Musings on golden moments, perfection and heaven

My birthday was this past week.  My golden birthday…I turned 26 on the 26th.  And golden it truly was, in so many ways.  By far the best birthday I have ever had.  A simple, lovely day spent with my little family.  Glorious weather: a rainy, foggy morning that turned to an afternoon of sunlight and shadowplay.  My new computer arrived much earlier than expected (and I LOVE it!).  Good food shared with good company (my husband and babies).

And then, in my birthday card that morning, my love topped it all off by surprising me with a night away (with a tagalong baby) at a local B&B…for that night!  It was the same B&B, and the same room, that we had booked for our anniversary last year, but that had to be cancelled because it ended up being in the middle of the week-long power outage we went through.   Aaron had apparently been planning this reschedule since January and I hadn’t a clue.  Yes…I am blessed with an amazing husband.

It’s funny though, and rather sad, that even when we’ve been given so much, we still think that we’re entitled to more.  That afternoon, as I was preparing supper, I was thinking about the upcoming night away.  As you would expect, I was really looking forward to the time, especially because certain things had come up during several recent attempts at romantic getaways that interrupted them and caused them to be different than what we wanted them to be.  And this time, my husband had an injured knee that was bothering him and the sweet baby that needed to come with us (since she still nurses several times during the night) doesn’t have the best track record for staying asleep in the evenings.  So my thoughts went something like this: “Why does it always have to be this way?!  Can’t we ever have a perfect evening together?!  Something always has to mar it.”  Yeah…very spiritual and thankful, I know!

But even before those thoughts were gone, the answer came.  The reason why it always is this way — the reason why life is never totally perfect –is  because we’re not Home yet.  And even though there are often beautiful moments scattered about, those gifts from an ever-loving God, we still live in a fallen world.  And as a result, things will never be “perfect” in this life.   Because if they were, why would we long for heaven, our true Home?

So I have a choice.  I can either whine about all the things that aren’t perfect and be mad when everything doesn’t work out exactly how I want it to — taking offense that not everything will be completely “in order” as I would like.  (Sounds rather ridiculous when put like that, eh?!)   Or I can rejoice in all the good gifts that I have been given to me (for there are more than I can number) and when I’m longing for perfection, remember in Whom it is found.  And remember that someday I will experience Perfection, and amazingly enough, it will be even better than the most romantic of date nights here on earth.

And for the record, our little night away was lovely.  Aaron’s knee didn’t bother him too much and our baby girl (who is turning one tomorrow!) slept very well, giving Mommy and Daddy ample time to enjoy the in-room jacuzzi.  It was definitely the most relaxing twelve hours of the past year.  Truly a gift.

Community

Five Minute Friday: Community

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 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12-13)

This is a Scripture that I think about often and wonder how it’s supposed to look in our lives as believers.  How does “exhorting each other daily” happen?  The consequences of it not happening sound very serious — who of us wants to be “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin”?

But do we really treat it as serious?  Do we really realize how important it really is to BE Jesus’ Body?  To be so completely knit with each other that we’re in a place where we can offer exhortation and encouragement and as a general thing, just push each other toward Jesus.  Or do we think that it’s really not that big of a deal to try to follow Jesus on our own?

When, in John 17, Jesus prays for us all to be one as He and His Father are One…what does that look like?

Once I read a book called The Day of Small Beginnings.  A story of some Jesus-followers who really decided that they were going to be the Body to each other daily.  And reading it was amazing in that I discovered that there really are others out there who think the same crazy way I do about community.

That the point isn’t just “being in community” with each other.  The point is pushing each other toward Jesus daily.  All for His glory.

STOP (And that took a bit longer than five minutes…in case you couldn’t tell, this is an issue that I’m very passionate about!)

Real {Fast} Food review and giveaway

I love good food.  A lot.  And I love feeding my family food that tastes good and that is also good for them.  For us this is usually “real food” — i.e. food that is fresh and minimally processed.  This means using a lot of produce, good meats and dairy, healthy fats (like butter!) and whole grains.  It means trying to cook mostly from scratch.

Making and eating real food involves all these great things, but it also can involve something else. Time and lots of it.  And as a young mama to two little ones, that’s something I don’t have an overabundance of.  Enter Real {Fast} Food.  The eBook by my friend, Trina Holden.

Trina is another young mom who is passionate about feeding her family real, good food.  But since she has three little ones, she knows that it doesn’t work to spend oodles of time in the kitchen preparing meals.  So she wrote a book explaining all she has learned about making the most of your time in the kitchen and interspersed it with many yummy-sounding recipes.   She walks you through everything from menu planning to batch cooking to making your own mayonnaise and sour cream.  And along with recipes for everything from white lasagna to pineapple muffins, she also shows you how to make things like ranch dressing mix, whole wheat tortillas and vanilla ice cream to give you the tools to eliminate even more processed foods from your diet.

