30 DOL Day 14: I Meddle Too Much

I’ve come to the realization that I blog too much. No, I probably do not post on my blog nearly enough, but I read too many other blogs to make time for my own. It can be a form of meddling, if I am not careful.
Proverbs 26:17 Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.
Some signs that tell me I am on the computer (doing the unnecessary blog reading) too much:
-my bookmarks go down past the computer screen, or I have a need to put my bookmarks into folders so that they won’t
-my dinners become ‘quick and easy’ because I didn’t get down to start them before 5pm
-my kids start asking, “are you going to be on the computer while we’re playing?”
-the house is so messy it will take days to fix (and our house is small!)

A wise blogger once said that you must not worry about ‘missing’ the discussion surrounding a topic, that it will come around again. I have found that to be true. Besides, the blogs I have stopped reading, if they have something good, another blog that I do read will direct me to it.
It is always wise to keep things simple, and to mind my own business. That keeps me busy enough.

Where I Was…

The morning of September 11, 2001 started out as no different than any other morning. Big A was a toddler, and I was pregnant with Big S. Luke was at school, and we were at home, not doing much. Luke calls me on the phone, and right away asks me if I’m watching ‘it’ on TV. I kinda chuckle and tell him, no, we don’t watch TV in the morning, A just wants to veg when it is on. He’s real serious, and I go turn it on. On CBS I see the two towers, and one has been hit with a plane. Dan Rather is doing his best to maintain a steady voice, and to keep viewers informed on what looks like an accidental plane crash into a building. Then the second plane hits the other tower, and I melt. Dan Rather does, too, for a few seconds, then recovers and keeps on talking. From then on, I am glued to the TV, holding Big A tightly and crying. Then the towers are falling and I have such a feeling of loss in my gut, like when I once realized my ticket to an OSU game had been stolen from my back pocket, only a hundred times worse.
I had arranged to bring a shut-in from our church a meal that night, and wasn’t sure if I was supposed to go out, after all that was happening. Were there more cities still to be attacked? When Luke got home from school, we took the meal. While in the car passing all the manicured lawns and nice cars and restaurants and billboards and Kroger and CVS, I had a very real sense that everything was different now, that if any of this material world had a hold on me, it was decidedly less, now that I had just witnessed so many people’s lives taken from them in a matter of minutes. Now that I realized my life could be over as quickly.
I loved hearing the stories that came out afterward- brave firefighters, oh-so-brave Todd Beamer, people who were supposed to be in the buildings at the time, but for some reason were running late that morning. Providentially saved.
I read recently that many families of the victims have a hard time with 9/11 being talked about constantly. I can imagine it might be a little like everybody I know saying, I remember the day Don (my father in-law) died, over and over to me, whenever we meet. That would be weird.
But this was a national tragedy, and their loved ones just happened to be involved in an attack on our country, so I am sure most deal with the constant attention with grace.
My prayer is that we learn all we can from that day:
-be united when it comes to things that matter
-be always ready to help someone in need
-be in prayer for our nation’s leaders; they have a tough job!
-show my appreciation toward firefighters, police, and rescue workers when I cross paths with them
-live each day like it might be the last
I don’t believe this will be the only national crisis I will see in my lifetime, so it would be good if I practice these things I have learned.
P.S. I realized today that I have had four children since 9/11. And I have been pregnant five times. In Five Years. Woah.

Yea Though I Walk

I have just heard about Susan’s baby from other blogs and wanted to share a great way to encourage someone you know who is going through a tough time.
First, I must back up to 2002, when my friend Maggie found out that the baby she was carrying was missing many of his vital organs. He would survive only until he was born. We prayed hard- for God to miraculously put those pieces into Lee where they should go. Hey, wouldn’t that bring glory to His name and show that He can do ANYTHING! But it wasn’t to be, and little Lee was born that May and died that day, never opening his eyes.
Well, the next April, I had a baby boy, and right after he was born we saw the mark on his back that indicated he had a form of spina bifida. We were told he would need surgery in early infancy to close the part of his spine that had not formed properly. When my friend Maggie heard about my son’s upcoming surgery, she thought back to her tough days leading up to Lee’s birth and what got her through it. She wanted me to have something to focus on and to encourage me through my son’s surgery, so she made me this:

