Saturday, March 31, 2012

To the brim


 

Walking With the Lord is a weekly pause we take here at Ruby in the Rough to focus on the things of the Lord. Sometimes it will be a devotional, a poem, or a lesson from our church that stood out as being particularly applicable.

Joh 2:7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

As I was reading this morning this verse caught my eye.The setting is Jesus' first miracle, at the wedding in Cana. Mary had bid the servants to do whatever Jesus asked them too, and this verse tells what he asked of them. 


The thing that is striking is how thoroughly they obeyed. Jesus commanded them to fill the water pots, but he didn't say it had to be to the brim. Usually when a person fills something they leave a bit on top so that it doesn't spill. I consider my cup full even if there are a couple inches left from the brim. Granted, these waterpots were considerably bigger than a glass of water, but even so--the servants weren't asked to fill them too the brim, just to fill them. The servants were simply obeying orders. 


Since it was Jesus' first miracle, I doubt that they suspected what was about to happen. Jesus didn't have a reputation yet--at least, not one as a miracle worker. He was simply an 'ordinary' guest at the celebration. What's more, this 'ordinary' guest asked the already busy servants to fill 6 water pots of 2-3 firkins. This is equal to between 108-162 gallons. That was no easy task. Despite this, the servants went over an beyond, doing everything asked of them and more besides.

I wonder, how often can we say that we do the same? We all know of things that God wants us to do. I'm sure that many times in the past we have obeyed Him and done things that were difficult, but how many times do we stop there?


 When you get right down to it, though, it is that extra bit that matters the most. We can obey God out of duty, but to go beyond what He asks takes love and trust. It is also this extra bit that is the best witness. If God asks you to do something and you do just that and no more, others watching will wonder what your motivation was. Did you do that because you love God, or was it just because you had some sense of duty, devoid of personal love, simply an obligation you had to fulfill? They can't really know. However, if you obey, and add to that obediance extra, then there can be no doubt that the obediance was born of love.


 Not that I'm downplaying pure and simple obediance--never! There are few things so lovely as a Christian that is living a life of obediance. But there is something extra special when that believer is able to go over and beyond. When they don't just 'fill' the waterpots, they 'fill them up to the brim'.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Giving

Joining Lisa-Jo and fabulous others this morning for Five Minute Friday, where we cut the words loose for just five minutes, and see where they fall. No editing, just encouraging the others who play along. The topic today is Gift.





Time. It's a gift in many different ways. The fact that we have time at all is a gift that God gives us. Each moment that He keeps the air circulating through our lungs and our hearts beating is a gift. A gift easily taken for granted, but precious and amazing.

Time is a gift we can give to other people--the time that God gives us can then be given away. It is both the cheapest and most expensive gift on the planet. It is free to give, but extremely valuable. How we spend the gift of our time shows us where our priorities are--just as surely as how we spend our money.

When I think of time I see it differently than many people. My love language is quality time, and my husband learned long ago that if he wants to really show me he loves me a lot, the best way is to set everything aside and focus on me. We don't have to be talking (though often I do), but we do have to have undistracted "us" time. Time is the way I give and receive love most naturally.

Gifts are precious, and the gifts we give to loved ones are especially important. How are you doing in your gift giving? How do you show your love?


Monday, March 26, 2012

New friends, new blessings

It's been quite the weekend in the "manor." This past weekend was my long anticipated weekend getaway with MomLife. I was gone for about two days to a camp a couple hours away, and had a fantastic time. The speakers were great, and I came away with quite a few good memories and notes.

A couple days before MomsLifet, I found out that I would be able to partially attend another weekend women's conference, COMMIT, with the ladies on my husband's side of the family. Because I'd already committed to MomsLife, I hadn't expected to be able to attend. But the conferences only overlapped by about a day, so I was able to partially attend COMMIT also. I really enjoyed the chance to spend time with my family, and the COMMIT conference itself was wonderful as well!

While all that traveling was a blast, it's been nice to be back home. I like busy weekends every  now and again, but I can say whole-heartedly with Dorothy, "There's no place like home!"


#331
327. God providing an extra pair of hands for Keepers (a pair of hands that was okay with being thrown into the fray with only the words, "Do you know how to heat emboss? Great! You can teach that table. The stuff is... out. I think. Somewhere... Have fun!")
328. Three packages in the mail--two for me, one as a present

#331
329. A borrowed car with AC
330. Roses, blooming profusely
331. The unexpected opportunity to attend a COMMIT conference with my MIL and SILs
332. Sitting with the moms, instead of the daughters

#331

333. A bowl of cheerios, used to remind me to not store up resentment
334. Meeting with my midwife, and hearing Baby's heartbeat (she says its in the range for a girl--but who knows!)
335. Lunch with my Sister-in-law, Melody, between our midwife appointments
336. Leaving on vacation with a clean house. Miracles do happen!

