Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I've got 9 more of them!


It's actually kinda embarrassing that a cut, less than an inch in length, could "disrupt" the day to day activity of our home. No, not in big ways...but ways that are still noticeable...writing, typing, washing dishes, taking a shower. It slows me down...and, if you know me at all, slow is not a big word in my vocabulary.:) It's just a finger...I have nine others so what's the big deal, right?!

That got me thinking about 1 Corinthians 12...yep, the passage that talks about the church being like the body.

"But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you";or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you". On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary." I Cor. 12:21-22

I may have 9 other fingers that work just fine but that one finger has had an impact on all other 9 and I have realized the blessing of having all 10 fingers in working order. So, too, it is with the body of Christ. "God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired." (vs. 18). Paul says in verse 26, "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it."

There is no such thing as a "you don't matter person" at church. There is no such thing as an "unimportant job of service" to the body. There is no one just like you...and you have been placed within your local body of believers by God's desire and design for the building up of the church and the glory of God. Your service, even when it seems to be "insignificant" is "indispensable"!

Maybe you don't think of yourself as a finger, though, but as the hand.:) Be humble! Remember 1 Corinthians 4:7: "For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" I love that verse...because I tend to be a boaster!

I am so thankful for my fingers, so thankful for the Word of God that gives us all that we need for life and godliness, so thankful for all the ways that He teaches and grows us and so thankful that we get to do that growing alongside other believers (and super blessed by one of those believers bringing us dinner tonight! I just may have to hurt one of my fingers every week...tee-hee)! My heart rejoices over His design and plan for our lives and that there is no such thing as "insignificance" in His master plan!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Pictures Tell the Story...

...and it is a good thing they do. I cut my finger pretty good this afternoon...enough to know a few stitches were needed. But, with medical coverage still a month away (Canada requires a three month waiting period) an alternative was needed. :) Thank you Cindy for bringing over the steri-stips and everything else and for patching me up!:) My sister-in-law/nurse has suggested some glue...so I'll be looking into that too! Anyway, the cut is in the top joint of my middle finger on my right hand...so Bryan made me a "splint" out of plastic so that I can't bend my finger. It's quite the sight...and it is making typing quite the challenge. I won't begin to tell you how long it has taken me to type the above.:)

So, here is a look back of the past week with maybe just a bit of commentary sprinkled in there!:)


The boys (specifically Titus) were blessed with a couple of pilots hats and some other "accessories" by and elder in our church who is a pilot. Monday morning our living room was "transformed" into an airplane...with Grace as the flight attendant. :) They had so much fun!

Micah decided this past week that he wanted to do a Bible Study for his brothers and sisters on Psalms 23. So, he asked if I would call them all in to listen. I told him "No way! Not until he had studied the text first!" :) So, that he did and then we reviewed what he learned, worked out the "kinks" and off "preaching" he went!:)

Samuel lost TWO teeth this week! The picture only shows the one...but he lost the tooth on the other side too a few days later! We have to go outside, now, and throw them on the roof!:)

Hockey has become a very BIG deal in the Pichura home since moving to Canada...it will be interesting to see if the "tide turns" with Micah's baseball games starting this weekend.:) Anyway, the boys were given some hockey gear and...well...the smiles say it all!

My favorite part of the week was having my parents visit...they came for less than two days but our time together was so special. I can't tell you how full my heart is with thanksgiving that God saw fit to give me such wonderful, godly parents! And, as a result, my children get the privilege of calling them "Papa" and "Grandma"!

Grandma loves horses even more than Grace does and it was SO FUN to see them both so excited as they worked on making a bridle and saddle for a horse that Grace had been given. Grandma also surprised Grace and brought up her riding helmet and gloves to give to Grace. She was THRILLED!!! My dear Mom...thanks...you made memories with your granddaughters this past weekend that they will talk about for years and years...and just watching you with them made me love you more...and I didn't think that was possible!!:)




And how could we not introduce them to "Tim Hortons"?! (It's kinda like Dunkin Donuts..but way more popular!) We also had some entertainment while we were there, thanks to Caleb!:) (Although, I just noticed Micah in one of the pictures and he was clearly NOT entertained!:))



Thanks Dad and Mom for sacrificing your time, money and energy to bless us greatly!

