Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oh NO!

After a few weeks of really staying on top of the whole coupon thing, I received a devastating blow on Sunday.  this area of the country is no longer going to have coupon inserts included in the newspapers sold on the stand!  That explains why the last two weekends have yielded no coupons.  The only way you can get the coupon inserts is if you get the newspaper delivered to your home!  Well, since we are currently between homes, that is out of the question.  Rats.


I am not sure why the newspaper is cutting back on the inserts, but it won’t help their business to remove the coupons.  The only reason I ever bought a paper was for the coupons.  I think there are a lot more people who do the same thing.  I know it was really hard to find a Sunday paper around here on the “good insert” weekends.


I don’t know what I will do.  Maybe I can stand by the intersection with a sign that says, “Will work for coupons” or something like that.  I know that a lot of manufacturers have cut back on the number and value of coupons in the last year (that dumb “extreme couponing” show had a lot to do with that, I think) and a lot of stores have tightened their policies on coupons.  With the newspaper no longer distributing the coupons, it is getting harder and harder to save money.  Well, I know we’ll make it through somehow. 


Has anyone else noticed that their local paper no longer has coupons? Just curious…

Monday, January 30, 2012


Last week, I cleaned out my refrigerator.  It was a chore that badly needed to be done.  Yuck!  I don’t like doing it, but every so often, it slaps me in the face when I open the door, and says, “Yoo hoo!  We’re still here!  When are you going to clean out this mess?”  I sigh in resignation and begin peeking and peering into sealed containers that lurk in the dark corners of my refrigerator.  It is a dangerous job, but someone has to do it!

I will say that we usually do not have leftovers very long, due to the fact that Josiah is like a human food disposal.  Occasionally, however, something will slip through the cracks, or is shoved to the back of the fridge where it sits in silence until the day of reckoning. 

I do not mind eating leftovers – it keeps me from having to make an entire meal at lunch time the next day.  Some days, it is a regular smorgasboard around our house – venison, spaghetti, soup, little bits of this and that.  Everyone gets their favorite meal at one time! Yay!  However, I know people who would dive in front of a speeding subway train before putting food on the table for a second time!  Well, it takes all kinds, you know!  :) 

I was thinking as I cleaned out my fridge about leftovers and how they relate to life.  We are encouraged from a young age to give our very best to God – our whole life.  Sometimes, people do that by dedicating their life to God and His service.  Others are sometimes not so fortunate as to have older family and friends teaching them to give themselves totally to God, and a great part of their life is spent in the world before, or sometimes even after, salvation.  The good news is, God still loves leftovers.  I do not mean to be sacriligious when I say this.  God will take those leftovers and He can still transform them into something wonderful!  Don’t lurk in the background – come out into the light of His mercy and grace and allow yourself to be used! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Love My Babies

Well, they technically aren’t babies any more, but I will always think of them that way.  (Don’t tell them – they might be offended!)  I just wanted to say that in spite of the fact that they drive me crazy sometimes, I love them all so much.  Look at this picture and tell me how anyone could keep from loving these four adorable, precious children!  Just for the record—here are four of my greatest blessings!


Thank the Lord for His many blessings in your life today! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Going Gray

It’s official.  Other people are starting to notice the silver threads beginning at my temples.  I was talking with someone at church the other day, and overheard several older ladies close by discussing how naturally my gray hairs blended into the rest of my hair.  I didn’t know whether I should be flattered or offended.  They all admittedly color their hair, not being able to cope with being all gray, but still! 

You may be thinking, “So why not color your hair?”  I just can’t do it!  I have seen ladies of all ages color their hair, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.  There are several reasons for this.
1.  The cost.  It would take $8-12 per month for the rest of my life.  I plan on living a long time, so that is a lot of money!  That is not considering the cost of inflation on the hair color kits, either…
2.  The look.  I know a lot of people color their hair, but it changes the way your hair looks, especially if you don’t get the exact shade.  It also takes away the natural shine and highlights by covering the hair with dye.  Constant coloring of the hair also affects the texture of the hair, making it coarser. 
3.  The time.  I’m sure it doesn’t take long to color your hair, but it only lasts for three weeks or so before the roots start showing.  Very unattractive, in my opinion.
4.  The result.  Coloring the hair is an endless cycle of maintenance that most people don’t know how to end.  Be honest—how many 70-year-old ladies do you know with black, brown, or red hair?  Do you let it grow out and endure the awful “skunk” look until it is long enough to cut off the colored part?  Or do you color until you die? Once you start, there is no easy way out.

So now that I have offended half of my readers by stating my rather blunt opinion of hair coloring, I will say that if you want to do it, go ahead—it’s not a sin.  It’s just not for me.  I choose to grow old and gray as gracefully as I can.  Those of you that color—take the challenge and quit now, while there is still hope! :)  It really isn’t that bad to go a little gray!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Daily Blessings

There is a verse in the Bible that says God “daily loadeth us with benefits.”  I like the word loadeth.  It conveys the sense that we are “burdened down” with blessings each day.  Our God is so good and so giving!  From time to time, I find myself taking the blessings of God for granted.  Sometimes they are physical blessings, but other times they are spiritual blessings. 

Several years ago, our family had the opportunity to go to Mexico and visit with some missionary friends.  They lived high in the mountains around Saltillo, and it was rather rustic.  The roads were dirt, and rutted with gigantic potholes.  One of the modern conveniences that they did not have was indoor running water.  I say indoor, but they only had running water of any kind when the town reservoir was opened and allowed to run down the communal pipeline.  It was only turned on twice a week, and one never knew exactly when it would come on, or how long it would run, since it was dependent upon human whim.  The water had to be “caught” in 55 gallon water storage drums, and any washing had to be done while the water was running.

