Thursday, January 31, 2013

To My 10 Year Old Self . . . (A Writing Prompt from Mama Kat)

Mama’s Losin’ It
This week I am participating in Mama Kat's Writing Workshop. If you've never heard of her or her really fantastic blog Mama's Losin' It you should go check it out - she's absolutely hilarious and brilliant at the same time! Go here for more information on getting involved in her writing workshop.

This week's prompt was kind of difficult for me, because my childhood was kind of rough.
This is a letter to my ten year old self:
Little Jenni:

Right now things look so tough, I know. And I know that it is so hard to deal with the hurts in your heart right now. But just know that life is going to get so much better than you could ever know.

Those kids that make fun of you every day? They will one day grow up to be really good people. That thing that happens at home that you wish would just stop? It does. You think you will be alone for the rest of your life? You're not. One day you will get a wonderful husband that adores you and you will have beautiful children together. And you're a really, REALLY good mom. Your daughter is just like you and your son is amazing and funny and sweet.

Remember to keep fighting day by day. Be yourself. Keep faith in God. And remember that every moment, every mean thing that people say, every hard thing you ever go through - those are all very important things that have to happen in your life. Let them happen. Learn from them. And move on.

Remember to listen to Mommy. I know it doesn't seem like it now, but she really does know what she's talking about.  Most of the time.

Keep singing. Keep writing. These things will keep you going.

And always remember: You are FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY made. You WILL mess up. You WILL make mistakes. That's just life. But you are always loved and you are always forgiven. 

Jesus love you, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Much love from your future self.

Monday, January 28, 2013

10 Reasons Why I Hate Housework

I hate housework.
Anyone I know can tell you that my house is, nine times out of ten, a mess.
I don't know why this is - I don't actually LIKE living in a mess, but that seems to be the way it is for me.
Oh, I've tried different tactics. I've done flylady, I've done the note card system, made lists . . . none of it works for me.
I guess you have to have a certain mentality for it that I just don't have.

Here are 10 reasons why I hate it:

1) I have better things to do. Like crocheting. Or making Tutu's for my business. Or playing video games with my husband and kids. Or working on my books. Or washing my hair. You get the idea.

2) I get REALLY overwhelmed REALLY fast. I am the only one who does 99% of the cleaning around here. No matter what I do, I can't get my kids to clean up after themselves. Again, I've tried every tactic. Not even threats of spanking and throwing their stuff away works. These kids are stone.

3) You have to do it EVERY DAY. Really?? I have things to do, places to go, people to visit, and kids to homeschool? Housecleaning every day? Ain't nobody got time for that!

4) Folding laundry stinks. Why do we have to fold it if it's just going to get wrinkled on our bodies anyway?

5) Washing dishes stinks. Why do we have to wash them if they're just going to get dirty anyway?

6) Vacuuming stinks. I have a great Pyrenees that sheds considerably. We have to empty our canister vacuum 1/4 the way through each room! Besides, why do we have to vacuum if the carpet's just going to get dirty again anyway?

7) Organization is overrated. Seriously. I put something where it "goes" then I completely forget where I put it! At least when it's OUT I can SEE IT!

8) Clutter is underrated. Right now on my computer desk is my camera, my calculator, my daughter's bible, my devotion books, Velcro tape, a wall outlet, a headband, a pad of paper, a spool of ribbon and a red pin. I know where each of these things is right now.

9) It's impossible for a house filled with three kids and two dogs to be clean all the time. It really is. Try it sometime.

10) Christmas decorations rock in January and February. Really. They do. Try it sometime.

This week I am linking up with my good friend Nan over at her blog Mom's The Word for her weekly Make Your Home Sing Monday meme! Go run over there and give her a visit - she's really nice and I promise she doesn't bite . . . hard. :-)

Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Proverbs 31 Study: Verses 4-7

Welcome to the second installment of my proverbs 31 study. While most studies focus on only the Wife of Noble Character (Proverbs 10-20) I am choosing to focus on the entirety of the chapter. Go here to see my first post in the series.

Rather than going verse by verse on this next part, I have chosen instead to encompass the entirety of the next section. I have done this because they all tie in together and you really cannot read one without the rest, in my opinion. The next verses read:

"(4) It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Nor for princes intoxicating drink;
(5) Lest they drink and forget the law,
And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.
(6) Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to those who are bitter of heart.
(7) Let him drink and forget his poverty,
And remember his misery no more."
(Proverbs 4-7, NKJV)

This section strongly speaks against alcohol indulgence  Here, the author suggests that drunkenness will take away from the wisdom of a good ruler (verse 5) and should be left to those that are not as fortunate (verses 6-7) so as to "forget his poverty" and "remember his misery no more". In other words, drunkenness and alcoholism are not for those that want to be good leaders, but for those that want to forget how terrible their lives are.

