My 3 yr old daughter took this pic of me

Monday, January 31, 2011

I can't believe she did that!

"I can't believe she did that!" How many times have we heard that line or one like it? What follows is a detailed account of whatever the woman did and what the speaker thinks of that and how they would have done things differently. What is not being considered is that there is a reason why people do things. It's what they know, what they've been taught, where they've been, what they've seen, how they've been hurt. Maybe that poor woman had a terrible day. Maybe she just found out her family member died and so she yelled at her kid when they were causing a ruckus. Maybe she yells all the time. Maybe.....You know what? It doesn't matter. Maybe we shouldn't be talking about it at all. It is fun to talk about other people and their problems and their faults. It makes for interesting conversation and makes us look better, wiser. Right? What if that woman was you? How would you feel if you heard people talking about you in a negative way? Words cut to the soul. They are lasting and create wounds that are very difficult to heal.

Growing up, gossip was a big part of my life. I would spend hours on the phone or with friends, talking about other people. It was considered normal. I mean, all the adults I knew did it. I heard them all the time. Besides, it was fun and why should I stop anyway? This bad habit carried into adulthood. I don't remember when I realized how God felt about this habit of mine, but I do remember making a clear decision to stop gossiping for good. Oh it's hard! But being a gossiper is only half the battle! Then there's being the gossipee. (I don't think there is such a word, but you get my drift) Often I'll walk into a room and hear the tail end of some conversation about someone and I am sooo curious what it's about. "Oh who are you guys talking about? They did what?" I am learning to keep my mouth shut and not ask. It's hard.

Another scenario is another person trying to haul you into a gossip filled conversation, and though I don't want to participate, it's awkward to back out without hurting any feelings. Usually I will opt to say as many nice things about the person being talked about, or say something like, "Oh, that sounds like a tough situation. That's too bad." and then try to change the subject. Trying to be vague and not saying anything to fuel the conversation doesn't always work though. Sometimes I have to be blunt or find some excuse to leave the conversation. I have a friend who when faced with a gossiping situation will say, "Oh let's pray for that person! I'll pray right now!" lol that usually puts things to an abrupt end. That may not always be practical, though, say in the workplace or among people who aren't Christians. Another person I know will suggest bringing  the person being talked about into the conversation. That, too, ends the gossip. I think that we can make a difference just by how we talk about people, or don't talk about people. My rule of thumb is, if I wouldn't say it with them standing there, then I don't say it. And if it is critical, then it should be for the person-in-question's ears only.

We can come up with so many good excuses to gossip, though! One of the classics is - "I just need to vent! I really need to get this off my chest!" Another good one is - "Oh I have to tell you all about so-and-so so that you can pray for her/him." Then we proceed to tell every juicy detail of the situation when a simple "Could you please pray for so-and-so, they are dealing with a tough situation right now" would do. Do you ever notice how it's fairly simple to figure out who is "safe" to confide in? I have a couple of friends who just love to talk about everybody. They are good friends, but I have never, and will never confide in them, nor will I really ever fully open up to these people. Why? Because I don't want everyone else they know to know all of the intimate details of my life. So while they remain good friends, we will never be able to be great friends. Wanna know who they are? Just kidding. I wouldn't do that! lol

As believers, we are called to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to God. Gossip just doesn't fit in this picture. I am no saint, by any means, nor do I have this area of my life conquered. But I am sure doing my best and I claim that promise: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 Here are a few more motivating verses:

1 Peter 3:10
For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;"

James 3:7-10
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

That is just the tip of the iceberg of what God has to say about our speech. Let's shock the world and not join in on the "fun". I don't know about you, but I'm in.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Waking Up Mad

I woke up mad this morning. My sweet 3 year old had climbed into my bed around 5am and began whispering to me and stroking my hair over and over. Aw! Sweet, right? NO!  I got up and gave her something to eat and told her to be very quiet. She agreed that she would play quietly and thanked me for the snack. I went back to bed. Some time went by and she was back in bed with me again, stroking my hair, rolling over, rolling over again, stroking my hair some more......I asked her to stop and rolled over and tried to get back to sleep. She got up again, this time Logan was up, and I thought, "Finally! A few minutes of shut eye!" For the next hour or so, all I heard from the next room was Jasna talking in her loudest voice and Logan constantly shushing her. I opened my eyes and looked at the clock and it was after 8am. Really? I am still in bed and feeling soooo tired? I was annoyed that I hadn't gotten the sweet sleep I "deserved" and that I had to get up all tired, thanks to some noisy kids! I wanted to stomp out of my room and glare at them and mumble some complaints under my breath.