Baths were interesting also.  There was no hot water unless you heated it on the stove.  A large pot (about ten gallons) took about 45 minutes to boil, and then was poured into a large galvanized tub.  Cold water was added until the temperature was bearable, and then you could bathe in the relatively shallow pool.  To be honest, it was a lot of fun—sort of a pioneer adventure.  I greatly admired my friend for her sweet, uncomplaining spirit during the several years they lived in that area.

I suppose it has been six or seven years since that trip, but hardly a day goes by without me thinking about it.  When I get in the shower each morning and turn a knob, hot water comes pouring out.  I do not have to wait until Tuesday or Friday when the water is running—it runs every day.  I do not have to heat water on the stove to bathe—it comes out hot.  Consequently, I thank God every day for hot, running water!  It is one of those daily benefits that God loads upon me.  What “little thing” are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Socially Secure?

Due to our recent move, I have to get a new driver’s license in Mississippi.  Paul got his almost immediately so that he could get a resident hunting license and finish out the deer hunting season.  “Oh, it’s really simple to get your license here,” he said.  “You don’t even have to take a test if you have a valid driver’s license from another state.  All you need is your old license, proof of residence, and your social security number.”

I was relieved.  I hate taking driving tests – even the written ones!  I gathered all my papers and headed down to the DMV one afternoon, prepared to get my new license.   I walked into the DMV and saw a large lady slouched in a chair, talking on the telephone.  I finally caught her attention, and she motioned me over and asked what I needed.  I explained, and she looked at my paperwork, and slouched back in her chair. “You don’t have the right papers,” she said.  I looked at her in astonishment.  “What do you mean?” I finally stammered.  She then grabbed my papers and showed me that my license, proof of residence, and Social Security card did not all have the same name on them.  My SS card still sported my maiden name!  “You’ll have to get a new SS card,” she stated, and without another glance at me, she slouched back in the chair again and continued her phone conversation.

I was somewhat disgusted with the whole situation.  Now it would be two weeks at least before I could get my license, and I had another bureaucratic hurdle to jump.  “Like I have time to go sit in the SSA office all day,” I muttered as I stomped out to the truck. “Guess it will just have to wait a few days.” 

I knew that I needed a Social security card with my married name on it (I don’t know what happened to the first one I got almost twelve years ago—I’ve been using the one with my maiden name on it all this time!), so the trip to the SSA was a necessary evil.

A few days later, I went into the local SSA office, documents in hand.  I took a number generated by a kiosk in the lobby, and sat in a chair to wait.  I was reading my Kindle(that is so nice to have during long periods of forced waiting) and as I sat there, I began to pick up bits and pieces of conversation around me.  Most notably, my attention was caught by a man sitting at the window with his elderly parents, who seemed to be in terrible health.  He was attempting to get legal custody of them, but was having complications.  The attendant at the computer told him that he would not be able to obtain the custody because of his prior murder conviction!  By this time, I had forgotten my book and was all ears.  I was feeling somewhat less than socially secure at the moment. :)

The man began ranting and raving about lawyers, records being expunged, the time he served,etc., while the attendant kept trying to interrupt him.  “Lady,” I thought, “don’t get him riled!  You might be next!  For that matter, I might be next!” 

I was quite relieved when my number was called shortly thereafter, and I departed to another room. Within minutes, I was finished and my request for a new SS card was processed.  As I hastily exited the building, he was still there, wrangling with the attendant.  I had to laugh as I drove home…  Social security?  I think it is an oxymoron! :)

Monday, January 23, 2012


Waiting has never really been one of my strong points.  Perhaps it comes easier to some people than to others, but it seems to me that any time I have to wait on something, there is a great internal struggle.  “Why is this taking so long?!”  I ask myself.  Many times, this impatience is not displayed in my outward demeanor, but it is there all the same.  Just the other day, our family went out to eat together.  It was not a special occasion—just a time for enjoyment.  I had several coupons to defray the cost of the meal, and my husband asked if I wanted to “haggle” with the cashier over the tab.  I think he just didn’t want to mess with the coupons! :)

I went to the register and stood in line, waiting for my turn to pay.  Eventually, I was next in line, and the cashier/waitress entered my tab.  She shuffled through all the coupons, entered them, and the total popped up on the computer screen.  She swiped my card, but nothing happened.  She looked nervously at me, and said the computer was acting up.  I smiled and said it was no problem.  She apologized profusely and asked to swipe the card again.  And again.  By this time, I had been standing at the counter for almost ten minutes.  It felt like an eternity, and yet I knew it was not her fault.  Three cashiers later, they were finally able to take my payment, and I walked back to our table, rather relieved the whole thing was over.

As I thought back over the whole situation, I analyzed my thoughts and actions.  While I would never have blamed the cashier for the delay, neither was I feeling very patient.  Everyone else whizzed through the line with no problems, and the computer decided to go haywire on me!  The inconvenience of waiting is not fun.

There are many time in life that we must wait.  You must wait for a baby to develop and be born.  You must wait for graduation, driver’s license, marriage, job opportunities, the perfect home, children, careers, education, as well as many other things. Life is all about waiting.  Why is that so hard? 

I was reading in my devotions the other morning, and came across the verse “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the LORD.”  Ps. 27:14   We have been praying about a certain decision, and while doors seem to be cracking open in several directions, we do not want to barge through a door that is not fully open. The Lord just seemed to take this verse and apply it to my heart and say, “Just wait on Me, my child.”  We are still praying, but from past experience, I know the Lord will swing the door of opportunity open wide in His time, and there will be no room for doubt, regret, or delay.

