Books, Reflections

Little is Much

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Turkey day approaches. In some ways I’ve been mentally preparing myself for the rush of the holiday season.

Then at other times I just want to tuck into a good book and forget about things for an hour or so. One book out of 10 in my book stack is the Lark Rise to Candleford series, by Flora Thompson.

It is a book that follows the life of a young girl who lives in a tiny hamlet (or village) in England called Lark Rise. Her community is very poor but oddly very happy. It is set in the late 1800s, one of my favorite time periods. Early on in the book I came across one of those quotes that I read over and over.

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“People were poorer and had not the comforts, amusements, or knowledge we have to-day; but they were happier. Which seems to suggest that happiness depends more upon the state of mind-and body perhaps-than upon circumstances and events.”

from Lark Rise, chapter 3, by Flora Thompson

I finished the book a few days ago and it ended with a description of harvest days and feasts. The hard work and sweat and subsequent festivity and joviality.

The scene put me in mind of another feast day, of a story told long ago.

There was a kingdom where dwelled a wealthy King and his grown son, the Prince. The Prince was to be married, to have a wedding feast and the invitations were sent. But those invited responded with scorn and violence. And so the King, enraged, did away with the violent men.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find. So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” (From Matthew 22:1-10)

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I’ve always pictured this as a beautiful scene. Full of warmth and cheer and happiness. Everybody is there. Young, old, rich, poor, outcasts, knights in shining armor. Everybody. All were there. All were invited in.

And its always put me a little in mind of Thanksgiving.

The goodness, the plenty, the laying aside of differences just to be together and be happy and grateful for the blessing of harvest, and most importantly for the blessing of family.

And at the banquet scene, who was most blessed? The King was The Giver of blessings. And I imagine those who felt least deserving were most blessed. For they had nothing to recommend them to attend the feast of a King. They had little. But little was much.

This story speaks of God’s gift of salvation and grace. It is a gift of much to one who has little. Once upon a time, as a young girl that person was me.

And as I’ve gone through life I’ve seen this beautiful pattern. The times I’ve had less have been the times I’ve had more. Less in the material world. Less comfort maybe. But more room for cheer and love in my heart.

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Life gets simple. And when life is simple, it forces you to look within.

Looking in to see what you value most when you have little.

A simpler life, a shorter budget, it is a gift. So enjoy it. Enjoy your life amidst the harships. The scrimping and saving. The wondering. Enjoy your family and friends, one of life’s purest and greatest gifts. May you be blessed. And well stuffed with stuffing!

A very Happy Thanksgiving to my readers here in the U.S. 🙂

~Rachel

Yes I know it’s early yet to be saying Happy Thanksgiving but if I don’t say it now I’m liable to forget! Mom brain 😛

Motherhood

Havoc in My World, Peace in My Heart

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If I was a superhero, I’m pretty sure my name would be Mother Mahem. Oh wait…yeah that’s my reality already.

I’ve been feeling the pull to write about this for a week or so. People seem to like the moments of vulnerability and honesty that comes with sharing the everyday moments and struggles of motherhood.

I’ve got one for you. Actually I’ve got several. Ok I actually have way more but I can’t remember them all, and maybe that’s a good thing.

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Do you ever have a moment, a day when your kid does something and it just breaks your heart? Sometimes these things just happen and I’m like “Why?? Why me? Why this?” And I’m mad and sad all in one.

This happened to me one morning. And I get it. Out of all the things that are going on in the world, this is small. But small things can seem big at the time.

I woke up to discover a mess. It was partly my fault for accidentally leaving my sewing things out. They were all in my sewing bag but not put away. An obvious temptation. Especially tempting, apparently, were my sewing scissors.

And so a certain someone took the liberty of refashioning a few things about the house.

My daughter’s quilt (in progress project) I was able to fix. Thank goodness.

However, this

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One of the “doors” to our t.v. stand.

This was done for. As you can see, it looked a bit trashy. So instead of wallowing in despair (tempting) I decided to fix it.

I had some fabric scraps that matched just right. So I cut, sewed and ironed, pinned and sewed some more.

 

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I used a modified blanket stitch to attach the fabric.
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Finished product. Now for the fun of re-attaching the door!

