Country Living

Despite only being two and a half Hila Fay is quickly learning the ins and outs of country living. Miss Fay has the most beautiful garden that she generously shares with us, and in return we do our best to help as much as possible. Hila Fay is learning to help…or we are getting quicker at intercepting her attempts to pick everything too soon, one or the other! Teaching her the difference between green and red was a lifesaver for the tomatoes!

One thing that I’ve learned when working with Fay, Lisa and Chuck is that time always go faster when you mix in some laughter; apparently this has been ingrained in Hila Fay.

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And here’s a couple of the garden:

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Garbage In, Garbage Out

Sometime last February I stopped watching tv. Well, let me clarify. I didn’t become morally opposed or anything, I just realized that I can get so much more done if I’m not glued to the set. The tv still comes on, Hila Fay watches her Dora and Umi Zoomie and in the evenings Chuck will relax in his chair watching the Discovery Channel or the Outdoor Channel, but I rarely pay any attention.

I have all my shows (Criminal Minds, NCIS, CSI …etc) set to record on our DVR. Right now there are fifty-four “new” shows waiting to be watched. In fact, I have so many to catch up on that I’ve run out of recording space! In an attempt to catch up, and spend some “quality” bonding time together, after Hila goes to bed Chuck and I have begun watching a show or two each evening.

Something strange happened as we sat down earlier this week and settled in for a night of Criminal Minds. After months of not watching anything harsher than Mike the Knight or Deadliest Catch, Criminal Minds seemed so … I don’t know so ugly. The violence, the plot the carry out, it felt like I had just rolled around in a pile of soot and went trompin’ through the house on my Momma’s clean floors.

A verse came to mind.
Phillipians 4:8 “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things.”

I’ve always loved this passage of Paul’s. The rhythmic, poetic bouncing appeals to the English major in me. This time, when I read the verses, I concentrated on Paul’s intent and not on the feel of the piece. His words are plain spoken and leave little to be falsely interpreted-in fact, it reminds me of a common modern day saying: garbage in, garbage out.

One thing that had me puzzled was, why were these shows bothering me now? Many of them I have been watching for years and never thought twice about it; but now I watch one episode and feel kinda guilty-but about what I don’t really know. Well, maybe I do. Maybe it all ties back to Phill 4:8.

My standing theory is that because I had watched the programs for so long I had become immune to all of their negative aspects. I thought that because (for the most part) they had clearly defined “good guys” and “bad guys” that that made them acceptable. But what I failed to recognize, and what I think Paul is warning us of with this command, is that with each “indiscretion” that we allow past our Christian filter we give another foothold to “the world”. As Christians we are supposed to stand out-like a light-, but when we allow darkness in (the unnecessary images of the murders and rapes that constitute my favorite shows) it dampens our spirit. I don’t know I’d that’s it exactly or not, but I do know that I never felt grungy after watching “The Walton’s” or “Dr. Quinn”.

How do you think our lives would be effected if we truly took Paul’s words to heart? If we made a conscientious effort to only allow things that are good and positive as entertainment in our lives, would it help my daughter to gain a more solid footing in her walk with God? When do you draw the line on what is acceptable entertainment and what would be displeasing to God-and how do you make that decision? Is it ok to watch a program that has an unmarried couple living together (or sleeping together) if the movie doesn’t actually show the sex, just innuendos about it? What about homosexuality (yes, I went there)? What if the lead characters themselves aren’t gay, but some of the supporting actors are? There are so many gray areas that it can be hard to decide…or maybe it’s only gray because I want it to be.

I read the Bible, I know what God approves of and what He doesn’t. The problem is not that I don’t know where God stands-the problem is that I wish to muddy up the waters so that I can justify watching my favorite programs. He’s black and white and I’m trying to make things gray so I can do the things I want to do. My brother pointed out to me that anytime I watch a program it counts me in its ratings, thus whether I like it or not I’m giving that show my seal of approval. So now, before I sit down and watch a show I pause and ask myself, Would God give this HIS seal of approval?

Mel

*If you are unsure about the content of a tv show or movie, Focus on the Family has a wonderful website, http://www.pluggedinonline.com , that will give you a breakdown of the show. I’ve learned to check out movies in the theatre especially…it’s very awkward to take a kid to what you think is a clean movie and it open up with a shower scene! O_O

Mel

The Depth of God’s Love

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I was just reading another blog (www.thefrozenmoon.com) and she said something that made me pause. She was talking about how deep God’s love is and said, When was the last time you met someone who offered to sacrifice their own child for you to be saved.

