Passionate about all the wrong things?

Lantern
Last week I read a comment on one of my favorite blogs, that I've been mulling over and can't quite get out of my head:

Say
that you rail and your rail with your children about all kinds of
things: drugs and rock music and Christian music and weak Christianity
and sugar and white bread and recycling and "??those"?? people and bad
literature and mud on their boots and dirty houses and vaccinations and
feeding babies and chocolate and vitamins and natural childbirth, how
will your children know which of these things is really important?
Maybe one day they find out that some Christians eat sugar and they are
nice lovely people who truly love the Lord but from hearing you day in
and day out he thought that anyone who ate sugar had a free ticket to
hell. Now every single thing you have tried to teach your child ever
has been undermined by your passionate intensity.

The
context was getting passionate about the small things, and losing sight
of an eternal perspective and remaining passionate about Jesus. I can
totally agree with this train of thought. At our church, we are often
exhorted to "keep the main thing the main thing", referring to the
Gospel of Jesus Christ remaining at the center of everything we do,
think and say .

This is crucial. If I get caught up on the bandwagon of nutrition or
frugality or environmentalism to such an extent that it overrides my
passion for Jesus and what He has done for me, then shame on me. I have
lost sight of that which is central to everything.

However, if in my zealousness to remain single minded in my
passions, I cease to approach life from a Biblical world view that says
all truth is God's truth, and that surely His ways can bring light and
life to all elements of living, then I am still missing out on
something major.

The writer of the post said that she can tend to "major on the
minors", and to that I can heartily add an amen, so can I. But if I am
not mistaken, my God is a God of redemption in all of the nooks and
crannies of life. While discussing this comment with my husband this
morning, he noted that God could have contained the entirety of the
Gospel in one sentence, one verse, and yet He has given us a Bible of
66 books, by different authors speaking to a myriad of different
issues. Clearly, God has a vested interest in the subtleties, and
perhaps, even the "minors".

In all of my teaching, training and passionate discourse with my
children, I want them to see first and foremost a woman who (at my very
core) has been redeemed by Grace, and who is both inwardly and
outwardly being transformed into the very image of Christ, seeking His
kingdom first. If they do not see this, then I have missed the mark
tragically.

But I also hope they see more than that… a woman who seeks to find
God's best in every situation, in every decision. A woman who is
passionately serving her Savior with an intensity that requires her to
pursue excellence, stewardship, self-control, discernment and prayerful
seeking of her Lord in every area, big and small. And I cannot believe
this will undermine my message but rather affirm that everything in my
life belongs to the One through whom all things exist.

Originally published January 2008

Come Unto Me

Guest poster Gina eloquently shares about a struggle I know full well… whether to trust fully in Jesus and go to Him for all that I need, day in and day out, or to foolishly attempt to do life on my own meager strength.
 