As for letting the pictures tell the story...well, I guess not even a bum finger keeps me from "type/talking" a lot!:)

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Sobering Reminder


I have so many pictures to share of this past week...so many precious memories and little moments that I do not want to forget...but right now I sit here pondering other things...or, more specifically, a letter. I am thankful to John Piper for his humble, honest letter to his congregation that was posted on the "Desiring God Blog" yesterday. I am sure many of you have already read it...but, as a pastor's wife, it held significant weight and brought with it a measure of soberness as well as thankfulness. Thankful that he has honestly shared his heart and thankful that we can grow and learn from what he has shared. But also sober, because I know how quickly things like that can happen in ministry (and in life in general) because I have seen how my own marriage can, at times, be "rock solid" but not always tender and attended to. It's easy to let things slip in the midst of busy ministry life.

I am so thankful for the example of John Piper...so thankful for the men and women who we can be encouraged by as we seek to be like Jesus and honor and glorify Him in our families and churches!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Want some good granola bars?


This is the third time I have made these homemade granola bars (thank you allrecipes.com) and we all LOVE them! I figured there might be a few of you out there who have been thinking, "Boy, I just wish I had a good granola bar recipe?!" :)...so this is for you! I do tweak the recipe just a bit...so I'll add my suggestions to the bottom of the recipe.

Playgroup Granola Bars


* 2 cups rolled oats
* 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/2 cup wheat germ
* 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup raisins (optional)
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup honey
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

The Pichura Family likes using sunflower seeds(1/4 to 1/2 a cup) instead of raisins and we love to add some mini chocolate chips. We also add about 1/4 cup of flax seed instead of the wheat germ and almost a 1/2 cup of peanut butter. It's a great recipe to tweak and add and take away from!

Hope you like it too!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A reminder that "life is a vapor"

When I saw this I just had to pass it along. As someone said, "Life with Christ is not happily ever after HERE, it's happily ever after THERE." Jesus Himself said, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

I'm here to glorify Him in whatever way He chooses...a truth I need to keep preaching to myself. Clips like the following sure do encourage my heart with that truth!

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.



"The Lord gives and the Lord takes away...blessed be the name of the Lord".

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Breathing the air of grace


Each day is a gift from the Lord. Each day has been fashioned by Him to be used in my life to sanctify me and to glorify Himself. Each day His good and perfect gifts abound! Those truths should cause me to stand amazed and to literally start each day with joyous praise on my tongue. But so often I don't....why? I think Mike Mason said it more eloquently and beautifully than I ever could...and through his words my heart has been encouraged anew to "dance with joy" each day of my life...especially when I think about my marriage (as that is the context of this quote).

"Just so easily are miracles unraveled, disqualified, turned back into the common stuff of everyday life. Just so easily do statistics sprinkle their unmagical dust over all the wondrous beauty of life, transforming the celestial into the commonplace, the impossible into the inescapable. Yet if even the miracle of a man and a woman in love can be stripped of its splendor, covered with dust, buried under ordinariness, then what hope have we men and women of ever surviving the monotony of Heaven, where love will be as common as air? How shall we cope in an afterlife where there will be nothing miraculous to lift us out of our tedium, because there will be nothing unmiraculous? Here and now, it seems, is the time to practice amazement, the time to learn how to be thunderstruck. Either we suffocate under all that is unbeautiful, unsurprising, unspectacular, ungraceful in our lives, or else we learn here and now to breathe the air of grace. In marriage, to put this thought into more homely language, we learn how to appreciate one another, to see one another as precious. We learn how to love."
(The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason).

