Where He Leads

Since having children nearly 7 years ago, I am still learning to be content with the daily activities that are necessary to make a loving home go round-n-round. It has been a long journey to arrive at a “respectable” level of contentment. Along the way, I’ve had my faithful supporter, guide, comforter and friend, Jesus in me. My “Jesus-with-skin-on” has come in the form of many – first of course, being my husband, who I’ve learned has much greater insight than I’ve previously given him credit for! Becoming a Mom has been gloriously wonderful and at the same time, rock hard!
My learning contentment has meant I’ve had to lay aside my envy. Along this journey these past 7 years – 2 precious boys later, I’ve seen beautiful Mothers around me spinning plates so beautifully. Weaving a web of personal creativity. Serving others. And yet my Heavenly Father, for me, has set the boundary lines close in. The writing and speaking I dream of doing to encourage and uplift women to the heart of God is just that – a dream. For now, the boundaries are set in. When He gives me the “YES!” I’ll move – but not until then. I know His will and plan are perfect. I’ve had many years to practice trusting Him.
So when He had me and the kids enroll into Bible Study Fellowship this year to study Isaiah, I was stunned by the peace He gave me while sitting in intro that morning. The peace He gave I’ve described as almost touchable. Wild peace from Him. And as I began to get into the study, it didn’t take Him long to speak to a heart longing to hear more from Him. He gave me an assignment.
In response to one of the pointed questions of “what specific situations of oppression and injustice could you work to resolve?” My response was to “encourage and invest in the lives of young moms who are overwhelmed by being a mom (single) – speaking Truth into their lives.” He continued to point me in a direction – His direction. And before long, I found myself in volunteer training for Hannah House, a maternity home for pregnant women, 13-29. It had just moved it’s 20+ year ministry from Glenrose, Tx to East Texas and was in need of volunteers. I had no idea where I fit in until I wrote on my training card “willing to talk about a day in the life of a Mom.” To which the director replied, “GREAT! We had moms in Glenrose that would have a girl come in their home once a week to see what it’s really like to be a mom.” Well, I was just thinking about giving a talk about the ins and outs of my day, but no, Heavenly Father had a different plan – to open my home to these beautiful pregnant women – speaking Truth into their lives and loving on them through my family.
To date we’ve had girls the past three Friday mornings. It has been a joy to host these women. To pray for them. My boys have embraced each one; prayed for each one. They have had the blessing of doing a little bit of each thing we do, between chore time, reading time, watching me teach as we “do school”, cooking. They’ve seen me discipline each child – the not so fun, but necessary part of parenting. We’ve loved on them and shared a meal with them. And my two little evangelists have both asked each girl “Do you know Jesus?” Wow. I would have never dreamed. As I described to several friends of mine, He’s placed me out of my comfort zone and in a very vulnerable place. But HE is here with us, making Himself known to those who are hurting. And we are blessed.
Are you interested in writing or speaking to women and leading them to the heart of God? If your heart is to serve women and lead them to the Heavenly Father, check out the She Speaks Conference. I’m going to! Maybe I’ll see you there!

Dogless in East Texas

Dear Arlis

This is how it all started: (husband) “There are Australian Shepherd Puppies for sale.” (me) googling and researching Australian Shepherd. Musing and even asking him “Is Heavenly Father suggesting we get a dog?” (husband) “What’s He telling you??”

That was how the conversation/consideration began which quickly took a turn for the worse.  For in one day oldest took the antenea off Ole’ Blue (94 Ford) and decided to see what banging on the already-cracked windshield might yield. It yielded a $175 new windshield and a boy that gets to rake the front yard this season.  And that afternoon husband’s glasses fell apart. The $300 frames. Replaced by black frames for $60. He lookes very astute, I’d say.

So for several weeks the discussion ended. Until the pain of unexpected expenses could fade just a bit.

The discussion picked back up as I compared a Wii to a dog. I’m lo-tech. And I plan to stay that way. Our kids are 6 and nearly 4. They need to be outside, outside, outside. I need to be outside, for that matter! And I don’t want another thing I have to monitor or limit. Dog won. And was approved.

I diligently began seeking the Stone Family Dog. Researching the breeds I think we’d be interested in, which are Border Collie, Blue Heeler, Australian Shepherd and possibly, Lab or Golden Retriever.  Our past dogs were both Schnauzers and we loved them.  But we wanted our boys to have a big boy dog.

