Perseverance

Sometime during this past week, a song entitled “Overnight” performed by musician Amy Grant showed up on my YouTube recommended videos. I had never heard this song. The song is from the CD “Somewhere Down The Road” by Amy Grant from 2010. I started wondering what was going on in my life in 2010 that allowed me to miss this popular song.

2010 was a tough year for me. My husband had lost his well-paying job in the summer of 2009, and we were in deep waters. The economy had tanked, he had taken a job that paid about a third of what he had previously earned, and we knew our savings were not going to keep our ship afloat long. Our kids were struggling too, exacerbated by our financial woes.

I thought there was no way out and that things would never be the same. Some of our circumstances remain difficult; however, many things have gotten better. They didn’t change overnight, but little by little over a period of time.

All of this may explain why the lyrics of this song resonated with me. When I first listened, it took my breath away. It speaks of what God lovingly taught me during that particular rough patch in the life of our family.

Here’s the song, and these are the lyrics:

So, you’ve handed in your resignation,
Contemplatin’ why nothin’ turns out right.
A little fed up with all the disappointments,
So what’s the point in wastin’ anytime?

It’s only temporary, so what’s your hurry?
No need to worry.
Don’t you know that,

[Chorus]
If it all just happened overnight,
You would know how much it means?
Yeah
If it all just happened overnight,
You would never learn to believe
In what you cannot see,
Ooh
What you cannot see.

I feel like my pace is at a standstill.
Do I wait ’til it falls into my hands?
A long highway ahead, gettin’ started.
Steady hearted is what I think I am.

There’s somethin’ to be said for experience.
Who knows what’s ahead. Keep on-goin’.

[Chorus]

(Take it a day, a day at a time)
One foot in front of the other,
(Take it a day, a day at a time)
No need to hurry, hurry.
(Take it a day, a day at a time)
It won’t happen overnight.
It won’t happen overnight.

Have a little faith,
(Have a little faith)
Must appreciate,
(Must appreciate)
Every single day,
Don’t give up, no.
Have a little faith,
(Have a little faith)
Must appreciate,
(Must appreciate)
Every single day,
Don’t give up, no.

[Chorus]

If it all just happened overnight,
You would know how much it means?
Yeah
If it all just happened overnight,
You would never learn to believe
In what you cannot see,

Have a little faith,
(Have a little faith)
Must appreciate,
(Must appreciate)
Every single day,
Don’t give up, no.
Have a little faith,
(Have a little faith)
Must appreciate,
(Must appreciate)
Every single day,
Don’t give up, no.

God bless you!

Your Legacy, Curse or Blessing?

The following are the words of a beautiful song by Sara Groves. Her songs speak to me in such a powerful way – I hope they might for you as well. I have the highlighted chorus written on a card that I keep within view to remind me of how my actions and attitude can affect others.

Generations by Sara Groves

I can taste the fruit of Eve
I’m aware of sickness, death, and disease
The results of her choices are vast
Eve was the first but she wasn’t the last

And if I were honest with myself
Had I been standing at that tree
My mouth and my hands would be covered with fruit
Things I shouldn’t know and things I shouldn’t see

Remind me of this with every decision
Generations will reap what I sow
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
To those, I will never know

She taught me to fear the serpent
I’m learning the fear myself
And all of the things I am capable of
In my search for wisdom, acceptance, and wealth

And to say that the devil made me do it
Is a cop out and a lie
The devil can’t make me do anything
When I’m calling on Jesus Christ

Remind me of this with every decision
Generations will reap what I sow
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
To those, I will never know

To my great, great, great granddaughter
Live in peace
To my great, great, great grandson
Live in peace
To my great, great, great granddaughter
Live in peace
To my great, great, great grandson
Live in peace, oh, live in peace

Remind me of this with every decision
Generations will reap what I sow
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
To those, I will never know

Oh, remind me
Generations will reap what I sow
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
To those, I will never know
Oh, I may never know

Have a blessed day!

What is “Real Food” Anyway?!

Real Food” is the newer way to describe what we boomers commonly referred to as “Whole Foods.” The change was perhaps needed to differentiate between a philosophy of food consumption and the natural grocer, “Whole Foods™.”

What is confusing to me, and I believe others, is that there are many definitions of the term “Real Food” and include restrictive diets such as Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, and Vegan.

Whole food, by definition, is food that is minimally processed, free of artificial additives to preserve and enhance flavor, and usually contain few ingredients. Gluten Free, Vegetarian, and Vegan diets may or may not exclusively consist of whole foods, but what better defines them, as well as Paleo diets, are the excluding of certain food groups or individual grains.

Why am I bringing this up?

