Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Is He an Angel?

Living in a third world country sure has a way of making one see things differently. Poverty here is just everywhere and it is heartbreaking. We have people in our church that struggle to just buy eggs, tortillas, beans, rice..something to at least feed their children. We live and work with my dad here in Mexico and together with him, we help the families in our church. Sometimes we give money so they can pay the water bill. Sometimes we buy groceries to help them get through the week. Some people we have helped aren't that grateful and have taken advantage of us. Others are grateful beyond words. Either way, it is still a joy to give. God gets the glory when we obey and He just blesses us for it.

One family, in particular, stands out. This family has been in our church for quite a few years, and from time to time, we have helped them out. I gave Mary our crib that I had been holding on to for years when she had her second son, Saul. We've given her clothes for the boys and for their little girl (named after me and another American friend). When their refrigerator went out a few years ago, John and my dad went in together to buy one for them. Their kids are somewhat shy, but over time, the boys have become more open to us..especially to my dad. David (age 7, I think) would call my dad, 'Tio Juan' (Uncle John). As he grew older and started understanding things a bit more, he realized that my dad was different than them. He would ask Mary, "Is he your brother?" "Is he my Dad's brother?" "Is he my grandfather?" To each question, Mary would tell him that he is none of these. In trying to figure out who this man was that was always helping them and would come over to just sit and visit, he asked, "Well, is he an angel?? Because angels are God's helpers." Wow. When Mary was telling me this, we both cried. Mary said that she told him that yes, in a way he was because God sent him to Mexico. Talk about humbling. 

David wrote both my dad and us a wonderful note the other day. Sometimes when you feel that what you do is not enough, you just don't know how God is going to use it. Being lifted up to 'angel' status has about knocked my dad down on his knees, he was so overwhelmed. Us too, for that matter. The note that he wrote was something we will treasure for a very long time. 

David (on the right) and his brother Saul

"Thank you brother John and sister Rebecca and your son for the
 things that you give to my mom for us. Thank you also in God.
 (I think that's what that line says) Goodbye, brothers."

"Hello brother. Thank you for giving us something to eat
 and for my school. You are an angel because the angels
 help and watch over people. Thank you."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Habit That I Wear

A few synonyms for the word 'habit' are:  

addiction, custom, groove, manner, mode, nature, pattern, set, style...

A few definitions for the word are:
*an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary
*customary practice or use
*a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality

In raising and training my son, Jonathan, I teach him good habits. Make your bed when you get up in the morning. Shower, get dressed, and comb your hair every day. Be diligent in your work. Do all things well to the best of your ability. Set goals for yourself.  Be thankful and show gratitude. Empty the lint tray after you take clothes out of the dryer (Hey, it's important!). One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, mentions habits in one of her journal entries. "A habit is what we wear. A habit is the way we wear our days", she says. What kind of habits would I like for him to 'wear'? I looked up the definitions for the word 'wear'. Here are a few;

*to carry or to have on the body or about the person as a covering, equipment, ornament, or the like
*to bear or have in one's aspect or appearance.

In training him, I am training myself. I am always learning and growing. I have been quite serious about what habits I am wearing lately. I like new clothes and doesn't wearing new clothes make one feel great? Putting on new habits can do that as well. 

What am I wearing lately? What am I covering myself with? What is my ornament? What 'outfit' will I choose to wear today? These are some habits that I have in my closet:

~obsessive tendencies to have things done a certain way

 Do you basically wear the same things over and over again? A favorite t-shirt or blouse? A favorite skirt? A favorite jacket even though you have five? Or are you one that 'rotates' your clothes every so often so that you don't wear the same things too often? Do you find clothing you forgot you had and are glad to find? I see what habits are in my closet and I know I have more, but are the ones mentioned above the ones I wear on a regular basis? 

Have you ever looked in your closet and thought, "I have nothing to wear!" Sure you have. There are clothes in the closet, but we don't want to wear them..too small, too big, not the right color for the day...That's what I see in my closet. I am learning a few things here lately and I see my 'closet' and know that those items in my closet are not for me anymore. I don't want to choose to wear stress today. I choose not to clothe myself with worry or have my appearance be that of obsessiveness over things I can't control. In Colossians chapter three, Paul writes to 'put on' bowels (depths) of mercies, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering. In Ephesians chapter six, Paul writes about taking the whole armour of God; truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation, word of God...

I can choose to decide that I don't want to wear discontentment today. Worry is not a good color for me (and it makes me frown). I have gained some spiritual weight and I am too big to wear doubts.  Proverbs 31: 25 says, "Strength and honour are her clothing;". I find that if I 'take' (mentally) the habits of stress, worry, doubts, obsessiveness over things I can't control and put them away (far, far away)..Rotating my  closet of habits, if you will, I find things I haven't worn in awhile; mercy, kindness, longsuffering, faith, trust, the word of God..What a great find! What a full closet of wonderful, joyful, colorful habits to wear! I love new clothes, but even better, I love new habits that make me a better Christian, a better wife,  and a better mom. You should try some of these on. I am sure they would look great on you!