I pray that we can all join together, in whatever state of life we are in...whether married or unmarried, with a full quiver or empty nesters, and "breathe the air of grace" and be a little more "thunderstruck" each day!

****I had just put this post on my blog when I read something over on Girltalk Blog that was right along the same lines. In fact, it was an article that I have used many times...but forgot about it! If you have an extra minute...check it out!

Feeding our souls


Our family was given a precious little book for Christmas and just this past week I started reading it to my children. It's called "God's Alphabet for Life" by Joel Beeke and Heidi Boorsma.

The intro to the book is just wonderful and talks, very simply, about the fact that we all have a soul...the spiritual part of you that you cannot see but that lives forever. It stresses the importance of taking care of our souls through loving God and His Word above all and hiding His word in our hearts.

The expression "food for the soul" is an old one...but it truly is a GREAT analogy for our kids. My kids let me know, on many occasions throughout the day, that their bellies are hungry...and 3 times a day, without fail, we sit down and eat a meal. Those 3 times are all wonderful opportunities to "feed our souls" and the souls of our kids as well as feed our tummies. It doesn't take a lot of extra work...just a little forethought and planning.

I was talking to one mom this week and she reads a devotional to her girls while they eat breakfast before heading off to school. It's a great time to work on a memory verse or read a passage of Scripture. If your kids are home for lunch,that time has been a neat opportunity (for me) to read through books about missionaries....for the kids to see that the world is so much bigger than the town we live in and our God is the great God of all the nations. Dinner time is, for us, the best time for family devotions. After our meal, Bryan has been reading small sections of the book of John and boy do the questions fly and the conversation flows from our children's mouths!:)

Nothing I share has been done perfectly...and we are always working on being more consistent...but I have learned that establishing a plan...seeking to do the same thing each day...is a great start to feeding our souls and those of our children at each meal. THINK SIMPLE...but what a great opportunity to remind ourselves and our children about our never dying souls and their constant need to be fed the Word of God!

Monday, March 22, 2010

So thankful for my title: HELPER



"It is no wonder if so many years, so many endearments, so many obligations have produced such an uncommon effect, that by long habit, it is almost impossible for me to draw a breath, in which you are not involved."

John Newton was referring to marriage when he said that quote...and when my husband sent it to me a couple of weeks ago in regards to our own marriage...my heart soared and echoed those beautiful words. It was the highest of compliments to my heart..for I know how sinful my heart, thoughts and, as a result, my actions can be.

One of the key words in that quote is the word "involved". There are many ways that we might be "involved" in our husband's lives that are NOT endearing and that would render that quote anything but beautiful. But there is one way that we can be "involved" that, if we strive to live it out in the grace and strength that God provides, will enable our husbands to echo the words of John Newton. We are called to be our husband's helper. It's not my idea...it's Gods...right from the beginning of time; and when we understand our role correctly, we see what a marvelous gift it is to be called a helper.

Today, Tim Challies did a great job, on his blog, expounding on this special role of ours. It's five minutes of your time that will not be wasted...so grab your tea and start reading!:)

"You know the words of Genesis 2:18. There God, having completed his work of Creation, having declared the excellence of all that he has made, says “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” It is useful to consider the context of the creation of Adam's helper. God declared that it was not good for man to be alone and that he had need of a helper. And yet he did not, at that moment, create such a helper and neither, as far as we know, did he say anything about this to Adam. Instead, he commanded Adam to name the animals. And he was obviously not just to name them, but to consider and evaluate each one. And as he did so, he must have realized that none of them were like him--none bore the image of God. An ache of loneliness must have developed within as he studied and pondered and realized that he was so much different from each of them. And there, in that context, God caused Adam to fall asleep and from his own body created a woman. And when Adam opened his eyes it is no wonder that he burst into praise. He looked upon this woman and saw at last his companion, his helper, and he cried out

This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.

It was after coming to an understanding of his loneliness, his incompleteness, that Adam was able to offer God heartfelt praise for such great provision. Having experienced loneliness even in perfection, he knew the greatness of his gift.