And how did I manage to complete this with two little munchkins running around? I sat them down with a mountain of playdough.

They “played”, a word here which is loosely correlated to playing and tightly correlated to throwing it all over the floor. But hey, I finished my project 🙂

That’s what motherhood is all about. We take the messes, the difficult things along with all things bright and beautiful. We get through it. With our sanity intact? Doubtful. But maybe just maybe as we learn to let things go and repair what we can we can restore a measure of it unto our hearts 🙂

A toast. To motherhood. May your moments of mayhem be short and give way to deep breaths of peace.

God bless.

~Rachel

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Motherhood

Perfect Preschool Mom {Myth}

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Once upon a time, there was a myth that I believed. A truth that I thought existed. A lie that I took into the deep places of my heart.

I wrapped myself up in this idea that there is a perfect mom. That there is this super-human, super-woman, crazy-insanely put together person that I could be.

But wasn’t.

Everyone. Ev-er-y-one has something. As children our flaws were wide open. As adults we have learned to cover and protect the hurts, the flaws. And to project our better side.

I have no qualms about admitting that I am not perfect.

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I’m eyeball deep in anxiety most days. My kids make everlasting messes. They like bread instead of my carefully constructed, healthy suppers. Last night I discovered 2 cheesy breadsticks in my kids backpack for goodness sake. We had those 4 nights ago. So yeah. The anti-perfection runs strong here.

I am about a million miles to the side of perfection.

And I know. I know this. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And yet…the measuring tape never really stays put away.

I measure my own delicately weaved fabric against the grains of another. Another story. Another life that God has weaved together with grace and wisdom.

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I am not her. I am not that perfect woman. Perfect mother. I’m not even a perfect wife, friend, sister, daughter. I am deeply flawed.

 

“The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned”

-from Life is but a Weaving (the Tapestry Poem), by Corrie ten Boom

But my imperfections make me beautiful. I am not a diamond, thrown away because of my flaws. My Lord loves me all the better for my struggles, my pain and discouragement.

I am a flawed being in a flawed world.

And I look at this grand new thing that is preschool. I see women who look like they have it all together. I know they are deeply flawed, just as I am.

The perfect preschool mom is a myth. No one can do it all, be it all.

No one in this world is perfect. We play pretend as if we were girls at dress up, prepared for high tea with our teddy bears.

But underneath, we all struggle.

Each day, each hour of my life is a gift. I will not waste it on useless comparison.

~Rachel

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Reflections

A Rainy Day Poem of Yesteryear

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We have had an insane amount of rain lately. At times one of my old poems comes to mind as it did today. So I wanted to share it. It is truly from yesteryear…written over a decade ago in my teen years. I did alter it slightly for clarity.

This poem is about storms, mysteries and my relationship with my Heavenly Father.

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Nothing Is a Mystery

The sky

Is 42 shades of grey

Come what may

A storm won’t make me cry.

I smile when

The clouds break

Then in a minute-give or take

The earth soaks in H²0.

Thunder dispels my fear

God’s power is in the storm

This is my refuge, my dorm

To know the God of all the earth

Holds me dear.

How I love

This moment, how I hold it dear.

My Creator-God

In all majesty.

A redeeming Lamb

He died and shed blood for you, For me.

I’m not a scholar, but I know this key…

Jesus took all the blame.

Romans 8:1 is a breath of peace

I was shown the way, a place

To release.

How I love You, God, how I need You.

I know not what to do.

Lord, our lives seem so full of trouble.

But really, we’re so enclosed in

A bubble.

Break us free.

So we can be

Everything You set us out to be.

Please change me.

Bring me beyond

All the boundaries

Make me free to

Live.

See the rain,

I’ll never know some things

But I know Someone who knows all.

I have a long line of questions

One day I will see the One

Who knows all mysteries.

Job 36:22-33

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~Rachel

Reflections

Can a Christian Read Fifty Shades of Grey?

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This post is an edit of the one I wrote March 23, 2015.

Oh boy. You’re writing about that?! You bet. I spent a lot of time figuring out my thoughts on this topic. And originally I had a lot to say, but I realized that the direction that I was taking wasn’t what God wanted me to write. So over a period of time I have written and re-written this post.

