One of our favorite quick lunch/dinners lately has been “chicken wraps”. You just find whatever chicken you have (leftovers, chicken nuggets, pre-cooked buffalo chicken strips are yummy), make sure it’s off the bone. Heat it in the microwave . Then you take a warm flour tortilla, put ranch dressing, lettuce, and the chicken and roll it up. Voila! chicken wrap. You could get much more elaborate, but trust me, this tastes fine as is, and makes a nice alternative to yet another sandwich! I stole this from my good friend Cathy, who although she’s a gourmet, isn’t too fancy for chicken wraps.
I finally tamed the beast…my linen closet. And I will admit to the fact that several times yesterday I opened my organized linen and just stood there admiring it. Sweet order…even if only for a little while.
While I was working I remembered one of my favorite organization tips found in one of the many home management books I read during a strange obsession.This obsession was more with the books than the actual organizing, but still, there were a few things I did adapt that have made my life easier. One of them is how to keep your bed linens organized.
Fold your fitted sheet, top sheet, and other pillow case (if there are two) , stack them, and put them inside the other pillow case. It’s like a little pouch. When you go to make a bed you just pull out the linen pouch and voila! it’s all there. It doesn’t look perfect, but it sure beats trying to track down the matching miscellaneous linens, and it definitely looks better than my version of folded fitted sheet.
Here’s what it looks like in real life.
I said I would share a few thoughts from the retreat I attended a couple of weeks ago, but my good intentions were swallowed up by all-things-ankle-surgery. In fact, where last month I had serious blogger’s block, it seems this month I have tons of things I want to write about or pass along.
Today’s pearl of wisdom comes from the teaching Dave Harvey gave entitled What Does Women’s Ministry Mean For Me? Though it was directed to pastor’s wives, the first point has universal application to Christian wives and mothers. That point was stated like this: “The primary role of the pastor’s wife is to serve and support her husband and family.” Dave continued to say “Husbands and kids are the first & most important responsibility. Therefore they deserve your first & best effort.” This means the first and best of my time, talent, creativity, and energy should be spent on my husband and children. This means that every other good pursuit (exercise, blogging, entertainment and leisure, even other aspects of ministry)* will have to get second best or lower.
Perhaps the most helpful insight was when Dave pointed out that the fatal flaw of feminism is that it assumes women have multiple best efforts. This simply isn’t true. We can buy into the Christian version of this lie and think that we can “have it all”. We can host play groups, make meals for others, go to the gym, decorate the house exquisitely, have a little home industry, etc.* But the truth is, if any of the good things in that list begin to infringe on my first & best effort, I am not effectively doing what is my primary calling: to serve my husband and children.
I love how Dave finished this section of the teaching. He said, “Your first and best effort in the home releases him [my husband] into the field in an undestracted way.” My commitment to giving Jason and kids my first & best directly impacts Jason’s work, which happens to be ministry. I truly want the best for my husband. At the same time I feel this constant pull to invest my creativity in such a way that others see it and say, “wow, she is really creative!” I want to exert energy on the things I enjoy: writing, cake decorating, hospitality, reading, etc.* In fact, many of these things begin as an attempt to give Jason and the kids my first and best, but they morph into complex and extravagant entities in and of themselves…before I know it, I forgot to feed the kids lunch because I was too busy making a fancy birthday cake for them; or I gave Jason only half of my attention in a conversation because I was really wanting to read this article on being a godly wife.
How can I who am constantly bent towards self-orientation – to the point of turning things that seem others oriented into something about me – really give my husband and my family my first and my best? I can only think of one way…because another gave His first and best. The Father gave the Son, a perfect sacrifice, to atone for my sins, and clothe me with Jesus’ righteousness. Because of Jesus’ death my sin which pulls me in to myself, is forgiven. Because Jesus rose from the dead, I can have victory by His grace and strength to serve out of genuine love for others, beginning with my husband and children.
*I want anybody reading this to know that these are my issues. They might not be yours. I would hate for anyone to feel unnecessary guilt if they are pursuing these things. In truth, your husband is the one who could best tell you if certain activities aren’t serving him and the family. I only give specifics to help make the abstract more concrete.
…your mother asks you to get her a screw driver and you say, “flat head?”
…you bring your mother a live frog and say, “isn’t he cute?” (yeah, no problem kissing frogs for my little princess).
…you come upstairs and calmly tell mommy, “I think I have a bug behind my ear.” then proceed to remove a tick and hand it to her. (I have heart palpitations just typing this. I’m okay with all bugs and spiders except for ticks. Ugh!!! and yes, I called the pediatrician about the possibility of lyme’s disease and she said because it didn’t embed itself -ew!- she should be fine…but I’m still checking her body nightly for a red bull’s eye mark).
That’s my girlie!
Imagine for a moment that your city were surrounded by enemy forces who aimed to destroy you. And you are aware that enemy sympathizers live and work in the city with a view to undermining the city’s defenses. And suppose you discover that there is song which the enemy and their sympathizers cannot tolerate or approach. Whenever they hear it, they pull back and run the other direction.
Isn’t it certain that you would want to learn this song? And after you learned it you would sing it when you went to bed at night and when you got up in the morning. You would sing it on the way to work, and whenever you were among strangers. And as your confidence grew you would even venture outside the city and sing it as you walked boldly through the enemy lines on your way to another town. The more deeply imbedded in your mind the song became, the more steady and deep and serene and fearless your life would become. Others would see and hear and learn the song from you. And in the end you would conquer the enemy, and there would be no threat at all.
Well, we are surrounded by the enemy—namely, Satan and his forces. He is “the father of lies” (John 8:44). His weapons are deceit and delusion. His aim is the destruction of your faith and love.
