“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there
is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its
passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:22-24 NIV)

“And to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,” 1 Thessalonians 4:11

I learned recently on Pinterest (AKA, my favorite tangent), that the Polish expression for “not my problem” is “not my circus, not my monkeys”.  I just love that!  If that happens to not be an actual Polish expression, please don’t tell me!

I’ve also gathered recently through studying some of the Bible verses in “Let.It.Go.” that I’ve been trying to be the ringleader and animal trainer at some circuses that clearly aren’t mine!  God has shown me that a lot of my feelings of being stressed or overwhelmed are from things that He never called me to do. 

In my head, I’ve decided that we are going to perform this like a responsive reading,  I will read my to don’t list and you’ll respond with “not my circus, not my monkeys”.  Maybe you have some of your own to add to this list?

Trying to be head of my home instead of my husband.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Worrying about what anyone other than Jesus thinks of me.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Choosing every thing we will eat and do at Christmas.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Trying to exhibit other-control instead of self-control.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Micro-managing every portion of my son’s life.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Comparing myself to anyone and everyone.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Abusing Facebook or Pinterest or otherwise encouraging discontentment.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Trying to squeeze more into a day than it should hold.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Treating my house like it is more important than the people living in it.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Now since it is kind of a deal for me, there is a link below from a blog for a healthy banana ice cream.  You can call it “not my monkeys ice cream” if you want.  I make mine in my food processor.

http://www.sweet-fix.net/2013/02/healthy-banana-chocolate-peanut-butter.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Jesus girls!

This week I’m writing in response to Chapter 10. I really love when God uses an author to shine His light in my dark places. Karen Ehman was a faithful messenger today! This chapter talks about our lack of contentment because of comparison. Theodore Roosevelt calls comparison “the thief of joy”.

I’m a scorekeeper from way back! Ay yi yi! No area is exempt from my relentless tallying. I can use score keeping in a prideful way or a defeating way. I’m versatile like that. At this point, it is such an engrained behavior that I don’t alway realize how much peace and joy I’m losing daily.

Karen is right. Facebook is deadly for this. Apparently, several friends from my undergraduate music class got advanced degrees from Yale while I was finishing mine at University of Houston. Friends I haven’t had contact with in years. Yale 1. U of H 0. Defeating.

Dropping my son off at church. Oh, everyone’s kid has fast food tonight? I made food at home this week. Let me shine my halo in my mind and give myself a mental plus one. Judgmental.

Talking casually with a friend about our houses and she reveals some struggles. I add a point as I think, “at least mine isn’t that bad.” I quickly deduct or rationalize when I visit someone’s home that is tidier than mine. My inner game of tennis isn’t like the book by the same name. It is a dizzying back and forth of reveling in my accomplishments and self flagellation.

It is hard for me to think that anyone would look at me or my life and be envious. However, put the shoe on the other foot and my inner score keeper has a field day. Appearances. Spiritual life. Marriage. Professional achievements.

It is exhausting. I’m exhausted by it. And it is endless. And pointless.

God loves me so much that he doesn’t want me stuck on this hamster wheel. “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 humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Here is a peanut butter cookie recipe. I promise that I won’t secretly compare it to yours or feel smug because it only has four ingredients. OK, I might still feel a little smug.

Magic Peanut Butter Cookies
1 egg
1 cup peanut butter (not natural peanut butter)
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together. Form into walnut sized balls. Flatten with a fork dipped in sugar. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

First off, I’m always amazed that there are people who manage to get a blog post written and posted by first thing Thursday morning! Truth told, I haven’t finished my chapter for the week or even done my 48 hour challenge. To give you even more TMI, there are still unpacked groceries on my kitchen floor Furthermore, it is 4:00 P.M. and I’ve just showered for the day. So if you are ready to read some thoughts from an imperfect wife and mother, I’m ready to write them!

I’m writing on the passage from I Thessalonians, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” My Facebook small group leader said during one of our in between studies that this reminded her of parents giving last minute instructions to their kids before they go out the door. My family’s version was “Be good. Be nice. Have fun!”.

Admittedly, I’m never been to seminary. I don’t know Greek or Hebrew. There are times I love the mysteries of scripture and to have someone unpack them for me. My pastor is excellent at this (randywhiteministries.org). There are other times that it is so refreshing to read a passage that could not be more straightforward. That even I, a layperson, can grasp on first reading. I think of all the years I wasted in my twenties fretting over God’s will when I could have been following this passage the whole time. I’m also so blessed to hear the absolutes here. Always. Never. All. This is God’s will.

As a woman who has dieted her whole adult life, (anyone else with me?) it is easy for me to draw analogies with losing weight. I’ve heard it said that successful weight loss isn’t easy but it is simple. Eat less, move more. I love having some of the action steps of Christianity boiled down into bullet points in this passage. I think Satan would love us to feel confused about how to please God or make it seem complicated. That being said, just because it is simple doesn’t mean it is easy. If simple things were easy, we’d all be thin and Godly, right?

The other phrase that comes to mind about control issues addressed in Karen Ehman’s “Let. It. Go.” is “take care of you”. Back in my years teaching school, that was our go to response when a student was being a busybody. In retrospect, I NEVER recall having to say that to a boy! It seems to me if I’m spending all this time being thankful, joyful and praying that I’d have precious little time to take care of anyone else’s issues but my own.

I always seem to have a difficult time closing out these posts appropriately. So this time, I thought I’d share a recipe that is simple AND easy. One ingredient. Stupid simple.
Crispy Cheese
-Line one cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 400. Take a tablespoon of refrigerated shredded parmesan cheese (this will not work with the shaker kind) and make a thin pile about the diameter of a cookie. Do this six times and bake for 6 minutes. Let cool. There you have it. Crispy cheese.