“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are we not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”                  1 Corinthians 5:12-13a (NIV)

I have chosen to address this post to a Christian audience. This is mainly because my viewpoint comes from a Biblically based Christian standpoint and it doesn’t seem fair to subject unbelievers to that. Throughout this post, I will share some scripture and my thoughts on why a Christian must abstain from reading this specific brand of literature.

I began this post because I needed to figure out the whys of what I believed about this book. I didn’t agree with those believers who thought that reading Fifty Shades was ok. So I looked at things objectively. I did a lot of research. I also spent a good bit of time seeking understanding in this matter so that I could respond with care.

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I wanted to know, really know why I shouldn’t read these books which had become so popular. And I also wondered why they were so popular. Aside from the obvious “it’s about sex”.

I see this genre as a response to fill a problem that many women face. I think that this is much of the reason why the Fifty Shades of Grey literature gained so much popularity.

A Few Reasons for Popularity

1) I see that this book is geared towards women, especially moms who might wish to escape from a sometimes busy and demanding life. There is no harm in a novel, but the morality of the content is also important.

2) Women want to be seen as desirable. One of the major themes in the Twilight books and Fifty Shades is that a woman is pursued, wooed and made to feel desirable. Which is something that I would say we all want as women. Again, nothing wrong with that. But God created that desire to be met in courtship and marriage. He created and wanted that exclusivity that existed between husband and wife from the very beginning with Adam and Eve.

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Talking About Judgement

Is it my place to be judgemental? Yes and no. If it wasn’t my place, then I wouldn’t have felt the prompting to write this. However, I am not of the school of thought which says, “Slather on that judgement!”. Judgement should be made and delivered with a great amount of prayer, thought and wisdom.Thus it is important to remember the words Jesus spoke.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1 (NIV)

Don’t judge? For this passage, I dug out my commentary and took a gander at the insight offered there.

“Before presuming to help others, one must undergo some self-discipline and yield to the discipline of the Lord (Ps. 51:10-13).”                                                      -Moody Bible Commentary (2014)

And oh yeah, that happened. The Lord very much worked on my own heart as I began to write this post.

The Flesh and the Spirit

I’ve been reading in Romans chapter 8 where Paul talks about the flesh and the spirit. How they battle for control in the believer’s life. We have to choose everyday which we will serve. Who we will serve. It is not an easy task. I myself have difficulty keeping that balanced mindset.

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6 (NIV)

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Be Selective About Your Reads

I could easily choose to pick up Fifty Shades and read it. Give in to the voice that says it is ok.

But I’ve heard that gentle voice, that quiet but firm word of caution saying, “Stay away”. And I know I must stay far away from temptation because the Holy Spirit is there to guide me. To help and protect me. My mind, my spiritual health is valued by God. And He wants me to value it too.

Just like what you feed your body determines your overall health. Your skin can show if you’ve been eating your fruits and veggies. Found that one out lately. Your mind, your actions, emotions and thoughts can show you what you have been reading, watching, dwelling on. Even things that you have viewed or read long ago can come up again. Which is why it is so important to be on your guard.

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

There was a time in my life when I was not as guarded as I should have been when it came to my choice in literature. I learned a very valuable lesson from that and now I am very careful to avoid what is not wholesome. Am I perfect? No. But I do know firsthand that choosing what is unwholesome can haunt, can trouble and linger.

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Conclusion

Ultimately, I do not believe that reading these books or watching the movies are compatible with a life that is devoted to following after God. I can find no scripture that would support that stance.

In conclusion, I have to ask: is it a sin to read this Fifty Shades series? To watch the movies? Everything I’ve read in the Bible and what I know about the series points to a yes. Fifty Shades of Grey is not compatible with the believer’s life. Much caution is needed here. Think twice about reading this book, about watching the movies and listen intently to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

~Rachel

Reflections

“Light Will Come Bursting In” (Plus Pictures of a Few Hatian Souvenirs)

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I am long overdue for this promised post. On June 16th, I mentioned in my post Where Dirt Meets Light and Love that I was walking into a difficult week. That day seems like a lifetime ago. That Friday was the day my husband left to go on a long journey to a far away place. He was 6 days in the country of Haiti.

