Thanksgiving Isn’t All About You, You Turkey!

Each year, my family tries to carve out time in the month of November and/or December to honor our elders.  The bible is clear that life is important and that includes the older generations.  One of my goals as a mother is to make sure that my kids know those who have gone before us are to be honored and respected.

One of the ways we do this is to periodically visit a nursing and/or retirement home to spend time with those who live there.  Typically we also take along crafts we have made to hopefully put a smile on their faces.  Check out our evening of preparations!

Jackson is drawing circles for Peyton to cut out.  He is SUCH a good big brother.

Jackson is drawing circles for Peyton to cut out. He is SUCH a good big brother.

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Peyton is cutting the white simi-circles which will become the feathers of the turkeys! He is getting pretty good with scissors.

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Gage just finished cutting out the bigger brown circles which will be the turkey bodies.

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Jackson is coloring the feathers for the turkeys.

 

Peyton is gluing the turkey parts together.

Peyton is gluing the turkey parts together.

All three boys working their tail feathers off to make turkeys!

All three boys working their tail feathers off to make turkeys!

After we got this far, we put WOW! Kid’s CD in and spent some time dancing around to get some wiggles out and to get our creative juices flowing for the next part of our project.

Oh yea!  Watch out "America's Got Talent!"  Here we come!

Oh yea! Watch out “America’s Got Talent!” Here we come!

They've got moves!

They’ve got moves!

We took the turkeys that we made and glued them onto half sheets of paper, folded in half to create a card.

All of the completed turkeys waiting to be attached to the cards.

All of the completed turkeys waiting to be attached to the cards.

It's glue time!

It’s glue time!

While the kiddos got the turkeys glued I made a batch of peppermint hot cocoa.  Its a family favorite for sure.  I only wish I had some whole milk on hand.  It is so much creamer made that way than with 2%, but don’t be mistaken. The whole pot was consumed!

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Yeah, you thought I’d miss out on the action? HA!

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In true Gage fashion, he sipped his nice and slow…enjoying every sip.

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I decided to put two ice cubes in his. Bad move…he sucked it down in less than a minute and was asking for more. Next time, maybe a half an ice cube!

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On his second cup, he is rocking out to the music still playing.

The last step was to design the insides and sign the cards.

"Coloring [his] name" on one of the cards.

“Coloring [his] name” on one of the cards.

 I guess I didn’t get pictures of the older boys decorating theirs.  I will make a follow up post tomorrow with pictures in the home and them with their cards though.

All in all we spent about three hours on this project.  We did some of the preparation work beforehand but this evening we worked for three hours.  The boys had fun, memories were made, great conversation was had.  We talked about why we were doing these crafts.  We talked about the fact that we need to reach out to the people who may or may not have family to visit them.  We have to take care of the  people who feel forgotten.  We have an obligation to make sure they feel loved, special and cared about.  I asked them how they would feel if they were in the hospital, let’s say, and nobody came to see them.  Then I asked how it would feel if they were in the hospital around Thanksgiving and nobody came to see them.  They have big hearts anyway so they totally saw the need of spending a few hours at the home tomorrow.

We also talked about Saeed Abendini, a pastor being held in Iran in a prison for his faith in the One True God.  We talked about how his family would have to be without him, and he without his family on Thursday.  I asked them if they thought it would be hard to be thankful in a situation like that.  I don’t remember which one it was, but one of the big boys said, “Yea it would be hard, but at least they know God is with the other one, even if Saeed is in jail and they are in the United States.”    Even in a situation like the Abendini family is in, there are things to be thankful for.  Our God is so amazing, He can be the glue that connects a family even in a situation like theirs.  He is so big and mighty that He can span an ocean, and circumstance, to bring hope to both parties.  Yet He is simple enough that my little boys can understand and relate to him.  We have an awesome God, amen?

I hope as this Thanksgiving season surrounds us, you can find things to be thankful for, outside of yourself.  Sure, I am thankful for my family, my house, my job, my ability to walk, talk and run.  But I am also thankful for missionaries who are around the globe, apart from their families, spreading the Word of God.  I am thankful for a reality that I can have a personal relationship with the Creator and Sustainer of life.  Thankful doesn’t come close to scratching the surface that my family is alive and well and that God has chooses imperfect people (my husband and I) to go into the international mission field to do His work.  I am thankful that He is powerful enough to soften hearts, cultivate compassion for others in those hearts and a love for all walks of life.  I find myself standing amazed and who He is this Thanksgiving season in more ways than I can put into words.

