"We must not only become reliable, progressive, skillful and intelligent, but we must keep the idea constantly before our youths that all forms of labor, whether with the hand or head, are honorable." ~Booker T. Washington
I think I am going into week 4 of this prolapsed disk thing, and I am finally able to move around a lot easier. I have gone back to work on light duties and have been coming home sore and exhausted. Thankfully I only work part time. However, for the last few weeks, my hubby and my son have been doing the bulk of the work at home and ...well, I don't want to be ungrateful, but shall we say that most men have a bit of a different way of cleaning ? So here I sit, looking around my wreck of a house and wondering, "Where do I start?" Aha! Hot water...I rinsed off the dishes with hot water, I filled my dish basin with hot soapy water, I threw my whites in the laundry machine with hot water and I put a pan of water on the stove to boil for instant chicken soup and already I feel like I've accomplished something...and all under 15 minutes.
*Note to self: Make sure you take your shower BEFORE using up all the hot water.
 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
 He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
 In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
The parable of the Good Samaritan was one of the Bible stories that I remember hearing while I was still quite young. I couldn't understand why the other people wouldn't stop to help him. In my young brain, it was quite clear: when someone fell down and got hurt, you helped them up and walked them home so their Mum could bandage them up and kiss them better. It wasn't until I got older that I began to really understand this verse. In the day to day business (and busyness) of living, it is so easy to excuse not doing the work that God calls us to do, and far too often I found myself not emulating the Good Samaritan, but falling into the habits of the priest and the Levite. Tonight, God gave me another revelation in this verse through my son and his friend. Earlier this evening after the men's Bible study, there was concern for another young man in the congregation who had struggles and challenges. When one of our newer Christian brothers asked for someone to check in on him on their way home, he was met with excuses. "It's too late, he might be asleep; I should get home, etc..." My son and his friend went to visit give what comfort and encouragement that a young Christian and a new Christian could. I will never again read this parable without realizing that a man does not need to be beaten and battered in a ditch to be hurting and passed by.
We talk about the radical love of Jesus, but what does that really mean? We read that Jesus dined with the prostitutes and the tax collectors, but if a prostitute showed up at your church, what would you really do? Would you invite them to supper? If they accepted Jesus and turned from their old life, do you help them transition to a new life in Christ? How do you put that love in action? It's so easy for new Christians to slide away when troubles come. If you come from a Christian family and were raised in a church, it's hard to know what it is like to suddenly lose almost all your old friends because you've become a Christian and won't party anymore. However, it is often very hard to make new friends in a church, if you've had an unsavory past. You don't get the unwritten rules, the Bible is confusing, and you have nothing in common with these new people with the exception of your new love for Christ. You have people expecting you to live up to rules you don't understand and are often not included in private gatherings.
I look back and think of how many times I have failed...failed to include new people in conversations...failed to invite them home for supper or gatherings...failed to discover common ground...failed in getting to know them week after week...failed to really pray for them without ceasing.
May I pray tonight: "Father God, so many have a burden for the lost, but let us also develop a burden for the newly found as well. Help us to love them in practical ways, to show them that we really care for them. Guide us in when we need to talk and give spiritual advice, and when we need to sit still and just listen and love them. Help us to thoroughly include them in our church family. Most of all, Lord make us a vessel of Your grace and mercy. Help us to remember that when we were lost, our sins were no better than theirs. Keep us from judgment and pride; from excuses and self-justifications. In your name I pray, Amen"
I have been pretty much flat on my back for a few days, with excruciating back pain. After a scare (not being able to lift my self up into a sitting position) and realizing that I would be home alone today, I decided to go up to the Emergency Room and have my back checked out. What I thought was just a pulled back muscle, turned out to be a herniated disc (aka: slipped disc). Needless to say, instead of a quick fix with muscle relaxants, I am looking at a longer recovery process, including some time on my back in bed for a few days. Instead of complaining and grumbling (which my old self wants to do), I want to adopt an attitude of thankfulness instead.