The text emphasizes this idea of not good. It does not say that it is kind of unfortunate that Adam was alone, but that it was actually bad--and this in a world that God had declared good and very good. Here we see that God's intention for Adam included marriage, companionship and, of course, the sexual relationship and procreation. Just as God does not exist in isolation, but instead in a tri-unity, so man is to live in relationship. And to address this need God created a helper for him or, said with more precision, a helper corresponding to him and complementing him. This helper is suitable for Adam, meaning that she is equal to him in dignity and worth and that she is adequate for him. Though women are different from men, they are equal in bearing the image of God.

But it is the word helper that really gets me thinking. It seems to me that there are two aspects to this word, two different dimensions to consider. In the first place it is a term that implies some kind of a subordinate role and not a word that suggests absolute equality of function. After all, the woman is to be a helper to the man but the man is never commanded to be a helper to the woman. And so it is a role of service in which a woman is to serve her husband as a helper. I remember my mother explaining how this worked itself out in her marriage to my father. She saw that it was her task to help my father become what God wanted him to become. His dreams were to become her dreams. And she worked toward that goal, finding joy in what brought him joy, helping make him successful in whatever he put his hand to.

Culturally we may balk at such a thought. And yet the Bible makes it clear that this is her job. And what's more, the Bible makes it clear that this is a role that brings with it dignity. The word translated helper is used nineteen times in the Old Testament with sixteen of those uses referring to God. If God is a helper, surely no wife would say that such a role is beneath her! It is strange to consider that there is a sense in which God subordinates himself to us so he can offer us his help. In Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Ray Ortlund says, "It is entirely possible for God to subordinate Himself, in a certain sense, to human beings. He does so whenever He undertakes to help us. He does not 'un-God' Himself in helping us; but He does stoop to our needs, according to His gracious and sovereign will." In the same way a parent may subordinate himself to his children in order to help them, coming down to their level so he can answer their questions from a perspective that will be meaningful to them. All this to say that there is nothing dehumanizing or undignified in being a helper.

And so a woman is to help her husband, knowing of her equality in dignity and worth and yet willfully subordinating herself to her husband in order to serve him.

Where the first dimension of the word helper indicates a helping role, the second is that it indicates need. And I think too many discussions of the word helper stop short of this reality. These discussions spill much ink in describing the woman's role but not the reality that necessitates such a role. Said simply, a woman is to be a helper because a man needs help.

I married because I had needs that only a wife could fill. I was incomplete and inadequate on my own, just as Adam was. It was not good for me to be alone. In that one-flesh union, my wife I became one, no longer two individuals but a single partnership. Ortlund says of marriage, "It is the complete and permanent giving over of oneself into a new circle of shared existence with one's partner." This shared existence was a necessity as God did not ever intend for me to live life on my own. He has made me weak, he has made me inadequate, he has made me needy. And he has provided.

It has taken me over a decade of marriage to begin to clearly see my need of my wife. Or maybe I've only just begun to see how over the years I've naturally become dependent upon her. I've seen that God gave me a helper because I so badly needed one. But I see it now more clearly than ever. I need her. I occasionally like to pretend that I am an independent person and that I could get along quite well on my own. But really I know that this is not the case at all. I'm utterly dependent upon her now. She is my helper. If I am to be in any way successful in life, I know it will owe in large part to her efforts on my behalf.

And now I am embracing my dependence and celebrating my need. This is how God made me. He does not want me to pretend that I could do life just as well on my own, that I have accepted his gift of a wife thinking in the back of my mind that she's good but that I could also do okay without her. There are many men who can exist perfectly well without being married (Jesus Christ being the foremost example); I'm not one of them. By making me aware of my need for help, he has given me a new appreciation for the helper he's provided. And in so doing he's given me a whole new love and respect for my wife as I see how she fills what is missing and completes what is lacking. To put it plainly, I need her and am dependent upon her."