583950548_764a63828c Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29) Everyday we are presented with choices. We can chose to come to Jesus with our every need and every problem, or we can try to solve it all in our own strength. Which way will I chose today? 
A not so great day, not so long ago
I tumbled out of bed after trying unsuccessfully to calm my newborn's colic-like stomach. A new day had dawned, yet I did not feel refreshed or revitalized. Though this issue was nothing new for me, it was still an exhausting experience to journey through. I sleepily made my way downstairs to find the children playing around instead of getting their morning chores finished and starting their devotionals and Bible reading. Not ever having been a morning person, I really had to battle to keep my attitude in check. However, this morning I was losing that battle. "What are you guys doing?" I asked indignantly. Rather upset at their lack of responsibility, I spouted off orders to prod them into action. After giving Michael his various herbal remedies for his tummy, I fed the toddlers breakfast, finished cleaning up the kitchen, changed diapers and dressed little ones… All the while, the dark cloud I woke up with followed me around everywhere I went. Not a hint of a smile dared cross my face. When will Michael outgrow this phase? Why do they always fight? Will I ever be able to get dressed? Can I really handle all this? One after another negative thoughts bombarded my mind as I went about the daily tasks and guiding the children. 
The day continued on in like fashion until at last the children were all in bed. As I collapsed into bed, I realized I hadn't spent anytime with my husband and missed him. Yet, I was so drained emotionally, physically, and mentally that my body just started to shut down. I knew it would only be a few hours before I would be awakened by a hungry newborn ready for one of many night feedings…
A better day, hopefully better continually
After such a terrible day, I vowed to make this one different. Knowing that my attitude and spirit would ultimately determine whether there was joy or misery, laughter or yelling, peace or unrest I chose to create a better atmosphere this day in my home. With a crying baby, I went downstairs to find his homeopaths and herbs to ease the indigestion and gas. Chaos awaited in the hub of our home. Calling everyone's attention, I directed the children to sit at the dining room table. After they had all settled themselves in, I explained how each day we have choices to make. God will not force Himself onto "our" day. He is a gentleman and will only knock on the door to our hearts. This morning represents a new day where we can determine whether we will serve the Lord or not. After asking each one of their decision of who would take the lead for the day, we prayed a simple prayer. 
As the children left to finish their morning tasks, I knew I had much to do. The day loomed ahead of me with an endless to-do list at the forefront. Instead of heeding to the urgent call to check off item number one, I opened my Bible up to read Matthew 11:29, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…" I knew that if today was to be a better day, I had to talk with the Lord in little droplets about everything that came into my mind. I prayed about my children and their desires to serve God, for my husband and our marriage that it would continue to strengthen and be blessed, for our home, our finances, our church, our friends, our family, the list never really ends, does it? With all these concerns I wanted them left in peace with God, instead of worry in me. 
Being thankful throughout the day was a sure fire way to maintain victory over my seemingly overwhelming responsibilities. So, whenever I came upon something I was thankful for, I told Him. Instead of dwelling on the supposed negative problems surrounding me, I looked for ways to be thankful -because in all honesty, things could always be worse. If nothing comes to mind, I am always touched by the memory of when God saved my soul. I pray my mind will continually replay the time when He called me with such love, grace and mercy at a time when I was so dreadfully lost and hopeless.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) God gives us roses each day – but those roses do still have thorns! If we keep our focus on Christ, then we will remember that all things work together for our good. The key is for us to remain in Christ. Stay in communion and connected with the One who gives peace and joy so that we will not grow weary in doing well.  I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) Let us go to Jesus throughout the day, that His life might overflow onto the lives of those around us.
Gina is one blessed lady to have a loving husband and 6 beautiful children. She is thankful God dealt with her to homeschool their children. Her heart is passionate about finding the will of God in all areas – especially natural living, Christian homemaking, wholistic health, and home education. Gina blogs about her journey at http://thechristianmomsoutlet.com.

How not to buy organic

Organic food
I wish I had my camera. It was a fantastic photo opportunity, although I'm not so sure that the lady in line in front of me at the grocery store would have been so keen on the idea.

Tonight I saw firsthand a perfect example of how not to buy organic food. What, you say??? This, coming from the one who lectures us on nutritious food? Don't worry, I'm still the same health-conscious, alfalfa and brewer's yeast eating gal I've always been (that one was for you, my darling Mrs.S).

The vision I saw before me tonight was of a cart, piled high with expensive foods, covered in labels that screamed "I'm organic, I must be good for you!". The total of the woman's cart came to (get ready for this)… $300!

The amount of food in that cart would not have sufficiently, nor nutritiously fed my small family for two weeks, yet it comes close to our entire grocery/household/toiletries budget for the month (ok, ok, she had some laundry soap and toilet paper in there, too).

So what did she buy? Organic sodas, organic chips, organic canned soups, organic frozen juice, organic freezer food (looked like special fries or gyozas or something), organic milk and a brand of cereal that is marketed as being healthy (it's not). There were a few other items, but quite honestly, it didn't amount to a whole lot of real, fill your tummy, nourish your body kind of food.

Organic or not, the kind of food that I want to spend my husband's hard earned dollars on is unsprayed produce grown in nutrient rich soils, grass-fed beef and free-range poultry and eggs, clean and pure raw milk and cheeses and butter, whole grains like spelt and oats and barley and quinoa. I still care about organic, if I can buy it for a reasonable price above another similar (but not organic) item.

