Being Reconciled

New Year’s blog posts written by thoughtful Christian moms are nice reading material. Some people choose a word to concentrate on during the year. Some people find larger meaning in small things that happen to them around the holidays. Some share their favorite books of the year. I wasn’t really planning on writing a New Year post this year, but I heard a great sermon this morning (best sermon of the year, so far!), and it got me thinking…

The minister asked if I was Reformed enough to believe that when God sees me, He really sees Christ. I am a good child of the Reformation because I understand total depravity (I am sinful since conception) (The T in TULIP). Why do I bounce back and forth between hope and despair? (And I do.) I should not separate myself from Christ. I am in Christ, and therefore the broken relationship between myself and God is restored, and it cannot be broken again.

In human reconciliation, the person who does the offense needs to bring about reconciliation to the offended. I honestly didn’t know that. And that’s important to me right now. But God does something different. He is the One offended against, but He offered up the means of reconciliation (Christ).

Once I am seeing myself in the light of Christ, I can look at everything and everyone through that different and new lens. I need to be a peacemaker as much as it is possible. There’s that word again: peacemaker. Not peacekeeper. I know from my counseling and Boundaries reading that being a peacemaker means hard things.

If I was going to pick a word for myself this year, I’d probably have to go with “peace.” It’s one of those big concepts: you want it but you’re not sure how to go about getting it. And God promises it. So you’re supposed to have it, and you probably do, somewhere. You just haven’t learned how to recognize it yet. Or you haven’t unwrapped it.

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you find God’s peace, too.

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Support in Marriage

I have lots of life and relationship issues to think about right now. Writing them out is part of how I think through them. I have a private blog I use for the more confidential and emotional things. But I decided to write this one here because I’m thinking more people want to know how they should be supporting their spouse.

My husband claims I do not support him. Okay. Whether or not that is true, I want to find out what supporting a husband looks like. So, I do some research and come up with this article by Boyd Bailey. I feel like what he says is true. Here’s a quote:

A man needs to know his wife trusts his decision-making and his ability to provide for his family. Her confidence in him propels his self-confidence to higher levels. Your belief in your husband builds him up to believe in himself. It is difficult for a man to rise any higher than the opinion of his helpmate.

Bailey also writes about being patient with him and trusting him to the Lord when things aren’t getting done. Pray for him to be the leader God wants him to be.

How do I stand up to these things? I think the question is more like, how have I stood up to these things in the past, and how has my situation changed recently? I think I did trust his decision-making and his ability to provide. Until I couldn’t anymore. And I did believe in him. Until that became foolish. I still find myself rebuking myself for not believing in him, for not being more supportive. Because I know that’s what wives are supposed to do.

But I read on to the husband’s instructions, and I learn what they are supposed to be doing, and it is written for my husband. I wish he would be more interested in me and my blog and what I’m interested in so that he could read this.

As a husband, it is imperative in God’s sight that you lovingly lead your wife and children. You may feel your wife is more qualified, smarter, and more spiritual. These all may be very true. However, God’s plan is for you to take the position of leadership in the home. She is looking for you to do whatever God has told you. Prayer is your mantle of responsibility. See it as a privilege to enjoy and not an obligation to tolerate. She will trust you more and more as you remain trustworthy.

It takes time to overcome a track record of distrust. Remain in the process of listening to God, following His commands, and then leading your family to do the same.

Track record of distrust. That sounds so nasty. But that’s what he has, and he seems to expect me to try to win him back somehow. He expects me to make him fall in love with me again. But really, he needs to be praying and listening to what God is telling him, and how can he be doing that if he’s blocking out his spiritual leaders from the church? He needs to be leading in love. He wants me to lead him in love.

How do I love him right now? I pray for him. I do what I can to show him that he needs God’s guidance. There’s not much I can do. My support is nothing if he’s not leaning on the same God I’m leaning on.

In a way, the revelation of writing this post is disheartening. I can’t fix things. But in another way, it is hopeful. I can’t fix things, but God knows all about this, and He understands what my husband is supposed to be doing. He understands why I can’t support my husband the way a wife supports a trustworthy husband. He gets it! And He can help me.

What Could I Sell?