I am so glad that His Word can daily speak to my heart and guide my steps.  The best part about it is that when I rest in Him and wait for Him, He always gives His best to me.  When I wait, I never have to settle for second-best in anything!  Now that is an incentive to be patient!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Looking Forward

There is a sense in which I look forward to the weekend, even with all of its busyness.  The main reason – no school!  Now I suppose that some of you are shocked to find that I do not enjoy home-schooling.  Doesn’t every home-schooling mother love teaching school?  Why else would they do it?  Personally, I excessively dislike teaching school.  If there were any other way to educate my children while on the road, I would be all over it like sprinkles on ice cream. 

I was a home-school student myself, and enjoyed school (all except geometric proofs and calculus), so why is it such a chore to teach my children?  I don’t know!  I just do not like it.  I love teaching piano, but teaching school is a whole different ball game.  Right now I am looking at a life sentence of home school – at least another 15 years added to the 6 I have under my belt.  I suppose that is why I am such a school Nazi.  I don’t even give my kids recess (truth be told, most days they waste so much time between subjects, they don’t need recess)!  My kids are wonderful—really.  I just hope they get more enjoyment out of their education than I do! 

This seems like a very negative post,  but how many of you are with me? :)  Yesterday I spent what seemed like hours trying to pound the one-vowel/two-vowel rule into Esther’s head again.  I try so hard to be patient, because I know she is just learning all this new information, but I really think the fastest way to an insane asylum is by teaching your own children.  The rationale behind this statement is as follows.
Teaching your own kids is hard because:
1.  You know the facts.
2.  Your child is very intelligent (obviously, because they are related to you)
3.  I already explained this fifty-eleven times before!
4.  If they still don’t get it, remember it, etc., more volume must be necessary to impart the knowledge.
5.  When you use volume (paired with great frustration), your child might turn on the waterworks (they are frustrated, too)
6.  While you are trying to calmly explain that “cost” is not pronounced “cluck,” (and would you please stop guessing and READ the word?) a fight breaks out behind you over who gets to use the three-hole punch next, and your toddler nags you for a drink.  The phone rings, and you get a text message from your husband asking if you know where some important papers are (maybe those are the ones the kids were coloring earlier).  The dryer buzzes, and the next load of laundry must be transferred from the washer to the dryer, and the dry clothes folded.  As the clock strikes twelve noon, fierce hunger pains stab your pre-teen son with such violence that he begins asking if we are going to eat today (as if eating is optional around our house).  Overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the whole situation, there are only two options--cry or shout.  I try to choose the latter whenever possible.  My crying would upset the kids.  :)

Teaching other people’s kids is easy because:
1.  You know the facts.
2.  If they don’t understand, it must be stupid genes.  Some people just can’t be taught!  No sweat.
3.  You can send them home after a few hours and give yourself a break!

While this is a rather facetious way of saying it, being a home-schooling mother is hard work!  My hat is off to all of you who are where I am (evangelist’s wives are even more so, due to the ministry deadlines every day/weekend).  To those of you who truly enjoy home-schooling—you amaze me!  When I grow up, I want to be just like you! For the rest of us, just relax – we all have those moments, those days, and those weeks. You are not perfect, but neither are you alone!  Make the best of it and keep looking forward to the weekend!

P.S.  Don’t forget that today is Mega Swagbucks Day!  If you haven’t signed up for Swagbucks yet, get started today!  I am finding better ways to earn all the time, and I am hoping to fund all my birthday and Christmas shopping through Swagbucks this year.  I just found a great way to save myself time and money – the SBTV Mobile app for my phone.  I can earn 100 Swagbucks each day just by letting it play while I do my work.  For those of you that do SBTV on the computer, it is very similar, but even better.  I simply mute my volume, and push play.  It automatically goes to the next clip, without you having to sit and watch it.  Great feature!  I can get all my housework done and still earn Swagbucks while I am doing it!  It might be best to make sure you have an unlimited plan first, though! :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cleaned Out

I have been a little under the weather this week, and therefore, decided that I could exert my limited energies to doing some long-delayed chores in the trailer.  One of these was getting rid of the sock box.  You may wonder what a sock box is, but I know you have one, too, although it may not be called a sock box.  When we transferred our belongings from our previous trailer to the new trailer, there was significantly less storage space.  Due to this, my sock collection (which is not really that impressive – maybe a dozen pair) did not fit in the drawer with all my other unmentionables, which will continue to be unmentioned…  I decided I would just stick the socks in the top half of an apple box until I could find a place to put them.

Fast forward seven months.  The sock box was still there, sitting in front of the dresser, and impeding not only our access to the drawers, but also blocking the narrow walkway at the foot of the bed.  Although it was still called the sock box, it had grown in usefulness, and now held not just socks, but hosiery, jewelry, pens, papers, photos, picture frames, important papers, excess folded laundry, and a few sweaters.  Suffice it to say, the sock box had become a major pain in the foot, probably due to the number of times I kicked it while trying to squeeze past to the other side of the bed.  It had to go.

In reality, sorting through the box was not nearly as bad as I had dreamed.  It took about thirty minutes to clean out the clutter and I was on to a much more formidable task—the kid’s toy box!


I am a nice mom, and so the toys all survived the purge.  However, the great majority of them will be put in storage until we have space for the kids to play with them.  The children are still amazed at how nice their room looks without toys strewn from one end to the other.  They still have plenty of toys to spread around, but the ones they rarely play with have gone on vacation for a while.  Maybe permanently! Mwahahahahaha!  Here are the toys I decided to send on an all-expense paid vacation to the storage unit!  Impressive, huh?

What task do you dread more than any other?  Take the challenge today and tackle it—you can get rid of your “sock box,” too!  :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


We love Mexican-style food around our house.  It is unusual if we don’t have a Mexican style meal at least once a week.  After having been to Mexico several times on Mission trips, I have gotten the knack of making authentic tacos and guacamole, and we all love it!  The kids all called the guacamole, “green stuff”  for a long time.  Daniel, our youngest, had a variation on the name that was quite funny.  We also eat a lot of broccoli, and I think he got the two items confused, and thus the “green stuff” was dubbed, “brocco-mole!” 

