Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Terrific Tuesday

I'm glad you stopped by! Today's post is going to be just about encouragement because we all need it and it is one of God's commands.

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."                           -1 Thessalonians 5:11

I need this just as much as the next person. I would not say I live a hard life. I have a loving husband, children, family and friends, a roof over my head, meals on my table, and clothes on my back (I read somewhere once that if you own more than one pair of shoes you are among some of the wealthiest people in Canada!). But, like everybody else, I have bad days. The devil knows our weak spots and he will stop at nothing to pick at them and try to make us stumble and fall. And I am ashamed to admit that sometimes I let him get the best of me. It is on days like those that I need God so much more!

So, let's be encouraged by the Lord today!

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."    -Philippians 3:12-14

For me, my main struggle is in regards to my home. I tend to be more on the perfectionist side of things (my husband would say I am well over that line!!) I also have very grand ideas of things I would like to do with the house and the kids that can make my days pretty unattainable sometimes.

For example, I would love to be able to cook three square meals a day, spend lots of quality time with the kids that includes some kind of learning, have ample devotional time, have time to keep the house in good order, have time for fun for myself (like scrapbooking or knitting or just whatever :) ), have time to spend relaxing with hubby, and try to run a little cake-making business!

All in one day.

(Ok, so I've got the meals down, I spend time with the kids but not always in an educational sense, I am learning to fellowship with God throughout my day and trying to devote small blocks of time at different times so that I am constantly fed - this is a work in progress, the house is standing - I think I'll leave it at that for now!, if I take time for myself, everything else suffers and I end up paying for it later, same goes for relaxing with hubs, and thankfully I am not crazy busy with cakes yet so I don't really need to worry about it!)

What encourages me about the above verse is that we don't have to be perfect at anything. If I don't get the floor swept or the laundry done one day, no big deal. If I don't get a big chunk of time to spend with the Lord, it's not something to get worked up over.

What is important is my faith, my attitude, and where my priorities lie. It is whether or not I will just keep on trying, keep on pressing in to God until He works it out in me. "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6 If my heart is desiring to serve the Lord in everything I do and every action I take, then He will work it out in me.

I really enjoyed the next couple of verses in the Message version:

"So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision - you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it." v. 15-16

This part really encouraged me and challenged me. If I have anything else in mind other that total commitment to serving the Lord and carrying out His Will for my life, if I remain in Him then He will show me. If I only ask for His help, He will show me how to work out my days so that I do have time for the important things. And He will also renew my energy each time I go to Him by reminding me where my focus should be. 

I love the Lord and I am so thankful for what He is doing in my heart in this season of my life. Treasure His Word and learn how you can apply it to your life. That is what amazes me most about it. There is something in the bible that is just for you, each day of your life, no matter what you are going through. He always has us on His mind and He always has.

Be blessed today!

Oh yes...I almost forgot! Here are our supper pics. Today was Beefy Mac & Cheese but I think the title is pretty misleading. I have renamed it Pizza Casserole (creative, I know). It also kind of tasted like a chili but made with macaroni noodles. (I also baked some yummy bread today but didn't take a picture. You can rest assured that it looked and tasted delicious!!)

Monday, 17 October 2011


Well, in order to keep myself accountable for actually preparing meals all week for my family I am going to post our week's menu plan here. Now before you go judging me, I DO feed my family but I am a BIG fan of eating out. I find that by time suppertime rolls around I am just too exhausted from the rest of the day (or just too lazy if we're being honest here) to prepare a decent meal that isn't Kraft Dinner or peanut butter sandwiches. So, here goes:

Breakfast: Eggs
Lunch: Toasted Bagels
Supper: Split Pea Soup (Pictured)

B: Cereal or Homemade Oatmeal (Pictured)
L: Leftover Soup/Bagels
S: Beefy Mac & Cheese

New homemade oatmeal recipe - can't wait to try it tomorrow!
B: Cereal or Oatmeal
L: Sandwiches
S: Chickpea Lentil Stew

B: Cereal or Oatmeal
L: Leftovers/Sandwiches

Going out of town for a couple of days!!