What are you thankful for?

Cheers,
Andrea

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Three Leaves Have Fallen From My Tree…

…and I think they are beautiful!

This past Thursday, I spent the morning hours taking my boy’s fall photos.  I am far from a professional but we have fun when we get the props out and find a sunny patch or two.  I just can’t decide which ones to print and which ones to leave as a digital image.  Feel free to comment below to let me know which ones to print.

BoysLeaves BoysLeavesHill BoysRiverStump BoysRiverWagon BoysWagonDone BoysWagonGroup DSC04118 DSC04192 GageRiverIndiv PeytonLeavesHill PeytonRiverIndv1

I want to have one or two group pictures and then one of each of the boys on my mantle.  The group pictures will be 8X10 and I think the individuals will be 4X5 or a 5X7. Thanks for looking!

Cheers,
Andrea

4 Weeks in, We’re Making a Change

I have been working all day to get two videos posted.  It is now 8:14pm and the first one posted about a half hour ago.  My goodness!  I need: a) a better connection.  b) updated camera.  or c) BOTH.  Well need is really not the word.  I should have said what would make this task easier and then have given the choices.  Either way you get what I mean.

So, what were the videos about?  Thanks for asking.  The first one was about school that we have started with Peyton.  It’s very low key but super fun for he and the little boy his age that I keep during the day. 

Last week I made tracing sheets by printing out their names and covering them with contact paper.  When used with Expo markers they can be used over and over again.  This is good for them to see their own name in print frequently as well as gives them the chance to trace the letters.  Fine motor skills is covered here, too!   We worked with an Expo sheet with an A on it also.  First I had them color IN the A, then OUTSIDE of the A, then UNDER the A, etc.  Great listening skills test and more chances to see the letter A.  We colored with red markers that week. 

This week we used blue markers, crayons and colored pencils. Letter B was our focus along with family.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to the family tree activity but we did color in a B with blue and then used glue sticks to glue pictures from a magazine that we looked through together to find things with the B sound.  They had a GREAT time doing that!  See the video below to see Peyton’s B Collage Video.

As for the big boys.  We started this year using Prairie Primer, a literature unit study on the Little House series.  We are now 4 weeks in to our studies and we have all really enjoyed our time in the book.  Each day we read a chapter from one of the Little House books (they are read in sequence) and answer review questions on what we read.  Based on what was in the chapter, we would study those topics further.  For example, we studied gun safety and the history of firearms because Pa was cleaning his gun and had hunted in one of the first chapters.  Our science, history, home living and creative writing all were based off of that.  The next day, we’d read another chapter and we’d have new topics to study.  It really was fun.  We got to cook and explore things we wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise.  However I didn’t feel like it went in depth enough, there wasn’t much of a chance for the boys to get solid knowledge over a period of time.  Every day we learned something new which was great but that was also a “con” in my book. 

Where do we go from here?  Josh and I decided that we would keep with a unit study curriculum but we’d use one that was based on a different book.  The Bible!  Weaver is the name of it and from my point of view it’s pretty awesome!  Each chapter of each unit is a portion of scripture.  We will then study our core subjects off of that story.  For example, our first chapter deals with the city of Babylon when the tower was built.  When Noah stepped off of the arc, God gave them one main command.  They were told to be fruitful and multiply and fill the land.  The problem came when they  decided to build a town with walls and stick together as a people instead of filling the earth.  Our social studies for that chapter deals with the formation of a city: streets, government, zoning, etc.  Our science will be on geology because they build walls of stone, gems and bricks made by hand.  Our literature, creative writing and such will all be related in some way, too.  I am really excited to get started on this adventure Monday.  Weaver has been around since the 80’s.  It is tried and true.  I pray we are making a decision for the better.  I pray this is the consistency and structure we are looking for. 

Anyway the second video I was loading was talking about this change and has the boys giving an oral report of their Louis Pasteur research paper.  They did so good, I think.  I am very proud of them, considering they had 5 days to research, write a rough draft, edit it and make a final copy.

