to my children. I want them to grow up in a peaceful home, and at least for me personally, clutter and messiness equals stress, not peace. Actually, I think it's the thought that I'm not doing my best that leads to stress. I think I could be content with messiness if I needed to - and I'm going to have that tested here pretty soon, as we're moving in less than a month.

Actually, on that note, I'm going to be tested on it right away. Boxes are going to be everywhere, and things are slowly going to go from being "in their place" to being stacked up wherever they fit, ready to be loaded into a truck and hauled to our new home.

So we'll see how that goes. But a new home seems a great opportunity for a new start - a fresh try at organization from the beginning, starting with an empty home instead of having to re-organize something that's already set up.

With that in mind, I thought I'd jot down some ideas to keep me on track when we do move into our new place.

For one thing, I don't want to get overwhelmed. So I'm going to try and focus on one thing at a time, and not worry that it might take several weeks to get everything finished. I'd rather have it done right and take longer than get it done fast and then have to redo everything later.

For another thing, I want to remember my priorities. God is first in my life (or at least that's the way I want it to be - still working on that), so I don't want to get so distracted with setting up my new home that I forget that I'm doing it for his glory. I want to make a point of taking time to watch a few sermons at, and maybe go through a good Christian book on my breaks, reading just a few pages a day and really taking time to meditate on what I learn and let it sink in.

I also don't want to neglect my kids. It's tempting for me to just try to "get it done" when I start working on stuff like this (organizing the closet, for example), but I would rather let Kaira be involved and have a good time with it, even if the project takes longer or we have to do it in several small chunks. I don't want to approach this with a "just get through it" attitude - when I do that, I have this mindset that peace lies on the other end of whatever I'm trying to accomplish, but that leads to stress, and a kind of rushed feeling when I'm working, and I don't enjoy the work itself at all. We're supposed to throw our hearts into every task, doing it to glorify God - not rushing through it to get to the next thing.

Here's how I think I might divide the task of setting up our new home:

As we unload - make a place for downtime. Reading, using the computer, etc. Make a place for Kaira to play. Set up Indy's kennel somewhere.

Day 1 - Kitchen. Definitely a priority since I make almost all of our meals at home. Maybe we can plan to eat without cooking for the first day, to take away some of the stress of trying to get the kitchen cooking-ready. I'm thinking like fruit for breakfast and maybe go out to Chipotle for lunch. By dinnertime I think I should be able to cook something. Maybe I'll pack one box with all the essentials - a couple of plates and bowls, silverware, and a pot and pan, maybe a baking dish... and a couple of glasses and food storage containers. That way, in case something happens and I can't get the kitchen set up quick enough, we'll still be able to cook and eat. :)

Day 2 - Finish Kitchen

Day 3 - Bedroom - furniture, room layout

Day 4 - Bedroom closet - hang up clothes and get closet boxes unpacked

Day 5 - Bedroom closet - organize

Day 6 - Bedroom closet - organize

Day 7 - Living Room - furniture, room layout

Day 8 - Living Room - books

Day 9 - Living Room - movies

Day 10 - Living Room (or bedroom, maybe) - diapers (I'll have these in a pile somewhere until I get around to setting up a changing station)

Day 11 - Living Room - organize/details

Day 12 - Bedroom - organize/details

Day 13 - Dresser - organize

Day 14 - Nightstand - organize

Day 15 - Kids' dressers - organize

I'll probably let Kaira watch a little more TV than usual during these first couple of weeks (and the last few weeks over here before we move) - I've been trying to limit her TV-watching to one video every other day, but I'm going to try to make resting a priority so I don't exhaust myself during the move, and resting is generally easier when I know Kaira has something to keep her occupied. On the other hand, if she's content playing with toys or other items, maybe I'll be able to continue to limit the TV to once every other day. Who knows? I'm just not really going to worry about it either way until we're done with the move.

So, there's some semblance of a plan. We'll see how things turn out, I guess, huh?

Organization - meal planning!

All right. Time to knuckle down and get this thing done. Here goes an attempt at meal planning for next week. (For those of you who didn't read my earlier post on organization, this is NOT one of my strong points.)