What a high calling and privilege it is to be called our husband's helper, huh?!!! And what a great need we have to be completely dependent upon the Lord as we seek to glorify Him in this role!!!

And, if you made it this far...I figure you deserve a good laugh...so here it is:

Rick Holland (Senior Assoc. Pastor at Grace Community) twittered this a few weeks ago and Bryan and I were both cracking up! The following is what his wife Kim said to him while they were driving:

"I'm not criticizing your driving - I'm helping you. Read Genesis. I'm a helper."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Joy just lept into my heart


That is the way Grace described her experience horseback riding..specifically when her horse started to trot! Her absolute delight was written not only in her heart but all over her face, too!
We had the blessing of spending the afternoon at the Worthys, a fellow pastor's family on staff at Cloverdale. What a special afternoon it was with Susan and her girls! My brother Paul is up visiting...and he was so gracious to spend the afternoon with the boys while I took the girls for some girl's time!
Faith had fun on the horses, too, and handled herself very well when one of them got spooked while she was on it!:)
It was a lovely, refreshing day. Not just because the sun was shining and the girls got to ride horses...but because I was again reminded and so thankful for the sweet bond that comes from being apart of God's family! It takes relationships that are brand new and makes them feel beautifully familiar!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sacrifice of Thanksgiving


"He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God." Psalm 50:23

The little phrase "sacrifice of thanksgiving" really stuck out to me last night as I read...and was swirling around my head this morning as I was fighting for joy and fighting to be thankful.

I looked up the word sacrifice in the dictionary...and here was the first definition (abbreviated): to forfeit; the act of losing or surrendering something.

If I am going to "give thanks in all circumstances" as 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to, then it will require sacrifice. It will require me to "forfeit" the way the I think it should go, the plans that I have made in my head and heart. "Man plans his steps but the Lord directs". It will mean surrendering my will for the will of the One who knows best.

A "sacrifice of thanksgiving". It's what pleases God...it's what I was created to give...but it means laying down all that I am so that I can be all that God created me to be. It can be painful...it can hurt...it can turn my world upside down when my plans prove to be the opposite of what God has planned and I am told to rejoice and give thanks when my flesh wants to cry out: Unfair! This is too hard! I don't deserve this! I thought I already "learned" that lesson! God, are you really doing what is best for me?! How can anything good hurt this much?! When is this going to just end?!

And we wait for a response...we wait for a reason for why it is so hard...wait for a reason to rejoice...and we find, instead, silence. But, if we stop fighting, stop questioning, stop arguing...we can hear God through His Word saying, "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). Because when we KNOW God...really KNOW Him...we can say, as Jesus said, "Not my will but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42). We can say with Job, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You" (Job 42:5). And when we see Jesus...really see Him...we have endless reasons to give thanks. As Bryan said on Sunday when he preached...there is no void in God, in Him there is no lack...we can truly say that God is our portion (Lamentations 3:24)...He is all we need!

It might sound like I am struggling with something big...but I am not. It's truly little things. It's like a paper cut. So small that you can barely see it...but, boy, does it sting like crazy! It's in the "eating and drinking" (1 Cor. 10:31...the everyday events of life) that I often have to fight for joy and fight to give thanks. But those little things keep me dependent on a BIG God, those little things keep me humble and very much aware of my own sin and those little things prepare me for the bigger things that cut a little bit deeper and sting a whole lot more!

So, will you join me? Let's close our mouths, lets repent and let's "be still and know that HE is God!!!!!

Then Job answered the LORD and said:
"I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?'
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
'Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.'
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:1-6


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vancouver...Here we Come!


Yesterday, some new dear friends from church took our whole gang to Vancouver and gave us the big tour! It poured in the beginning...but we had so much fun. It was the opening of the Paralympics so there was a bit of Olympic fever and that made it extra special...we still felt apart of things without all the crowds!:)

The Baergs took us to Granville Island where we enjoyed coffee and hot chocolate on the water.


