"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." Proverbs 14:1

Too often I run through life doing this or that and getting frustrated by little interruptions. I get angry when the house is a mess or the laundry doesn't get done. I become overwhelmed by the paperwork that needs sorted and filed. I just get exhausted from trying to do it all.

Proverbs 14:1 offers me both encouragement and conviction, "The wise woman builds her house, butwith her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." The second part of the verse is what struck me: "with her own hands." When I try to do it all myself, yes, I get frustrated, angry, and overwhelmed. And when I'm frustrated, angry and overwhelmed, everyone in the house seems to be on edge.

But I believe the "wise woman" reaches out to those around her for support and together her house is built stronger. I am so blessed to have an amazing husband who listens to my crazy vents, knows when I've reached "my limit" and helps with the house and kids. I know that we have a true partnership in our family and for that I am so grateful.

I am also thankful for wonderful sisters in the Lord who allow me to just be me; and who support me emotionally and physically when I am struggling. I believe sharing ideas on raising children, marriage, and homemaking matters is so important. (Hence the reason I started this blog.) Thank you, Mindy and Diana, for being such wonderful friends and making my home stronger!
 
 
"Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

The other day I went to the store sporting my favorite over-sized sweatshirt, a pony tail, and no makeup, which is not out of the ordinary. While there, I ran into a couple people that I used to work with at the bank. They looked so polished in their appearance and I suddenly became VERY aware of my frumpiness and every pound I've gained over the last several years.

My eight month old son was with me, which was my only comfort. I kept trying to divert people's attention to his adorable chubby cheeks and huge smiles. My "use Jadon as a diversion" plan was working pretty well until I took him out of the shopping cart at the checkout and he leaked through his diaper all over my sweatshirt. Great...frumpy and now peed on.

Of course I had one more stop to make and was already running late to finish supper for the Bible Study group. So I did a quick diaper and clothes change for him in the van and ran into the grocery store. After running into a couple more people (and feeling like a horrible parent as the only outfit I had in the diaper bag was short sleeved and it was definitely a long-sleeved type of day) I felt like crawling in a hole and hiding.

Why is it that we care so much about what others think of us? The Bible tells us that "man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." Rather than focusing on my over-sized sweatshirt and ponytail, I need to focus on my heart. What does God see in me that needs polished/transformed?

It is much easier to create a personal checklist including make-up and dieting, than admitting there are internal issues to deal with. Am I thinking about "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable" (Philippians 4:8)? Have I "learned to be content whatever the circumstances" (Philippians 4:11)? Do I care more about "clothing myself with compassion, kindness, humilty, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12) than the dress that doesn't fit anymore?

I firmly believe that when our hearts are in-tune with God, our outward appearance reflects it. If we focus on Him and the standards He reveals to us in scripture, then He will shine through us so that others will see His glory.  So let's "put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).
 
 
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

Good Morning! Oh how I’ve missed blogging the last few days. My family and I spent four days visiting my sister and then with Easter preparation yesterday morning, I’ve been out of my routine. It feels so good to sit down and write again.

We had a wonderful time visiting with family the last several days, but now I’m now faced with the aftermath. You know what I’m talking about: the piles of laundry, the bags of “stuff” dropped here and there, dishes to be found and washed, and just that overwhelming feeling of chaos.

Has anyone ever read the book, “Men are like Waffles and Women are Like Spaghetti?” Well, today, I’m a total spaghetti thinker. One little task leads to three more. The mess left from our trip, reminds me that I really wanted to get our office/toy room organized today. Thinking about organizing the office makes me think about paperwork in general and the fact that I still don’t have our taxes prepared and I really need to get back on track with our family budget. The family budget triggers the thought that I need to go to the grocery store but not until I check for store deals. Even if I check for store deals, I still need to get my coupons organized. For some reason organizing coupons reminds me that Seth has a meeting tonight that I wanted to bake cookies for. Oh nuts, and Jadon leaked through his diaper this morning, so I need to make sure to wash his bedding. Speaking of Jadon, his pants look horrible after crawling around on the floor, I really need to clean the floor. Oh, and Seth needs his suits dry cleaned this week and wants to go to Muscatine today, which would be a great opportunity to get that grocery shopping done. Nuts, I really need to get that menu done, my nieces will be here for supper tonight and we are providing the meal for Bible Study Wednesday night, but I have no idea what to fix. Fix...Oh, I need to get those names and numbers entered so I can let everyone know my new phone number. **Sniff**Sniff** Do I smell a poopy diaper?

