Friday, April 30, 2010

The Joy of Discovery

Life is an adventure.

My granddaughter Kyla is teaching me more and more about this. Too many times I get so caught up with the "shoulds" and "have-to's" of life that I forget to enjoy the beauty God placed all around me. Flowers. Trees. Animals. Clouds. I neglect to notice the intangibles with which God has blessed me. Love. Acceptance. Security.

The Truth says He "daily loadeth us with benefits" (Psalm 68:19)! That means that every day a TON more blessings are there that I did not even see!

I think I'll head out on a journey of discovery today. Talk to you later...

Hey, come back and tell me what you discovered and thanked God for today.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Never Spring Clean Your Home Again

Oh my goodness! Jesus just went into my washroom!

Can you see your kitchen counter top? Do you need to kick items out of the way to get to bed? Or perhaps your clutter is mostly hidden? The average guest to your home can't see it because it's in the basement or in a back room. Maybe it's just the corners and edges that have accumulated dirt so that you always have that nagging voice in your mind that your house isn't really clean.

If you're overwhelmed and don't know where to start, or you're just a procrastinator (like me!), I encourage you to try Fly Lady. They walk you through baby steps that get you going in the right direction, and eventually catch you up on your home, to the point that you no longer have to dread spring cleaning. Actually, you will never have to spring clean in the way you used to dread--ever again!

I'll admit, Fly Lady teaches how to do all the things my mom taught me (or tried to teach me!) when I was growing up. I don't know about you, but sometimes it seems there's more than a short learning curve!

Suddenly Mom isn't here, and it's all on you! Meanwhile, you're trying to feed baby, get children off to school, perhaps hold down a job, cook supper, and be supportive of your husband--all at the same time! You wonder why your house doesn't just clean itself like your mother's did! If you're like me, when you were a kid, you simply followed the chore list Mom made for you, and after that, your day was free. And the house was still miraculously clean!

A refrigerator magnet I once saw in the workplace has real meaning: Your mother doesn't work here!

I have to decide what my priorities are. Do I truly believe that, as the Bible says, I am the homemaker (my husband is not), that my home should be a haven for me, as well as for my husband and children (Proverbs 31:10-31)? If I believe that, I need to reorganise my priorities.

I may say, "I don't want to" or "I don't care if my home is clean or not" (which I don't believe is really true of any lady). However, if this is my God-ordained role, I truly will not feel fulfilled unless I fulfill that role. I know that is not a popular message nowadays, but the Bible is still Truth. I have found that the days when I am organised and I accomplish things that make my home a haven, I feel content, satisfied, and fulfilled. The days that I am lazy or tell myself "I don't care" are the days I am depressed, discontented, and unfulfilled.

Let me clarify. I do not mean that I can never have a lazy day, or that I should never relax. In fact, the days that my husband is off work are usually days when I am lazy and relax on purpose, or accomplish much less, because I choose to spend that time with him. But don't we all know that the best relaxation comes after hard work or significant accomplishment?

Here's another question: What would your life be like if your husband took the same attitude toward his job that you take toward your homemaking? Would you have the home you have? Would you be able to purchase groceries and clothing?

It's great if your husband helps you in the home, especially if you are also working outside the home. But certainly if you are a full-time homemaker, the home is your job. How seriously do you take your career? Do you take any pride in it?

I encourage you to join me in using Fly Lady if you do not currently have your home to the level that you are unashamed. If Jesus Christ came over as a guest in your home tonight, would you be embarrassed? Would you cringe when He went to use your washroom? It doesn't have to be this way.

Jesus understands the days when nothing goes as planned, we have a sick little one, we ourselves are sick, the car breaks down, and supper burns. He is our understanding Friend, and He will wipe away our tears and comfort us. Then He will cheer us on, giving us His strength, as we get back on track.

If you feel overwhelmed about your house, talk to Jesus about it. Ask Him for the strength, courage, determination, discipline, and godly pride to simply get started.

If you have a method other than Fly Lady or any tips to help us homemakers, feel free to comment below.

Now I think I'll put some good, ol' Southern Gospel music on my stereo, and get busy!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Girly Tea Parties

Girls will be girls! ...And we love tea parties and anything frilly and girly!

I thought it would be fun to have some tea parties... Here are a few photos from a tea party I had with a girlfriend from church and another tea party I had with some of our teen girls.

Now I think I'm about ready to plan another tea party! Want to come?

Get Dressed--Day 4

The "Get Dressed" Challenge!
Saturday--Choir practice and get ready for Sunday (music, noon meal, etc.)

Note: I did remove my scarf when I started getting food ready! :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Successful Homemade Yogurt!

Yes, you can! I did it!