Okay. So I think I'm going to try planning for two big meals every day plus snacks for lunch. And if we're hungrier, we can always have leftovers (assuming I make enough food).

I'm planning on going to the grocery store on Thursday, as that is Wes's day off this week. So this meal plan will go from Thursday evening to next Friday.

Thursday Dinner - Southwest dinner (fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans)
Friday Breakfast - Pancakes, fried eggs
Friday Dinner - Chicken broccoli rice
Saturday Breakfast - scrambled eggs
Saturday Dinner - Rice and beans
Monday Breakfast - Oatmeal and fruit
Monday Dinner - Fish and rice
Tuesday Breakfast - Eggs and biscuits
Tuesday Dinner - Steak and Fried Potatoes
Wednesday Breakfast - Muffins and fruit
Wednesday Dinner - Quesadillas and rice
Thursday Breakfast - Eggs and Hashbrowns
Thursday Dinner - Southwest dinner
Friday Breakfast - Oatmeal and fruit
Friday Dinner - Chicken broccoli rice

For lunch/snacks - plenty of bananas, pears, apples, and oranges. For Kaira, steamed broccoli. Extra eggs. And I'll make a pot of bean and vegetable soup that should last the week.

Desserts - I'll probably make at least one batch of Wes's favorite Epic Sugar Cookies, so I'll need to make sure I have enough coconut oil and evaporated cane juice. And I'll plan on a batch of chocolate ice cream, too, if I have enough milk left.

So. My grocery list is gonna look something like this:

Salt (almost out)
White Flour
Eggs (lots of eggs)
Evaporated Cane Juice
Coconut Oil
Dry Pinto Beans
Rolled Oats
Green Beans
Fruit (assorted, depending on prices)

There! That wasn't so bad. Now all I have to do is write this down on paper and I'm set for my Thursday shopping trip! My goal is to spend around $70, as I've already spent $20 on milk, eggs, and a sandwich at Subway... but if I don't quite make it, that'll be okay. Wes will get $10 to spend on lunches for when he's at work, and that brings us to $100 for the week for all our meals. (That's our goal - $400 a month on eating.)

Also a bit of random information to tack onto the end of this post - I'm looking into ideas for healthier lunches for Wes. I'd eventually like to learn to make a good sourdough sandwich bread, as the breads available in the stores are pretty bad for you - but in the meantime I'm thinking of trying tortilla wraps and other things. I'll keep you posted on what I figure out. For now, he just gets whatever he wants with his $10. But maybe soon I'll be able to fix healthy lunches for him to take with him.

UPDATE: We are now having beef brisket and vegetables for dinner on Thursday, as we will be hosting Lifegroup this week and that's what Wes wanted to cook. I have no idea how to make brisket - thankfully, Wes is going to be cooking the meal. I'm just making cookies.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Homemade Chocolate!

I am currently experimenting with making my own chocolate! I love chocolate - especially on those really emotional days when nothing seems to be going quite right. But since I'm trying to eat healthy, traditionally-prepared foods as much as possible, it seemed a good idea to try to learn how to make my own chocolate. So I started looking online for chocolate recipes using coconut oil and natural sweeteners.

I'm still in the experimenting process, but I'll update this post as soon as I have a successful recipe to share!


Okay, that didn't take long! And this recipe is sooooo easy! Equal amounts of cacao powder and melted (gently melted, not boiling) virgin coconut oil. Mix by hand. Add pure maple syrup to taste - it doesn't take much - and mix again. Refrigerate. Eat!

When I made it, it turned out sort of soft and fudgy - sooo delicious! If I'd left it in the fridge longer it might have hardened more like a chocolate bar - I don't know. I couldn't wait to try it, lol.

Next on the list - homemade milk chocolate!


Decided not to attempt milk chocolate, since I haven't been able to find a recipe (yet) that uses cocoa powder and real milk. (They mostly seem to call for cocoa butter and milk powder.)

Made the other recipe again and found out that yes, it does eventually harden completely in the fridge. :) But because the melting point of coconut oil is 76 degrees Fahrenheit, it melts again very quickly in your mouth and gives the chocolate a wonderful soft texture. Yum!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Okay, time to write a little about how I intend to become more organized this year.