The rest of the week we spent wrapping up loose ends from Prairie Primer so I could get the last grades from that in the grade book.  We will be completely done with that curriculum and will be able to devote full attention to Weaver.  They finished up a comparison study on bees vs yellow jackets and a nutrition study on the food pyramid.  They compared meals we ate with the recommended daily values and decided we basically eat the worst diet known to man.  We’ll work on that.

THANKS for reading.  I miss you all who are far from us.  Stay up to date with school and India by subscribing!

Cheers,
ANDREA

PS: Would you rather read a blog or watch a vlog (video blog)?

Last Week of SCHOOL!!

Today marks the last Monday of my boy’s 2nd grade and 5th grade year! It is really hard to believe that from this day to today we have done 40 weeks of school! My goodness how time flies!  I am humbled at the thought of how God answered my prayers through the years for my boys to be homeschool.  I am blown away with all we learned about each other this year.  We finished all of some curriculum and barely half of others because we went deep into studies and took our time.  I learned more about curriculum and my kiddos learning styles.  Jackson works well independently as long as I check on him frequently.  Gage still needs some one on one time and gets bored with too much repetition.

It’s interesting really. God answered my prayers for us to homeschool last year.  It has become clear in the recent months that God answered our prayers, not just for the sake of answering our prayers, but to make the transition to India easier on them.  If we weren’t homeschooling we would have to pull them from the public school setting, all of their friends and other adults and plop them in a country that they’d know very little of the language, knew nobody, and would have very few friends. That’s not to say they don’t have friends now.  It’s not to say they don’t see other adults.  I just mean the setting of school.  I love the fact that God planned to answer our prayers, no just because we asked, but he saw fit to answer it for HIS reasons and for HIS glory!  Isn’t that amazing?

Friday is their last day of school.  We plan to have short school day and a celebration the last part of the day.  Each kiddo is going to have someone stay the night that night, we’ll probably make cupcakes or something, I don’t know.  Maybe Glowstick tag or something out in the back yard.  That would be fun!

The highlights from this year, for me, would be our studies on early nomads, when the boys went off curriculum and studied crawfish, Jackson being elected as President of the homeschool 4-H group and him participating in speech night.  I’m so proud of Gage and his progress with his reading a speech this year.  He was able to graduate out of the speech program he was in before Christmas!  It was bittersweet for sure.  He has struggled with speech his whole life, and now, he’s completely done with speech aid.  Wow!  He has worked so hard.

For Jackson: He remembers and enjoyed the Jacob’s Coat craft and the screenplay script for Abraham.  He really liked Math-U-See curriculum.  He loved the ability to get his work done quick and have the rest of the day as free time.  His favorite sections in science were the wild dogs and the monkeys.

For Gage: He remembers math the most.  He said he learned things he didn’t even know was going to be taught (multiplication).  He enjoyed History the most. The seals and scrolls we did was his favorite activities.  He liked that we get breaks to relax during the day instead of just work, work, work.

All in all we had a great year.  Jackson will be finishing up his Math work this summer since we backed up a bit to make sure his multiplication and division were spot on before we moved on to more difficult math processes.  He reviewed those first sememster and then moved on to fractions second semester.  He will be all done by the time his 6th grade year starts.  Gage will continue to do addition, subtraction and multiplication sheets this summer to make sure he stays up on his facts.

This summer the boys will be staying a week with their G-Ma while my husband and I travel to the Dominican Republic for our first mission trip.  We have Vacation Bible School the week before that and then they will have Children’s Camp at the end of June.  July really doesn’t have much planned as of right now but I am sure it will fill up before we know it!  I think my husband plans to spend some decent time at the lake.  I’d like to be able to get some time in running and maybe working on learning the guitar with my kids.

Cheers,
Andrea

Where has the time gone?

Jania and Peyton Photo Booth

Where has the time gone?  My baby is three.  *sigh, wipe tear*  I cannot believe he is a big boy now.  Goodness sakes!

We were excited to have some of his friends over to enjoy his Monkey Jungle birthday party!  He LOVES monkeys so naturally his theme revolved around them.  His birthday was on the 3rd of March which was a Monday.  We had to wait until Friday to have his party and all he talked about having his “birs-day cake” with his friends.

