Monday, April 29, 2013

Brave

I have noticed a trend on my facebook newsfeed that makes me want to shake the people on the other side of the internet. Then I realized that this trend is not limited to facebook.
Tell me if any of these "declarations" sound familiar to you:


"You are so brave."
"What a courageous statement."
"This is an important moment for <insert alleged downtrodden group here>"
"Thank you for your strength in speaking about this."

Cue the mutual admiration society! Our culture has lost the ability to discern worth. These types of sentiments aren't wrong if they are used in response to a truly brave, courageous, important or strong statement. Unfortunately, whenever I see these used lately, they are in response to some sort of abstract, self-serving personal revelation.

For example:
"I just want everyone to know that I am not a religious person. I do believe in a higher power, but I do NOT believe in God. The bible scares me, actually. "
or
"I believe that everyone has the right to finding complete happiness. I want everyone to achieve their dreams."
etc. etc.

I've seen numerous statements like these show up followed by adoring commenters gushing "You are SO brave!"

Is it brave to admit that you (like almost every carnal person) like the idea of being accountable to no one but yourself? Is it brave to admit that you are afraid of the word of God? Not afraid as in having a respectful fear of the power of the word of God. Afraid in the same way some might accuse others of being "homophobic." Fear = lack of understanding and undue prejudice.

Proverbs 1:7  The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Is it brave to admit that you have thought up your own very convenient worldview and have begun to live accordingly? Is it brave to admit that you want other people to be "happy?" Without even defining happy? Without defining anything?

Another example in the news today is a pro athlete coming out as a homosexual. The media coverage suggests this is a monumental occasion in some kind of fight towards legitimizing the lifestyle. Have I missed something, here? Is it not evident by now that the cultural shift has already been sliding down this slippery slope for some time? Has this athlete really overcome anything? Did he really fear discrimination in a culture that is already so accepting of this lifestyle? Is he brave?

Maybe there are still circles of society where these types of admissions are met with harsh backlash. Maybe he is brave. Maybe bravery is relative, because I can think of many more prominent acts of bravery that are ignored on a daily basis in favor of vapid commentary by individuals who are practically untouchable in courts of public opinion.

Anyone who has attempted to inform others about the horrors of  abortion or the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell and the lack of media coverage surrounding the case is brave. Those who are not afraid of being blocked or edited out of peoples' newsfeeds because they dare to question the murder of the unborn are brave. They may not face any real physical danger by voicing their opinions, but they will certainly endure more scorn and ridicule than the examples given above. At best (or the case could be made, at worst), their cry against dismembering babies in the womb will simply be ignored. Not shared on facebook, not tweeted, not viral. I've shared a few pro-life articles that resulted in a couple 'likes' each. No sweeping praise over my honesty. Not a single "You're so brave."

People have no perspective at all when it comes to issues of this level of importance. Unwilling to risk what little social success they have, they sit on their beliefs or refuse to admit even to themselves that they have any. What is the worthwhile use of a medium such as facebook if not for spreading information? One could claim they'd rather save serious debate, etc. for a face to face conversation, but they'd be lying. When given the opportunity, they will discuss weather, sports, food, movies, anything to avoid a real discussion of an unpopular topic. I'm as guilty as anyone of missed opportunities.

I'm not brave, but I'm trying to be more brave.

2 Timothy 1:7  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Little Victories

Last week I was feeling good about being able to throw together a pot of my favorite chili recipe using ingredients that I had stocked up on in the weeks prior. It may seem like not a big deal, but more often than I'd like to admit, I text my husband during work and ask if he can please bring home a green pepper, or a can of tomato sauce or whatever. Well, not this time! I had everything I needed. I had soaked and cooked my dry beans (a cost saver over buying cans), my beef was browned. You know, chili! In the slow cooker by lunchtime and smelling great!

Olive On Three Bean Chili Recipe
1lb ground beef (or turkey) browned with the onions and pepper
1 can (or 3/4 cup dry) garbanzo beans
1 can (or 3/4 cup dry) black beans
1 can (or 3/4 cup dry) kidney beans
1 green bell pepper
1 chopped onion
2 15oz cans tomato sauce
1-3 tablespoons brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like your chili)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 bay leaf
A small splash of apple cider vinegar (don't ask me why, I add it to everything)

Combine all this into the slow cooker of your choice and heat on high for around 4 hours, or even better on low for 8-10 hours.

Fast forward to our family coming home from an errand ready to eat. We discovered that our beloved slow cooker had not warmed the chili above 95 degrees! Right in the danger zone. I had to throw out that whole batch of chili. I'm not sure what happened to cause the problem, but this appliance has been my good buddy in the kitchen for almost a year with no issues whatsoever. In fact, I love it!

Thankfully, one call to the manufacturer and I had a replacement slow cooker on it's way to our house. It arrived in under a week! How's that for customer service? I practically threw a party.

The kids are happy with the delivery too, but for their own reasons...




 It has been a few days now and these boxes are still the most popular item in the house for the 3 and under crowd! Three cheers for simple pleasures and little victories!

