Category Archives: Christian growth

Dustpan? Whatsa’ dustpan?

I learned early in my parenting  to pull my stove out every few months and clean the floor. It gets pretty disgusting. I also learned early in my parenting to ask the kids to sweep the floor AND ask them to use the dustpan.

We all learned not to tell our kids to wash their hands, but tell them to use warm water, soap, lather the soap, rinse the soap off and dry their hands on the towel.  Dipping fingertips into running water and flicking the excess water onto the mirror doesn’t constitute washing hands.

In my mind, it’s way easier to sweep the floor, use a dustpan, and throw the junk away.

It’s done. Over. Clean.

 

Who Needs a Dustpan?

My kids didn’t agree.  Occasionally, it was easier to flick it under the stove when I turned my back, and a bit more fun. They tried under the kitchen rug, too, but, DUH, they got caught way too quickly with that one. How could they think I wouldn’t notice that lump? They thought if the garbage pile was out of sight it was good enough.  The kitchen floor was clean. Mom should be happy.

Depending on where we lived at the time, these little crumbs could attract mice, ants and/or cockroaches.  It wasn’t just a finicky mom who had to have even the area under her stove clean.  I was trying to prevent further damage to our food, clothing and health. 

Flicking cheerios under the stove is like calling, “Here cockroach, cockroach, cockroach! I’ve got a little din-din for you!”

But, kids eventually outgrow childish behavior and I actually have six kids that can use a dustpan.  That’s right up there with having six kids that can flush a toilet. Are there awards for that?  Just wondering.

But, anytime we’re frustrated with the immature behavior of our children, we can always use the moment to evaluate ourselves at children of the Heavenly Father.  Are we immature in His eyes?

We adults  forget He can see our thoughts.  He knows the words before they’re on our tongue.  We might be praising ourselves for not saying them, but we still thought them. We have little frustrations.  We have little sins.  Those things nobody else sees in our lives, because we keep the area they see clean.  

A clean house is important to me.  A clean house is important to the Lord, too, because our house, that is our body, houses His Holy Spirit. 

image
(made with Quozio)

He doesn’t want us hiding garbage.  Those little sins can leave us vulnerable to spiritual predators, and open the doors to consequences we didn’t plan. Sins of omission (things we should be doing and aren’t) and sins of commission (things we shouldn’t be doing but are)  both  start as mere crumbs.

Nobody intends to became addicted to substances.  Most affairs aren’t planned.  People don’t plan to go a whole month without reading their Bible. Internet addictions usually start in harmless ways.

It’s time to pull the stove from the wall because having our sins out of sight isn’t good enough. 

They have to be out of

our sight,

     our mind,

          and our hearts.

image
(made with Quozio)

The beautiful thing about cleaning up spiritually?  We just show Him the stuff we swept under the stove, and He lovingly cleans up after us.

We don’t even have to use the dustpan.

The Pinterest Me and The Real Me

 

When I got my new office a few months ago, I was ecstatic. My own room. After 26 years of parenting six amazing, wonderful, messy, creative, loud, children, I finally had my very own room.

I began filling it with things that inspire me and taking pictures as I staged each area.

room 010

A chair from the thrift store with only one little spring that pokes me if I don’t sit just right.  A small dresser from an estate sale.  The $3 chicken wire cabinet  from a thrift store.

Apparently, whoever built this room, made the closet opening about one inch too small for the bi-fold doors so it’s always been open or covered with a sheet.  Sitting in the chair one day, frustrated with the view of the messy closet,  I had a burst of inspiration.  My wedding quilt!  It was made by my Gramma Geneva just before she lost her marbles.

Mindy and Gramma Geneva 1993

Yes, prior to Alzheimer’s, my Gramma Geneva was the Quilting Queen.  She made quilts for friends, neighbors, relatives and missionaries for decades.  My wedding quilt was one of the last she made.

I had previously sewed fabric loops on it for hanging, but hadn’t had a wall big enough for it for many years.  It fit perfectly on a shower curtain rod and filled the room with a sense of family, love, and inspiration.

room 015

I bought this inspiring wall art from Target when I was really supposed to be shopping for practical stuff like toilet paper and dish soap. People say you shouldn’t impulse shop, I find for someone who hates to shop, the impulse buy is usually the best buy.  I rarely see something I LOVE, so when I find it, I buy it.

more room 004

My little cupboard ready for tea with a vintage ceramic hot pot and two vintage cups. It was a good idea, but I’ve never made tea.

more room 003

I blogged about the cool To Do List I made out of a vintage window.  I use the vintage typewriter to make my graphics for my posts, then I  imageand imagethe graphics to draw traffic to my blog. I story candy in the enamelware pot.

