Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Faith

"Rebecca, do you want more faith?"

 The minister was talking to me.  I took my eyes off the baby sleeping in my lap and looked up.  Yep.  Definitely talking to me.  I nodded.  Of course I want more faith.  Of course. 

The minister went on, but I got stuck on the faith thing.


More faith sure would come in handy.  I do want more faith. 

I've always struggled with trust issues.  Ok, just go ahead and call me a worrywart.  I totally deserve it. 

Remember Deb's post a while back on Worry? Well, that post jumped off the screen and smacked me right on the forehead.  As in "This is YOU, Rebecca! Listen up!" Especially since I had just had a conversation with a co-worker the week before on the same subject.  My co-worker reminded me that "Worry is a sin.  It's taking your situations out of God's hands and trying to take care of them yourself.  It's the same as saying 'God, you can't handle this as well as I can."  Ouch. 


So, I acknowledge that I have a problem with this.  I worry about EVERYTHING. 


My job security, for instance, is not so secure.  What if I lose my job?  The economy's not so good right now, you know?  What if I don't have enough money for rent? Or food?  What if I have to move back home????  Ouch.  That would be a blow to my pride.  Or, what if I say something stupid sometime?  (not that it's never happened before...:)  Or, what if someone I love gets sick? Or hurt?  Or, (here's a biggie) What if... I NEVER get married?  And I can't support myself?  And I never have children? And everything I've ever wanted never happens?  What if...  well.... there are certainly enough things to worry about.


So, I've had faith on the brain for a while now. 


I keep remembering this song I sang as a child


We need more faith
Every single day
We need to trust in the God of the impossible
We need more faith
Every single day
We need to trust Him every step we take
And after all it makes sense.  God created us.  He created our circumstances just for us.  So, why shouldn't we able to handle it?  Why shouldn't God be able to handle it? He can.  The real question is...can we handle trusting Him?

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Monday, December 29, 2008

God's Power and Might


"He casts forth His ice as fragments; Who can stand before His cold?"
- Psalm 147:17


Photos of the Great New England Ice Storm of 2008 - December 12, 2008. A magnificent and devestating display of God's strength in nature!

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

For the most part, I love Christmas. I love the celebrating, the singing, the glowing lights, live nativities and, yes, I love presents. However, there is one part that I dread every year - going to my grandparents.

At this house, I do not fit in anywhere. One Aunt is Queen of the Kitchen, with no space for kitchen maids, so I can't help there. The gift giving is a sort of mad free-for-all scene where you rarely know if anyone likes what they got, and with the exception of one very sweet cousin who is now married and moved away, nobody ever talks to me. Instead, my cousins tell colorful stories among themselves while I sit in a corner, wishing desperately that I was home reading a book or humming to myself so I don't hear the dirty language they are using. I am not exaggerating when I say that most of my family wouldn't go except for the fact that grandma will put you in the dog house if you don't show up.

On the trip down this year I kept thinking it over, the desire NOT to go, and the reasons why I know I should. I would much rather stay home. Seriously. I get so bored - nope, wrong attitude.! Grandma at least will be glad to see me. No one else will though, they say hello then pretend I'm not there. But I need to go. I need to be a light. I could... try talking to them, and not just sit there. Take the bushel off the light, so to speak.

Then I started praying. Lord, give me an opportunity to be a light to - NO! Wait! What if i say something stupid? What if I give them something more to mock Christians about? Never mind Lord, I'll just be a content little mouse in the corner. Okay? Um... no? No. You are right. Might as well glue some feathers on me and listen for the clucking, I'm that much of a chicken. Alright, Lord! (Here I felt very brave indeed) I mean it this time! Give me an opportunity!

I walked into that house half expecting shocking and uncomfortable situations that I would bear nobly, such as being approached by a disreputable guy cousin about why I act so differently, or bravely standing up and defying peer pressure, possibly even witnessing to someone.

What did happen was not very heroic. I spent the evening talking and laughing with two girl cousins I have barely spoken to since we used to play dolls together. Pretty tame, but definitely a step in the right direction for me.

It didn't turn out to be a lesson on how to do brave and heroic things for the Lord. It was a lesson in simply being willingly obedient. I didn't need to impress God with great moral strength. He simply wanted me to follow His lead, no matter what He brings my way.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

IDD Dictionary #3

Dym - Dear Young Man

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

May your Merry be Very!


Merry didn't exactly seem to describe the raging typhoon of determined and desperate last minute shoppers I encountered in my quest after work today to find a Starbucks gift card for my brother and his fiance'. Starbucks was out of giftcards, so I walked across two parking lots and entrances to the next grocery store, hoping they might have something.

My mama raised me to be polite, and say excuse me when going around people. To not push my way through. To wait for a courteous opening and then step between. To smile at people in the store and be mannerly.

It was soon obvious that if I was going to survive this influx of gift-buyers, I must resort to a slightly different strategy. I needed to become................................................................A Christmas Eve Shopper!! {insert dramatic music here}

I still said excuse me and all, but I played offense more than defense, and got through the crowds to the gift card display.

Apparently everyone in town had the same idea I did. The Starbucks gift cards were gone. Depleted. Outta here. I was disappointed, but actually really glad I didn't have to go stand in line and watch the faces of stressed-to-the-max people wanting to get home to kith and kin waiting on poor cashiers who probably hated being at the store on Christmas Eve worse than the shoppers. In the midst of it all a thought kept hitting me--where was the Merry?

It was not on the faces of the shoppers.

We say Merry Christmas. We wish others a Merry Christmas. We write Merry Christmas on our gifts.

But what about when it isn't Christmas?

When our Merry isn't very?

The truth is, if any people have reason to be merry year round, we do. Not merely because of the baby born in the manger, but because He grew up. And He paid for our sins on the cross.

I don't always feel joyful. I don't always feel merry. But often I have found that when I choose to praise God anyway, and I choose to rejoice in His goodness and His faithfulness, my heart catches up with my mind, and soon the feelings of joy are there.

How quickly I forget in the midst of this season just what I have to be joyful about year-round.

Christmas is a good reminder of just how much God loves us--but it's not the only one. When we walk outside and see the lovely world He allows us to live in, we should feel loved.When we hold a newborn baby and marvel at the beautiful craftsmanship, we should feel loved. When we wake each morning and can walk out of our room we should feel loved. Because while we may think about God's gifts and His love at Christmastime, God gives them to us every day.

My merry should always be very.

Because I have Him.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Christmas

For me Christmas starts in October.  When we drag all of the Christmas decorations out of the basement.  Then we rearrange EVERYTHING to make room for the trees.  (Yes, TREES, plural) I think we had 8 standard sized trees this year, in addition to the little Charlie Brown trees :).  After that we decorate the trees in a variety of color schemes.  Everything from traditional red and white, to gold and white, blue and silver, lime green and fuschia pink...


