Tag Archives: comfort

My Kids Make Me Do Things I Don’t Want To

I have said for years that when our aging cat Tommy dies, we will be cat-free. No more pets that don’t live in a tank.

At our house, the rule has always been: no dogs, no snakes, no large bugs. This includes spiders and hermit crabs. Fool me once (the smelly hermit crab). Over the years, we’ve had parakeets, reptiles, fish, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, and cats. All these animals have at least one thing in common. They don’t use a toilet. It sounds terribly selfish, but I was looking forward to a pet-free home.

But now.

My youngest is left with me much of the day, while her five older siblings go out to work or to college, or worse yet (for me), to some fun activity that she’s too young for. There aren’t really many of those, but you’d think so.

So she wants a kitten. And I’m bending.

I do not want a kitten: twenty more years of fur everywhere, randomly deposited vomit, poop in a box, the possibility of poop not in a box…

If it (we) fails at being an “inside” cat…fleas every summer. So it must be an inside cat. We really failed at that before. Oh, and the vet costs, which are financially comparable to human medical costs. Shots, fixing, declawing, shots, shots. We can’t afford human medical bills.

If it (we) fails at being an inside cat, the bill for getting hit by a car and breaking its pelvis.

Or for being swung by its tail, a serious injury leaving the cat needing manual help to empty its bladder.

Or getting mauled by an unknown animal, having to spend six months quarantined in a cage. The medical bill for my husband when its teeth accidentally connect with my husband’s hand while in a biting frenzy to get out of the box while being hauled to the vet.

True stories, every one. Tommy and his mother Isabel. My husband needed a series of rabies shots.

So my vote is: no thanks.

But now.

My daughter is a mostly easygoing, compliant teenager. And that is one welcome quality in this family.

We have been homeschoolers all along. My other children had each other for company. They bounced off each other while I frequently redirected their attention back to the work. It was a tremendous amount of fun. It was an amazingly rich learning experience for us all. It bonded us all together in a way I did not know possible. We developed a unique culture of our own. The kids are very close, though not always harmonious, and will be close all their lives. They are real friends. This, by the way, is the real reason to home educate.

My youngest is five years younger than her next older sister. Though she is an equal emotionally, intellectually, maturity-wise, she is nevertheless just starting high school. So here she will be, with just me, a lot of the time. Just us two homeschooling.

She really is going to miss something great that they had, and I’m bending.

She misses her siblings during the day. To have a kitten would brighten her life.  And she will have the responsibility to take care of it. It would be a source of comfort and amusement every day.  I won’t be immune to the onslaught of cuteness either, once the blasted animal moves in.

My kids have done nothing but make me do things I don’t want to do. The things I do for them.

Update 12/14: The kitten has arrived.  She looks exactly like the ridiculously cute picture at the top of this post, except she seems incredibly tinier, and her mew is so small and high as to be almost inaudible. AWWWW!

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New Mercies

There is nothing really new or special about a morning. After you’ve been around awhile, spent a few sleepless nights, or pulled a few all-nighters, you realize that morning follows night without a break, and that time is continuous. There’s no barrier between the old day and the new.

But God says otherwise.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.      Lamentations 3: 22-23

What a relief to read a verse such as this when we are distressed. At the close of a day, when we lie down to sleep, we can put that day away. We can rest, and in the morning we can have a new chance to start over. Another chance to renew, repent, re-do, reconcile, resolve, and be refreshed.

Put this into perspective. Realize that God is holy, and that we certainly are not. In spite of all that we did yesterday, God gives us a new day in which to receive his mercies.

If God can allow us to start fresh each day, can’t we offer the same chances for resolution and forgiveness to those in our lives? Our mercies and compassions ought to be available every morning too.

Put it into perspective again. Here is Matthew 18: 23-35:

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Can I really hold a grudge against someone in my life? Can I hold something over his head when God has utterly put away all of my cruel and self-serving hours? If our holy God can offer us new mercies and compassions every morning, how can we who are sinful withhold mercies from those in our lives?

His mercies are new every morning. Are ours?

Prove All Things Part 3

Please see Prove All Things Part 1 and Prove All Things Part 2

     The Word of God says that Christians have been given all the tools and the abilities necessary to think more clearly than anyone, to see the truth absolutely clearly, to discern wrong from right, to be able to discern in all matters.  Abundant power is at our disposal to act on those judgments.

