Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I've been reflecting on pain and loss. How it changes us. When Olivia first got cancer I remember thinking that I would really like to help other people who face the same trial. Now it has been over 10 years since she was first diagnosed and I haven't done anything to help others in the same situation. I remember when I found out with Olivia and Gea that they would not live for long that I wanted to keep them alive in my life as long as possible. Maybe I would visit the cemetery or somehow build a permanent memory of them that was tangible in my life. They have both been gone for over 7 years and again I have done nothing, nor have I wanted to.
We can try and predict how pain and loss will change us but, the truth is it is unpredictable. Who we are after the loss is not someone we could know before. We may try and mold that grieved person into what we think they should be yet never be able to commit to the idea. I wanted to be someone who used my experience to help others. To reach out to others. Now I find that I keep those memories and pains safe and secure in my heart, far away from others. Not because I want to deny others, only because I don't want to dig up the pain that comes with loss.
The pain never really does go away. Whenever I speak to others I always want to tell them that it does but, that would be a lie. The pain really doesn't even get better it just gets to be less abrasive. It somehow becomes a part of us and we learn to move on in life with it. Pain and loss become us. As life progress's the pain becomes less audible by others and maybe even us. We are never the same as before.
Some days I am thankful for the changed person that I am from the pain I have endured. I will never take my children's health for granted, I love my man each day because I know what trials he is willing to walk through with me, I don't worry about the small things in life and I don't fear death. I am not sure I would know the peace I do in this life if I hadn't lost two great loves in my life. My joy is probably more complete because I have always been in a position that requires me to lean on God.
For a long time I felt guilty that I didn't go out of my way to fund raise for cancer or to help others. Now I know that the timeline I am walking isn't of the world. While others are comforted to openly share I am comforted by quiet contemplation and alone. My heart still breaks to hear of others who face the same circumstances, maybe that is why I avoid those stories.
Sometimes we just are what we are. As tempting as it is to self improve and to do what we think is right, the end result is we are only able to understand so much on our own. I do believe if we, "trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding; acknowledge Him in all your ways and he will make your paths straight" Pr 3:5-6. After 10 years of trying to trust God I can say he does make our paths straight. Where I thought the path should be I was so often wrong. But, when I trusted and followed and just let the feelings, emotions and days be what they were God has so faithfully meet me there. Time does not heal all wounds, but God does give us a way to go on. Time does not take away the memories or loss, but, we do live outside of the loss and have joy in the moments that God provides.
Today as I am heart broken over other losses those around me suffer, I can also say I feel peace and joy. I trust as those around me walk the path the Lord has destined for them they too will come to a place of rest and comfort from their pain. I feel such a great hope in that we get to be in heaven with those we have lost and it will be glorious. The sad memories and pain we suffer now will be so pale and small! I pray that hope gives those who have lost a bit of fight and strength to call out to God and lean on him.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Managing our Homes Part 1: Children

The role of a christian wife and mother can be a tremendously difficult calling but, we can ease the difficulty level by managing our homes. There are things we can do within our sphere of influence to bring peace and joy instead of chaos and exhaustion. In the areas of children, house, meals, husbands, finances, time and talents we can make choices to manage well instead of just managing to get by!

When we have children we are committing to a lifetime of managing them! At first that management is constant, but as they grow it gets to be less and less until they oversee their own management. That seems like an awfully daunting job. There are things we can do to make our days and relationships with our children flow smoother. The first item we need to address is how we view our children. If we view them as a priority instead of an interruption we will set ourselves up for success. We need to choose to deal with each issue whether it be attitudes, behaviours, squabbles with siblings or disobedience as soon as they occur. If we will stop at the first sign of an issue we will save ourselves time and pain later on. So many times I allow a bad cycle to start where I am distracted and ignore an issue, which leads to someone being hurt, crabby, offended or crying which then leads to a screaming mom which then leads to a house full of cranky people that in turn have more issues that perpetuate the cycle. Stop this before it starts. Being willing to stop what you are doing, peacefully and calmly deal with the problem to completion. We need to interfere with the natural inclinations of our children. Proverbs 29:15 says, "The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother." We must manage our children whether it be by rod, encouragement, discipline or mediation. Guaranteed the issue will not generally resolve itself and only end in disgrace for us!

Some tips on preventing and managing issues before they arrive are to limit free time, guide and direct clearly and at eye level and communicate rules and expectations. The younger the child, the more immature the child, the less free time they should have. It is better to guide the time clearly. If there is a free slot of time give clear directions such as, "you may play in your room quietly, before you can come out and do something else you must pick everything up," or "it is now puzzle time, I want you to get 4 puzzles sit at the table and do all 4." This will keep the children occupied and focused. Many times we expect children at too young of an age to know how to manage their time well. It is overwhelming for a young child to not know what the boundaries are. They usually will spin quickly out of control. It is our job to help them maintain control until they are old enough to know how themselves.

We also need to manage our time well. If we are being distracted and tempted to push the children away we need to evaluate what is taking up our time. We may need to pull back for a while from what we enjoy if it means that we aren't focused on our children. It is a must that we are approachable and interruptable. I don't mean that we are at the mercy of our child's every whim and want. I mean we need to be able to stop what we are doing and tend to one of our most important jobs right now-them! If the Internet, phone, TV, books or whatever else that takes up your time is causing you to ignore what is going on around you, you need to manage it better!

I must mention that we need to interfere with our children. As tempting as it is to try and let them figure it out themselves when they are young this is simply not okay. Children are not born with the ability to negotiate, give grace and live selflessly. Therefore they usually cannot come to the best and wisest solution on their own. Again, it is our job to manage them and disciple them in our homes. Keep an open ear, when there is bickering or fighting we must interfere and deal with the issue.

Lastly, I want to discuss our communication with our children. It is very important that we model good communication. We need to look our children in the eye when we speak to them, especially when giving a command or request. If we look at them, speak clearly in simple language and give clear and simple steps as to what we want done we will see they will obey so much better. It is also a good idea to require a, "yes, mom." If we hear this we know they understand and heard us. This is such a good reminder for me, to take the time to find my child and speak clearly to them instead of yelling across the house!

If we are willing to guide, direct, be approachable and interrruptible we will see some chaos turn to peace. It takes determination to keep this standard. Like most things the more we put it into practice the more of a habit it becomes. In my next post I will write about the importance of managing our homes in the area of keeping up with our house and food.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Who has your heart?

Have you ever thought about who really has your heart? Is that apparent in your life; the choices you make, your words, your actions? If you have given your heart to Jesus, is the overflow of you heart for him? Are you choosing day by day, moment by moment to give your heart away?

So many times in our walk with the Lord we default to the basics, the regimented rules, the familiar. We hold back a little of our hearts to preserve them. No one likes discomfort. When we give our heart fully to him, guaranteed there will be some discomfort. If we keep our hearts independently, sometimes things happen that are beyond our control and we have to surrender all of our heart, we cannot go on alone. What happens then? We find the pain that we endure on our own is more destructive than the pain we receive from yielding our complete lives to God. When we are yielded we invite the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. We no longer have to carry the load alone, we have a helper.

What about our husbands and children? Do they have our heart? If I have been hurt by them, do I forgive and put my heart on the line again? In human logic it seems backwards to forgive and be vulnerable. God's ways are not man's though, and we must look to him for guidance and strength. We must forgive like we have been forgiven, over and over again and right away. This comes as a shock to my selfish and self preserving ways. It is my sin nature and encouragement from society to look out for me first, to take care of my needs, to make sure I get me time and what I want. I cannot think of a more destructive lie I have believed in the past and have to fight not to believe each day.

The truth is my God, my husband and my children deserve all of my heart not just part. Not only do my husband and children deserve it, but, they must have it if we are going to win this race for the Lord's glory. If I am holding back even a little for me, for my pleasure, for my perceived good I am failing to give my best. I use to think I would only be my best if I took care of me first, made sure I was right and then I could be there for others. If I waited to be right the day would never come that I could be there for others. I am a sinful, wrong, fallen person. On my own I can never amount to anything good. Only with God's help can I do anything of value and good in this and the eternal life.