In November we redecorate the old wreaths and make up new ones.  Also in a variety of color schemes.  We buy and set up over 50 strands of lights.  We make our own ornaments.  We set up our huge collection of Santa figurines. The weekend before Thanksgiving we have an open house and invite everyone in town to come and see our decorations. 

By December we're knee deep in Christmas colored foils and ribbons.  We cut pine boughs by the van load.  We drive two hours north to buy 30 fresh wreaths.  We love the fresh pine smell.  We make dozens and dozens of bows and decorate the fresh wreaths.  Then we get the poinsettias. They come by the truckload in bright beautiful reds and every other color imaginable.

Then we sell them.  :)

Did I mention I work in a flower and gift shop? :)

Christmas for me means days and days of preparation.  It means  many centerpieces designed for people's tables.  It means poinsettias for the churches, and gifts for the collectors.

The last couple of days I've delivered flowers all day all over town in -30 degree wind chills.  In my town my coworkers and I are often called "little elves." :)  Working hard to make Christmas happy for as many people as possible.

It's what I do. :) 

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Miracles

It’s at this time of the year that the questions begin.

“What are your plans for Christmas?”

“Got your Christmas shopping done yet?”

“Excited about Christmas?”

I smile and take a quick breath. “Well, I don’t celebrate Christmas, actually.”

It takes only a brief moment for people to recover, usually. “What do you celebrate then?” they ask.

“My family and I celebrate Hanukkah.”

No, my family and I aren’t Jewish, but we celebrate the Jewish Holy Days. This generally confuses most people; some automatically assume that I am Jewish, others glance at me covertly, as they add another item to the list of strange things about Krista.

I’m used to such wonderings. It is awkward at times, I admit, but I’m getting used to it. Hanukkah, however, is a bit different. I’ve celebrated Passover, Shuvuot and the other Holy Days found in the Torah since I was nine. But Hanukkah, found nowhere in the Torah, is something new for me.

I don’t feel equipped to tell about this eight day festival. I know the general story, I know the basics, but I don’t know everything about it, not as an observant Jew would. And so, when it was decided that during this week of Hanukkah, I ought to share something about Hanukkah with all of you, I found myself with a case of writer’s block, staring at my computer screen as I try to find a place to begin and a place to go with it all.

The story of Hanukkah begins almost 2,200 years ago, during the reign of Antiochus IV. During the reign of Alexander the Great, Israel was captured, but for the most part the Jews were left to live as Jews without fear of punishment. About a century later, Antiochus IV succeeded the throne and the oppression began.

Antiochus IV decreed that practicing the Jewish religion was outlawed, and as a result, many Jews were massacred during his reign. He desecrated the temple, appointing a priest himself and ordering that pigs be sacrificed on the alter. Since pigs are considered unclean (or non-kosher), this was a huge violation of a sacred place, God's house.

It was Mattathias, a faithful priest, who lead the revolt against Antiochus. Later, his son Judah Maccabee took the place of leader after Mattathias’ death. It was under Judah Maccabee’s leadership that the revolt succeeded and the temple was retaken by the Jews. The temple was restored, cleansed and rededicated. It was during the rededication that the miracle occurred.

For the rededication, oil was required to burn in the temple lamps. There was found only enough oil for one day, but miraculously, it burned for eight days. Eight whole days. Hanukkah, the festival of lights, was declared in celebration of this miracle, and Jews have celebrated it ever since.

To me – as I still learn more – this festival means faithfulness and miracles. The Jews who stood firm in their faith in the face of death both daunt and encourage me; I wonder if I would be strong enough to face such persecution and yet find myself encouraged to hold fast to my faith and stand firm. In past years, I have focused on that for the most part, letting the miracle slip a bit to the side. This year, however…it is the miracle that has caught most of my interest and joy.

Miracles.

I don’t know about you, but lately the world has seemed in need of a few miracles. The economy is on the brink of a depression. We all have our troubles and sorrows, pains and fears. Winter is nearly upon us and…

What about miracles?

What about olive oil burning for eight days when it should last only one? What about God’s provision in times of darkness? What about faith, hope and love?

Here’s the thing. We already have so many miracles. It’s a miracle, a blessing, that we live here in the United States of America where you can celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas and nobody will punish you for having a Menorah in the window or a tree in the corner of your living room.

There is the miracle of life, the miracle of love – the Miracle of God, Yeshua, our Savior. The miracle of family…

It is winter. Times are hard. Jobs are hard to come by and everywhere we look, it seems to be gloomy. But…God will provide. It might not be something as big or exciting as oil lasting for eight days when it should only last one.

But there are still miracles.

I know sometimes it's hard to find the strength to turn the page
When all of our tomorrows look like used up yesterdays

Maybe this path we're taking
Could really be the road to breaking free
Are you with me

One little revolution could turn it all around
Back to the Kingdom we once knew
Just a little bit of me, just a little bit of you
One little miracle to get us through

Broken, empty promises are all we knew before
Our father's dreams of better days lay shattered on the floor

It's not too late to start believin'
Take me by the hand I'm reaching out
How about now

One little revolution could turn it all around
Back to the Kingdom we once knew
Just a little bit of me, and a little bit of you
One little miracle to get us through

We can right the wrong
From this moment on

One little revolution could turn it all around
Back to the Kingdom we once knew
Just a little bit of me, and a little bit of you
One little miracle to get us through
- Hawk Nelson

Happy Hanukkah from snowy New England. We’re watching for and counting our miracles here.
photographic credit goes to Samantha Skinner

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Unconditional love




Twice a week, the baby comes to stay from 8-1. Twice a week for three months, I dreaded waking up in the morning because I would have to deal with what is known as a colicky baby. He fussed and screamed nearly all his waking hours, and I would chew the inside of my lip, my nerves raw, as I gave him drops and wished God would make the hours go by faster.
"I like him when he's cheerful," I told mom, "Which would be about - ten minutes a day."
"The thing is, you need to learn to love him even when he's not." Mom said.
Um, what? He's not even my child, how do I learn to love him while he's screaming in my ear til I have a splitting headache?
It's called unconditional love. It looks beyond the red face and the writhing little body, to see the distress and pain of a helpless little boy. Kind of like the love of God, and my parents. I expect unconditional love from them, I expect them to see beyond the faults when I know full well I am not being lovely.
This love did not come naturally to me, which shows that love improves with practise. Little by little my fondness grew until I had much more patience and compassion on the poor baby. And you know what? Soon after I learned to love him, the baby outgrew his fussiness. He is now a cheerful, joyful little being who I hope will wake from his nap so I can play with him. Lesson learned!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Carols with a twist!


It's hard to believe that Christmas is less than a week away.  This year the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed to just fly.  I thought we could start this week out with a little Christmas humor. The following Christmas songs were rewritten by our very own Deb.  They are only for the purpose of a joke, and not to be used for bashing guys, as an aid in pity parties, or to blame men for our singleness, or encourage lack of trust in the Lord, or hold marriage up as the answer to everything.  They are merely and only a joke and a lot of fun, so laugh away!!