First, let me sort out the different areas I would like to become more organized. Then I think what I'll do is focus on one at a time until I've mastered it (or at least am doing well enough to satisfy myself for the time being).

Here they are, in random order:

1) Cleaning the home
2) Meal preparation
3) Morning stuff (diaper changes, getting everyone dressed, etc.)
4) Keeping myself looking (and smelling) nice
5) Clothing
6) Getting rid of extra stuff

Okay. So I'm gonna say that the most important thing here for me is going to be meal preparation. That frantic last-minute stuff when everyone's hungry and the fridge is empty just doesn't work well for me. Too stressful. So I think what I'm going to try for this is to be more persistent about preparing a meal list every week and making at least one or two meals ahead of time in case something unexpected happens and I don't have time to cook the meal I had planned to.

And grocery shopping, which kind of ties in here... I've been trying for the last month to do my grocery shopping only once every two weeks, but to be honest, it's just not working well for me. For one thing, I really enjoy going to the grocery store, so doing it a little more often is fun for me, not a hassle. (As long as I plan to do it when Wes can watch one of the kids.) For another thing, I'm not organized enough yet to be able to figure out exactly how much stuff I need to get to last us two weeks, and then I end up spending all my budgeted grocery money only to find out after one week has gone by that we're already out of something and I need to go back and re-stock on an item or two. So for now at least, I'm gonna go back to weekly.

Once I master this, I think the next thing I'm going to work on is a morning routine. Not one of those routines where everything has to happen just so or I'll go crazy. Just something to sort of help me get everyone going in the morning, you know? Like maybe having clothes already picked out for the girls, and possibly even getting up early to fix breakfast before Kaira and Rachel wake up. Maybe. We'll see.

As far as keeping myself looking and smelling good, lol, I really need to make a point of taking my showers/baths in the evening after the girls are asleep. It's WAY easier than trying to do it while they're awake, or hoping that they'll both nap at the same time so I can do it in the middle of the day - that's just too unpredictable. And maybe I can figure out a way to fix my hair that's both easy and attractive. Something that doesn't take more than a minute or two in the morning, and looks good all day.

Cleaning the home - I put stuff off, so I'm thinking of having like a weekly list. Certain days I'll vacuum, certain days I'll plan to do laundry, dust, etc. And I also want to try to do a better job of keeping drawers neat and stuff organized. But I tend to get overwhelmed trying to get everything done at once (I get motivated and then really want everything to be perfect, so I try to do it all), and then I get so burned out that I don't even care anymore and don't do anything at all. So I'm going to try for something closer to the middle of the road - organize one or two things a week, maybe. One drawer. One side of the closet. One bookshelf. Whatever. And then STOP when I'm done with that, and be content with it. Eventually it'll all get done, and I'll keep up with it so that I can maintain the orderliness all the time after that (hopefully).

Clothing - I'm going to try to simplify my wardrobe to one color scheme so that every top is compatible with every bottom.

And finally, getting rid of stuff. Maybe go through like one room at a time or something, and donate, sell, or throw away all the things that we don't use. Why keep it if you don't need it, right? I love simplicity - having only what you use. For me, having extra only adds stress and makes it harder to keep our home looking neat.

Okay. So there's my plan. We'll see what happens. I'll keep you posted.


So, uh, for this post I'm going to focus on one of the four things I chose to really try to improve this year - Focus. (No pun intended. I promise.)

I am super-frustrated in this area right now, so it seems a good time to blog about it. I just met a neighbor tonight. By the way, not something I'm good at. I'm friendly and considerate to pretty much everyone, and once a conversation has started, I'm pretty quick to open up and get deep; but I'm not a good initiator. Maybe I don't have to be. I don't know. Maybe it's good enough just to go with it when someone else initiates. For now anyway.

Moving on. So I met a neighbor, and we seemed to have a lot in common. She initiated a conversation and then invited me inside to see some of her pictures (she's a photographer), and next thing I knew I was giving her a large portion of my life story, nothing held back. And she shared with me just as openly, if not as much. (Not as much mostly because I kept talking and didn't give her much of a chance to share with me.)