But when it comes down to it, let's not kid ourselves. Packaged and processed food, by any other name- even organic!- is still just packaged and processed food. Wise consumers know true value when they see it, and are not fooled by gimicky advertising and trendy words. Know where your food is coming from, and what's it's true value proposition is. Is the nutrient content higher? Are you being protected from chemicals, additives, and sprays? And most importantly, is it real food, whole food that will nourish your body and not just empty your pocketbook? Then that's how you know when to buy organic.

Originally posted December, 2007.

The Stay at Home Mom and Evangelism

What a great reminder of the opportunities that we have to share the love of Christ, even as we are centered in our homes. I appreciate guest poster Sandra’s focus on intentionality, and her encouragement to focus on the possibilities we have to share in the midst of everyday situations.

Guest Post by Sandra

Door image
As a stay-at-home-mom and preacher’s wife, I have a hard time starting
and building relationships with people outside of my family and church
circles. This is a challenge in evangelism. I have found a few ways to
get outside the church doors and into spreading the Good News!

Book Club-
This is my favorite because I love to read! A couple ladies from our
church invited me to a book club they are in with ladies they know from
around town. At the first meeting, both of the ladies I know weren’t
able to go, but I went anyway. The book we had read was Eat, Pray, Love
by Elizabeth Gilbert which has spiritual themes, but is not a Christian
book. So the ladies opened up about their views on God. Our group of 6
that night had two (unhappy) Catholics, one Unitarian, two who have no
religious affiliation and myself. I was able to share my beliefs. Our next book is The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs, so we should have more interesting discussions about faith and practice.

Meeting the Neighbors-
Since we moved in January, we were hoping as the weather got warmer we
would meet more of our neighbors. The families with young kids are out
everyday and we are deliberately
meeting them and talking about our church. We passed out VBS
invitations, and invitations to other family events at our church.
Also, we have four town homes for sell on our block! So when new neighbors move in we will take a “Welcome Basket” to meet the new families.

Evangelical Touches-
This is what my husband calls the quick moments you have when you’re
out and about. Offering to pray for your waitress before your meal,
inviting the lady from your dry cleaner to a special event at your
church, or just saying “Aren’t children a blessing?” to the older
couple in line behind you who are smiling at the baby. These are most
effective when done routinely. For example, “adopt” a restaurant and try to get the same waitress/waiter each time. We just got back from Chick-fil-A where they have the sweetest hostess! My family can intentionally show her appreciation and the love of Christ.

Following
the Great Commission is not easy when you feel like you’re always
either at home or at church, but looking for ways to be intentional
about sharing God’s love will go a long way. Pray for opportunities to
share, and be ready when you walk out of your door into your mission
field!

Sandra
blogs at Today’s Housewife (www.todayshousewife.blogspot.com) where she
and three friends discuss the topic of the week related to “building
their homes,” Proverbs 14:1.

Living Simply Saturday: Enjoying my vacation!

Lss
If you're looking for the Living Simply Saturday carnival, it's still happening, just not here. I am simply enjoying my family and nothing more!

Head on over to Passionate Homemaking, where the carnival is being hosted both this week and next!

Good Choices

I think this guest post from Manda will resonate with all of us who struggle as we attempt to make the best possible choices for our families, while knowing that we cannot do everything and some compromises must be made. Making choices between frugality and toxins, convenience and nutrition, and everything else in between, is challenging and I appreciate her perspective on the topic!

Guest Post by Manda

God is good
Parenting and homemaking are full of decisions. There are the big choices that everyone debates: breast or bottle, career or stay home, vaccinate or refuse. For some of us, these may be easy choices to make. But
beyond the major decisions, there are many day-to-day alternatives
available that can cause inward struggle for those of us who are
constantly bombarded with information on how to take the best possible
care of our families. In trying to be good
neighbors, good stewards, good wives, and good mothers, it is easy to
feel overwhelmed and unsure of which choice is best.