How does this apply to Solomon? Throughout the old testament  drunkenness has hindered the thoughts and decision making of kings. For example, Belshazzar held a feast, got everyone drunk then started worshiping idols. His drunkenness (and gluttony, idol-worship, and sheer stupidity in some cases) led to his ultimate demise, when he was murdered in his sleep, allowing Darius to take over the kingdom. And lets not forget the trouble that Noah got himself into when he got drunk and allowed his sons to see him naked. And it led to Lot's incestual relations with his daughters. So, clearly alcohol has led to some pretty poor decisions. For Solomon, simply staying away from it and not being tempted would make him a better leader.

How does this apply to our daily lives? Clearly drunkenness leads to bad decisions. Anyone that has ever been drunk in their lives can tell you that. Those bad decisions can end up ruining some people's lives - especially if those moments end up in public media such as Facebook or Instagram. And alcoholism itself doesn't just affect the alcoholic - it effects everyone around them. Now this does not mean that alcohol itself is bad or evil. A glass of wine or beer once in a while is okay as long as you are not drinking it with the intent of getting drunk. In fact, research has proven time and again that a glass of wine (4-6oz) a night is actually healthful for your heart. But don't overdo it. And if you are one that is in a leadership position, think before you drink. Churches, kingdoms, and companies have fallen because of one's drunken antics. Be wise about it.

Our next installment will cover verses 8 and 9 - thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Simplest Beans EVER.

I love beans.
A lot.
Any way I can get them!
My favorite are butter beans (especially made with some ham - YUMMM)
But I recently re-discovered black beans.
This recipe is about the easiest way I've ever learned to make beans.
In fact, it's so easy it's almost idiot proof
(Just don't forget to plug in and turn on your crock pot. Like I have. Multiple times.)

Simplest Beans Ever

1 lb dried beans (any kind will work, I've done this with pintos, blacks, butters, limas, navys . . . They all work!)
1/2 lb ham (can be diced, sliced, or whole, doesn't really matter!)
1 onion, cut in 1/2 and peeled (I did this so my daughter who is emphatically anti-onion didn't have to eat it! You can dice/slice/mince/chop it if you like, it'll still work. Seriously. You can't mess this up!)
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled (just toss 'em in! Alternatively you can use 2 T jarred minced garlic)
2 qts water
2 T salt (yes, even with the ham you still need salt!)
2 T black pepper
Dash or two of worchestershire sauce (optional)

Now comes the hard part. Put everything into the crock pot. Stir it a bit. Pop the lid on. Then make sure your crock pot is plugged in and turn it on. That's it. Then leave it for about 10 hours (even better after 12!) I like to start it at night right before bed time then let it go all day on low (adding water if needed). Best beans ever, I'm tellin' ya'!

Happy Cooking!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Why Homeschooling?

Today I am linking up with my friend Nan over at her blog Mom's The Word for her Making Your Home Sing Monday link up! Go visit her right now and show her some love!

The launch of 2013 marks a new chapter in our lives. We have decided that we are going to homeschool our youngest daughter, E starting this semester. The decision to homeschool was not an easy one: it took a lot of prayer and thought on our parts for sure, but we know this is the right choice for Emily and we are excited to start this new way of life.

Many families turn to homeschooling for different reasons. We decided to homeschool E for several reasons. First, we've had many health issues this year (see my posts on Constipation and Encopresis) and E has missed a lot of school With homeschooling, we can still do work even when she's sick, or we can make it up on a weekend. Another reason for homeschooling our daughter is her learning differences. E has been diagnosed with AD/HD, ODD, dysgraphia and a math learning disorder. Because of these challenges for E, school has been especially tough. There are time limits and deadlines that bring more stress onto an already stressful situation. Homeschooling is a little more relaxed, she can take her time learning and mastering something before having to move on to the next thing.

Our goals with E this year is to bring her up to where she needs to be (she is behind in spelling and math). In order to do this, I will have to go backwards in order to move forward.

Next, I am going to say something that may surprise you. E is the only one of our four children that I will be homeschooling.

