The Church at home

 

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I have been out of practice in having a quiet time.

I have 4 children, and there is very little time in the day where someone isn’t awake needing something. I hit the ground running in the morning, and I’m emotionally drained at the end of the day. When the 6 month old is finally asleep at the end of the night, I am reluctant to go to bed (even though I’m exhausted) because I’d like to spend some time to myself. This is not a complaint, just a reality.

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My mother recently told me about a devotional she’s been doing, and I decided to try it out. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and I’m in desperate need of that well that doesn’t run dry. Two days ago I tried it and I felt nothing. Yesterday I cried because I realized what I have been missing for a while. Today I had a revelation.

Today was different. I woke up this morning and thought, I’m not going to get a few minutes alone. So far that’s been true; I haven’t. BUT. I sat down anyway with the devotional on my phone app, and decided to read it out loud to the kids. They may not be able to understand all of it, but they don’t understand everything being taught from the pulpit on Sunday mornings at our family integrated church either. I knew I needed to spend the time with God and if it had to be with the kids so be it. I’m so glad I got through it.

This devotional is set up very much like a contemporary church service. It starts with a song, continues with the Word, gives some guided prayer, has a motivational conclusion, and takes maybe 15 minutes to complete. For a busy mom, short and sweet with something to leave me thinking on for the rest of the day is perfect.

On an ideal day, after I’ve served the kids their breakfast, and everyone has gotten dressed, we will do a morning basket. We start with prayer, reading a portion of Scripture, learn a hymn, and read some books on different topics.

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However, as I shared this devotional with my family, it dawned on me that this is what I should be doing daily with them. Not the devotional itself, but church. Somehow I hadn’t equated morning time with church at home. I equated it with school. But as a Christian mom and homeschool mom, my home and my school are my daily church. I’m a director of sorts, and the children are the congregation.

As a teacher it is my responsibility to teach them subjects, as a mom I need to teach my kids how to tie their shoes, and how to have good manners, but most importantly as a Christian, my children are my disciples. They will learn from me, good or bad, who Jesus is, theology, and whether or not those things are important. I am the assistant pastor of our home. My home is a mini church where I train my children during the week to participate in a larger service on Sundays. My family is a mini community where I train my children to be part of a much larger community locally and worldwide, and that they should love each other because they are each others neighbor.

In viewing my home and family this way, I am also challenged in my thoughts an attitudes as a mother, teacher, and missionary to my family.

FYI, I’ve had the Caedmon’s Call station running on Pandora all morning as a result of my revelation.

Psalm 34:1 ESV I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be continually in my mouth.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

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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.”

more to homesteading.

So far as this blog has been concerned, I haven’t talked a WHOLE lot about my spiritual beliefs. For the most part, I wanted to keep those kind of things off the blog to make it more accessible to to the masses. I haven’t shied away from talking about my faith completely (I did have Thursday Thanks going for a while), I just chose not to make this the forum for talking about faith.

I didn’t want to offend people by my beliefs and get hate/controvercial comments. I was afraid I would end up making enemies of the people who like me based on what they don’t know about me.

I believe this was a mistake.

For a while I was able to make this blog work. Talk about farmy things, talk about family things, talk about kitcheny things. Blah, blah, blah.

The problem is that my faith is the essence of who I am. The way I look at farming, family, food, my entire world is based on what I believe (or don’t believe) about God. Without connecting my life with my faith, my world seems duller to me; uninteresting. When I connect my life to God, my world becomes beautiful and alive. By disconnecting the two, I ran out of things to write, and the motivation to write.

My apologies to those who like to read my blog. I will be writing more, and the content will become skewed to my moral biases. You can continue to read if you like. If what you read offends you, makes you mad, and you don’t like it, well… 3 things. 1) You can talk to me in a kind way about it, and my mind may change, 2) you can talk kindly to me about it and my mind may not change, but we can agree to disagree, or 3) you can stop reading this stuff that upsets you so much.

The things I will talk about:

  • This is a homestead blog after all so I will write about the earth, and what we believe our responsibility is to it from our Christian perspective
  • The home, and what we believe our responsibilities are there. Homeschooling, housework (cooking/cleaning/playing),
  • Marriage
  • Gender roles, which I believe are equal in importance, but different.
  • Eschatology (how we view the future)
  • Probably other related stuff that I can’t yet think about.

People will get a good look at how abnormal of a person I am. But you know what? Who wants to be the same?

I met my husband on the internet.

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A friend asked how I met my husband, because we lost touch over that period of time and just recently connected. So instead of having a conversation like human beings did in a world without social media, I have decided to share it with the world. After all, the whole way I met my husband was through blogging, so it only makes sense to tell about it that way.

Once upon a time…

…way back in the early 2000’s when social media consisted of much more superficial forums such as livejournal and myspace, some friends persuaded me to join xanga. Oh the days when you would make your diary public, exploit your heart, and let all your friends and strangers comment on it. Anyway, I jumped in with both feet. I planned out my color schemes about 3 times a week, joined blog rings, stalked my friends, and when they were too boring, I stalked strangers who had also joined the afore mentioned blog rings.