In my quest to explore ways I can help earn a living, I explored Etsy. I have a friend who does well selling her homemade things on Etsy, so it’s something I needed to look into. What could I sell? Drawings. I explored drawings. There’s a lot of neat artwork on Etsy, and the prices are really all over the board. Some people are practically giving away original art, and some people are charging hundreds of dollars. I could do artwork made to order. You know, someone gives me their wedding photo and I make a drawing of it with some design-y stuff in the background. Or I could experiment with watercolor. I could appeal to the cat crowd. I think my family is officially cat-crazy enough to appeal to just about any cat person. (Don’t tell anyone, but we sometimes have 10 cats in the house, all at the same time. They stand at the window and give us guilty looks. Or pleading looks. Or they shiver and look pitiful. Almost any look is good enough to entice one of us to take pity and open the door. Zoom! They’re all in. I generally have to defend my cereal bowl at breakfast. I’m not really complaining. I love them.)

So anyway, I went about doodling this afternoon, trying to come up with something that looked salable. Eh. I don’t know. My heart’s not into the made-to-order stuff. And I think my heart should be in it. If I’m going to draw, it ought to be for the sake of the art, not for the sake of the money. Otherwise, I’m probably going to make mediocre drawings.

Why don’t I apply that standard to my writing? I mean, I don’t love writing blog articles for healthcare staffing companies, but I just wrote one. I write for money. I think there’s something more practical about words than art. Words can certainly be artful, and if I’m going to write poetry, I’m going to write for the love of it, not for money. But if I’m going to write about leadership trends, then I do want to get paid. Does that make sense?

Somewhere along the line today, I remembered that I’m trying not to be ashamed of who I am. I am an artist and a writer. I am a home educator. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a Christian. Right at the moment, I am not earning much money. Does that make me feel ashamed? Not really. But I think it makes my husband ashamed. Or mad. But me… no. Look at all the things I am. Those are important things. And I do them. I have purpose.

It gets confusing, though, when my husband doesn’t see things the same way I do.

A Nice Start to the Christmas Season

I really enjoyed the busy, crafty atmosphere of being home with the kids today. My girls have been doing painting and crafting all afternoon. I now have a Pinterest app on my phone, which makes it super convenient to look up random ideas like, “Crafts using Old Christmas Cards” and “Fun Christmas Crafts.” The girls made a Christmassy paper plate fairy house today, and they began a rather ambitious project of making a banner by cutting triangles out of old Christmas cards. They also each made an ornament by cutting a Christmas card picture to fit inside a jar lid and then wrapping yarn around the outside of the lid. Very pretty! I’m glad I saved all those old Christmas cards.

Yesterday we made some Christmas cookies (sugar cookies with colored sugar on top), which we will bring to church on Sunday. It’s our turn for lunch. I made pumpkin bread this afternoon, and the house smells yummy.

I did nearly all of my shopping Monday night (Cyber Monday!), and I’m happy to get that accomplished.

I don’t usually get excited about the Christmas holiday, and I wouldn’t call myself excited now. Maybe pleased, or mildly jolly. 🙂 I wish you all some unplanned, low-stress Christmassy days as well!

Random Little Things I’m Thankful For

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to make a list of some random things that have been a blessing for me lately.

  • My middle daughter had an eye check-up and did not want me in the exam room, so I was blessed with some time in the waiting area to sip hot cocoa and watch one of those competitive house-buying TV shows.
  • I have a pumpkin pie in the oven. The most difficult part of baking a pie is getting it into the oven without moving the strips of aluminum foil around the edges (which keep the crust from burning). This time the transfer to the oven was a piece of … pie!
  • On a whim, the kids and I decided to check out our library’s kids’ game night. We had a great time! And the library director blessed us by lending us three games to take home for a whole month.
  • My kids love Thanksgiving. They really get me into the spirit:) We have this Happy Thanksgiving banner that we print out and color every year. I would have only done it once, but the kids make sure we do it every single year.
  • Homeschooling is so flexible. My sleeping patterns have been off a little (wide awake after the kids are in bed, and super sleepy in the mornings). Thankfully, the kids don’t mind starting school work later, and no one else cares either!
  • The delete button on my email is a blessing:) I’ve been getting so many Black Friday advertisements that would normally tempt me and stress me out (because I don’t care for Christmas shopping, but I know it has to be done). This year, I’m just deleting everything that looks like it’s going to want me to spend too much money. And I’m not feeling bad about that at all!

