Saturday, January 31, 2015

Culture's view on work

It's amazing how much culture influences us in ways that we don't even realize.

As Christians, we're told to watch out for "worldly" ways. We shouldn't gossip, be sexually loose or be financially irresponsible. A lot of what to watch out for, we realize. However, as we start to talk about the importance of work in Sunday school, I am seeing that culture has influenced Christians' view of work without us realizing it.

I think my view of work has boiled down to two things --- working to pay for a good life and dealing with daily work until I can have fun. I always wanted to have a job that I enjoyed --- who doesn't? --- and of course I hoped I'd be somewhere I could make a difference, but I knew the real purpose of work was to pay the bills and hopefully have enough left over to have fun with.

Even work in my free time --- cleaning, laundry, yard work --- just had to be plowed through to get to free time when I could watch TV and relax.

I never considered that God created us to work. It goes all the way back to Genesis, when God created us --- his own work --- and then put man in dominion over everything on his creation. He created us in his image, and that means as a being that works, and then he gave us work to do.

Culture tells us we are supposed to trudge through work to get to play and that retirement and not working is the pinnacle of success. That's not true though. We have to watch out for where culture enters our lives and don't even know it.

Instead of listening to the world and working for the weekend, Christians need to listen to God and start working for him. He created us to work, so how can we find fault in that? Well, we can, but we shouldn't...

Friday, January 30, 2015

Exercise buddies

It's going on 10 months since my friends and I started regularly exercising together.

My friend Ashley suggested that we do a Color Run in town, and we started Couch to 5K to get us going since none of us were runners.

We did it, and we ran about half of it, which at that point was a success.

Instead of quitting, we decided to keep going. That led to needing new sports bras and to finding a place to exercise inside when the weather got too cold to run outdoors to struggling through Insanity for the third time to getting running shoes as a Christmas present. Who would have thought I would ask for new running shoes for a Christmas present?

Although it's been a long time, I have to say, exercise still isn't easy. Of the three days a week that we get up at 5:30 a.m., every one is a struggle. I hate to get up early, and I still want to lay in the nice, warm bed and doze instead of getting up.

Having friends who are there waiting for makes all the difference though. I can't leave them hanging, so it forces me to get out of bed and put on those workout clothes and turn on lights and get moving.

It takes me until the cool down usually, but by then I'm glad I did it. I know I'm in better shape and that I'm healthier, and the whistles from my husband are great motivation too.

A lot of people have made new year's resolutions to work out and get in better shape this year, and this is probably about the time that they want to quit. I hope that they have friends like mine who force them to keep going though. It's nice to have someone there to kick your butt in gear.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

TV wives vs. godly wives

Debra and Ray fight constantly on "Everybody Loves Raymond," with Debra often berating her husband for little things that should not cause drama.

Kari picks at Doug on "King of Queens" and acts like an all-around...not nice woman.

Molly dominates her boyfriend-then-husband on "Mike & Molly."

The other night when we were watching TV, Nate turned to me and said, "They should make a TV wife like you."

"Nice?" I said.

He continued on about how annoying it was to see woman constantly immaculate their husbands and act like it's OK to dominate a relationship and constantly nag and berate men on TV. He said a biblically good wife would be much better to watch.

Wives who submit to their husbands, serve their men by cooking and cleaning and support their husbands as they go to work day after day after day don't make for interesting TV. Those kinds of wives don't create drama in their household, don't pick fights and don't cause the ups and downs that creates a sitcom.

However, the sad part is a lot of women do act like the wives on TV. They see those horrid examples on the little screen at home and on the big screen in the theaters, and the women of today think that's how they're supposed to act. They think it's normal to want everything they see in stores and to expect their husbands to pay for it. They think it's normal to want their men to work hard and bring home the bacon but not to work so much that it interferes with their schedule.

Then the moment they don't get what they want, they think it's OK to pick a fight or give the silent treatment or storm out of the house, because that's what they see the women on TV doing.

But it's not OK.

God put men as the head of the household. That wasn't a problem until humans ate of a tree they weren't supposed to eat of and sin entered the world. From that moment on, Eve and all her female descendants were cursed with "your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." Another translation says, "Your desire will be to control your husband."

The fact that women want to control their men is not a sign of strength, like our culture tells us. It is a sign of sin and weakness. We should support our husbands. We were created to be their helpmates, but ultimately we are to listen to them as the more logical sex and let them lead the house. It doesn't always feel good, but that is the way that God made it and that's the way that it works.

That also means that men have to step up and not let women control them. For years, Nate has joked that when he puts his foot down I listen. Most of the time it's just playful, but he knows that if we did disagree and he put his foot down, I would step back and let him lead. That's my job, and it's his job to put his foot down if need be.