From there we headed over to Stanley Park...it's big and beautiful...can't wait to come back on a nice day and explore. Then we headed into downtown Vancouver, parked and walked and walked and walked!:) The rain had stopped and the sun even poked out a bit and the kids were such troopers! We went to Robson Square, the Cauldron (which, I might add, looks much cooler on TV!) as well as the Canada Pavilion.


The kids got to hold a REAL torch although the highlight for Micah was getting to stand by "Mounties" and get his picture taken!(Uncle Andrew, he couldn't wait for you to see this picture!)

We ended up in Gastown for lunch/dinner (which the kids renamed "dirch")at the Old Spaghetti Factory. The trip home was full of beautiful views of the snow covered mountains as well as several sightings of bald eagles!!!

Thank you Baerg Family for being wonderful tour guides and even more wonderful company! It was a great day we will not soon forget!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's official!


Yep...that is right, Micah is a "ROYAL" this year! Besides the Red Sox, we couldn't think of a better team to be cheering on...both in Little League and in the Majors. We have had the privilege of meeting one of the pitchers for the Kansas City Royals, Brian Bannister (the husband of a childhood friend of mine) and we are so excited that the kids all have Royal's hats signed by him! Thanks McElroys for "decking out our kids" not only to support Brian...but, now, to support Micah as well! And the extra fun part is that it looks like he will be pitching too! Maybe he can get some tips from Mr. Bannister!:)

On the blog, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, I read a couple of precious articles about the beginning of baseball season. David's words brought laughter as well as a sweet soberness to even throwing baseballs and joining little league teams for the glory of God. If you love baseball, have a child in baseball or just have a few extra minutes to spare and you are not sure what to do with them :), take a couple of minutes to read Part 1 and Part 2. It's well worth it!

GO RED SOX, GO BRIAN AND GO MICAH!!!!:)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Odds and Ends


Today, I had a couple of spiritual blessings from my children...those are the things I don't want to forget...so I am writing them down in my "blog journal" and you get to read along!:)

Grace came into the kitchen today and said that as she was washing her hands she thought that sin was like soap...it starts out little but then gets bigger and bigger as you rub your hands together...and the only thing that can wash it away is water...and she equated water to the blood of Jesus! She made my momma's heart rejoice to hear her thinking gospel even as she washed her hands!:)Oh..and I don't think I have mentioned it yet..but Grace is officially in need of her two front teeth!:)

Then Samuel asked a question at dinner during family devotions...prompted by something Byran said...they were the most precious words he has ever spoken:

"Dad, why did God kill His Son?"

Oh the depth of the doctrinal truths of what he asked and the beauty of getting to explain the gospel, once again, to his little heart!

Switching gears completely, I LOVE paper plates...the flimsy ones that you almost need two of in order to keep the plate stable when food is put on it! Not only are they great for lunches (and keep me from running the dishwasher everyday) but they make for GREAT crafts...Faith and the kids used them at Uncle David and Aunt Michelle's house (back in January) to make masks and today Faith used them to make a big ol' sign that says "OLYMPICS". Each letter looked different and she worked on it for a long time. I have no idea when the excitement of the Olympics will fade in the Pichura house...but it hasn't happened yet!:)

And, while I am on things I love...I love making double of whatever we have for dinner (if you already have all the ingredients out...why not double the effort!). If you have a family with a few kids in it, I would HIGHLY recommend making a habit of it (unless, of course, your husband is one of those crazy men who will not eat leftovers!:)). I have found that I can make double recipes Monday - Thursday and then give myself a break for the other 2-3 days because we have enough leftovers. The kids like it because they can have their favorite meal over again (and skip the one they didn't like) and I feel like I get a bit of a "cooking" vacation each week...which frees up a lot of time! The other bonus is that, because you are making a bigger meal, you feel much more freed up inviting other people over, even spur of the moment, because you know you will have enough. Even if you don't cook it that night..you can always throw it in the freezer...a frozen meal is always a gift (for you or someone else!).