This week, I made a Mexican skillet type meal, using ground venison, refried beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, and some spices.  I also made some guacamole to top it, and the whole thing was to be eaten with tortilla chips.  Yum!  I splurged and bought a fresh lime to squeeze over our food (that does amazing things for Mexican food) and brought it to the table with me.  “Who wants some lime?” I asked.  Amidst the chorus of children’s voices crying, “Me! I want some lime,” Daniel’s voice rose above the rest— “I don’t want SLIME!”  Needless to say, we have a new family joke!  Want some slime? :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


One of the great blessings of itinerant ministry is the diverse group of wonderful friends scattered across the world.  While these friends are not seen every week, or even every year, the bond of friendship is strong.  After a long absence, we can pick up like we had just been together the previous day!  It is our great pleasure to be holding a meeting this week at our home church with evangelist Dwight and Amber Smith.  Both Paul and Dwight are preaching in the evenings, and our families are providing special music.  Amber, bless her heart, is doing children’s meetings.  We had a wonderful start to our meeting on Sunday.  One girl was saved in the morning service, and in the evening service, a family that Paul and I had met on visitation came at our invitation!

Over the years, since we first became friends, a lot of changes have come.  When we first met, we were all single college students.  Now we are married, and each have four children.  Our children also enjoy renewing their acquaintances with each other.  On Sunday afternoon, the pastor and his wife, who also have four boys, took all of us out to lunch.  It was crazy!  We had six adults and twelve kids among us!  Ten of those children were boys – my girls being the roses among all those thorns! :)  I take perverse pleasure in all the raised eyebrows and scared looks of  the waitresses when we make our entrance.  I am happy to say, that for the most part, the children are all well-behaved, and the wait staff breathes a sigh of relief when they realize that.  I am so glad that my children have the opportunity to make nice friends at a young age.  I hope that these friendships will stay strong and centered on the path of God’s will.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Getting Back on Track

The past six weeks or so have been non-stop crazy for me, and as I look ahead, it doesn’t seem to get any better.  Sometimes I sit in my messy trailer (see last week’s post) and sigh for the times when my house was clean, my kids were happy, and I was much skinnier.  Those days are gone forever – well, hopefully not the happy children part (although some days I wonder how they all got up on the wrong side of the bed)!  At one point, I was sooooooo organized I make myself sick just thinking about it.  What happened?!?  That was in the days before I started home schooling.  Now life is a free-for-all of events, last-minute trips, unplanned visits, and the usual mayhem (that would be school, meals, housework, grocery shopping, and church services).

Two different times last week, I went into my local Kroger, and stumbled upon some awesome deals.  I was lugging my coupon binder, so of course, I knew I had whatever coupons I needed to snag these tremendous deals for next to nothing.  The problem was, I had not cut out any coupons for (dare I say it?) months.   I muttered to myself as I shuffled and pawed through the inserts, knowing that the coupons were there, but finally gave up in disgust.  I knew I had to get organized again – at least in that part of my life.  After the kids went to bed, I began cutting out the coupons.  It took me three successive nights to wade through the twenty-three (yes, I said twenty-three) inserts.  My binder is no longer bulging, and the zipper will now close easily, but the work is not yet done!  I now have to sort all of those little papers into “findable” categories.  Hopefully, It will not take me three more nights!

In spite of my lack of coupon organization, I was able to get a few great deals at Kroger.  Of course, when I was sorting the coupons, I found some that would have made an even better deal, but I am trying not to kick myself over that any more.  I did get several items for just pennies.  I needed conditioner (I only use Pantene) for the girls and myself, but was trying to hold out for a sale at CVS or Kroger.  The bottles of Pantene conditioner that I found in the Manager’s special cart were marked $1.69 – great price!  Add to that the $3/2 Pantene coupon, I got those babies for only $.19 each!  Happy dance!  I also got two Aveeno hair care products for $.09 each!  I was totally inspired to get back on track with my coupons for this year.  There is so much money to save!

Last week, I also had a great trip to CVS.  Josiah has to take Zyrtec every day, and that stuff isn’t cheap.  I registered at www.zyrtec.com for their Zyrtec Rewards program.  Once every month I can print out two high-dollar coupons for Zyrtec (up to seven dollars off of one bottle) using the code off of the previous bottle.  I had a $4 off of any $20 allergy relief purchase from CVS, and, paired with the two $4 coupons(off of a 40ct bottle), I was prepared to make a great deal.  The problem was that the 30 ct. bottles were the ones on sale at CVS for $18.99.  They also qualified for the $10 CVS Cash Card (buy $30, get $10).  I searched through the bottles, and found two 30 ct. bottles with 10 extra pills, making them not only valid for the sale, but for the coupon as well!  I was thanking the Lord for that deal!  So here is what I paid:

2 40 ct. Zyrtec – $37.98
2-$4 off coupons – $8
1- $4/20 CVS coupon – $4
OOP- $25.98
Received $10 CVS cash card
Total cost – $15.98 for 80 Zyrtec 

Woo hoo!  I had some other good deals there, but that one really turned my crank.  The Lord knew we needed the medication, and He worked it all out for me.  Next time, I plan to have the $7 coupons!  Look out, CVS – here I come! :)

Friday, January 13, 2012


It may seem strange to address this topic, but in recent years I have seen so much destruction of life and ministry due to bitterness.  I believe every person has the choice to be joyful or to be bitter, simply due to the fact that all of us have been, or will be at some future point, hurt by someone else.  Bitterness is like an infection in the body.  The wound can be superficial or devastating, but the infection can be deadly!