What was he doing there? He was part of a team from our church that built 5 houses for 5 separate Hatian families.

It was an interesting time. For me and for him as well, but in a different way of course. I meditated on Psalm 112, especially verses 4-7.

Verse 4a says that…

“When darkness overtakes the godly, light will come bursting in.” (NLT)

As a person who struggles with depression and anxiety, this verse was particularly meaningful to me. Situations of stress and sadness can amplify those issues and so I knew it was important to cling to positivity. And hope.

“They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.” (verse 7, NLT)

So yes, the days were long and the evenings difficult. But my sleep was sound.

Nothing compares to the ache of missing the one you love. But such joy in being reunited. Such peace and sweet relief.

I wanted to share some pics of a few things that my husband brought home from Haiti.

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Pikliz, mother and baby figurine (I adore it), bracelet, wooden bowl, vanilla.

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The vanilla I have not tried yet but it smells amazing. Some of it leaked into the gallon ziplock during travel. The label says it is a vanilla concentrate. I’ve been running low on vanilla so I will have to add some to a recipe soon.

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Close up of the Pikliz.

Ingredients: Vinaigre, Choux, Piment, Poivron Rouge, Carote, Sel, Echalote

I thought this was Creole but google translator translated it better when I selected “French” as the language although some of the words were spelled a bit differently.

Therefore: Vinegar, Cabbages, Pepper, Red Pepper, Carrot, Salt, Shallot are the ingredients.

The best way that I can describe the Pikliz is “a spicy coleslaw without the creamy sauce”. I haven’t been adventurous enough to try it yet but my husband did and said it was super-spicy (even for him). He said they had it on everything during super in Haiti. But the stuff they had there was milder in flavor.

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50 HTG (Haitian Gourde). US $1 is equivalent to 62.7106 HTG)

 

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When my husband gave me this rock he said, “Here, this is the most precious thing that I can give you from Haiti”. And yes it is special. But its not the most precious thing that he brought back from Haiti.

The most precious thing was not a thing. It was himself.

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~Rachel

Note: First picture is of Melbourne, Australia. Source: Pixabay.

Nature

Where Dirt Meets Light and Love

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I’m in a writing funk lately. My week is about to become tipsy-topsy-turvy. (More on that later.) The inspiration is lacking. So I do what all good writers do, I go out and get busy. Get inspired. Lift my spirits with something that I love.

I love to garden. I always have and I think I always will. Ever since I was a child, I’ve always had a curious interest in plants. What makes them tick, makes them grow. Gardening is my therapy. It soothes my soul and propels me forward when times get tough.

Here is today’s work:

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Cute little nook in progress!

 

The larger one at the end has sweet potatoes and marigolds. Good companion plants. I bought all 12 plants for under $5 😀 My heart is doing a tiny frugal dance.

The bed on the right has my Lenten rose and impatient seeds. Both are excellent for shade.

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Fun fact: about a week ago my daughter chewed through the box of impatient seeds and spilled some all over herself. She might have eaten some. I don’t know. It was awhile before I noticed. Haha.

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And here’s a bit from the big garden, which was planted nearly 2 weeks ago:

 

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Silver thyme.

 

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Baby Calendula Resina (from seed).

 

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Munstead Lavender I started from seed. 2 months old, same age as my Black Vernissage tomato plants!

 

By the way, only 2 out of 6+ lavender plants survived. The Black V. tomatoes (4) are still a bit scraggly as well.

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Blossoms on my Sun Gold tomato plant.

 

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Baby borage (from seed). If you look close you can see the leaves are covered in prickly hairs already.

 

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Baby Vierling Dill (took for-ev-er to sprout). Update: not sure if this is dill. Maybe my dill didn’t sprout 😦

 

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The basils. Purple Ruffles and Genovese.

 

On occasion I overhear someone say that gardening is difficult or they have a black thumb or whatnot. And I am not the best gardener out there, but I’ve always thought that plants are just like people. All they need is a little bit of light and love.

Do you have a garden? If so what are you growing this year?

~Rachel

I had this verse running through my head as I wrote:

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