#337

337. A tea party at the DMC. Lovely!
338. Dreaming of tea parties with my own little girls
339. Learning two new crafts to do, one for great "girl time" one for great presents.
340. A long drive with my man

#354
341. The chance to attend MomLife Bootcamp
342. "What? Pregnant! No way are we letting you sleep on the top bunk!"
343. 6 great room mates, and 6 new friends
344. Early morning sitting on the dock and journaling

#341
345. Evening phone calls to my man
346. Learning a new game
347. A phone charger
348. A reminder to not be a sideline mom

#352

349. Absorbing myself in cardmaking
350. A needle and thread
351. Tasty, delicious snacks
352. Meeting Crystal Paine

#343

353. An encouraging message reminding me that we're all works in progress, by the Grace of God
354. Moms scrapping together
355. Stepping outside of my comfort zone
356. Two new cute headbands

#357
357. Writing a couple thank you notes, and thinking about the blessings God has put in my life
358. Being handed a prayer card for Wisdom, my "special word"
359. Peppermint tea
360. Seeing my man after a weekend apart

#344

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Collapse of Evolution




I picked up The Collapse of Evolution, by Scott M Huse, mainly because it is the text book to a class on Creationism that my husband and I are taking through our church. In addition to other homework assignments, we are required to finish this book by the end of the semester. I found this book to be much more interesting than I expected.

Each chapter of this book deals with a different scientific aspect of Evolution vs. Creation. There are chapters on geology, astronomy, biology, mathematics, and physics, among others. I found the reading to be engaging and interesting.

One of the major things I got out of this book is how incorrect it is for schools to teach evolution as a proven fact, rather than a theory. By it's nature, evolution cannot be scientifically proven because it can't be observed. That makes evolution a matter of faith, which is the very criticism that Creationists often face. If evolution is a matter of faith, it should be taught as a matter of faith--not as proven scientific facts.

This book is engaging, easy to understand, and thought provoking. I definitely would recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic. 

MomLife Bootcamp

MOMLIFE BOOTCAMP


This weekend I will be attending MomLife Bootcamp. I am sooooo excited about the opportunity! I found out about this through a giveaway done several months ago (I don't even remember whose blog). I was so excited to see that not only will Crystal Paine of MoneySavingMom be one of the speakers, but it will be held within driving distance of where we live!! How often does that happen!

 I've never been to an "adult" retreat before--I think the last time I went to a weekend camp was in youth group. I'm not entirely sure what to expect, but I do expect both lots of fun and lots of learning.

The session I'm most looking forward to is this one:
Social Media Group Ideation Session – Hosted by Tracey Eyster, Crystal Paine, and Kennisha HillAnyone with a passion for reaching others through a digital medium are invited to join in on this think tank session where we will explore, consult and advise each other on how we can most effectively use our God given passions to reach others through blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media forums.
Hopefully I'm going to walk away from that with some ideas that will directly impact this blog. We'll see!!

I doubt I'll have a chance to keep up with the usual posting over this weekend, but when I get back I'll give an update of how it went.

Will any of you be going? I'd love to meet you there if you are!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sacrificial Love


 A good marriage is never a 50/50 arrangement. While it may seem ideal to some people for everything in a marriage to be divided down the middle (money, chores, etc), in reality that just doesn’t work. Expecting everything in a home to be 50/50 essentially means that each spouse is keeping a running list of everything they have done, and comparing it to everything their mate has done to make sure the lists are “even.” If the lists aren’t even (and usually they aren’t) it leads to frustration, hurt and discontent.

As Christians, we are called to sacrificially love our brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, Jesus said that sacrificial love was to be our defining characteristic. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35) This includes the way we love our spouse.

As I understand that verse, a good marriage should be 100/100. In other words, each spouse should go into marriage expecting to give their level best to the other person, even if it means that the lists aren’t always even. It’s loving sacrificially; putting our spouse as the top priority. This is a requirement for a strong, healthy, flourishing marriage.

Let me take a side trail for a moment, and give you a look into our marriage, both to explain how this looks practically, and to thank my hubby.

Yesterday was a physically strenuous day for me. Three girlfriends and I went to a grocery store in the area that was new to us, and found some really fantastic deals. Seriously. It was great, and my freezer is now WELL stocked. We ended up being out longer than I thought, so I went straight from there to work. By the time I got home I had been on my feet all day and was physically drained.