Take apples, for example. If
I can’t afford organic, should I encourage my children to eat the skin
because that’s where the fiber and nutrients are, or peel the apples to
minimize the exposure to pesticide? Or mattress
and pillow covers – is it worth buying plastic allergen covers to keep
dust mites at bay, or should we avoid sleeping on any man-made material? What
about cups – should I convert to only stainless steel sippy cups, or
keep some of the cheaper plastic ones that may leach toxins, but won’t
break a toe when a toddler inevitably drops them? Should I risk Alzheimer’s to wrap our food in aluminum foil, or risk cancer by using plastic wrap? When
our family is struggling to survive on one income, should I spend extra
money on nutritional supplements, free range eggs, the safest (and
therefore most expensive) car seat, antibacterial wipes, or books that
promise to make me healthy and wealthy and wise?

Books can certainly be informative and helpful, but only one Book contains the answers I am seeking. I truly believe that the Bible is relevant to all of life, and my seemingly over analyzed questions are no exception. While I may not be able to find a verse that mentions mattress covers, I can look to God’s Word for wisdom in every decision. There are some basic Biblical principles that guide my thinking: for example, in Creation, God designed our bodies to eat real foods and to exist in harmony with nature. The Bible instructs us to use our money wisely without making an idol of it. And the often studied Proverbs 31 woman provides an example
of a wife and mother who diligently watches over the affairs of her household. She is wise, hardworking, generous, thrifty, and resourceful – attributes that I aspire to embody. With this foundation, I feel confident that I am doing God’s will by seeking the best and healthiest solutions for my family. But
when I start to worry about the little choices, God is faithful to
remind me of what my priorities should be with some help from these
three passages.

1. Wives, submit to your husbands.

As the keeper of my home, there are many areas in which I am allowed to use my own discretion. When
we needed a new vacuum cleaner, my husband trusted me to research the
best model, buy it at the lowest possible price, and decide how to
dispose of our old vacuum. However, there are some areas where my husband and I have different opinions. Particularly
when it comes to my strong preference for more “natural” things, I have
had to learn the truth of this Biblical command:

Wives,
submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of
the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is
the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should
submit to their husbands in everything.

Ephesians 5:22-24

My husband tolerates
some of my natural-minded preferences, like our baby’s cloth diapers
and my spray bottle of vinegar for cleaning, but there are other times
when my decisions must be made out of reverence for him. Since
he happens to value saving money and does not value higher priced
organic foods, I rarely, if ever, purchase organic groceries. It
is not worth compromising the Word of God to avoid a little pesticide,
so I have learned to enjoy my cheap, chemically grown apples (with or
without skin!) as a joyful act of submission. In
other families, the husband may prefer to purchase organics or vitamins
or the latest safety equipment, and a wife who does so will be honoring
her husband. The point is that the husband is
the head of the family, and even in seemingly small matters, a wife’s
submission to what he considers best will result in more blessings than
any health food or product could offer. I
also find it very freeing to know that my husband is the one who will
be held responsible for the decisions he makes; I am only responsible
for being a submissive helpmeet to the man whom God has placed over me.

2. Do it all for the glory of God.

My friends and family
know that nutrition is important to me, and I try to stay informed
about the benefits and risks of various foods. It
seems like every new scientific report lengthens the list of foods to
avoid: trans fats are bad, sugar is bad, artificial sweeteners are bad,
MSG is bad, nitrites are bad, pasteurized milk (or whole milk,
depending on what group you listen to) is bad, soy (or meat) is bad,
the week-old leftovers in my fridge are bad. When I start to worry about what is left to safely eat, I must consider 1 Corinthians 10:24-31:

Nobody
should seek his own good, but the good of others. Eat anything sold in
the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The
earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” If some unbeliever invites
you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you
without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you,
“This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the
sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake—the other man’s
conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by
another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why
am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat
or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I confess that I am guilty, not of feeding my family too much junk food, but of equating junk food with absolute poison. The
times when well-meaning friends and relatives have handed a McDonald’s
French fry or a corn syrup-filled cookie to my children have made me
squirm inwardly…and sometimes outwardly. I cringe every time I make my husband his favorite meal of macaroni and cheese with hotdogs. Yet the Bible’s command is not to avoid all food additives, but to do all for the glory of God. Is God glorified when I serve my family a nutritious homemade meal? I believe that He is. But is He glorified when I hold resentment against someone for
violating my dietary preferences? Absolutely not. Seeking
the good of others means that I strive to make choices that will
benefit my family, but I must also show love to people around us and
avoid becoming a stumbling block to them. If my
own standards of nutrition cause me to look disdainfully upon the food
someone else is serving to me, then I am seeking my own good, not the
good of others. If I adhere to a strict set of self-imposed rules but lack a compassionate and sincere heart, I am as good as a modern Pharisee. Thus
when struggling over some minute decision, I must consider how others
will be affected and how God will be glorified by my choices.

