making space

A subject of much frustration to me is the state of my home.

As I have mentioned before I live in a one room “apartment” above my parents 2 stall garage. If you can imagine how large the second floor of a garage might be and then cancel some of that space out with a sloped ceiling over half of that space, that is the amount of space our family of four has to reside in. Granted, we share space with my parents during the day, and spend time outside. But all of our possessions are either crammed in a small space with us (kitchen/dining, bathroom, and bedroom complete with beds and dressers) or in a store shed in the yard.

Currently construction is making its way to completion, when finished will give our family 2 actual bedrooms which makes me super super happy. No more having to leave the house as soon as bedtime comes around so we don’t keep the kids awake!

In the meantime though, I am faced with making space where none exists. This means when friends give us gifts, or pass things on to us (ever so sweet and kind of them) that is another item desperately desperately searching for a home. In fact, half of the girls’ toys hang out at my parents’ because we simply cannot fit them in our home. This means finding creative places to store our food. This means entertaining friends outside or at my parents’ house, or not entertaining friends at all.

Most of my recent studies on dominion and stewardship have only made my desire for space all the more fierce! I don’t have control over where I live, so I should practice control and responsibility over what I live in or among. In some ways this is much easier than I expected and I find myself wondering why I haven’t purged my possessions before! In other ways I find it so hard. Though I have so much more space than I did just last week, I still look around and think to myself, “Why do I still have so much stuff?!

Stuff.

I don’t want to have stuff.

I want the things I own to reflect Joe and me, our family, and our values. The things we own should have a purpose and not just be really cute/awesome clutter.

I even gave away yarn. I threw away pens. I have 3-4 trash bags of clothing and toys to give to charity. I recycled empty cardboard boxes and gift bags.

Then I had a yard sale.

I was so proud of myself. I had filled the truck  we are trying to sell full full full of items I deemed worthy to sell. Then finally I thought I was ready to have a huge yard sale. I was super bummed out when my items only filled 2 tables. In my defense I didn’t have any large furniture items to sell, but it doesn’t really draw a huge crowd when you don’t look like you’ve got a whole lot to get rid of.

I know I must have more to get rid of! Why can’t I seem to figure out what it is instead of letting it be there suffocating me!?

Are you a minimalist? How do you recognize the things you want out of your life?

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rising to a standard of love and respect

I have been considering the next topic I want to tackle and it makes me nervous because it has to do with the female gender role. Every time I read an article, a book, or discuss the female gender role with a friend/acquaintance there is always this hoard of people who chime in about the abusive or controlling man/husband. I do realize that there are indeed those men out there and I don’t agree with that kind of behavior. However, though I know I will have to address that issue because it is one, I don’t like being a man-basher. I think men, especially the good ones, all seem to get lumped into this category of being either abusive, controlling, sexist, and violent, OR they are lazy, good-for-nothing, dead-beat, spineless losers.

I see a lot of advice, quotations, and theory posted on social media about children and the effect of bullying and belittling speech toward them. May I submit that a person – man, woman, or child – will rise to the standard to which the person whom they respect (parent, spouse, employer, etc.) sets for them. If you belittle a person, and society and family enforces this mindset, they more likely than not will conform to that standard.

An acquaintance on facebook, referring to her husband, said these words, “I wouldn’t have married him if he were that way.” and I absolutely respected that statement.

It seems to me that, at least with church girls, they want so badly to meet “the one” and get married and live “happily ever after” that they don’t stop long enough to make sure that cute Christian guy in their youth ministries class giving them that bashful look is suited for them. They just need to get that white dress, and that handsome guy to make them happy.

Ladies, before you make promises and commitments and covenants before God think about the person you are marrying and if you can deal with his personality and character. Because divorce is something that is all too common and God equates with murder. Murder.