I always ended up unintentionally reading this one boy’s blog that kept getting bumped to the top of the “I ❤ Norma Jean!!!” blog ring. Not because this boy loved Norma Jean so much, but because he posted a new post 2-3 times a day. He was pretty interesting. He wrote a lot about theology, and I was into that. He was in college and was majoring in graphic design, and while I know very little about graphic design, my dad also majored in graphic design in college. So I would comment on his art posts from time to time, and eventually he would start to comment on my own posts.

It happened slowly, and after 7 years it’s hard to remember all of the how or whys, but we did eventually start talking to one another. First on myspace and facebook, then on AIM (which was before facebook messenger). It wasn’t too long before Joe’s mom, sister, and brother (also xanga users) noticed some strange girl talking to him and started following our conversations. Then he went home to Kansas for the summer and they started gathering around Joe’s computer whenever he would talk to me. My siblings also started to talk to him via AIM. And at some point a conspiracy was hatched behind our backs that Joe and Nicki needed to get married.

One day Joe’s mom, who had somehow acquired my phone number, gave me a call, and then after a few moments of conversation handed the phone to Joe, insomuch forcing our first verbal conversation. After we started calling one another once or twice a week, his mom suggested that I fly out to meet them.

Let me not forget to mention that in the midst of this ridiculous friendship that was starting, I had already kind of given up the idea that I would meet someone. As much as I was amused by Joe’s family, and yes I was curious about him, and I very much enjoyed having conversations with him, I wasn’t about to set myself up for disappointment. Realistically I didn’t expect anything to happen with a boy who lived halfway across the country who I had met on the internet. I had real plans for my life.

I had just been to visit Sarajevo, Bosnia on a week long ministry convention for homeschoolers, and was preparing to go back indefinitely. While there I would take the responsibility of heading an English language library and work along side a team who was working to translate the bible into Serbo-Croatian.

So of course, Joe and I made a plan to meet one another! Why not.

In January 2008 I was to fly to Orlando, Florida to be appointed as a missionary with an organization, and from there I would work to raise the support I needed. His mom’s plan was to make my return “home” flight to their home in Kansas, and then after my visit, they would fly me back to Maine. Good plan, horrible idea.

I thought to myself, “I kinda want to meet, but what if they are super creepy, not what they seem people ready to kidnap me!?” SUCH a bad idea. Then I thought to myself, “My parents would never go for this! Perfect! I have my out. My parents will say this is a bad idea, and then I can tell these folks no without feeling bad about it.” So then I ask, and I say, “Mom, this guy I’ve been talking to on the internet…well his mom wants to fly me out to meet him and his family.”

And then my sister immediately butts in and says, “Yes! Do it! Mom, you have to let her go. He is awesome!”

Great.

Mom said she’d talk about it with dad, and then they LET ME GO! WHAT!?

So I went.

We met.

I left.

We were both sad.

It felt like I was leaving my best friend, never to be seen again.

The following weekend was my birthday and that same weekend Joe went out hunting with his dad to ask for some man advice on what to do about me. His dad told him to be a man and do something about it. So Joe wrote 3 letters. One was to my parents, one was to my siblings, and one was to me. My parents and siblings got theirs first. They were letters thanking them for trusting me into the care of strangers and that I was a joy and a delight (my own adjectives added). Well, my dad was super impressed by this so Joe was earning some points.

When I finally got my letter it was telling me how much he had come to value our friendship, that he respected my decision to go to Sarajevo, but that he would like to pursue a more serious relationship with me if I was on board with it. By the end of the day I had told him yes, and he was emailing my parents to ask their permission.

In March, he flew to Maine to meet my family.

In May, he moved into our basement, got a job, paid off his student loans.

In October we got engaged.

In March 2009 I left to serve in Bosnia i Herzegovina for 7 months.

I came home in October.

We were married in September 2010.

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The End.

a little out of sorts

Sorry for the absence this week. I’ve been dealing with over exhaustion due to anemia. I’m on an iron supplement now, and feeling on my way up. I’ve also had a whiney (presumably teething) little girl to deal with and my patience with her has been short due to my tiredness. Not my greatest week of being mama, I assure you.

No “Piper’s Story” this week, but hoping to be on top of things for next week.

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33 1/3 weeks

new feature: 52 portraits – 2/52

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A portrait of my child. every week. once a week. in 2013

I’m a little behind on this portraits thing, but since everyone in my family has been sick all year, nobody really wanted to see how miserable Little P looked anyway with her snotty nose, runny eyes, and sad sad face.

I think *fingers crossed* that Piper and I are mostly out of the woods. This cold is still kicking Joe’s butt, but I’m very glad he waited to catch it until after I was feeling better. Piper definitely needed her mama when she was feverish and congested through the night.

As you can see from the blurry above photo, P is back to feeling her ordinary goofy self. We love her best this way 🙂

Here’s hoping this week will be the turning point our family needs to rid ourselves once and for all of our illness! Wishing health and happiness to your family as well.

playing catch-up: in photos

1. & 2. Piper in her new winter hat and with her favorite gourd.

3. playing

4. finishing touches

5. 22 weeks preggers & hunting season

6. pork on the hoof (2 months to go till butchering!)

7. patiently waiting for clothes and already getting inspiration from soulemama

8. breakfast (leftover from making my very first turkey)