3. Do not worry.

For the remaining
decisions, after I have considered the principles of God’s Word, my
husband’s preferences, and the good of others, I am reminded that I
simply must trust in the Lord. Matthew 6:25-34 is always a convicting passage for me:

“Therefore
I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink;
or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than
food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of
the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your
heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And
why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow.
They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all
his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes
the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into
the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So
do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or
‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and
your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his
kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to
you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will
worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

By worrying about what to do, use, or buy, I cannot add one day to my life – or to that of my children. By worrying, I cannot avoid a car accident or autism or cancer. The
little choices I make daily may play a significant role in the health
and safety of my family – after all, our modern world has strayed far
from the original Creation, and there are consequences for our
chemical-driven, industrialized ways. There are
consequences for negligence and blessings for being responsible and
resourceful. On the other hand, I must not place my trust in natural
living or sacrifice goodwill toward others on the altar of what I deem
“best.” Only God is Sovereign, and all the BPA-free cups and organic cotton clothing and grass-fed beef in the
world will not change His plans. He commands me not to worry about tomorrow. So
while I continue to strive to create a healthy, happy home, I try not
to obsess over whether to bake bread in a Teflon or silicone pan. My Father knows what my family needs, and if I am truly choosing to seek His righteousness, the answers to my questions will be abundantly clear.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Manda is blessed to be Don’s wife, Donny and Hayden’s Mumma, and the joyful keeper of their home. She enjoys sharing her life and reflecting on God’s Word via her blog, Lambs in His Arms.

Living Simply Saturday… but you won’t find it here!

Lss
In light of the fact that I am blissfully on vacation, you should all know that the Living Simply Saturday carnival will indeed be taking place, both this Saturday and the next, but I will not be hosting either of them.

For those who will be participating or just love perusing their way through the wonderful links, you can head on over to Passionate Homemaking. Lindsay will be hosting in my absence, and what better host as we discuss ways that we are learning to simplify our lives!

And in case you were wondering (and really, it's quite alright if you weren't!), our vacation has been just wonderful so far. We've spent 4 relaxing days at my husband's parents house in Seattle, I've had much time to work on my ebook, we attended a birthday party at the Bradrick family's home, and found the perfect new watch for my hubby's birthday present (his birthday was last week). To top it all off, on Saturday evening, Ryan and I celebrated 5 incredible years of marriage by going out on a dinner date. I wanted to post a few wedding pictures, but it will have to wait since I can't access my photos right now (I'll try to remember when I get back). Tomorrow morning we leave bright and early (7am flight!) for Phoenix, and we can't wait! Enjoy the posts, and I'll be back in a little over a week! :)

Having children a selfish act?

Boy at beach

On
Saturday, when my blog was down, my husband and I read this incredibly
sad and disturbing article, and I’ve been mulling over a post about it
ever since. Here are some of the “highlights”:

Had Toni Vernelli gone ahead with her pregnancy ten years ago, she
would know at first hand what it is like to cradle her own baby, to
have a pair of innocent eyes gazing up at her with unconditional love,
to feel a little hand slipping into hers – and a voice calling her
Mummy.

But the very thought makes her shudder with horror.


Because when Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet…

While some might think it strange to celebrate the reversal of
nature and denial of motherhood, Toni relishes her decision with an
almost religious zeal.

“Having children is selfish. It’s all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet,” says Toni, 35.

 

“Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land,
more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more
pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of
over-population.”

To read the whole article, click here.

I read this article with my mouth hanging open, unable to believe
the deception that these women and their partners have bought into. To
believe that saving the world at any cost is an honorable and worthy
pursuit, even at the cost of killing your own child, is deception
indeed.