I made my first successful batch of yogurt this week, and it's super easy! Here's the recipe:

Homemade Yogurt
You need:
1 quart milk
3 T. plain yogurt (just purchase 1 small individual serving-size container) or 2-3 packets yogurt starter
1 candy thermometer
1 stirring utensil
1 quart-size Mason Jar (with a lid) or Yogotherm
1 picnic cooler with a tight fitting lid (if you don't use the Yogotherm or have a gas oven)--large enough to hold all your Mason jars and a cooking pot or tea kettle

1. Heat the milk to 180-185 degrees (using candy thermometer to be exact).
2. Allow milk to cool down to 110-115 degrees (again using candy thermometer).
3. Stir into the milk either your yogurt starter or the container of plain yogurt.
4. Pour milk into your quart Mason jar (or Yogotherm container).
5. Put on the lid of your Mason jar.
6. Place your Mason jar in the cooler with a pot or tea kettle of hot water. (I put a towel around it inside the picnic cooler.) Another option is to fill a small cooler with near boiling water coming nearly to the top of your Mason jar. Another option, if you have a gas oven, is to put your Mason jar into the gas oven, as the pilot light keeps the oven at a warmer temp. Don't turn on the oven! If you live in a tropical zone, you can just put a towel over your jar and set it on your kitchen counter.
7. Put the lid on your cooler and let set for 4-16 hours. Don't peek or move it!
8. Done. $10-12 worth of yogurt for $2-3! One woman estimates she saves $200/year just on this one make-at-home project.
9. To serve, you can add the fresh or frozen fruit of your choice. If you put it all in a blender with some extra milk, it makes a great smoothie!

Thanks to Joy for the idea and recipe.

Get Dressed--Day 3

Working on a manuscript and a bit of cleaning today, so again, not fixed up very much... nevertheless, I am dressed! Yeah me!

How are you doing with this challenge?

Soulish Selfishness--Nervous Exhaustion (Part 2)

Photo courtesy Monique Tremblay

Seeing Through a Glass Darkly
Three emotional areas of soulish selfishness

1. Nervous exhaustion from positive communication/fellowship

Have you ever felt completely exhausted when visiting with people, and then realized that you should not be physically tired? You've had enough rest--there is no reason you can find for truly being weary at that moment.

I've been there. This is a sort of nerve exhaustion. When I consciously admit to myself that my eyes should not be heavy, I realize that I've been exhausting myself trying to please the people I'm with. When I acknowledge this, I can relax on purpose and just be myself, and I soon find that my eyes are no longer heavy, and I do not feel tired. I can enjoy my time visiting with them.

Is it not the exercise of the soulish, or natural man--the glow, feeling, emotions, and anger, in speaking to others publicly or privately--that causes nerve exhaustion? And is it not possible for the Spirit to quicken the truth without the strain or wear and tear of the body?... It does seem as if more work could be done, and with far less fatigue... ~ unknown writer, as quoted by Jessie Penn Lewis

Nervous exhaustion comes from trying to live for God (or please others) in my flesh, instead of simply loving Jesus and allowing my life to flow out from that love. Amazingly, my love for Him is all because He first loved me (I John 4:19)! So it still has nothing to do with my own efforts! He does it all (Philippians 1:6)! How freeing! I can rest! I can relax in His love, and allow Him to do His work, with me as His vessel.

2. Nervous exhaustion from negative communication/anger

Flying off the handle or harboring anger also exhausts your nerves, and over time, wears out your body! Many physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach ulcers, irritable bowels, etc. can stem from nerve exhaustion from harboring anger, unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness.

The soul is the seat of the personality in its affections, power of joy or grief... he may cling to a soulish joy, and live in the realm of his feelings; in the seat of his self-consciousness, and not in the spirit, the place of the God-consciousness; and thus be among those believers who are always seeking for spiritual "experiences" in the sense-consciousness, instead of the purity of the God-conscious realm alone--the regenerated human spirit. ~ JPL

3. Nervous exhaustion from seeking "an experience"

When I feel the need to "experience" something in the way of emotions, I try to drum up positive feelings on my own. This can work for a short time, but it will also exhaust me. I can do this in trying to stay happy without dealing with issues, trying to talk myself into a positive emotion. I can also do this in seeking a religious, emotional experience. There are times when God takes me on a path of suffering. During these times, He is teaching me how He can give me joy in sorrow; not that I can just determine not to be sad. It is in times of sadness that He seems most near. It is in times of sorrow that I learn that He Himself is all I need. But if I am seeking to maintain a positive, upbeat experience on my own, outside of Christ--using my own determination and grit--I am soulishly selfish. He will bring me around again and again until I learn that He is my sufficiency.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: ~II Corinthians 9:8

It's all about Him. When I learn this, I can leave nervous exhaustion behind me and trust in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 36:7, 57:1, 63:7, 91:4).