As a young mother, I was hyper conscientious. I’m concerned that young mothers will feel they have to increasingly restrict their family’s diet to feed them nutritiously. An example of unnecessarily limiting your families diet is to buy expensive Gluten Free items even if no-one has Celiac disease or a wheat sensitivity.

Some of my recipes are vegetarian, like baked macaroni and cheese, or vegan – a lentil casserole –  however, they fall under my criteria for whole foods and not the other way around.

There is much pressure in the whole foods community to purchase organic products. Organic products are not necessarily whole foods. An example is organic unbleached flour. For the majority of families, buying everything organic is not an economical option or perhaps even available to them.

I would prefer to buy all organic, free-range, and grass-fed items. It just isn’t within our budget. If you likewise cannot afford to buy organic, it is irrelevant if you purchase a minimally processed can of WalMart Great Value Black Beans that cost $.50 or a natural brand from a whole foods grocer that costs twice as much. You have to take the emotional component out of feeding your family and just compare labels. Your wallet will thank you!

I’m going to describe what kind of “real food” my family will and won’t eat. If I roasted some fresh vegetables and served them on a bed of quinoa, I would be in heaven on a non-meat Monday, however, serving that to my family of men would be an epic fail.

What my guys would willingly eat is macaroni and cheese made with whole wheat flour and elbows, whole milk, butter, and white sharp cheddar cheese. I could serve this with non-processed frozen vegetables that I steam and season with butter, salt, and pepper. This meal would be a hit and guess what? It is “Real Food” probably bought at Walmart and Aldi.

The important thing is to serve nutritious foods that are as minimally processed and as close to their natural state as possible. It isn’t difficult to convert most recipes that your family already loves to whole food alternatives.

If you have any questions about how I go about running a whole foods kitchen in a budget-friendly manner leave a comment and I’ll try to help.

Have a great day!

Rainbows

As a child growing up, my parents would always call us to the window or even outside to see rainbows. There is something so magical and captivating about them. If you are a believer in God or a follower of Christ rainbows are significant.

After the flood, as recorded in the book of Genesis, God showed his mercy by saying He would never again destroy everything. He illustrated this by using the symbol of the rainbow.

My oldest son is a liver transplant recipient. Driving home, after being released from the hospital after a three weeks stay, it was pouring rain. All of a sudden two rainbows, one on top of the other, appeared right ahead of us. It was surely a moment of praising God for His mercy and goodness shown to us over the previous few weeks.

From that moment on, I have felt such a powerful connection to the Lord when I see a rainbow. Life has been difficult for me, as it is for everyone. I read a quote the other day on Pinterest that said, “My life feels like a test I didn’t study for”. How perfect, right?

We each need the mercy of the God every day~

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23, New International Version (NIV)

Amen!

On Becoming Wise

In Proverbs (24:3), King Solomon wrote: “Through wisdom, a house is built, and through understanding, it is established.” Making wise decisions as a married couple is an essential component in allowing your home to be life-giving and not draining. It is so incredibly important that both spouses, individually and together, make every effort to do the wise thing. Repeatedly.

God states that if we ask for wisdom, he will give it. (James 1:5) What a game changer that can be when we are at wit’s end and then suddenly we experience clarity. Your mind felt muddled, and now it does not.

An aid in growing in wisdom and experiencing more clarity in your decision making is to become more others-oriented. Let me explain why I think this.

If you desire what you want personally, more than you desire what is best, then you are not going to make good decisions, only self-absorbed ones. Self-absorbed decisions reflect a desire for personal gain, not wisdom.

Some feel the compulsion to seek personal gain and their whole life is about attaining or losing what they feel they must have at the present moment. It is no surprise that their decision making either immediately, or at some point, looks so foolish. Foolishness is the antithesis of wisdom.

Simply put, you can’t chase hedonistic impulses and act wisely at the same time. God’s economy doesn’t allow for it.

At least, that’s how I see it.

May God bless.

“The Books”

My husband and I have moved 20 times in 32 years of marriage. To say that our grown children or we have struggled to call any place “home” is an understatement. For those of you who have frequently moved as a family, you understand what I’m saying.

When my boys were young, and finances were tight, I often said the two things that were non-negotiables were nutritious food and good books. And back before there was something called a “Kindle,” there were only two types of books, paperback or hardbound. To last through three boys, I decided to buy hardbacks.

Those hardbound children’s books that I felt were as necessary as nutritious food for my sons developing minds are stored in plastic tubs and are on shelves in a spare room in our home.

As we (my husband and I) have done some serious spring cleaning and organizing the last couple of months, we gazed at all those tubs of hardbound children and junior books again. We thought of a great place we could donate them to. My heart ached as I considered parting with them; I didn’t want to be selfish, but at the same time, I felt such an emotional attachment to those books!