If we are not re-evaluating our current lifestyles and seeking to be
more ecologically friendly for the hope of a future generation, then
why do it at all? What good are clean and pure ocean waters without
someone to swim, fish or sail in them? Of what value is it to renew the
soil we have stripped through poor farming practices and begin to once
again grow nutrient-dense and pesticide free produce, if there is no
one to eat it?

I saw a dark vein running through the article, perhaps somewhat
subtle, but it stood out to me so obviously. These women claim that
having children and “over-populating” the earth is the ultimate selfish
act (please, don’t go there with me about the myth of over population).
And yet, as I read about their decisions and their lifestyles
(particularly Toni), I detect a selfishness far greater.

Our culture has bought the lie that we ought to have comfortable,
even luxurious lives, full of the pleasures we believe we deserve. It
has also taught us that children are an affront to this indulgent
lifestyle that we are owed. It begins with choosing to have only one or
two, or even no children, because they come at too great of a cost (but
how will we buy a 4000 sq ft home, and travel the world, and eat out 3
nights a week, and own a plasma tv?). And now this selfishness is being
cloaked in self-righteousness. It’s not because I am selfish- it’s because I am so altruistic that I couldn’t possibly burden this planet with another child.

In defense of our children, I see a much longer lasting legacy than
preventing the use of more water, land and oil. I see the legacy of
children being raised to care for and take dominion over the earth in a
responsible, God-honoring way. Children who will learn from their
parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents mistakes, and be the
leaders who will make the necessary transformation to a society that
treads too heavily upon the earth. Children who will value the creation
that has been given to us, value clean air, pure water, and healthy
bodies, and lead revolutionary lives.

I look into my sweet baby’s eyes, and I do not see cost, burden or
destruction- I see the future, and I believe that if we are diligent in
raising the next generation, that future is bright.

Originally published November 2007

The Walk of a Weary Woman

This refreshing guest post from Stephanie spoke deeply to me, as I know that it will to you, too. It needs no other introduction, so just read on…

Monet parasol woman
 For many years I have struggled under my own expectations, or a list of what I “thought” I was to do to flourish as a wife, mother and homemaker in a way that would bring glory to God. This list of expectations included lots of ideals that on the outside seemed good, but had slowly become a heavy yoke for me as I tried to carry it. 

This list includes being a perfectly submissive wife who loves and  honors her husband, have loving and obedient children,  keep a spotless home that is clutter free and well decorated, home schooling my children with the best curriculum, finding the best deals on our family needs, baking my own bread, juicing my own juice, feeding my family the most healthful foods, growing my own garden, canning my own food and the list goes on and on. While none of these are “bad” in and of themselves, the expectation of myself that I can do all these things and do them consistently and perfectly was causing me to feel weary and overwhelmed. I have never lived up to the expectation I had of myself of a perfect wife, mother, homemaker and woman of God. Rather, I often felt loaded down and was tired, stressed, discontent, and unpleasant. In fact, I was more often accomplishing the opposite of what I felt was noble and good, and reaping a harvest that was not fruitful for myself, my family, or those around me.

Many times I would start my day out asking the Lord to equip me and show me how to do it all. Many times I thought He didn’t hear me, because I would go through my days with my goals and to do list and I would end it with much of it being left unchecked.  I was tired of being tired, and began to really cry out to God for help. It was during this time that He began to speak to my heart and reveal such wonderful and freeing truths to me.

Taking Every Thought Captive

The first area that God brought to my heart was that I was not taking every thought captive to Him; rather I was impulsively going about things that I thought were honorable. These good things were slowly crowding out and taking over the best things. The good things were causing me to try reach for a standard and create a lifestyle that I thought was noble, virtuous and holy. Notice the “I” in these statements!  I was trying to do the things that I thought were good and forgetting to ask Him what He wanted me to be and do.

Many of these things that I thought of to do stemmed from comparing my life with others. This is such an easy trap to fall into.  We see Sally grinding her own grain and baking her own bread, and we feel we don’t measure up unless we do it too. We see Jane decorating her home beautifully, and we look around at our home and see all the things we want to change. We then begin to create a standard based on others lives instead of God’s will for us. We then add these things to our list and begin to carry a much larger load then God intended. By taking our thoughts captive, we will bring all things before him and seek His guidance in our lives. Jesus did nothing apart from His Father, and we should learn from that example. He cares about all things, big and small!  It is great to be inspired and motivated by others, but to feel condemned and inferior is a trick of the enemy used to tear us down and defeat us. I continue to struggle in this area, but have tried to make a more concerted effort to simply say “Lord, this is what I want to do. Would you have me do this?”  Then I must make the effort to be still and not do anything until I hear from Him. That is the hardest part sometimes!

