Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Marriage... and a last look at the Gosselins

Ok – last time I’ll discuss this family. Promise. Actually, the focus of this post isn’t the Gosselins. It’s marriage. But the Gosselins are what prompted it. Here are a few things we KNOW...

Speculation: Jon has had an affair with another woman.
Speculation: Kate has had an affair with her bodyguard.
Speculation: The couple is very unhappy. (most likely fact, too)

Fact: The Gosselin's are currently married.
Fact: The Gosselin’s have 8 children.
Fact: The Gosselin’s live in PA.
Fact: The Gosselin’s have filed for separation/divorce.
Fact: Divorce tears apart a family and makes God weep.
Fact: Anger, bitterness, resentment, cruelty, disrespect – all these things can wreck a marriage long before an affair comes into play.
Fact: Having children changes the balance of the relationship between husband and wife.
Fact: Stress changes the balance of the relationship between husband and wife.

I am a product of parents that divorced… and by the Grace of God… remarried each other after becoming Christians, with faith that God would restore their love for each other. I have also experienced very rough patches in my own marriage where I became an awful, manipulative and ugly woman. No, my husband and I have NOT been unfaithful to each other (by the Grace of God), but have certainly broken trust with each other and hurt each other greatly in many other ways (finances, lying, manipulation, etc.), and for many years, I operated as the lone bandit, rather than as a team with my husband. It was hurtful to him. (yes, I have a type-A controlling personality, why do you ask?)

I can firmly say – with first hand experience on both ends (child and spouse), without hesitation, and with love and kindness: a rotten marriage CAN work. God weeps over broken marriages, and wants us to draw close to Him and trust Him to work out our problems.

When we get married, it isn’t an “outfit” we choose to wear that we can discard when it gets old, worn, or dirty. It is a covenant we enter into between God and our spouse. Husbands and wives who profess to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are called to seek reconciliation in their marriages. It won’t be pretty. It will be painful. But we’re called to do that, and it can be done when we make Christ the center of our relationships!

God CAN change hardened AND broken hearts. He can place the lost love, trust and forgiveness back into the marriage, and he CAN make it work. No, it isn’t easy, and believing that it is would be ridiculous and na├»ve. It is, however, worth it. For you, for the kids, for the covenant you made before God.

My heart is saddened for this couple and their broken relationship that is so publicly covered by news and media, but Jon and Kate are not the only ones that are walking in brokenness, despair, hurt, betrayal, and pain. In fact, 32-34% of Christian marriages are documented to end in divorce. ONE IN THREE!!

Marriage is fragile! Just like an egg, it can crack very easily under pressure – especially if the foundation isn’t firm. If your marriage is teetering, and you’re struggling, you probably already know that you’re not alone. But what I want you to take from this post is this: No matter what the pain is you’re suffering, no matter what the betrayal, hurt, or brokenness you find yourself in right now, God is bigger. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean your marriage is immune to problems. It also doesn’t mean that a separated Christian marriage will turn out with a happy, spiffy ending all tied up in a nice bow.

It just means that we have a greater power for anything you’re facing. No matter what the circumstance… GOD IS WITH YOU and he can help you overcome difficult hurdles. That will never, ever change. You may feel pain, darkness, loneliness, but God will be there for you.

If you’re trying to make a difficult relationship work, my advice would be “deflect blame” back to yourself, even though you may not think you are wrong or have any blame, and start working on changing yourself. No matter where blame may lie, you will always have character traits that need to be changed, softened, and turned around.

Forgive. Love. Be kind, compassionate, and caring. Remove the ugliness. Speak gently, encourage, uplift, and place yourself in the other person’s shoes. Pray for God’s powerful love to fill your heart for your spouse. It CAN happen. I am living proof.

As for he Gosselins: I pray they choose to stop the show so they can raise their family in peace and privacy, while working on their broken relationship. I pray they focus their attention back on Christ, and, I pray that God will place people in their lives that can show them His love, and teach them how to love each other again.

Truth: We must love each other. Mark 5: 1-2
Truth: When we forgive someone that has sinned against us… Christ will forgive us too! (Matthew 6:14, Luke 17:3-4, Mark 11:25)
Truth: We CAN find perfect peace… and it isn’t by divorcing our mate. It is by turning to Jesus Christ. (Isaiah 26:4)
Truth: We CAN attain knowledge and good judgment through Christ! (Psalms 119:65-66)
Truth: God will reward us when we put him first (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Truth: We must learn to be humble (Philippians 2:3-4)

My personal testimony is rather huge, scattered, and crazy, but in case you're interested, here's a small peek into my life: Window one; Window two; Window three

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Duggars vs. the Gosselins vs. the Sunshines

Round 1,385,926 ... DING !!!