Others might look at my pictures and be jealous or frustrated because:

  • I have my own office.
  • I have time to shop at the thrift store.
  • I found cheap vintage items.
  • I am so crafty.
  • I am perfectly happy in every way.
  • I have a wonderful family.
  • I have my life perfectly under control.

But, I’ve only shown you the part of my life I wanted to show you.

 

image

I’ve shown you The Pinterest Me, the part we show to the world to say, “Hey, look at me! I did something cool!”

There’s nothing wrong with that.  We need to share our bursts of inspiration, whether it’s in the kitchen, the craft room, our faith or in relationships.  We need to rock what we do well and share it with others.  It’s part of our purpose, our passion, and even our ministry.

But, that’s not all we need to show others.

image

We need to show them the other side of the room.  The messy side.  The “I haven’t finished this” and “I can’t get it all together side.”  The office is a work in progress, just like The Real Me.

When you only see people in church on Sunday, you get part of the picture. When you see them driving, eating, dealing with their kids and cheering at a softball game you see a more complete person. image

When we blog in a way that shows only the perfect parts of our lives, we may be alienating others who are struggling.

I  have had days where I was totally accepting of cancer, witnessing, drawing closer to the Lord and appreciating each day with my family.

I have had other days when I was frustrated,weary and weepy and wanted it to all just go away.

I have had days as an inspiring mother,  imparting wisdom and love into the hearts of my children.

I have had other days where I have yelled in frustration and wondered why I became a Mom, because I am such a failure.

I have had times when I made amazing meals.

I have had other times when I ordered pizza three times in one week.

I quit reading a blog because every post showed how perfect her life was. She whipped up a vintage dress from an old pattern while her teenage daughter made exotic baked items.  She showed  gardens that never had weeds, children that never misbehaved, and the dinners that were never burned.  I couldn’t relate.

Her blog only created envy and disappointment in my heart.  Her house was bigger and older, her talents greater and her spending seemed unlimited. Nothing ever seemed to go wrong in her life.

  • I wanted to know how she fit sewing into a life with many kids.
  • I wanted to know how she inspired her teenager to make so many meals and treats for the family and smile like a model the whole time she was in the kitchen.
  • I wanted to know if she ever dreaded waking up in a day because she had too many things on her To-Do List she could never accomplish.

She didn’t give me anything to help me attain the talents or peace she possessed. She was wonderful, she was amazing, but unapproachable.

I’m not for showing all the dirty laundry and spewing secrets about friends and family that aren’t yours to share.  I’m talking about showing both sides of your world, the successes and the failures.  Show the real journey.

  • It makes you more credible, because you show you’re human.
  • It makes others more willing to confide in you because nobody wants to admit to a perfect person they’re not perfect.
  • It gives your readers hope.  If you overcame, so can they.
  • It makes everyone more honest.  If you’re willing to admit failure, you give them permission to be honest with others.

How can we bear one another’s burdens if we don’t know what they are? 

How can we lift someone up if they’re too afraid to tell us they’ve fallen?

How can we comfort someone if we don’t know what’s breaking their heart?

Showcase your strengths.  Blog, Pin, Tweet and Facebook your talents and victories.  Share what you’ve been blessed with to others who might need that recipe, decorating idea,craft, writing tool,  spiritual encouragement or just a laugh. Do what you were created to do.

In the right timing, in the right way, showcase your weaknesses.  Admit failure, admit struggles, and tell how you overcame. 

image

Show The Pinterest You and The Real You.  Your readers need both.

Rooted in Life’s Dirt

I’ve gardened my entire life.

I plant, weed, water, prune, mulch, and fertilize, but still plants die.

When I replant, I ask the nursery employees for recommendations to increase the plant’s chance of survival in the gardening environment.  I describe the other plants in the plot,  the amount of sun exposure each day and the condition of the soil.

This slightly improves my success rate.

Still, plants die.

Every year.