That's my humble opinion...thought I'd pass it on!:) If you have some opinions you'd like to share...comment away!:)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Just for grins and giggles


I dumped a package of hot dogs into boiling water...only to have to pull them all back out and unwrap each and every one of them! Yep, that's right...they were individually packaged!:) So, someone set the record straight...is that a Canadian thing or do they do that somewhere in the United States, too?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pruning


Last week I shared my desire to be dependently disciplined and what that looks like. As I continue to seek that in my life through the grace of God, I also have to remember that living that way does not guarantee that life will be "peaches and cream". In fact, nowhere in Scripture do we ever see that following God means ease and prosperity. We are told to deny self and take up our cross...the cross meant death! In Scripture we often see the pain, imprisonment, death and suffering of believers...but we see in ALL those things God's sufficient grace and we know that He is used each and every situation for their good and His glory...He promises that(Romans 8:28)!

Adversity is not just something that might happen in our lives, it WILL happen! And God brings it into our lives or allows it for many different reasons...reasons that we may never know fully on this side of Heaven...but He calls us to trust Him, to wait on Him and to rest in His sovereign and perfect plan.

My heart was pricked and encouraged by one of the ways God uses our adversities...however big or small they may be. Jerry Bridges says:

"Jesus said that, "every branch that does bear fruit (God) prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" (John 15:2). In the natural realm, pruning is important for fruit bearing. An unpruned vine will produce a great deal of unproductive growth but little fruit. Cutting away unwanted and useless growth forces the plant to use its life to produce fruit.

In the spiritual realm, God must prune us. Because even as believers we still have a sinful nature, we tend to pour our spiritual energies into that which is not true fruit. We tend to seek position, success, and reputation even in the body of Christ. We tend to depend upon natural talents and human wisdom. And then we are easily distracted and pulled by the things of the world - its pleasures and possessions. God uses adversity to loosen our grip on those things that are not true fruit."

Wasn't that just beautiful?! At the time of the adversity, I'd dare say it seems mostly painful...but knowing what God can and does produce in our lives through it makes it beautiful! I truly want to be dependently disciplined on the Lord with my focus on things that matter, bearing true fruit. Though the pruning might be painful, I really do want each and every day of my life to be full of growth that matters...bearing fruit that will last into eternity to the glory and praise of the Lord.

Each day provides opportunity to rest and trust in the work the Lord is doing in my life...whether it be pruning or watering, storms or sun...knowing that it is for my growth and for His name's sake!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hockey Time!


We had the privilege of going to a hockey game this afternoon. When kids are free and one ticket is covered...$8 is not a bad price for a family event!:) We saw Trinity Western University's hockey team and it was so much fun! There was enough action to keep the kids attention...and Faith and Titus spent most of the time amusing themselves with their coats and dancing each time the music would come on (and it came on a lot...every time the whistle blew). The video is no exaggeration...they went that "crazy" almost every time for about half of the game. It was actually very funny to watch!:)

I got to sit by my hubby...and the kids were so good that it almost felt a little bit like a date with him!:) It was the last game of the season...but we look forward to going again next year!
video

Friday, March 5, 2010

I see Jesus in you!


"A Gospel Primer for Christians" continues to bless my heart as I read it for a second time. The two parts this week that have stood out to me are regarding how the Gospel impacts our relationships with other believers. My heart fills with joy (and so do my eyes) just being reminded of the beauty of being apart of God's family, the Body of Christ! Take a moment to read:

"The gospel is not just a message of reconciliation with God, but it also heralds the reconciliation of all believers to one another in Christ....when God saved us, He made us members of His household, and He gave us as gifts to one another. Each brother and sister is a portion of my gospel inheritance from God, and I am a portion of their inheritance as well. We are significant players in each other's gospel narrative, and it is in relationship with one another that we experience that fullness of God in Christ.

Hence, the more I comprehend the full scope of the gospel, the more I value the church for which Christ died, the more I value the role that I play in the lives of my fellow Christians, and the more I appreciate the role that they must be allowed to play in mine.