I was reading my "Today's Christian Woman Encouraging Words" this morning, and as I scrolled down to the bottom, I saw a link that caught my eye. It was called:

The Duggars: the Anti-Gosselins: When reality TV marriage actually works.

It is an interesting blog post ... and the comments are just as interesting! Which, of course, led me to my own comments, which were far too long for the comments section, so I decided to post them here. First read the other post, then come back.

As a new season of reality television kicks off, we find ourselves with the Duggar family, the Gosselin family (which sadly, is being thrown in our faces by the media), and a new reality show for the Masche family.

Here are my opinions... for what they count!

I have watched both shows for the Duggar and Gosselin families, and by far, prefer the Duggars. I haven't seen the Masch family show yet, and really am not interested at all.

At first, I liked Jon and Kate Plus 8 - I liked seeing what it is REALLY like to raise multiples, I enjoyed her organization skills, and was always impressed with how smoothly everything ran. Of course, she had an army of helpers around the clock. But then I started noticing a sort of militant personality with Kate. Finally, fame started setting in, and the tone of the show changed, and I began to watch it less an less, and finally, not at all.

I've also watched the Duggar show, and this family takes on an entirely different tone from the second cameras start rolling.

First and foremost, I love the way Michelle and Jim Bob speak to each other with such respect and love, and it carries out to their children and others around them. It certainly shows the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives, as well as all the tools God has given us to communicate with each other. Something I’m guilty of not always using. In turn, their children have learned the same traits, and have the same love and respect among each other and their parents.

People see our walk with God in the way we live out our lives. They can tell if we are sincere, and if we have really let the Holy Spirit “clean house” and take control of our lives … or if we are maintaining the control of our “spiritual life” and just saying the right things at the right time.

I also enjoy seeing that they have order and cleanliness in their home, but still have that normal "life" look -- a lived-in home. She is also organized and structured, but her only help are her own kids... which is realistic. I also enjoy her frugality, and ability to feed her large family while maintaining joy and unity at the dinner table.

I feel that God has given both the Duggars a tremendous capacity of parental patience, but that is something we all can have. Sadly, my one child tries my patience, tries my patience, tries my patience, and did I say … tries my patience?!? Michelle has had a lot of practice, and she has a lot of help, but I’m sure Michelle has moments where she wants to pull her hair out, and I’m sure there have been moments that she has raised her voice to her kids or has been impatient with them. We have to remember that she isn't perfect. She is human. Even she has said that on interviews.

In comparison, I find that Kate is abrasive, harsh, and sarcastic with her husband and at times with her kids, as well as others around her. She puts Jon down so easily (whether with words or with actions like rolling eyes), and I’m pretty sure that as the kids grow older, it will trickle down to them as well. It saddens me to see her reactions, because I don’t think she realizes the joy she is killing little by little. At the same time, I'm pretty certain it isn't all "Kate" but that Jon has to step up to the plate too. They chose to marry each other, and at some point, there was a deep love between the two of them. That love needs to be revisited, rekindled and redirected.

I know Jon and Kate have eight children . Having six in diapers and potty training two is enough to throw any sane woman over the edge! And I can’t pretend to even understand or comprehend the pressure she and Jon must have raising them in the public eye. I know raising my one in the privacy of our home is hard enough. And, at the same time, we don’t know all the facts within Jon and Kate’s relationship or their home life. We know a LOT, but not everything. It isn't fair for us to judge them harshly as the media seems to enjoy doing. After all … “There but by the grace of God go I.”

I just keep going back to one major thing: Love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, longsuffering, self-control, goodness, patience, faithfulness -- where has it all gone in today's busy and fast-paced society?

I told my husband just the other day … I’m ready to move to Lancaster, PA TODAY, and melt into the Amish and Mennonite ways of life, in the country, with our own crops or cattle or whatever. Simplicity, farmland, less commercialism... a quiet life. I know that sounds silly coming from a suburban girl, and might even sound extreme. But I'm willing to give it a try!

Last week, a dear friend of mine told me a story about how her son is learning things from the kids in public school that have her worried. The children (her son included) place their hands over their privates, and thrust their hips forward at people as if to say… well… I’m sure you can figure that out. They say “real” profanity – four letter words. They fight and spit at each other. I’m sure you’re thinking it sounds normal, right? Yeah, well… her son is in FIRST GRADE. I don’t want that for my child. Ever. I want him to be a care free child and do the things KIDS should do – not the things crude adults do. That just breaks my heart that a 6 year old is behaving like that!