I went through a series of dogs:  Kady, a beautiful border collie; Pepper, a 15 lb. Fox terrier/Blue Heeler that stole our hearts on the web site. Next was Lucy, an Australian Shepherd at our local humane shelter and Fraydo, a black and white short haired Australian Shepherd mix.Then there was Danny, a border collie black lab mix.  Beautiful markings and trained perfectly for our family.  

Surprisingly my dog-lover heart was able to rebound from several disappointments.  What I found was that working with rescue organizations is a bit interesting.  And I think there are some interesting practices occuring within these organizations.  Perhaps I’ll leave that for another blog entry.  I was able to walk through our local humane society without wanting/believing I needed to rescue every dog there. 

So over a week ago we spent some time with what seems to be an obvious choice, although previously eliminated – our neighbor’s 2 year old Border Collie, Arlis.  Dear Arlis came to our neighbors as a stray over a year ago.  One day he followed them home from a walk down the street.  No one responded to their info posted of a found dog and so they chose to keep him. 

We’ve had the pleasure of helping care for Arlis when they have been away.  When he’s darted out their door, we’ve come to the rescue and lassoed him to safety.  But youngest was not convninced he was for us until we had Arlis over to see if he would not jump on him.  Several larger dogs, including Arlis,  have knocked him over and he doesn’t care for this, of course.

But as we sat down to have the dog discussion several weeks ago, Sawyer’s testimony to his dad was “He not jump on me!’  And so it became final:  when our dear neighbors, who have become dear friends, move into town next month, we will get the pleasure of homing dear Arlis. 

For now, we are housing him during the holidays while our neighbors are away.  Arlis has been the perfect gentlemen and he and I have enjoyed some quiet time together after every one has gone to bed.  He enjoys being inside – and is perfectly content to be outside, guarding, waiting, watching.  This morning he was joyfully playing with his new tennis balls – alone or with us! 

Making a decision guided by Father brings peace.  There’s poop that obviously needs to be scooped in the back yard, as there are now at least 3 pairs of shoes that need to be de-pooped.   Yesterday he got out the back gate once and had to be lassoed.  This did cause a bit of anxiety, but after marking his spot, he seemed to tune back in to his name!  Tony and I were doing prep work in the kitchen last night for todays meal – with a 45-50 lb dog lying in the middle of the floor.  “Oh, excuse me Arlis!”  After finishing placing the gifts under the tree I got a perfect pic of our “Christmas dog” laying at the foot of the tree.  He is part of our Christmas this year!  And tonight I’ve enjoyed the company of a sweet and gentle dog lying at my feet while I end this beautiful day.

A year ago I was very uninterested in having another dog.  What a difference a little time makes!

Merry Christmas, Arlis!

God in Me!

So this is how it went down.  Boys were up at 6:30 this morning (I’d been awake since 4:30; made them stay in there room until 7am and I’d had my coffee.  This morning was BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), which is usually on Wednesday, but holiday week pushed it up a day.  These are generally easy mornings for us as the boys LOVE going to BSF as well as I.  They are tired when we depart from BSF, we pick up lunch, come home and they have to finish cleaning their room and doing their kitchen chore.   They generally eat and play outside while I veg inside for a bit before it’s time to come in.  Rest time is a MUST on BSF days.  At present, school is not a priority on this day, unless we squeeze some in after rest time. 

SO, it’s rest time in our house.  I can tell I’ve got some tired boys on my hands.  I’m tired but I’m not melting yet, although ready for MY nap!  Oldest starts getting grumpy and mouthy while we’re trying to put his bed back together (linen washing day) and by the time he’s snuggled under the covers he’s said “I’m tired of you” and something else I can’t remember…..but hurtful and unnecessary, nonetheless. 

I’ve been meditating on the Love Chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 – back to the basics is what I like to call it.  I’ve been reading it each morning and usually stick around “Love is patient.  Love is kind.  It is not easily angered. ”  Today I added on “Love is not self-seeking.”  So, basically, love is self-less.  Anyhow.  I continue to thank God for His Spirit in ME that I can be patient, kind and not easily angered – and thank you for the opportunties you (God) continue to present that allow HE and I to walk that out – mainly in my home! 