I'm thankful for:
~extra time to pray for those who have health problems~time to spend in scripture~spending time in meaningful conversation with my husband~a chance to note dust bunnies and spider webs on my ceiling~an opportunity to have Erik do some cooking~a caring Emergency Room doctor, who really did want to do what was best for me~a wonderful heating pad~my husband's boss, who didn't mind Bob coming in late to work (from taking me to the ER), and who let him work an extra 45 minutes to make up the time~internet and my laptop computer~good friends and family who are praying for me~wonderful neighbours to drive me to and from the hospital and pharmacy~strong medications to take the edge off the pain.
In our family, as soon as you can walk, you start doing chores. We started with very easy jobs, like bringing toys to Mummy, helping fold facecloths, and letting them sweep with the little toy broom while I was sweeping with the big broom. Toddlers LOVE to copy Mummy. As they get older, more age appropriate chores are added. By 2 1/2, by kids were washing their (pre-rinsed) plastic dishes and non-sharp cutlery. They could put their toys away, throw things in the garbage, and "help" Mummy push the vacuum cleaner. By 4 yrs old, they were starting to wash the proceline plates, set the table and peel carrots. Each chore was explained and done under the suppervision of a parent until they had acheived competancy. (Notice I said competancy...nobody expects perfection at this age). Now, at 17, my son mends his own clothes, can do a wash, helps fix the car, indoor housework, outdoor yard work, minor household repairs and is learning to cook. (My daughter is already out on her own and she is a great cook). This imortant thing is that my children have never recieved an allowance for doing these chores. They were expected to do it for a thank you (and a kiss or hug) because they are a part of this family, and thus need to offer willing hands to share in the work load. The benefits of working together as a family are awesome. When we work together, we spend less time on chores and have more free time to do things as a family. No one person is burnt out and my children learn to respect both items, and the work that others do in this world.
As the children grew older, I would often give a thank-you gift of an item or some cash for an extra hard job that needed doing. If the kids wanted extra spending money, we would brain storm ways of earning it. We've had yard sales, lemonaid stands, hired themselves out to neighbours for mowing lawns and raking, babysitting, etc... For the last few years, my son has found casual jobs working for a plumber, welding shop, construction, making musical instruments, and has just purchased his first car with his savings. He has an amzing work ethic and has actually "worked" himself out of a job a time or two. Does he always like doing chores? Of course not, but he shared his philosophy with me. "You start out thinking "Oh chores are fun" and then you get older and think, "Oh chores are so boring", but then you get older and realize that they're not that bad and you just learn to do them without complaining."
I was having a conversation with my son and I mentioned an acquaintance he had made a few summer ago, up in Ontario. He replied that the teen had changed from a nice young man and had become quite demanding and refused to do anything without being paid at least $20.00. Apparently, he wouldn't take out the garbage, mow the lawn or rake the yard with a promise of cash. Sadly, this story is not an isolated case. I overhear more and more kids whine about the amount of work they are expected to do (almost none) for an large amount of cash (that they are unhappy with) and think they deserve more money to do less work. In fact, I think there is a national epidemic of young people adopting this attitude of a "sense of entitlement".
They were young when their parents were working hard and sacrificing to acquire things, and by the time they are older, these teens have become used to living at a certain comfort level. These kids get used to more "haves" and don't have to learn how to do without. They receive atomatic allowances that are not earned. They whine for name brand stuff and parents give in to their whims. When these young people get out of school, they expect top paying jobs, grand houses with two and a half baths, stainless steal appliances and all the bells and whistles. *sigh*
When our children were very young, my husband and I were attending university and fit every stereotype of the starving student. In fact, if it weren't for the help of my parents, we probably would have been both homeless and starving. As God blessed us with increasingly better jobs, the chance for my husband to go back to school, and we saw our bank accounts start to grow, we made a conscious choice to implement several changes. One was that Christmas would continue to be modest. Extreme spending in no way Glorifies God. (I once had friends who thought you needed to spend at least a thousand dollars on each person), we would commit to tithing, and everybody would lend a hand in maintaining our household. (to be continued...)
"Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things." Elise Boulding
Erik has been working and training hard for a big tourney coming up in NH, USA, called "Birka". He has just finished making a brand new kite shield. I think it looks pretty cool, so I decided to post it here. The shield boss is made from the bowl of a broken brass wine glass.