We’re expected to study, search, think and mediate on His word, and  trust that we will find the answers to our questions.  God can speak!

 Ps 119:97-101:Oh how I love your law! I meditate on it day and night

Your commands make me wiser than my enemies.I have more insight than all my teachers

I have more understanding than all the elders, for I obey your precepts

I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I may obey your word

You have the mind of Christ. We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:5

How about this verse for clarity?

Evil people don’t understand justice,

but those who seek Adonai understand everything. Proverbs 28: 5

     We never need to consult the wisdom of the world on any important matter. It offers us no reliable or true guide in the making of decisions.

What happens when we don’t use the standard?

     ‘Error, superstition, bigotry, and fanaticism attempt to repress free discussion, by saying that there are certain things which are too sacred in their nature, or which have been too long held, or which are sanctioned by too many great and holy names, to permit their being subjected to the scrutiny of common eyes, or to be handled by common hands. In opposition to all this, Christianity requires us to examine everything – no matter by whom held; by what councils ordained; by what venerableness of antiquity sustained; or by what sacredness it may be invested. We are to receive no opinion until we are convinced that it is true; we are to be subjected to no pains or penalties for not believing what we do not perceive to be true; we are to be prohibited from examining no opinion which our fellow-men regard as true, and which they seek to make others believe. No popular current in favor of any doctrine; no influence which name and rank and learning can give it, is to commend it to us as certainly worthy of our belief. By whomsoever held, we are to examine it freely before we embrace it; but when we are convinced that it is true, it is to be held, no matter what current of popular opinion or prejudice maybe against it; no matter what ridicule may be poured upon it; and no matter though the belief of it may require us to die a martyr’s death.” -Barnes

     We are fully equipped to be leaders in this culture. What’s more, we have a lot of freedom in this particular culture to exercise that leadership.  I think we squander that opportunity. We have conformed to the culture of this world.

Why don’t we lead?  Why do we follow the blind?

     How much have we conformed? We have bought the premises  that we Christians are a marginal sub-culture; that we are nearly powerless to influence the world around us; that it is too uncomfortable to move out of step  with the world around us. We act out of the fear of man when we look to our peers for reassurance in making major life decisions.  We put ourselves under the influence of peer pressure. And worst of all, we don’t even question those other sources; we don’t apply discernment or wise counsel from an unquestionable source which is freely available to us. We don’t test all things.

We want our families to look like everyone else’s. We don’t want our kids to feel different, and to be left out.

And we certainly don’t want to be identified with those Christians who … fill in the blank.

Be careful. Perhaps those Christians with whom we are so uncomfortable are doing exactly what God is telling them to do. He may even be trying to tell you something similar.

We have conformed to the world’s thinking when we believe we have a right to maintain a standard of living like our neighbors, a standard which is comparable to royalty at any other time or place. We have completely bought the world’s under-evaluation of women and mothers in the home.  We act as though we ought to seek the world’s good opinion in the court of popular culture.  We have an aversion to extremes, when truth is truth, no matter where it leads.  We have adopted the world’s definition of relationships, and the world’s standard for conducting relationships.  We willingly share cynicism and pessimism with a hopeless world. We assert that we have the right to make decisions to suit ourselves which would impact His kingdom!

In our women’s Bible study last week, we were looking at David facing Goliath. He was the only man among all the men in the nation of Israel who wanted to challenge the giant.  He was a man after God’s own heart.

But what made him different?  You could name a lot of things about David that made him special, things that end up making him a magical kind of person who could do what he did.  But I think it comes down to one thing.  Those other soldiers who weren’t willing were no cowards in battle. But they were all thinking with the group, responding to peer pressure. David was the only one who was willing to step out of the crowd and act on the behalf of God’s name and reputation.

We have to be willing to do the same.  God wanted all of the Israelites to be like David—and they could have been.  There was nothing magical about David.

David also knew that God would give the victory—it wasn’t up to David.  He could step forward out of that crowd because he trusted God to do as He had said.

We act as though everything is up to us to orchestrate and make happen.  But God is there! God has a special place and task for you if you step forward out of the crowd, and listen to Him instead of the voices in the world.

