Snow Days, Hot Chocolate, Hot Soup, and Hot Woodstoves

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“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13

The forecast calls for 3-7 inches of snow, runny noses, subzero windchill, and two kids who want to build a snowman. Tomorrow will be a day of which we all seek comfort. We will want a break from the cold and blustery winter.  Seeking shade on a hot, summer day is so far from thought it hardly seems possible to feel warm in shorts and t-shirts while playing outside.

We all experience seasons in our lives when we search for comfort.  At this time in my life, I long for the comfort of quiet mornings when I sit back with a cup of coffee and everyone else sleeps. In thirty years, I may long for noisy chaos of children running through my house.

Our source of comfort, regardless of season or age is always the same. We always find comfort in God, our Father, Jesus, our friend who walked the same Earth, and the Holy Spirit, who speaks to us as we journey through this life.

We may not always feel His presence in a Holy manner. Sometimes His comfort arrives in cups of hot chocolate, a hug from a spouse, or a phone call from a friend.  I belive God uses us to comfort others and allows us to experience His love through others.

What are you doing tomorrow?  Will you bring comfort to anyone? Will you allow God to comfort you?

Day 2

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Today I am thankful that we receive unique and separate gifts from God. I so often hear my students complain that something isn’t fair. They get upset if one kid gets a box of crayons and they dont. They do not have the ability to comprehend that the receiver of those crayons lives in a household that cannot afford school supplies.

As adults, we understand it, but we still show jealousy toward those who seem to get everything handed to them. We forget that God has given us exactly what we need to carry out His plan for our lives.

My gifts are different from my husbands. I plan. He wrecks plans. I worry. He laughs when I worry. Our personalities are nearly opposites. Therefore,  our Godly gifts must differ. We compliment each other well. He can fill in gaps my shortcomings leave in our household. He steps in when I am weak.

Today I am thankful that God celebrates diversity. I am thankful that He provided a husband for me to work as a teammate through this life.
Blessings!

Finding Comfort

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I have written about this before, but I am a self-diagnosed stress eater.  When I get upset about work, overwhelmed by parenting,  or mad at my husband, I will sit and polish off a bag of chip with dip.  I won’t stop until the whole bag is gone! (I inherited this from my mother!)

Just the other day, I was reading a devotional.  I believe it was something written by Joyce Meyer, but I can’t remember for sure.  It said that each of us has an unfilled place in our soul.  This place longs for comfort.  Some of us fill it with food, others with retail therapy.  A few try to fill it in more dangerous ways with drugs or alcohol.

A minister at a church I attended years ago used to say that each of us had a “God-sized” hole inside of us.  This emptiness can bring despair and misery into our lives.  From this emptiness we have potential to make dangerous decisions, trying to fill the void.  I have known many young girls who try to fill that void with affection from men.  Occasionally, they get lucky and find a kind, caring, loving man to pacify the emptiness.  However, if the whole is God-sized, no human will ever completely fill the void.  No bag of chips will either.

We are created with a place in our souls to be filled by God.  We can search and search for other ways to fill it, but nothing will satisfy our soul like God can.  God intends for us to find comfort in Him. I am not saying that eating chips and dip in moderation is a bad thing, but it won’t fix your problems!  Believe me!  I have tried!  In fact, it just makes you sluggish the next day.

I believe God sends us comfort in many ways.  I believe that my husband was a gift from God.  He can’t fill the God-sized hole, but he tries to comfort me when I need it, encourages me, and helps me navigate through this life.  I often can find small doses of comfort in sitting on my back deck with a cup of hot coffee as the sun rises.  But this amount of comfort cannot fill the God-sized hole either.  Only a relationship with God can.

Here are some verses that remind us of God’s power and desire to fill the void within us.

John 14:1-3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The next time you reach for the bag of chips, or seek comfort in your own way, reach for God.  Strengthen your relationship with Him and find comfort in Him.

Blessings!

For the Love of a Husband

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Have you ever had a conversation with someone that left you feeling a bit jealous?  I rarely feel jealous of other’s belongings, but I sometimes long to have the relationships that others seem to have.  I have found that those relationships are not always as cheery as they first seem, but I think I found a marriage that I truly admire.

I work with a woman who has been married for 16 years.  Every time she speaks of her husband, she speaks in a loving way.  She tells us how much she adores him.  She has told us that she would marry him all over again.  She even tells us all of the great things he does for her.  At some point, somewhere between the comments about him cooking dinner and vacuuming, I began to think about how their situation sounds a lot better than mine.  ***Note:  My marriage is great.  My husband is great!  However, he doesn’t know how to run the vacuum, and we don’t want him to cook!***

The other day, she made a comment that really got me thinking.  She was telling me about her husband’s career and asking about my husband’s career.  I told her that her marriage sounded just perfect.  She replied that she isn’t perfect, he isn’t perfect, and their marriage isn’t perfect, but God is.  Since God is at the center of her marriage, she has no reason to complain.  Therefore, she chooses to share only positive things with others about her marriage and her husband.

I think my jaw dropped, and I just stood there speechless.  However, I heard her message loud and clear.  Her marriage may not be any better than mine, but she chooses carefully what she tells others.  She doesn’t make up lies to make her marriage look great, but she filters out the bad.  Her husband may snore, have a horrible temper, or never pick up his dirty socks, but she only tells us about his good qualities.

My friend went on to say that when she focuses on his good qualities, the bad ones just don’t seem as important.  She told me that it is much easier to love someone when you don’t dwell on their shortcomings.  That is only fair, right?  We don’t want our spouses to dwell on our shortcomings, so why should we dwell upon theirs?