A relationship with mutual love and respect and trust, working in the way that God created marriage to work is a beautiful thing.

And I wish that it made for good TV so people could see what a real relationship looks like instead of falling for the lies told to us on TV.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Purposes for unjust suffering

We're still going through 1 Peter in church, and last week was on unjust suffering. This week the pastor also talked about this topic and the reasons unjust suffering can be beneficial.

Unjust suffering can be looked at in a myriad of ways --- illness, faith persecution, getting in trouble for doing something right. One way to look at it is law enforcement, which is controversial right now. Many law enforcement officers are suffering unjustly for doing their jobs, for trying to protect us.

Looking at Jesus's example, it says in 1 Peter 3 that just suffered to take on the sins of the unrighteous. His unjust suffering had a purpose for it. It's somewhat similar to law enforcement, who fight for us and take on the issues that come along with fighting evil. Instead of citizens having to protect themselves and dealing with death and injury that comes with that, they fight for us and take on those consequences. It's purposeful, although unjust, suffering.

If Christ suffered in the flesh, we can "arm ourselves with the same way of thinking. " God let his son through suffering and did incredible good, and if any of us face that he can do wonders through us as well.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Work wasn't meant to be bad

Christians often seek work as the result of the fall in the Garden of Eden. We think in a perfect world that we wouldn’t have to do work at all and that we could just play and “enjoy life.”

At church, our pastors have gotten together a group of professional individuals from a variety of fields and invited us to take part in a class with the theme “Work Matters.” It started this Sunday and began right at the beginning of the Bible to show that work has been around since the very beginning.

God worked when he created the Earth and all its inhabitants. He immediately asked Adam to work as well, putting him in charge of all of creation and asking him to maintain the garden. That means Adam had responsibility and something to do every day.

Of course, after the fall, sin made work more difficult and made us dislike it. But it wasn’t meant to be that way in the beginning.

We are to see work actually as a blessing. It was given to us by God, and it was given for a reason. If you look at work as an act of wor(k)ship for an audience of one, it becomes more important and makes you want to give your all.

Plus, we know that God is in charge of everything. So in that effect, we’re his subordinate, his employees. When we see him as our boss, we will want to do quite well at our jobs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Monopoly City: Winner, winner

A huge push of ours at work is to get people out of the house and into nature.

It often makes me think about what we have been doing in our free time and makes me want to get away from the television and either outside or doing something that connects us a little bit more.

This Sunday I pulled out Monopoly City from the shelf in the basement that it's been stored since we moved into our house. We couldn't even remember how to play, because I think we only played that version once when we first got it.

It took a little direction reading, OK, a lot of direction reading, and we finally figured out how this version of the game differed from the original.

The game said to set a timer and that it would beep at us when the first hour was over so we could decide whether to play longer or not. I didn't figure it would take us that long to play, since it was just two of us.

Turns out, that might make the game even longer.

It was tight at first, as we figured out how to play this more elaborate version of the business game. And then the tide shifted into my favor.

Little by little, I started to buy while Nate started to have money issues. Little by little he mortgaged his properties and I continued to erect buildings. Little by little it became obvious I was ahead.

Three hours after we started, Nate went bankrupt, and I joyfully realized my success.

You see, I don't think I have ever won at Monopoly. Ever. I don't remember ever winning at Monopoly Junior, regular Monopoly or Monopoly City. And there for a while in high school, we played a lot of Monopoly.

Nate always wins at Monopoly. Always.

I have to say, winning felt pretty good. It was a high I kept going for about an hour, before we headed to a friends' house and my team started to lose pretty good to Nate's at euchre.

Good thing we never finished that game.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Following that voice inside

It's our job to ask, it's not people's job to accept.

I have felt called to reach out to a volunteer from work, and it was a huge blessing to be able to go to her house last weekend and bring her meals and run to the library to get some books for her to read as she is stuck at home due to back pain.

I called this week, and I was going to stop by to give her some company. She said she was busy, which is perfectly fine. She may be busy, she may not be. However, I realize it's my job to ask but it's not her job to accept.

When God asks us to do something, I don't think it always works out. Just because I felt like I should call and offer my company again this week, God knew that she was busy and didn't need me to stop by. However, he certainly expected me to follow through with what he was calling me to do.

Part of it is that he is just testing us to see if we are going to do what he asks us to. What you think God is calling you to do might not work out, but that doesn't mean that you don't have to do it.

I'm trying to get better at following the still, silent feeling inside. It's so easy to see something that you know you should do, but you would rather go run errands or go about your daily life and stay comfortable rather than put yourself out there. It's hard and often uncomfortable to do something that, well, makes you uncomfortable.