For some reason this struck me in a way that it never had before. Maybe because I’m a mom now or maybe it’s because I’m in a sappy mood-I don’t know- but I pondered her statement and was overwhelmed by the depth of God’s love. See, any parent I know would gladly give their life to save their kid’s. If a truck is flying towards your child would you stand in safety and watch it run over them-what if you knew that if you rushed towards them you wouldn’t have time to get out of the way? Would you hesitate? No!!! At that moment your safety, your life, is inconsequential; the only thing that matters is your child.

Because it is our instinct, saving our child almost seems easy. Standing on the safety of the sidewalk watching the truck barrel towards my baby and doing nothing to stop it…seems impossible. Now imagine if you placed your child there on purpose because you know that the driving will end up in a horrible accident later and this is the only way to save him.

Since we’re imagining, let’s keep going. The driver? He’s an ex-boyfriend whom you loved fiercely; and who said he loved you but showed his love by cheating on you. Not only that, but just last week his kid started spreading rumors about yours and was bullying your poor child after school. Would you still save him? Could you?

I couldn’t. There’s no way on God’s green Earth that I could stand by and watch my child die for a stranger, let alone someone who treated me and my baby like that! Yet that’s exactly what God did for us. Despite our perpetual failings and empty promises in our times of need, and even though He commands a fierce army that could have destroyed the Pharisees and soldiers with a single glare, He stood back and let Jesus die for us.

I’m not even sure that that illustration comes close to showing what God went through, but it’s as close as I could come putting to words an emotion I’m pretty sure only a parent can understand. I sit here now watching Hila play, listening to her sniffling and congestion as she fights a summer cold. My first instinct is to pray her cold away-to ask God to let me take the suffering instead of her. However, I could never in a million years pray and ask God to give Hila someone else’s sickness. Ever.

How do I repay His love? Poorly I’m afraid. But the glorious thing is that despite my failure God still loves me and welcomes my repentive (I’m pretty sure I just created a new tense for repent) heart with open arms and yes…unconditional love.

Mel

Broken Silence

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted from here. It seems as if I lost my voice and have been trying to find it. Events happened that shook my faith; not in God but rather in other Christians. I would explain, but the circumstances are not my story to tell, not in it’s entirety anyway. Besides, the details don’t really matter; what matters is that the end result-was my silence.

There’s a christian movie called “To Save a Life” (GMC Network) in which an unchurched boy, after witnessing his friend commit suicide, turns to church to help him understand. After watching the youth group goofing off when they were supposed to be pondering a poignant question he jumps up in frustration and addresses them. He asks them What is the point!? If you’re not gonna let all of this change you, then what’s the point!?!

That is my question for all of us. I sit back and watch “Christians” go to church week after week, then turn around and spread vicious, juicy gossip that is blatantly off-base and destructive. We plot out revenge and hold grudges for decades at a time. We prepare our Sunday School lessons while watching t.v. programs filled with foul language, pre-marital sex and questionable morals.

Perhaps the worst trend of all I call the “pick and choose”. We sift through the Bible and pick out the scriptures that are pleasing to our eyes and lifestyle, then discard the rest like soured milk. We don’t even bother to read the Bible in its entirety anymore, instead relying only on what we are taught in Sunday School and sermons. If we don’t like what a preacher says, we discard the scripture as historical and quickly “Google” the matter where twenty-seven million false prophets wait lurking in the shadows under questionable links ready and able to give us flimsy justifications for our sins. Still, we grab ahold of their reasoning and run, because now we feel we have viable reasonings which allow us to continue living our sin-filled lives.

We have turned into a lot of overweight, over-zealous, hypocritical, self-indulging “Christians” and we wonder why the younger generations are wandering away from “true” Christianity. Why? They do so because they are following the examples we are setting.

So I ask again, what’s the point? Why do we bother rising early each Sunday to go to church if we don’t live the life? Why do we bother playing the part of the Christian if we don’t walk the walk?

1 John 1:6 (HCSB)If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet walk in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth.

I say it’s time for us to make a solid choice; “[… choose ye this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15b (KJV)

It’s one of those situations that is simple, yet complicated. Simple because God allows no line-walkers:
“So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth.”. Revelations 3:16 (HCSB)

Complicated because it requires us to make permanent decisions that will go against today’s culture. However tough that may be, we need to voice our truths-that we were created for God ‘s glory and not man’s or our own glory-, decide whether or not we truly are Christians and stop toying with God before we reap what we sow. Besides, who do we really think we are fooling? Definitely not God, and His opinion should be the only one that matters!