I can't wait to be good enough on my own. I must choose today to trust God and be vulnerable with those in my life. I must give my husband my heart, trust his ways, forgive offenses, lean on him, and follow when everything in me cries out to lead. I must choose to talk with him and reveal what is in my heart, to openly share what I am about from deep inside or I will never keep his trust. If I keep hidden away a little of my heart, he will never fully trust me knowing that I have rejected him. If I choose to lay on the line, the good, the bad and the ugly he will truly see me for who I am and know that he has my complete confidence, love and trust. When I would rather confide in girlfriends and others what is going on in my heart and life, I show him that I don't trust him to take care of me. I build a wall of division in my marriage, one that will not be easily broken down. If I am willing to communicate and put into words and actions what I am all about I can have a full, beautiful love. If I am unwilling to take the risk, time and energy, to forgive and overlook offenses I will never be content, I will give opportunity for doubt mistrust and bitterness to take root. We must make our husbands our best friends, our deepest confidants, our heroes and our menders of issues. Trusting the men that God placed in authority over us often seems far too risky, but, God does not make mistakes! Following the requirement to submit will be blessed, if not here then at the judgement seat in heaven it will.

What about my children? How can I possibly give them my complete heart when I am already so overwhelmed with all that they require and need in rearing? I wonder to myself how I can ever gain their heart if I am unwilling again to put mine out there? If I am ever to win for the Lord with them I must be willing to completely put myself aside and give away my rights so I can raise up a generation that will know and follow Jesus. If I hold back a little of my heart for me, just for a little me time, grown up time my children will learn to hold back just a little bit for themselves. In God's economy we must give all, not most. Our children need us to be shouldering a cross each day. They need to hear and see our hearts crying out to the Lord for his strength. They must see our hearts repentant, joy filled, cheering for them, crying with them, unyieldingly standing by them and for them. There is no room here for self. We must choose to be interrupted. To do what is uncomfortable. What is hard. It is the only way!

We have a world of lost and lonesome people. Could it be there are simply too many hearts being kept "safe and secure" in selfishness? Could it be we are all waiting for someone else to show love? We have excuses to spare. Maybe if we put ourselves aside we would have love to spare for other's.

I desire not to exalt my ways of submission and parenting. I too often find myself choosing the selfish route and pulling back my heart. I wish only to try and wake up each day and give what Jesus did each moment of his life-everything. If I will this to happen it will be false, temporary, a facade. If I cry out for the Holy Spirit's power and strength each day anew I hope and trust my life will show the fruit of a submitted and humbled heart. With such a great example in our Saviour, I must look to him. I must choose to deny myself and the message the world sends. I must choose to make my Master, husband and children more important than me and worthy of all my heart. Only then will I gain theirs. Only then will I see God's power in my life full and abounding.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Respect: That estimation or honor in which men hold the distinguished worth or substantial good qualities of others.
Noah Webster 1828
American Dictionary or the English Language
In simple terms respect is to honor others worth. The bible tells us that all men are created in the image of God (Gen 1:26). We are of great importance and worth to God (Psalm 139). Given this information we must be respecters of all. This is a little hard to swallow for me since my instinct is to only respect those who deserve it according to my judgement!
The more I think on what respect means, the more I realize I have been acting on and thinking of respect as a feeling. But, respect is not a feeling it is an action. It is a choice. As we have been training respect this week we have been talking about how respect is an attitude. It chooses to think of others first and to honor them, whether the person deserves honor or not.
We have been talking about respect in greeting and meeting people, in conversations, and in ongoing relationships. When we first meet a person we respect and value their worth as a child of God by being cheerful, attentive and polite. The children and I have practiced looking people in the eye, introductions and proper hand shakes. This is still in the training stage at our house as none of my children have offered a hand to someone new or used proper protocol for introductions. I trust as we continue to train this they will be able to use it in the world and it will show honor and respect to others. The first time I met one of our pastor's sons he smiled confidently, stuck out his hand to shake mine and spoke cheerfully and confidently to me. I was amazed that a 9 year old boy made me feel so special by simply greeting and meeting me! I pray my girls will do the same some day.
Other ways we respect those around us is by using good manners. We train our children to be polite and well mannered for others benefit. For little ones this means being polite in our play and sharing, eating politely and being patient with others. None of these things come very naturally to a child so they must be encouraged and trained.
When children are playing they must be coached and trained on the proper attitudes and actions. If we never require a child to respect others they will quickly alienate everyone around them! As parents we need to be willing to stop what we are doing and address the arguments over toys, address the loud or improper voices and address the greed that often comes when playing with others. I have found that if we approach this training from a heart of respect for the other person it will give more meaning than simply fixing the situation by taking away toys, separating children or redirecting. It is well worth taking the time to talk out the situation with the little ones. When a child snatches a toy from another I try and ask them questions like, "is this how you want to be treated? Did you ask first and then wait patiently? Did you get help from a parent when the other child wouldn't share?" This gives the children tools to use; ask, wait patiently, get help etc. This respects the other persons space, time and choice. If the other person refuses to give the item to the other child in a timely manner we should not get angry and argue, but, seek help from mom or dad.
When sharing a meal with others it is a good habit to train manners before hand. If we require good manners at every meal and work on them little by little as our children grow they will be habits that carry over into meals with others. Again, practicing and giving a child tools to use will prevent arguments, offenses and poor manners. No child is expected to like everything placed in front of them, cut their meat perfectly at age 4 or never spill. When a child does not like something it is wise for the parent to only give a small portion and for the child to politely say, "no, thank you, or just a little, please." We have a rule that you may not give your opinion about a food unless you are asked or you have something complimentary to say. This works well, but needs to be reminded often at our house!
Respect looks so much simpler as a child. You are to treat others well in all situations. As our children grow we will have more opportunities to encourage them to make the choice to respect even when it seems unfit for the situation. Our 7 year-old daughter has started to notice the sin or unwise choices other people make. We have had opportunity to encourage her to, "love and respect the person, but hate the sin." One of our pastors, Mark Darling, shared this in a sermon many years ago and I have held tightly to this. Others are not always easy to respect, but, we can train our children and ourselves to treat others with dignity and worth. Respect does not lie and honor those who have acted dishonorably, it does however, treat others with good manners. Let's encourage our little ones to show respect right from the start, honoring others with their good actions and manners will become a beautiful habit as they grow!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


There are 3 major areas that I focus training my children on they are obedience, self-control and respect. These are the foundation that needs to be laid before you can move forward with other character training. Without these qualities established you will not be able to train anything else! In this article I will talk about obedience.

Obedience is simply doing what you are told, when you are told with a good attitude. There is a chain of command that we all must be obedient to as Christians. Starting with God, the husband, then the wife then the children in family. In church it is God, the elders, then the congregation. In the work realm it is God, Master, then worker. Each of these areas mirrors the triune that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are. Just as Jesus submitted to his authority and was obedient even unto death we too must be obedient to our authority.

Before we can establish obedience in our children we must first put obedience in place in our lives as parents. Are we obedient to God? Our husbands? The bible? These are questions we must ask ourselves and make sure that we are right before we start to train the little one's God has placed in our care. As a person under authority we are not of ourselves but must seek the will of our Father God and husbands in training. What do they want us to require obedience in? What actions do they want us to take to get there? What is most important to them? How do they want us to implement obedience training? How can we be more obedient to them?

Once you have established your standard and superiors will, then you can start making plans to train your children. This takes time, commitment and dedication. Training that is done haphazardly and without consistency will only breed frustration for the children and the parent. When we are working on training we set aside a special time of day to talk about the subject (obedience) and establish the definition, expectations, and consequences. We will talk a lot about when we may need to be obedient and what it looks like. I will try and play some games to high light obedience with the children. One we simply call the obedience game. I give silly commands to the children and they must say, "yes, mommy," and go do them. I might tell them to go run around the house one time, ring the doorbell and then come lay down on the couch. Or maybe it is running into the kitchen and hiding under the table. I always make this game fun. We also act out the ways to be obedient. Practicing right and wrong in a theatrical way. This is the practicing before the situation. Another big part of training is prepping the children before we go to do something. Before going to the store, church, a friends etc we will pray, talk about my expectations and what are the right things to do. We also discuss what is not right and I try and give a cheerful encouragement such as, "I know you girls can do a great job at the store today, let's look for a way to bless each person we see maybe by smiling at them or using quiet voices, we're Lebens we can do this!"