What's in your closet?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Homemade Goodness

Lately my favorite things have been homemade spices. For the last few years, I have been reading labels on almost every thing we buy at the grocery store. Since my husband John suffers from migraines and our son has Tourette's, I am concerned about what we eat and how chemicals affect our bodies. Homemade bread, apple sauce, spice mixes, cleaning products, laundry detergent...any and all of it, I have been reading about. We live with my dad and we have differences of opinions on what is 'good'. We are all trying to lose weight. I have not done anything drastic in our eating habits. I am just making better choices. Period. This entails reading labels and knowing what you are eating. If the product has more of the 'I have no idea what that is' ingredients, it gets put back on the shelf. No thanks. Anyway, one morning we were eating breakfast and my dad pulled out the 'sugar free' jelly that he bought. 

Do you see 'anchovies' there?? The notice says that this jelly 'may or may not have'...etc etc. My dad was totally grossed out! See? Reading labels matters!!

Back to my homemade goodness post...Spice mixes have been my new favorite 'homemade goodness'. My three favorite are Taco Seasoning Mix, Onion Soup Mix, and Ranch Mix. They are so easy to make and I feel better knowing what it is in them. Here is where I found the recipes for each one. 
Ranch Dressing Mix: (You can use this as a salad dressing, a dip, or use it to flavor chicken.) 

* Look on my Favorite Things page for the recipes if you don't have time to look around the heavenly homemakers website.

Can you tell I like the Heavenly Homemakers site? Laura's website is a wealth of information on better eating.  I just found out that she is on Pinterest now! It's a good thing, because I post a lot of her stuff on there to remind me to print out for later. 

We all went grocery shopping yesterday. The aisles are filled with processed food. After reading labels and being more careful about things we eat, I was grossed out. No, we don't eat all natural (and believe me, I would try if John said, 'Let's do it'. He has his limits, you know! Just ask me about the time I used Tofu in a smoothie...without telling him. And when he found out? He was none too happy! Limits.) I believe we are responsible for our bodies. In doing research on migraines for John, the advice is to stay away from MSG. Don't you think it's right and good to avoid those? And if too much sugar and dyes and processed 'food' affects outbreaks of Tourette's in my son, should I as a mom, do my very best to make better choices in managing what we eat? I should say so. "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" Genesis 1:31a    -So, we may not be completely all natural, but I can do my best to help take care of my family and choose the 'very good' over the questionable. (Is coffee really questionable?? I do like to make my own creamer!) I'll have to post about that soon. (And no, John won't touch the stuff, but Jonathan and I like it!) 

I am also doing research on natural remedies for migraines for John and remedies for blood pressure. Jonathan is already being treated nutritionally for his Tourette's (no medication, what-so-ever! Amen!). John is actually willing to try some of the recommended herbs/nutrients I read about to help with blood pressure. What God made was very good, and we are finding that out more and more. How wonderful is that?  God created us and in His grace and mercy, He not only made us, He provided for us. I just love learning about HIS 'homemade goodness', don't you?

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Work of Our Hands

Today has been just a 'sprucing up' day around the house. We have been getting more organized; financially and with 'housekeeping'. Bathroom Day is today when we clean the bathrooms and every day we do a bit of straightening to keep up the house. (You just never know who is going to come over in any given day!) 

I was thinking about having sandwiches for lunch. Gah! There was no bread..even in the freezer! What to do??  'Time to try the new bread recipe I found on Pinterest, I guess.  There's nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread in the house. ((Do they have a candle with that scent??))  Today ended up to be my bread baking day.

Jonathan is such a helper. Are you sick? He's the one you want by your side. Need an extra hand? Jonathan asks how he can help. Want a 'test taster' when your cooking? He's your man. John and I believe he has the spiritual gift of 'helps'. If you are in the middle of something, he will pitch in (without being asked) and help finish the job. He's not a handyman, by any means. He's a reader, a thinker, and a helper. Since there was time to bake bread today, he was right there watching what I was doing and helping when I asked. The recipe I used was too much for my Kitchen Aid and I had to mix it by hand. Jonathan thought it was so neat that I was doing it 'the old fashioned way'. Ummm..sure...So I handed the bowl of dough over to him to mix and knead. He loved it. His great grandpa was a great cook and baker, so maybe if I teach Jonathan a few things about baking, he may love it and become good at it. Who knows? It was so nice to just have that time of chatting and making bread for the family. 

So what if book work wasn't getting done in school? Math didn't get done. The World Studies book stayed on the shelf. 'School' isn't all about book work. It's training, teaching, keeping your child's heart close to yours  by paying attention and giving attention. We worked with our hands today and we have bread to eat. There's a lesson in there somewhere, right? 

The oven timer is about to go off. The smell of bread is all over the house. Yum! Time for lunch and time to enjoy the benefits of the work of our hands!