Of course, all of these thoughts run through my mind in 5 seconds, giving me no time to really focus on any of them, but get incredibly overwhelmed by all of them. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10. I know that way too often I run through life jumping from one thing to another and never think about exalting God in any of it. Has not God called me to motherhood and all the crazy joys that come along with it?

Taking a moment to “be still” and then choosing to exalt Him in all that I do, doesn’t remove the burdens of being a wife and mother; but it certainly helps keep it all in perspective. As a mom, I am serving the Lord. As a housekeeper, I’m serving the Lord. As a cook, I’m serving the Lord. As a bookkeeper, I’m serving the Lord. As a pastor’s wife, I’m serving the Lord. As a child of the risen King, I am serving the Lord.

May my ramblings today help you know you are not alone in your craziness and encourage you to think about serving Him as you tackle the to-do list. My first 'to-do' for the day: serve the Lord at the diaper changing station.

 
 
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Today’s a day that I’m in awe of God’s immeasurable goodness. As I look back on the last eight years of my life, I’m amazed at all that He has done.

Eight years ago I was a single woman who was a workaholic. If I wasn’t working, I was serving in the church and loving on the children. My greatest desire was to be a wife and mother, so to serve the children of the church, was a tremendous blessing.

Since I worked, went to church, and lived in the same small town where I grew up, I was a bit sheltered, and didn’t really “get out” much. When I did venture from home, it was usually to a training I’d attend with a co-worker or a drive to a mall that was 30 miles away. FYI...that drive usually left me a nervous wreck because I wasn’t used to all the traffic.

God shook my little world when He called me to a short-term overseas mission trip to Belarus. The conviction to go was so great I had no choice but to echo the words from Isaiah 6:8, “Here am I, send me!” With that act of obedience, my life was changed forever.

My first mission trip opened my eyes to the world outside my little bubble and taught me total dependence on God. It taught me that no matter where you are and no matter what language you speak, when you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, there is an amazing family bond that surrounds you with love, comfort, and peace. It showed me the great need of those less fortunate and that a smile and a hug can cross any language barrier.

I’ve since been on two more overseas missions. I’ll never forget my last trip in 2007, when a Belarusian pastor called all the single women on our mission team forward to pray over us. He prayed for our lives and that the Lord would bless us with life partners. I cried then because the desire of my heart for a spouse was so great. And I cry now out of thankfulness that God heard and answered the prayers of His children. God has not only blessed me with a loving husband, but also two amazing children.

Ephesians 3 has reminded me that the power that got me on the plane for my first mission trip is the same power that is working within me today. It’s easier to think of God giving me the power to do a great missions project overseas than it is to think of Him giving me the power to love and discipline my children each day while doing the laundry, making supper, and cleaning the house. But it is only by His power working within me that my life will be able to do immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
 
 
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” Proverbs 31:10, 17

Oh, the month of April: celebration of our risen Lord, spring cleaning, trees in bloom, and taxes. Tax time should come as no surprise, since April rolls around the same time every year; and yet, I have still not filed my taxes.

Those of you who are pastor’s wives know the joys of tracking your housing expenses. I’m afraid that I was not the most organized in my recordkeeping last year, so preparing for tax filing is a daunting task. I know once I sit down and do it, it won’t be that big of a deal, but in my mind it’s HUGE!