We are working on quick obedience at our home also. It breaks my heart when I notice that a child does not quickly obey their parents. I wonder how many times children could have been saved from painful accidents by simply listening when a parent said, "STOP!" Obedience to our words the first time is of the utmost importance not just out of respect for authority, but, because it may mean the difference between life and death. Each time I repeat myself over and over and my children do not obey my heart aches because I know that I wouldn't be able to keep them out of harms way with my words.

One way to ensure that our children are obeying and doing the what and when is by requiring them to answer us with a, "yes, mom." By doing this we know they have heard and understood. This is one of those repeat, repeat, repeat things. I have to remind my children to say it, but, that also means that they have heard. If I ever feel my anxiety rising it is usually because someone has not done what I said, when I said, with a good attitude and then I know I need to correct the situation. The more I set aside time to correct the situation and deal with it now, the less I will have to later. We can model this well for our children by responding to them in kind. When someone asks for something I love to say, "Yes, Julia I would be happy to get you a glass of water." When we model that we are happy to serve and help our children they will recognize this and want to do it too.

Attitude is where I find the most gray area. I believe this is Satan's easiest accessible way into our children's actions. We may not always see the rolled eyes, or always discern the improper tone of voice. But, when we do we must require the utmost respect. We must recognize that this is not of the Lord and has no place in our homes. I've noticed that as my children get older they become better at the what and where, not the attitude. I try and catch them and encourage them to evaluate the heart behind the attitude. I may ask a question like, "Is this a way you would speak to Jesus when serving him?" "Are you speaking from the goodness in your heart?" I want to make sure that our children recognize that an attitude of sass is not of the Lord and is sin. Because this is such a sly area I have to purpose to recognize and deal with it. As my children get older it becomes less of a discipline situation and more of a coaching and praying situation. For the little ones it remains simply you must obey with a cheerful attitude or you will be disciplined.

We have a lot of room for improvement in the area of obedience in our home. It takes work. I confess some days it is easier to overlook the offense then to deal with it. My sin of passivity never equals God's righteousness. If I am going to change my complacent ways I must choose to teach it first and then deal with the issues. I must choose to notice when the children do obey and praise them. This is not easy, but it is well worth it!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Training our Children for the Lord

The need for training in my children's lives has been made unmistakeably clear to me this past week. I have gone back to the basics of why and how this training will need to happen. Putting it here in writing will hopefully make me accountable to acting out this very needed and tremendous job.

Training has not always been a part of my personal life or my parenting. Up until about 4 years ago I had never thought of training in terms of personal character growth or in teaching and growing character in my children. Traditionally I just waited until I did something wrong and suffered the painful consequences. In my ignorant ways I had done the same for my children. When I first heard about pro-actively training my children it was a huge blessing. Not only for my children's sake but for my own also. No longer would we have to wait until we did something wrong and then be corrected to learn to do right. I was captivated by the idea that we could have success instead of failure.

We all have moments in our life when we make poor decisions or do wrong and need correction. As we grow these times should decrease. We should study and learn what is good and right and then do it. Sadly I have not always afforded my children this opportunity. I have waited for them to wrong and then taught them through pain. This is not ideal. Pain should never be the only motivator we have to do good. When we do not train and set forth our expectations of ourselves and our families we set everyone up to fail. When we do train and clearly communicate our standards and expectations we set ourselves and our families up for success.

After hearing about training several years ago and being taught by a wonderful, Godly, wise mother some of her ways I have grown to love training. It has been a beautiful tool at our home and really blessed the time our family spends together. One problem that I have continually faced is that I have wrong expectations or rather unrealistic expectations. I somehow believe that if I instruct the children on how to do something once, then they know and I will never need to tell them the same thing again. Oh what silly, foolish thinking that is! I set myself up to fail every time I get off track and think that my job is somehow done now that I have gone through things one time! The truth is training is continuous. Repeat, repeat, repeat and then repeat a little more. It happens all day, everyday. Whether I am purposefully training or not, it is still happening. When I have backed away from training and let the children to themselves I am training them to follow their own ways. This NEVER works and I reap such a poor harvest during these times. But, when I am on my game and dedicated and focused on my children's training oh what a beautiful result and harvest that has.

So how does one stay committed all the time? This is something I have needed to figure out, but, haven't. It use to be that I would fall into old habits of frustration and yelling. Now I see the cues much sooner in my children when they have not been receiving the training they need. Praise God he always brings me back to a place where I recognize our families need to seek him, his ways and his word. We are currently in one of these times. I pray that I don't become complacent, but get continual reminders to train, even when I think the children have it down.

Why is training so important? I believe training is extremely important. The main reason is that God has charged me with the job of preparing the children he places in our family for him as adults. He has given me around 18 years to prepare these children for his service. This is a huge job! God has wonderful and what are going to be sometimes difficult plans for these little ones in my care. My greatest joy will be to see to it that these girls are prepared for whatever God might use them for. This is the primary goal, but, there are lesser goals that come with it. I want our girls and family to stand out now and look different from the world. When people see our family I want them to see something different in the hope that they may be attracted to the difference and give us an opportunity to point them towards God. Training also has some benefits of bringing peace and joy to our lives. A child well trained will bless your home and others as well. The child will also enjoy a more calm and secure life.

Exactly how do children benefit from training? Children benefit by feeling prepared and secure. When we pro-actively train our children for different situations and when we communicate what our expectations are they will understand and know what to do and how to do it. When children are given boundaries and have a clear understanding of what will happen if they cross that boundary they are empowered to make their own choices and don't need to feel lost or confused.

Training creates freedom. We nor our children have to feel like we are controlled by our emotions. Preparing and practicing helps us to not be at the mercy of our feelings. We can learn to choose to be self-controlled. This creates freedom and feelings of peace not the confusion and frustration that results from a misunderstanding of what is expected and happening around us.

It is tempting to believe that children just like to pitch a fit or fuss to get what they want. This is simply untrue. Children from babyhood on are capable of using self-control and cheerful voices. Children do not like to feel out of control and to fuss and whine. They have been trained that this is the way to get what they want.

What we train and how is not the principle here. The principle is that we are to do the training that God commands. That will look different in each family. As I started to think about what it was God wanted me to train I looked to the bible, my husband and respected families that had successfully trained God-fearing and serving children. I am so encouraged by knowing that God will equip us to raise up a generation of children who run for him with his character evident in their life. That goal makes every long training moment and all the teaching well worth it. Praise God that he does not make us wait until our children are adults to see all the fruits of this labor. He gives us momentary glimpses of the fruit our training is producing now. I pray that these moments will motivate and encourage our family to continue on and yours as well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are you a Constitutionalist?

The following article was thought provoking for me, maybe it will be for you too. This is written by Chuck Baldwin and archived HERE.

I originally published this column back in January of 2005. Since then (and especially lately), many people have called and written with requests to republish it. So, with a few minor revisions, here it is.

More than thirty years as a student of American history, constitutional government, and the Holy Bible leads me to the conviction that the two major political parties in this country (at the national level) are equally culpable in stripping America of its founding principles. In my opinion, both the Democrat and Republican parties in Washington, D.C., have zero fidelity to the U.S. Constitution and zero respect for America's foundational precepts.

In my studied opinion, neither the Democrat nor Republican Party (at the national level) has any intention of slowing the out-of-control expansion of government. Neither party has demonstrated any loyalty to preserving and protecting our constitutional form of government.

Like National Socialists and Soviet Socialists of old, the only thing that concerns Democrats and Republicans today is who is in power. Both are equally willing to destroy the freedoms and liberties of people without conscience or regret as long as their party remains in control.
I am absolutely convinced that without a renewed allegiance to constitutional government and State sovereignty, there can be no resolution to America's current slide into socialism and oppression. Therefore, it is critical that we cast aside our infatuation with partisan politics and steadfastly stand firm for the principles of federalism and freedom, as did America's founders.

Might you be a modern-day Minuteman who understands the principles of freedom and federalism? I offer the following test. Read it and see if you, too, are a Constitutionalist. (Yes, Martha, this is another Jeff Foxworthy spin-off.)

1. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that every congressman, senator, President, and Supreme Court justice is required to obey the U.S. Constitution.

2. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that before the United States invades and occupies another country, Congress must first declare war.

3. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe the federal government should live within its means, like everyone else is forced to do.