Imagine finding this healthy plant growing in Amsterdam…

IMG_4122

…on a busy stairwell, in front of a busy office, on a busy street.  The plant preaches a silent sermon. It forces its tiny roots into a crevice filled with wind-blown dirt.  It leans into the sun and absorbs any moisture that comes its way.

This plant doesn’t depend on the perfect circumstances to thrive.  It thrives in its circumstances.

We thrive when we put our roots down into the dirt of our lives and grow. When we lift our faces to the light of the Son and absorb the water of the Word.

Then, in our midst of life’s heartaches and busy demands, while the world stomps by, we can preach a silent sermon.                                              

 

Failure is in the Eyes of the Beholder

 

The bigger you dream, the harder you fail.  If you dare share your vision publically, you fail publically. Some of the world’s greatest ambition has been tomatoed by public mockery and shame.

Take this quiz.  How well acquainted are you with these men who dared to try?

image

These men were tormented to their faces, behind their backs, in newspapers and in public forums. The only thing bigger than the opposition they faced was their vision to create.

For those of us with unfulfilled life passions and visions, what motivates us beyond the fear of failure? The hope of success.

Let’s see how well you identified these Feats Labeled Failures by public opinion.

1.  In  1807, Robert Fulton’s steamboat Clermont traveled up the Hudson River from New York harbor to Albany, NY. The folly was the first steamboat used with commercial success and sparked the beginning of steam navigation around the world.

2. The “Big Ditch” is now known as the Erie Canal and Governor Dewitt Clinton’s digging was not in vain.  The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor honors and preserves it as one of the most important works of civil engineering and construction in the United States.

 

319694_152757198153122_224275230_n[1]

3. The “eyesore” is more commonly called the Eiffel Tower and Gustave Eiffel’s architectural wonder is synonymous with romance and France.   It is eye candy to over six million visitors each year.

4. George Washington Gale Ferris, the man with  wheels in his head,  sketched his dream for friends over dinner one night.  Introduced at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, The Wheel carried over a million and a half riders who raved about this experience the rest of their lives.  Those wheels no longer churn only in his head, but on the five major continents in the world, where they’re still trying to build bigger and better Ferris Wheels for thrill seekers of all ages.

 

DSC05850_2

5.  Architect John Russell Pope didn’t live to see the completion of the Jefferson Memorial, but his vision, when completed, silenced the voices of dissent and daily inspires Americans.

 

You might not have known the opposition these great men faced, but you know the fruit of their work and how generations have benefited from their tenacity.  They ignored the voices and fulfilled their passion.

They could not be stopped.
They could not be dissuaded.

Even in Christianity, inspired people are mocked by those who should be supporting them.  The woman who performed the greatest act of worship was criticized for her waste.

 

Matthew 26
7 a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head… 8 But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? 9 For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”
The Lord Jesus defended her and told the disciples her deeds would never be forgotten.
10 But Jesus said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. 11 For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. 12 When she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 13 Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

The other women brought their anointments too late.  Jesus was no longer in the grave.  The disciples didn’t bother coming at all.  This woman  believed the prophecies and prepared her Savior for burial, while fingers pointed and voices scorned.

This woman and these men were only failures in the eyes of their contemporary critics. History does not view them in that same light.

We hear those same voices of mockery and doubt, along with another voice.  That voice of the enemy who was defeated at the Cross and wants us to live defeated lives. We passionately desire to use our gifts and abilities to serve the Lord and to impact the present and the future. What springs up within us should not be silenced or stilled. We must accomplish the burnings of our hearts in answer to the calling  from the Lord.

What you leave behind will bless others.  Parents leave behind their children. Writers and artists leave behind their creations in physical form.  Counselors, preachers, teachers and Bible study leaders leave immeasurable impact that follows to future generations.

We can use our gifts and talents to leave behind our own monuments of inspiration, vehicles of usefulness and models for future generations.  Or, we can bury our gifts and talents in the sands of opposition.

Do not listen to the voices of mockery on the outside, the voice of doubt from the inside or the voice of the enemy. Hear the Voice that is calling you to serve Him with the gifts He gave you.

Dare to leave your mark of faith on the landscape of history.

 

Speaking of Happily Ever After…

 

Look at the advice from my Splenda this morning.

How did they know it was my anniversary yesterday? 