Now all of us, if we’re believers, have already stepped out in a major way!  We already have declared that we’re different from the rest of the world.  We believe we are willing to suffer for our beliefs. But are we willing to suffer for being different?

Here’s the application to Titus 2:3:

The decisions that women make…all women, married, single with families or without….define the culture.

2 Timothy 1:7: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

     We must step out from the crowd.  We must wade against the relentless current. Our culture is not to be trusted for sound advice for walking a Christian’s path. We must recognize that we are necessarily, positionally living lives which are in opposition to the world’s purposes. We have to expect to be different!

     How much do we impact the culture by our distinctiveness…and how much can we…if we become people who really prove all things, and who live every bit of our lives acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus Christ?

Who is the person who fears Adonai?

He will teach him the way to choose.

He will remain prosperous,

and his descendants will inherit the land. Psalm 25: 12-13

 

 

 

Rich Light Almond Cookies with Jam or Chocolate

Here’s the story of an ugly-duckling cookie. Anyway, it’s the story of a cookie that I improved.

I make seven or eight different cookies at Christmastime. One of the less popular at my house was a sprutter: a butter cookie flavored with almond usually put through a press. I never bothered with the cookie press, because I never had one. I would roll the dough into a small ball and thumbprint it, then maybe add an almond sliver on top.

When early December comes, I have to churn cookies out fast in double or triple batches until the tins are filled.  Many tins. I have to bake til I lose count. There has to be a cookie-making frenzy, and I’ve been known to make too many.

The cookies have to last from Christmas Eve until at least New Year’s Day, and preferably until the end of the week after that. The eight people who live here plus significant others plus company must be able to eat cookies at will.  I make cinnamon buns for gifts: I generally don’t give cookies as gifts because I hoard them against running out.  It’s an irrational fear, I know, but I’m not intending to deal with it yet.

The law here is that each person may eat one cookie per batch as I bake them. The rest are put away-in tins, in a cabinet, in the shed and no one may open!

Then comes the Food Season.  Starting on the evening of December 24, all restraint is utterly thrown away, cookie-wise.

I love baking, and I love everything about Christmas. The smell of baking cookies takes me right back to my Mom’s kitchen as she also baked the same cookies for all of us kids.

For me, baking is an absolutely necessary part of the Christmas season. Now I get to be the cookie baker, the sharer of comfort and cheer.

This cookie has evolved.

My sprutter were to be a bland palate-cleanser cookie–to be eaten in between servings of Double Chocolate Crinkles or Hershey’s Kiss-topped PB. A variation of the plain butter-sugar cookie. But this year I decided to try a pat of jam on the top.  And why not try a couple chocolate chips on top too? 

Something happened. The tastes of sweetness, almond, and slight saltiness blended in a fresh way when the jam was added.  They were equally as lovely when topped with the slightly bitter chocolate chip.

Here’s what happened. The last batch I made gave me a little trouble.  For some reason, the dough was too wet to roll into balls. Gradually adding bits of additional flour, I kept whipping and whipping that dough in the mixer. 

Finally I decided to make them drop cookies.  I dropped very small mounds on to the cookie sheet, then I put dabs of raspberry jam on the cookies on the first sheet, and chocolate chips on the next sheet.

What emerged was the best cookie I’ve ever made. It is light and crisp yet soft, owing, I suppose, to the extra mixing.  It is delicate, probably because it was not compressed into a ball. 

I use no special ingredients in this recipe. I buy generic or store-brand versions of all ingredients.

** I have altered the amount of flour…They are noticeably moister and creamier with 2 cups of flour. The batter should be just slightly toward too-messy-to-roll.

Rich Light Almond Cookies with Jam or Chocolate

1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 almond extract

Mix for quite awhile. I don’t time things.
Drop very small mounds of dough onto a cookie sheet. Place two or three chocolate chips on top. Or spread a dab of jam on top.
Bake at 350 until just slightly browned at the edges. ( I don’t time things.) Lift carefully from the sheet to a cooling rack. Enjoy a couple while still warm. They’re even better that way.

I double or triple this recipe. (Remember that when you multiply a recipe, you don’t need to multiply items such as flavoring extract, like vanilla or almond, or items such as salt or baking powder.)

Pictures as soon as I bake another batch.

Projects, Pets, and Full Plates

If you are a woman with a child, don’t look for projects. You already have a project that requires all your attention and talent. You already have a built-in full-time career.