Don't Rest You Merry Gentlemen
(to the tune of God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen)
Don't rest, you merry gentlemen, for we are in dismay,
Remember girls are waiting, been waiting everyday.
Oh save us from the Old-Maid's tower, we beg you, and we say,
"Bring tidings of courtship dear boy,
We employ! Bring tidings of courtship dear boy."

For others walked the aisle, and to the altar came,
My friend's engaged, and I'd love to bring tidings of the same!
Oh show so I can leave Old-Maidhood, and change my last name.
"Bring tidings of courtship dear boy,
We employ! Bring tidings of courtship dear boy."


Single Girls
(to the tune of Jingle Bells)
Single girls, single girls, single everyday.
Waiting oh so anxiously
For some young man to say,
"Marry me, marry me,
Nothing less will do!"
How I wish those single men
Would hurry with their move!

Dashing strong and tall,
With bright and smiling eyes,
My dreams are sure to fall,
If he won't make up his mind.
I guess I'll have to wait,
Until he comes forth bold,
What fun to be a blushing bride
At forty-five years old! Ohhhhh

Single girls, single girls, single everyday.
Waiting oh so anxiously
For some young man to say,
"Marry me, marry me,
Nothing less will do!"
How I wish those single men
Would hurry with their move!

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Heroes and perfection


Yesterday was Jane Austen's birthday. For all those of us out there who identify as Janeites, this is a cause for much rejoicing.

Unfortunately, I think it should also be a cause for some soul-searching.

Rebecca wrote a great piece the other day about our high expectations for men. One of the ways I think we do this is by comparing the young men we see around us to our favorite Romantic* heroes. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard someone say, "If only there were more guys like ______." Jane Austen's heroes are definitely favorites for this kind of wish especially, for some strange reason, Mr. Darcy.

You're probably wondering why I think that's strange. Well, I know he was played by Colin Firth in the miniseries. However, if you read the novel closely, you suddenly realize that for much of the story, he's not all that nice a character. He insults Elizabeth multiple times including while proposing to her, breaks her sister's heart, and is generally fairly proud and somewhat annoying.

Which is to say he's human. Sure, he's not the really rotten character we might think he is at certain points. He's not guilty of cheating Wickham out of his inheritance. On the other hand, he himself admits that he has great faults. Even at the end of the novel Elizabeth notes that "he had yet to learn to be laught at" (Chapter XVI). The strength of Darcy is not that he's a perfect character but precisely that he's not perfect. He, like Elizabeth, has to recognize his own faults and begin to change before their story can reach a happy resolution. We can certainly love Mr. Darcy. But if we love him, we should love him as another human being who struggles along and we should recognize that making him into a pinnacle of perfection does a disservice to ourselves, to the young men around us, and to Austen's story.



*For you literature types out there, yes Romantic is deliberately capitalized.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The War Between the Sexes

My 14 year old brother kindly offered to help me with something tonight.  I think his exact words were "do you have problems?  I can fix them."  (He was mostly joking)  I took him up on his offer, though, and asked him to write my article for today.  I said: "Can you write an encouraging article for Christian young ladies?"  His response: Baseball stuff.  I'll spare you.  He did make me laugh, though :)

Guys are wired differently than girls.  It's just the facts. 

The exchange between my brother and myself got me thinking about something that has been on my mind for a while. 

I'm just gonna talk about it a little bit.  Feedback would be greatly appreciated if anyone has any thoughts on the subject. 

It's mainly this: Guy-Bashing.  Why do we do it? 

I've heard a lot of girls say things like "Guys don't act like gentleman anymore" (I may have even said this myself)  The guys are quick to return that the girls don't act like ladies.  I think there is some truth in both of these statements.  Not that either of them justifies the other. 

Girls.  Be ladies.  Deserve to be treated like ladies.  Act like ladies whether the guys notice or not. 

We, as girls, tend to have very high expectations from men.  We think they should all be knights in shining armor.  Maybe they should be.  But, regardless of how short they fall of our lofty marks, bashing on them only degrades our own good names. 

Let's put it in the reverse.  All ladies should be queens of decorum and honor.  We should always be gracious and lovely.  Smiles should never leave our faces.  Our voices should be sweet and our words encouraging.  While these goals are something we should aim for every day, in all honesty which of us lives up to them every day?  I certainly don't.  I have rough days.  Sometimes I forget to smile.  Sometimes I say something rude.  I do not treat every man I meet as if he were a gentleman of the highest birth.  How discouraging it would be to me, were I to overhear some men talking about me, saying that I did not deserve to be treated like a lady, based on my behaviour on a rough day.

And yet, I often hear girls saying similar things regarding guys. 

Girls, guys are just guys.  They're not stupid.  They're not mean by nature.  They're just guys.  Just because they don't treat every woman they meet as if she is a priceless jewel doesn't mean they're inept. 

Unfortunately, our society is involved in a war as old as time.  The "War Between the Sexes."  We make enemies of each other, just because we don't understand them. 

God created us male and female on purpose.  Each of us has different strengths and weaknesses that in the grand scheme of things, should all fit together and work in tandem. 

Let's make it a goal for 2009.  To talk nicely about the guys.  To treat them like gentleman, whether they deserve it or not.  To act like ladies, whether we're treated that way or not.  To trust that God's plan is perfect.  To know that God created men just the way they are.  And that God doesn't mean for us to totally understand it.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Be ye Holy...

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? ... For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

1 Corinthians 3:16 & 17b




The scriptures that tell us about the tabernacle or the temple in Jerusalem always have inspired awe in me. A place of worship, sacrifices, the priests teaching. But it is the inner room that captivates me, the Most Holy Place or Holy of Holies, depending on the translations. It must have been a place of drama, glorious and golden, where the Ark of the Covenant stood and God Himself dwelt, hidden in a cloud behind the wings of golden cherubim, until the death of His Son, when the veil was torn in two. It was nearly beyond human reach, only accessible by the high priest once a year, a place of overwhelming reverence.

Those of us raised in Christian homes have been told since childhood that we are the temple of God, and the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts. This concept was never was so vivid and astounding to me as this past Sunday morning when my pastor stood there and told me that since I am the temple of God, the Holy of Holies is in me. That place that for so long was just out of human reach, is in me. The place of reverence and awe, where God in His mercy dwells - in me.

I would not drag a thing of beauty through the mud. Nor would I try to convince a dear friend to go to a questionable place with me. How much less do I want to defile that most Holy Place.

It was a sharp reminder to keep myself pure in mind and heart, take care of what I allow myself to read and watch, and how I want people to see me; a vessel of the Living God, dwelling in the Holy of Holies.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dear Lord...