The more I experience the gospel, the more there develops within me a yearning affection for my fellow Christians who are also participating in the glories of the gospel. This affection for them comes loaded with confidence in their continued spiritual growth and ultimate glorification, and it becomes my pleasure to express to them this loving confidence regarding the ongoing work of God in their lives."


What precious words to think and meditate upon...and what a reminder it is to let those around us know what a special gift from God they are to us! Then, how about we go a step further and share with them how we see the gospel being lived out in their lives! What greater blessing could we give to another Christ-follower than to say to them, "I see Jesus in you"!!!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Saying "Yes" and "Capturing Teachable Moments"



One thing I am learning as I seek to be dependent on the Lord is that, because I am not striving to do things in my own strength, I am able to do more. Or, to put it another way, it is much easier to say yes.

I'll be the first to admit, I am much quicker to say "no" as a mom than I am to say "yes". Saying "yes" usually means that there will be a mess to be cleaned up, that it will take up more time than I feel like I have or that it simply will be an inconvenience to me.

There are times when a "no" is definitely the wisest choice, but, many times, the "no" is simply the easy choice. And often it is the easy choice because I am living in my own strength instead of dependent on the Lord...and my own strength is failing me and causing me to be "me centered".

One thing I have felt convicted about is how often I say "no" without asking the Lord for wisdom or examining my own heart to see if I really need to say "no". So, that has been my desire and prayer...to think and pray before I answer the many desires, plans and ideas of my kids.

Monday night, the girls asked me if they could have a tea party. I was tired, I was still cleaning up from dinner, and I just wanted the day to be over. So, I prayed...and then I said "yes". It required effort on my part as I boiled water for the tea, got the tea cups, made up some frosting and frosted a couple of cookies...but as I did, with a heart fixed on Jesus, in need of His strength and joy to bless my girls...I truly did find the Lord giving strength to my weary heart (Isaiah 40:31) and I began to actually get excited to bless the girls in this way. Titus and I sent the girls to their room and even lit a couple of candles and made it look extra pretty.
The girls were so delighted and blessed...Grace started crying and said that she was so thankful to God for me and her daddy. And I walked away with a full heart and tears in my eyes at what a little "yes" and a heart of dependence had done! What GOD had done!
And then I received a sweet blessing back from the girls. They ended up wanting to bless ME and gave me the royal treatment of a backrub and brushing my hair. It was just precious!
My girls are growing up...and I had my heart encouraged (through an off handed comment by someone at church on Sunday! God uses EVERYTHING!) that I needed to start having a Bible Study with my girls. They both can read now, which is very helpful when it comes to a Bible Study (though not necessary, by any means) and I want to take extra time with them, apart from our homeschool Bible time and our family devotions to focus on their relationship with God and with me (Bryan is working on a plan for the boys...he has got it a bit harder!:)). I want to "capture teachable moments" as much as possible for I know, as they already have, that the days will keep flying by and my girls will "fly away" much sooner than I can imagine.

I am keeping it simple...my desire is to shepherd their hearts, not to draw up some elaborate "set-up" that ends up failing because it is too much work! Just a half an hour to an hour once a week, some tea or juice and a cookie (which I am hoping to make with them in the day or two before our Bible Study...gotta get the baking in!:) ), and a little direction from the book "Growing Little Women (for younger girls):Capturing Teachable Moments with Your Daughter" by Donna Miller and Christine Yount. I can't vouch for the book as I have not used it yet...but I think it will be a great springboard for getting started!

The boys will be "banished" to their room for some special "Playstation" time! Rarely do they actually get told to play the Playstation...so I have a feeling they are going to be really excited!:)

I will keep you posted as to how it is going...just in case your thinking about joining me in your own Bible Study with your daughters! And, of course, I'd love your feedback or ideas if you are doing this or have done this with your daughter(s). I treasure all the godly wisdom that I can get!!!