Saturday, July 26, 2014

Greater Expectations

I will be turning 22 on Sunday . Oddly, it seems a lot more than one year older than 21. The realization that I have almost lived a quarter of a century brings new awareness of the preciousness of time, the reality of aging and death, and the fact that life unfolds at a speed and in a way that I can’t control. I’m past feeling like my life is stretching out endlessly before me — I’m a good third of the way into it (Lord willing) and the ticking of the clock seems to grows louder.
I think these feelings are normal; observation has taught me that it’s at some point around a young woman’s twenty second revolution around the sun that she experiences a messy head-on collision with certain rock-hard facts of reality. Often it’s her point of disillusionment – the point when she finds out that the world is not what she thought. That life did not deliver what she expected. That things didn't happen according to her plans. That she didn't get her way and that her dreams didn't come true. And to cap it off… she doesn't get another shot. This is the big moral test in every girl’s life, and I am no exception.
It’s at this crisis point that a young woman’s true faith and motivations emerge, sometimes in ways that surprise everyone; over the years I‘ve seen many whom I counted as friends and allies change course dramatically and walk away from the principles that they fought alongside me to defend — namely, the tenets of biblical daughterhood.
The reasons are many and varied:

It got too hard. The level of self-sacrifice turned out to be more than they bargained for.
It did not produce the desired result (a husband).

The stigma of being an adult daughter who still lives at home with Mommy and Daddy became too much to bear.
The barrage of probing questions about why they were so “different” became too wearisome.
There really was no vision for life at home. For them, home was never really home, just a port to be stranded in, waiting for the soonest ship.
The feeling that God did not hold up His half of the bargain – He didn't deliver what they assumed was coming to them for their good deeds.
Rarely do the reasons spring from an honest reexamination of their convictions on biblical womanhood, but rather a disappointment with what those “convictions” yielded.
Sometimes before we start to question what we believe, we should question why we believe – is it because it’s easy, it’s convenient, it’s socially acceptable to the crowd we’re in, it’s eventually going to pay… or because we know it’s true? If we believe something because we know it’s true, then we will keep believing — even when it becomes hard, inconvenient, socially unacceptable, and appears to be costing, not paying. It’s good to stop and question why we believe – yes, even if those beliefs have been in a published form for five years, permanently set into the stones that make up the bedrock of a so-called “movement.”
This past month, and Lord willing, months to come, I'm studying to become a Labor Doula.
By God’s grace, my grasp of the Scriptures and issues are firmer, But one thing I hope never changes — that I never grow out of — is a child-like faith in the plain teachings of Scripture and youthful zeal in proclaiming them.
I have changed, but the Bible hasn't, and I still believe it means what it says. Time and experience have further proved to me that God is a much better Author of a woman’s destiny than she is.
Her plans will go awry. His can’t.
This week I have been reflecting back on the expectations I had for my life: my goals, my plans, my hopes and my dreams. I don’t know if it’s possible for my present reality to have deviated more from my past fantasies. As a teenager, I projected for myself an early marriage (at say, 18-19) and a quiet, private life, with many children. So, how do I feel about the fact that four years have elapsed since my speculated marriage date?
First of all, my feelings have nothing to do with it. Gratitude or bitterness are not really feelings but decisions, decisions that have nothing to do with the circumstances themselves, but with how we choose to perceive to them.
For example, let’s do a retake:
How do I feel about the fact that God has given me four more precious years to spend with my family and prepare for the future; that I have been able to play a part in my little brother’s transition into a young child's life, and that God has brought me many unsolicited opportunities to serve Him that have stretched me and helped me overcome my horror of vulnerability? I should be on my face before God, thanking Him for His overwhelming goodness to me.
God did not give me what I expected – He gave me far more. He has blessed me above and beyond what my little human mind could have imagined.
Maybe when we ruminate over life’s unfulfilled expectations we should stop and consider that God’s “withheld” blessings might not have been withheld at all – just presented in a way we did not expect. Let’s hope that we’re not so fixated on what we had on our wish-lists that we scorn the better gift.
My desires to one day be a wife and mother are still alive and well, but they must bow to God’s will. They may be fulfilled soon, or much later on… or they may not be fulfilled at all. If our desire to be placed in marriages really springs from the belief that we will be more useful to God thus, then we won’t feel let down if He decides to deploy us somewhere else. He knows where we will be the most useful to Him.