Supper: Chicken Fingers, Fries, & Veggies

B: Cereal or Oatmeal
L: Salad, Cheese & Crackers
S: Barley Primavera

Apple Bran Muffins, Pumpkin Muffins, Fruit, Veggies w/ Hummus (Recipes to follow)

Pumpkin Muffins and Apple Bran Muffins
Even enough leftover to freeze for a later meal - woo hoo! (Oh and a lunch tomorrow!)
Even got the table all set and ready for breakfast. I was on a roll today!
Looks pretty delicious to me! Now just hoping that my picky eaters will enjoy just as much as I do. My oldest (#1) is pretty good - she really likes to put on a show about just how good a meal is especially when her younger brothers are complaining about it. Makes me kind of chuckle but I do need to tell her to tone it down sometimes!

For #2 (our middle boy) we are going to start telling him he has to eat at least 3 bites (one for every year of age) and then he can be done. HOWEVER...if he chooses that route, there is no dessert and no snacks later on. That boy can hardly go an hour without saying he's hungry so I think that might just be motivation enough (fingers crossed!).

I'm not sure what to do with #3 (our youngest boy). He is 19 months. So old enough to understand what I am saying (and to choose not to listen), but too young to use the same method as #2. I have read a few different methods to try but I think for now I am just going to wait it out and see. I think sometimes it's just because he wants to feed himself (which is a little tricky with soup still). Stay tuned...

 Come back tomorrow for Terrific Tuesday, a new weekly post devoted to encouragement.

Scripture to Ponder:
"The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts."                                          -Proverbs 26:22

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

What is good?

"Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives."  -Titus 3:14

This verse really jumped out at me as my bible reading was coming to a close last night. I was asking God to show me something in His Word that was specifically for me and even though I had come across so many good things, there wasn't one thing that spoke directly to me. And usually I just skim over the greetings and final remarks but not last night! Two of the things that really jumped out to me were in these places!!

This verse had me asking, "What is good?" Well, things like getting involved in ministry, helping the needy, serving Christ in some kind of external manner. But then God spoke differently to me. "What is good for you, Leah?" Is not serving my family the same as serving others? Does it serve Christ any differently? No, not at all. I think many times as stay at home moms especially we tend to think that we are not doing anything for the body of Christ because we are just at home with the kids all day. How does cleaning our house, doing the laundry, washing the dishes, et cetera make a difference for His Kingdom? I would argue that it probably has one of the biggest impacts for Him if done FOR Him!

Stick with me a moment...by keeping my house tidy and in good order I am serving my husband. He enjoys coming home to a clean house because it is peaceful (well more peaceful than three kids running around in a mess!) "Her husband has full confidence in her" Proverbs 31:11. I want my husband to have full confidence in me in everything. If keeping a clean house makes him happy and serves him, then I should be happy to do so because in that way I am serving the Lord. Also, by keeping on top of the housework I have more free time for the fun things like playing with my kids and enjoying time spent with my husband and friends and also time with the Lord that isn't so rushed and squeezed into my day.

Secondly, and more importantly, I am raising the next generation for Christ! This alone is a great service to the Lord! He has entrusted these little beings to me (and my husband) to raise up to know Him and serve Him in their futures. (Actually not just in their futures but right now.)

So, what is good for me? As silly or trivial as it may sound, it is keeping my house clean, it is serving my husband and children, it is being here for them and showing them the right path to be on. This is my ministry right now and I don't think I could be more honored that this is the position in life that God has given to me. I pray that He guides me in all the ways I need and that He shows me all the different "good" things that I can devote myself to because ultimately, it is Him that I am working for.

Have a very blessed day and think of the good things you can devote yourself to for Jesus.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

His Grace is Enough

Up until recently I don't think I have truly understood what God's grace really meant. I think I understood the jist of it and I knew that God was full of grace and I would sing songs about it but really understand it as applicable in my life? Not really.

The dictionary defines grace as "the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings." The bible says that we are all saved by the grace of God (Acts 15:11). It is one thing to know this as head knowledge but I think that once you truly understand this as how God has shown grace to you in your own life you come to a whole new place in your Christian walk.

I have been a Christian now for about 7 years. I don't remember exactly when I asked Jesus into my heart but this was when I was baptized and when I truly started living for Him so that is the date I use. I have grown a lot in that time but I think have always been a bit "religious" about my faith. Works were fairly important to me and I'll be honest, probably more important that actually developing a relationship with my Heavenly Father. I could never really grasp that concept of how to have a relationship with Him. Not that I didn't want it, I just didn't know how to develop and maintain it. So instead of investing my time in figuring that out, I just got more involved in service and ministry opportunities in the church. I convinced myself that this was all good and that I did have a relationship with God and that it would surely grow deeper over time and I would get it someday. Essentially I convinced myself that it wasn't my fault somehow - as if that would help me when I stand before God one day. I fell for the "good person" belief.

