On being a ninny about swearing

I learned yesterday that Linkin Park has a new album. I really enjoy their music. Very much so. I actually have their first three albums and they are really, really good. However, the last album I bought, I had to buy the edited version because they’ve suddenly decided that swearing on their albums is cool. I mean, I know they swear in their concerts and real life and whatever, and that’s fine. Their choice. But really? In the songs? On the albums? I decided that Minutes to Midnight would be the last album I purchased from them for this reason. Even though I was REEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLYYY tempted to look at their new stuff on the recommendation of a music loving friend. I inquired about swearing and she said the words I never want to be able to repeat for myself: I guess I didn’t notice. I’m sure there are.

I guess I didn’t notice.

I grew up in a household where swearing didn’t happen. Ever. Except from my older sister. It was never part of my parent’s vocabulary. It was never part of mine. Needless to say, I’m pretty sensitive about that. I ALWAYS hear it, every word, every time, from every mouth. And every time, it makes me uncomfortable.

I like that.

I know that someday, I’m not going to have to worry about my kids repeating curse words I use under my breath or whatever at home because I don’t use them. I am not going to be embarrassed someday because they repeat some offensive stuff at church or Target or family Christmas. I want them to be sensitive to it too. I want my kids to build large enough vocabularies that swearing doesn’t even do justice to what they are trying to say in the first place.

That’s a big reason I’ve become a much bigger ninny about swearing in music. It’s not about me anymore. What I listen to, my kids listen to. My daycare kid listens to. What I say, she will repeat someday. She already repeats yelling at the dogs to stop barking or to come downstairs (needless to say, I’ve cooled down on the yelling about barking at everything in favor of calmly approaching the offending dog and quietly telling him to shush). Repeated behavior is a humbling thing. It really shows the things I do without even thinking. I have some behaviors that need some serious work. The last thing I need to worry about is my daycare kid going home and repeating garbage she hears me say or listens to on the laptop.

Someday, sooner than I want, Mae will be doing the same thing. She will follow me around doing what I do, saying what I say, imitating me. Someday, she is going to grow up into her own person. Someday, she will open her mouth and my words will come out. What words will those be? What person will she be? Will she be one who is terrified about becoming like her mom?

Yes, I’m a ninny about swearing. I don’t want to use it. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want my kids around it (inevitable, though). My children are going to be a reflection of me, and hopefully because of that, of God. They are someday going to choose to wear the banner of Christ or not. Will I help them to wear it proudly? Will they be authentic? Will people see them and want to know Christ? Will people see them and lump them in with all the “hypocritical Christians” who go to church on Sunday and live like they don’t know Christ the rest of the week?

My life is no longer about me. If I want to raise children that reflect Christ, then I have to reflect Christ. I think that he wouldn’t swear either.

 

Instructions for Christian Living

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understandingand separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves overto sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:17-32

Advertisements

Saying Goodbye to Something You Love

My mom sent me this devotion just a few days ago (emphases mine):

“And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.” 1 Chronicles 29:19 (NIV)

Cheri handed my crying baby to me, his little eyes swollen, his sobs subsiding into gulping sighs. Within seconds, Robbie calmed as I nuzzled him and kissed his sweet face.

I hugged my friend and thanked her for trying again to watch Robbie while I went back to work part-time. Again, my son refused a bottle and cried constantly. We both knew this wasn’t going to work.

Forcing a smile, I turned quickly so she wouldn’t see my tears. By the time I got to the car, I could hold them back no longer. Securing my son, I slipped in the driver’s seat, put my head on the steering wheel and wept.

He was my third child, so I thought I had the mommy-thing figured out. Only Robbie didn’t have the same personality or needs of his older brothers. They’d taken bottles easily. But this child had a unique bond with me.

Not only that, but we couldn’t just sit together; I had to be walking and rocking him. If that boy was awake, he needed to touch me and be moving, or the crying began.