At 22, I’m reminded of the bigger picture: marriage is just one front in the context of a much larger war. Whether I get married or not, the war goes on. My life is defined by the fact that I am God’s soldier, not by the fact that I am 22 AND STILL NOT MARRIED.
I’m grateful for another year to stand by my post as a daughter at home, to:
Build strength into my family and make them as powerful as possible
Invest into the relationships that God has put into my life right now: my brothers, my sister, my parents, and others in the community.
Prepare my heart and attitude for the greater sacrifices that marriage and motherhood might bring
To learn new skills to add to my armory
To read more books
To explore more fields of learning
To have more of God’s word written on my heart, imprinted on my mind, and ready on my tongue
To be more joyful and optimistic
To be more like the unmarried woman in 1 Cor. 7:34, who is “…anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit.”
To be an even stronger witness as an adult daughter who still lives at home with Mommy and Daddy
Standing at the threshold of my 23rd year, God has given me the grace to repeat the hardest statement ever made by any woman:
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Luke 1:38

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Update on my brother

Thank to all those who've been praying for my little brother. I'd like to give you an update. My dad wrote this to our family and friends, so I'm just copying and pasting what he wrote. Since he knows the medical field more than I do.:)

Elijah had an accident today that involved the log splitter. He will be okay, but he has lost the tip of his wedding ring finger (he isn’t getting married yet-we will figure that out later). We spent the evening in the ER. They did X-rays that showed the accident had taken the top of the bone and the top and side of his flesh completely off. He was a brave one...once they numbed his finger-he went from screaming to talking, laughing, and joking. He will probably have to have surgery. If this happens they will have to shave more of the bone off to make a skin flap to close the wound. He will no longer have a nail on that finger and it will be a little shorter than the rest. Please pray for wisdom for the doctors, strength for Amber and I, and our finances. We have not met our deductible and it will likely cost many thousands of dollars.
We thank God it wasn’t worse, he is resting peacefully, and he proudly displays a big bright orange bandage around his fingers. 
 Update #2
Hello everyone,
It is a true blessing to see the body of Christ at work. I have seen many request and questions, so I will try to address in this update. But first the pictures...

Picture 4-This is the x-ray, notice the top of digit #4 (ring finger) missing. Bone and flesh are significantly exposed.
Picture 1-A close up of his new dressing. He has exchanged his orange finger in for a green one. I think this might make him a better gardener...(levity is a good thing in our house)
Picture 3-Elijah showing off his new green dressing. Notice the shirt he is wearing “Live for Adventure”, I think he got more than he bargained for...
Picture 4-This is Elijah relaxing with newly received gift. Todd Strawser brought over some homemade get well cards which were enjoyed by all of us.-Thanks Todd!
Today Amber took Elijah to the hand Surgeon (an “in-network” provider-Praise God! That will save us $1000 on our deductible). He wants to do surgery on Friday morning. Elijah had no appreciation for them taking off the bandage to see the wound. You might think he really liked the orange bandage, but really it had stuck to the wound and opened it back up-poor little guy! They did get him to stop screaming; Amber took it pretty hard, but for a different reason. Work kept me from attending.
The surgeon has an “A” and a “B” plan for the surgery: “A” plan-try to save the nail bed, shave the bone, and close the wound with what is left. “B” plan-take a graft of skin from the fat pad down below his pinky finger to close the wound. Elijah will be going under general anesthesia (a danger in itself) because of his age. They are estimating 45 minutes OR (operating room) time.
We are continuing antibiotics and minimal pain meds. He is in good spirits and likes his new bandage better than the first. :)
Thank you all for your prayers! We're hoping that Elijah will be well enough to go to the zoo on Saturday for his birthday. Praise God it wasn't more serious! :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Giveaway Winner! & Prayer!

Congratulations to Heather L. who won the $5 Gift-card to Starbucks!
Heather, I emailed you, but if you didn't receive the email, please contact me, so that I can send you  the gift card as soon as possible. :)

I'd like to do more Giveaway's in the future, so if any of you know of any good places that would like to donate, or be willing to donate, don't hesitate to tell me about it. :)

On a side note, can ya'll please keep my little brother in your prayers.
This evening, I took my 16 year old brother to get a friends trailer to borrow, and I came home, and my sister told me that my mom just left to go to the hospital.
Apparently, Elijah (5) was using our log splitter with some friends who are staying at our house, and he somehow cut his finger. I don't know how bad, all I know is that its bad enough to need a finger splint. My parents are still at the hospital, and will be back in another hour or so. I will update ya'll when I can. As a 5 year old (6 on Saturday) boy, I feel bad for him, and would appreciate your prayers. Especially considering that it'll be a rough night for not only Elijah and my parents, but for the family that's staying with us tonight.
Thank you all!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Contributor Post?