Once as a child, I had a small cut or bee sting on the bottom of my foot.  It was summertime, and I usually ran around barefoot, the soles of my feet like leather.  Gravel driveways didn’t even make me flinch! I came in to wash up for dinner one evening, and my mom saw a red line running up my leg, almost to the knee.  It was blood poisoning—apparently, the miniscule wound had gotten dirty and it was endangering my health.  If left for a few more hours, it could have been life-threatening!  The surprising thing to me was that I had not noticed it.  It didn’t hurt, and I felt just fine.  A quick trip to the doctor ensued, and after several days of treatment, I was back to normal.  Mom did try to encourage me to keep my shoes on for some reason. :)

Bitterness is like that blood poisoning.  It enters unnoticed through a wound and begins spreading its poison throughout the body.  Too many times, the bitter person does not even realize that they have a problem.  In fact, most of the time, the bitterness is noticed by other people first.  Sadly, when the diagnosis is made, the bitter person denies the problem, or worse, justifies the infection.  “Of course I’m bitter—don’t you know what they did to me?  I have a right to feel this way because I have been hurt!” Instead of allowing the healing balm of God’s Word, and the love and concern of fellow Christians to minister to that hurt by purging out the infection, the bitter person snaps and snarls like a wounded animal, closely guarding the festering hurt.  The ones who love that person are forced to watch helplessly as that person’s bitterness-induced choices slowly destroy them.

Bitterness always spreads.  The Bible warns of bitterness and how it can defile many.  It has never been easier to spread bitterness and discord than in today’s world of social networking.  One person spouts off about how they have been hurt, and instantly, hundreds of people take up the cause.  Most of the time, the person initiating the bitterness session doesn’t even present all the facts—just their twisted side of the story.  Implications, insinuations, misrepresentations,  and plain old lies are posted for the world to see.  People, churches, pastors, friends, and relatives are publicly maligned.  This is so far from Christian behavior!  What happened to going to the offender and seeking to restore the relationship?  What is worse, “the simple believeth every word!”  People who barely know the offended and may not even know the offender sit at their computers and phones and condemn the offender, who half the time doesn’t even know that he has offended someone!  This is rank carnality, and should never be condoned!  I don’t care if it is your life—you don’t have the right to spread your poison to others!

Another sad fact is that once a person has become bitter, they are prone to further injury by the slightest act.  Just as an infected wound causes excessive tenderness in surrounding areas, the poison spreads throughout the body, damaging other members, causing more pain.  If the infection is allowed to progress, soon it will be impossible to touch any area of the body without it hurting.  The bitter person becomes suspicious of everyone’s words, actions, and motives.  Everyone has an ulterior motive, and the concept of trust is left out of the equation.

Much is said about dealing with past hurts and learning to move on, but I believe the only way to truly move on with life after terrible hurt is to let go of the pain!  As long as you are holding on to those offences, you can never move past the hurt.  I vividly remember a time of great personal pain in my own life.  Someone very close to me was intentionally trying to destroy my life.  I did everything I could to repair the situation, but to no avail.  It was a source of great hurt and I struggled with my emotions for a long time.  However, one day, the Spirit of God so clearly spoke to my heart and said, “You can allow this to make you bitter, or you can allow this to make you better.”  It was that simple.  I saw the choice before me, and by God’s grace, I made the choice to forgive, even though that person never sought my forgiveness, denied that any wrong had been committed, and bitterly accused me of sinning against him.  The relationship was never reconciled, and though saddened by this person’s loss, I resolved to move past the hurt and allow God to reward us both according to our deeds.

For you, my hurting friend,it is time to let go of those wounds, whether petty or great, and let God heal your life.  Pour in the Word of God and allow Him to cleanse out the bitterness.  Do not let your bitterness destroy your life, or be a stumbling block to others.  The Bible states, “It is impossible but that offences will come.”  Life is not without pain.  Learn to deal with it, and allow God to give you the peace and joy that true forgiveness brings!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Year, New Picture

Each year, my goal is to get a good family photo taken to send to our family, friends, and supporting churches.  Over the years, my definition of “good” has evolved into what I would call a very loose term.  This simply means that all parties involved are facing the camera, all eyes are open, smiles are in place,and there are no stray fingers delving into forbidden areas (such as eyes, ears, noses, or armpits).  Forget the perfect hair, the perfect pose, and the wrinkle-free clothing.  After all, this is our family – why pretend to be something we are not?  So, sadly, I have at present abandoned the quest for a model family picture.  The good thing is, I will remember how it all played out each time that I look at the photo.  This was actually our first shot, and since it was so good, I only took one other.  :)  I won’t forget how, while I was taking shots of the boys, Esther danced around the yard, dragging my camera bag and dumping all my spare batteries into the grass.  We never did find them. 

I will now present (drum roll, please) our 2012 family picture.

Crows pic

All in all, I think it is the perfect picture of my wonderful family!  I love them all so much! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why I Am Still an Independent Baptist #2

So after yesterday’s long background explanation, let me tell you why, in spite of all these things, I am still an Independent Baptist.

1. God’s Word does not change. The true Baptist believes that the Bible is the only authority for faith and practice. The problem is that many church members do not know the Bible for themselves. Instead of searching the Scriptures to see whether these things are so, they allow someone else to tell them their interpretation of what the Bible says and accept it as fact without even thinking about it. This is dangerous, because the Bible is the greatest check and balance given to man, and it puts the power of doctrine in the hands of those who read it. Do not get me wrong – I believe in leadership, and in the authority of the pastor, but only as far as he follows the Bible. It is up to the average church member to know what the Bible says and to make sure that he is being taught truth.