Sweet, huh? It is a fold-out card full of verses that speak about God’s promises. She opens it by saying this (and remember she has lost a child! I’m only about to put my infant son through major surgery, but who can really compare thorns to thorns):
“The LORD tells us to carry one another’s burdens and when you mentioned about S I could not stop thinking about the little fellow and his future…I am praying for you…My heart goes out to you as a mother. I have had my share of heartache, but I have also had my share of how the LORD works, and you and S are going to see it too no matter what the outcome is. That will be God’s Best and only His Best. Remember someone is thinking and praying for you whether you feel it or not. I have seen my worst days wondering how I will ever get through, and look I am doing just fine, but only by the grace and love of of our wonderful LORD JESUS!! He truly is our SAVIOR.”
The boldest verse on the card is Proverbs 3:5-6. If you don’t know these verses by heart, get yourself to a Bible right now!
My son did great through his surgery, and is a healthy and active 3 year old today.
Next time you have a loved one in a trial, and you want to do something in addition to your prayers, make them something to remind them of the Lord and His perfect, loving plan.
Join the prayer chain for Susan.

30 DOL Day 5: Learn Benevolence

We are looking at one character quality a day from the 49 outlined by Bill Gothard and his ministry, the Institute in Basic Life Principles. Today’s is Benevolence. It means “giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive personal reward.” The opposite of benevolence is selfishness.
The emperor penguin is a good example in creation of this character quality. When the mother lays an egg, the father will scoop it up on his feet and keep it warm under his belly for more than three months. He doesn’t move or eat until the baby is born.
We saw this firsthand when we watched March of the Penguins on DVD a few months ago. After we watched the movie, we made this illustration, since I was pregnant with our baby girl. We joked that if we were penguins, Baby A would be Daddy’s responsibility. This is a great movie that shows just one of the many wonders of God’s creation.
Each lesson on a character quality has five challenges for the learner, put into statements that begin with ‘I Will’. An especially convicting one for me was “I will see the needs of others as quickly as I see my own.” Benevolence means choosing to look upon mundane household duties, such as doing laundry and cooking meals, as a labor of love for the family. I’m not too bad at getting tasks done, but I struggle with my attitude being right in the midst of doing them.
Of course, God the Father demonstrated benevolence best when He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. It certainly wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but He did it because we needed saving. Thank You, Jesus.

True Hospitality

We are having some dear friends over this evening, and will be financially able to feed us all without breaking the bank. Another luxury that many in the world do not have.
An excerpt from Extending The Table:

“When we visited the Christian Council of Mozambique for the last time before leaving Africa in 1985, the council workers probided a lavish farewell feast. Despite our protests, these Mozambicans who live in one of the poorest countries on Earth insisted on giving us a proper celebration. Staff members spent most of a day looking for food-a chicken from a market across town, vegetables from someone’s struggling garden, rice, and Coca-cola from an expensive foreign currency shop. At last the feast was ready, the opening speeches given and the meal served. Our friends piled our plates high with food, urging us to eat more and more until our stomachs were fit to burst. All the while, we knew that some of the people at our table would go hungry the next day. It was one of the most painful, precious, and joyful moments of our lives. We, who had come to serve (and who mostly took our food for granted), were being served by those who materially had nothing compared to us, but who could celebrate with lavish abandon because they knew how to love. They knew from experience that true celebration is necessary for survival. It nourishes and strengthens both the givers and the receivers and helps to lighten the crosses in our daily lives.”

However you spend this Labor Day, celebrate heartily; be thankful for what you have and those you have to love.

Gratitude

Yesterday the kids were sick, and it created a lot of dirty laundry. I fell into a rhythm of washing, switching to dryer, and folding the resulting clean clothes. This went on all day. I thought about the areas of the world where there is no such thing as running water in one’s house. Or clean water anywhere nearby. What do they do when a little one is sick all over everything? The time it would take to get everything clean (before the sickness would spread from the dirty things to other people) would be greatly multiplied. How wonderful to be able to wash clothes quickly and efficiently! We are even able to clean our carpets (thanks, Mom and Dad) when they get dirty. What wealth we have in just our clean running water and our washer and dryer.
Today I started the process of switching the kids’ clothes from warm weather to cold weather. First let me say that we are so blessed to always have more hand-me-down clothes than we’ll ever wear, so I rarely have to go out and buy something. Up until this season, I have kept extra clothing stored in my mother-in-law’s basement. The arrangement was good and bad. We liked being able to go down there for what we needed from time to time, but there were way too many clothes! This summer I worked at cutting back and am keeping only enough for the elders this winter, for little A, and clothes for a baby (0-12m boy or girl) if we have more children. This month I want to take time to look hard at areas I am overdoing it. Hoarding the kids’ clothes is one area.This fall, they will have a lot less in their drawers, but I doubt they will even notice- they tend to want to wear the same 3 outfits over and over. This is what they’ll have:
5 casual outfits
2 church outfits
1 pr sneakers
1 pr dress shoes
1 pr casual shoes
2-3 pj outfits
I got the boys done this morning, and will work on the girls through this week. It will be cold and wet for at least the next week, so we already need the warm clothes.
Again, how many children in the world only have the clothes on their backs? Even my children’s minimum seems luxurious.