I am grateful that my friend has been placed in my life.  I love her reminder to me about treasuring my husband and our marriage.

Blessings!

Life Without a Microwave

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I am a planner.  I plan everything from meals, outfits for the work week, activities for the kids, family trips, and daily lessons for my students.  Part of my incessant planning comes from being a teacher.  We are trained to plan!  Part of my need to plan everything is simply my nature.  It drives my husband crazy!  Did I mention that I often plan his life, too?

Normally, my plans go well.  Most of the time, our lives run smoothly because I plan the details.  The kids always have snacks on hand.  I don’t get caught anywhere without an extra diaper for Darling Daughter.  My students have plenty of meaningful lessons.  My house always has plenty of food stocked for us.

Occasionally, something throws a kink in my plans.  Then I fall apart.  Yesterday, it was the microwave.  It decided to quit.  My microwave, nearly a member of my family we use it so much, decided that it wasn’t going to heat anything anymore.  I could not quickly fix a baked potato for the kids.  I could not heat up leftover corn in less than two minutes.  I could not reheat my husband’s dinner at 8:30 last night when he got home from work.  Everything I needed to do took longer than I had planned.  Therefore, I didn’t get everything accomplished before I crashed at 9:30!

Do you ever have those days?  I have a hard time recovering from messed up plans.  I get agitated.  I feel angry at the situation and take my anger out on others.  I know it is just a microwave, but it makes my daily routines take more time.  I haven’t planned for more time.

Yeah, I know I sound whiny.  My husband told me that, too.

It is times like these that God reminds me that, despite what I may think, I am not in charge!  He is!  I don’t have to control every aspect of my life.  If I do, He will make sure I learn that He is still in control.

After accepting the fact that breakfast won’t be microwaved this morning and remembering that God is in control of my worries, trials, hardships, and plans, I suppose life without a microwave served its purpose.  It became my humbling reminder that I need to just let God have control.

Blessings!

Survivor, Big Brother, and Facing Reality!

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I have this secret obsession with reality tv.  I have been a Survivor fan since I was really young.  I have signed t-shirts from contestants, can tell you life stories of castaways, and recap entire seasons.  My big brother got me interested in Big Brother a few years ago. My husband thinks I am ridiculous!

I watch these shows because I am fascinated by how people treat each other when put into stressful situations.  Both shows cut contestants off from their normal lives, throw them in with a bunch of strangers, and ask them to live together in harmony.  Of course that harmony part usually doesn’t happen.

This sounds crazy, but I think I use these shows to escape my own reality.  There are days when I just need a break from thinking about work, kids, cleaning, grading, and worrying.  I use books the same way.  I can get caught up in a story, focus on the lives of the characters, and forget, momentarily, about my own worries.  Eventually, however, I have to come back into my own reality and face my struggles.  That’s where God comes in!

I know it sounds silly, and I don’t let my children watch these shows.  I guess I enjoy having an escape, even if it is for only  one hour a week!    I even feel guilty about it because I know I should be folding clothes or grading papers instead.  While it isn’t a sin to simply watch tv, I know God probably wishes I would use my time better. I am fully aware that I use this for stress release.  I suppose it is better than stress-eating!

How do you escape reality?

Blessings!

When Looks Really Do Matter

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Beauty is only skin deep.

Pretty is as pretty does.

True beauty lies on the inside.

We have heard all of the sayings.  We try to convince ourselves that our looks are good enough for God, good enough for the world, and good enough for ourselves.  However, do our looks really matter?  Did they matter to the Proverbs 31 woman?

Looks probably mattered quite a bit to her, but maybe not the way our society promotes beauty.  She would never grace the cover of a magazine in a bikini or revealing dress.  Modesty would have been a huge priority.  However, we know that she worked hard to prepare clothing for her family.  She tried her best to make them all look good.  She wanted to present her family to the world as a well clothed group.

13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes. (Proverbs 31:13, 22-24)

The chapter goes on to say in verse 30 that “beauty is fleeting.”  So should we value beauty or not??

Here is my opinion.  As always, my opinion evolves as I age and grow.  At this point in my life, my goal is to make sure my family dresses well.  I want everyone to have clothing that is clean, fits well, looks attractive, and is modest in nature.  My husband and I must look professional for our careers, so we pay attention to our closets.  We don’t spend a lot of money on clothing, but stores like TJ Maxx and Target keep us clothed.

We all know that when we see people whose clothing doesn’t fit, who appear dirty, and those who look disheveled, we form an opinion about them.  The Proverbs 31 woman tried to promote her husband’s social status by ensuring that her family was clothed well.  To me, that doesn’t mean expensive, designer clothing, but it does mean clean and neat.

What about the hair, make-up, nails, and jewelry?  As with anything else, an obsession with it would detract from our relationship with God.  We cannot spend our lives worrying about looking perfect.  It won’t happen.  We are created to look different, individualized.  We should embrace our differences and our features.

Having said that, there are times when I go to the expense of nice jewelry, professional hair coloring (shh…) and cut, and get my nails done.  My husband works in a world where looks do matter to many of his clients.  To some of his clients, appearances show a social status.  In order to make my husband look good, I need to look good. ( I know, rough life when my husband is forced to pay for a manicure for me!)

I remember hearing stories as a child of churches who wouldn’t allow women to wear jewelry.  I know there are sects of Christians who still believe and practice this.  They do not allow make-up or professional hair and nail services.  I disagree with them.  I do not believe that God considers valuing the way we look as a sin.  Only when we put beauty ahead of Him or treat others poorly based upon their appearances will God become angry with us.

I know this is a touchy subject.  I could go on to discuss weight and our family’s journey to fitness, but I will save that for another post!

Blessings!