Hello all! After talking to a friend, I'm considering doing a "Contributor Post" every month or so.
Who all would be interested in that? I'd like you to write about something that encouraged you, or that was thought provoking. It doesn't matter how long or short it is. If you'd be interested in doing something like this, please let me know by commenting, or clicking on the "contact me" button on the sidebar.

Also, just a reminder to sign up (if you haven't already)  for the raffle copter-giveaway that ends in only a couple days. Share with anyone you'd like! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

When the Hurricane Hits

We've all had those moments.
The moments when the hurricane in our lives, hit. At full throttle, the plane, goes straight down.
We can't see a way out, and we can't understand how we got where we are.
When Jesus walked on water, he didn't calm the storm first, he called to Peter through the storm.

Matthew 14:22-33"Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
He spoke: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Nothing had changed. The storm still raged. The wind still shrieked. The boat still pitched. The thunder still boomed. The rain still slapped. But in the midst of the tumult, I could hear his voice. Although he was still far away, it was like he was by my side. The night was ferocious, yet he spoke as though the sea were placid and the sky silent. And, somehow, courage came. “Lord, if it’s you, . . . tell me to come to you on the water.” The voice was Peter’s. He wasn't being cocky. He wasn't demanding proof. He was scared. Like me, he knew what this storm could do. He knew that the boat would soon go down. He knew that Jesus was standing up. And he knew where he wanted to be . . . where we all wanted to be. “Come on,” Jesus invited. So Peter climbed over the side and stepped onto the sea. Before him opened a trail through a forest of waves. He stepped quickly. Water splashed. But he kept going. This path to Jesus was a ribbon of calm. It was peaceful. Serene.Jesus radiated light at the end of the trail. Smiling.
There are times in a person’s life when, even in the midst of them, you know you’ll never be the same. Moments that forever serve as journey posts. This was one.
In today’s passage, Christ came to the disciples and dealt with their storm.  But if you read the passage closely you discover Jesus didn't act in a way they expected.  Surely when the storm began, the disciples prayed that God would calm the storm, and eventually he did, but not at first.  Jesus first dealt with their chaos by walking with them in the storm.  Yes, Jesus delivered everything the disciples needed to make it through the storm, but he didn't deliver in a way they expected. The same is true when Jesus deals with us in the storms of life.  Jesus will deliver exactly what we need to deal with the storms, but he may not deliver in a way we expect. Instead of calming the storm, he may calm our spirit. Instead of healing our body, he may heal our souls. Instead of giving us more money, he may give us more wisdom. Instead of making us stronger, he may help us learn the value and power of our weakness. Oh, Jesus will supply everything we need, but he may not deliver in ways we expect, because our real need may be something we've never recognized.  Yes, when we are in the midst of our storm, Jesus gives us just what we need.  And what we need most is always the comforting presence of Christ. 
       When we face the storms of life, we may start begging God to calm the storm.  But God may act differently than we expect.  Instead of calming the storm, he might invite us to snuggle up in his presence until the storm is over.  And if God’s presence is with us, he is always enough - enough for us to make it till the end of the storm.
      Yes, he's always enough for the storms of our life.
      He's always enough to bring calm to our strife.
      He's always enough when the darkness descends.
    He's our savior, our pilot, our God and our friend.
  So when your calm turns to chaos and your joy turns to gloom.
    And darkness surrounds you like the walls of a tomb.
  When the storms of your trouble get frighteningly tough,
     Just come to Jesus.  He's always enough.

Monday, July 14, 2014

First Giveaway!