When my husband arrived home from work, he found an exhausted wife. I wasn’t able to deal with the messy house, or with doing much in the way of dinner—even if it was date night. My husband understood this, and instead of expecting me to do 50/50 he loved sacrificially and cleaned house. He did the dishes, pulled up a movie I enjoyed, and even cleaned the overflowed yeasty bread dough out of the bottom of my bread machine (a failed recipe from a couple days ago).  He gave 100%.

Although I wasn’t able to do much that evening, I was able to use my tongue. As he was working on things that are usually my job, I tried to speak words of life to him. I wasn’t able to carry half the load, but I did give what I was able to give—appreciation; love; acceptance. I gave 100% also, it just didn’t take the same form.

 For a good marriage to work there has to be sacrifice on both sides. It take both spouses sacrificially giving 100% of themselves, and refusing to keep mental “check lists” about their mate. Is that hard? Yes. It is hard. It’s more natural to focus on ourselves and our needs than it is to focus on our spouse, and what our spouse needs. But sacrificial love is SO worth it.

Lets take Christ as our model and choose to love our spouse sacrificially. Lets let the way that we love be such a reflection of Christ, that people look our marriage and say—“Hey, they must be Christians.” It’s what Jesus wanted.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35)

 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Top Book List



This is the final installment of  the Teachers of Good Things series. It's been a lot of fun, hasn't it? I really appreciate the six other women, and three men who were willing to join me for the interviews. I undertook this project as a ministry to others, but I had no idea how much I would learn in the process! I thank each of you for being willing to be open.

The final question of the interviews asked the women to share books that had impacted the way they viewed relationships, singleness, and preparing for marriage. Instead of including this question with each interview, I decided to compile it into a single post. After each book is the name of the woman who recommended it, sometimes a commentary on why, and the link to her interview.

While I have not read all of the 18 books listed, I've read the majority of them and I believe these are some of the best books available for Christian ladies. I'm looking forward to reading the new ones in the near future. Enjoy!

Single Years

Monday, March 19, 2012

My dearest little one,

My dearest little one,

 Even though I've never met you, I feel like I've been getting to know you over the last few weeks. You are so energetic! Last week your daddy woke up in the middle of the night and felt you dancing around in me while I was sleeping. He couldn't believe how busy you were (or that I could sleep right through it!). He said that any baby who has that much energy has to be either a strapping warrior-in-the-making or a jungle princess.

Even our midwife, Donna, said you were unusually energetic. Of course, that morning your mama had given you your first "taste" of doughnuts (a piece of information she didn't volunteer...), so the sugar may have had something to do with your quick little movements. You didn't like the junk food, though. In fact, although your mama had greatly anticipated the unusual treat, she wasn't even able to finish it! Maybe you will be one of those rare children who prefer fruits and veggies to candy bars and suckers. Your mama certainly wouldn't mind (though she isn't holding her breath).

This past weekend your mama and daddy went to a concert with your your granddad and grandmother. It was in honor of St. Patricks Day, and was entirely Celtic music (which happens to be a favorite of your mama's). There were even some Irish dancers for some of the songs (did you know your mama used to take Irish Dance?). You certainly seemed to enjoy the concert--any time the music was going you were awake and dancing away, but when the music stopped you took a nap. Your daddy assured me that meant you were either going to be a bag piper, or an irish dancer.

Did you know that your great-aunt Denise gave your mama and daddy a bag of fortune cookies she stuffed herself? Each fortune cookie, there are a dozen, has a different instrument. She said we were to open one for each baby, and that way we'd know what kind of instrument to assign each little one. She was only joking, but your mama really did keep the cookies, and has opened one for each pregnancy. You got the Trombone.

It's a good thing God is the one that directs our future and our interests, and not our parents/family. If you were to fulfill all of these predictions you'd end up as either a musical warrior with bagpipes and a trombone, or an jungle princess who does Irish dance while playing her trombone. Either picture makes your mama giggle.

Well, my little one, I need to finish this. I am looking forward to meeting you in just three months.