We had only planned on having his “GMa”(grandmother) and her family over for cake after dinner.   The evening before, he asked if his friends were coming and we decided to invite a few of them.  When more people are coming, naturally, you have to make more snacks.  When you have a bunch of snacks, you have to have somewhere to put them.  When you have your snacks laid out on decided place, it looks much better decorated.  I started the morning of the party gathering the supplies needed and then getting everything set up.

First I started the banana pudding.  We used my mother-in-law’s recipe.  Yummy!

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First you start out by whisking milk, 1 egg, 3 egg whites and sugar constantly until it thickens up. Then you add vanilla flavoring.

Then you slice a banana into coins and crush vanilla wafers to be used in the layering of the ingredients.

Then you slice a banana into coins and crush vanilla wafers to be used in the layering of the ingredients.  Ripe bananas work best.

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Once the pudding on the stove has thickened, put a layer of pudding, a layer of Nilla Wafers and a layer of banana coins.

I chose to make them into individual servings with spoons in them to make serving his guests easier.  As you can see the top is sprinkled with the crushed Nilla Wafers.

I chose to make them into individual servings with spoons in them to make serving his guests easier. As you can see the top is sprinkled with the crushed Nilla Wafers.

While my middle son was whisking the banana pudding on the stove, I was working on the double chocolate cupcakes with banana flavored buttercream frosting.

First you mix up fudge brownies per the boxed directions.  I have Pampered Chef scoops so I use the small one to put one scoop into the bottom of the cupcake paper which you have already placed in the cupcake pan.  Then you mix up the cake mix of choice.  We used milk chocolate.  Use the medium scoop to place one scoop on top of the raw brownie mix.

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Turn the oven on to the temperature recommended for the cake mix and bake as directed. Pull them out of the oven and place on wire rack to cool before piping the frosting on.

Speaking of frosting (or icing…what do you call it?).  Excuse me folks from the south.  I wasn’t raised here, I was raised in Kansas.  It’s frosting there.  😉  Typically I use buttercream frosting and then doctor it up for my needs.  In this case, banana, for my little monkey.

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1/2 cup stick butter with salt, 1/2 cup shortening, 1T milk, 1/2 bag of powdered sugar. For the banana flavoring I put a few drops of almond flavoring and a few more of imitation banana flavoring.   I also added a slight amount of Wilton’s Lemon Yellow gel coloring (not shown here).

After putting a star tip into my piping bag, I rolled the bag down and put the frosting in the bag and piped away in a circular motion.  I start at the outer edge and pipe in toward the middle, slightly overlapping each round of frosting to make it “cone” when it’s finished.

Then I shook on some white large sugar sprinkles to finish them off.

Then I shook on some white large sugar sprinkles and placed them into cocktail cups.

I have to stop here and give credit where credit is due.  A friend of mine who’s son I care for during the week made beautiful cupcakes for her daughter’s Valentine’s Day party at school.  I told her I would definitely be using her ideas for how she packaged them sooner than later.  I mean seriously people these cupcakes looked like they would have been like $15 each if sold out of a bakery.  She did an amazing job.  She was sure to let me know it wasn’t her idea instead the results of her laboring searches on Pintrest.  I don’t have the exact link for where she looked but wow!  I was very impressed.

Basically you place your cupcakes which are now in plastic cocktail cups (of which I purchased from Dollar Tree!) into clear birthday treat bags.  Then tie ribbon that matches your theme close to the cup and there you have it!

Basically you place your cupcakes which are now in plastic cocktail cups (of which I purchased from Dollar Tree!) into clear birthday treat bags. Then tie ribbon that matches your theme close to the cup and there you have it!

Jennifer had added a cute tag with a witty saying on it for Valentine’s day that she used her Silhouette machine for. *DROOL*  If anyone has one laying around they don’t have a use for I’d gladly take it off of your hands!  😉  It was worth a try, wasn’t it?

As we are getting ready to wrap up I realized I made way too much frosting.  I really hated to throw it.  I started put the Nilla Wafers away but then suddenly my brain exploded with a way to use the left overs of both!  Don’t worry, nobody was hurt by flying pieces of valuable knowledge flying everywhere when that happened.