*In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase anything through that link. Woohoo :) I only recommend things that we use and love in our family. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Crunch Time



Chris and I were able to snag a team of child care helpers to give us some uninterrupted hours of work at the house.
Papers being sorted and filed, seasonal clothes being turned over, floors being mopped, basements being excavated...
Getting ready to take a pizza break now and prioritize our day tomorrow.
Sometimes my whole life feels like a 'before' picture...
I guess it would more accurately be called a 'during' picture. If we could stop anxiously awaiting an 'after' in this life, or some sort of state of having arrived... We would do well.
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Hallelujah!
How are you spending your Friday night?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cat toy to Bible study?


Sometimes I just have to step back and appreciate how studying God's word can result in using almost any situation in life as an opportunity to relate a Bible message. If a simple interaction with my cat can cause me to meditate on scripture, that's a good sign that the Word is sinking in and taking hold. Or maybe it's just a sign that I'm quite odd.
Meet Scarlet. One of the two cats that live with us. Every time I open a new gallon of milk I give her the red plastic seal to play with. She bats it around on the floor until it gets lost under something, or thrown away or swept up. (Remind me to sweep under the stove soon.)
Today, as I was calling for her to reward her "toy" to her, I wondered if she would ever grow tired of that little plastic ring. I wondered if she would decide she was above that kind of simple amusement and simply ignore or reject it as I toss it on the floor in front of her.
I thought of the Israelites who complained and murmured over the manna that fed them day after day in the wilderness. (A lot to ponder for a cat, I'm sure.)

This line of thought brought to mind this verse:
" It is of Jehovah's lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

Forget about the cat for a moment. God's compassions or mercies on us are new every morning. Day after day, we receive the mercy and compassion of a perfect God. This should inspire us to strive for more faithfulness to him, in gratitude for what we are granted each day. If you have a hard time seeing where these mercies are in your life because of the wants and needs and troubles of this life, start small. Look for the little things in your life that remind you how merciful God is to us. How could we tire of those?    

 “Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!“
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
    “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
Lyrics: Thomas Obediah Chisholm  (1866-1960) Music: William Marion Runyan (1870-1957)

Have you checked out this website? You can look up hymns and find the lyrics, information about the writers, piano and guitar sheet music. Or just sample the hymns to learn the tune.

What is your 'ring around the milk jug' every day?

Monday, April 15, 2013

One of many marriage revelations

He leaves time on the microwave. Almost always.
The peanut butter never makes it back to the place on the shelf that I assigned it. (Yeah, our pantry items have assigned seats, don't yours?)
As long as we're talking PB&J, how hard could it be to put the jelly in the fridge door instead of on the top shelf where it mingles with the likes of yogurt and leftovers?

You're all probably wondering how I manage to stay with the man, right?
Seriously, that's just the kitchen! :)

But more seriously, these things might be true, but I offer them up lightheartedly to illustrate a point.
As Christian wives, we have some great instruction in the Bible to guide our relationships with our husbands.
"An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life." Proverbs 31:10-12
My husband (his name is Chris) has helped me learn the value of holding back these seemingly small criticisms. What I would have always considered "teasing" has been shown to me to be hurtful at times. We just noted that an "excellent wife" does her husband good and NOT harm. Even when we feel a pull to join in with a group of ladies who aren't holding back, we should remember the hearts of our husbands that should safely trust in us.

How does this look in reality? For one thing, I could be thankful that my husband joins me in the kitchen and shares some of the work there. If that means I end up rearranging my expertly organized pantry more often, so be it!

Another example occurred to me while browsing some photos taken at my youngest daughter's birth by my friend Amy at Best Day Ever Photo .


My mom (who was present for the birth) asked if I remembered how Chris was stroking my hair at one point, and if I liked it. "He was sort of going back and forth in the same spot, instead of stroking in just one direction," she told me. "I almost suggested he do it differently, but I figured if you wanted him to, you'd let him know.."
I thought about that statement, and realized that Chris always does that with my hair when I ask for a massage. In that surreal moment of being just minutes away from pushing and meeting our third baby, he was comforting me the same way he always offers to. Sure, stroking my hair from my face smoothly in one direction would be the more typical way. But this was his way. It comforted me to know without looking up that it was Chris behind me, helping me in his way.

I would condense this into some marriage advice. Try not to see all the things you do differently from each other as faults in the other person, or irreconcilable differences. Look for the ways those differences help you grow. You won't find a perfect person on either side of your marriage bed. God is bringing you both closer to Him by giving you an opportunity to practice patience and kindness. It is still not about you.

Go do your husband some good and not harm!

Ashley

Linked up today at To Love Honor and Vacuum.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Olive On!

To all three (on a good day) of my readers,

I am revamping the blog with a new name and design that I have been pondering for some time. Please bear with me as I attempt to learn how to do all this fancy "blog" stuff behind the scenes. If this little online space ends up with any kind of audience, I'll be sure to dust off a few more brain cells for the purpose.

To explain my new title, I will paste the following:

 From: http://www.pdhymns.com/pdh_main_I.htm  

When we sing this in church, it always sounds like we're singing "Olive on and on, yes olive on and on" and I kind of like it. I love this hymn, and I take the meaning seriously. But I'm also one to crack jokes all the time. I hope to get a little more comfy with this blog, and I do hope you'll stick around in case I post something that proves edifying.

Also, once "Olive on" becomes the new "peace out" I'm gonna be so rich....

Olive On, friends!
-Ashley