Help me to be diligent in all that I do. 
Help me to joyfully seek Your will and not my own pleasure. 
Keep vanity and pride far from me. 
Grant me a meek and gentle spirit, and let me serve and glorify You all the days of my life. 
Amen
-Raising Maidens of Virtue
Stacy McDonald

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Recipe: Chocolate Storm Dessert

42 Oreos (16oz.)
1 cup melted Butter
2 packages Instant Chocolate Pudding (3.9 oz. pckgs)
8 oz. package softened Cream Cheese
3 cups Milk
1 - 16 oz. package Cool Whip

Finely crush cookies.  Reserve 1 cup for topping.  Mix remaining cookies with butter and press on bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9x13 inch pan.

Mix cream cheese and half of the whipped topping.
Spread onto the cookie layer and chill 30 minutes.  Mix chocolate pudding with milk for 2 minutes.

  Chill for 30 minutes.  Spread pudding over cream cheese later.  Chill for 1 hour.  Spread remaining whipped topping on top.  Spring with reserved cookie crumbs and chill over night for best results.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Verses to ponder on




"I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.
When the humble see it they will be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive."

Psalm 69:30-32


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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The "Promise" Ring

Some people call them "Promise rings."
Other people prefer "Purity Ring" or "Chastity Ring."
For me, the idea of saving myself for marriage was nothing new.  And I didn't need a ring to remind myself.  BUT, being a girl :) and being 16 :) :) I was very delighted to open my birthday present to find a pretty gold band with 10 tiny diamonds from Mom and Dad.

A Promise Ring.  And my parents asked me for more than just a promise to remain pure.  I promised this:

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
-Proverbs 22:6


I've worn my Promise Ring for almost 11 years now.  In fact, I wore out the original ring, and Mom and Dad kindly replaced it for me.  So, the promise remains on my finger.  A daily reminder to follow the path.  To fight the fight.
For me, the fight isn't whether or not to remain pure.
For me, the fight is everyday, in my soul.  Every hour, sometimes.  A fight for righteousness.
A fight to keep my promise.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Hope



"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me

- Emily Dickinson

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Check out our new!

Temporary setup for the Christmas season.

Plus we are working on a way that you can help spread the word about the IDD blog with a button you can put on your blog or website that will link to us! We'll keep you updated!

Happy Holidays!

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

How He cares for me.


My dream is to be an author and illustrator of children’s books. Big dreams, right? As they say, shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. So when an opportunity came to enroll in a correspondence art course and, most importantly I thought, I had the money for it coming in every month, I decided that it was possibly my countdown to take off. I enrolled. I had a part time daycare job at home, bringing me $150 a month, which perfectly covered my monthly bills. Add to that the odd jobs I did, babysitting, and occasional sales for my artwork and jewelry, I was rolling along beautifully. God is so good. He’s taking care of me, He’s showing me the way to make my dreams come true. Let’s go Christmas shopping!

That was before The Call. That’s right, I received The Phone Call of Doom. I didn’t lose my job, but I got a rather drastic cut in hours, which is a cut in that precious $150 a month. That means… yeah. I am stuck with monthly bills and no guarantee that I’m going to be able to pay them.

Then I got a notification from the post office; $20 needed immediately to pay for my P.O. box. The DMV sent me a notice saying that I had to renew my license for an astonishing $50. And when I went with family and friends to see Stars on Ice, I realized with a sickening feeling that I hadn’t paid mom for my ticket yet. I have only one pair of contacts left; to order more, or NOT to order more, and revert to wearing my glasses? That is the question. And… Christmas shopping wasn’t done yet. Maybe I just won’t give presents this year. Things are kind of tight you know. Maybe I can put “money” on my Christmas wish-list.

Panic set in and got nice in comfortable. It kicked off its shoes, reclined and started sipping cocoa in the living room of my heart.

I was in the kitchen chopping onions (not a chore much relished by me), the proverbial black storm cloud hanging over my head, when I suddenly remembered my joy of only a few days before. The joy I had in my Lord taking care of me and giving me my dreams. The truth is, He is still taking care of me. I might not be able to make a payment or two – which my parents would never allow anyway, I could borrow from them – but God doesn’t manifest His watch care over me by giving me every little thing I want. He’s caring for me every bit as much today as He was when I had more money. How silly of me to even think for a moment that he didn’t.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Overcoming Discouragement Part 3

I thought for the final article instead of doing small segments on a few different things I would just list out things that helped me.

Let's start with:

Don't lose the paper with the notes for your article on it.  Yep, I  lost my notes.... so... I'm going to leave you with 2 things I remember off the top of my head. 

1) Don't keep it all to yourself.  If you are struggling, talk to someone about, encouraging yourself is not always the answer.  Don't hold it in!  Talk to someone, it does wonders!

2) Know and remind yourself that people care about you.  This was actually a pre-overcoming one that I realized.  A few days after I really had victory over the discouragement, we went to my grandparents house.  I had posted part 1of Overcoming  Discouragement on my regular blog as well as IDD.  And my grandparents had read it.  My grandpa was of course worried about me.  But then, he started talking to my sisters and I and just encouraging us to keep doing what we are doing, and walking with God, etc.  I tell you what.  I love grandpa so much, he encouraged so much in those 30-some minutes.  When we left, I felt so loved, appreciate, taken care.  I was so... hyped is the best word I can come up with.  Know that someone loves you.  It makes a world of difference in your life.  I love going to my parents house, cause you see, the second I walk in the door at least 2 people say "hi", 2 little children from all corners of the house shout "Katie's here!" and throw themselves at my legs and I get a kiss, hug and an "I love you" from mom.  They care about me, think about me, love me, care what is happening in my life.  And you know what, for what it's worth.  Not only does God love and care about you, but we care you.  My fellow Bloggers and myself care about you.  Each and every single person who reads the blog.  That's why we are here.  If we didn't care, we wouldn't be writing.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Things I Learned When I Moved Away From Home

  • That singing at the top of your lungs in your own kitchen making dinner is fun!  and good for the food, too, I think....
  • That Mom is awesome
  • To appreciate time with my family when I have it
  • To hug my little brothers and sisters when I see them, because I might not see them again today
  • That Mom made some things look really easy... and they're not
  • That responsibility is something that applies to every aspect of life.  Every aspect.
  • That if I don't clean that hard-to-reach spot in the bathroom... no one else will.
  • To pay more attention to things like dates on the calendar, because on some of those days you need to pay bills, and if you don't bad things will happen
  • That I didn't have as many kitchen utensils as I thought I did.
  • That eating is expensive
  • That everything to do with surviving is expensive
  • That some things aren't as important as they used to be
  • That other things are more important
  • That I can get a LOT of things done when I'm not being interrupted by little children :)
  • That I miss those little children a LOT
  • That growing up is bittersweet
  • That cleaning my own house is very rewarding
  • That weeding my own garden is more fun than weeding Mom's
  • That I have to shovel the snow out of my own driveway
  • That making a home is wonderful 

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Puddle-Stomping

We turn the corner in the rain, puddles in the cobblestones and my glasses smudged with water. We dodge people with umbrellas, black umbrellas, pink umbrellas, red polka-dotted umbrellas. I'm clutching my camera and yet, when I see my favorite sight yet today, I don't take a single photo.