4. You might be a Constitutionalist if you think that taking away people's liberties in the name of security is not patriotic, nor does it make the country more secure.

5. You might be a Constitutionalist if you would like to see politicians be forced to abide by the same laws they make everyone else submit to.

6. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that we have three "separate but equal" branches of government that are supposed to hold each other in check and balance.

7. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the federal government has no authority to be involved in education or law enforcement, or in any other issue that the Tenth Amendment reserves to the States, or to the People.

8. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that gun control laws do nothing but aid and abet criminals while trampling the rights and freedoms of law-abiding citizens.

9. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the income tax is both unconstitutional and immoral, and, along with the I.R.S. and the Federal Reserve, should be abolished.

10. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe the federal government had no authority to tell former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore that he could not display a monument containing the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery; or to tell a Pace, Florida, high school principal that he could not pray before a meal.

11. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that Congress or the White House or any sovereign State is not required to submit to unconstitutional Supreme Court rulings.

12. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that freedom has nothing in common with illegal immigration.

13. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that outsourcing American jobs overseas is not good for America.

14. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the United States should get out of the United Nations and get the United Nations out of the United States.

15. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that it is not unconstitutional for children in public schools to pray or read the Bible.
16. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the Boy Scouts are not a threat to America.

17. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the federal government should honor its commitments to America's veterans and stop using U.S. military personnel as guinea pigs for testing drugs and chemicals.

18. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that U.S. troops should never serve under foreign commanders or wear the uniform or insignia of the United Nations, and that they must never submit to illegal orders, such as turning their weapons against American citizens, or confiscating the guns of U.S. citizens.

19. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the federal government has no business bribing churches and faith-based organizations with federal tax dollars.

20. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that federal agents who murder American citizens should be held to the same laws and punishments that any other citizen would be held to. (Can anyone say, "Waco" and "Ruby Ridge"?)

21. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, and the FTAA (and similar agreements) are disastrous compromises of America's national sovereignty and independence.

22. You might be a Constitutionalist if you would like to see congressmen and senators be required to actually read a bill before passing it into law.

23. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that it is the job of government to protect and secure God-given rights, not use its power to take those rights away.

24. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that there is nothing unconstitutional about the public acknowledgement of God and our Christian heritage.

25. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that government bailouts and "stimulus" expenditures defy virtually every principle of free enterprise and are a flagrant leap into socialism.

26. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that airport screeners have no business touching women's breasts, using sophisticated machinery to look through passengers' clothing to see their naked bodies, confiscating fingernail clippers, or denying pilots from carrying handguns.

27. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that many public schools' "zero-tolerance" policies are just plain stupid.

28. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that parents have a right to homeschool their children.

29. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that governmental seizure of private property is plain, old-fashioned thievery.

30. You might be a Constitutionalist if you are personally determined to not submit to any kind of forced vaccination.

31. You might be a Constitutionalist if you oppose any kind of national health insurance.

32. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that U.S. troops are not the world's policemen, that they are not "nation-builders," and that their purpose is only to defend American lives and property, not to be the enforcement arm of international commercial interests or global elitists.

33. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that the county Sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer of his district and that federal law enforcement (much of which is unconstitutionally organized, anyway) is obligated to submit to his authority.

34. You might be a Constitutionalist if you are determined to oppose America's merger with any kind of regional, hemispheric, or international government, such as the North American Union.

35. You might be a Constitutionalist if you oppose sending billions of taxpayer dollars as foreign aid; the U.S. State Department meddling into the private affairs of foreign countries; and ubiquitous foreign entanglements that require vast sums of money, create animosity and hostility towards us, and expose us to foreign wars and conflicts in which we have no national interest.

36. You might be a Constitutionalist if you would like to meet one single congressman or senator besides Ron Paul who acts as if he or she has ever read the U.S. Constitution.

Well, how did you fare? Are you a Constitutionalist? If so, your country desperately needs you to stand up and fight for freedom's principles before they are forever taken from us. This means never again voting for anyone--from any party--who will not preserve, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution. So, don't just take the test; make the pledge!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Wise Woman

Proverbs 14:1

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

This morning I somehow managed to nearly simultaneously build and tear down my house! During lunch our girls were sitting at the table eating vegetable alphabet soup talking about the letters, telling each other their sounds and commenting on how good mama's soup was. They were also looking at their place mat maps of the world, universe and U.S. quizzing each other on where things were. This was a very proud building up my family and home kind of moment. Then I started to clean up, got out the mop and proceeded to pitch a little tizzy fit in my head because nothing looked clean! Yikes, how quickly I started tearing down what God has blessed us with. So this afternoon when I read the above verse in Proverbs how very convicted I was that my thoughts were wrong.

I thought I would blog a little about some of the ways that I have been trying to build my house in the area of my husband and children.

Pete is an extremely easy man to please so luckily building up my marriage is not a terribly difficult thing to do. The big thing I have found is that I need to ask questions and be willing to put into action what my husband says. I have tried to ask how he wants his children's days ordered, his children to look, his wife to look, his schedule kept, his money spent, his food prepared and his house managed. In each of these areas I had some idea of what he wanted but, I have always been a little surprised at what has been really important to him. Each man is different in their desires so I won't go into specifics here, but, I do believe we can really build up our homes and relationships with our husbands if we are willing to follow his order and desire for things.
There are also little things I have done to try and honor my husband as the head of our family. I try and serve him first at all meals and wait for him to lead us in prayer. When we go out I try not to have expectations of him gathering or packing things as he does not always know where I keep things. I try and anticipate his next need and have things prepared for him. If he is working outside in the hot weather and I notice he hasn't come in for water I will try and take him a drink. I try and look for little things that he may want done, say stopping to make a deposit at the bank or filing papers. Again all of our husbands are different in what they like done but we can really bless them by being perceptive and attentive to what they may want done. I have a friend who knows that her husband really likes things to smell nice so she will often light a scented candle before he is due home from work. Another friend of mine has told me how she knows her husband likes a clean kitchen, so she will try and clean it up before he's due home. My husband really likes it when I run all my errands at one time, so I try and be on top of things and run multiple errands at once. There are so many little ways we can build up our husbands and homes by recognizing and doing what our husbands prefer.

I also wanted to add some ways that we practice building up our girls. We try and take time for them individually by taking them on dates. Each of them enjoys different things so we will try and take time aside to do what they enjoy. This does not happen often, but, that makes the time even more sweet as it is such a rare occurrence. I also try and make waking up in the morning a special time. I love to let the girls know I have missed them while they have been sleeping and give them some cuddles before we are off and running full speed into our day. When the children have an idea they want to try I try and let them with in reason. One of our girls has been wanting to try more baking and sewing in her spare time. If possible I allow her to do what she can and help, it always ends up being a great time of bonding for us. Some other things we like to do are read chapter books together, bake, look at the National Geographic and talk about the pictures, go on nature walks/hunts, and play games.

There are many, many things we can do to contribute to the growth and keeping of our families and homes. I pray that our girls and my husband will find our home so comfortable and so full of love that it is naturally where they always want to be. The only way we can make that happen is by investing our time and energy into our homes. I have a lot of growing to do in this area. I often think I need to invest my time in maintaining my house, but, that does not offer nearly the reward as investing my time in building it. When I think about what I want my children to remember it is not a mom who was frantically trying to keep her house perfect, but, a mom who was so invested in living for the Lord and her family that they could clearly see it in what I did each day and in how I showed them I loved them.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Others May: You Cannot

Others May: You Cannot-by G. D. Watson (1845-1924).

If God has called you to be really like Jesus He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands of obedience, that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other people do things which He will not let you do.

Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful, may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans,but you cannot do it, and if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes, of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence upon Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious He may let others get credit for the work which you have done,and thus make your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasting your time,which other Christians never feel distressed over. So make up your mind that God is an Infinitely Sovereign Being, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in His dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be His love slave, He will wrap you up in Jealous Love, and bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the inner circle. Settle it forever, then that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem to use with others.

Now, when you are so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and managementof the Holy Spirit over your life, then you will have found the vestibule of Heaven.