And now I'm kind of disappointed in myself. I've really been trying hard to focus, especially since that revelation about choosing my activities so that I can be more "here and now" in each one. Why do my thoughts keep chasing rabbit trails and losing sight of the deer? Why can't I just focus on where I am and be there instead of mentally somewhere else? Why is this so FREAKING HARD for me??

I feel so bad for talking so much and not slowing down enough to really be there, and really listen to what she was saying. I honestly wanted to, but for some reason I was just pouring out so much stuff that I had trouble taking anything in.

So when I got home I typed "I can't focus" into my search engine and found this: (Sorry, I don't know why I can't get the links to work.)

It's meant for students, but the information is practical for just about anyone, I think. It certainly applied to me.

So, maybe I'm a little attention deficient? It's really hard for me to concentrate fully on any one thing. But it's something I definitely want to work on.

So I thought I would come up with a sort of study plan for my hoped-for mastering of this particular subject. Something that might help me take steps in the right direction. I know that God changes our hearts, so first and foremost I think I'm gonna have to start really praying about this. But, on the other hand, this is my mind, not my heart. So, does God change minds, too? Or is that our responsibility? Well, I think ultimately everything falls on God, so I'm definitely going to pray about this.

But my plan - first, I think I'm going to concentrate on mentally reminding myself to "be here now," like the article suggested. I think that kind of ties into the Bible verse about taking every thought captive... I'm thinking that if I can learn to be more aware of my thoughts, I'll be more likely to keep my mind from wandering.

Second, I'm going to try to be more conscious about choosing certain things to focus on - one or two at a time, and two only when it's necessary (example, I have something on the stove and need to leave the room to change a diaper or whatever). I'm going to try really hard not to get a bunch of things going at once.

Third, I'm going to try to set aside certain chunks of time to just think about stuff - important stuff - so I'll (hopefully) be less likely to try to think about it when I should be focusing on something else.

Fourth, I'm going to do only one housekeeping chore at a time. If I'm doing laundry, I'm not going to start cleaning the bathroom while the laundry is still going. If I don't have anything else to do, I'll use the waiting time to think about important stuff, blog, or here's a novel idea, just rest. That whole thing about "be still and know that I am God"? I'm not so good at that. But it's definitely something I'd like to be good at.

So. That seems like a good way to start. And I'll keep making lists to help me focus - that way I don't have to constantly keep thinking about what it was I was going to try to get done that day - I'll just have it written down so my mind will be free of at least one more thing.

I guess that's it for now. If I come up with some other practical ideas to help me work on this, I'll post them later. And I'll try to remember to post stuff about my progress, too. That'll help keep me more accountable as well as letting all of you see how it's going.

All right! Signing off for now.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


This is probably gonna be a fairly short entry - both the girls are napping but I have no idea how long that will last. :)

Okay. So last night at Lifegroup we talked about resolutions, and the things we'd like to change about ourselves in 2012. I was glad I had already done some thinking on that, but a little embarrassed that I could only remember 3 of the 4 areas I had chosen to focus on. (I forgot "Focus," haha.)

So I was in bed last night, just kind of thinking about those 4 things a little, and I felt God reveal something to me about the subject of focusing, and simplifying my life. It was one word. "Choose."

In order to be more focused on the things that you do, you sometimes have to simplify - to do fewer things so that you can be more fully involved in the things you're doing and not just rushing on to the next item on your list. But in order to do that, duh, we have to make choices. We have to say no to some things.

Before I went to bed last night I played a few rounds of Halo with Wes (my husband). In between rounds, I was carrying on two different Chat conversations on Facebook. And you know what? It was okay, but looking back I wish that I had just chosen one of those three things - Halo, or one of the two conversations - and really focused on it so that I could be "all there."

So today I am trying to be more aware of the choices I make. I've made a list (which is also helping me with one of the other things I'm working on - organization) of things I want to do today, and have tried to keep it simple and include only the things that are truly important to me.

Another thing I struggle with a lot of the time is choosing the right things at the wrong time. When Kaira and Rachel are both awake, that is almost always the WRONG time to write a new blog entry or work on my novel. I end up doing my writing in a semi-distracted state as I try to keep an eye on both my young daughters at the same time, and then I walk away from it feeling guilty for choosing writing over my kids, rather than feeling good about getting something important accomplished.