There he is, yellow rain slicker and rubber wellies and bare head, blonde hair slicked to his forehead...a little boy, so sweet, so wet, so little boy...stomping merrily away in an enormous rain puddle.

You couldn't help but laugh if you saw him, laugh unexpectedly, with just sheer, surprised delight.

We walk past and he stops a moment to look quizzedly at the small crowd of smiling onlookers, but only a moment. I look back quickly before turning the corner and there he is, stomping away as happily as a very wet, wet clam.

If clams wear rain slickers and rubber yellow boots, that is.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

A RELAXing search for Contentment!

Greed as defined for this article: the excessive, insatiable selfish desire to acquire or possess more (including but not limited to material wealth) than one needs or deserves.

Lust as defined for this article: an intense desire or craving (possibly obsessive), including but not limited to a sexual nature.

Introduction

As a single female, I never expected to find myself writing about lust in connection with contentment, especially at thanksgiving. I mean during this time we are supposed to write about how thankful we are for our families and friends…right? While I am thankful for both of those, but I am also grateful for the lessons God has been teaching me this year. Some of these lessons have been unexpected and come in such unexpected ways. At the beginning of the semester a dear friend loaned me a book, SexGod, by Rob Bell. While reading SexGod, one quote stood out, and I wrote it in my journal, little expecting the numerous times I would read it over and how God would use it to convict me.

QUOTE (Rob Bell)

"When we're not at peace, when we aren't content, when we aren't in a good place, our radar gets turned on. We're looking. Searching. And we're sensory creatures, so it won't be long before something, or somebody, catches our attention."

Ingratitude leads to discontentment which leads to unhealthy desires: Greed and Lust.

This quote set me a journey of evaluating my life in context of gratitude. Along the way I realized that “lust” applied to a lot more then sexual desire. I realized that often in life I “lust” after situations, things and yes, people. When I am in those places, it is because I am not satisfied or content with those things that God has given me, always wanting more. Whether you want to admit it or not, I am pretty sure that if you are single, married, young or old, you struggle with this too. I don’t know what your area of “lust” or “greed” is, but is your radar turned on? Are you searching for things that you don’t have and want- desperately? Are you allowing yourself to come to a point of desperate longing?

Punishing God?

I think everyone struggles with this no matter their situation and personality, but how are we going to approach it? For me, as I have evaluated my life I began to see the areas of my life that I was not “grateful” for and how they corresponded to areas of greed and lust. The first step is definitely recognizing there is a problem, and boy what a problem it can be. I realized how discontent I was; how many areas of my life were negatively affected, including my prayer life. I saw that since I was not happy with where I was, I didn’t really want to pray because as a teacher of mine says “God wasn’t playing [my] way.” No matter how many times I had heard about not using God as a vending machine, I was still expecting him to “vend” me a different situation and when he didn’t… I “punished” him by not talking to him. How silly is that? It was then that I relized I needed to…

Just RELAX!

Realize that Lust, greed, and discontentment are “partners in crime”!
Evaluate the ways ingratitude is affecting your life
Let go of your wishes, desires and plans.
Affirm (to Him and others) the ways God is meeting needs and blessing you.
Xpect that everything God places before you is for your benefit.

Gratitude leads to Contentment which leads to healthy desires, healthy situations, and healthy people.

Personally, I had to consciously find ways to thank God for the situations that I wasn’t happy with; Choosing to see that no matter what the situations are God is in it, in control, and working it out for my benefit. I had to make a very concerted effort, and still do, to find the good things He is doing in spite of, and perhaps because of, the situations that I am less then pleased about. In doing so I began to find that you can become quite happy and at peace with the situation even if you have the HEALTHY desire for something different. You have to choose where you are going to focus and what you are going to place first in your life. Are you going to set your [out of control] desires up as idols? If you align your priorities and heart it become that, a desire, not an out of control desire: greed, lust or discontent. In letting go of my desires and expressing my (at first stubborn) gratitude, I slowly began to change not only in my unhealthy desires but also healthy desires began to naturally grow, desires to serve and grow closer to God. Yes, I still deal with wanting to be in different situations but somehow I have found that my gratitude has slowly lowered the “radar of greed and lust.” I know I am where God wants me… and that is enough, He is enough.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Quote

 Part 3 of Overcoming Discouragement will be posted next Friday, December 5th, 2008.

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the LORD.

We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to, feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

--Abraham Lincoln - 1863

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Living My Thankfulness


It's Thanksgiving today.
The time when all or most of America gets together with family and friends, and, those who remember why this day was created, talk and share what they are most thankful for.

Yes, it's Thanksgiving.
The day we all know as a tribute of praise to the Lord for preserving the Pilgrims through their hardships, to build this land.

It's Thanksgiving.
So of course I'm thankful.

Today.

Tomorrow I may stub my toe on the chair (or as I said to Mom as a frustrated, crying kid "Choe on the tair!") and forget to be thankful I have a chair to sit on, and don't have to sit on the floor.

Sunday I may rise from bed, groggily prepare for church, while wishing I could sleep just a tad bit later in the morning, and forget to thank God that I can worship Him without fear of soldiers banging down the church door and slaughtering the congregation.

Next week I may feel down about my life, and feel like it's not fair that none of my dreams ever seem to come to pass, and forget to be thankful I have a God who sees my future, and loves me enough to give me only what is best for me, and what will bring Him glory.

So yes, today I'm thankful. Today I'm grateful.

Today.

Sometimes, while I love Thanksgiving, and I love having a specific day of thankfulness, I fear I forget that thanksgiving is not a yearly holiday. Thanksgiving should be a lifetime. Not merely saying "Thank you" to the Lord, but living my thankfulness, every day, every hour. In everything. Giving thanks always. Continuously.

Far too often I use Thanksgiving as my "catch up" day. Lord I'll praise and thank You on Thanksgiving, but.........don't ask me to do it when my plans go awry. I'll worship You and show my gratitude on Thanksgiving but........don't expect me to do it when I'm sitting in the same situation in life as always. Because I'll grateful when I see something to be grateful about.

The truth is, if we really saw everything we have to be grateful to God for, I think we'd be completely overwhelmed with gratitude. Friends, if God never gives us another thing, we have so much to be thankful for to Him, it would take several life times to truly express the gratitude He deserves. God is more good to us than we can imagine. Our cups truly, truly do run over.

God has been showing me the importance of praising Him even in the littlest things. If nothing happens by chance (and I don't believe it does) then everything comes through the hand of God, and is for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The smallest thing is a reason for giving thanks--because even each of our breaths are in His hand.

So I for one want this next year of mine (and all the others to come) to be a lifetime of thanksgiving--with or without the turkey.