2. I am an independent Baptist. The term independent means that I am not connected with any other church. Just because the Baptist church down the road teaches that ladies have to have hair down to their knees with six inches of split ends to be spiritual, does not mean that I have to accept that. That is one man’s interpretation of Scripture, not a direct Bible command. They do not have to follow the same order of service as my church does. They even have the freedom to have their midweek service on Thursday night if they wish (gasp)! The beauty of the plan is that no matter what the individual church policy is on any number of things, one day, we will all stand before God and give an account. The pastor will give account for his behavior, practices, preaching, and teaching, and the church members will give account for the way they have lived, including the way they have allowed themselves to be led. All of it will be determined by God’s Word. The safest course of action, then, is to filter everything through the Word of God.

3. I can think for myself. I do not need someone else telling me what the Bible says. I have learned much from pastors, teachers, evangelists, my husband, and even friends over the years. When God’s truth is presented, most of the time it does not need lengthy explanations. I have seen way too many people trying to figure out “deeper meanings” of Bible doctrines by reading the works of educated heretics, and in almost every case, they have turned their ears unto false doctrine, swallowing the lies of men rather than accepting the plainly stated truth of God. God does not contradict Himself or His Word. I can, with study, take a verse of Scripture and, by comparing it with other verses in the Bible, come to a proper conclusion. I do not take this privilege lightly. I will one day give an account for all that I say and do. A proper perspective of the Judgment Seat of Christ is enough to make me very careful in the explanation and application of Scripture.

In retrospect, as I look over this post, it all boils down to one thing: God’s Word. These scandals that I have mentioned came about because someone, or several people in some cases, was not following the Word of God. Every abuse of power, every hurtful situation is a result of sin – it is not condoned by Scripture, no matter how loudly some critics may claim that it is. God is not abusive, nor does He want His people to be abusive. He does not want His flock to be abused. The prophets of old were descried for their abuse and misuse of God’s people.

My question is this: Why do people who (should) know this leave the Independent Baptist realm and claim that all Independent Baptist churches are the same? That assertion is not logical or founded in truth. I personally think that they are using a bad situation as an excuse to do what they have wanted all along. Too many people have a casual view of God and His holiness. The fact that most IFB churches have high standards is a reflection of what the Bible says, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” I believe God has a high standard for His people, and it is set forth in many principles in His Word. My husband has written a whole book on holiness and standards, so I will not cover that here. What I see is a widespread dislike for standards, especially in music, media, and dress, and those who have been “forced” to conform lose sight of the holiness of God that is to be reflected in our manner of living. The result is rebellion and abandonment of personal separation. Many times, they find a church with a more “acceptable” view of separation and end up with a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. From there, it is a slippery slope into a more relaxed view of theological separation, and the story almost always ends badly. The farther you stray from God’s Word, the farther you will be from His will. Those who love God will love His Word, His people, and His church. I am sick of people leaving good churches for stupid reasons. Just tell the truth – you are leaving because you are carnal, bitter, and rebellious. You don’t care what God’s Word says, you want a church that allows you to live as you please. Beware! You are on dangerous ground! Yours is not the final authority – you will give an account one day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why I Am Still an Independent Baptist #1

Recent years have brought a rash of books, articles, blog posts, and testimonies of people who have become, for one reason or another, disgruntled with their own independent Baptist church (or their parents’ or friends’ church).  There has been an outbreak of biased and misinformed documentaries by major media scandalmongers on the proverbial witch hunt for IFB aberrants.  Some of what they say is true, but I know for a fact that some of it is nothing but yellow journalism designed to cast a bad light on anyone who believes the Bible.  It is not scholarship, it is speculation and slander.  They do not have all the facts.  I find it interesting that their claims of presenting the “facts” only give credence to the perceived “victim’s” side.  I am not denying that in some of these cases, serious wrongs have been committed by certain people in leadership.  But I also know human nature – angry, disgruntled people who are not right with God will say anything to make themselves look good and the church look bad.  There are true victims – people who have been badly used and terribly hurt.  I cannot deny that.

I myself have been in more that one “bad” church.  When I was still living at home, we had a succession of three “bad” churches.  I say churches, but really, it was the pastors.  The first was having an adulterous affair with another woman in the church.  When my parents confronted him, he denied all charges and our family quietly left the church.  During the next year, the church members were told not to have anything to do with us.  All but a few families did as the pastor commanded.  I think back on this time and wonder how hard it must have been for my parents that year.  They had worked in the church for several years, pouring time and money into the ministry.  Helping that church get started was the main reason for our coming to that area.  About a year after we left, the truth came out.  The affair was discovered by the pastor’s wife, who then committed suicide, splintering the family and church even more.  The pastor resigned, his lover divorced her husband, and the two of them were married shortly after.  It was a terrible blot on the church name in the community, and to be honest, the church, which had been thriving, never fully recovered.

The second bad situation was in the church we began attending after leaving that one.  It was a financial scandal, this time. The church had several families on staff, and though the church was a very giving one, some of the staff families were barely subsisting.  Further inquiry into the matter showed that the pastor was giving himself the lion’s share of the money.  I believe the pastor should be paid well for his work.  However, I do take issue with the fact that someone can afford $400 cowboy boots and new suits while his staff members literally eat bread and water.  Things were eventually made right, but another church name was smeared, and more people were hurt.

The third church was seemingly okay on the surface, although fraught with internal problems due to excessive “family influence” within the church.  At this point, we were in survivor mode.  During our brief membership period, there was a family that joined the church.  The man, a church camp director, was accused of molesting campers.  The pastor was involved in the cover-up, claiming that the alleged victims were just trying to cause trouble.  The man did go to prison, but the fallout was disastrous.  I know at least one of the young victims who testified against this man committed suicide shortly after the trial.  Lives were ruined, and the testimony of the churches involved were damaged.