Hello all!!!
I'm doing my first Giveaway, thanks to a friends suggestion! So, please be patient with me as I am still learning this! :)
In order to enter the giveaway, you must become a follower of my blog, if you're not already. ;) I also, just created a Facebook web page on the side, if you'd like to follow that as well. :)
More instructions below:

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Willing Worker

"She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands."  Proverbs 31:13
A virtuous woman is a woman who works willing with her hands.  
  • She seeks how she can find things that will help her complete her task.  
  • She would rather not wait for things to fall into her lap.  
  • She is an "A" worker.  
  • This woman is not lazy.
  • She does not need everything done for her.
  • This virtuous woman does not look for a life of leisure or entertainment.
  • This willing worker is content to be busy serving her family in her home and helping fill needs beyond this if time allows.
  • She never needs encouragement to stick with her work.
Women of Steel...
Women of early history HAD to work hard because times were difficult.  You see this in primitive cultures around the world today, who lead a life that is unchanged from hundreds of years ago.  I have heard stories of native women working willingly with their hands in the heat of the day and give birth in a bush and return to their work minutes later.  As the baby cuddles close within her sling wrapped around her shoulders, she is able to care for her new baby and continue on with her duties.

I can not even imagine how that would be.  Nor do I recommend it, but this letter to King Lemuel was written in a time such as this.  It is interesting to see the vast differences in the amount of work we do today verses the load of work that women of long ago and in primitive cultures still produce.  I think these women have built up a threshold of pain and endurance that can not be matched.  I see Amish women that work unceasingly.  They will take a break after having their babies, though, which I think is really great for them.  They hire a maid for 2 weeks that will take over all her duties on the farm and in the home-everything-so she can recuperate.  It seems to be the only vacation she gets all year.  I would take it, too!

Women Working Bees...
I have done working bees with a group of Amish women.  You blink and a chicken is ready to go into the freezer.  These women, without a thought, will walk over to grab a live chicken and the next thing you know, it is in a pretty package. What I have noticed, in our culture, is that women sometimes shy away from "dirty jobs" and strenuous tasks.  To get a group of ladies together to slaughter 100 chickens all before lunch is served, is out of the question.  Unless they were raised on a farm and know how its done.  It is not a nice job, it stinks, it is disgusting work.  I can assure you, it is not the life for everyone.  

I had to train myself to work alongside the Amish.  I remember times that I thought I would faint and die from standing there all day working until sweat drenched my entire dress.  I mean, they WORK.  And you do not just stand around waiting for them to tell you what to do, you just get in there and figure out what you can do to help.  It made a worker out of me.  I was a pampered city girl with all my pampered ways.  I had to lay that aside when I was seeking to learn how to do various homesteading type jobs.  Seeking out the teachers, the dirty work, and finding joy in the fellowship was something I will always carry with me throughout life.  

I am not saying these things to hail the homestead life nor am I trying to say the Amish are the only ones that work hard.  We all work hard in our own way with the time we have been given.  Whether you are a city girl or a country girl, it makes no difference as long as you have the right heart in your willingness to work with your hands and serve your family as unto the Lord.

Working Willingly...
Attending working bees regularly trained me to work willingly with my hands.  I seek to find more things to learn and accomplish.  If I have an opportunity to learn from a quilter I will come ready to thread my needle.  An older woman spoke to me this morning.  I tasted her pretzels and I asked her if I could find out how she made them.  I do not like to visit just to sit and talk.  I want to always be diligent because my time here is short and my days are numbered.  I want to do something that is meaningful and worth something.  Investing into purpose and into things of eternal value.  I want to work and learn.  She told me it would be such a joy to spend an afternoon teaching me.  I do not like to sit around and chat on the phone or watch Facebook feeds when there are things to be done.  I know there is laundry to fold, meals to prepare, more I can improve on, more to learn, children to care for, and people to pray for.  There is no end to the possibilities of things I could do or seek out.

You never know what your life could be if you never try-if you never seek things out and work willingly to its end.  Sometimes when you try, you make mistakes.  I see every mistake as an essential part of life.  It is those mistakes that teach us the most. 

On the Flipside-The Life of Leisure...
After many centuries and also the Dark Ages, there came a new concept to women.  Mainly for the women of wealth or power.  It was the concept of leisure.  Leisure is the use of FREE time to do things of enjoyment.   They had servants to do any hard labor, and they could afford the leisure of sitting in the parlor to read a good book, or play the piano, or paint a picture.  It was a disgrace to see a woman of high rank dirty the hem of her dress doing a job outdoors.  Some women in history actually hated the life of leisure because there was no balance at all.  If she had a certain social status, she was not allowed the luxury of cooking or cleaning or even rearing her own children.  They had nurse maids, servants, and nannies for this.  I would have hated it.