To start off, here are some things I am most thankful for this day:

Little things like green traffic lights all the way to the store or wherever else I'm going (God often gives me this little treat)

My salvation, for without Him I can do nothing, and am nothing

My family

My friends

My life

My Bible

My country

Music

Words

My church

My imagination

And many many other things that I don't have room to write.

Give Thanks--for He truly is worthy of it.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Thanksgiving Prayer

For Life, to serve You
For Grace, always enough
For Prayer, without ceasing 
For Comfort, You are there
For Beauty, so I can see You
For Justice, Your perfect plan
For Breath, so I can praise You
For Faithfulness, never giving up on me
For Peace, deep down at the core of my soul
For Wisdom, to see that Your way is flawless
For Joy, moments of feeling Your love, so real
For Family, so I can better understand Your love
For Strength, because mine isn't enough, and never will be
For Mercy, new every morning before I even open my eyes
For Providing, more important than what I want, what I need
For Love, unconditional, when I don't deserve it, when I don't even love myself


THANK YOU

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks

Because a thankful heart is a happy heart…
- "Thankful Song," Veggie Tales


This month has had its ups and downs for me. It began with a terrific high. I spent seven November days in beautiful, beautiful England – how much higher could a bibliophile and anglophile get? Beautiful countryside, wonderful friends, an amazing city and a place that feels like home even though it isn’t.

And then my great-grandmother passed away, suddenly. While it wasn’t as unexpected for my family, it was for me. Since I was an ocean away, the news that my great-grandmother was doing poorly fell between the cracks; all the news I heard was filed away with, “Her health has been like this for the last two months.”

I heard of her death while sitting in a Starbucks around the corner from Kensington Palace on the rainy afternoon of my last day in England. The rain seemed very fitting. Sometimes I wonder why I cry when I think of little things about her; I was never close to her, but…she was my great-grandmother. She was my mom’s grandmother and my memere’s mother. And she’s gone. She will never meet any children I may someday have. She won’t be sitting at the dinner table this Thanksgiving. She will never ask my mom, “Does Krista have a boyfriend?” and say, “Good, good! She should wait, she is still young!” when my mother tells her about the lack of a boyfriend in my life.

Still, life continues. It’s been nearly a week since the funeral, which occurred two days after I arrived home in the States. The week has flown by, but has blended together. Work has been stressful, busy and will stay insanely busy for weeks. I have a head cold and life just feels…blah.

I have so much to be thankful for, but I feel as though I lack the joy that I keep thinking should come with thankfulness. I am thankful for my family, for friends, for my trip, for memories. I am thankful that God orchestrated the last day of my great-grandmother’s life in some of the best possible ways, giving time for family to say goodbye. I am thankful for my job, even if it is stressful and crazy-busy right now, because jobs are precious during these hard times.

But being thankful doesn’t always mean that I will feel happy. A thankful heart is a happy heart, yes…but a heart can ache and be thankful at the same time, too. Giving thanks in all circumstances and occasions…that is beauty. To give thanks when life is beautiful and exciting and joyous is easy. Giving thanks through tears, and rejoicing while we ache…that is more difficult. Difficult, but perhaps giving thanks now is even more important than during the easy seasons of life.

As the hymn says,

In the season of plenty, in the season of our need
We will find His grace sufficient, we will find His love complete


And so, this year I praise Him and give thanks:

In thanksgiving, let us praise Him; In thanksgiving let us sing.
Songs of praise and adoration to our gracious Lord and King


And maybe, just maybe, with the giving of thanks, the happy heart will come a little more easily, too. But I will give thanks, no matter what circumstances, happy or sad; I will give thanks with a grateful heart.

Whatever circumstances you are in, whether they come with laughter or tears, pain or joy, I hope and pray that you have a blessed and grateful Thanksgiving.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

And the winner of the Tea Basket is.....

Laura Ansley
Congratulations!
Email us your address at idontdateforum[at]gmail.com and we will get it off to you asap.

A big thank you to everyone who entered. We really appreciate you helping us with our first ever giveaway. We plan to do more giveaways in the future, so stay tuned! Keep the comments coming, they are a blessing!!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Overcoming Discouragement Part 2

ANNOUNCEMENT FIRST! This next week we will be concentrating  solely on Thanksgiving, touch subjects like the history of Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Traditions, and Things That We Are (or should be) Thankful For.  So check back daily!!!
Also this is the last day you can register to win the fabulous Tea Basket.  You have until midnight.  Go here to register!

Confession: When I said I would post the next part to my Overcoming Discouragement series next week, I forgot it was the week before Thanksgiving and I was supposed to do a Thanksgiving post.  So, I'm going to combine posts :)



The very first lesson I learned about overcoming discouragement happened on Sunday morning during praise and worship.  I can't remember what we were singing, but I was feeling down and couldn't bring myself up to a place where I could truly glorify God and praise Him.  Then we started singing a song, and I feel something in me leap.  And a little bit of light shown into my darkness.  And I got excited, I reached out to God and he poured strength into me to give me the ability to truly praise him in song.  I distinctly remember standing up front with the musicians and playing my violin and this joy just filled my soul and I could only think about God and his love and mercy, and everything that He had done for me.  I was happy I wasn't discouraged and all I could think about was praising God.  For days afterward if I at any point felt discouragement creeping in I would just start to sing, or hum, or if I was at work or somewhere like that, just think the song.  The discouragement will flee.  Why, well... because when you are praising God and your thoughts and totally turned on Him, there is no opportunity for the devil to get his foot in the door.  This is what I wrote during that time.

God never wants us to be down trodden.

It's amazing to me how you can go for a day, or days, or a week or even weeks on end feeling down trodden and searching for answers.  Pleading with God for somethig; and anwswer, encouragement, whatever it is that you need.  And then you get to a place where you start praising the Lord, giving Him the glory and honor, and just telling Him that you love Him.  And in that moment of time all your cares go away.  You suddenly no longer care about the problems, the searching, the pleading for an answer.  Suddenly, you no longer care.  It flees your mind and all you care about it God.

Now, for the Thanksgiving part :)  This song has really been an encouragement to me during my recent struggle.  It reminds me to press on and thank God all the time even when things aren't going the way we want or wish they would.  To thank for Him life, food on the table, friends and family.  You get the idea.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rejoice with those who rejoice


Sometimes the hardest part of singleness is not the waiting.

No one enjoys waiting. If you're anything like me, you prefer to wait very little for anything. Patience is a hard virtue to learn. But despite the difficulty of waiting, I think there is something that can be harder.

Rejoicing. Not just rejoicing.

Rejoicing with those who rejoice.

We love camaraderie. We love having friends who can empathize with us, and link their arms through ours with the understanding that they are in the same place and we are not alone. This is especially true for those who've been single several years. We like being in the same position. We like the knowledge that we aren't the only one left.

And then it happens. Your friend meets someone. They court. They get engaged. They marry.

Oh of course you're happy for them--you're supposed to be. After all, they would be that way for you. You're fine with it, really. The wedding was lovely. And now they're off to their honeymoon.

