My Garden in Summer

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Spring walk and pick up of (most of) the trash

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This morning, this kids and I went for a neighborhood walk. According to Google Maps, it was about 1.3 miles.

The first five minutes of our walk sounded like this..

“Why do we have to do this?”

“…because I said so.”

“My feet hurt.”

“I have to pee.”

“…you were told to pee before we left. Next time you’ll obey.”

“I hate walking.”

“…be thankful you CAN walk. Stop complaining!”

“WHY DO WE HAVE TO DO THIS.”

“…stop making this walk a chore. Enjoy the nice day!”

“I REALLY have to pee!”

“…yup! Keep walking.”

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We didn’t turn around. We kept walking.. and picking up trash.. most of it, at least.

Over the course of our walk, I spotted three used condoms and each time strategically placed myself so they wouldn’t be noticed by my kids :D

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We collected two bags of litter along the way. Glass and plastic bottles, cardboard, candy wrappers, and lots of plastic scraps.

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The end of the walk sounded like this:

“Look at our house from up here!”

“Wow! Check out those flowers!”

“I really like the walking stick I found.. I want to carve it and make it look cool for next time.”

“Can we go for a walk again?”

“…of course!”

“Look at all the trash we picked up!”

“…excellent!”

“I CALL THE BATHROOM! I REALLY HAVE TO PEE!”

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Spring Video

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How would you describe your relationship?

“Which One Describes Your Marriage?” (click to read) was a post I read yesterday on the health of marriages. I’m still thinking about it today, and I’d like for you to read it, too. (I think the principles can be applied to all kinds of relationships, don’t you?)

I think the observation of “transactional” is be spot on. I have been there before — subconsciously keeping score on a few things, and it’s miserable. As the post says, it’s subtle. To the untrained eye, it might even look like it’s in the “Thriving” category, especially if you can keep up with pleasantries. However, you really can’t give your whole heart when you are relating to your spouse like that in the slightest.

Getting some advice from my pastor last year about ways *I* needed to alter my thoughts and behavior was life-changing. It was not only refreshing to my marriage, but my outlook in general. Specifically, I was taking things way too personally (especially when Tom would come home from a trip.. I was feeling a bit empty after not seeing him and wouldn’t give him much breathing room) and attributing every little bit of friendly sarcasm, criticism or disagreement as, “He must not really love me…” (Which wasn’t the case at all!)

I also had to realize that my happiness couldn’t primarily hinge on how I related to Tom (What pressure on him! How ‘used’ he must have felt!) but in my relationship with the Lord.

I hope the linked post is helpful to you. Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

If you read it, and realize that you would not place your marriage in the “Thriving” category, please do give me a call or send me a message. I’m happy to listen and to pray with you!

Much love,
Sarah

PS: No matter what you think of the Bible, you’ve gotta admit.. this is a pertinent, truthful description of real love:

I Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered , does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

And, of God’s perfect love for us.. so much that he even came to the earth to die horrifically on a cross (Jesus didn’t pass quietly and peacefully in his sleep!) and pay for our sins with his own life:

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

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Parenting: There are Worse Things Than Yelling

This week I read, Huffington Post’s well shared piece, 10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling at My Kids. I wholeheartedly agree that mothers need to keep their temper under control, and have written on this topic before:

“His words had really hurt me, and they were apparently still on his conscience. What if he hadn’t stepped on the thorn? Would he have had a chance to make things right? What if I had yelled at him and refused to help because of his negligence [disobedience] for not wearing shoes outside?” – Excerpt from Crying Over Spilled Oatmeal

However, it is important to remember that while lowering one’s voice may be like refraining from throwing gas on a fire, there is still a fire and it needs to be dealt with.

Face it — those of us who cringe when people yell (and are secretly freaked out at our own hypocrisy when we yell!) often avoid confrontation to begin with.

We’d rather escape.

Some of my personal favorite escapes are to mow the lawn or retreat to my peaceful comfort zone of weeding the garden outside…while all hell breaks loose in the house. I have also been known to spend an extra-long time in the shower, not just to get extra clean, but to drown out the sound of kids fighting over video games downstairs. It’s not as overt, but sometimes I “graciously” let my children play outside with friends while I stay inside (savoring the quiet as if it were a secret cigarette) cleaning up yet another my childrens’ ridiculous experimental cooking messes…when I should be doing the hard job of getting to the heart of why all five children refuse to follow through on their promise to clean up after themselves and are instead blaming their siblings for the mess.

Certainly, there is a time for peace and rest! As a parent, though escaping in the middle of a conflict with a child is like taking a nap on the job.