With love,

Your mama

 


305. A week off of work
306. working down a "to-do" list, and finishing. Or at least getting close
307. The sound of birds in the morning
308. Rain pattering on the roof
309. Whole days spent at home, choosing not to rush off

#310
310. Sister Grace spending the night
311. God's schedule planning (so much better than mine!)
312. A surprise gift
313. Helping out with the Cherished Ministry--and that Grace could come also
314. Cold stone creamery coffee ice cream

#319
315. A long conversation with a friend (who taught me a few new things about my home business!)
316. Heat embossing, with the keepers (I've been looking forward to learning this all semester--and it was just as fun as I expected!!)
317. A mid-day phone call from my dad
318. A funny conversation about Harleys and ice cream at the Braums checkout line
319. Two dozen pink roses from my man, spread all over the house--the table, the bathrooms, the counter.
#319

320. Baby, kicking away
321. A Celtic concert, complete with dancing, acting, and amazing singing.
322. Chinese food--specifically duck. Mmmmmmm
323. Our first Shelf Reliance party--and it went well!
324. The moment we realized that AT that first party, instead of serving the made up Chicken Salad, we'd accidentally served an unseasoned mixture of freeze dried chicken, celery, and onion--but no one noticed. And the laughter that ensued (I'm still giggling).
325. Foot rubs from my man--always appreciated!
326. A bouquet of wildflowers from my Keepers girls

#326



Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Good Shepherd



 

Walking With the Lord is a weekly pause we take here at Ruby in the Rough to focus on the things of the Lord. Sometimes it will be a devotional, a poem, or a lesson from our church that stood out as being particularly applicable.
Cattle can be driven, sheep must be lead.
Today I was reading in John chapter 10, which is the part where Jesus talks about being the Good Shepherd. I read the bit of commentary that goes along with the verses, there wasn't a whole lot but one sentence stuck with me--the one above.

Why do sheep follow their shepherd? Because they love him. There really is no other reason. It used to be that several herds of sheep could be kept in the same fold, but each herd would follow only the voice of their own shepherd--none of the other shepherds. Why is this? Because only their own shepherd knew them by name. Only their own shepherd loved them. Only their own shepherd spent time with them. And because their shephard first loved them, the sheep love him. Therefore, they will follow him wherever he calls.

Now, in the case of cattle, I have never heard of a herd of cattle following a person because they loved him. Perhaps it has happened, I don't know. But, after living on a ranch for several years, I do know that the usual way to move cattle is by driving them from one place to another. If one cow goes the wrong way, she won't turn around obediently when you call. No, she wouldn't come back in a million years. Rather, you send two or three quick young fellows after her to drive her back.

 I wonder how often you and I act more like cattle than like sheep in our spiritual lives. How often do we expect God to drive us before Him? We expect that if God wants us to do something then He will simply make it impossible for us to do anything else. When we pray, this is reflected. We never consider the relationship with God, but rather pray that if God expects us to do something for Him (or, really, if He wants us to do anything specific other than what we would natuarally want to do),that He would close every other door and force us through the way He wants us to go. Granted, we may not think of it precisely like that, but I have heard many prayers (and prayed many myself) that reflect this very attitude.

We expect God to drive us before Him.This is not how it is meant to be! Rather, we should be sheep instead of cattle. You see, with cattle, the relationship between the cattle driver and the cow doesn't matter a whit. However, the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd is of utmost importance. Sheep never have to be driven, because they follow willingly. Anywhere their shepherd goes is good enough for them, because they love their shepherd.

 Anywhere my Jesus calls me I should go willingly, as should any of His sheep. Of course, this means that we must know His voice. We must recognize how He speaks to us, and be listening to Him. A sheep will drop everything it is doing if its shepherd calls (and while grazing or napping doesn't seem very important to us, I'm certain it seems very important to the sheep). We should be willing to drop everything if our Shepherd calls, and listening for His call every moment.

originally published January 28, 2006

Friday, March 16, 2012

It takes Courage

Joining Lisa-Jo and fabulous others this morning for Five Minute Friday, where we cut the words loose for just five minutes, and see where they fall. No editing, just encouraging the others who play along. The topic today is Brave.




Sometimes it takes courage to get out of bed in the morning. It might not be the life-and-death courage, but living for the Lord takes courage. Last week I wrote about "leaving it all on the field." That isn't an easy thing to do. It takes a brave woman.

Forgiveness has been on my mind lately, that passage about the "brother offended" and how to move toward reconciliation. Reconciliation takes courage. But, for the Christian, it's non-optional. Living the Christian life takes courage.

Labor is coming very soon for me. Every day I feel baby kicking and flipping in strange circles--similar to the butterflies I used to feel before speaking in public--but now those butterflies are on steroids. This time there really IS someone in there. And in three months I'm going to be laboring to bring that tiny person into the world. Facing labor will take courage.

After that comes motherhood--the daily in and out of training my baby up in the way he is old, so when he is old he will not depart from it. Every move I make, every word I speak, every nuance of my character is going to be watched by tiny, tiny little eyes. And emulated. There are no "days off" when it comes to motherhood. And that takes courage.