And Two Shall Become One

It is fall cleanup time again. This is the time of year when we give our yard some much needed TLC. Part of our fall clean up routine is pruning the trees and bushes in our yard. Each time we start planning for this or I see Pete pruning I am reminded of how we too are pruned by a master gardener. John chapter 15 talks about God being the gardener, Jesus the vine and we are the branches. Every branch that does not bear fruit is cut off, every branch that does bear fruit is pruned so that it can bear even more fruit. A more fruitful life is appealing, right? The pruning part is maybe not so appealing!

There are many areas of our lives that God prunes us in. Recently God took me through a drastic time of pruning in my relationships. I am so thankful that Jesus was the vine that I could remain in during this time. I do believe that his constant flow of life and comfort through the painful times of this pruning was a source of more fruit in the long run. At the time my heart ached and I was unable to see how this could help. Praise God, that I didn't need to understand, I just needed to abide in him. Now, into the next season after pruning there is starting to be new relationships and fruit. What a joy it is to see growth, to have my wounds healed and feel the new blooms starting to emerge in my life.

It seems like we are never fully pruned at one time. God was so good to know that in my humanness I could only handle one area of my branches being cut. But, there is some room for pruning in another area now......my marriage. Anyone who is in a marriage and growing closer to becoming one with their spouse can understand, pruning in marriage hurts! In my incomplete view it seems like I am always the one taking the brunt of the cutting, but, this is a lie. We both are. As we grow together into one there is so much that needs to be pruned away. Selfishness, greed, temptation, judgement and so much more. Lately God has been pruning in the area of humility and serving. Jesus led the ultimate example of serving, he laid down his life for those he loved. We too must do the same thing in our marriages. So here I am feeling a little exposed and raw after a pruning by the Master, reluctantly ready to place his will before mine. Today I must fill my man's love tank, when I would rather be taking a hot, relaxing bath. Today I must stop being busy with the house and be busy with attending my entire attention to my man. Today I must choose to overlook an offense. Today I must put his needs and wants before mine. Today I must love first and receive love second. Just writing this makes me feel a little over-whelmed with the task at hand. As it should be because giving away my life so that I can share one with the man that God gave me to in marriage is a huge and rewarding task. No other area of my life outside of my relationship with God can offer true friendship, security and such tremendous love. So are those items worth losing my will to? YES! Does it hurt and take time, energy, and patience? YES! The pain of being pruned so that there can be new growth is sometimes terrible, but, the fruit that results is such a beautiful reward.

As we learn to abide in, rely on and trust in our vine to feed us, we can be sure that the Master will come through and prune out what may look good or nice, but, ultimately causes death. It is not always a pretty picture in the season of pruning, but the fruit in the next season is a glory to the Master, better than the last crop and more fruitful. Ladies we must learn to make God our master gardener and Jesus the one who sustains us. No magazine, self help book or guru can offer the harvest that our Lord and Saviour can. So next time you are feeling a little picked on and pulled apart, just remember there will be a season that you cannot see now that will result in a more substantial and fruitful harvest.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What are you holding onto?

God has been speaking to me a lot lately and some of the things he is saying have me a little concerned! I realized that I have left my heart unguarded and have become an easy target for the enemy. I have fallen into my old ways.

I have always been a little nervous about illness. I just don't naturally react calm and peaceful. I tend to anxious and worry. Since the loss of my sister and daughter to illness I have become even more anxious and fretful. Over the past couple of years God has really been convicting me that this is an area of sin for me. That if I do not take every thought captive and work on protecting my mind and heart I too easily fall into my old worrisome ways.

I confess I am trying to hold on to the power over my family and loved ones health. This is not for me to covet and hold tight to. When I worry I am saying that I don't have faith that God can carry us through anything and that I don't trust him with our health. Now I would really like to pull out my past experiences to defend myself. But, the simple truth is I need to let go of what ties me to this world and what causes me to sin and simply trust.

We all have areas in our life that we hold tight to and have a hard time surrendering, this is mine. What's yours? Have you asked God to reveal it to you? Are you ready? I certainly wasn't ready to deal with this issue. But, God in his infinite mercy has been so faithful and loving to me in this situation. He has never left my side and continues to comfort me, calm me and open my eyes to his presence.

The most ironic thing to me about all of this is that even after losing my sister Gea and daughter Olivia to severe illness's I still worried. You would think that after watching my sister and daughter battle severe illness's that the common cold or stomach flu wouldn't get me all flustered! I have found that what binds me and takes me captive is so irrational. My heart is deceitful above all and does not communicate well with my head. Often our worries, our sins, our struggles have no rational basis, but, our heart and emotions are not always easily spoken to by our intellect.

I am so embarrassed by my sin, but, I know I'm not alone. I also know that the more I pray, ask for prayer and commit all of my ways to God the closer I am to triumphing over this sin. Some days are still bad. I worry or allow my mind to wonder into dangerous territory, but, as I grow in my trust of God those days are fewer and fewer. I want to encourage you to go out on a limb and trust God with what you are holding onto. I once heard a speaker address how to confront and bring down your fears by taking that fear to the worst case scenario. I do not like this method as I have done it and it really offers no comfort. What has worked for me is to lean not on my own understanding, but, to acknowledge God and ask Him to make my paths straight. He has been so very gentle and kind with me through this and I trust he will be for you to.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Submit to this Administration?

In our culture we are encouraged to question authority and boldly protest against what we don't like. I've been wondering how our current ways align with what bible says about governmental authority. What is fitting for a follower of Christ?

All earthly authority is given by God. This is hard to wrap my mind around because I foolishly want to believe that all people are good and God would only allow good rulers to reign. The truth is God has allowed ruthless leaders to be in authority throughout time. When Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt it was from a ruthless Pharaoh. The bible clearly says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 7:3). Ultimately, this was for God's glory and the Israelite's freedom. At the time the Israelite's did the same thing we do now, grumbled and complained against their authorities, not seeing the entire picture.

As Christ followers we have a clear chain of authority to follow. As wives we submit to husbands, children to parent's, church members to their pastors, employees to employers etc. Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:3 that we are to, "Render to Caesar (government) what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." Our submission in this life is practice for our submission to Christ in the next. God is a God of order in all things. Our job is to follow the order regardless of emotion.

David is a fine example of biblical submission. In 1 Samuel 24 Saul is hunting David down to kill him. Saul is jealous of David and fears for his throne. David has the opportunity to kill Saul, but he doesn't. He cuts off a piece of his robe and confronts Saul with it. As he is talking to Saul he says, "I will not lift a hand against my master, because he is the Lord's anointed one." David knew it was his duty and responsibility to follow Saul. Just as it is ours now to follow our authorities in government, as long as they do not require or ask us to sin.

There are many details that we can find that could be sinful in following our leaders. There are so many issues that are reason for concern such as abortion, assisted suicide, cloning, gay marriage, etc. As tax payers these are very real concerns, none of us want to encourage sinful acts with our money or votes. So what is a Christ follower to do? I admit I don't know and I wrestle with this issue. But, there are a couple of things I am sure of, the answer will not be found in disparaging and disrespectful talk about the current leaders in authority. Our slanderous talk is a reflection of our hearts, in which love cannot be heard if we are speaking harshly of the authorities God has allowed to be over us. Another thing we must do is get on our knee's and cry out to God for our country. The last thing I am certain of is that we must vote wisely, based on biblical standards.

One of my favorite verses is 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear them from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." My heart is so encouraged by this. What hope their is for our future in this verse. We must be diligent in spreading the good news of the gospel. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. We have so much work to do, but it is not too late!

Our votes can count, as much as the world's lie is that we don't matter, we do! Study up on who is a worthy candidate and then vote for them. Don't vote based on popularity, trying to keep someone else out of office or party affiliation. There are more than 2 parties. Vote based on how closely the candidate will lead according to God's standard. We will give an account for our choices here on earth.