Well, to be honest, because the other three don't necessarily need homeschooling. While it's true that many children benefit from homeschooling, not all children do. Homeschooling is not for every child or every family.
My five year old, for example, Mr. J, does quite well in school right now. He's in public Pre-K at the local Elementary school and doing wonderfully. He's learning a lot and loves his teachers and friends. We just see no reason, at this time, to homeschool him. This may change with the future, but until then he will remain in school
As for our older two, Miss C (15) and Mr. G (16), they will also continue to attend public school. Neither of them really have the desire to be homeschooled right now, and they're also doing fairly well in the public school system.

E may return to the public school system some time in the future, or she may not. It will depend a lot on how she does, and how I do. I am hoping to see my daughter excel and soar. I am hoping to open her eyes to a world of possibilities.

Do I have grandiose ideas about homeschooling my 9 year old daughter? Probably. But I welcome the journey, I welcome the struggles, and I welcome the challenges.

Do you homeschool? Feel free to comment and share your experiences!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Scripture: Proverbs 31

There has been a lot of talk recently about the lessons learned in Proverbs 31. This final chapter of an epic book of advice and wisdom has resonated in the hearts and souls of thousands, if not millions, of women.

So what's so great about it? What exactly is it about Proverbs 31 that makes the Christian woman stand up and listen?

Proverbs 31 was advice that came from King Lemuel's mother. There is nothing mentioned through the bible about King Lemuel before or after these verses. While some believe that King Lemuel is possibly Solomon, there is no real evidence to back this up that I've seen in my research (Google King Lemuel and look him up in various Bible History books). So no one really knows for certain who this woman is, and why she ended up in Solomon's book of wisdom.

Regardless, her advice has been viewed as quite sound and women from all over the world and of every walk of life seek it out through biblical study.

This week I will start my own journey through this chapter of Proverbs, going slowly, one verse at a time. I will study these words in-depth and see how they apply to my own life. I will also delve a bit into the biblical history behind some of the verses and how they would have applied to Solomon's life as well.

Today, I will skip the first verse which says: "The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:" (Proverbs 31:1 NKJV). This is just an introduction telling who said it, and I've already discussed this in the above paragraphs.

So we go straight to verse 2: "What, my son? And what, son of my womb? And what, son of my vows?" (Proverbs 31:2 NKJV)

This sounds to me like what I say to my son on a daily basis: "WHAT??" I wonder if she was frustrated with him, or if she really was that poetic? Since this doesn't seem to have any meat to it either, just a mother responding to her child, I think I'm going to go ahead and skip to the third verse.

Verse 3 is where we start getting into the advice portion. But it is not for a woman! Instead, she tells her son: "Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys kings" (Proverbs 31:3 NKJV)

There is a lot of room for interpretation in this piece of advice.

"Do not give your strength to women": this one is seemingly sexist, but lets look at the history here: Samson literally GAVE his strength to Delilah (remember the hair cutting indecent?), David also gave himself to a woman and it nearly cost him the kingdom. What I think his mother is saying here is that he should not forsake his own beliefs, what he knows is right, for a woman. If she is going against his Godly convictions, then she is not the woman for him. Rather, he should focus his attentions on a like-minded woman, someone with the same convictions and beliefs that will stand by him and support him fully, so that he can reign with wisdom.

"Nor your ways to that which destroys kings": Well, this is certainly self-explanatory, no? There are many things throughout the Old Testament that destroyed kings: greed, jealousy, lust, drunkenness . . . A king that steers away from these things and lives his life for God will be able to have a long and happy rule as a wise and good king. What mother wouldn't want that for her son?

How does this apply to Solomon? After all, he had enough wives and concubines to keep him busy for a while. But in the bible there is only one that is called by name: Naammah (See 1 Kings 14:21). It is thought that if Solomon wrote the Song of Songs (yes, apparently this is under debate by top biblical scholars) that Naammah may be the one he wrote it about. It is thought that she was the favorite, since she bore him a child. She is also spoken of in other  as being a Godly woman of good character in the Bava Kamma (38 B), a book on Jewish law. Perhaps Solomon, after reading or hearing this advice, found Naammah, who was exactly what he was looking for as someone to rule beside him.

How does this apply to our daily lives? One of our main jobs as wives is to focus on loving and supporting our husbands in their endeavors. Our husbands are the spiritual leaders of the home, and it is up to us to encourage that. A good spiritual foundation will help our husbands to be successful. And remember, success is not always a monetary thing, but more of a spiritual thing. Success is based on joy and fulfillment. We can have these things and still be "poor". We should pray for, and with, our husbands daily. Help them to steer away from things "which destroys kings" and lead them to things that will be a fulfillment in their lives.

Next week we'll delve into Verse 4. Thanks for reading!