Living daily for Christ, whether is physical feats (like labor or anything else) or daily grinds (like motherhood) or the challenges of doing what's right, even when it's hard (forgiveness) takes a daily dying to self. And that takes courage.



 **confession time--I paused the timer midway, with the theory that if I stopped the five minutes in the middle then restarted it so I still finished right when the buzzer rang, it still counted as finishing "within" 5 minutes. That's probably similar to keeping cookies on top of the fridge so the calories fall off, or eating two candy bars so they cancel each other out, but oh well. The justifications we use, right? :P

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Good Homemaker






Teachers of Good things is a series of interviews we will be conducting on Tuesdays and Thursdays here at Ruby in the Rough. It is our goal with these interviews to follow the instructions found in Titus 2:3-5 for the "older women" to teach the younger women good things such as: loving their husbands, keeping their home, and conducting themselves with all purity both before and after marriage.


Today Kirsten Apgar is joining us. Kirsten has been married for about 5 years to Chris Apgar, and they live in a cute little home in Northeastern Ohio. Kirsten shares recipes and life at The Good Homemaker.


As a single woman, before a serious relationship, what were some practical things you did to focus more on the Lord and less on guys and romance?

I attended a traditionally structured church all through my church going life until FBLC. They don't tend to teach you how to focus on the Lord before entering a serious relationship, and they certainly don't teach it in Youth Group. So, quite honestly, the thought never occurred to me. I only did what was normal- attended church, Bible study, Sunday school, and read the Bible (on occasion). I'm not proud of the fact that I didn't do anything else other then read one book- I Kissed Dating Goodbye. If I knew half of what I know now, I would have most certainly done things differently.

What steps did you take after you met your future spouse (during dating/courtship/engagement) to keep your focus on the LORD first?

Christopher and I met while both attending college, and while I would love to say that we had a model courtship, I cannot. We were both raised on the coast- I on the East Coast, and he on the West Coast. Two of the more liberal (socially) areas. I had honestly never heard of the concept of courtship until attending FBLC. So we had the traditional dating relationship, and other then attending church and occasionally reading the Bible I did nothing to try and focus on the Lord. I was busy with school, work, and wedding planning, and when I wasn't doing any of that, my head was in the clouds. I wish that we had courted, that I had focused on the Lord more, and that I wasn't working in a stressful job that demanded overtime.

How do you think a single woman should pursue/prepare for marriage?

I think that any woman who wishes to marry should work on knowing how to run a household effectively. That should include how to properly clean the house, menu planning, knowing how to cook (from scratch), and know how to sew (even if it is just basic sewing skills). In my opinion, the home is the husband's castle. It should be clean and comfortable for him, so that he can easily relax after a long day at work.

Women should also have a full understanding of their Biblical responsibilities as a woman and wife. They should know their role as a woman, to be the helpmate and nurturer, as well as what they need to do for their husbands, i.e. submit, and most importantly be able to do just that (this does not come easily to some of us).

In what area were you the least [and/or most] prepared to be a wife?

I was most prepared to be a wife in the area of home economics. I had been watching episodes of Martha Stewart Living since I was in my early teens, reading etiquette books, and working on cooking and baking all along. I also started making my own clothes when I was fifteen. I excel in this area.

I was however seriously lacking in the communication department. I come from a family of people that do not say what they feel, and can be very degrading in how they talk to others. I struggle with these very issues, and if I had paid closer attention to what was important to my future husband, I would have begun working on my communication issues before we got married. Unfortunately I was off in la-la land, and have been working on it for the a good portion of our marriage.

What would you have done differently [and/or what you did] as a single woman to prepare for this?

Let me clarify my communication problems- I have an issue telling people when I'm upset, what I want, and I don't like to be wrong, and therefore I won't answer questions directly if I know I'm wrong. I also build walls and don't easily open up.

I don't like to tell people that I'm upset or if I want something because I don't want to upset them. I'm afraid of making people upset, afraid of rejection, and afraid on confrontation. I also want to please everyone and keep everyone happy. These issues stem from watching my mother and stepfather fight. To put it in perspective- in a large majority of their fights my stepfather would threaten to leave my mother or have fits of rage like jumping up and down on roses in a fit of rage.

These are some hurdles in marriage. Had I known that I had these problems (remember, I was in la-la land), I would have read books, sought help, and certainly prayed about it. These issues were present in our engagement but not in the forefront, and so I never really dealt with it.

What does being a helpmate look like in your marriage?

Being a helpmate for my husband means listening to his day at work. This might not seem like a big thing, but when you're husband does complex mathematical analysis it's not only boring but, well, complex. It also means listening to him when he wants to talk about some of his interests (computers, cars, etc.), helping him with projects around the house, and taking care of the little things he doesn't want to deal with.