Two rows of Nilla Wafers were lined up. One side got a nice star of frosting, the other side did not.  My older boys helped me to put the side without frosting on it onto the side that did to make....

Two rows of Nilla Wafers were lined up. One side got a nice star of frosting, the other side did not. My older boys helped me to put the side without frosting on it onto the side that did to make….

Monkey Sandwiches as the birthday boy ended up dubbing them.

Monkey Sandwiches as the birthday boy ended up dubbing them.

I found burlap ribbon on sale in the clearance section of Wal-Mart for $3.  I bought a green plastic table cloth for $0.97.  The baskets came from my entertainment center which holds toys and movies.  I used clear plates where further organization was needed to finish up the decorations.  Add a few balloons and you have a birthday party!

Ta-da!  We were actually supposed to have chocolate covered bananas, too, but I ran out of time.  That's ok, those bananas just added to the décor on the table.

Ta-da! We were actually supposed to have chocolate covered bananas, too, but I ran out of time. That’s ok, those bananas just added to the décor on the table.

But wait, there’s more!  Here’s what I did for the goody bags for the kids who came.

They were a little green, but each child got to take home a baby banana and a glow stick.  I had my oldest cut strips of tissue paper to represent the bottom of the jungle, the glow stick was supposed to represent the vines the monkey might swing from, and naturally, a banana.

They were a little green, but each child got to take home a baby banana and a glow stick. I had my oldest cut strips of tissue paper to represent the bottom of the jungle, the glow stick was supposed to represent the vines the monkey might swing from, and naturally, a banana.

They were put into brown lunch bags.  I had had big plans to make cute tags like Jennifer (Ms. Martha Stewart’s idol I’m nearly certain) would have done but there are only so many minutes from the time one wakes up to party time.  remember, it was just going to be GMa just a day before!

Impressive, huh?

Impressive, huh?

Then comes singing time.  I have to pause again to tell you about a blessing that happened at this point.  From the day I met my husband he has been a smoker.  His mom was a smoker.  His brother and uncle were smokers.  Shoot once upon a time, his grandmother was a smoker.  When it came time for cake and ice cream at birthday parties you never heard, “Does anyone have a lighter?” because EVERYONE had a lighter.  Well guess what?  This year not only did we have to ask around to all of the guests for a lighter, nobody had one!  I am not kidding, in 11 and 1/2 years, this was a first.  It nearly brought me to tears.  Neither Josh nor my mother-in-law smoke anymore!  I must confess and rejoice that we had to use the gas fireplace to light my son’s three candles.  I nearly cried.  Anyone who knows me personally, this shouldn’t surprise you.

Happy 3rd Birthday my strong-willed monkey!

Happy 3rd Birthday my strong-willed monkey!

What’s a gathering without food, right?  I’m told it’s a must if you want to be a decent hostess.  Good think I love food as much as the next gal!

Lyla and KP having Cupcakes

Lyla and KP having cupcakes

KP Chowing Down

KP chowing down! Girl after my own heart! Why be proper with it? It tastes so much better if you cram it down!

KP Frosting Mouth

Oh KP, I love that you are enjoying it so…!

O and Daddy

Olivia and her daddy sharing a little bit of cupcake and banana pudding! How cute are those piggy tails!

GPa Enjoying Snacks

GPa partaking in some banana pudding goodness!

  Friends Eating Cupcakes

As the first picture showed, we had a small photo booth that some guests participated in.

 

 

Peyton posing!

Peyton posing!

Emma Posing!

Emma Posing!

Emma and her brother Camp posing!

Emma and her brother Camp posing!

Aunt Jania and Peyton Posing!

Aunt Jania and Peyton Posing!

Mrs. Chenoa and Joel posing!

Mrs. Chenoa and Joel posing!