Malachi 2:16

“For the man [woman] who does not love his [her] wife [husband] but divorces her [him], says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

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I love my husband. I chose my husband. Out of every man in the world, I decided that I would stand beside, follow, love, honor, and cherish this one. I was not coerced, forced, threatened, manipulated or anything else into the agreement and covenant. I went into it with my eyes open, with realistic expectations, and with love in my heart. I wasn’t in it for the money, for the fancy wedding, for the status, the sex, or the security. I made sure this was a man I could live with and who I could agree with. I made a commitment and promise and it was my own regardless of what may come in the future.

I told Joe something I borrowed from my cousin. “I don’t believe in divorce, but I do believe in murder.” I don’t actually believe in murder for the record. The statement was made to enforce the seriousness in which I believe in the promise, “Till death do we part.”

When I met him he was (and still is but not as much) self-depricating, and a worrier. He was finicky about food and textures, germs and dirt. I won’t go into all of my husbands flaws because I’m not here to bash him. I just want to make it clear that he has flaws, he’s weird, he’s got insecurities. All men do. If your husband has flaws, it is not an abnormal thing. And guess what? We ladies do too. Our flaws just may be different ones.

The beauty of marriage is that you have two people with both strengths and weaknesses and you work together as partners who help one another overcome. Or at least that’s what we should be doing. Instead of pointing out each others weaknesses and being bitter about it.

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I am not a farm girl. Talk to my parents sometime and they will tell you that I dream about living in the city with retail all around me, and coffee shops that are open all hours of the night. I dream of opening a cafe/bookstore in some old New England city with cobble-stoned streets. Joe’s dream is to live on a secluded farm and work to heal the land bringing forth a self-sustaining crop and having a few animals from which we receive meat, eggs, and milk. Our dreams can either compete with one another or we can make sacrifices for each other. I chose to sacrifice my dream. I also wanted a family, and being a kid in the city is not as fun as being a kid in the country. I remember being a kid in the city and longing for a big open backyard to play in.

I support my husband’s dreams and will raise my children to support that dream as well. He does not require this of me, but it certainly makes his life easier because I do.

So since I have chosen on my own to support my husband in his pursuits, to encourage him with my words, and train my children to respect him I have noticed something about him. He is changing. No, no, not into a different man. He still has all the same flaws he started out with. But he has risen to the standard of love I am setting for him. My admiration causes him to think that maybe there is something admirable in him. When I support his dreams without a complaint to having sacrificed mine (and it doesn’t feel like much of a sacrifice when I consider the joy my family brings to me), he is more driven to accomplishing those dreams. When I tell him he is a good husband and a father, he becomes an even better husband and father. I show him in my actions that I honor and love him by not nagging him when he doesn’t accomplish tasks I’ve asked of him, but just end up doing them myself OR respond to him in intimacy whether they are his advances or making my own. He doesn’t question my loyalty to him, his jealousy becomes less (though I do appreciate being jealous over), he trusts me because I prove myself trustworthy.

Now don’t think this is a relationship of me bending over backward to please my man. I don’t. I find what I do for my husband gives me fulfillment AND when I can’t do something I receive understanding and help. It is a partnership after all.

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When I have a rough day with the children, he steps in and reinforces discipline. Our children are being taught by him to respect their mother. When I have a home birth, my husband brags to his colleagues and friends about what a tough person I am and how he doesn’t want to mess with me. In fact, my husband brags about me a lot, which I happen to love. I love that I’m not the wife who is getting complained about among my husband’s friends. I love that my husband thinks I’m awesome. Why would I not rise to that standard of love?

I may not be a feminist. My #1 dream may be to actually be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. I don’t think this should be every woman’s dream, and I don’t think it’s realistic for it to be every woman’s dream. But I do think women have choices, and I think women should be willing to carry out their end of the consequences that result from those choices. No one is making a woman get married (not in this country anyway). But if she does, she should love the jerk she chooses and make an effort to be an equal partner whatever that may look like.

Set a standard of love and be encouraging instead of nagging and bullying. If you wouldn’t like to receive it from him, don’t do it to him. This is the principle that rests at the heart of gender roles.