“What comes first, the compass or the clock? Before one can truly manage time (the clock), it is important to know where you are going, what your priorities and goals are, in which direction you are headed (the compass). Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going. Rather than always focusing on what’s urgent, learn to focus on what is really important.” –Author unknown
I love this quote, and it identifies one of the major problems I've been having with managing my time. Until last week, I really had no specific goals. I've had an vague idea of what I wanted, but didn't have a plan on how to achieve it. It is as if I wanted to visit a town somewhere but didn't have any idea what it was called, or how to get there. I would need a good road map and the name of the town in order to reach it. So I need to write down my goals so I can plan how to acheive them. My goal for today: ~List out the small things that I would like to see changed. ~Talk to my family to plan how we can work together to implement them. ~Try it for a minimum of two weeks and meet again to see if we need to modify the plan. I believe that if we experience success in the small areas, then we'll be able to tackle the larger changes with confidence from our previous successes.
I’ve started de-cluttering my house, which should be pretty easy, since a lot of it is junk. Sadly, I am not progressing as quickly as I want to. Why is that? Because of my thought processes. Yes, that’s right...the way my brain processes things is actually slowing me down. I need to justify (to myself) every decision to get rid of something.
Take, for example my fabric collection. I have some wonderfully quirky pieces that I bought for special projects years ago...projects that I procrastinated on for sooo long that my kids have actually outgrown them. Now, I am NOT going to save them for my “potential” grandchildren, but at the same time I don’t want to throw them out. I have quilting friends, who might want these pieces, but these are special pieces, and I doubt that they want to make quilts with “bug” fabric or “flame” fabric. So there they sit in my living room, because I refuse to throw out new, never-used material. Now multiply this dilemma x 50 and you see what I am up against. Aha! I know of some lovely women who make children’s toys...maybe they can use them. See, if only I had started blogging about de-cluttering last year, I may have come up with solutions that would result in my house being clean and organized today.
These last few weeks I have been rethinking a lot of my personal values. Bob and I felt the Lord calling us to make some changes in our life. Bob mentioned that he's felt God calling him to be more frugal. I have been feeling the same way, but have been really struggling with the idea of frugality. It's not that I'm opposed to "thrift" or that I don't want to be a good steward. It's that the whole concept of "Frugality" somehow equates itself with deprivation. When I was growing up, we didn't have a lot, and when I had young kids, we had even less, so the whole idea of "doing without" has been very stressful. Then, out of the blue, I came across this wonderful term: "Voluntary Simplicity". Volunteering to live a simpler life filled with those things that are important to us. A simpler life that isn't cluttered with stuff that gets in the way of the important things, such as relationships with family and friends, time with God and cultivating a good attiude. I need to reavaluate my homelife, my habit of collecting clutter, and even the way I spend my time.
We've had a very busy fall. In fact it was so busy, that Christmas was over before it even began. Everything was scheduled so close together, that I was spending at least 3 nights out a week. We had concerts to perform at, dinners to go to, church activities, and homeschool activities...and it didn't help that Erik picked up a part time job along the way. Our home renovations basically ground to a halt during that time, and stuff started to pile up and take over our rebuilt area. We used to store everything in Emily's bedroom, since she was away at school, but the week before she returned home for the holidays, we had to move it all into the mudroom. There came a point where I just couldn't function anymore and I was ready to tear my hair out. Too much stuff! I am now in the process of trying to declutter. At the same time, Bob and I have started a regualr time of devotions. It has really helped to calm me down. Lately, we have been wanting to store more food and have found an interesting program (which we are modifying to suit our life) where you spend an extra $5.00 a week, to build up emergency food stores. Now, in case you are getting the wrong idea, I should clarify here that in no way are we becoming survivalists, nor can we put stock in stuff we accumulate to keep us "safe". Only God alone can do that. However, we have been feeling the need to be better stewards of what we have, and since we live out in the country and tend to have really bad blizzards and Bob does work a job that can be prone to occasional lay-offs, it would be nice to have a fully stocked pantry. The last time Bob was laid off, we had quite a few groceries already, so we didn't need to buy anything except milk, eggs, cheese and lettuce, until he got his first unemployment cheque. Since these cheques can take quite a while to come, it was a comfort not worrying about food. I am also planning on doing a lot more cooking from scratch, which should be healthier and better for us.