Psalm 139:2-13 (HCSB) 2. You know when I sit down and I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away. 3. You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. 4. Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord. 5. You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. 6. [This] extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to [reach] it. 7. Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? 8. If I go up to Heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. 9. If I live at the eastern horizon [or] settle at the western limits, 10. even there Your hand will lead me. Your right hand will hold on to me. 11. If I say, Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”- 12. Even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You. 13. For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb./em>;

Our culture, our children, are in serious danger of Hell because of our inability to commit. Now is the time to heed a call to action and make the decision to truly, honestly live wholeheartedly for Christ. If we say we believe then we act like it. We stop leading willful lives and we submit to God (and therefore His Word) ENTIRELY. We filter out of our lives the modern world prerogatives and submerge ourselves in His Word, allowing Him to dictate our actions. We stop worrying about being politically correct and start worrying about being Biblically correct. Only then will we truly be able to follow the Great Commandment, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. …]” Matthew 28:19-20a (HCSB), until then we will be seen for what we really are: shadows of better place.

Mel

Favorite Book

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People would bust out laughing if someone claimed a movie that they had never seen what they claimed to be their “favorite” movie, or if they raved a book to be “The Best” and had only read a chapter or two. Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is!

I’ve noticed that it is a growing fad on social networks for Christians to list the Bible as their favorite book, but the sad truth is that many people have never read the whole thing. The Bible truly is an amazing tome! It’s filled with romance and war and underdogs. It has the most beautiful imagery and poetry and gives us the secrets to true wisdom.

The Bible encourages us and admonishes us in the same breath. It chronicles the lives of countless heroes (and heroines) and hints at mysteries that still boggle the greatest minds today. It truly is a spectacular book that holds new finds for every read. Yet sadly many of us cast it aside, ignoring our command to read it and let it light our path.

We have time for our favorite shows and hanging with friends, yet are too “busy” to make time to spend with Him (but we have no problem falling to our knees when something goes wrong). We fuss about a lack of understanding or the ambiguity of some Biblical passages, but rarely take the time to pray for understanding or seek Godly council.

I say that now is the time for Christians to live up to our name. Do away with our excuses and eliminate the ability for others to truthfully refer to us as “hypocrites”. If a change is going to be made in our nation-our world-it will be made by us; and it will begin with us dusting off our Bibles and engrossing ourselves in God’s Word.

Submissive is Strength

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Pictured: White Beans & Ham
See http://www.meljustme.wordpress.com for recipe

Years ago God laid on my heart the necessity of being a submissive wife. He guided me towards Proverbs 31:10-30 and opened my eyes, and heart, so that I could understand what He was really saying. After several months of struggling I gave my pride to God and accepted my new role. It wasn’t long before I began to see and feel the rightness of what God had laid out.

Instead of Chuck and I struggling to maintain control of the bit, I let go (though I admit sometimes a lot harder than others) and turned to prayer. See, I had this kind of epiphany. The way I began to look at we could either waste time-and emotions-fighting over control or I could concede then hit my knees and tell on him. 😉

I admit that I’m am far from being June Cleaver, in fact I’m probably more comparable to Peg Bundy with smaller hair. One essential tool in my box, though, is my crockpot. Even on my busiest of days I can spend fifteen minutes throwing things together and have a warm, yummy meal for dinner (with minimal clean-up I might add)!

Being a submissive wife doesn’t mean that you have to be a perfect homemaker with lace doilies and fine china. It means that like an employee to a supervisor, you acknowledge and accept the chain of command that God has set and you trust in Him.

Submission is not synonymous with weakness but rather the opposite. Don’t believe me? The next time someone ticks you off, walk away without so much as giving them a dirty look. Then, the next time you see them retain no bitterness and treat them as if they were your best friend. Do all of that with a smile and tell me how easy it was!

Yea, thought so! Lol!

So, tell me, what is your favorite crockpot meal? What tricks and tips do you have for meeting your families needs?

In Christ,
Mel

P.S.
If you find yourself in a rut with your house try checking out http://www.flylady.net
Tell her Mel sent you. She has no idea who I am but it sure does make me feel important to say that!

The Santa Situation

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I love Christmas! I love the music, the lights, the movies that flood our televisions. I love the light “jingle” of the charitable Santa’s and the challenge of finding the perfect gift.

Growing up our family was so large that we “drew names”. Half of the excitement each year was attempting to keep the name you had chosen a secret and carefully selecting (and keeping hidden) their uber gift. Our tradition instilled in me a true love of giving and showed us that the best part of Christmas is in doing for others.