I thought I would talk to my (now grown) sons and that they would give me the push needed to do what I felt like was the right thing and donate them. I asked each one of them what I should do with the books. They looked at me with such strained faces and said please don’t donate this series, that book, they each had a laundry list of what they couldn’t part with.

I thought about this occurrence that seems to happen each time I talk about donating them, and finally, I realized that those books are one of the few constants that we have had in all the homes and communities that were a part of our lives. Those tubs full of children’s books represent “home.” They represent our son’s childhoods, our time spent together homeschooling, and me reading the same stories over and over with each child.

Yes, they represent our home but even more so, the heart of our home. Those books aren’t going anywhere, they simply can’t!

Doing Great Harm

I recently saw this quote on Pinterest-

One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient“. (Charles M. Blow, journalist)

Have you experienced a significant relationship with someone who lacked empathy and made little effort to understand you? This can happen, even with those we should feel deeply loved by; parents, siblings, and even spouses.

What is the wise way to handle this situation, particularly if exiting the relationship isn’t an option? Go on pretending everything is fine or bring it out into the light? How do you have a relationship with someone who cannot make themselves value you to the degree that the very nature of your relationship demands?

It has taken me many years to work through this. My conclusion is that people who struggle with a lack of empathy are usually driven by self-absorption and not by maliciousness. Simply put, you are dealing with a very selfish person, but not one whose mission is to hurt you. The wisest way, as much as is humanly possible, is not to take their emotional neglect personally.

I know. . . A very tall order.

God bless you.

Evolving

Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m not going to change!”? I certainly have and may have said that statement myself, on occasion.

I’ve been thinking about the possibility of someone never changing.

Throughout our lives, we keep evolving as we experience life. The only way to avoid change would be stubbornness or intellectual laziness. Let me explain.

Stubbornness would explain someone who refuses to change even though their life experiences would cause an emotionally mature person to change their mind about some things. They hold on to the past out of fear that change would represent disloyalty to a culture or perhaps a birth family that they feel an allegiance to.

Intellectual laziness explains some folks who just don’t like to process their thoughts. Thinking things through feels burdensome to them. They remain emotionally immature and ignorant their whole lives. They never change.

Sometimes, as a significant other, we are afraid of our partners changing. We shouldn’t be. It is the natural course of events. The only concern we should ever have is if those changes resulted in unethical behavior.

Let’s all view evolving as something positive and grant significance to those dear people or events that changed us (even in a small way).

May God bless!

Reprogramming Our Default Mode

We each think we have the corner on the market regarding truth. I remember hearing a pastor speak years ago about how the church (regardless of our denomination) may hold certain views today as non-negotiables but may have a new set twenty years from now.

Our parents, with a clean conscience, believed certain things and passed those beliefs down to us. Even though we may have gone through a period of our lives where we verbalized complete disagreement with those beliefs, as time passes those same views somehow become our default mode.

Yes, catch us off-guard, and those cultural beliefs and norms from our childhood seem to pop out of our memory and mouth. Sometimes, when we hear ourselves we are shocked and reflect on how we sound “just like our parents.”

We need to be intentional about what we believe. Think your belief system through and discuss it with someone that you can trust. Ask that person if what you are saying reflects how you live your life. It should!

May we all do a better job verbalizing what we truly believe so that we provide clarity and not confusion to those who are paying attention to what we have to say.

May God bless!

Prayer

Pray without ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:17)

I struggled with prayer for many years, or to be more honest, decades. I felt it a Christian obligation. I would try to find time alone while I was raising our boys to go through my laundry list of praise and then petition. It was less than heartfelt many days.

Sometime during my spiritual journey, I heard someone speak of a different interpretation of “pray without ceasing.” This person, spoke about praying throughout the day, just like you would communicate with a companion.

That idea resonated with me, and it seemed so natural to communicate throughout the day instead of unloading (what it felt like to me) at one specific time.

I think every good and perfect gift is from above. Each time I don’t experience a disaster when I should, no manner how minor, or feel a blessing, again no matter how small, I simply say “Thank you Lord” and truly mean it.

Prayer also does not have to be verbal. You may be reading your devotional or Bible and just be in agreement in your heart and nonverbally say Amen!

I am in no way trivializing those who are disciplined and pray each day at a certain time, i.e. have a more formal prayer time. I think of prayer as a phone call to our heavenly Father, and I don’t think it matters to Him if we call throughout the day or have one long phone call once daily.

I hope this encourages those like me who have struggled with more formal prayers. Perhaps once and for all, you can set aside the guilt that I struggled with for so long.

Have a blessed day!