Matthew 22:37-40

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Luke 6:31

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”

on being minimalist

Let me start off by saying that this post, contrary to what the title states, is not a how-to on being a minimalist. Nor will this be a post on my decision to become a minimalist. While I respect minimalism, and I also respect people who have a natural inclination toward minimalism, I am not that person. I don’t wish to become that person either.

I do wish to unclutter my life though. I wish to unclutter my brain, my heart, my home, and my storage space.

With Joe in barber school we are posed with the challenge to find creative sources of revenue. Obviously our garden and home-grown meat will supplement our food budget nicely. We have a little bit of savings to work with, so that is a great blessing. But we also don’t have a whole lot of wiggle room for the unexpected hiccups that come our way financially.

Recently we have had to get some unexpected car repairs. Nothing major, but still pricey.

Reflecting on my recent posts and studies on dominion, I am considering all the things we have hanging around taking up space and rarely (or never) being used. Maybe I have some things to sell. Maybe I have things to toss. Maybe we need less “stuff” and more simplicity. I need to be a responsible keeper of my home, not constantly collecting “stuff” that I don’t need, use, or can’t fit into my space (which happens to be super tiny).

As I said, I am not a minimalist, nor do I wish to be. I am a realist with children. I want my children to have imaginations and learn to play on their own. But I also wish for them to have lots of books, art, music, and whatever outlet for creativity their personalities direct them. Which means that I will need to have important clutter in my life sometimes. But I need to learn the difference between what is important and what is just clutter.

Which brings me to minimalism. I love how the minimalist thinks!

I have been online looking for examples of questions the minimalist asks him/herself. At this very short season of my life I need to think like one if I am to rid my life of all my clutter. These are the questions I plan to ask myself:

  • Do I use it?
  • Do I need it?
  • Do I love it?
  • Will I miss it?
  • Does it have a home?
  • Is it broken?
  • Can it/will it ever be fixed?
  • Can someone else use this?

I am only working on my mess and my kids’ mess. I am hoping that by doing this Joe will at least be able to figure out what he owns as it tends to get buried in the rest of the family’s mess (sorry honey!).

Getting rid of the things that are taking up space and not being used is part of being a good steward of my home. My home is not my own space, but a space I share with my family. My family should be able to enjoy that space and not be crammed or cramped inside of it (if it can be helped). I don’t want to be embarrassed by my “stuff” or ashamed to have friends over because I can’t keep my mind off my own clutter.

It’s still a work in progress. I’m chipping away a little bit at a time. I pray that eventually I am pleased and God is pleased with the condition I am keeping the home He has loaned to me for the time being. I pray I will learn to be faithful with the little he has given me.

a dominion attitude.

I have been thinking a lot about dominion, and the way Christians should view it. Dominion applies to so many areas of life, and it feels like a pretty daunting  idea to tackle. In fact, most of my conclusions and convictions on it are only just recently being fleshed out. I’m very excited about it, which is why I want to share my discoveries, but at the same time my mind is exploding with the possibilities and responsibilities that come along with it.

Dominion does not extend only to the earth, but to all of creation. If you think about all of creation then you must include mankind: families, the church, the homeless, orphans, widows, the unborn, unbelievers, and [place your demographic here]. You must include the behavior of mankind, and the effect of Christianity upon it – government, media, the education system, the church, humanitarian causes, etc.

Are we as Christians loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, and with all our minds? Because the Bible teaches that this is the first and great commandment. I don’t mean love as a mushy-gushy, ooey-gooey, Jesus-is-my-boyfriend feeling. I mean love as an action, love as a hard choice you make, love as defined by the Bible.

1 Chorinthians 13 describes love in this way:

  • If I have not love I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. (just a lot of annoying noise)
  • If I have not love I am nothing
  • If I have not love I gain nothing
  • Love is patient and kind
  • Love does not envy or boast
  • Love is not arrogant or rude
  • Love does not insist on its own way
  • Love is not irritable or resentful
  • Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth
  • Love bears all things
  • Love believes all things
  • Love hopes all things
  • Love endures all things

Are God’s law, commandments, and His will more important to us than the opinions of the pagan culture or our own desires? What is our attitude toward Him when His ways are contrary to what feels comfortable to us? What are our actions when His commands don’t coincide with our lifestyle?