Isn’t that how it is with so many things in our lives? I’m so busy...when we are rushing to a church event and running late. Life is so hard...when the diaper bag gets stuck on the door handle while carrying my 8-month old son in his car seat on our way to that church event. The house is a pigsty...when there is one pair of socks that didn’t make it to the clothes basket and some Cheerios on the floor. There’s nothing to fix for supper...when I’m staring at a freezer full of meat and veggies. The list goes on and on. I have quite the flare for the dramatic, don’t I?

Now, what’s the most logical thing to do when things are SO overwhelming? Whine and complain about them or totally avoid them, right? Oops. I’m pretty sure that’s not the right answer, but that is definitely what I do. God tells us in Proverbs 14:23 “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Being organized can be hard work. Making a weekly or monthly menu plan, can be hard work. Addressing the family about helping with household chores, can be hard work. Taking time the night before to prepare for the next day so we don’t have to rush, can be hard work. Making sure our family commitments get on a joint calendar so there are minimal surprises and we can all be ready on time, can be hard work. Keeping paperwork together so tax time isn’t so daunting, can be hard work.

But we all know what happens when we don’t do the “hard work.” Nothing. Well, nothing but make ourselves miserable. So today’s challenge: attack the paperwork.

 
 
“You yearn for a simplified lifestyle, so your communication with Me can be uninterrupted. But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world. Accept each day just as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all.” Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

Is there anyone else who loves the start of a new month? I love the feeling of newness. The list of areas in my life that need improvement grow with each day of the month. But when the first day rolls around, whew, clean slate. This is the month I’m going to stick to my goals and fix all that broken stuff.

Well, I say that to myself every month and pretty much every month I once again fall short of my expectations. I yearn for a quick fix to make life easier or a pill that turns me into Super Woman so I can get it all done. But God is not calling me to “get it all done.” God knows I’m not going to “fix it all”

As I read my devotions this morning, I cried at the words of Sarah Young in her book, “Jesus Calling:” “Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with me.” The desire to control and fix everything, is one of my biggest struggles.

God has blessed me with two amazing children, and you all know how unpredictable and uncontrollable life can be with two children under three. I get frustrated and impatient when their natural demands interfere with my to-do list. Why am I so obsessed with that stinkin’ to-do list?! Lord, forgive me!

Of course, I don’t believe it’s the to-do list that’s the issue. It’s my attitude. It’s my heart. There are always going to be things that need done around the house and for the church; and God wants us to be good stewards of what He’s given us. But more importantly, He wants us to “pray continually” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. He wants us to “acknowledge him in all our ways, and He will make our paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6

Personally, I’ve written those two scripture references on note cards and placed them in the two places I frequent the most: the formula cabinet and on the bathroom mirror. I need these constant visual reminders to keep my focus on Him and not my lists. How are you going to switch your focus this month?

 
 
"My lover is mine and I am his." Song of Songs 2:16

As I reflect on the areas in my life where I focus the most of my time and energy, I'm concerned by my lack of focus on my husband. Children, laundry, cleaning, bills, cooking, and hobbies seem to drain my resources, leaving me little time to focus on him. Now let me just say that by my doing all these things, he can have confidence that his basic needs, and that of his children, are taken care of; but how often do we take time to just have fun together?

My husband and I haven't been married long enough that I've forgotten what it was like when we were dating. I remember those 2-3 hour conversations by phone at night, where work the next morning was the furthest thing from my mind.  I remember the excitement of just being together, of holding hands, and sharing the news that we were a couple.

Now we talk to each other in passing or just discuss logistics for the week. Rarely do we take time for deep conversation. Dinner is prepared out of necessity and not done in love with joy. Intimate moments can be squashed quickly by a crying child or just plain exhaustion from the day. What has happened?

Yes, I acknowledge that once a couple marries and spends every day together, that life can become routine. But does that make it right? Is that how it should be? Should we not "rejoice in the [spouse] of our youth?" (Proverbs 5:18)

My husband loves me. He chose me. He desires me. He is "my lover and I am his." I want to make a conscience effort to show him love.