How did they know I needed some new inspiration for the first day of my 28th year of marriage?

splenda message

With any relationship, this is good advice. Children, relatives, neighbors and co-workers could all use the sweetening true kindness bring.

There isn’t time to pour into lives.  We all have jobs and tasks during the day.  Sitting by someone’s side to rub their feet, fan them with exotic leaves and peel their grapes isn’t going to happen.

But, we can sprinkle  their hearts, bodies and souls with happiness.

  • sincere smile
  • express thanks for assigned chores (like garbage)
  • gag gift (hey, we all need a laugh!)
  • prayer (I have a friend who prays in email for me.  I love it!)
  • do a chore they don’t like doing
  • pleasant greeting (I like to welcome my kids into each day with a “Good Morning”, even when nobody is feeling good about the day)
  • a card for no reason
  • GOOD gossip, tell someone else something you admire about another person
  • greet people when they come home
  • compliment something you haven’t mentioned before
  • notice a need and meet it before asked
  • LISTEN when they talk and give a verbal affirmation
  • give a soft answer to turn away anger

How do you sprinkle Happily Ever After into your relationships?

What Makes an Anniversary Happy?

Today is our 27th wedding anniversary.

I’m thankful for the years together, and blessed that we’re still best friends and deeply in love. This is the marriage we purposed to have years ago, and with the grace and strength from  the Lord, we are experiencing this.

People who may not know our lives, may  think  our marriage is happy because our life has been easy. Without going into great details, the exact opposite has been true. We approached the financial problems, parenting and health issues, many moves and job challenges with the goal of drawing closer together instead of further apart.

It wasn’t just a goal or a glib platitude; we fought for this. When our marriage was tossed into the storm, we clung to each other and the Lord. 

Wedding Pic

The cord of three is the rope that rescues.

PRAY to FIND EACH OTHER:
Like most young people, our marriage really began in the earnest prayers we poured over our respective lists of "Things We Want in A Spouse." Along with the prayers, we purposed to not compromise our standards. If the Lord was good enough to hear and answer our prayers, then we were going to have the faith that He would provide the answer to our prayers. We were willing to wait for the person that suited those attributes we each desired in a mate.

PRAY to HELP ONE ANOTHER:
Complete unity requires complete honesty. We tell each other absolutely everything. The only information we withhold is in a counseling situation, especially if we are asked to not tell our spouse.

Complete honesty means complete honesty about our own life and each other’s. We take the spiritual admonitions to exhort, encourage and rebuke one another to heart, knowing that we are brother and sister in the Lord. We pray about each other’s strengths and weaknesses, then we may speak about them, then we pray more. It is vital to not only point out spouse’s spiritual gifts or their faults, but to pray for them.

PRAY SPECIFICALLY:
I specifically pray for my husband concerning his spiritual gifts, relationships, parenting, performance at work, wisdom, blessing, his Bible reading and Biblical understanding, his role as an elder, and his unsaved family members. I pray specifically for situations he needs to make decisions about, I pray about conversations he needs to have or is having, and I pray for his influence on others.

For myself, I pray to love, honor and obey him. I desire to be a good helpmeet and not be selfish. It’s too easy to have a Disney princess mentality, thinking your husband’s purpose in life is to make you look and feel like royalty. Sometimes it is about cleaning toilets and being alone because your husband is spending time with the kids, other believers or is in the Word. I pray my my joy and strength would come from the Lord so I don’t drain my husband with demands that aren’t his to meet.

 

PRAY for UNITY:
Because I purposely chose a man who had the Biblical doctrine, parenting ideals, a work ethic, future plans and beliefs on marriage roles I could wholeheartedly submit to, our marriage has been one of little major conflict. I get cranky about dumb stuff, we may argue because we are frustrated about something/something else, but we don’t disagree on the major issues in life.

We make decisions together. We pray about things, then decide what’s most in accordance to the Lord’s Word. If it isn’t a spiritual issue, we just ask for wisdom.

When we do disagree, we pray for unity. Someone has to change. Instead of each insisting on our own way, we commit to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to change our hearts. Disunity is  lonely in a marriage, and the Lord wants our hearts unified as much as we long for this.