And there are enemy sympathizers inside the city of our own souls—namely, the desires of the old self.
And there is a song that Satan and his sympathizers cannot tolerate or approach—namely, the song of thanks to God. –John Piper from Guard Yourself With Gratitude
I find the battle raging today. The old self with its tendencies toward grumbling and complaining, self-pity and selfishness conspires with the Enemy who tells me my help comes from a change in circumstances, or escape from my duty here. I am grateful for the reminder that gratitude is a guard for my soul today.
Beyond the immediate very tangible and abundant mercies around me, I am grateful for the source from which they come: my Savior, Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life, never grumbling or complaining; never indulging himself rather than doing his Father’s will; always giving pity to others not Himself. He died my death. He took upon Himself the punishment my grumbling, complaining, disobedience, and self-pity deserves. I now stand forgiven, justified, and adopted. I who am weary today come to Him who is gentle and humble in heart. Gentle, humble in heart, and yet ruling and reigning in power and wisdom and authority…seated at the right hand of the Father. Worthy of all glory and honor and praise is He. How grateful my heart is for the beautiful Savior. Ah, sweet peace!
I have been on a quest to find a really good banana bread recipe. I used to have one that called for cooking oil as opposed to butter that was moist and delicious, but I lost it somehow. Well, yesterday I found a similar recipe online. It’s too good not to pass along.
Really Moist Banana Bread
3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. bananas, or more (I use 5-6 bananas)
2 tsp. soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. water
1 c. oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. nuts (we do chocolate chips instead of nuts)
I mixed the wet ingredients first, combined the flour, soda, salt separately. Added dry to wet. Stirred in chocolate chips last.
Makes 2 large loaves of bread. Put in 2 greased and floured loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
I wrote this yesterday…
I am sitting in the waiting room of an outpatient surgery center. Jason just left donning his gown, robe, slippers, and fancy hat…no, he would not let me post the picture I took with my camera phone. It occurs to me as I type that in the kindness of God, I am going to have opportunity to grow in the very area I experienced conviction over during one part of Girlie Time last week.
Let me give a little bit of background first. I attend a church that teaches, encourages, and affirms biblical womanhood. I can articulate our beliefs about this. I am excited about these beliefs. I aspire to conform more and more to what I believe. This is a work of the grace of God. Given my selfish pride, the fact that I find femininity as biblically defined appealing, beautiful, and desirable is absolute proof that miracles do happen. However, I have noticed that there are inconsistencies between my profession of belief, and how it functions in my life. I know that this will be the case for as long as I live here dragging around a body of flesh, but still – in this particular area it seems easy to look at certain externals and think that I am living this whole complementarian thing, when really in the day to day there are ways I operate as an “equal in function” type wife.
One inconsistency I am aware of is a recurring pattern that is perhaps the byproduct of distorting Jason’s call to “servant leadership” in the home. You see, Jason excels in serving, and I excel in being served. What’s the problem?! I remember when it first dawned on me that there was a “problem”. I was in the kitchen at that dreaded hour when the children go bonkers, I make dinner, and Jason runs late at the office, and I caught myself thinking (or perhaps the Holy Spirit helped me to hear my own thinking), “I can’t wait until Jason gets home to help me.” Now even more revealing than the fact that I wasn’t just happy to have him home because I am madly in love with him was the fact that I was functionally viewing him as my helper. The follow up thought was, “well, if my kids weren’t so close in age, and I wasn’t tired and pregnant , I wouldn’t be so dependent on his help…” (These thoughts look rather benign typed neatly in black and white, but were the emotions able to be translated in writing, they would be bold face, red, and all caps.) It is fitting and appropriate for Jason to serve when he comes home. The problem was that I was demanding this and taking advantage of his desire to be a servant leader.
God in His mercy continued to bring conviction and clarity. At a marriage conference we sat under a teaching that included the phrase “masculine helpmate”. Ouch. This is what was happening. I am ashamed to say that there were many days in the early years of our parenting when I would call my husband, give him an earful about how hard my life was, manipulate a break from my circumstances, and functionally view him as my helper when he was at home. The difference between my fist twinge of conscience, and this revelation during the teaching was that Jason also heard the latter. What he always thought was simply growing in servanthood, was actually not serving me at all. It was, in fact, confirming the lie I was already believing that grace to serve my husband and family turned off at 5:30 pm.
Because of Jason’s courageous leadership (and I use the word courageous for a reason), I have seen change taking place. The phenomenon of counting down the minutes before my helper arrives is not as common. Still, Jason and I find ourselves in this cycle from time to time when he seems to be serving me to the point of indulgence, and I am taking advantage of his willingness to serve me. In this season it is manifested in the realm of him taking on domestic responsibility to fill in the gaps where I’m lacking. So here, in the waiting room, I anticipate what is sure to assist my fresh resolve to give Jason my first and best effort. He takes such good care of me, I am happy to be able to serve him rather extensively for a while, and re-align my heart to be his helper, not the other way around.
Basketball and Jason have a rather toxic relationship. Just three years ago, after tearing his ACL and PCL while playing basketball, Jason had knee surgery. Today, he is having ankle surgery to remove a bone chip, re-attach and tighten ligaments, and something else I can’t remember. How did he injure his ankle? Basketball, of course. I have to say that I respect my husband’s commitment to this sport that has treated him so poorly. Donned in braces and wraps he plays at 6am every Tuesday and Thursday. He loves this sport!
I am praying that Jason’s surgery would be successful, and the recovery as short as possible. We are both praying that God would be glorified in both of our lives through the process, Jason through the difficulty of not being able to get around easily and all that this involves; and I through the opportunity to serve my husband in a more pronounced way especially over the three or four days he will be completely out of commission.
If you have a moment, will you join us in our prayers?