Seeking His Kingdom First

When Jesus tells to seek first His kingdom, He is warning us not to place value on things to the extent that we seek those things first and not Him, or that we concern ourselves so much with the basics that we overlook the important. I learned that I was often running ahead of the Lord, starting where He meant for me to end. I was placing value on things that He would take care of once I put my priorities in order. Instead of patiently seeking Him and waiting for Him to add where He saw fit, I began laboring and building a kingdom on my own. By seeking first His kingdom and focusing on the things that He guides me to do, it will create an overflow in my life that will result in achieving many of the honorable and noble things I was striving for. By stopping and asking “Will this matter in eternity?” I have been able to gain so much perspective in my life on what I should do instead of what I could do.

 Truly Seeking His Glory

This is a difficult one! As much as my mouth would say I was seeking His glory, He showed me that I was doing many things for my own glory. I would say it was for Him, but if I was to be truthful with myself, much of my expectations were in pleasing others and gaining their approval instead of God’s. This was quite humbling to me. Why did I want a spotless and well decorated home? Why did I want obedient and loving children? Was it really for God’s glory? When I took a long hard look at my list of expectations, I had to admit that most of them were for myself and not for Him. I have since learned to allow God to search my heart daily: Is this for me, or for Him? When I get off track in an area, I can quickly repent and ask Him to create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.

Simple, But Powerful

These things may sound rather simple, but for me they have been powerful truths. If I am living my day going about my own duties, concerned with list of things to accomplish, and seeking my own glory,  I will eventually have a load that I cannot carry. I try to stop and ask myself “Am I building a life based on what I think I should be doing, or am I truly living a life that He has called me to live?  Is the list I have assigned myself one that will bring glory to me or to Him? If you are burdened, weary or frustrated it may be that you are walking in your own strength and leaving God out of your best laid plans.

As I have journeyed through these truths, I am amazed at how free and content I feel. I am now purposing each day to take my thoughts captive to Him, seek first His kingdom, walking in His strength and not my own, and seeking the things that will truly give Him the glory He deserves. I pray that I build a life and home upon Him and not on my own meager efforts. My hearts desire is that I become so in tune to His calling on my life that I can be all He has called me to be. I know that as I walk out these things He will equip me each and everyday with meaningful, kingdom minded tasks that ultimately bring Him the glory He deserves. That is a to do list I am more than happy to complete!

Stephanie is a home schooling mother of 3
beautiful children and a blessed help meet of 15 years to her husband
Scott. She blogs at
www.ahighandnoblecalling.com,
a blog that exists to encourage, equip and inspire women in their roles as
wives, mothers and homemakers for God's glory.
 

Image from allposters.com

Why Should Christians Support Sustainable Agriculture?

I’m excited to bring you this first guest post, from Kimberly, who is a Weston Price chapter leader, as well as publicist for Sally Fallon, the author of Nourishing Traditions (a much referenced book on this blog!). This is a excellent look at another element of Christian stewardship, and she says it so much better than I ever could have, so enjoy and be challenged and inspired!

Guest Post by Kimberly

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into
the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. —Genesis 2:15

Blue Roof
In the beginning, God
set man as ruler over every living thing, the fish, the birds, and
the animals. In addition, God gave man stewardship of the land, and
the responsibility to cultivate it. From the earliest biblical
writings, the relationship of man and beast was characterized by love
and gentle care of the animal kingdom by man. The writings in
Deuteronomy tell us man was instructed by God to care even for his
neighbor’s flock, “You shall not see your countryman’s
donkey, or his ox fallen down on the way, and pay no attention to
them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up.”—Deuteronomy
22:4

Many of us today, have
abandoned our cultivator role and now live in cities and suburbs. We
have lost sight of the plant and animal kingdom of God and our
relationship to it. Middlemen, Food Processors, Supermarkets and
fast food restaurants now stand between us, and the farm.
Consequently, we no longer know where our food comes from, and how
our livestock are raised, our produce grown.