 

 

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He got a couple of other gifts too, but for some reason I didn’t get pictures of them.  One of his friends, Olivia, brought him his own bunch of bananas of which he didn’t have to share with anyone.  The kid can put down several at a sitting so they were gone very quickly.  Another friend Addie and her brother Ryan gave him PlayDough and jungle themed stickers.  Those came out the very next day.  I have pictures of him putting the stickers on his hands and feet, but they are cell phone pictures and even worse than the ones above.  What is up with my camera??  His GMa and his Great Granny gave him a toddler tablet.  Naturally he spends a great deal of time on there.  His Papa Lanny gave him a Cozy Car, ya know the red car with the yellow roof?  Huge hit.  He gets in it and watches movies.  His own private drive-in!  Grandma and Grandpa from Kansas gave him a Dr. Seuss book and a stuffed puppy dog that comes from the book.  We have read it many times already and I fear the neck of the dog may tear in half (that’s how he carries it around).

What can I say, every member of my family has way more than we need.  I cannot get over how much God allows us to have.  I only play we can do something with all of this STUFF to serve him.  If no, then what’s the use of having it all?  I can’t help but thank him for my feisty little boy who somehow fast-forwarded his life to three without me knowing.  He was always in God’s plan for our lives even though he wasn’t on ours.  I am so thankful that God is in control and we aren’t.  Otherwise we wouldn’t have him and my word how different our lives would be.

Thank you to everyone who made his day, week really, very special.  Thank you for loving him!

Cheers,
Andrea

I Am More Important Than My Kids and Husband

It is 12:56 on Sunday morning and I am typing in sync with my husband’s snoring.  He was quick to sleep tonight.  Me?  Not so much.  I am trying to get laundry caught up, mind racing about my oldest son’s health because of the comment he made right before bedtime tonight:  “Mom my neck inside really hurts.  It has gotten worse as the day has gone on.”  It seems like everyone has a touch of something right now.  Some of the families at church have been out for weeks!  I find myself pondering about what tomorrow will be like, outside of the frigid temperatures and possibility of snow, I mean.  Continue reading

Dr. J and Mr. H

I was commenting on a Dizzy Lizzy’s blog post from today over at http://runningmyracewithjoy.blogspot.com and realized there is so much that God is showing me today.  Her post was basically on the struggle to eat right, but as I commented, the basis of what she had to say could be transferred to any aspect of life.

I am one who has struggled with a short temper for years and years.  I have a very hard time controlling my words and emotions when the boiler pot in my stomach and chest begins to get heated.  I feel like a pressure cooker full of pea soup ready to explode.  Unfortunately, many times the seal of the pot breaks when those closest to me are within splatter range.  Nothing good came come from an explosion, or pea soup for that matter.

It had been four or more weeks since my family and I had gotten up, dressed and out the door in time for Sunday School.  One of the weeks our youngest had the full on flu.  Not a stomach bug, but a full on case of the flu.  I’m sure everyone is pleased we stayed away that week but for the rest, it’s like there was a super magnet pulling us in the opposite direction.  No matter how hard we tried, no matter if we laid out clothes the night before and went to bed early on time, we just couldn’t get there.  Today we must have been more determined than other weeks, or maybe God just went to bat for us and fought off the spiritual battle going on around us because we made it for both Sunday School and service!  It was clear we I was supposed to be there to hear what was being said.

In Sunday School we talked about Paul’s explanation of the internal struggle we have on a daily basis as believers.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.

At a glance it may seem that he is talking about his life, per-salvation experience.  However, he is in fact talking about his life when he has the holy spirit on his side.  A question was posed during our discussion:  Does this passage confuse, discourage or encourage you?  It used to confuse me.  Now, it both discourages and encourages me.

Discouraged:  Sometimes I think, “Oh if I just read my bible more,” or “If I just pray the right prayer and serve people more,”   everything will be easier and that inner struggle I have with keeping my cool will get better.  If I just get a little closer to God, everything will be easier to deal with.  Well as my experiences and this passage clearly illustrate, that couldn’t be further from reality.  I believe that when we are born, we have a sinful nature.  That isn’t wiped out when we become saved, we simply get a helper in dealing with those times we are tempted to act on our sinful nature’s desires.  Chances are I will still lose it and blow my top.  Does that give me a lease to do as I please, not trying to control my behavior?  Nope!