While you go back to.........where you still are. Single. And deep down, it feels a little unfair. You're back to "square one".

My friends, let's be honest--haven't we all felt this way before? Haven't we all said "Hey, so happy for you!" while inside we're thinking But I wish it was me!

This is where rejoicing with those who rejoice becomes hard. When they have something you want.

I'm convinced in my own life that I really don't let the truth of Romans 8:28 sink down into my being as it should. I am called according to God's purpose. He chose to create a purpose for me, a sinner. For His glory. Not mine. For His purpose. Not mine.

How it must grieve my Lord when I spend more time fussing over the purpose He's given to someone else, rather than seeking the purpose He's created for me.
Rejoicing with those who rejoice means realizing that my life is not happening as it is by mistake. God is not rewarding so and so because they "did it right".
He is moving their life elsewhere according to the purpose He has for them.
And I am not where I am because I "did it wrong".
I am where I am because God is fulfilling His purpose in my life, for His glory.
It should be exciting to us, to know that we are part of His plan! Celebrate!
You are not single by mistake. God is preparing you for the next part of your purpose, whatever it may be. Rejoicing is more than being happy for someone.
Rejoicing is praising the Lord because He is faithfully directing their lives to fulfill His plans.

So rather than bemoan when someone moves in the direction you're wishing for, smile!
God is at work in both of your lives--to fulfill the purposes He has called you to.

And you haven't gotten lost in the shuffle.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Broken Hearts

"A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise."
Psalm 51, Prayer Book, Jordanville translation

Why do we wait? Why do we not just go out into the world and date whoever we like for however long? Many times we will say it is because we are saving ourselves for our future husband. This is an admirable decision. But sometimes people will say that they believe in waiting, believe in courtship or "dating with a purpose" to save them from a broken heart.

While this attitude is understandable, I think we have to ask whether it comes from God or from a selfish desire to avoid pain. But our hearts will be broken. They will be broken by friends, by co-workers, by family, by the times we live in, by characters in books--and I do not believe this is a bad thing. When our hearts are broken we learn to turn to God. We learn to share the pain of others. If we walk through the world untouched by those around us, we are not really following God's will.

Now, I am not advocating that we go out and open our hearts up to every young man we meet. I'm not advocating that we abandon the courtship/dating with a purpose ideal. What I am advocating is an end to the idea that courtship will somehow save us from a broken heart and that this is a good thing. Courtship is not a guarantee that our lives will be safe and happy. I wouldn't want it to be because God did not ask that our lives be safe and happy. He asked that our lives be His.

Part of the reason I think it is important to look at this issue squarely is that the idea that courtship prevents broken hearts has a corollary: If you have a broken heart, you did it wrong somehow. This idea is so destructive. It leads to so much shame and guilt where instead there should be a turning to God for healing and love. Sometimes hearts are broken through no fault of their own. I know it sounds wrong and unfair, but it is the truth. And to add blame to that pain is wrong.

I know I've been a little harsh in this post. But there is hope out there. Remember, "a heart that is broken and humbled, God will not despise." It hurts. And yet God is there, to turn all our sorrow to joy, to "wipe all tears from every face," according to one Orthodox prayer. His grace can turn our dross to gold.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TEA BASKET GIVEAWAY!!!!!

Attention Readers!  As a special way of showing our appreciation and a thank you for reading our blog we are hosting a "Tea Basket Giveaway"!!!  Start cheering now, because this is going to be a really fantastic-ly fun prize!

Every one of us here at the IDD  Blog has contributed something to make up this good-y basket to go to one lucky winner!

Whoever wins this basket gets:
Tea Cup and Tea from Deb
A lovely potpourri sachet from Maureen
Chocolate from Krista
A yummy recipe from Sarah 
Cute woodsy basket from Katie
Scarf from Rebecca

Sounds lovely, no?
So, here are the rules.  Leave a note in the comments here using the phrase "please enter me in the drawing."  And then, (since you're already commenting) :) let us know what you think of the blog, ask us any questions you'd like, tell us what you'd like to see more of, whatever you want!  You can only enter once UNLESS...... You also give us a shoutout!  If you let other people know about our site and the prize giveaway on your  LJ or blog, you can enter your name twice!  Just leave us a link to your blog or LJ in the comments with your twice entered name :)

So, that's it!  You have until Friday night at midnight to enter.  The winner will be announced Saturday!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

A Perfectionist Learns to Knit

Stitch your stress away.
- Author Unknown

Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit, either.
- Elizabeth Zimmerman


My sister is teaching me to knit. I had the brilliant idea of creating a simple, yet pretty scarf to give to a friend. I have two weeks in which to learn and finish a perfect masterpiece.

I’m an impatient perfectionist.

I want it to look beautiful and I want it to look beautiful now.

Five rows of stitches later, my scarf looks as though it two of my siblings were fighting over it; some stitches are tight, others are loose and the entire thing just looks…wobbly.

“You just need to get the hang of it,” my sister says. “It will improve.”

My brother looks at the fern green bit of scarf thoughtfully. “So, one end will look great and the other will look horrible. Nice!”

I glower at my knitting and begin tearing out stitches. The yarn breaks and well, it’s bedtime. Tomorrow is another day. Another day in which I can drop stitches and learn to find that nice balance between loose stitches and tight.

People say knitting is therapeutic. Perhaps it is. Learning to knit certainly is not.

And yet, I think I like the clicking of the needles and the sight of my fuzzy green yarn turning into something, even if it is a crooked, wobbly something. Maybe it will turn out to be stress-relieving after all.

I’ll let you know how it turns out, wobbliness and all.

- written October 2008

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Overcoming Discouragment Part 1

The last few weeks have probably been the most roller coaster-y weeks of my life.  You see, the devil decided that I should take a long walk down Discouragement  Lane.  The only thing is, God didn't want me down there and frankly I wasn't to happy about it either.  So, I've been up and down, in and out of discouragment quite a bit lately.  Now, you are probably wondering why on earth I'm telling you all this.  Well... I'm telling you this because through those weeks God gave me some wonderful tools to overcoming discouragement.  I'd learn the lesson, use the tool and be happy for a few days, successfully using the new tool I'd received.  Then a few days later the devil would figure a way around my new found happiness and I'd head down Discouragement Lane again.  After repeating this a few times I began asking God why?  "Why are letting me go through this?  Why didn't the first tool work for good?"  God felt so far away and I kept asking why? "Why were you so close some may times recently only for me to turn around and wonder where you went?  I know you didn't leave me, but why am I going through this.  Where are you this time, I need the next tool, I'm trying to learn what you have for me, but I'm lost I need your help!!!" For a while, I didn't have an answer, then one day a quote popped into my head, and I didn't understand it.  It just kept coming over and over thinking "It was then that I carried you."  My finite mind didn't understand that that was my answer.  God was telling me that he was there, in fact he wasn't far from me at all.  He had scooped me up in His strong arms and was safely and securing carrying me back to happy territory :-)
So, hopefully over the next few weeks I will be imparting those tools to you.  God gave me the opportunity to learn and have the experience of using the tools, and hopefully they will be an encouragement and tool for you to use as well.  Not that you should be discouraged, but just in case, I'll give you a few tips to help you along the way.
So until next week I'll leave you with the last thing God gave me.
"It was then that I carried you."
and all I could do was grab ahold of that and say "O.k. Lord I'm trusting that you are carrying me."