My older sons, ages 2 and 4, weren’t the quiet type either. Other children kept occupied with a bag of toys, crayons or paper. Not mine.

My life changed dramatically with the birth of my third son. As a result, I made the difficult decision to quit many things I enjoyed: my part-time job, leading children’s ministry and teaching Bible study to name a few. Most days I just felt sad as the world seemed to pass me by.

A highlight was picking up a dozen donuts and a Diet Coke and heading to Cheri’s house. She was the only friend who could tolerate my three rowdy children. And she also understood that Diet Coke offsets the calories in the donuts. The perfect friend!

I loved those little boys immensely. And not a day passed that I didn’t thank God for them. But I grieved what I’d left behind, and that grieving affected my enjoyment of the present.

I missed having position and authority at work. I longed for the sense of completion. Sadly, I thought my “ministry” was outside my home, and wondered when God would use me again.

Thankfully God intervened in a dramatic way, and I came to understand and appreciate the calling and cost of motherhood. God changed my heart and priorities, and the rewards have far outweighed the sacrifices. But it was still hard.

Recently, God brought those difficult years to mind as I read 1 Chronicles 28 and 29.

These chapters record King David passing his crown and assignment to build God’s temple to his son, Solomon. In this decision, David gave up his position, authority, respect and purpose.

Did David mope and moan? Did he grab donuts and diet soda with a friend? No, the Bible tells us David “praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly” (1 Chronicles 29:10).

What follows is one of the most beautiful, humble prayers in the Bible. David’s gracious actions and adoration for God inspired and moved hearts in the Jewish people.

After praying, Scripture tells us David invited the people to praise God: “So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the LORD and the king” (1 Chronicles 29:20).

What a vivid contrast between my response and King David’s when each of us gave up something we loved. David didn’t grip the past tightly; he opened his hands and heart to embrace what God was doing in the present.

I can’t go back to those early years, but with God’s help and David’s example, I can change how I respond in the future.

David had cultivated a life of praise, so when faced with loss, that habit elevated his response. David’s trust in God was so great that he joyfully supported others who would build the temple he longed to build.

As I’ve addressed this personally, I’ve discovered praising God is at the center of contentment. As we praise Him, we find the assurance that He’s got things covered … even babies who cry inconsolably and our longing for significance.

It’s there, in knowing God sees us and hasn’t forgotten us, we find peace.

And it’s there, in every walking-rocking-sleepless night, we find purpose.

My season of life is different now, but I’m still faced with saying “goodbye” to things I love. That “little” boy moves away to college next month, and I’m praying for an attitude like King David’s — full of praise, grace and generosity of heart.

 

Deciding to stay home was an easy and a difficult decision for me. It was easy to say yes to being with lovely little Mae all the time. It was difficult to leave behind the work and using my skills to benefit others.

IMG_20140726_191521_655

What I didn’t expect was feeling so… left behind. So… useless.

I started a daycare to help make up the income we needed and have since learned that I know so little about kids. It’s kind of like being mom to 1 1/2 kids. I’ve been having a very difficult filling the other spots I have, which is surprising to me living in such a large area. I thought I would be turning people away, “sorry I’m full”. I’ve had several interviews and home visits and such, each ending with people choosing to take their kids somewhere else for care.

After feeling bad about it for a while, a question came to my head: Is this because my daycare/qualifications/whatever are undesirable OR is this God providing me an opportunity to explore other avenues for income and fulfillment?

Recently I helped out a friend of a friend by doing some painting in their house. I enjoy painting. Other people don’t. I was able to bless this family who needed it done quickly, I got out of the house for a while, my family survived without me around, I actually felt great about doing it (even though I’m a little sore today), and I made a bit of money. Is this the opportunity? Do I have interests, skills, and talents that can bless the lives of other people and make us a small amount of income each month? Would having additional daycare kids dramatically change the good thing we have going on right now with our schedules – both in the morning before she comes and during the day while she’s here? And would that change be good or bad? Do I have other skills and talents that I can use outside of a work setting to benefit others?