Encouraged: Paul is a highly noted man in the bible.  He was a key player in the advancement of the Christian faith after Christ was taken back to heaven.  His salvation experience was nothing I have ever experienced in my life….total transformation.  From Christian killer to Christian.  You couldn’t be more polar opposite than what Paul was.  And guess what?  He had this same internal struggle that I do.  I have no reason to question my salvation.  I have no reason to think I am so special that I should be able to skip out on this unpleasant part of life just because I’m a Christian.  This battle is real and if each Christian would be transparent enough to admit it, each one experiences this in one aspect of their life or another.

Our discussion leader made the point that in order to overcome a struggle, one has to die to that sin in order for something new to grow back in it’s place.  Think about it like this: you have a garden (life).  You go to admire it and you see things you don’t like in it.  WEEDS (sin)!  Arg, how frustrating.  You’ve worked so hard to make it what you wanted it to be (making your own goals, trying to be a “good person”) and there it is, rooted right in the middle.  You realize you need something to make that weed disappear so you go grab some weed spray (salvation experience, being born again, asking Jesus into your heart).  Everything is supposed to be perfectly beautiful from here on out!  I mean, it’s just the right tool for the job, right?  One and done!  You go back in the house to pour some lemonade, you settle in for a good night’s sleep later in the day, for a week you to and from work (you go along life).  You might even tell your coworkers about all you did to clean out your garden (witnessing and testifying to others what Christ has done in your life).  The next weekend comes and you’re so excited to be able to sit out in your beautiful garden, beautifully manicured and fixed garden.  You pull your lawn chair out to the garden plot, fresh cup of lemonade in your hand and *gasp* A WEED (more sin)!  “Wait, wait, wait…!” you shriek as you all but jog directly to the garage (church) and pull out the bottle of weed killer (bible) to read the back directions and expected results.  In fine print you realize that several applications and possibly other tools (Christian fellowship, bible study, quiet time, prayer, meditation on the Word, sermons, Christian music and worship) may be needed to keep the weeds at bay.  This is exactly where the passage above comes in…  Just because you’ve had a salvation experience, doesn’t mean everything in your garden, or life, is going to be roses and tulips.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t going to have struggles, times of total frustration.  It doesn’t mean that your day to day life is going to go without a hitch.  There WILL be weeds that come up.  As a matter of fact you may think a weed or sin has been killed, but you may not have seen a shoot that was under the mulch about to come out four feet away, or several years down the road.

When I left Sunday School, to be honest, I was thinking of a friend of mine who is struggling with a drug relapse after many years of being clean.  I thought, no wonder she writes about wanting to kick dope, speed and  crack but feels like she is powerless to do so.  Just because she’s a Christian doesn’t mean she is exempt from having to have this struggle.  I was also slightly thinking about my temper issues.

Theeeeeeen I sat down in the pew for service.  Our pastor was talking about the parable of the tenants from the book of Matthew in chapter 21.  God sent his SON to help me on a daily basis.  I have the holy spirit to help me when I am weak.  If I decide to cave to the less desirable behavior, I am not taking full advantage of what the son came to us to do.  To set us free from the bondage of sin.  We are going to have that internal struggle, but we don’t HAVE to lose control.  We do have a way to fly a straighter path.  We will get off course, but we do have a helper and don’t have to do life alone.  Today made me very expectant to the day we get to Glory.  When we will no longer need a helper.  When we will spend all day praising God and living whole lives in his presence.

Then I read the blog I referenced above.  The constant struggle between wanting to do the good things, but caving to the lesser choice.  For me that is:  Wanting to be able to patiently speak to my kids and husband.  Being able to handle conflict in a calm way around my home.  Instead, the latched lid of the pressure cooker is mangled and tangled into a mess as it flies off hitting walls, ceiling, pea soup covering everything.  It’s not pretty.

We are all in this thing called life together.  We will make crappy decisions.  We will blow it, we will burn bridges.  That’s ALL we have to hope for in life outside of Christ.  It’s not until we ask Christ into our lives that we have a helper to get us through those times of conflict with a few less casualties.  It doesn’t mean he is a cure all for our lives.  He isn’t there to create a problem free life for us.  He’s there so we don’t have to do it alone.  Being alone is a very scary and sad place to be.  Praise God I don’t have to walk life alone.  So, until Glory comes riding in on clouds, how are you going to get through life?

Cheers,
Andrea