We now live in a society that has a bit more balance.  People do work but they also have time to relax.  We are not bush people that hunt for all our food.  We have luxuries and conveniences to aid in our work that streamlines things to where we have time to hop on the computers or devices to relax.  We can sit in the recliner and watch movies.  We can go out to eat for dinner if we don't have "time" to make a meal. Times have changed.  I do see a trend of young people playing video games and entertaining themselves for hours at a time.  Hours that may have been better spent rather in something productive.  It pains me to see the newer generations of girls without work.  Young ladies that stare at the phones smiling because they see what their friend posted.  It is a vortex, distracting and taking into its pull all their precious minutes/hours they have to make a difference in the world.   Instead, if they could learn from our example to SEEK out things to do.

Today, many women are feeling overworked and unappreciated.  The thankless job of the wife and mother is really daunting.  There is so much to be done, work that never seems to end- but it takes doing.   The children are observing us and what we do with our time.  It is easier to let them go off into the silent mode of a virtual escape, but it will not teach them how to be a diligent worker in the long run.  What is our overall attitude about the work?  Are we huffing and puffing and nagging and ragging?  Or are we willingly working with our hands in a joyful way? 

I consider working with my hands the will of God for my life-Being a Keeper of the Home.  I feel the best when I am doing a job, knowing it is a good thing.  Yes, we do have leisure as well.  There has to be a balance.  You have to enjoy working and playing together.  It is not bad to have times of rest in between our work, or days of respite.  God gives us all good things to enjoy.  Somehow God saw fit to give us a picture of a virtuous woman in Proverbs.  Proverbs is a book of good wisdom which contrasts foolishness and idleness with the upright ways of the diligent.  The icing on the cake, the final admonition, is to praise this woman who can do it all.

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  We need not beat ourselves down from all the years we may have failed.  I have failed much, but also I have learned much.  Finding a balance-not being a workaholic nor a lazy person.  Working and playing in the time we are given.  Enjoying the journey whether we are working willingly or whether we are taking time to smell the roses with our little ones.  The beautiful thing about God is that his mercies are new each morning.  We can get up each morning and choose whom we will serve.  Is it ourselves?  Is it our flesh?  Or will we rise up and seek out the things that need doing.  Let us find joy and contentment in what the Lord has for us today.  Lord, give us a measure of grace to face our mountains and climb them one step at a time, yet take the time to enjoy the view.  "Let us not grow weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." 
~Galatians 6:9

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Heritage and Independence Day

It's the perfect occasion to fire up the grill, watch a parade, and enjoy fireworks. But beyond the fun with friends and family, have you ever wondered about the 4th of July, its meaning and historical roots? Get ready for your patriotic celebration with this brief 4th of July history.
Also known as Independence Day, the federal holiday commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, the culmination of the decades-long American Revolution. The actual vote to sever ties between the 13 colonies and the Kingdom of Great Britain took place two days earlier. But it was on July 4 that Congress approved the formal statement explaining its decision to break free and form a new nation. That document, the Declaration of Independence, was prepared by a committee headed by Thomas Jefferson.
Contrary to popular belief, the congressional delegates did not sign the Declaration on July 4, but several weeks later. Still, because the statement was adopted on July 4, that date became forever associated with the Unites States' independence from the British Empire.
The 4th of July's history as a holiday is one of long-standing tradition. As early as 1777, Americans celebrated their independence on the 4th. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees. In 1938 it became a paid federal holiday. Over the years, not much has changed in the ways Americans celebrate their country's birthday. Early festivities featured 13-gun salutes, speeches, music, parades, fireworks, and red-white-and-blue bunting.
The second day of July, 1776, will be a very memorable part of history of America. 
Part of my genealogy goes back, to John Hart, who signed the Declaration of Independence. My mothers great, great, great... etc... grandfather is John Hart.
Looking at John Hart's biography, is very interesting! He was a God-fearing man, and a great example to look up to. His life verse is 1st Thessalonians 4:11-12, "...that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing." 
John Hart was considered to be an Honest Patriot, and was Self-taught. Young John was raised to work the farm with his father. 
He was self-taught in his spare time and grew rich enough to acquire a 380-acre farm in 1739. Over the years, by diligence and good character, he won the reputation as "the most considerable man in his community." At the age of 29 he married Deborah Scudder of Ewing, New Jersey. The couple had 13 children, and with hard work become rather well-to-do.
John Hart was a wonderful God-fearing man in my genealogy, and I am so blessed to know some History on him. So, what's your favorite part of 4th of July? What are some traditions your family does?