Sick Day

Five things that won’t happen today, now that we’re passing around the stomach flu:
1. We won’t be celebrating Big A’s ‘first day of first grade’ with Ohio-shaped sugar cookies
(listen to the song here)
2. We won’t start 30 Days of Nothing exactly as planned, but this first day will be a day of nothing!
3. We won’t exhaust our neighbors’ dvd library, because they have so many
4. I won’t be cooking my usual gourmet dinner tonight
5. Luke and I will not get out to see Pirates of the Caribbean II for our monthly date.

Fortunately, I can be certain there will be better days. I have to say that we are blessed with more good days than bad. Hope you get more done today than we do, since you don’t have our excuse.

30 Days of Learning

I have thought about what kinds of things I will do to participate in this 30 Days of Nothing campaign. I think my main focus will be to do something each day that raises my family’s awareness of what living conditions are like in other parts of the world. Some days it might just be reading about them, some days we may eat like them. Then, hopefully, we will have that much more appreciation for how good we have it. A few resources that I intend to use:
A Child’s Geography : They have the first two chapters of the first book available for free online. I hope to buy it eventually.
Extending the Table Cookbook : I own a copy of this. It’s sister cookbook, More With Less Cookbook is also very good. Both share tons of stories and recipes collected from all over the world.
Mission Websites such as Independent Gospel Mission : We support a missionary from this particular mission, but many such websites can get you connected to what’s going on in world missions.
I don’t know yet if we will spend a day eating only rice, or if I will boycott Wal-Mart, but I hope this overall experience will be life-changing. It is so good for the soul to deny oneself something once in a while. It develops self control and makes us more like Jesus.
1 Timothy 6:11 But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.
2 Days and counting…

Could I Live On Rice? Would I?

Tonia has posted about a 30-day challenge where she and her family, and hopefully others, will simplify their lives in many ways in order to “break the grip of materialism in our hearts and minds.” This kind of a challenge comes at a great time in the life of my family. Luke has taken a job that will ultimately pay less than what we are used to, and we have to figure out how to make that work. I have the responsibility of feeding us on what he makes, and, so far, I am not a very good steward. I admit that I often have to throw out something that has gone bad in the fridge, and my pantry has food in it that I have no plans to use. Both are symptoms of overspending and lazy living.
Also, we have been burdened by what we have learned is happening in Liberia. The country is full of orphans, with very little food and electricity to take care of them. We have been praying for ways to help there, and putting money away for them, over the next month, that we might have spent on our own luxuries just might be the way to go.
This is me, throwing my hat into the ring. If nothing else, I hope to be a better grocery shopper for my family’s needs (not wants:) by October 1st. Ideally, I will have some money left over to send to Liberia.
Who else is in the mood for some self-deprivation?

Meme

A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine asked me a very thought-provoking question. In fact, I think I have given it more consideration than she originally intended the question to get. She basically wondered what she and I will do when our kids are grown. The reason I have given it so much thought is that every time I come up with an answer, I get to thinking, “Why am I going to wait to do that? Can’t I find a way to take part in these things now, even in the midst of motherhood?”
Here’s some of my answers and how I am attempting to get ‘r done:
*Take a cooking class- I try to watch the Food Network or read about making good food whenever I can, and use what I learn right away. So far, I am realizing that a lot of cooking doesn’t require real talent, just a bit of common sense. And you need to know what tastes good with what; this is the part that will take time for me to get a hold on.
*Make things and sell them- So far I’m developing my card-making and framing. The framing has to be done sans children, but the card-making doesn’t. They LOVE getting out the paper and ribbons and scissors and of course the glue stick (that N thinks is chapstick), and often come up with some unique works of art.
*Travel-the most exotic place we have been to this summer is Wooster, OH, but I have real dreams of getting an RV (I want to see that movie!) and going cross country in it. That would be the only way to do it with so many littles. But how memorable would that be!
*Spend more time with my husband-well, looks like that can happen now, too. He just got a job with OHVA, Big A’s digital academy, and will be working from home! I am excited for him, but I do wonder what this will be like. It is as if he’ll be seeing me in a different way (how I REALLY am:). We were comparing schedules last night, and I felt a little weird. But it will be cool. This is his dream.
Well, what do you want to do, but let your present occupation keep you from doing? I tag my sister and honey to tell what they dream about on their blogs. (Honey has already posted one great pursuit here.)
Have a lovely week!