We all feel more comfy with tasks or jobs. They come with objective measures for how well the job is done.  The measures tell you when the job is completed and you can move on. These jobs are things to do which have a finishing point, about which we can feel a sense of accomplishment. Things which we can exert our power over and receive no willful resistance. Things for which we receive feedback about our performance from coworkers and superiors.

But if you have children, you have an ongoing task built into your life which calls for different methods. That person, or those people, require that you engage with them, act toward them, behave around them. They require that you constantly acquire wisdom about how to teach and guide them. You need to learn on the job.

This task is never done; it is life-long.

You will receive a lot of resistance to your work. You are struggling with an autonomous being who is your equal in will, and hasn’t yet learned to be master of himself.  He is still learning self-control, other-centeredness, and courtesy. You may have several of these beings to relate to, each different from the others.

There are only subjective and open-ended measures for your work; you can never know whether you are accomplishing your job well. Results are as permanent as sand beneath the waves. In fact, you will probably get the worst resistance and hostility when you are doing your job best.

I understand why women with children opt for careers rather than staying home full-time; in some ways it’s easier.

But I find a puzzling thing among women with and without careers.

Working women with demanding jobs and children find themselves stressed and obsessed with a third task.  It can be a ministry, a demanding pastime, or a demanding pet. The notable thing about these third tasks is that they are optional.

Women who believe that it is preferable to be full-time stay at home mothers, and even homeschool, because that lifestyle allows them to be engaged in their children’s lives…who have chosen to be the primary teachers and disciplers to their children…also find themselves engaged in a third task.  It might be a ministry, a family hobby, or just the need to be involved in the endless opportunities available to a woman who has complete prerogative over her schedule, and who has a car. With these optional tasks, these women are also adding stress and distraction to their already-full plates.

Any and all of those things will crowd out the real eternal task you have in front of you: raising your child. Loving your child takes everything you have.

Raising a child offers little reward in a material sense. Many times you will feel very alone.  You will not feel a sense of accomplishment so much as an awareness of how badly you have done the job compared to how it ought to have been done. You will not be paid or be treated to any system of job reviews. There is no system to provide you with feedback from co-workers or superiors. And you cannot quit this job, ever.

It’s relationship you are tasked with.  Building a relationship with each of the children you have is your responsibility. You are called to it the day your child is born. It’s open-ended, subjective, unpredictable, exhausting, and thankless. It’s humbling and absolutely necessary.

And please don’t mistake pet ownership for relationship. Pets are not eternal beings who will forever be influenced by the quality of your discipling. You are not answerable to Almighty God for how faithfully you lived out your calling to bend them toward a lifetime of faithfulness. Pets do not have an eternal destiny. Preferring pet training to the call of loving and shaping your child is so sad I don’t know where to go with it.

 

My Home is for Sharing

 

Hospitality begins at home.

Before hospitality becomes outward-focused, in showering our kindness on those from outside our home, hospitality must be intentionally inward-focused, showering our family members with love and acceptance.

Hospitality toward others must be built on a foundation of something good you have established in your home.  Guests will sense what we are. If we are stressed and fearful about making the physical environment just right, but our family relationships are disregarded and unloving, guests will see that.  If my energy is spent on engaging with my family and my goal is loving them, guests will see that.  It will make my home a place that they want to be in. People who visit our home should want to be included in what’s already going on

Hospitality is sharing your HOME, not your house.  It is sharing your home, that is, sharing the family you have established and lavished your love on along with the place you do that in. Your goal should be to make your home a haven, a place where people are loved, accepted, valued and supported.  That is, first to your family members, and very definitely secondly, to those who come into your home.

Your first primary and most important objects of hospitality are those people in your own family. You know, the ones God gave you. The people He planned from the beginning of Creation to be in your family, living their lives next to you day after day. He had reasons for putting these people in your life, and His reasons are always perfect and right.

And since God is the essence of love, and since we are to be like Him…it follows that we ought especially to deliberately love those people.

Sharing Our Home

I believe that God gave me and my husband a home to share.  It’s a talent given to us, not to be buried in the ground, but to be invested. We invest our home and family comfort in the people with whom we are seeking to build relationships. Our home and family are gifts not to be hoarded but shared.