This Christmas Hila Fay will be just shy of her second birthday. I want her to enjoy all of the elements of the Season as much as I did, but in a manner that doesn’t cause her to lose sight of the purpose. I don’t want her so caught up in looking for Santa that she misses the manger through his jolly belly. As fun as the Santa tradition is, I fear that it can detract from God’s Gift if we are not careful.

For several years now I have debated whether or not to do the whole Santa thing with Hila. There’s a part of me that has a problem in creating fantasies in my child based upon lies. Looking back I can honestly say that I enjoyed Christmas just as much after I found out the truth about Santa as I did before; besides how can I fuss at her over falsehoods when I lead her on for years?

One thing is for sure, I’m going to do my best to create traditions-like I had growing up-that help Hila Fay keep the proper perspective. In addition to making big deals out of buying/making presents for others, I’ll find a way to keep Jesus as the real reason. Focus on the Family has a daily advent calendar-with daily challenges-that they have been posting on their Facebook page. Each activity has a Biblical emphasis and is easy for even the youngest children to understand.

Next year Hila Fay will be old enough to participate in the calendar and I cannot wait to incorporate it into our Holiday traditions, but until then I will pray and seek advice on how best to handle Santa situation for I don’t want her to miss out on any experiences either. This is where you come in: What were/are your favorite Christmas traditions (both Christian and non)? How do you feel about Santa? How do you help your kids keep the proper perspective among the bombardment of “me-me-me’s”?

Mel

What if …

What if we (Christians) never smarted-back/off to others (Phil 4:6)? Would more people listen to us? What if we never talked about people (Tit 3:2) and always kept our word (Jam 5:12); would more people trust us? What if we, “Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another …” (Rom 13:8); would there be a recession? What if those of us who have an abundance gave to those who are in need (I John 3:17)? Would fewer Christians fall?

What if we took care of our widows and orphans (Jam 1:27)? Would there be a need for nursing homes? Would we have over 100,000 children without a “forever home”? What if husbands truly loved their wives–a love like Christ had for the church, a love worth dying for–and wives submitted to their husbands (Eph 5:25)? Would divorce rates plummet and anniversary parties overflow? What if everything we said, and everything we did was always filled with love (I Cor 4:38)? Would less people feel the need to end their lives? What if we were as passionate about spreading God’s message (Matt 28:19-20) as we were for Saturday’s football game? Would our churches overflow?

What if we, as christians, live as the Bible tells us to; not picking and choosing which verses to obey (Jam 2:10)? Would we have a revival on our hands?

Mel

Faith like a Child

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I now completely understand the saying, “have faith like a child”.

It used to be that when Hila woke up from her nap, or first thing in the morning, that she would call my name, and wait in her bed for me to come get her. As soon as I heard her voice I’d rush to her bedroom, pause at the door and peek through to her. She’d be sitting up in her bed looking expectantly at the door and giggle as soon as she spied me. I’d quickly shut the door, and a small game of peek-a-boo would ensue.

It was a tradition that we both enjoyed; but alas, my baby girl has, in recent weeks, decided she’s too big for that. Now when she wakes up from her naps we are notified by the soft “thump” of her sliding off her bed, and the little pitter-patter that her feet make on the aged hardwood floor as she comes in search for us. On the few mornings that she awakes before us she simply walks through the adjoining door between our rooms and climbs into bed with us.

This morning, about five o’clock, I was laying in bed awake; not wanting to admit to myself that all hope of sleeping was gone. The sun was still completely hidden in its slumber and the house pitch black when I heard a familiar, “thump”. I smiled to myself as I lay staring at the door that joins our rooms waiting for my little munchkin to make her appearance.

It wasn’t long until I was rewarded with door swinging open and a miniature me coming through. The room was so dark that I could only make out her outline against the walls, and knew it was impossible for her to see much of me through sleep-droggy eyes. I was then surprised to see her raise her arms, waiting for me to pick her up even though I had made no movement or noise to indicate that I was awake.

It hit me later that that is what Jesus was talking about in Luke 18:16 when He said, “Let the little children come to me, and don’t stop them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Holman Christian Standard) Hila has such absolute faith in me, that not even knowing whether or not I was awake she threw up her arms, expectantly/instinctively, waiting for me to get her.

Her actions were the epitome of Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” (Holman Christian Standard) Oh that I could have faith like that! That no matter what the situation is in life I throw up my arms to Christ knowing (not hoping) that He is there to pick me up. That instead of trying to fix things myself, first, the moment I am in a situation that seems more than I can handle I turn Him, hold up my arms and ask Him to carry me.

And here I thought that I was the one that was supposed to teach her about Christ.

In Christ,

Mel