What random things are blessing you these days?

How to Find Selfless Joy in a Me-First World

Do you like to read the quotes that some authors use to begin their books or chapters? I do. In the humbling book, How to Find Selfless Joy in a Me-First World by Leslie Vernick (2003), the quotes beginning each chapter are insightful and often beautiful. I’d like to share them here.

It is vain, O men, that you seek within yourselves the cure for your miseries. All your insight only leads you to the knowledge that it is not in yourselves that you will discover the true and the good.
— Blaise Pascal

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
— Jim Elliot

So let us realize our limitations. We are something and we are not everything.
— Blaise Pascal

My sin is to look on my faults and be discouraged, or to look on my good and be puffed up.
— Puritan Prayer

The nothing believes itself something; and the All-Powerful makes himself nothing.
— Francois Fenelon

The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.
— Phillips Brooks

As long as you are proud you cannot know God.
— C.S. Lewis

For you can have no greater sign of a more confirmed pride, than when you think that you are humble enough.
— William Law

Honey, it’s not that I don’t love you. My problem is that I just love myself more.
— Robin Boisvert

Your purpose is not to be seen or known or loved or admired or praised. Your purpose is to see, know, love, admire, and praise God.
— Guigo

Need to Write

I’ve been itching to get my fingers on this keyboard since sometime during the night last night. I don’t have any earth-shaking news; I’ve just got to let the flood out.

Homeschool Things

The highlight of the year (at least for me) is The Story of the World: Ancient History. I like the format of short story-like chapters to read to the kids and then comprehension questions to ask afterward. Plus, I often choose a craft or activity or a library book from the workbook to accompany it. I’m also liking our Sassafras Twins Science: Anatomy book. It’s a novel, and I purchased the lapbook kit to go along with it. It’s kind of a lot of busywork, but it’s okay. They are learning brand-new things about the human body that we’ve never learned before. Plus, the story is exciting.

My best idea this year was to purchase Spectrum language arts workbooks. It sure beats trying to teach grammar to them from the Simply Grammar textbook. The kids complain a lot about doing language arts, but that’s because it’s not super easy. They have to actually stretch their brains to understand it!

Spiritual Things

My church has a new pastor! Mr. Freswick preached his first Sunday yesterday. He’s not very logical. At least, not the logic I’m used to. But I like how his sermons take surprising twists, as if he just thought of them while he was standing up there. Check out Isaiah 31:4! The Lord is the lion, and we are His prey. That’s unusual, right? He snatches His people away from the enemy.

I do my daily devotions at night, and I feel like it’s a wonderful way to end a difficult day. My devotion book is called Praying through the Bible for your Kids by Nancy Guthrie. Nancy is so wise and solid. Her words and prayers help me build a Biblical structure in and through my days. It’s supposed to be prayers for my kids, but I also often insert my name and my husband’s name in the blanks. I love the prayers. They are often just exactly what I need to pray.

My husband doesn’t like to have Bible verses flung at him, and I usually don’t, but I really wish I could talk through Proverbs and Psalms with him. I wish we could pray for our kids together. I wish a lot of things that I know can only happen through some miraculous work of God.

Emotional Things

In my last counseling session, I took an anxiety test and scored “Mild Anxiety.” That’s really good! I feel like that’s accurate, too. Certain things still set me off and make me want to hide, but it’s not nearly so much as it used to be.

Creative Things

I’ve been thinking more about my own creative ventures. Homeschooling is a creative outlet in itself, but I think I should be doing more writing or art. That stopped when my marriage problems became worse. I have been doing some Zentangle-inspired art, just for fun. It’s very repetitive and probably good for me. I keep thinking if I do more and more, then I will end up with something beautiful that pleases me. As for writing, this blog and my private marriage blog and my Verblio freelancing job are my main outlets. I wonder sometimes if I’m in one of those gathering times, where I’m learning things that will later be poured into a story or characters. I hope so.

I’m off to my private blog now. My writing itch still isn’t satisfied!