The Bible says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)

True peace is not simply the absence of yelling, or even the absence of conflict, but it comes from a heart that is steadfastly trusting in the Lord and His everlasting promises; a peace that is not dependent on circumstances. Attempting to control circumstances and manufacturing peace through any other means besides trusting in Christ is a sin. It’s called idolatry.

In Paul Tripp’s Book, Age of Opportunity , one of the first few foundational chapters deals with parental idols. Tripp describes how the worship of such idols shapes our responses to our children. About the idol of peace and comfort, he writes,

The Idol of Comfort. Secretly in our hearts, many of us want life to be a resort… We reason that we have a right to quiet, harmony, peace, and respect, and we respond in anger when we do not get it. Scripture warns us that life is far from being a resort. Life is war…the tumult, chaos and unrest of the teen years are not only the result of significant biological changes taking place, but because of the dramatic spiritual war going on as well.

Parents who demand comfort, ease, regularity, peace, space, quiet, and harmony will be ill-equipped for war. They will begin to see their teenager as the enemy. They will begin to fight with him rather than for him, and, even worse, they will tend to forget that the true nature of battle and the identity of the real enemy. They will act out of frustrated desire, doing and saying regrettable things, and they will fail to be effective and productive in those strategic moments of ministry in which God has placed them.”

(How did this description of my unchecked idolatrous heart end up in this parenting book?)

Those times when I choose to walk away and conveniently find something else to do? I’m walking out on “strategic moments of ministry”. Under the guise of being “peaceful”, I’m missing the moments God is placing in my life that He is not only using to help my children to grow and mature, but to help ME grow and mature.

It takes faith in God to stand on the promises of His word. It takes faith to be brave enough to speak truth in love, and when we do, we grow in Christ… and so do our children.

Upon realizing the patterns of my idolatrous heart, I confessed that I lacked faith and that I was more afraid of yelling and conflict with mouthy, lawyer-like children, than I was of obeying God and training my children up in the Lord. I confessed that I was more interested in the appearance of peace than the peace of Christ. I asked the Lord to forgive me and asked Him to work in my life, no matter what it takes, and to let me to be shaped by His leading and not by my personal comfort.

Worse than yelling is the negligence of our children’s spiritual nourishment. As Tripp points out, life is spiritual warfare. Ignoring heart issues and merely telling kids to be quiet, or being silent ourselves, does not equip children for battle.

I confessed to my children that I had not being diligent in teaching them, and asked them to forgive me. I made it clear that I would no longer be “tolerating” or turning a blind eye to sinful behavior, and that, even if it was uncomfortable or inconvenient for me, that I would be doing a better job of helping the children work through conflicts. I also made it a point to read The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande again with them, to better equip all of us for the conflicts we have been facing in our home. I reminded them that we were in it together, and that we were on the same team.

After two weeks of reading The Young Peacemaker together, I have to say that there has been an improvement of attitudes in our home… both in me, and in my children.

I leave my readers with the wise words of Elisabeth Elliot, which were shared with me by mother in law back in 2008:

The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity.

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How Tom Imagined Life Would Be

Smoke rings rose into a little cloud about Tom’s head as he sat, laptop open, at our dining room table. Four of our five children surrounded him with their character sheets and little piles of multicolored dice in front of them — it was their first time playing D&D.

On the other side of the wall, a swiveling butler door between us, I sautéed onions and used my favorite red spatula to encourage droplets of batter through a colander into a large pot of boiling water (and all over my counter and stove top).

My character, Danaë, a Wilden Shaman, will enter the campaign later.

Tomorrow, our church is having an Oktoberfest-themed fellowship meal, and I was preparing our two contributions:

A casserloe made of Spaetzle Casserole with Sautéed Onions, Gruyère and a pinch of Nutmeg

Spaetzle Casserole with Sautéed Onions, Gruyère and a pinch of Nutmeg

Braised Red Cabbage with Vinegar and Caraway

Braised Red Cabbage with Vinegar and Caraway

I brought in a bowl of the Spaetzle casserole mixture and a fork for Tom to try. “Oh, that’s good!” he said. “Hmm… does it need any salt?” he thought aloud. “Nope.. it’s perfect,” he concluded.

A few moments later, I brought in the brazed cabbage. This, too, met his taste-buds’ approval.

“You know, this is how I always imagined life would be,” he said.

“Smoking a pipe, and being your children’s Dungeon Master, while your wife brings in homemade German food for you to taste?” I said, smiling.

“Exactly.”

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