Whew! I feel so much better!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thoughts on a Spring Day

Perennials in my yard! Yeah Spring!

Think about this verse...

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. (II Corinthians 2:14)

Praise the Lord that HE makes us victorious through Christ and that HE shows off how great His knowledge is and how flavourful and wonderful life can be with Him. Thanks to God that HE does all the work--that "the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). It's not even MY faith. It has nothing to do with me or my efforts! It's all about Him, and how He manifests Himself through me! All I do is yield. Wow! What a deal!

Get Dressed Challenge-Days 1-2

Well, now that our Internet is working, I can post photos. Unfortunately I have somehow lost the photos from Days 1-2. (I believe I must have copied them to an incorrect file folder when I was moving other photos around.)

So, first is a photo of me on another ordinary at-home day.

And second is a photo of what I'm wearing today... not quite as fixed up because I'm cleaning house today.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Get Dressed!

Okay, I think I'm up for this challenge. Are you? Check it out, and join the fun here.

I have to admit, many days I do my computer work in the frumpy clothes I wore to feed our horses, waiting to shower and really get dressed until late morning. On days when I do shower and dress first thing in the morning, I feel more energetic and I am definitely more productive!

So, for those of you who are homemakers, are you with me in this challenge? Let's get dressed!

(Tomorrow I will continue my thoughts on the ways we yield to the soul rather than the Spirit... see you later!)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Soulish Selfishness

Photo courtesy Monique Tremblay

For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.
~ I Corinthians 13:12

Spiritual maturity involves reckoning myself to be dead to sin and alive unto God (Romans 6:11). When I first believed and accepted Christ as my personal Saviour, I did not fully understand what had happened to me. The Christian life is a lifelong process: we never "arrive" at fully understanding all of it until we get to heaven.

I, just as you, am a tripartite human being (spirit, body, and soul). As I travel along through this Christian life, I am coming to understand, a little at a time, what that really means. (1) My spirit was renewed at salvation and became dominated by the Spirit of God instead of the god of this world. The Holy Spirit moved in. (2) My soul is my mind/intellect, will, and emotions. This was not renewed at salvation, so the enemy of my soul (satan) still tries to dominate it. (3) My body/flesh is my third part, which, also not renewed, can still give in to the enemy.

"Babes in Christ who are 'yet carnal' [acting in the flesh] need a fuller apprehension of the meaning of the cross." ~ Jessie Penn Lewis

Because I was renewed in my spirit at salvation, I have His Spirit power indwelling me. The exciting thing is that I can yield myself to that power and live in true rest, peace, and victory in my spirit and soul, yes, even in my body/flesh!

There is one yielding to the soul that is a very dangerous, self-centered way of living. Jessie Penn Lewis calls it "the soulish element in teachers and professors of holiness." In the name of fighting for truth and witnessing for God, many devoted believers get caught in soulish selfishness.

"The soul-life, influenced by evil supernatural powers [rather than yielding to the Spirit], is the main cause of divisions and separations among the professing, and even the true children of God." (JPL)

Jude 16 says, "These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage." Verse 19: "These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." (emphasis mine)

When I seek to separate myself with the wrong motive*--in the name of spirituality, a holier-than-thou attitude, seeking other men's admiration and praise--I am acting as a soulish human being, not under the Holy Spirit's influence and power. I am not allowing the Holy Spirit to control my soul (mind, will, and emotions). I am being soulishly self-centered. I am filled with pride. The sad thing is that when I do this, satan has me so duped into thinking that it's all about me and that I'm right, that I don't even recognize that he is really the one in control; not me!

I am not the one who should be separating myself. "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake." (Luke 6:22, emphasis mine) When I choose to live for God, there will be those who will separate from me, but that should be their choice. I should not seek to separate from them, putting myself up on a pedestal.

When I yield to my own soul instead of the Spirit, I am choosing to once again "see through a glass darkly." I am selecting shadow over substance. I am walking an artificial walk with God. I'm actually in bondage to the enemy!

How silly, when I can choose to simply feel at home in the presence of Jesus, leaning way back in His Love! I can just yield myself to His tender embrace, by faith, taking hold of the Word; then my fetters will fall off and I'll anchor my SOUL, because the Haven of Rest is then truly my LORD! ("Feeling at Home in the Presence of Jesus," by William J. and Gloria Gaither; "The Haven of Rest," public domain)

Next time, we'll talk about another area in which I can choose to yield to my soul, rather than the Spirit of God.

*Note: The right motive for separating myself is found in II Corinthians 6. There is an appropriate time for separation, but not with a motive to show myself as the more spiritual. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (II Corinthians 6:14-18)
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