What was the biggest surprise to you after marriage?

It is NOT a fairytale after you say "I do." There is a lot of work and no glamor in marriage after your wedding. Marriage is work, and you have to work at it even when you don't feel like it. Hollywood never shows that in the movies.

What is one thing about men you learned after marriage?

This is a little stupid thing, but it's a good point nonetheless. Men don't see a messes or notice some things like women do (unless you marry someone that's anal-retentive or has OCD). You can't fault your man for not taking the garbage out when it's right in front of the door because most likely he doesn't see it there in the first place. It would be like getting mad at a deaf person for not hearing the doorbell ring.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ask the Men, part 3


Most of the interview questions for Teachers of Good Things came from conversations and emails between myself and the young ladies at my church. As we talked I realized that there were a few questions that could only be answered by men. So, in a slight departure from our norm, I have a few men who have agreed to share their thoughts on these questions.

In the final installment of Ask the Men Jonathan Rhoades will be joining us. His wife, Amanda was the first of the interviews I posted. As his sister, I can certify that Jonathan's faith is lived both publicly and privately. He has quite a sense of humor, but he also has stands out in both his diligence and ability as a peace maker.

What was the first thing that attracted your attention to your future wife?

Oddly enough, I really can’t remember. We’ve known each other for so long, it just kind of happened. We’ve been friends since we were around 13, and the line between friendship and attraction was kind of blurred. Probably one thing that both attracted me to Amanda, and caused me to not take any actions toward her until much later is that I had some very good friends who expressed an interest to her. This both made me not want to step on their toes, but also realize she was a real catch.

A few of the things that did attract me as I got to know her were here caring sprit, her tom boyish tendencies, her constant desire to be a better person and closer to the Lord, and her love of missions. Plus she’s hot. That definitely helps.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lemons to Lemon Aid



This past week was full, but not in the usual way. Sunday my husband caught a stomach bug that knocked him for a loop. Within a couple days I'd caught it also, and let me tell you--a stomach bug is VERY confusing when a girl is also pregnant! It took most of a day for me to realize I was genuinely sick, and not dealing with a random unusual bout of morning sickness. 

Although being sick isn't much fun, I did appreciate the extra evenings at home with my man. I may be "on the go" a lot, but my very favorite place to be is at home, especially if my man is there also. Sick or not, it isn't hard to turn lemons into lemon aid when we're together. :-)

My reading nook

This past week I've been working on getting our patio spruced up with some flowers, and cleared of miscellanies "stuff" that tends to migrate to forgotten places (like our patio). I was rather pleased with the result of the labor!

My husband was kind enough to carry out an old comfy chair for me to sit in, and so here is my new favorite reading nook!!



In reality, I probably won't do most of my reading there. The truth is, I read anywhere.  I read sitting in the carpool line waiting for school to let out. I read outside the YMCA waiting for swim team to finish. I read curled up on my bed as I wait for my man to finish a project. I read on the couch in the mornings. I sometimes think longingly of the book sitting in the passenger seat as I wait for a red light (though, of course, I'm far too mature to ever actually act on that temptation *cough*). Pretty much, if I've got a book and a free moment I dive in, regardless of location. The only thing my various reading nooks have in common is opportunity.

All the same, it is nice to have a pleasant little place that is just my own to read in.

Pregnant or no, I'm still able to read in the proper position
--comfortably curled up.




I mentioned in my February Reading Challenge Update that this month I'll be participating in the March of Books. Today we're linking up to share our favorite place to read. If you want to see some other favorite places, click the link below. :-)
March of Books 2012 at ylcf.org

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Turn around!


Walking With the Lord is a weekly pause we take here at Ruby in the Rough to focus on the things of the Lord. Sometimes it will be a devotional, sometimes a lesson from our church that stood out as being particularly applicable. 


I woke up that morning my mind a whirl of worries. I've noticed in life that things come in sets. It isn't just that a lot of different things happen all at once ("when it rains it pours"). Often, those "different" things, though unrelated, aren't really all that different.

That's what it felt like that morning. Three different situations, three different loved ones, and all dealing with the same problems. Or about to be dealing with the same problems.

Don't you hate it when you can see a danger other people can't see? And you know it's bad, but you can't do anything about it? And the person who CAN do something about it is completely oblivious, despite warning signs? And you feel like that road sign, "turn around, don't drown!" and wonder, if signs had feelings, if they wouldn't be hopping up and down desperately trying to flag down people who are driving by and ignoring rain and the warning?