If you put a group of women in a room together long enough, they’ll invariably start talking about food.  “So let me get this straight, you eat cabbage soup for a week?”  “Seriously, that dessert uses cream cheese, heavy cream and a pound of powdered sugar?  Sounds delicious!”  If we’re together longer, talk will drift to our homes.  “My kid is dressed up for school today because it is his last clean stitch of clothing.”  “My mother-in-law is visiting tomorrow so I pulled an all-nighter bleaching the grout in the bathroom.”  Weight and homemaking both seem like areas where we struggle to achieve balance.  We gorge or starve.  We’re idle or make our homes an idol. 

The second half of Proverbs 31:27 is “she does not eat the bread of idleness.”  It is hard to admit that much of my angst about the state of my home is a result of my idleness.  Many tasks aren’t as time consuming or difficult as I have decided they are.  I find time for my favorite “time sucks” (see previous post).  I mentally berate myself about the state of my house while I read another status update or watch another show.  I’m rightfully embarrassed at the state of a bathroom fixture or kitchen floor.

The flip side is turning my home and homemaking into an idol (Exodus 20:3 No other gods before me).  When company is on the way and I want them to be impressed, I can hyperfocus on how tidy everything appears.  I can come unglued mentally about an unfolded hand towel.  I neglect quiet times because of household tasks.  I want to be a Mary but find myself acting more like a Martha (and I don’t mean Stewart). 

On page 117 of “Let.It.Go”, Karen Ehman coins the term proactive productivity for the Proberbs 31 woman.  Now I can’t speak to the delegation part of this chapter.  I’m still struggling hard with that.  But proactive productivity I can embrace!  If healthy eating is more about good daily choices than starving and binging, then we might extend the analogy to our homes.  We can find balance in our homes,not in laziness followed by frantic cleaning, but by obedient daily routines.  Just as our weight finds equilibrium when we stop the pendulum swings of crash diets and all you can eat buffets, I believe that our homes find their level when we are obedient daily with our household tasks.

 

 

 

Hi, I’m Beth.  Welcome to my friends from the Let.It. Go Bible study.  Isn’t Proverbs 31 ministries great?  This is my inaugural blog post.  Hopefully, that sounds a little more impressive than I’ve never done this before and don’t know what I’m doing!  However, full disclosure, I’ve never done this before and don’t know what I’m doing!  I will tell you that finding an original name for a Christian blog is a challenge.

This is my second online Bible study.  During Unglued, I was guilty of just doing a read along.  I was reading the chapters and not much else although I was part of an awesome Facebook small group.  Hi, group 30!  This time around, I really want to commit to participating more fully.  Last study, I prettymuch ignored Blog Hop Thursday.  I’ve been toying with the idea of writing more and this is just the nudge to do it.

In this study, Let.It.Go, Karen Ehman spends time in chapter 2 speaking about controlling tangents in our lives.  As a Christian, I want to honor God with the best use of my time and energy.  In fact, I regularly pray that request with my 2 year old son as part of our evening prayers.  However, my stewardship in that area has been poor due to controlling tangents.  From now on in this post I’ll refer to controlling tangents as “time sucks”.  The Urban Dictionary defines time suck as “something that’s engrossing and addictive but keeps you from doing things that are actually important”.  So yes, controlling tangents and time sucks are synonyms in my book, er, blog.

As a mother of a young child, not to be confused with a young mother, I frequently indulge in my favorite time sucks.  I additionally work part-time teaching private horn lessons.  I find that my prime times for losing hours with nothing to show for it are my son’s naptime and his bedtime.  Generally, my husband is gone at work during both times and it is my first time to take a break from mothering or teaching for several hours.  A break.  A snack.  Sounds harmless enough, right?

My favorite time sucks are Pinterest, Facebook, QVC, Food Network and recreational eating.  In and of themselves, save for the recreational eating, there is nothing inherently evil about social media or online shopping.  However, as a Christian, I believe that “everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial”.  (1Corintians 6:12) Incessantly, and I believe that is a key word, browsing pinterest or sitting glassy eyed in front of QVC is not God’s best for me.  Much like overeating, all of my time sucks leave me feeling defeated not refreshed.  As I look around all the unfinished tasks in my home and work at the end of the night, the hours I just spent looking at my acquaintances’ status updates are not worth the trade-off.  I have been literally in tears with my husband at the end of the night about not accomplishing anything when the answers are fairly obvious.

So what is the solution for someone like me?  Thankfully for me, God is gracious and his mercies are new every morning.  I don’t have to be condemned and continue in that same defeated pattern.  I think at this season in my life God is calling me to total abstinence on social media, foods that don’t fit my eating plan and mindless television.  I’m not being legalistic but I think my brokenness in these areas requires it.  (Should sound familiar if you have studied Lysa TerKeurst’s “Made to Crave”.)  To finish the verse in 1Corinthians 6:12 “but I will not be mastered by anything.”

As someone with serious workaholic tendencies, I do need breaks.  As a mother, I need breaks.  As a wife, I need breaks.  How does this compute with my social media and junk TV fast?  I think God is showing me that for all the counterfeit pleasures the world offers that He offers real refreshment. 

Spending time with God in the word and prayer is replenishing.  Talking to my mother on the phone is replenishing.  Hanging out with my husband instead of my computer at the end of a long day is replenishing.  Enjoying time playing with my son is replenishing.  Nourishing food is replenishing.  A hot bath is replenishing.  An early bedtime is replenishing.  Sabbath rest is replenishing.  Thank you, Lord, for your refreshing.