In my quest for weight loss I came across an online study called The Lord's Table (I highly recommend it by the way if you are struggling with addiction of any kind). I always knew that I needed God's help to lose weight so this appealed to me right away. Well, I got a lot more than I bargained for! The weight loss is secondary to the heart change that is happening to me. I am actually aware of the fact that I truly was (and am) a sinner and that it is by nothing except God's grace that I am forgiven and saved. The fact of the matter is that I was a glutton. (Yup, that is a sin, people. It isn't genetics or just something to be brushed under the rug. It is sin, plain and simple.) So many people, especially nowadays when so much of the population is either overweight or obese, think that it just an irritating thing that needs to be dealt with IF you are ready to do it. I was the same way. I thought I just didn't have enough self-control and that's what I needed to pray for - just more self-control. If I had self-control then I could stick with a diet and exercise long enough to reap the results. While this is true, I needed to come to the realization that I needed God's forgiveness first and I needed to see how much I was living outside of His will. Knowing that I am a sinner that needs His grace and mercy just as much as any other sinner has really opened my eyes. I don't just want to be a good person anymore...I want to be a GOD person.

Life has taken on a whole new meaning for me with just this tip of revelation I have received. I daily think about His grace and what it means in my life. All the years that I continued in this sin of gluttony and living overweight I have been living in sin. But God has just been waiting patiently for me to come running to Him and has forgiven me! He has forgiven me! I am forgiven! And I understand just how amazing that grace is each time I stumble into sin again. I am amazed and thankful for it but I don't want to take it for granted.

No matter where you are at in your walk with God, I think this is a great place to dwell. If you haven't received a revelation of our Father's grace, ask Him. Ask Him to show you what it means in your life. It will be hard to see if you think of yourself as a "good person" as I did but it is such an amazing, humbling experience that will bring you and the Lord closer together if you persevere and keep pressing in. I pray that He keeps revealing Himself to me more and more in this light.

"For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!" Romans 6:14-15

Grace and peace to you today!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

My New Favorite Words

I have decided that my two new favorite words are FRUGAL and MINIMALIST. I'm not sure if it's the meaning behind them or what but something about those words just draws me to them. And I think they can go hand in hand.

I had heard of the word before but never really gave it much thought until a couple of years ago a new friend described herself as a minimalist. Since then it has really stuck with me and something is really tugging on me to actually try this 'minimal' thing out. So, over the past year or so I have been cleaning house and getting rid of things but to no avail it seems. Are we just collecting more stuff or is the current stuff we have just coming out of hiding? Maybe a bit of both. I think part of me really doesn't want to let this stuff go. I get a little possessive when it comes down to actually parting with things. And why? It's just 'stuff' after all.

Maybe it's my "Scottish blood" as my Grandma would say (I think that's just her way of saying frugal!) What if I have a need for it someday? If I get rid of it now then I will just have to spend money on it in the future. And we all know that money is not something we have growing out back. I think this is where organizing comes into play. If I'm not organized, then I won't use it because I don't see it. (I'm thinking specifically about my craft supplies right now.)

So, this is the challenge I am posing to myself and to you for the month of October: Choose one area of your home or your life that you want to organize and make less chaotic. It could be a craft closet/room like myself, your kitchen, your bedroom, or even your body/mind.

I am choosing my crafting area(s) because
1. I don't actually have a specific area. It's just kind of scattered throughout the house wherever there is available space.
2. I have too much stuff that I haven't used in who knows how long.
3. It is taking up valuable space and time when I do go to do something, and
4. I would like to be able to sell some of my creations to help with our debt situation.

In the mean time, look up FRUGAL and MINIMALIST in the dictionary and on Google. You'll find some great articles here about others that have embraced the minimalist lifestyle. (I'm not saying that if you like to have lots of knick knacks and doodads that you are not living life appropriately. This is just something that I need in my life right now and something that sounds really freeing and wonderful to me.)

I look forward to updates this next month! Keep me accountable!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

It's never too late to start...

Ok...so I have gotten nowhere since last week. I came down with a bad head cold last week that just knocked me right out. I took 3 "sick days" while hubby was off work and then was forced right back into the swing of things when he had to go back. And then he left me for a week to go hunting. (I hope you are having a great time, honey!...seriously!!) I am feeling pretty much 100% now though. I say pretty much because even though I am single parenting this week I have decided to take on as many jobs as if there were 3 of us here! 