Friday, March 9, 2012

On the field




Linking up again with The Gypsy Mama and her 5 minute Fridays for a bit of fun!!

Around here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays. We write because we love words and the relief it is to just write them without worrying if they’re just right or not. So we take five minutes on Friday and write like we used to run when we were kids.
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you and encourage them in their comments.


The Prompt today is:

Empty

Empty--it's what I feel at the end of a week when I was poured out. It isn't a bad feeling, it can be a feeling of accomplishment. The phrase "leaving it all on the field" comes to mind. At the end of a week like that, I know I did everything I needed to do, was poured out like water, was where I needed to be. I left it all on the field.

We're coming up on Resurrection Sunday, the day my Lord left it all on the field. He bore my sin on the cross, endured unspeakable torture, died a terrible death, and was buried in a tomb. On Resurrection Sunday the tomb was empty. My Lord had finished his work, and left it all on the field.

I want to live like my Savior. I don't want those empty days to be rare things. I don't mean that every day I will be literally physically dying. Jesus set an example of a daily kind of death, the days that he was exhausted, but the people were still coming and he taught them, loved them, spent time with them anyway. That is the life I want to live--constantly pouring myself out for others.

I want my life to be so like Jesus that when people see me, they see him. When the end of my life comes I want to be empty. Not because there is nothing good left, but because I've spent every ounce of grace that God has given me. Because I left it all on the field.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rubber Bands and Binoculars



Teachers of Good things is a series of interviews we will be conducting on Tuesdays and Thursdays here at Ruby in the Rough. It is our goal with these interviews to follow the instructions found in Titus 2:3-5 for the "older women" to teach the younger women good things such as: loving their husbands, keeping their home, and conducting themselves with all purity both before and after marriage.


Today we have Linda Townsend joining us for Teachers of Good Things. Linda is the wife of Tim Townsend, and has two children, Mikayla and David. I got to know Linda a couple months before I got married, and she's been a close friend ever since. I know Linda will always tell me what I need to hear (even if it's different than what I want to hear).


As a single woman, before a serious relationship, what were some practical things you did to focus more on the Lord and less on guys and romance?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands



The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands is a must read for wives. I've read it before, probably right before I was married, but I'd forgotten how good it is. Dr. Laura Schlessinger takes a no-holds-barred look at what being a committed wife really means, and basically it boils down to "your marriage is what you make it."

A driving point throughout the book is that men are simple creatures with simple needs that any woman, regardless of looks, is capable of meeting. The problem is that most of the time, we women don't really want to meet those needs. We prefer to focus on whether our own needs are being met, and dish out "punishments" when they aren't. This is not the recipe for a happy (or healthy)  marriage.

Although this is not a Christian book, I was amazed to find how much practical Biblical application is in the pages. I mentioned this to my husband, and he commented that truth is truth, whether you have a Biblical frame of reference or not.

As mentioned earlier, this book is a must read for wives. It's a "should read" for anyone looking at marriage in the near future. I probably will also recommend portions to some of my single friends--just because Dr. Laura gets so "into the heads" of men. I'll definitely be reading this book again in the future.

Matched Pearls



Matched Pearls, by Grace Livingston Hill, is about Constance, a well-to-do college student, who is completely focused on the world. Constance was raised in a nominally Christian home, but is completely ignorant of the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Then Constance finds out that her grandmother, who owns a very expensive string of heirloom pearls, will only give them to her when she joins the church. Constance does not want to make a public profession she does not intend to keep, but the thought of her poor country cousin (who is a Christian) being given the pearls instead is too much for her to bear. She decides to take the vows to get the pearls. Although seemingly insignificant, this act changed the course of Constance's life.

The basic story was about what I would expect from Grace Livingston Hill, or her aunt, Isabella Alden. Unmistakably Christian. I like that in my books, especially fiction books. The best fiction books revolve around Christ to the point that the story would not make sense if He was removed from the story.

On the flip side, this book was definitely a romance, and I believe it took the romance too far. While there was very little physical romance, throughout the story Constance is either with a worldly suitor, with a godly suitor, or thinking about one of the suitors (mostly the godly one). This intense emotional focus on romance isn't something I believe is healthy--especially for single young ladies.

Overall, while the story did revolve around Christ to the point that it wouldn't make sense without him, I still would not be able to recommend this book to others--particularly not single young women.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ask the Men, part 2



Teachers of Good things is a series of interviews we will be conducting on Tuesdays and Thursdays here at Ruby in the Rough. It is our goal with these interviews to follow the instructions found in Titus 2:3-5 for the "older women" to teach the younger women good things such as: loving their husbands, keeping their home, and conducting themselves with all purity both before and after marriage.  