I say all of this to make a point.  I have been in some bad churches.  I have seen terrible things covered up and excused by the people at fault.  But in most cases, the church members did not willingly side with evil.  They were either misinformed, or not informed at all.  The danger of leadership is that people will follow the leader.  Throughout time, we have seen ample evidence of people who made bad judgment calls and followed their leaders to their own demise.  The followers of Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Mohammed, along with many others have blindly followed the dogmas set forth by their religious leaders.  People follow leaders – that is how it works.  There are several motivations for following someone.  Some follow because of a lack of personal vision, others out of love for the leader, devotion to the cause, and still others out of fear.

I will publicly state this: those bad churches were full of good people who loved God and wanted to serve Him.  In each case it was not the church that was bad – it was a person who used the power of the church to cover or excuse sin.  I will also state that I have been in several wonderful churches, with godly leadership and not a hint of scandal.  In our travels, I have met hundreds of pastors, none of them perfect, but most of them serving the Lord and doing a tremendous work.  The majority of pastors that I know are not abusing their authority.  Why do people assume that because they have been in one, or even two bad churches, that God is not who He says He is? 

Just because I may discover that I have been given a counterfeit bill does not mean that I quit using money altogether.  Most money that is in circulation today is the real deal.  I know Wal-mart tests every bill $20 or greater with a special marker, but seriously(I must admit to rolling my eyes whenever they do this), I doubt they find many.  I see this excessive black-balling of IFB churches, as they are called, in the same light.  Only this time, the accusers are marking every dollar bill with the marker, looking for a fatal flaw that is not there in most cases.  They are trying to scare people into abandoning Independent Baptist beliefs altogether because of a few bad Christians.

To be continued in tomorrow’s post…

Monday, January 9, 2012

Trailer Life

Sometimes, I find myself questioned by curious people, “What is it like to live in a big trailer?”  This is a loaded question.  In most people’s minds, our 36’ fifth wheel is huge, and normally speaking, they would be right.  However, if you put six people and all their belongings in a 325 square foot space for an extended period of time, it can get mighty small, mighty quick, as they say.  On a normal day, I spend a great deal of time just picking up after everyone – over and over again.  My kids should be the world’s greatest toy-picker-uppers, since I tell them to do it at least five times a day, and usually closer to ten. :)  It just seems like the job never ends.

Embarrassingly enough, this is what my trailer looks like most of the time.


What’s happening in this picture?

Abigail is finishing her homework.  The large pink crates (and the blue one beneath them that you cannot see) are filled with school books.  These are used every day, and keep a semblance of order to our school supplies.  Under the pink crate on the far left are two sterilite three-drawer organizers that hold shoes and our stash of 3,ooo+ crayons and their accompanying coloring books.

The sink is full of clean dishes that still need to be put away, but hey – at least they are clean!  On top of the stove is a bag of special allergy-free cookies for Josiah sitting next to my new Keurig.  How I love that thing!  A cup of dark hot chocolate or peppermint tea in the mornings just really gets my day going.  By the way, I got that free, along with a year’s supply of K-cups.  How awesome is that!?

On top of the counter is my old laptop (not quite done getting all those pictures transferred), two boxes of crackers that I need to put back on the tippy-top shelf (I have to stand on a chair to reach it, so t usually gets delayed until I have several things to put away up there), a rather nasty-looking oven mitt that will not fit in any of my drawers, and a few school papers that were attacked by a three-year-old with a pair of scissors.

Esther and Daniel are playing on the floor with matchbox cars, and the car mats have apparently been discarded since they are lying on the floor in the corner next to the vacuum.  The vacuum is supporting a denim skirt that has to hang dry.  My new computer is sitting open on the table, waiting for me to finish my school plans, blog posts, and other important documents.  Josiah, having finished his homework is sprinkling Legos all over the dinette, but at least he tends to pick up after himself.

And the kid’s room… Well, let’s just not go there today.  So now you know my deep, dark secret: my trailer is not always spotless.  In fact, it rarely is.  Do I like that? Not really, but that is life in my corner of the world.  Now you know. :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sitting in My “Yap”

IMG_3715Over the years, our children have come up with some very cute and funny variations of our spoken language.  Mispronunciations, incorrectly used words, and speech idiosyncrasies have paraded through the annals of our family history, some becoming legendary jokes.  It is always a bittersweet moment when the childish speech disappears and the words are pronounced correctly all the time.

Each of our children has had a different twist on the language.  Daniel has always had trouble saying his “L’s” – they always come out like “Y’s.”  For example, he will run up to Paul, grab his leg, and say, “Daddy, I got your yeg!”  Lately, though, the y’s  have become fewer and farther between.  Having passed his third birthday, he has a pretty good handle on speaking, thanks to three older siblings, and I have sighed within myself as I see him growing up so quickly. 

For this reason, the other day, when he came to me and said, “Mama, I want to sit in your yap,”  I dropped what I was doing and did exactly as he asked.  He wanted me to read his new book (he loves books almost as much as I do) to him.  As we sat in the kitchen, reading Beatrix Potter’s Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, I felt his little head droop , and soon he was fast asleep in my arms.  It is hard to believe that in a few years he will no longer fit in my lap, but I know it is coming.  So while I have the chance, my yap will always be open to my little boy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Swept Away

IMG_3717Hallelujah!  Once again I have a working vacuum in my house!  This is a rather long story, since the vacuum was a gift for our first anniversary (not from my husband).  The vacuum came with a life-time warranty and service plan.  The catch was that it had to be serviced in the ORECK store.  I quickly found out that although many stores sell ORECK vacuums, most do not service them.  My sweeper began having issues last year – the serious kind that made it blow dirt out instead of sucking it up.  Not good.  We already had two and half boxes of crushed cereal on the floor, without emptying the vacuum bag of crusted food particles tangled with hair into the mix!  I could not find a place that would service my vacuum, so I resorted to sweeping up the mess with a broom.  Have you ever tried to sweep carpet with a  broom?  It just doesn’t quite do the job.  Not to mention the broom, which I purchased at the dollar store, was defective.  Vigorous sweeping  caused the handle to come off in my hand – a real life example of flying off the handle, I guess! :)

After several months of gritty carpet, in spite of my best efforts, I just became used to wearing socks, slippers, or shoes in the trailer.  It was the best we could do at the time.  However, just after Christmas, my paragon of a husband found a service center and took my vacuum there.  It was done in four days, and I have had clean carpets for nearly a week!  Hooray!  No more flying off the handle for me!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy Birthday!