In church, Jon (the pastor) has been sharing how to live a significant life. The key theme I’m seeing is “remember that it’s not all about you”. Yes, I have sacrificed what seems like a lot to stay home and raise my little girl and be with the dogs. But it’s not all about me. These little ones that depend on me are getting the BEST of me, the MOST of me. I don’t have to pay someone else to help raise my kid and my dogs aren’t in a kennel all day. There is something very glorious about that. There is something godly about that. Gloriously sacrificial.

Sure, maybe I feel like things would be better or I would be happier doing things a different way, but I know this is where I’m supposed to be. I know that I am supposed to be taking care of my house, home, and family. I have the blessing of this still being those early years, where I can let go of feeling like I’m missing out and find ways to continue to bless others by sharing my skills and talents. By opening my home to other moms and their kids to play when they can. By opening my home to other people’s dogs when they need to be watched. By sharing my painting, sewing, and yarn work skills. By cultivating a home full of love, understanding, and piles of dog fur. By remembering what is important and what is not. By remembering that God sees me, God knows me, God will provide and open the doors that lead me closer to him and further from myself.

Where does a decade go?

I went to my 10 year high school class reunion recently.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went, but when I left, I wasn’t surprised at the turnout and events of the day.

There was a fair amount of drinking, but I think I expected more. I expected more conversation with more classmates, but that is one of those things that is totally and completely up to me. I didn’t circulate as much as I could have. I chatted with a few. I had a really good chat with one or two. That was nice.

I did find it amazing how much I didn’t know about certain people and how hard it was to remember who was actually in our class that didn’t attend. We spend a HUGE portion of our lives with the same people and shortly after graduation, we lose track of them. Living in the digital age certainly helps to stay somewhat in contact, or at least cyber stalk the people we once knew.

I was most surprised to find that as I left, I didn’t really care one way or the other that I hadn’t kept in contact with these high school friends. I didn’t feel like I had missed out on anything. I didn’t feel like there were unresolved anythings. I was simply ready to continue living my life. It was nice to catch up, but I found that for the most part, I didn’t care too much what other people were doing. I was certainly interested in those who were continuing their education to the level I wish I could have. I was surprised that I was less interested in those in the same life stage as me – married and just having our first kids. I thought I would want to ask a hundred questions about their plans, but I think because I’m not actually friends with them, I didn’t really care.

I heard about an anti-reunion reunion at a local bar and frankly, couldn’t have cared less to swing in and see those people. Is it because it was at a bar or was it because I’m simply not friends with them? Probably a little bit of both. I find that I am less and less interested in hanging out with people who drink too much. I don’t want to hang out with drunk people. When BYOB is mentioned, I’m suddenly much less inclined to participate in a gathering. I certainly have nothing against those to who choose to drink at gatherings, but I just don’t want to be there. Conversation ceases to happen, yelling starts, and just generally idiotic behavior. I don’t find that amusing anymore.

As I reflected on my life and the direction it has gone and the experiences I’ve been through, I realize that I am completely content with my life. I actually don’t wish that I was living someone else’s life. I am not envious of other people’s kids or jobs or spouses or lives (okay, maybe a little envious of the one getting her doctorate). Overall, I am completely satisfied. I think I expected to leave much more dissatisfied with my life. To wish that I was living someone else’s life and had their experiences and envious the number of kids or dogs or titles or whatever.

Coming home was nice. Getting to see my friends. Sure, there are days when I don’t want to get up and I don’t want to be responsible and I want to be more free or something, but those are days, moments in my life. A lot of life has happened to all of us in the last 10 years and yet it seems to have gone by so very quickly. I hardly feel old enough to be here yet. I am happy for my classmates who are happy with where they are. I hope that the others find what they are looking for. For me, I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be doing what I am supposed to be doing. It will be interesting to see what happens in another 10 years.

Rhubarb Jam!

In the spirit of my last post, I want to share some of the food storing we’ve been doing and sharing how to do it yourself, should you want to.