Most of the interview questions for Teachers of Good Things came from conversations and emails between myself and the young ladies at my church. As we talked I realized that there were a few questions that could only be answered by men. So, in a slight departure from our norm, this week and last week I had two men who agreed to share their thoughts on these questions.

This week Been Feehan will be joining us. Ben is a close friend of my husband's, and a regular contributor to my husbands website The Gentleman Adventurer.  He and his wife are expecting their first little one, Erin Elisabeth, in early April.

Ben and Jessica
What was the first thing that attracted your attention to your future wife?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring flowers


It's been an eventful week. Sitting down to write this I know there were several ideas I'd had for today's Thousand Gift post. I can't remember any of them. Either because this week was too brimful, or because I'm pregnant and now struggle to remember basic things (like my own age...).

One of the things that really brought joy to my heart this week was visiting the gardening center of Wal-Mart after I went grocery shopping. Spring is definitely my favorite season, and it has come early to Texas this year.

I am absolutely in love with spring flowers. The vibrant, cheerful colors make the whole world feel fresh and new.  The flowers also make me think of my wedding, because although I was married in late summer, I'd determined long before the date was set that regardless of what time of year our wedding ended up being, the feel would be Spring. I took the color scheme for the wedding from Snapdragons (which, sadly, weren't in season) and alstromera. Can you see the resemblance?
# 265



Saturday, March 3, 2012

Apathy


Walking With the Lord is a weekly pause we take here at Ruby in the Rough to focus on the things of the Lord. Sometimes it will be a devotional, a poem, or a lesson from our church that stood out as being particularly applicable.



I know the name of my enemy
It seeks my life, it is Apathy.

It says that what will be will soon be,
So there's no point to fight my enemy.

It says that I will be only one,
And will not matter in the long run.

If I will fight, or if I will sit--
Why decide now? Decide in a bit.

Yes, I know it, and I know it well,
This enemy is from the pit of Hell.

It would make me un-armoured and weak,
And leave me with no honor to seek.

I will not turn, and shall not be moved,
Will not be lax, or restfully soothed.

I'm a soldier and cannot be brought
Into a sleep while the battle's fought.

I'm no warrior of ordinary mould--
I'm a Christian, both brave and bold.

And so I say now to Apathy
I won't be tricked to think but of me.

Nor will you find my sword to be slow
Or my shield weak against you, my foe.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ
Let not yourselves weary in this fight.

When you stand firm other Christians will see
That they too can stand against Apathy.

Then they will join and rally around
Their fight will start as the trumpets sound.

And so it is that though you are one,
By one warrior the fight can be won.

You cannot know what difference might make
When you will give Battle for Christ's sake.

© 2006 Sophia Rohlin

Friday, March 2, 2012

February Reading Challenge update

Reading Challenge 2012

It's the beginning of March, which means that it is time for a checkup on the Reading Challenge 2012.

 My goal for this year is to read a total of 30 books. That means 2-3 books a month. January I was just a wee bit behind that goal, though only if you count finished books. I had multiple books that were almost finished.

February, on the other hand, was a stunning success. I didn't finish just three or four books in the month of February. In fact, I finished....

*drumroll*

Bitter sweet life



Linking up again with The Gypsy Mama with her 5 minute Fridays for a bit of fun!!

Around here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays. We write because we love words and the relief it is to just write them without worrying if they’re just right or not. So we take five minutes on Friday and write like we used to run when we were kids.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on: Ache

Mama and daddy's hands, Christians memorial, and Baby #2
I look at this picture, and it is bitter sweet. The picture with my two babies. One kicking, alive (though I couldn't feel it at the time) and the other with Jesus, the bracelet with me as a memory of his short life. It was an accident that the stones facing out in that picture are garnet, January, my baby's birth monthIt's a beautiful picture, with more meaning than meets the eye. But it isn't an easy picture.

Is that the way life is, though? The sweet and the bitter mixed together in a single cup. It's a good drink, but a hard drink. The way that when Jesus died on the cross for my sins, taking my own punishment on himself, it was both sweet and bitter. Sweet, because his great love for me, to choose to do such a thing for a complete, ugly sinner. Bitter, because the death, the torture, was hard and ugly. And he, God, hung there.

It must be life is that way, with those moments so mixed together. The joy and the heartbreak captured in a single moment, a single breath, a single picture, so that it is hard to see where one begins and the other ends. I'm sure I'll feel that way when I see my little one; the joy of moments with my baby and the eagerness to see what comes next, but the bitter sweet knowledge that the only thing I'll have left of the moments as they pass is a beautiful memory and pictures.