Don't get me wrong. Blogging and finishing my book are both very important to me. But not so important that they justify ignoring my girls when I could be spending quality time with them.

Now, blogging and writing can both wait. I can always skip either one - or both - for the day and pick up again tomorrow. There are other things, like preparing meals, that obviously cannot wait. Those more urgent things are the only things I want to be caught choosing over quality time with my kids or my husband. For everything else, I prefer to leave them for the spare bits of time (like right now) when I don't have to sacrifice something more important in order to work on them.

I do struggle with that a little. Ever get that feeling of "I just have to get that done"? Like, if one of the girls woke up right now, I'd probably try to finish this entry really fast instead of going straight upstairs and leaving the blog entry for later. I don't know why, I'm just kind of like that. I like things on my "list" to get finished. But slowly I think I'm learning to prioritize a little better, and I'm thankful that God has been working on my heart in this area, because to be honest, I have a lot more respect for myself when I put my children first and don't "sweat the small stuff," as they say.

Okay, wow. They're both still sleeping. Maybe I'll try and get a little work done on The Legend of Talis. Awesome.

But I have every intention of stopping as soon as my kids need me again. There. I said it. Now I'm accountable. :) This blogging thing is awesome.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Bring it to me

This is something I learned the other day from my almost-two-year-old, Kaira. It's amazing to me how God can use our children to teach us about ourselves, and about him. Kaira was sitting on the stairs playing with her manger toy from Christmas. She was trying to get it to play music, but it was turned off, so the music button wasn't working. She eventually got frustrated and threw the toy down the stairs. I immediately went over to her and told her "No, Kaira. You don't do that. Just bring it to me and I'll help you." Then I stopped. Suddenly it occurred to me that I do the exact same thing in my walk with God. I would try to do something on my own - something I couldn't figure out or couldn't manage - and instead of bringing it to God and asking for help, I would get frustrated or disappointed or angry. Often I would quit trying. Often I would just sit down and cry. But I can just imagine God watching me and saying "No, Stephanie. You don't do that. Just bring it to me and I'll help you."

So simple. So why does it seem so difficult?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Do small things with great love

"In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love." - Mother Teresa

Well. I think if I had to choose a "quote of the week," that would be it. I was so emotional yesterday and just kept feeling so disappointed that Wes and I weren't doing something more important as a family. You know, like besides loving each other and loving our girls, and going to church on Sundays, and making enough money to "get by." I mean, I want so much more in life than to just "get by." I want to live! I want to live for God! Knowing what we know and believing what we believe, I would think our lives would be... I don't know, a little more radical or something. A little more purpose-minded. Or mission-minded, or whatever you want to call it. I'm not sure the best way to describe what I was feeling, but I think you probably get the general idea. I wanted my life to mean something, to someone besides just my family and close friends. I wanted to reach out and serve people, and honor the God who gave me life and salvation and EVERYTHING GOOD THAT I HAVE. Just sometimes seems like I should be doing more. Like we should be doing more as a couple.

Well, I don't know if maybe hormones had something to do with it... I was pretty emotional in general yesterday. You should have seen how upset I was that I had to pick up Wesley's clothes, lol. (My husband has never been particularly determined to pick up after himself, but usually I don't complain - I mean, he works 40 hours a week to provide for us, and I'm grateful enough for it that I don't usually mind tossing a shirt or some socks into the laundry basket for him, or picking up dinner dishes. Usually.) Anyway, I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself for having to pick up after my husband, and ignoring all the wonderful blessings he brings me in favor of dwelling on the one thing that I don't like. Good way to become very bitter and ungrateful, by the way. And then I felt so guilty for being upset about it and not being more thankful. I was so disappointed in myself that I started to cry. I'm such a mess sometimes.

Uh... lost my train of thought. Where was I going with this? Oh yes. So I was already clearly very emotional yesterday, and when I'm emotional I usually dwell on things that bother me, and become less and less content until something happens. (Example, I get to attempt to talk it out with someone, preferably Wesley but sometimes a close girlfriend instead. Other example, I emotionally explode, pretty much.) So there I was, an emotional wreck, thinking about how I'm pretty much wasting my life, at least in some areas, and dwelling on all the things that I don't do that I could be doing that would honor the Lord... Big things mostly. Missions trips and stuff. Giving our spare time and occasional spare money in ministry to others instead of using it on ourselves to make our lives more comfortable or whatever. And... well, yeah, it was pretty depressing.