Even when I am called to serve someone that I know well, I get an uneasy feeling in my stomach and I start to sweat when I make the call about it. I don't know why it's hard to serve someone, but I know that it's even more uncomfortable to face God in my heart and know that I have intentionally ignored him.

When I start to worry about how people have taken me or what I have said, I have to keep thinking back that I am doing what God told me to do. If people can fault me, that's OK. If God can fault me, that's certainly not OK.

If I do what I'm supposed to, the rest is up to God. If I ignore God I can't expect him to stand up for me in that situation.

Help me Lord to hear you still, small voice inside me and to have the courage to follow what you're calling me to do, no matter what it is. It's hard and it's scary, but I know that I can rely on you if I'm doing what you've told me.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Cold hands...

Some crazy storms have been cutting through the Midwest this week, from snow to high winds causing blizzard conditions.

It has been interesting to go through this week and see how much a little weather can cause your life to change.

Monday school got out early which meant that dance was postponed. We moved it to today, but I thought it might be nice because I wasn't going to work Friday as I had to work Saturday at our winter sports area for work. However, school has then been out and had the schedule changed, and winds changed snow conditions, so I wasn't sure if we would have dance or if I would be working Friday or Saturday.

It ended up that my schedule was completely normal, even a little freer than usual because dance was once again postponed and the wind blew all the snow away from our sports area at work so there is no need to work this weekend.

However, we were thankful for the storms that blew in when it meant that everything was cancelled tonight and all my college girlfriends and I could actually get together and chat. We try to do it every two weeks, but it doesn't usually work out for all of us at the same time. Tonight, the storms freed all our schedules to coincide.

Chatting about pregnancy, people we know in common, movies, work, tattoos --- it's just nice to be a five-some once again.

Living in the Midwest, we usually see winter as rough, cold, long and miserable. We wonder why we live in such a cold place, where it sometimes hurts to walk outside.

But when those snowy days bring everyone into the living room to play a game in front of a warm fire, or puppies run inside and want to cuddle up on your lap, or tight schedules are loosened and allow old friends to catch up, it seems like winter might just be a treasure that brings people together.

They say "cold hands, warm heart," and since pretty much everyone in Midwest has cold hands in the winter, it must warm up all our hearts.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What I want to wake up to

What would you wake up with today if you only had what you thanked God for yesterday?

It's important to go through life with thankfulness, and I think this question makes us think about how many things we want and like that we don't thank God for.

So here are 10 things I want to wake up with tomorrow that I'm thankful for today.

1. My husband --- I certainly want to wake up with him every day.
2. My job --- We have lots of financial goals, and I would like to help my husband meet them by continuing to have a job!
3. My warm home --- With temperatures in the negative digits, I'm thankful for this warm place to live.
4. My dog --- She is grumpy but her cuddles are the best.
5. The rest of my family --- I have a wonderful family that I'm very thankful for.
6. My faith --- Of course, I would be nowhere without Jesus.
7. A free country --- We never know what's going to happen, so each day I'm thankful I still live in a place that's free and where I can safely have my Christian beliefs.
8. Money --- It's hard to not be thankful for a safe account in the bank that we can have bless others and still have fun.
9. Friends --- Although I like to think I don't need anyone other than my man, I'm blessed with some wonderful friends and I want to have them when I wake up tomorrow.
10. Food on the table --- The fish in the oven downstairs are filling and yummy and I'm thankful we don't have to worry where our meals are coming from!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Men and marriage sermon

I am obviously not an expert on the topic of men and marriage, because I am neither a man nor have I been married very long. So I thought I would leave you with the words of a great role model of a man and of marriage --- our pastor.

His sermon on Sunday was on men and marriage, and it made me realize just how wonderful my husband is. It seemed like most of what our pastor was recommending my husband is already doing. So I thank God for that.

First, he recommended men learn their wives. When it says in 1 Peter for husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way as we are the weaker vessel, it doesn't mean for them to shake their heads at us and be "understanding" at our limitations. This "understanding" means to know us, to learn us, to acclimate to who we are.

Men need to realize that women are different, specifically because we are women. We are emotional thinkers, we're physically weaker in general, we like different things than men. However, husbands also have to realize that their wife is different because she is her own person. He needs to know her and learn who she is as an individual as well as a woman.

Everyone has a love language as well, or several. Husbands and wives should learn what their spouses' love languages are, because it's not enough to show you care but you have to show you care in a way the other person understands and truly feels cared about.

The five love languages are touch, quality time, words of affirmation, gifts and service. If you want to show your husband you love him by cuddling with him, but what he really wants are words of affirmation and a love letter, cuddling might not show him what you think it does. You need to speak his language, and he needs to speak yours.

Husbands are also commanded to honor their wives. Honor your wife in your speech, both to her and about her. Honor her with your time. Honor her with how you choose to spend money. Honor her parentally and emotionally.