And to every beast of the earth …I have given
every green plant for food…Genesis 1:30

Jesus used the
illustration of a tenderhearted shepherd to describe God’s love for
us. A loving shepherd guides his sheep to green pastures to eat, he
makes sure they find fresh water, and protects them from danger.

In contrast, our
industrial food system has no personal relationship to the animals.
It operates without a conscience. It forbids livestock access to
pastures; force feeds inappropriate feed, and corrals them in tight
quarters, indoors, where they don’t ever see green grass or
sunshine. These Confinement Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s)
subject our animal friends to unnatural horrors, such as chains,
filth, tasers, drugs, artificial growth hormones. Cows, for instance
are meant to feed on grass and hay (dried grass). CAFO’s chain
them to a rail, feed them corn, animal by products, waste products
from factories such as distillery waste, citrus cake, chocolate
waste, even M&M’s (see WSJ video on my blog).

Because we are many
steps removed from all this, consumers have been blindly supporting a
system that pollutes the environment, degrades the nutritional
quality of our food, and devastates the small farm economy. We are
going to our squeaky clean grocery stores, picking up our
hermetically sealed products, and going home to prepare dinner with
no clue of what is going on behind the scenes.

Fellowship (2)
When I learned from the
Weston A. Price Foundation about the superior nutritional content of
grass fed meats, I switched our buying habits to buying directly from
a local rancher. I heard a woman at a party speak about this
rancher, who calls his cattle from pasture to pasture in a gentle
voice. This rancher personally accompanies his livestock to the
slaughterhouse and makes sure they are relaxed and not stressed in
any way. He is like the good shepherd of whom Jesus spoke. I
realize now, that when we take care of other creatures with
tenderness and love, they in return, produce for us a high quality,
nutrient dense food. When mankind mistreats our animal friends, it
results in our human communities experiencing deadly food borne
illness outbreaks (a natural result of abusive animal husbandry
practices), and suffering poor health, obesity, and degenerative
disease. We have unwittingly been supporting an inhumane and unsafe
food system, by purchasing the products of the industrial food chain.

Christians are also
charged with the responsibility of caring for our bodies, as our body
is described in Holy Scripture as, the temple of the Holy Spirit (1
Corinth 6:19)
. For this reason alone, we need to seek out the
highest quality foodstuffs to grace our family table. Homemakers are
traditionally the ones with the key to the pantry, the ones in
authority over what goes on the breakfast, lunch and dinner table.
When women take this responsibility to heart, our role grows into a
beautiful expression of love for our families.

Have you ever noticed
that bread from the store or even made in a bread machine just
doesn’t compare to a hand kneaded loaf? It’s the love that flows
into the bread through the preparer’s hands that makes the
difference.

Our family now buys
80-90% of our food directly from local farmers. We know their
philosophies, their animal husbandry standards, and their cultivating
practices. While we don’t raise the food ourselves, in this way,
we’ve reconnected with the land. We now embrace our duty to
support the good stewards of the land in our community. By design,
we are fostering the growth of our local farm economy, an alternative
to the industrial system. We are voting with our dollars for humane
treatment of animals, soil rich in nutrients, a clean environment.

The other morning, as
we had breakfast, my husband said to me, “I feel like I am sitting
down to a farm fresh feast.” Indeed, he was!

Kimberly Hartke is the
publicist for Sally Fallon-Morell (Author of Nourishing Traditions
and President of the Weston A. Price Foundation). Kimberly is also a
volunteer Chapter Leader for WAPF in Reston, VA, and Asst. Organizer
of the Northern Virginia Whole Foods Nutrition Meetup group. She is
a homemaker and partner with her husband in
http://www.incrediblebeachvacations.com/.
Her blog is
Hartke is Online.

The artwork
illustrating this blog post is by cut paper artist, Deborah Claxton.
Every artwork is made using thousands of pieces of paper, designed
and cut by hand. Because of the painstaking process, Deborah
completes only 3 new originals per year. Prints are also available.
She can be reached at http://www.cutpaperonly.com/.