Are we seeking God’s will in every area of our lives? Or are we relying on Dr. Phil, the medical community, the food industry, pharmaceutical companies, popular nutrition, the opinions of our friends, the news, etc. to tell us the best advice, choices, decisions for our lives?

Really think about this.

It is easy to be flippant without intending to be.

1 Corinthians 16:19-20 (ESV)
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

According to these verses (not my own words), we as Christians are vehicles of the Holy Spirit. We are carrying God’s spirit around inside of us wherever we go!

Ahhhh!!!

We are not, as the culture tells us, our own person. Nay, we belong to Christ and were bought at a very high price. That price was the death of a perfect, innocent, sinless life. Are we glorifying God in our bodies, presenting them as sacrifices to God? Are we being transformed by the renewal of our minds, subjecting them to Christ? Or are we following our own pursuits and inviting God to sit shotgun?

We are not owners. We are stewards. Everything we have in the world is on loan. Lets take care of our lives, our time, our money, our families, homes, yards, etc. as though these are God’s possessions. As God’s possessions we should be seeking how God requires us to treat His things. He gave us an Owner’s manual called the Bible with strict and loose instructions on how to do just that. We need to be good investors in His Kingdom. If God lent it to you, take care of it like He wants you to. You may not be able to take it with you to heaven, but you are responsible for it for as long as you do have it. Treat it well.

Jesus told this parable:

Matthew 25:14-30  (ESV)

The Parable of the Talents

 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.  He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’  And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’  He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.  So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

And I’m not here saying I’m doing this right either. Oh no. I’ve got just as bad an attitude about it as the next person. I get apathetic…and a lot of the time just plain pathetic. I have bad attitudes. I rely on convenience. I flat out sin all the time. I’m not here writing some self-righteous tirade about how I’ve figured it all out and everyone else is a complete idiot. Ha. What a hypocrite that would make me.

But I’m excited.

I am learning things.

I want to share.

These things are going to hurt a lot when I act on them. They are going to go against a sinful nature, a rebellious heart, and a selfish flesh. I’m not going to be good at it.

But I’m going to try to be a good and faithful servant, so that when I meet my Maker, He tells me, “Well done.”

I love books! book review #1

Review: Diapers, Dishes & Dominion: How Christian Housewives Can Change the World by Leah D. Smith

When I started raising my girls, I had a specific purpose in mind: Raise them to be godly. Raise them to be a blessing to others. But this parenting thing is a whole lot harder than you can possibly be prepared for!

I asked a couple of friends who’s parenting I respected based on how their children behaved, and a dear friend let me borrow a few books from her. A little while later she gifted this book to me, and one on farming for my husband (I really need to find that one…). I’m embarrassed to say, that though I did start to read it with good intention, it got moved to the back-burner. However, recently I decided to pick it up again and read it all the way through.

I cannot thank my friend (and God) enough for this book! It was completely different from what I expected it to be, and it has blown. my. mind.

Yes, this is a how-to book on how to raise your kids, and how to be a good mom.

Yes, you will get a bunch of advice from the author’s personal experience.

No, it will not be a written-out step-by-step plan, because all families are different, all people are different with different personalities and gifts, and so you do have to use some common sense for your own family.

However, this book is so much more.

This book is not for the weak of mind or the weak of heart. If you are the type of person who is set in your ways and hates change – DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! But if you have a teachable spirit, and are open to scripture transforming your mind and also willing to do your own homework, this book may be the blessing you need in your life this very moment.

I am now more at peace with the direction of my personal life, the direction of our family, and the direction of the universal church than I have ever been in my life. I am more excited and determined to move forward. I am feeling bolder in my faith as a Christian. I am excited about the future of the lives of my family, and the condition of our world.