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Loving People


"Love is doing what will enthrall the beloved with the greatest and longest joy. What will enthrall the beloved this way is the glory of God. Love means doing all we can, at whatever cost to ourselves, to help people be enthralled with the glory of God. When they are, they are satisfied and God is glorified. Therefore loving people and glorifying God are one.”

~John Piper

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Great Expectations Part 2

PART ONE HERE  
              Girls, let’s face it.  There are not very many of us that are totally and completely content with our lives as they are.  I’ve never met anyone that could tell me they loved their life so much, that there wasn’t one single thing about it they would ever want to change.  And if I ever did hear someone say that I would probably assume they were fibbing.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we all have terrible lives.  I certainly don’t have a terrible life.  In fact, I have a pretty good life.  But, I’m not wholly and absolutely happy all the time.  Sometimes I feel like I have huge voids in my life.  Since I’m single I find myself quite often blaming my discontent on being single.  I’ve heard a lot of girls doing this same thing.  And along with that comes the idea that “if I had a husband I’d be happy.”  I’d have someone to talk to.  Someone who understands me.  I’d feel like I had a purpose in life. 

                 This is a very dangerous way to think.   Of course we girls should long for marriage.  It’s a very good and proper thing to desire.  We’re supposed to desire it. But, marriage is not a cure-all for what-ails-you.  If you’re struggling with something in your life, don’t just chalk it up to your lack of a significant other.  Dig a little deeper.  Find the real reason and deal with it.  If you don’t, it will be all that much harder to deal with later when you are married.  Once you are married you are responsible for so much more than just yourself.  Everyone and everything you are responsible for will suffer for your buried issues. 

                  Imagine this.  You have a bitterness buried deep in your heart, and all your single years you refuse to deal with it.  You assume that the real reason you are unhappy and discontent is that you are lonely.  Someday a handsome prince comes into your life.  He is just wonderful, everything you’ve ever wanted in a husband.  He sweeps you off your feet.  You get married in June.  You are happy for a while.  But, then something happens that upsets you.  He says something insensitive.  He doesn’t mean to, but he’s human, after all.  He makes mistakes.  But, you are hurt.  All the old bitterness comes to the surface.  Suddenly, whatever little thing it was that upset you to begin with blows up into a huge issue.  He doesn’t know what he did that caused you to get so riled up, and you are mad that he is so insensitive that he doesn’t know.  You’re certainly not going to pour salt in your own wound by spelling it out for him.  So, you stomp out of the room and slam the door.  Icy silence for a few hours.  Or days maybe.  You’re not happy, He’s not happy, the kids aren’t happy…  When Mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy… right? 

                Girls we need to be so careful in our expectations.  It’s not fair to our future husbands.  We can’t expect them to be perfect.  We can’t expect them to be able to take away all of our unhappiness and give us happiness, we can’t expect them to solve all of our problems.  They can’t.  They’re just men.  Just human beings like us. 

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have expectations.  We should.  But, we need to expect reality.  Not utopia. 

BUT, the good news is:  there is a utopia for us! 

God has Great Expectations for us too:

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 

               The really good news is:  God actually can fill all of our voids.  He can help us with our bitterness.  He understands us, He’s always there for us to talk to, and He can give us a purpose in life.  In fact, He gave us our lives to begin with.  Without Him we wouldn’t even have life. 

Psa 62:5  My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.

Pro 23:18  For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

Pro 24:14  So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Great Expectations Part 1

I have some great expectations.  I have always, always, for as long as I can remember supposed that I would get married.  I believed that I was called to be a wife and mother.  I imagined that I would marry at the age of 19.  I would be done with high school by then.  I had no plans for college.  Why would I need to go to college?  I wouldn’t need a career because my husband would be our bread-winner.  My career would be “stay-at-home-mom.”  There are no courses to be taken in How to be a Good Wife,”  “Raising Children to Serve God 101,” “Homeschooling Your Children” or “Housekeeping for Dummies.”  Everything I needed to know I learned at home from my mother.  I learned to cook and clean.  I helped my little brothers and sisters with their school work.  I didn’t date because I knew that God would bring me my perfect match so why should I fool around with fate? 

                    My “great expectation” to be married at 19 did not happen.  Ok, so 19 is a little young.  I’ll concede that.  Then, I planned on getting married at 20… and then 21… and then 22… and so on.  It’s been quite a few years since 19.  But, I wonder what expectations we all have about our princes and marriage in general.  Here’s a couple of scenario’s for you.

                    It’s a beautiful summer day, the flowers are blooming and the sun is shining.  The time is late afternoon; you’re in your bright, sunny kitchen preparing dinner for your family.  The children are playing sweetly outside on the swing set, their laughter floats to you on the breeze that is whispering at the open window and dancing with the curtains.  You smile and hum to yourself as you chop home-grown vegetables and dump them into the frying pan..  Any moment your husband will walk in the door, he’ll toss the boys in the air and hug the girls.  But first, he’ll have a kiss for you.  When dinner is ready, you’ll all sit down to a wonderful candle-lit meal, served up on those adorable dishes you ordered from Crate and Barrel.  You’ll all laugh together as you talk about your day.  Later, after the children are bathed and tucked into bed with a story and a kiss, you and your husband sit outside under the stars, and just talk.  Just enjoy each other’s company…

                   We all have great expectations.  Reality is often another story.  Here’s another scenario.

                  It’s still a beautiful summer day, but you’re too tired and hot to notice.  The air conditioning is broken and you’ve spent the whole afternoon trying to fix it.  Frustrated, you finally give up and go inside.  The children are climbing the walls, crying, they just want your attention, but you don’t have time.  Your husband will be home any minute and you haven’t even thought about what to make for dinner.  You pop a video into the VCR (the DVD player is broken) and set the kids in front of the TV.   What to do for dinner?  There are no homegrown vegetables to glean from the garden, because there is no garden.  You’re not allowed to grow anything on your rental property.  The fridge is almost empty, you haven’t been to the grocery store yet this week, in fact you haven’t been out of the house at all because you only have one car and your husband takes it to work.  You grab a jar of Prego out of the cupboard (the last one) and a box of pasta.  Meatless spaghetti.  Again.  Your husband comes home from a long day at work.  He’s hoping to sit down to a steak dinner, but instead he gets a dirty house, crying kids, a cranky wife and meatless spaghetti.  Again.

Part 2 Coming Tomorrow....

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