What was/am I thinking!?!? 

First, I have three kids ages 5, 3 and 18 months. That alone should keep me busy enough. But, no. 

Second, I volunteered to organize our church fundraiser of a garage and bake sale. Really, this is doable. I considered carefully before volunteering for this job. A lot of work, yes, but very manageable for my schedule.

Third,  I am trying to start up a small cake making business out of my home (Check out these goodies here) so when the opportunity to make one for the Monday following the weekend he left came up, of course I jumped right on it! I am so thankful for the opportunity but that took up about two days or so.

Fourth, I decided that since hubby really dislikes painting and I really enjoy it (just makes the house feel like home, I think) I would take on the task of finally painting our daughter's room this week. And not just slapping up some paint, oh no. Painting it a bright, coral pink with lime green stripes AND sewing a couple of new throw pillows for her bed to match. (There will be pictures to follow as I'm sure it is going to look so fun when/if I finally finish it!) 

Fifth (oh yes, there is a fifth) there is also a bake sale fundraiser going on at daughter's school in two days so that means that I have to really get my butt in gear and get baking so that I have something to contribute to both her and the church bake sale.

I made up a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish while he was gone and I am nowhere near coming close to half done all of the jobs I put on there. Were my expectations a little high? Um...yes. But it's the effort that counts, right?

So, now that I am no farther ahead than I was 10 days ago, I am going to begin simplifying my life. (Ha it's pretty humorous to say that looking at my list and my week still ahead of me!!)

Step one: I need to come up with a way to organize my days so that weeks like this don't faze me (or at least don't make me want run home to my mom and dad's until hubby returns!) To do this I need to establish routines. So this is what I came up with:

6:30am - Wake up, get ready for the day, begin fellowship with the Lord
7:00am - Wake up kids and get them ready for school (They each have their own routines but I won't put them up here today.)
8:00am - Leave for school
9:00 - 10:00am - Tidy kitchen from breakfast and play with boys
10:00 - 11:00am - Devotions
11:00 - Noon - Housework
Noon - 1:00 - Lunch time
1:00 - 2:15 - Play/Learning time
2:15 - Leave for school
3:00 - Housework
4:00 - Homework time & start supper
5:00 - Supper time
6:00 - Bath and story time
7:00 - Bedtime(!) and exercise
8:30 - Devotions & Blog
9:00 - 10:00 - Quiet time with hubby and then bed!

Pretty detailed, time wise. This is pretty much how my day goes anyways but by scheduling in play time and housework and devotions this should make things go more smoothly. That's the plan anyways :) And it's NEVER too late to start! 

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The End of My Rope

I have officially reached the end of my rope. I am tired of all the clutter in our life - cluttered house, cluttered bodies, cluttered debt. TOO MUCH CLUTTER!! And it is causing me too much stress. My house never seems clean because there just always seems to be too much stuff lying around (and I already like to get rid of things.) My husband and I have weight to lose, but we also need to start getting rid of the junk that we put into our bodies. Not just our bodies, our kids bodies as well. I want them to love the good stuff and not think of eating healthy as a chore. And last but certainly not least, the debt. Oh, the debt. This is something we have been fighting against for years now. But, as most people in debt probably already know, it seems to be a never-ending, rarely won battle. However, we will persevere because we know that all of these things are a part of God's plan for our lives.  He desires for us to live a simple, clutter-free life because all this "stuff" just ends up taking up our valuable time and money and energy - time that could and should be better spent.* He desires for us to be healthy because our bodies are His Temple. And finally He desires us to be debt free because His Word says to owe no man anything except love. We had a big life change a couple of years ago by moving to a new province far away from everyone we know (and love), from a bigger city to a very small town, and also a career change for my husband. We are scheduled to be here for four years, which means only two years left until we have the opportunity to move closer to home again. Our goal for this remaining time here is to become completely debt free (or at least well on our way out). Might sound doable to most people with a reasonable amount of debt. We are not most people. We do not have a reasonable amount of debt. We have a large, Mount Everest amount of debt. But we also know that with God, all things are possible. We have hope that if we put our faith in Him and remain faithful to Him, He will be faithful to us. We know that there is no possible way that we can do any of this without His assistance. This blog is a way for us to be kept accountable, even if nobody reads this. Just by typing it out day after day will be a visual reminder of exactly what we are called to do. Your comments are welcome and wanted as we go through this journey. This is us...simply living.