Even while these thoughts were still going through my head, I knew how stupid and immature and ungodly they were. But I wanted to be mad! I thought about how I was feeling towards my kids and how God has put me here to set a loving example for them. Reluctantly, I asked God to help me change my attitude and decided to call in the culprit for a talk. Jasna came skipping happily into the room with a big smile on her face. "Hey, mama!" she said in her sweetest voice, giving me a hug. I kindly explained to her that when I am sleeping it is because I am tired and I need to rest. I asked her to please not wake me up anymore unless it's important. She agreed, still smiling, and said she was sorry for waking me up. I felt a lot better getting up after that than I would have if I had gone with plan A, which of course would be holding a grudge.

I would love to say that the rest of the day went sooo well and I learned a valuable lesson. Well, lol, apparently the lesson didn't stick, cuz God needed to teach me the very same lesson all over again only a few hours later! I was getting tired (cuz I hadn't slept well last night) and decided that I was taking some time to rest. Daisy was sleeping, Logan had finished most of his schoolwork, so it was perfect timing. Matthew and Jasna were playing around and Jasna started shrieking with delight. Daisy started crying. "I am not taking care of her right now!" I declared. "You guys woke her up, you guys take care of her. I'm tired!" lol it wasn't long after the words had escaped my mouth that I realized how foolish I was being! I am their mother and I have been given the privilege of caring for these wonderful kids, no matter how I am feeling. Daisy isn't going to make herself a bottle!

Hopefully this time the lesson will stick. It's so easy to be selfish and treat others badly because I deserve better. God has a totally different way of thinking. He wants us to love others more than ourselves. To show the love that God has poured into us, to those around us. It's easy enough to say that I am going to show my kids God's love, but to actually do that, to show God's love through each action that I take, each word that I say, each decision that I make...that is hard. This week I am striving to change my attitude on this issue and to show the love of God to the people around me. Not just the ones I love, but to everyone I encounter. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

These verses have been on my mind lately.....
Romans 5:6,7
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.

We may never find ourselves in a situation where we must make the decision to lay down our lives for someone else, but every day we are faced with the decision to show God's love in every situation, or not. At church on Sunday, someone said, "How I feel is not as important as what I know." So from now on, I am not going to wake up mad. And if I do wake up mad, I will remember this verse and change my attitude.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Laundry Soap and Mayonnaise

Raising a family is expensive. The groceries, the dentist, the clothing that keeps wearing out in the knees (Logan!), the diapers, wipes, formula, trips to their numerous activities, the 8-10 loads of laundry per week (yes, that is how many we do around here), the vehicle maintenance, bills, yada yada yada. It seems never-ending. To top it all off, we are supposed to not only manage all of this, but manage it well, all the while feeding our families healthy, well balanced meals, being resourceful, creative, thrifty, etc. Well, I haven't got it all figured out but I have decided that I will change a little here and there and in the long run it'll make a difference. It's just too overwhelming to try to change everything you are used to doing, overnight. It's not going to stick. You will do great with it for, oh, a week or two, and then you're back to Kraft Dinner and hotdogs. If you want lasting change, with anything in life, you have to start small and bite off only what you can chew. I should state at this point that I have never been good at this and it is by no means mastered. However, I am fully aware that the concept is concrete. I think that's the first step :)

So today I am going to share with you my first 2 baby steps. The first one is making my own laundry soap. Don't stop reading! I know how hick this sounds, but I've been doing it for a year and a half and it's been one of the best things I've ever done! Before we were spending about 15-20 dollars a month on laundry soap, nevermind the fabric softener and stain remover, etc. In the last year and a half we have spent approximately $30 on laundry soap. Yes, I said $30. Not $130, not $530, just $30. It works great, too. I must thank my dear sister, Bonnie, for sharing this recipe with me. So following are the list of ingredients, prices, where to buy, and the recipe itself.

Laundry Soap

First you will need an empty 5 gallon pail with a lid. I use an empty paint bucket.
1 bar of Sunlight Soap (it's yellow, comes in a pack of 2 at Walmart or Superstore) $1.99 for 2 bars
1 cup of Washing Soda (comes in a blue box, 3kg, at Walmart or Superstore) about $5 for the box
1/2 cup of Borax (comes in a green box, 2kg, at Walmart or Superstore) also about $5 for the box

So, grate the bar of Sunlight soap. Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium heat. Add the grated soap and stir til dissolved, takes about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and dump into the clean 5 gallon pail. Measure 1 cup of Washing Soda and 1/2 cup of Borax and add to the soapy water in the pail. Stir. Fill the pail up with hot water, while stirring. Put on the lid and you're done. (unless of course you would like to add a fragrance to your soap, which you would do at this point)