There are numerous books available on marriage and how to enrich it after children come into the picture. I think I have a few of them in a drawer or on the bookshelf. But if I wait until I read those books and come up with a plan, I'll never get it done. I think starting with something simple, practical, and straight forward like scheduling a date night once per month, is a great start.

"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth-for your love is more delightful than wine." Song of Songs 1:2
 
 
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Living on the income from my husband’s two part-time jobs, has left our family searching to find ways to save money. One area that always literally eats at our budget is our grocery bill. So, I’ve started testing my skills with extreme couponing.

I can literally spend hours looking for coupons online, reading blogs about couponing, cutting coupons, finding sales, and then finally making the purchases. I hunt and click and clip, just knowing that there is a treasure out there that’s going to make me shout Woo Hoo!

As I was reading my devotion this morning, it struck me, “When was the last time I spent that much time and energy in God’s Word?” Proverbs 2:4-5 says “If you look for [wisdom] as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” I don’t think this verse is trying to say wisdom in God’s Word is necessarily hidden, but that we need to use the same intensity that we would in hunting for treasure (or coupons) to see its truths.

My prayer is that my heart can reflect the Pslamist who wrote:“Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me. My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.” Psalm 119:17-20.

 
 
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

I’ve read this verse many times in my life and just lumped it together with the verses that followed: “a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot...” but never really thought too much about it. Today however this verse jumped off the page. I felt in my heart it was speaking directly to me regarding my life right now as a mother of two little ones. 

Being a mom of a 2-year old and 8-month old can be so overwhelming. How can these two beautiful children, that I begged God for, cause so much stress?! A trip to the grocery store can drive me so nuts that I wish I had a sedative. Not to mention the day-to-day, minute-by-minute demands that leave me no time to focus or complete a thought. 

Just to drive home the point, I woke up at 5:30 and started reading my Bible and blogging shortly after. It is now 10:00 and I have yet to finish writing. I have been interrupted by an early morning riser who needed an immediate diaper change and was then content in his pack ‘n play for 5 minutes before demanding a bottle. After the bottle, he went from my lap, to the floor, to the exersaucer, to my lap, to the jumper, back to the floor, back to my lap, and then finally back to sleep an hour later. Of course, you know what happened next, right?

Yes, then my daughter wakes up ready for attention. She sits on my lap for a few minutes before asking for chocolate milk and yogurt. While getting that ready, I realize she is in desperate need of a diaper change as well. Then, there was a meltdown, over sitting at the dinning room table instead of her play table, which of course woke up her brother. He proceeded to scream and cry which caused a total mommy meltdown.

I told my husband that I needed a timeout and retreated to the bathroom. I flipped on the radio and Jeremy Camp’s song “Healing Hand of God” was playing. **Sigh** Perfect song for me to listen to as I stood in the hot shower, crying, and asking God for strength.

God knew what this morning was going to bring. He knew what interruptions were coming. He knows my current stress level and He cares! This lesson on Seasons isn’t meant to be learned in one day. This is an ongoing lesson that He must teach me every single day. Today I stand on the promise in Psalm 46:1 that “God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” I must turn to Him for wisdom and discernment in this and every season of life. 
 
 
"Be still in my presence, even though countless tasks clamor for your attention. Nothing is as important as spending time with Me." Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

As I've squandered most of my precious alone time this morning with sleeping in (until 6) and then running around the house picking up, starting a load of laundry, checking Facebook and eating breakfast; I wonder, was this written specifically for me?! I know how necessary my time is with the Lord every day, so why do I let things distract me? Is that load of laundry really more important than communing with God, the creator of Heaven and earth, who loved me so much that He sent His Son to die for me? 

Romans 12:2 tells us "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will." How can we be transformed if we don't spend time in His Word? The "pattern of this world" tells us to go, go , go and do, do, do. Yet God tells us in Psalm 46:10 to "Be still, and know that I am God." 

Sure there is a time and place to go and do, but if we don't spend time being still, we won't know what it is that God wants us to go and do. I pray that today, in spite of my poor time management this morning, I can find ways to "be still" throughout my day.