So today, as my ears heard these unkind words from my child, instead of being “easily angered” as I had been in the past, and could have responded differently (’cause I’m human and sensed those things rising and about to bubble forth), I walked away and recalled God’s word that I’d been meditating on – walked back in his room and gently touched him, told him I loved him and to have a good rest with a smile, and asked if I could give him a hug, which he declined…until youngest wanted a hug – and then he was ready for one :) 

As I came into the kitchen, I realized I’d just experienced God’s transforming grace in ME.  And rejoiced.  And wrote it down in my journal, thanking Him for His goodness to make me into His instrument of love to my children.  It wasn’t difficult.  It was HIM.  And my boy experienced HIM.  And for that, I exhault HIM and bless HIS Name.

The Grocery Shopping Daze

In a daze.  That’s what I am when grocery shopping with my two, cute, sweet, adorable, BOYS.  The youngest is too big to ride in the buggy, that is, except that big ‘0 car buggy at Kroger that takes every bit of my leg power to push!  My youngest (3) is really not the challenge, but my dear 6 year old.  Grocery shopping with my Sammy has been challenging since he learned he could get out of the two-seater Walmart cart.  I remember one time I even had Daddy have a talk with him about cooperating with Momma, staying in the cart, blah, blah, blah.  And here we are, 4 years later, and I hate grocery shopping days.  And especially on this day, my mind drifts to the thought that I’d have an easier go at this if I stuck him in school and didn’t homeschool….on these days, the yellow bus looks appealing. 

I’ve tried everything to embrace shopping day.  Organized.  Unorganized.  Have them help me.  Have them hold the cart.  Allow them to run up and down the isle.  Don’t allow them to do previous mentioned.  Reward.  Punishment.  Smile genuinely.  Fake smile.  Grab arm and whisper in their ear.  Speak loudly so that an isle over can hear me.  Have breakfast at Chick-fil-a and shop early.  Have lunch at Chick-fil-a and shop late.  Leave them at home with Dad and shop at night.  Leave them with my Mom and hurry-shop during the day. 

So we shopped at Albertson’s today to spend $20 (I spent $40…that tells me something about Albertsons and why I don’t shop there) so I could get a Jennie-O Turkey CHEAP.  Then we went to Krogers for big shopping and my effort was to have the boys take turn being my helpers and they would get paid.  Somewhere in that they both ended up pushing the cart, which was really nice and helpful.  But the end of the trip was a kicker….with my buggy LOADED, I asked Sammy to help pull from the front – and this lead to a scrape on his boots which I still don’t know if he actually got hurt, but the blood-curdling scream that came several seconds later…was because??  Which annoyed me…..then I try to manuever my buggy (LOADED) past this white car….and get stuck on their side mirror…which actually moves back in place, but then a 2 gallon water falls off from underneath while I’m trying to make sure my out-of-control-loaded-buggy does NOT scrape with white car….Sawyer says “Mom, the water!”  I’m yelling “Really!  Do I get to have any more frustrations today?????”  and yell at Sawyer to just leave the water!  But he picks it up and lugs it to the car…sweet boy.  As oldest finally pulls it together (’cause I’m not thinking he was hurt) and then runs his mouth when I try to tell him I didn’t intend to hurt him or his boots…I’m realizing I’m melting and should not have turned down the LARGE Hershey’s Chocolate bar Sammy offered me at checkout! 

I’m at a loss here.  Unless I just simply decide, it is what it is and it won’t always be this way.  At this point, the yellow school bus is not an option! LOL!  And I’m grateful it’s not, as we have some marvelous times.  But the next time it’s grocery shopping day and Sammy offers me some chocolate, I’ll say “Thank you for reminding me I need chocolate!”  And pick up a Sonic diet vanilla coke on the way home!    Alas, my pantry and fridge are full with two turkeys in the freezer.  We’ve all had a nap and supper tonight is an Easty chicken Tortilla Soup.  For this, and God’s grace that we are now smiling again, I am thankful!

Redeeming a meal

Lately I’ve been trying more new recipes than probably my dear family would prefer.  Trying to eat cleaner and decreasing the meat at a meal.  So, I can think of at least 2 that my family is ok with, and both in the Mexican flair – Chicken Tortilla Soup and Corn Tortilla and Black Bean casserole (which we had tonight). 