So, yeah. Selling everything and moving to Lancaster with the Amish, Mennonites, and the other good and fine Lancaster people, and taking on a very conservative and slower-paced life style and protecting my child sounds good to me. Unrealistic? Yes. I guess it is the mama-bear in me wanting to shelter my son from the rapidly spinning world around us.

Soooo… I guess what I’m saying is: I admire the Duggar family. They have instilled Godly principles in their children’s lives. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are evident in their lives. They have surrounded themselves with conservative families with like principles and like minds. Their children are well adjusted, intelligent, and well rounded young boys and girls who love and fear God. I appreciate and admire that. It is, as a Christian mom, what I strive for as well.

I also admire the Gosselin family, but in a different way. It is not an easy thing to raise a child… but 8? Imagine that ... from zero to 8 in three years. Wow. That is admirable. She is very organized and runs a tight ship. Something I don’t always manage to do that! But, I feel sad for the Gosselin family. They are just another example of how money doesn't buy happiness, but certainly complicates happiness! It can buy more comforts, and make life easier, but happiness isn't something that can be purchased, and finding that source of happiness in your life is important.

Yes, I've considered home schooling... and yes, it may come down to that eventually. But for now, I keep relying on God's grace and mercy and provision. I know he'll guide us

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bloggers Block

I just don't have anything to say. The end.

Ok, you got me. I ALWAYS have something to say.

Let's see. Last night, we were awakened by the loudest clap of thunder I've ever heard. It vibrated our bed ... and we didn't even put a quarter in! Ok, maybe that was lost on some. But it sure woke Hunter up, who came running into our room scared out of his little mind.

He found the safest and most comfortable position... lying on his back, on top of my stomach, completely covered with a blanket while shaking like a leaf. That keeps 'tunder torms' away.

My poor baby.

Last week, he started swimming classes. And guess what? He can now sit close to the bottom of the 3' deep pool and pick up toys without holding his nose! He's going to be swimming in no time... but he has NO FEAR, and that kinda -- you know -- invokes LOTS OF FEAR in a momma's heart.

July 2 I have ankle surgery to reconstruct my ligament. I look forward to total healing, but do NOT look forward to the pain I'll face. They will remove the affected ligament, then cut another ligament and screw it in with a screw, then stretch it to replace the removed ligament, adhere it with two screws, and monkey around with some missing cartilage. It just sounds so ... bionic.

I totally welcome your prayers for that surgery! TOTALLY!!!

Finally, I won a couple things on line! I can't wait to share about them, but my weekends have been so hectic, and I haven't had a chance to sit down and collect my thoughts. So give me a few days. It might even be once my surgery takes place (although, I hope not!).

Pssssst .... Share the Gospel with someone, ok?

"For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile." Romans 1:16

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WFMW: Easy Charcoal Grilling

I originally posted this tip last year, but since grilling season is in full swing, because I love the flavor of charcoal so much, and because so many people are intimidated by cooking with charcoal (takes too long to start, lighter fluid tastes horrible), I thought I'd repost this (for your grilling pleasure).

Make sure you head on over to We're That Family for more valuable tips.

(Originally posted: June 25, 2008, modified slightly for today's posting)

Nothing says summer like a beautifully grilled fat, juicy, hamburger, steak, ribs, chicken... well -- you get the picture... And, while a gas grill is easy, it just doesn't taste as good as a charcoal grilled slab o' meat.

We own both a charcoal grill and a propane grill, but we rarely ever use the propane grill. In fact, we grill year round -- with charcoal. Yup! It's that good! Well, actually, "we" don't grill, my husband grills, and that's who this tip comes from.

Most people don't like to grill with charcoal because it takes so long to start, takes too long for the coals to get perfectly hot, and if you use fluid lighter -- well, it tastes nasty. So, here's a tip to all the charcoal grill lovers that have been living under a rock... and I say that lovingly.

The easiest, quickest way to get your charcoal lighted and hot is to use a charcoal chimney (or starter). It's a metal cylinder with a grate a few inches from the bottom, and a handle on the side. You fill the cylinder with charcoal, and place about two or three pieces of crumpled newspaper on the bottom part of the cylinder (under the grate). You light the newspaper through the holes on all sides. Remember not to use more than 3 pcs of newspaper, because it will smother the fire.

The charcoal on the bottom lights first, and then ignites the rest of the charcoal. It smokes away for about 10-15 minutes until the coals are turning ashy white and are red hot. Perfect. Then, you just dump the hot coals in the grill (carefully, of course), and grill away! My husband is an EXPERT at this, but I did find a video on You Tube so you can actually see it being done (below), and I've included pictures of our chimney in action.