The state of our country is declining and severely immoral. God has been kicked out of our nation and I believe we are under his judgement for our lustful, prideful, greedy and selfish ways. We deserve every bit of judgement we get for the terrible way we have treated our Creator and maligned his word. But, remember their is hope if we will turn our hearts towards the Lord, if we will trust him, follow him and rise above the disrespectful rhetoric and fear many groups are trying to incite us to. Awaken your heart to believe God's truths, walk in his ways and pray! We can rise above these immoral and dark ways of our country. We need not stand by and watch it decline. Pray for our leaders, pray for our people and tirelessly work for the name of Jesus. All praise be to Jesus our true King!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Book Recommendation

I wanted to write a blog on the difference between principles and methods that I learned about in Nancy Wilson's book, "The Fruit of Her Hands." I can't compete with the fabulous writing that she does, nor do I want to. So I thought I would recommend this to you. It is a must read for any woman looking to mature in God's ways. I have a copy I would be happy to loan out if you are interested. But you'll have to read it quick as I love to look back at this book often for encouragement. Here are a some of the things I enjoyed most about this book.
  • Principle vs. Method: The principle is the important thing (God's word, command) the method (way we do something) is of lesser importance.
  • Respecting our Husband...in speech etc.
  • Working hard and finding contentment in our homes.

Hope some of you ladies are uplifted and encouraged by this fabulous book!

Where does productivity come from?

I read this on the Visionary Womanhood Blog...interesting

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by Bojidar Marinov, Sep 02, 2009
Several years ago a newspaper in Eastern Europe asked a socialist economist a question: “Why is it that the same worker works the same number of hours in Eastern Europe and in America but they make an average of $22/hr in America and only $1.5/hr in Eastern Europe? Where does the 15-fold difference in productivity come from?” The goal of the chief editor was to educate his readers with a short, easy to understand and illuminating article. The socialist economist replied with a 25-page essay full of religious . . . er, I mean, “professional” language that no one could understand, including the economist himself.
The chief editor filed the article in the round file, and called me, the Protestant missionary. “Bojidar,” he said, “I need an article. I need it quick, and I need it simple, digestible and informing. Do you have one?” I did. A good Reformed missionary always has a simple, digestible and informing article on every aspect of human life and action. If he doesn’t, he must go to his Reformed heritage. So I went to one of my Puritan ancestors in the faith, Daniel Defoe, and his character Robinson Crusoe.
Imagine Robinson on an uninhabited island. He has one immediate problem to solve: He needs to eat. He may have a few tools from the ship, but none of these tools give him any immediate solution. What gives him a solution are the few trees near the beach with fruits on them. There is a problem though: The trees are tall and difficult to climb. It takes Robinson one whole day of work to gather only as much fruits as to survive, and then go to sleep at night. He can’t do more than that, unless he wants to go hungry for one day.
Well, one day he has an idea and he really decides to go hungry for a half day. He spends that half day making a long 20 ft. pole to knock fruit down without having to climb the trees. The next day he tries his new production tool, and finds out that it has doubled his productivity: He can knock down the quantity of fruits needed for his survival in a half day instead of one whole day.
So, our first lesson about increased productivity is: It comes from sacrifice, i.e. from forbearing present consumption plus ideas and work. Increasing productivity always comes at a cost.
Now Robinson has several options. He can work a half day, have as much as he had before, and sleep the rest of the day. Or he can work one whole day and double his rations. Or he can work one whole day but eat as much as before, and save the rest—dry it and store it. He decides to take the last option. In a few days he has enough saved to be able to survive a few days without work, so he embarks on a journey to the heart of the island to catch a few wild goats. A week later he returns with two goats. Now he can gather fodder for them one hour a day, and milk them one hour a day, and have even more food than he had before.
Again, his increased productivity came from sacrificing present consumption and using the saved resources to explore and work.
Then one day Friday comes, and he is a good fisherman, but he has no boat. That’s not a problem because by now Robinson is productive enough to feed both of them and work with Friday for two weeks to build his boat and make his net. Now, with Friday’s productivity increased, they have enough time to apply themselves to even better use of their time. The effect of the original sacrifice can be multiplied many times over if they keep saving and use the savings in the right way—not for increased consumption but for more work and investment.
There is no other way to become more effective, more productive, and wealthier. This is how America became what it is today: The fathers of modern Americans sacrificed, saved, and worked, forbearing present consumption and looking to the future. America is rich today because it was founded on that Puritan spirit of self-restraint and work ethic, unknown to most European nations. It is as simple as that.
The editor liked my article, and by the response from his readers, they liked it too. Within a few weeks from its publication the article was republished on many web-sites and blogs online. Eastern Europe is learning from our American heritage.
The question is: Is America today learning from her own heritage?
She isn’t. For the last century Americans have gradually adopted an economic doctrine completely hostile to the spirit of their Puritan forefathers and to common sense in general: That not sacrifice, but consumption is what produces economic growth. We think we have found the way to both eat the cake and have it at the same time. If we eat more, buy new cars more often, spend more money on entertainment, these will somehow make us richer and more productive.
Our government is operating under that same doctrine more and more. Government projects for “creating jobs,” bailouts, “cash for clunkers” programs, printing more money, encouraging unrestricted expansion of money supply and credit—they are all offshoots of the grand illusion that sacrifice is not needed anymore, that utopia will come from unbridled indulgence.
If we look at our example above, this is equivalent to believing that Robinson will become more productive and better off by consuming everything he produced the day before, and even more than that, depleting his stores. Even simple common sense tells us that production for consumption and investing for economic growth are two completely different activities, and they compete for our resources. The more we consume, the less we will have to make our life better in the future. And vice versa, the more we sacrifice and save, the more we will have to invest and make ourselves more productive.
We don’t want to sacrifice anymore; we don’t want to pay the cost for real economic growth. We deceive ourselves that consumption comes at no cost. We are wrong. Both consumption and investment have costs. They both have costs, whether we realize it or not. Of course, we keep telling ourselves that in consumption we are transferring the costs to the future, that we or our children will pick up the tab in the future. But we are wrong. Gary North pointed to the fact that there are no future costs, all costs are present. (Gary North’s articles are true CR, I mean Chivas Regal: only appreciated 12 years after production.)
We need to go back and learn from the heritage of our forefathers. Our indulgence has cost us much so far, and it will cost us more and more. We need to learn to sacrifice our consumption and save. We have paid exorbitant amounts of money to self-destroy ourselves. It is time to start paying for rebuilding. If other nations are willing to learn from our history, we need to learn from it too.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Craft Time!

Anybody who knows me well knows I do not care for crafting. The idea of getting out messy craft supplies, directing the children and having to procure art supplies is not appealing to me. As we live on a very tight budget I have found some things that are easily recycled and used for craft or art time.

*Egg Cartons: In addition to making inch worms these handy little spaces where the eggs go are just the right size for small embellishments like googly eyes, pasta pieces, sequence, glitter etc.

*Styrofoam meat trays. I know if sounds yucky but these things clean up super easy and make for a great easel. I put the children's paints on one of these and then wash up again for another use.

*When you purchase something with a hard card board piece in it keep the board. These make great surfaces to paint and decorate or to glue things onto.

*This one I saw at a friends house, keep a two liter soda bottle, cut off the top half and keep pencils, paint brushes etc. in it.

*Disposable pie tins. These work great when you want to use glitter just put them under where you are working and dump extra in then you can easily clean up and put it back in the container.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Two Ears, One Mouth, Part II

My previous post talked about our speech. In this post I would like to address some thoughts on listening. Our family is in big time need of training in this area. I hope you can learn from our struggles and the tools we are implementing to train listening.

A good friend of mine said, "God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we talk." What wisdom that statement contains. But, I am afraid we Lebens girls really like to talk and have not always heeded this counsel! So we are now reaping the harvest we have sewn. We have found that often times there are more people talking than listening. Not at all a beautiful sound or understandable situation. Our children seem to struggle with wanting to speak their every thought. As little toddlers there is only so much ability to think without speaking, but as our children grow past the age of 4 or 5 they should have the ability to control their mouths. With the training of self-control they can do it much earlier, but won't be able to internalize thoughts without speaking until a later time.

So what is a mom to do, but get the heavy training artillery! At our house that sometimes means that the privilege to speak gets taken away so they can listen more. It also means we do training games. Before I tell you what those are let's figure our why listening is so important.

To have wisdom Proverbs tells us we must first hear. Proverbs 8:33-34 wisdom is calling us to, "Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway." To grow in understanding and knowledge and to learn we need to have the ability to not only hear words, but, to really listen to them and understand. If we are too busy thinking of the words we are going to say next, or speaking we cannot grow. For children this is especially difficult. As soon as they hear something that they can understand they usually want to share about it. It is beneficial for them to learn to completely hear a matter and then answer, controlling their thoughts and excitement. When our children are young we can encourage this by stopping often to make sure our children have really listened, and then to listen to their thoughts.