The whole process takes about 10 minutes. I use about 1-2 cups of soap per load, unless the load is really dirty, in which case I would use more like 3-4 cups for a load. When you remove the lid the next day, the soap has kind of gelled and may need to be stirred again. It is still a liquid but will be kind of lumpy. You don't have to wait til the next day to use it however. I use mine as soon as I make it. It should last you at least a month or maybe 2 depending on how much laundry you do and how much you use. I still use a stain remover separately, just like I did before, for those stubborn stains like ketchup, blood, carrots, etc. One pail will cost you less than $2 to make, so it doesn't really matter how much you use. It does a fine job on my husband's work clothes and the baby's peed and pooed in stuff, so if it can clean that, it can clean anything! I have one friend who is allergic to Sunlight soap, so if this is the case, I am sure you could use another kind of bar soap, or just eliminate the bar soap from the recipe and it would still work fine.

The other thing that I started doing was making my own mayonnaise. I am doing this because it is healthier. I don't know if it actually saves me much money, but am fairly certain that it isn't more expensive. I don't make a lot at a time, as it doesn't have a year-long fridge life, like the other stuff does. I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, and I usually only make half a recipe at a time. Half a recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups. Following is the recipe for 3 cups:


Blend at low speed:
2 whole eggs
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (I omit this)
1 TBSP sugar, honey, or xagave (optional)
Add, at high speed, very slowly:
2 cups safflower oil or sunflower oil.

I store mine in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. We can only use 1 1/2 cups of mayo in 2 weeks, so that is why I prefer to make a half batch. Hope you like it!

So these are just 2 little changes that I have made in the past couple years, and I don't see myself ever going back. You might not care about homemade mayo or laundry soap. Find something that would make a difference for you and look it up on the internet. I think my next project will be making my own ketchup. I haven't tried it yet, but I'll let you know when I do, how it turns out! Tell me your ideas or things that you have changed in your life for the better! I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A little about us

My husband and I live on a small acreage with our 3 kids and 3 birds. My husband works full time and I stay home with the kids full time. We homeschool our 9 year old son and have since grade 1. Our daughter is 3 1/2 and very artistic and funny, and our hopefully-soon-to-be-adopted daughter is 7 months old and we've had her since she was 3 days old. I teach Sunday school at our church part time. Life is exciting and dull every single day around here :) We do the regular things that everybody else does, but we try to stay home a lot and just enjoy each other's company. We work together, play together, and pray together.

We became foster parents 2 years ago after not being able to have more children. It's been a huge blessing and a huge growing experience, too. We've had 3 kids so far, always hoping to adopt them. Currently we just have one little girl and she is the center of attention most of the time :) The kids love her so much, it feels just like she's part of the family.

My passions in life begin with teaching my kids how to have a relationship with God, my family, organizing my house and life, decor, reading for the purpose of growth and change, education, and fun. Not necessarily in that order, except the first one. I love love love kids. They are a dream come true and such a headache all at the same time, but it sure makes life interesting and I can't imagine life without them. I've always said I'd like to have 87 children, but I don't think that is likely to happen, nor is it very practical. I know. I am grateful for the ones we have! Well, there's a glimpse of what our family life looks like :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why Am I Here?

Today I was talking to a close friend and the questions, "Why am I really here? What is my purpose?" popped into my head. I spend my days with my kids, educating them, grooming them, playing with them. I clean my house and prepare food for my family. I run errands and pay bills, go to bed, get up the next day and do the same things all over again. It can be so monotonous, seemingly pointless. However, those little people are always looking up to me to see what to do next, how to do something, how to act in a certain situation. They learn how to love, how to care, how to do things. Unfortunately, they pick up on the bad things, too. I have the perfect opportunity to really show them things like honesty, love, not complaining, not losing my temper when things don't go my way, how to be patient, helpful, share.

I often hope to be able to share with other people, my peers, the things that I feel so strongly about. And often, we disagree.They won't be swayed. I guess what I'm getting at is that God has blessed us with these little people who are yearning to be like us, spend time with us, and really learn what life is all about. It's up to us to show them the way, teach them what's important, and help them along that road. These little ones will be men and women someday. Maybe they'll be men and women making a difference in the world for the glory of God. Maybe we can have a hand in that. Search out your day for those important moments that you can share some special teaching with your little ones. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:14

In Matthew 18:1-5 it says:
 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

I may be stuck at home with the kids doing what seems meaningless most of the time, but I can use this time wisely and impart to my children the wisdom and teachings of our Lord. I may not be able to attend every Bible study or evangelize or travel the world, but I can make a mark on this world right here in my own living room. I am thankful for the opportunity to raise my children in the ways of the Lord. They are a blessing and an heritage. My purpose here is a great one. A great responsibility and a great privilege.