I challenge every woman who calls herself a Christian, whether you have a family today, or are hoping for one in the future, to read this book.

I challenge every Christian woman who has ever been afraid to have a family based on your fear of the future to read this book.

I challenge any woman who is not afraid to take on a challenge to read this book.

I challenge every Christian man who is not afraid of his wife, buy her this book.

starting at the beginning, part 1: take dominion

Since I vented a little last week, I’ve been struggling at where to begin my newly acquired, long list of posts. Today I just decided I would start where it makes sense: at the beginning.

As homesteaders and Christians, we turn to the Bible to instruct us on what we should do in all parts of life (or at least we should). So what does the Bible first say about homesteading? To the very first man and woman, who he created in a garden full of vegetation and animals, He gave this charge.

Genesis 1:27-28 (ESV)

“So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Then God destroyed the earth with a flood, preserving one man and woman and their progeny. Again, He charged them,

Genesis 9:1-3 (ESV)

“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered.  Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”

Later on, the Psalmist, David, would sing in praise of the mandate God has placed upon mankind.

Psalm 8:3-8 (ESV)

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
 what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
 all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.”

The prophets prophesied about what manner we are to respond to the creation, fellow man, and the Lord.

Micah 6:8

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

What can we learn about homesteading through these verses?

“…subdue it, and have dominion…”

When we think of the words “subdue” and “dominion,” several thoughts may come into your mind. You may be thinking of “dominance,” which may in turn cause you to think of “abuse” and/or “slavery”. I believe this is a very toxic way of viewing this mandate. God did not charge mankind with abusing and enslaving the earth, men, and animals. However, since sin entered the world, it seems as though that is exactly what mankind has done.

We have seen how barbaric some of mankind has been. Over the course of history up until present time we have seen slavery in many forms, and toward many people groups, along with various kinds of abuses including prostitution, human sacrifice (both child and adult), fighting to the death, warfare, etc. Testing, fighting, and other kinds of abuses in the name of both science and entertainment have been inflicted upon animals. Finally, there is earth abuse which we can see plainly from landfills, oil spills, air pollution, radiation, nuclear warfare, etc.

This is not dominion. This is sickness.

Christians should be the remedy instead of contributing to the problem.

Dominion comes from the latin dominus, ‘lord, master.’ In other words, humankind is to take charge of the earth and all that dwells therein. Furthermore, God destroyed the earth with a flood when men became corrupt and wicked, preserving the one man, Noah (and his family), who still obeyed Him. God wants His people to obey his mandate; to be benevolent caretakers of the earth He created. “Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly…

It’s sad to say that the tree-hugging hippies and environmentalist pagans are doing a better job advocating for “mother earth” than the Christians who were given this charge.

Jesus told this parable:

Luke 12:35-40

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Do you think Christ, at His return, will be impressed at that you were waiting at the door of your house reading the book of Revelation? Or do you think he would rather return to His people who are working hard at obeying all the commands of His Father who sent Him.

Love God above all (obey him, not man)

Love others (do justice, love kindness)

Take dominion

Be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth
(have sex and babies! make sure there are more babies than parents – this is how multiplication works in case you forgot. if you can’t make babies, adopt!)

Make disciples of all nations (not just witnessing, but training)

From the Kitchen: Ashley’s chicken alfredo (gluten-free & THM – S)

This recipe comes from my friend Ashley who always makes such yummy foods! I have been wanting lots of good fatty foods with this current pregnancy (yep, #3 is in the oven!). So without further ado, I present….

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Ashley’s Chicken Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts cubed (you may also use ready cooked chicken in the equivalent amount)
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • salt, pepper, basil, paprika, and a pinch of cayenne to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. xantham gum (or enough to get desired thickness)

Directions:

  • Fry up chicken breast in coconut oil until cooked through
  • Add chicken broth, butter, parmesan, heavy cream, and seasonings and stir, letting the butter melt.
  • Add xantham gum and let thicken.

Serve with GF noodles/pasta, or zucchini noodles (aka zoodles).