Another reason listening is important is that it will help our testimony with those who do not know the Lord. We have all had a conversation with someone who goes on and on about themselves and doesn't let anyone get a word in. This leaves no room for the Lord to work through us or for another person to connect with us, if we are the person chattering on. Connecting with someone is not a one way conversation! We want our children to be able to listen to another person and direct a conversation so that they can talk about Jesus when the time is right. Other's are so blessed by a patient open ear. We can practice this first by doing it with our own family. As parent's listening to every word the children say and being interested can be time consuming, can interrupt us and can slow us down, it is the perfect opportunity to model listening skills and capture your child's heart through conversation.

We teach children how to respect when we require them to completely hear a matter. The dinner table at our house seems to be one area of great temptation to interrupt for our children. Knowing this we have tried to use this time to encourage respect of others. Let your little ones know that love is not rude, listen to what your sibling has to say. If the children interrupt dad or mom that is another great time to remind them that they cannot honor when they interrupt.

But what happens if they need you and can't get a word in? There is this beautiful tool we use called the interrupt rule. The child simply puts their hand on dad or mom's arm and waits for the adult to address them. If they cannot address them right away dad or mom will rest their hand on the child's letting them know they are there. We have tried to train our girls to use the interrupt rule when we are talking with others, on the phone, reading, concentrating on something, or teaching a sibling. When this is used it is a such a blessing to parent's. We just have to remember to answer in a timely manner or our children will not do it again out of frustration that mom and dad don't answer.

One last tidbit on listening. I have heard parent's say of their teens that they just won't listen to them or talk to them. I have not had to deal with this yet and hope I find the teen year's to be a time of great communication between my children and myself. As a motivator I want to make sure that I am available to listen to them now. I believe that if the children learn when they are young that mom and dad are too busy to listen, or don't care about what they have to say by the time they get to their teen years they will have had many years of practicing not talking to mom and dad. No one wants to feel like what they have to say in not important.

Here are some games to help children develop listening skills. Some of these we have done and some are new to us. I would like to increase this list, so if you have a tip or game about listening, please share it!
  • Hide a set egg timer. Have the children work together to find it. They will have to listen more than they talk to hear the ticking
  • Play telephone.
  • Tell a continuing story, where one person starts a story and then each person adds on their own part.
  • When telling stories or reading have the children ask each other questions about the story to see if they listened.
  • Set goals in listening when at others homes. Ask them to be ready to share an idea, someone else had.
  • Have an open ear to playtime, if the children need help "listening" be available to moderate.
  • Pray for one another. Have the children listen to a prayer request from another family member and then pray for it.

I hope there are some helpful tips here for listening that you can use and I also hope to hear from you on what you have found successful at your house in training.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Two Ears, One Mouth, Part I

I have been thinking about the power of our words and the skill of listening lately. I want to share some of my thoughts on our words and speech with you in this post and follow up with another one on the skill of listening.

As a person who struggles with sins of the mouth, I have found the book of Proverbs to be a true light and gentle humbler. One thing I repeatedly read about and am convicted of, is my sin in gossiping. Proverbs 26:20 states, "Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down." I know I have fanned the flame of gossip by crossing the thin line of pure conversation into gossip. It makes me just sick to think of the harm my tongue has done when I speak of others business in an inappropriate manner. I am also ashamed to say that I have not learned the art of not listening to gossip. I say this is an art because I think as women we really have to practice shutting down and directing conversations that are not pure. I so desire to train my ears and mouth and mind to really evaluate what is being said, heard and thought of so as not to gossip. As I venture into more pure conversation I am learning that the line is a little fuzzy and it is best to just stay away from it. One tiny morsel of gossip leads to much more! If I have ever gossipped with you, please accept my apology and feel free to encourage me in conversation not to even start over that thin gray line into gossip.

As women we tend to want to discuss everything. But Proverbs 10:19 admonishes us that, "Where words are many sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." I had my eyes opened to a potential sin in Nancy Wilsons book, The Fruit of Her Hands. She advises that women never seek counsel about their husbands without the husbands approval. Her reasoning is that if you have an issue with him that requires counsel you need to include him in that process. She also advises that if their is a terrible sin that needs addressing and admonishment the church pastors are the only ones in authority to help. Our sisters, girlfriends and mama's are in no position to offer biblical authority. I love this point. As I have tried to honor Pete by asking his permission before seeking counsel, I have grown in respect and love for him. I am trying to encourage others to seek approval on counsel also. Our husbands are uniquely designed by God to lead and solve issues. As soon as we give them the chance to, they will be able to offer us counsel that will be blessed by God. One reason it is blessed, is simply because it is following God's order and design.

So we've seen how our words affect each other as sisters and our husbands, I would be sorely missing something if I didn't address the impact on our children. Our children from birth can sense mom's voice, her tone and what she is feeling. The way we speak to them will directly impact the way they speak to others. I confess that I struggle with yelling. Not angry yelling just loud talking. Every time I catch myself I think of this verse, Proverbs 7:11-12, "She is loud and defiant (the woman folly), her feet never stay at home; 12 now in the streets, now in the squares at every corner she lurks." What a women of folly I am to run around yelling at my children. I do several harmful things, I train my children to only come when I am yelling, I attract attention from those around me and I am drawing attention to myself, not Christ. Now I never yell to intentionally do any of those things, but without a little restraint I cause harm. This harm is all the more obvious when I have 3 little girls yelling at each other and hear the harshness in their words. There are so many ways as parents that we just speak without thinking and pass on poor habits. Our tone of voice should reflect our creator. In Proverbs 31 King Lemuels mother is encouraging him to find a wife of noble character, "she speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue" Proverbs 31:26. Somehow I don't think the woman she is talking about is yelling! We need to train appropriate voices and model them.

Our children also hear much of what we say. If we are on the phone with someone and start talking about a third party, guess who hears? If we are at the park and talking with someone thinking jr is not listening, guess again. We should all be wise about what we say whether our children are present or not. But a little extra vigilance when they are around is important. Do not assume they can't understand what you are saying about their Grandma to someone else. Our children learn how to speak respectfully or disrespectfully by our example. If you want them to love, honor and cherish others you must also.

I am a little exhausted after writing this. I feel so convicted by these thoughts and feel like I have a mountain to move in the way of my words. But, with the Bible as my guide and the Lords grace I know that I can change the habits I have allowed to grow over the years. My prayer is that God would so bless those efforts that my girls learn at a young age to speak in a kind, gentle and respectful way. What more motivation would a mama need?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