Protect your wife from others, from yourself and from herself. Make sure she is taken care of. Protect her both physically and emotionally.

Finally, lead your wife spiritually. Although the typical U.S. congregation is 61 percent female and 39 percent male, to be a good husband you need to step up and lead your wife and family spiritually. That means praying for her and with her. That means encouraging Bible study together, not just apart. That means discussing spiritual topics. That means seeking God on your own so you can be strong enough to lead her as well.

I think one thing that makes marriages suffer is that men and women think once they have tied the knot that's it. They're done trying. Out come the sweatpants, out the window goes the patience. Marriage is work. It takes thought. So men, be men of God and stand up for your relationship. Take care of your woman!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dinner for a chilly night

My husband is shoveling the lovely, massive amount of snow that is hitting the Midwest and dance was postponed due to weather so I'm making something warm for when he comes in.

The teakettle is heating up so I will quickly share my recipes!

Cheesy potato soup
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
6 cups milk
6 potatoes
1-2 cups cubed ham
8 ounces cheddar
1 cup sour cream

Melt butter and make a roux with thw flour. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly five minutes. Add cubed potatoes and ham. (We always baked the potatoes, cooled and peeled them but it's less time consuming if you use raw).

Simmer 20 minutes, add cheese and sour cream. Simmer until thickened!

Apple crisp
4-5 cups sliced apples
1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup melted butter

Layer sliced apples in buttered 9x9 baking dish. Mix topping ingredients in separate bowl and add melted butter. Sprinkle on apples. Bake about 30 minutes in 350 degree oven.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Planning the garden

Flat beige pepper seeds, teeny tiny cherry tomato seeds, chunky snap pea seeds.

Open, half-filled packages were lined up on my white-painted wood floor as I decided what seeds to plant in my garden this year.

It seemed only fitting that as the new year started I should order seeds for my garden, where new growth is always a sign of impending bounty and beautiful weather.

I have a lot of seeds left from last year that I didn't need since my garden area is so small, but Nate said to buy new seeds anyway because who knows where the world will be in the next couple of years. We might need those extra seeds in a time of less bounty.

I spent lots of time scouring my Seed Savers catalogue when it came in the mail about a month ago and had narrowed the offerings down to the top couple in each variety. Then I finally had to make some decisions as I ordered each.

Two kinds of beans, carrots, peas, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, romaine lettuce, basil and oregano. I got close to the amount you had to order and not pay shipping, so I threw some broom corn on there as well to grow for a beautiful decoration next fall.

Gardening brings so much joy, year round. It's not only when the plants grow and I get to see them turn from tiny sprouts into bountiful harvest, but it's when I look in the freezer and see all that we have that came from the work of our hands and God's blessing. It's so nice to know that you have worked hard and saved money and what you have done is paying off.

I'm already excited about getting those seeds and planning the garden for this year. I think with all the half packets I have this will be a test year. I will get to see which tomatoes really do grow quickest and have a bountiful harvest and which beans taste the best and which carrots grow in the soil we have.

With a new year comes hope of things to come!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Time to enjoy 2015

After a break, I know that I need to start blogging again in 2015.

You know why?

It makes me think. When I know that I need to blog, it makes me contemplate what is going on around me as I try to come up with a topic to write about. The past two months when I haven't written a post, I've realized that I've been going along and living life without thinking much about it.

It's a new year, and I know that I need to appreciate each day as it comes and really soak in those little moments and little things that make everyday life worth living and enjoying.

You don't have to constantly do something "fun" to enjoy life. It's those little moments, like I say in the description of this blog, that are so wonderful.

Last night, most people went out and partied to celebrate the new year. Nate and I discussed what we wanted to do since we both had the night off, and we ultimately came to the conclusion that we didn't have a desire to go out and deal with crowds of people.

We picked up a taco pizza and watched "Mike & Molly" until we went to bed about 9:30 p.m. (don't judge us, we're both sick) and watched some of "The O.C."

I was thinking about it, and I realized that many people go out on New Year's Eve to find someone to kiss and go home with, but we already had that. What was the need to go out and get annoyed at the crowds and waste money? We had a perfectly good time, and we're plenty rested today!

Plus, this morning I got a special treat. Nate was heading downstairs to get a bowl of cereal, and I asked if he would make us French toast --- because for some reason I am terrible at it. He brought me up a plate with four pieces of deliciousness topped with syrup and whipped cream and himself a bowl of cereal. I figured he would make French toast for both of us, but he made it just for me instead of saying he was in the mood for cereal. I'm sorry if it's bragging, but what a wonderful man!

So it's those little moments like last night and this morning that I am going to cherish this year.

Happy 2015, and enjoy the little things.