Strangely to most I would think, I try to ask Father “what’s for dinner?” and listen for His preferences.  Yes, to some, this is a weird thing, and personally, I think it a bit weird as well.  But I’ve experienced cooking in the kitchen with the knowledge of His presence and guidance in this everyday occurance of cooking a meal for my family, and I must say, it’s extraordinary. 

So Monday, I kept pressing for “what’s for dinner?”  and He kept coming back with this new soup recipe, Curried Lentil Soup.  I’d already made Molasses Spelt bread that morning, along with Pecan Sandie cookie dough to freeze for a playdate, and THEN I tried a spinach casserole of lunch which was eaten by 2/3 of us.  Sawyer Wayne said “yucky.”  Well, worth a try is what I say.  So I finally relented after continuing to seek Him, and made the Curried Lentil soup.  It was eaten by 1/2 of us; kids gave it a thumbs down but Tony and I managed to eat it (it wasn’t that bad).   But it’s not to be in the menu rotation, if you know what I mean. 

So now I have this full “cool whip” container of Curried Lentil Soup.  And it’s been cold here where we are.  And sometimes I just get downright chilly.  So the other day for a warm up snack, out comes the curried lentil soup.  It had lost it’s soupiness, so I put about 3 scoops of lentil soup and 1 c. of water.  I added more cumin and curry, along with some salt (which was helpful) AND some red pepper flakes for extra extra spice and warmth!   And MY OH MY, that was some GOOD STUFF!  I then became delighted that I had that soup all to myself.  And to help bring down the  heat in my mouth, two bites of Greek Goddess Honey yogurt.  Wow.

So, that’s my story of a redeemed meal.  I say it’s better to try something new than not.  Is that maturity?

Food: 5 MORE fridge/pantry staple items, + 5 more

I ran out of this yesterday after writing my first post on my 5 pantry or fridge staple items. POPCORN! We eat popcorn at least 3 times a week for snack or movie time. I forget the brand since I store it in a jar in the pantry. But we get it from our local health food store and it’s organic. I’ve fluctuated between it and the Food Club brand. There IS a difference in the quality and not that much difference in price. Even if I went with Orval Redenbaucher’s (whew – I probably just butchered that, but you know the brand), I think my organic is cheaper. I’ll check on that today since we’re making a trip for several staple items we are out of.

SO, here’s 6-10 in the pantry/fridge

6. Popcorn, organic
7. EGGS – we eat A LOT of eggs and when I made my fried rice last night, I was 1 egg shy and really prefer three in my fried rice when I don’t add meat
8. Corn tortillas – we do taquitos on Saturday morning or Sunday night, along with soft tacos with beans and spanish rice
9. Rice – still settling on brand, but usually choose to save money here; prices fluctuate, but I prefer Jasmine or Basmati, but usually get Food Brand, long grain
10. Dry beans – black or pinto, usually both. I have a great crock pot recipe for beans and do these at least once a week.

There it is! For me more than anyone else! Off to the store since we are out of some of our staples :)

UPDATE:  After trip to the Granary, my favorite organic popcorn is Arrowhead Mills, 1.75 lb. bag for $2.75.

12. Peanut Butter, Arrowhead Mills, sometimes organic, sometimes not

13.  Albacore Tuna in water

14.  Onions, i always cook with yellow onions, prefer the sweet ones, but right now, any onion I’ve brought home has made my eyes water :/

15.  Avocados, these use to be a luxury item, now they are a necessity!  And today, Walmart had them for 44 cents!

Food: Staples in my pantry/fridge

My friend Faydra, at Groundspeed, blog tagged me to give up our 5 food staples in our pantry. So here goes!

1. Spelt Flour (has replaced my forever used unbleached all-purpose)
2. NOW brand Maple Syrup (time for a Granary trip – we are out of this)
3. Nuts – anykind, sometimes peanuts in shell, almonds. Our freezer has many bags of pecan pieces I order in the fall;
I use these for my fruit salad and anything else they need to go into.
4. Farmer’s Cheese, homemade (aka Tvorog cheese) – this serves as my sour cream, yogurt (mix with honey or syrup). Yummy. Goes well with muffins or fruit. Everyone is happy when they eat it!
5. Apples, Apples, Apples!

Ok. I may have put more info with that than needed/wanted. I’m continually developing my staples list and one day hope to have it easily available on paper, other than in my forever-forgetting mind!

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