From Voddie Baucham's Truth in Love Blog

The Yellow Prison Bus and the Future of American Healthcare
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Conservatives are up-in-arms over the Democratic healthcare scheme. From town hall meetings, to talk radio, to the internet, the voice of the people is being heard. However, I am not at all convinced that the voice of the people will ultimately make a difference in the long run. My pessimism has less to do with the sinister motives of those seeking to take over the healthcare system. On the contrary, my pessimism stems from the hypocrisy of those shouting down their representatives and claiming to be “fed up”.
While I’m sure these folks mean well, I wonder about the sincerity of their opposition in light of the fact that the overwhelming majority of them (between eighty and eighty-five percent) have already accepted everything they claim to abhor about the healthcare plan. Some have already exposed this irony as it relates to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security (full disclosure: I’ve opted out of Social Security and am proud to say that I am not anticipating one thin dime from the American government in my old age). However, I’m not talking about these long existing socialist programs, I’m talking about the #1 socialist welfare program in America, the public school system!
There are striking similarities between government-run education and the government-run healthcare bill currently under consideration in Congress. And it is precisely these similarities that will eventually cause the American people to lay down and take whatever the government gives them, and eventually be willing to fight and die for them. Remember, there was public outrage over government education (and Social Security) as well when it was first proposed (see the quotes here). However, nearly one hundred and fifty years later the overwhelming majority of Americans gladly put their children on the yellow prison bus every day (yes, they are the same type of busses used to transport prisoners).
One of the mantras we hear repeatedly these days is, “we don’t want socialism.” While that sounds good (and conservative, and constitutional, and patriotic, etc.), it rings hollow when you consider the overwhelming majority of the people leading the charge have their children in what amounts to socialized education. What’s the difference? If you’re really against government-run, socialized programs, yank your kid off the yellow prison bus and just say no.
Another catchphrase I’ve heard a lot lately is, “this is a violation of the Tenth Amendment.” Again, this is wonderful rhetoric. I love the Constitution of the United States; especially the Tenth Amendment which protects the rights of States and individuals from overreaches by the Federal Government. The amendment reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Ironically, one of the “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States” is education! That’s right, the Federal Government has absolutely no Constitutional right to involve itself in education. The Department of Education is as unconstitutional as government-run healthcare. However, few of the people shouting at these town hall meetings (or reporting on it on conservative talk radio and the internet) would stand up and call for the immediate abolishment of the D.O.E. (or any of the other federal departments that exist in clear violation of the tenth amendment).
Perhaps the most ironic aspect of the current uproar is the fact that people who put their children on the yellow prison bus and send them to the school designated by the State (at an age chosen by the State, on a date determined by the State, for a term mandated by the State) have the audacity to point their fingers and say, “I don’t want the government picking my doctor!” This is absolute folly. If we were serious about the moral and constitutional authority of this claim there would not be a single congressman or senator in Washington who opposed school choice as none of them would be able to win an election. However, Americans are glad to elect officials who continue to rob them of their freedom in this most basic, fundamental aspect of their lives; the education of their children.
How many times have we heard someone retort, “do you want the people who run the Post Office to run your healthcare?” The answer of course is a resounding no! Whether you call it “the public option,” or something else, conservatives do not want the government to run their healthcare (see here). However, how is it that we trust those same people to run our child’s education? How is this any different? And this is not just a liberal democrat thing; George Bush was the one who gave us “No Child Left Behind.” This was a monument to socialistic, government-run, unconstitutional mis-education. This was a massive overreach by the Federal Government that met little or no opposition (see one rare example here). Where were the town hall protests? Where were the flag-waving, gun-toting protestors? Where was the political right? Instead, all we heard was, “accountability is a good thing.” Never mind the Constitution.
Then there are the people who “don’t want their money to pay for abortions or sex change operations.” This one has president Obama on the defensive. Conservative Christians are especially animated over this aspect of the bill. Suddenly, the silent Christian majority is offended at the prospect of the federal government taking their money and using it for immoral purposes. This coming from people who send their children to government schools with Gay/Straight Alliance clubs, semi-pornographic sex-ed classes, and Gramscian, neo-Marxist, neo-Darwinian curriculum. How can we complain about our tax dollars going to fund abortions and sex change operations if we gladly offer up our children to taxpayer-funded dens of iniquity one hundred and eighty days a year? This is the height of hypocrisy.
We will have taxpayer funded healthcare. The Democrats have offered the full monty, now the Republicans will “dial it back” a bit and claim victory (i.e., we can come up with something just for for those people who don’t have healthcare, make sure illegal immigrants don’t have access, and save Billions, if not Trillions of dollars). The result will be a slightly less socialistic system (for now) that the American people will accept gladly after seeing the beast in it’s full fury. And eventually, the furor will die down and the town hall meetings a generation from now will treat socialistic government healthcare the same way we treat socialistic programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and government education today.
If you want to know what type of government-run healthcare system Americans will be willing to settle for in the next generation, just walk outside tomorrow morning and watch the yellow prison busses take the next generation of Americans to the taxpayer-funded, government-run, indoctrination center to which they are assigned and ask yourself this question: Are they learning anything today that will give them an aversion to a government takeover of healthcare? Then ask yourself another question: If their parents do teach them to oppose socialism, read and follow the Constitution, cherish freedom of choice, shun government intervention and hold government accountable for ethical use of their tax dollars, how long will it be before they’re standing at the corner waiting on the yellow prison bus and think to themselves, “Hey, if mom and dad really believe these things... why am I standing here?”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Family Mealtime

One of our favorite times of the day is mealtime. I love this time most because we all work together, sit down together and talk together. This time can be a wonderful time of family unity or a tortured time of fighting and complaining! We've experienced both at our house and by far prefer the time of unity and joy over the frustration of arguing and complaining. As is often the case with little ones meal time can be difficult, but, the good news is it doesn't have to be.

We start training and teaching good manners in infancy. When baby is nursing if she tries to bite or pull on mom, I give a firm command, "no, no, bite or pull." As the baby progress's to food we do not allow the child to make mealtime a game. If they start throwing things and trying the pick up game we admonish them again with a simple command, "no, no throw." We also teach sign language as soon as we start solids with our infants. Much sooner than an infant can speak they can communicate. Their ability to speak develops slower than their ability to make signs. Simple signs like please, thank you, more and all done are a great tool for your little one to let you know what they need. You can find the signs for these on line or ask me.

The next stage in childhood seems to be the most difficult to train and deal with at meal time. The toddler years. Our first child seemed to need a lot of training during this time, but, as we have had more children it seems to get easier and easier. It must be from the good example and habits our older children and family have learned. So I would encourage you to really train and work with the first one as they will set the tone at the table for siblings to follow. We have always required that children eat what is put before them. Our explanation is that God provided the food, daddy worked hard for it, mama took time to buy, prepare and cook it, we must always be thankful for what we have. Complaining, making faces, or arguing about our food does not show a heart of contentment or thankfulness. The other item we have tried to impress upon our children is that we live in a blessed and rich country. Our cupboards have never been bare and we have a bounty of nutritious food available. Some ways we have tried to drive this home is by talking about a boy we sponsor in Nairobi, Kenya. He does not have the privilege of abundant food. We recently packaged food for children in third world countries and tasted it too. This was a great eye opener for our two older girls. As they realized that what we cook is delicious compared to the meager fare some children rely on for nutrition. It was also a great way to encourage the girls to serve others.

In the past when we were having a real problem with the children complaining at mealtime, constantly asking for snacks and using poor manners my husband came home one day and decided that we needed, "The Lebens Family Rules for Eating!" I have to say this was such a blessing to me. First, I understood exactly what his expectations were and could submit to and bless him and second I no longer had gray area in our food and manner rules. Our family rules are fairly simple. You will eat 3 meals and 3 optional snacks a day. Mom decides when to serve each of these and you need not ask constantly or there will be no snack. At our mealtimes the rules are you eat all of what is put on your plate if you would like more or dessert. We try and be very realistic with the portions we give the girls so that they are easily able to achieve this, and also get proper nutrition. I can say now that this has been our habit for a couple of years we really don't have many food issues. The biggest one is probably complaining at which our response and encouragement to the children is, "if you are not asked for your opinion, do not give it." Another way we've seen the children develop healthy attitudes is by having them help with the meal planning and preparing. Something happens when they make a food, they want to try it! As often as I can I try and recruit the children to help and explain to them the cooking techniques we are using and nutritional information of the food we are making.

Another area we work on is eating out and with others. There have been a few times when I have been horrified to hear what my little one has to say about the food being served them at someone else's house. That has been enough motivation to train and prepare our girls for the times when they are served something they are unfamiliar with or don't care for. This has really been fairly easy after we implemented our family rules. As they are use to trying a bite of everything it makes trying new foods easier. We try to coach the girls before eating out either at a restaurant or a friends house to eat what is placed before them, and simply say, "just a little please or no thank you," if they are offered food they don't care for or are unsure of. On the other hand we also encourage them to use ladylike manners and not over indulge or overly focus on the fabulous dessert. This is still in the works as they are still little ladies who need training and patience.

There is such a large variety of food available to us and such an abundance it is hard to keep this in balance. But, hopefully with our good habits and manners we can create a good model for our children to follow. We still work diligently on good manners at the table and good attitudes for food. Our hope is our children are prepared to dine with others comfortably, to cook for a family and to take proper care of their bodies. As we look at our culture we can see that the idea of maintaining a healthy body and proper manners has really diminished. It is important to our family that we enjoy eating with our children and aren't disgusted by their poor habits. We can teach them to either learn good habits with some encouragement and training and bless others in the future by their pleasantness to be around; or we can leave them to themselves and watch their health decline and see them make others uncomfortable around their sloppy habits. This is an easy choice for our family. I hope it is for yours too.

The point here is not to have the same "rules" as the Lebens Family. But, to really consider what your families goals are for your children and what the principle is in your home. Too much of what we do is just getting by and not giving thought to it. Let's think through what our future men and women will need and prepare for it now!