This year, I picked up two bags of Kingsford Competition Briquets at Costco, but for really delicious tasting meat use Cowboy lump hardwood charcoal, which we get at our hardware stores and grocery stores. One thing we've noticed... hardwood charcoal burns hotter and tastes far better than charcoal, but doesn't last as long.

One last thing: Here's a delicious new grilling recipe (last year, I posted Marinated Flank Steak - check it out!). It is a delicious Cilantro marinade for chicken, but can be used on seafood, fish, or beef!

BBQ'd Cilantro Chicken

One large handful cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup soy sauce
Juice of 2 limes
5 plump garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 hearty pinch of sea salt
Black pepper to taste
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup olive oil

1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut up

Blend soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, cilantro, salt and pepper, white wine, and oil in a blender or food processor.

Marinate chicken:
Set aside about 1/4 of the marinade for basting. Put chicken in a large sealable bag (I used one of the zip loc 2-gallon bags) and add remaining marinade. Seal bag and marinate in refrigerator 8 to 24 hours.

Grill chicken:If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom and lid of grill. Light a large chimney starter full of charcoal (preferably hardwood). When coals are lit, dump them out along opposite sides of bottom rack, leaving a space free of coals (the size of the quartered chicken) in middle. When you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grill rack directly over coals for 3 to 4 seconds, coals will be medium-hot.

If using a gas grill, preheat all burners on high, then reduce heat to medium-high.

Remove chicken from bag and place on grill skin side down. Discard remaining marinade. Turn after 15 minutes (maybe sooner – you don’t want your skin scorched). Grill until cooked through, a total of 30 to 40 minutes.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Today, I've been married to the man of my dreams for 19 years. Can you believe it? Time simply flies when you're having so much fun! (or when there is a super-active three year old involved!)

Honey -- I love you! Still! Yesterday, today, and tomorrow!

Happy 19th Anniversary!

In honor of our anniversary, I leave you with the words to the song we had sung at our wedding ... no, not the Ave Maria -- that would probably put you to sleep... the other one... Time In A Bottle:

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
Till Eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

Monday, June 01, 2009

Random thoughts...

Things that I have running through my head right now...

First, Hunter has been singing his little heart out all weekend long. That little boy is such a treasure. His little soprano warblingly-sweet voice could be heard trailing him wherever he went... "Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes Jesus loves me... the ants go marching one by one to get out of the rain. Wow, wow, Wubbzy. Wubbzy, Wubbzy, WOW! WOW! Wow, wow! Wow, wow, WOW!"

It's an exhausting run-on of music, and I can't get the songs out of my head for the LIFE of me! Especially the Wubbzy theme song. But I love to hear him sing when he thinks no one is listening!

On another note, I noticed that Pam at Without Fear posted on Amish Love... and Amish fiction, and can I just say ... I ADORE Amish fiction. I'm addicted to it. So much so, that I told my husband a few weeks ago that I want to live in or around Lancaster in an old farm home so I can be close to the Amish way of life (except... I MUST have electricity and running water endofdiscussionthankyouverymuch).

And do you know what he said?

We can retire there. Oh, my ... I'm SO holding him to it. Count on it.

Of course, we're 42, and have a three year old. So basically, we're never going to retire. But it's a dream to hold on to!!!

Another thing that's been running through my poor head ... my baby is going off to preschool. It is exciting and sad all at the same time. He is definitely in need of the mental and physical stimulation. I think once he hits school, he's going to blossom into a big boy. A big boy that's smart, and funny, and .... WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA ... a big boy!

And while I love watching him grow, and run real fast (he gets that from his dad), and eat like only a boy can eat... I just want him to stay little forever.

Oh, and ... I'm simply amazed at how huge my garden has gotten. It was literally OVERNIGHT, too. One minute, it was raining, the next minute, I've got monster lettuce, beautiful broccoli, my tomato plants are getting big, and my peppers and cukes are growing at an insane rate!!! Can't wait for ripe produce! I will say this... having your own garden is immensely satisfying, and when you grow your own food, it really puts a whole new meaning on wasting food. I was cleaning lettuce for salad this weekend, and a few pieces fell into the drain, and I practically cried.

Finally, I'm having surgery on July 2 to reconstruct the ligament in my ankle. I'm not looking forward to it. I'm such a big baby when it comes to pain, and I have a high tolerance to pain meds... as in ... they don't work for me. I'll be off my feet for 2-3 weeks. Life is NOT gonna be easy for my poor husband, poor man.