Wow, I'm getting kind of long-winded here. Okay. So where I was going with this - today I remembered this quote and started thinking that maybe it's not so much about doing what I would consider to be "big things." Maybe it's more about honoring God in the little things first. I mean, I've learned this lesson a few times in my life already, but I seem to keep forgetting. Thankfully, God is patient and continues to remind me and put me back on track. But I thought this time I would share it here on this blog, in case it might help some of you out there who are going through the same sort of thing.

So, here are some ways I thought I might put this idea into practice. I can raise my children with great love. I can be more patient with them, be there for them when they need me, etc. I can think of clever and unexpected ways to bless my husband. I can spend more of my energy in loving him and less of it in complaining or dwelling on what he does or doesn't do that bothers me. I can be more positive - more thankful. I can prepare meals ahead of time and be more orderly about all of that, and do it with an attitude of love rather than an attitude of "if I don't fix the oatmeal and beans today and get them soaking we won't have breakfast and dinner prepared for tomorrow and we'll have to come up with some last-minute solution, but I really don't feel like preparing the oatmeal and beans right now because I feel like I've been in the kitchen all freaking day!" Lol.

Yeah. So that took a while but I think I got my point across okay. So I guess I'll leave it at that for now and go tend to Rachel, who just woke up from her nap. Later!

My motherhood goals for 2012

I know that January is already all but gone, but hey, it's never too late to set some good goals for the new year. And knowing that I'll be much more accountable to any goals I set if I write them out, especially if I write them where others can see them, here are mine. I originally intended this to be a list of my goals in motherhood for the year, but now that I think about it, these are good goals for every area of my life - particularly for learning to become a better helpmeet to my husband.

1) Be more patient.
2) Be more focused. (More fully there - more in the moment and not just always getting ready for the next thing.)
3) Be more organized. (With meal planning, laundry, homekeeping, activities with the girls, etc.)
4) Be more content.

So there they are. I think these are the kind of goals that honor God (I surely hope so anyway!) and they are certainly things that I would like to improve in. So. All right, I guess that's it for this post.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ministry opportunities for the full-time Mom (esp. the full-time Mom with small children)

I was reading another blog today and came across a list of ministry ideas - ways to give and help and share God's love with others. With two little ones here with me, there are only certain things I can do ministry-wise without compromising the very important ministry of mothering my kids and being a helpmeet to my husband. But I did come across several things that I would like to incorporate into my life. I figured if I wrote them out here I'd be more likely to follow through with them, as I'd feel a bit more accountable. :)

Ministry outside the home:

1) Donate your hair to Locks of Love
2) Have a Bake Sale and donate the money to a cause or charity
3) Ask for donations instead of presents for your birthday
4) Bring meals or baked goods to families in need, new neighbors, families with a new baby, etc.
5) Leave money with the cashier for the person behind you
6) Get to know your neighbors
7) Plant a garden and share the produce (or flowers)

Ministry within the home:

1) Randomly cook a special meal for your husband
2) Spend time together with the TV (and computer) off
3) Include your children in your tasks and chores (even if it means taking ten times longer to do them)
4) Complain less - or better yet, not at all

If you have any ideas along these lines, feel free to share by posting a comment!

A lesson from nature...

So I was out walking the other day with Kaira just kind of letting her explore the walking trail across the street from our apartment, and I noticed this one green tree standing there in the midst of a bunch of dormant ones, and it really got me thinking. I think this is kind of like how God wants us to live our lives - full of life and hope, growing and bearing fruit (or in this case leaves, since this wasn't a fruit tree) even if everyone around us is falling apart or living wickedly or just not doing anything at all. I think we are called to be deep-rooted in Christ and strong, to be a beacon of hope to those around us, who will see the life in us and notice the difference between us and the world, and will desire what we have and be drawn to Christ.

