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.