A specific example has to do with the number of children we wanted to have. Since I was 12 years old, I wanted six kids. During our engagement, my husband thought four would be a good number. Once we began having children, he thought two would be a good number. Although my heart wanted six kids, I could feel them in my arms before they were there, it was more important to me to have unity. I prayed and prayed for the Lord to unite our hearts and plans according to His will.  The Lord answered my prayers. One pregnancy at a time, my husband’s mind was changed, by the Lord, not by me. We have six children, six that were a blessing in unity, not a happening because I insisted on my own way.

PRAY through SCRIPTURE:
Another way prayer has blessed our marriage, is by praying specific Scriptures in the Bible for ourselves and for one another. We pray for the children this way, too. We feel it is more powerful to use the Lord’s words in prayer, we are more likely to be praying in His will if we are praying His Words.

PRAY to STAY
Staying in the race isn’t the same as finishing the race well.  Growing up, Scott  spent much time with an older couple in the neighborhood. At times being in their little home was like being caught in the crossfires of a world war.  Their communication over 50 years had been yelling and bickering, even though the love and commitment were real.

Through each stage of life, your marriage must grow and change with you. It gets better, it never gets easier.  The challenges of live only increase with the increasing demands. Pray to stay your way through. 

Tying your marriage together with a cord of three that’s strengthened by prayer, is how to make your anniversaries  happy.

**********

To read other posts I’ve written about love and marriage, click the image or link below.

 

Grandkids and Wedding Cake Topper 056                

       Happily Ever Afters Don’t Just Happen                    The Man She Married

         Girls' Apt 045                           

   Ten Things to Look for in the Perfect Man                  Laughter Doeth the Marriage Well

When Faith Fails

We’ve all had moments of spiritual weakness,
when o
ur current circumstances are beyond our strength and acceptance.

We don’t see new mercies each day, only new pain.

In my 1-12 grades in public education, we had to meet physical requirements in  Physical Education class to receive a Presidential Patch.

The standards were high, even for a tomboy like me.

We had to do sit-ups, jump rope, 50 yard dash, 880yard pant-a-thon, stretch against a yardstick and a few other things I can barely remember.  The worst was the dreaded flexed arm hang.

I usually could make the criteria for each of the other items, but the flexed arm hang was a killer. It was always the last event on the list, too, so I knew the coveted blue patch with the embroidered gold Eagle would be mine, and only mine, if I could keep my chin above that bar for over a minute.  Maybe it was three minutes.  All I know is that for several years this event kept me from winning.

In high school, I was competing against the other smallest-girl-in-high school, Barb.  We both did a bajillion sit-ups.  We both ran like the wind.  We reached, hopped and jumped through all the hoops the President set. I never could figure out why he cared how many sit-ups I could do, but after seeing his picture in the news, I was pretty sure I could do more than he could.

Then, the final event, the flexed arm hang. I can still see her face while she hung on and on and on and on.  She was athletic, flexible, fast, cute, and apparently, strong enough to beat the school record for the flexed arm hang. 

The stakes were high.

My turn at the bar came and I hung and hung and shook and hung and hoped I didn’t smash my chin against the bar.  Several times I had to pull myself back up as my chin neared the metal enemy.

It wasn’t pretty, seeing me almost cry while clenching a bar high above the gym floor (high to me, I wasn’t even 5 foot tall yet), writhing in agony and knowing those who weren’t cheering me on were mocking me.   At this point, I thought the president was ridiculous.  I KNEW he couldn’t do this.

The gym teacher held a stop watch in her hand, her thumb on the top button, waiting to mark my failure. She called out the time occasionally enough, which made me clench and stretch and shake even more.

Finally, I dropped.  I couldn’t win.

I qualified for the President’s approval, but I couldn’t beat Barb.  II didn’t have enough strength.

Everyone agrees that when an athlete fails, they need more practice.

Why don’t we think the same in Christianity?

Why do we blame the Lord when our faith is weak? 

 Proverbs 24 v 10 001

The Lord calls it as it is.

But, he just doesn’t leave us hanging, writhing and clenching our teeth in pain as He points out our weakness.

He offers us His strength. 

2 Corinthians 12 v 9 001

He doesn’t just offer His strength, He exchanges it for our weakness.

The failing is on our part, for not taking what’s offered.

Are you barely keeping your chin above the bar of adversity?

Look up, friend, look up.

The weakness of faith is from us, not from the Object of our faith, the Lord Jesus.

If you’re fainting, and your faith is small, let Him perfect your weakness into His strength.