Just kind of something to think about. Food for thought, as they say.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Well, my last trip to the grocery store I decided to buy some Organic Valley cottage cheese after discovering that although the milk in it was pasteurized, it was NOT homogenized and was therefore acceptable to me as being healthy enough, lol. But it sat in the fridge all last week, unopened, because to be honest I couldn't think of anything to make with it. I like cottage cheese just by itself, but I had really been hoping to incorporate it into some kind of meal for my family, and with Italian food not being an option (Wes's stomach tends to react poorly to all things overly tomatoey) I didn't really know what to do.

So this morning I searched the web and found a recipe for French cottage cheese pancakes. I changed it up a little to make it healthier and came up with this:

1 cup cottage cheese
3/4 cup arrowroot powder
3 eggs
4 tablespoons whole sugar
3 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
Splash of vanilla extract

I combined everything in the blender and cooked it like I would regular pancakes. They were a little different - kind of mushy on the insides, I guess because of the cottage cheese, so it made me feel like they weren't quite cooked all the way even though I think they really were - but after I ate two or three they really started to grow on me. I think they'd be really good served with crushed blueberries and rolled up, but I didn't have any blueberries to try that out. Maybe next time. Ooh! They might be good spread with Just Fruit jam, too. Hmm...

I did find that they turned out a little less mushy in the middle if I cooked them at a lower temperature. Our stovetop has knobs that range from 1-9, not including the "lo" and "hi" settings, and I usually do pancakes at like a 6, but for this recipe I ended up turning it down to a 3 before they really started turning out good.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Loving Your Husband - Introduction

So, here I am finally getting back to my blog, and I have no idea what to write about. So I thought I'd introduce a new category - Loving Your Husband. My favorite blogs always include something about loving your husband, and it's something I'm passionate about, so why not include it here? And after all, what better way to learn surrender than by getting married? Lol.

Seriously, though, I think that's one of God's main purposes in marriage - to teach us selflessness. There's a certain, uh... a certain level or depth of selflessness that can be realized in marriage that I don't think can be found any other way. There's just something about being unbreakably bound to someone that teaches you that you've got to give if you want to get anywhere together.

I've heard that one method of teaching young horses to give to pressure on a lead line is to tie their lead line to a donkey or mule's halter and release them in a pasture. Donkeys and mules have stubbornness issues - they prefer to plow through pressure rather than yield to it. So when the young horse tries to walk off, or when the mule walks and the horse doesn't follow, the mule just keeps pulling and drags the little horse along behind until it learns that if it follows and yields to the pressure, it can keep the line slack and stop the halter from pulling on its face.

I've never personally halter-trained a horse using this method, but I know enough about horses and how they learn to say that it would definitely work. Now, I'm not intentionally trying to liken our husbands to mules... that's not the point. The point is that when you're tied to someone, you might as well learn to work as a team and to follow the other one's leadership, because when you do, things tend to go a lot more smoothly.

Not that surrendering your own wants is always easy. What if the horse wants water? He has to wait for the mule to go to the trough, and yeah, that kind of sucks. But hey, it's not the end of the world. And anyway, in marriage at least you have the capability to make suggestions and requests.

I do totally believe that God designed marriage to be a relationship where the husband is the clear and defined leader and the wife's role is more of a supportive and helping role. Hopefully that doesn't offend anyone, but if it does, I'm still saying it, because I really do believe it with all my heart. That doesn't mean I think men are better than women or anything like that. I think we're equal but simply have different roles. Two people can't lead - there's always eventually going to be a clash of interests, and someone's going to have to be able to make the final decision or you're just not going to get anywhere but in a very long fight.

So yeah. Surrender. Sometimes it sucks but it's way worth it for what you get in return. Love, joy, patience, closeness to God.

I think I kind of went off on a tangent there, but now that I think about it that does fall under the category of loving your husband. After all, one of the main ways we can show our husbands that we love them is by being willing to surrender to their leadership. This is a great display of trust and respect and I think most if not all men really need to feel respected in order to function at their best.

Okay. Well, it's getting late, so that's all for now. Hopefully I won't let it go so long between posts this time. :) And maybe one day I'll get around to transferring some of my hand-written journal stuff over here. Okay, seriously. Signing out now.