It is birthday time in our house again.  This time, it is one of those “big” birthdays.  My dearly beloved husband, Paul, is turning thirty-five today!  I just want to take a few minutes to publicly say how much I appreciate him! 

I am thankful for a husband who is faithful.  This year will mark our tenth year in evangelism.  The journey hasn’t always been easy, but he has stayed faithful to God, to his calling, and to our family.

I am thankful for a husband who has a strong work ethic. In those “lean times,” as we call them, when we have no income from evangelistic meetings, he has done his best to provide for us in whatever way he can – hunting, odd jobs, and the like. 

I am thankful for a husband who has a sense of humor.  When things get tough, there is nothing more discouraging than a pessimist looking at everything through bleak glasses.  Paul is not that way – laughter fills our home.  That is not to say that we go around the house with a grin on our faces all the time, but the overall tone of our lives is that of cheerfulness.

I am thankful for a husband with common sense.  You may laugh, but I am serious!  I have seen too many people make foolish decisions that could have been avoided with some previous thought.

I am thankful for a husband with a teachable spirit.  No matter how much he knows, he is willing to sit and listen to others to glean knowledge and experience from them. 

I am thankful for a thoughtful husband.  His love for me is obvious in the little, everyday things he does – washing the dishes, changing dirty diapers, throwing in a load of laundry, picking up after himself, putting hooks on my laundry doors (love those), and a million other little things. 

This list is not exhaustive, lest you realize what a paragon of virtues my husband is and become extremely jealous or depressed.  :)  What I want to say most of all is this: “I love you, Babe!  Happy Birthday!”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back to Normal

Well, back to a normal schedule, at least.  I don’t think anyone of my acquaintance would ever accuse me of being normal, but that is beside the point. :)  Yesterday was our first day back to school.  It seemed like an extremely short Christmas break, even though is was technically two weeks long.  Throw in a few Christmas programs, a 600 mile move, and the resulting chaos of last-minute holiday shopping, cooking, and other festivities, and you don’t have much time left to enjoy the break!  I even spent several days grading papers (I am almost caught up)! I was just as reluctant to start back as the children were!  My only consolation is that we will get out in early May and have a nice, long, summer break!  I think it will keep the kids occupied as well, so that they will not be at each others’ throats all the time.  I have noticed that boredom is bad for family harmony.

I am quite pleased that I can put away the Christmas decorations and no longer have to hop over the tree, or move the stack of plastic totes upon which it rested to get into certain areas of  the trailer.  I do need to make a run to the storage unit though.  Saturday, when we were out on church visitation, I saw a very nice 7.5 foot Christmas tree sitting in the box on the curb.  After some coaxing, my husband agreed to take it home with us.  This decision was, of course, accompanied by great, gusty sighs as he wedged it into the church van.  Okay, it was not quite dumpster diving, but hey, it was a really nice tree – for free! :)  I probably won’t live that one down for a while.  The pastor told his wife that she was not to ask for it in the event that I decided I didn’t want it any more!  What is it with men and decorations?!  :)  Next year, we hopefully will have a nice place to display it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Okay - I am just going to say that I don’t like it when New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday.  I am a huge fan of parties, and staying up late on a Saturday night just doesn’t work since we have church the next day.  My kids need their sleep, and, as a matter of fact, so does my husband.  I could use a little here and there, myself! :)  I have become more of a social person  than ever before, and I dislike having to go to bed on New Year’s Eve without having partied just a little!  Oh well, there is always next year.  I know most of you are in the same dilemma… Here’s to staying home and snoring in the New Year! Huzzah!  Huzzah!  Huzzah! :)

My husband is going to be at an evangelists’ conference this week.  Unfortunately, the conference coincides with his birthday, so we will be apart for this milestone anniversary.  It’s a big one! Hee hee!  I decided to make his favorite confection in honor of his birthday – chocolate chip cookies.  These are not just any chocolate chip cookies, either – they are the best ever!  At least, that is what he told me.  This is not another brag session.  In fact, it started in a most humiliating way.  Years ago (cue the dreamy music), when we were first married, I made chocolate chip cookies for my husband.  He at them and, after polishing off the entire batch, told me they were not the best he’d ever eaten.  I was rather offended, in a new-bride-like way.  How dare he criticize my offering of love.  See if I ever made cookies for him again! Humph!  He then proceeded to tell me that the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies was the Nestle original recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag.  I was highly skeptical and reluctant to even try the recipe, since my recipe had been so maligned, but my sweet, docile temperament won out and I eventually made “his” recipe.  To my great surprise, they actually were better! (Yes, it did hurt to admit it at first.)

Now, eleven years later, I am still making those same CCC’s, as we call them.  The page in my recipe book is spotted and smeared with use, but it doesn’t change the outcome of the recipe.  And it doesn’t change the beatific  smile on his face whenever he tastes one hot out of the oven.  By the way, that is the only way to eat CCC’s!  My children love them, and now Abigail is almost able to make them by herself.  No wonder she is Daddy’s girl!  I have discovered that the type of pan on which you bake the cookies can affect the consistency.  The best pans are the round, gray, pizza pans.  The cookies do not spread too much or too thin (like they do on the airbake pans), and they maintain their soft, chewy texture.  Yum!  My resolution for today is not to eat too many of them! :)