 

What you’ll need:

7 cups Rhubarb (you can substitute other fruits for some of this if you want, too – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, whatever strikes your fancy)

3 cups sugar

1 package Jello – NOT NOT NOT sugarfree. Sugar filled Jello.

1 largo bowl

1 large pot

Approximately 5 hours of your time

 

Start out by cutting up your fruits and putting in to the bowl.

118

 

Add sugar

119

 

Mix it all up and let sit for about 3-4 hours. Stir occasionally. You know it’s done when most or all of the sugar has dissolved. The more you stir, the faster it goes.

124

 

Once ready, transfer your bowl contents to the pan (sorry, I forgot to take these pictures). Boil the fruit for 15 minutes to soften it up. Stir frequently.

Then add your Jello to the pan. Boil another 10 minutes.

 

Gather up your storage jars.

130

 

Once you are done boiling, transfer your jam into the jars. It’s helpful if you can wait an hour or so before putting the jars into the fridge, just so they have a bit of a chance to cool off and not throw off the entire temp of the fridge as they cool in there.

131

Label your jars, and voila! You have jam! Once it has set up, you can use it for all kinds of jammy purposes.

Embracing My Role At Home

I have dedicated this blog to helping me live in pursuit of life and not the brainless, monotonous grind that daily life can become.

James and I have been talking about living a more Earth friendly, stewardly life. Lately, though, we haven’t been doing a great job. We’ve gotten caught up in the busyness of life and have been a little bit on autopilot. Last week, we decided to complete a bible study we had started when we were leading a group a couple years ago now. We still have all the materials but never finished because our group stopped showing up. We had a really, really good conversation last night and one of the questions really got me thinking.

“Practically speaking, what would it look like for you to “put your hand to the plow” and not look back when it comes to following God?”

For me, that really means embracing being home all the time. It means learning to be content here. It means focusing my energy on my home instead of on what else I can do to earn money or whatever else I’m feeling insecure about at the moment. James and I came to the conclusion together that the best thing for our whole family is for me to be here. We reached this decision together. Lately I have been looking for and thinking about and wanting a job outside the home – something to earn a little more money, something to be away for a bit.

111

I realized something last night: that’s not my calling. Me pulling my weight around here doesn’t revolve solely around financials. Pulling my weight means managing this household the best I can – providing my daughter and dogs and husband with what they need. Keeping the house somewhat clean. Sort of keeping up on dishes. Trying to live within the budget.

The part I have had the hardest time keeping up with is food. I enjoy cooking, but I’ve been a little burned out on planning and making meals. I think it’s because I’m going about it all the wrong way. We have transitioned our diet to mostly whole foods and way less prepackaged, pre-processed foods. Of course, this means more work in preparing meals. There are days I just don’t have the energy to think about supper and we simply don’t have the kinds of things around to make a meal. Like I said, we’ve been slacking.

I have decided, though, to really embrace this role at home. To stop worrying about how much money I am or am not bringing in. To stop lamenting the money wasted on degrees I don’t use. To stop beating myself up for our debt. In order to move forward, I HAVE to stop looking back.

What does this really look like though?

129

It looks like preserving foods. It looks like taking a weekend once per month to make freezer meals so that we always have something to pull out and eat, so James always has something to take to work for lunch. It means spending less money on groceries because we are spending smarter. It means paying attention. I do what I can to not wastefully use electricity and water, now I need to do the same thing with groceries and food.

132

We use cloth diapers and old t-shirt wipes. We make our own baby food. Why are we having such a hard time with adult food? No more! I want to commit to pulling my weight and really embracing what that  means. Embracing the NON-financial aspect of that. I wouldn’t call us wasteful by any means, but I know we can do better. I know *I* can do better. It is time to start looking forward, surrendering my life and will to God’s plan and to stop trying to figure out how to squeeze what I want into that.

122

I say I love being home. Now I need to start living like I really believe that.

 

Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.” –Luke 9:62

114