Real {Fast} Food is very informative and helpful, but I don’t “follow” everything in the book.  I don’t currently menu plan (though I can see it happening in the future) and we still occasionally eat white flour.  But that’s okay.  I’m doing what works for our family right now and adapting techniques and information to our situation.  And in her book, Trina recognizes that.  Unlike some other cookbooks I’ve read, there’s no condescending attitude of “you must cook exactly the way I do if you want to feed your family healthy food”.  Instead, Trina gives you the tools and recipes to help you prepare real food and then gives you the freedom to figure out how that will work for your family.

And the best part?  Making real food doesn’t have to take up half your day!  In other real food cookbooks I’ve read, the authors seem to assume that you have hours to spend in the kitchen preparing and cooking.  As a young mom, that’s doesn’t work for me since cooking is something I have to fit in between chasing toddlers and keeping my home.  And since Trina is in that place too, she understands and Real {Fast} Food is a clear reflection of that.

Real {Fast} Food is an essential for any young mom wanting to feed her family healthy food without spending all day in the kitchen.  It’s available on Kindle and Nook, but my copy is the PDF version that I printed out and put in a binder — that makes it much easier to reference with hands messy from cooking!

And Trina has graciously offered to give away a PDF copy of Real {Fast} Food to a Something Simple reader.  Just comment and answer the question: “What is one change (large or small) that you would like to make in your family’s diet?”  Giveaway ends Wednesday, May 2nd at midnight (PST).

Want to increase your chances at winning a copy?  Enter the other giveaways on the Real {Fast} Food Blog Tour:

from Homemaker’s Challenge (ends April  26th)
from Gretchen at From: the Little Pink House (ends April 30th)
from Chantel at A Beautiful Song (ends May 1st)

Read more reviews of Real {Fast} Food:

at the Young Ladies Christian Fellowship
at Homemaker’s Challenge
at Dandelion Haven
at Life in the White House

And be sure to “like” the Real {Fast} Food Facebook page for great real food photos and tips.

This giveaway is now closed.

Together

Five Minute Friday: Together

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I remember it so well.  It had only been three and a half months since we even knew the other person existed.  Three and a half months of chats and emails and “phone calls” through our computers on separate sides of the world.  And only about three and a half weeks of those months had we even spent in each other’s presence.  But we knew.  And so when he got down on his knee on a bench on a seaside pier at sunset and asked, without hesitation I answered “yes!” four times.

Wrapped in each other’s arms for the first time, we sat on that bench and watched the sun sink into the ocean.  The sky painted beautifully, just for us, and the moon rising at our backs.  And I can’t remember which one of us said it, but there it was: “It’s us now”.

And it is.  It’s us and we’re together and sometimes that’s all that matters.

STOP

 

Learning to love

Since before Aaron and I were first married, my mom has often told me that one of the main things she prays for us is that we would learn to love each other.  To be honest, when she first mentioned that, I was confused and a little offended.  What do you mean “learn to love each other”?!  We already love each other more than I ever dreamed it was possible to love someone!  But in the past three years of marriage, I’m beginning to understand more and more what she means.  (I’m not sure why I even doubted the words of a woman happily married for 25 years in the first place, but I was a new bride…what can I say?!)

In the past, I’ve written about the different seasons of love.  And the thing about seasons is…they change.  Constantly.  The love between Aaron and I now looks much different than it did when we first were married, and I’m sure it will look completely different in another three years.  And with the changing of our love comes a constant learning of how to love the other person.  Just as I respond to situations differently in the spring than in the summer, so it is with loving my husband.  The ways I show him love (and the ways that he perceives love — which I’m learning are not always the same) are different now than they were when we were first married.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my maternal grandma.  My grandpa, her husband of over sixty years, died this past Easter morning.  He had battled with cancer for several years, and in the last weeks of his life, things got really hard.  Near the end, both the cancer and his medication started affecting his mind, and sometimes he wasn’t all there.   And yet, my grandma was by his side and loved him all the while.

And I when I think of that, I can’t imagine how I would deal with it.  And then I remember that they had over sixty years of learning to love each other.  Sixty years.  With fifteen kids and going through all the ups and downs of life together, they had learned to love each other in many different seasons and situations and times.

And so, in a way, I wonder if this end season wasn’t that much different than all the rest.  You just hold tight to your love’s hand and know that you’re in this together.

Receiving Jesus

It had been a rather hard evening.  After two busy days with only too-short car naps, we had some very tired kids.  A very fussy baby and a toddler who would start throwing a tantrum at the slightest provocation.  And Mommy’s attitude wasn’t the best either.  I was very ready for bedtime, but at the same time dreading it since our youngest is not known for her stellar sleeping ability.

After supper, we got ready for our nightly “Bible time”.  And frankly, I wanted to skip that night…let’s get these kids in bed!  But we continued our reading in Matthew, tonight chapter eighteen, one that I had read many times.  Obviously I needed to hear it again.

[Jesus said] “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea…See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” ~Matthew 18:5-6, 10 (emphasis mine)

I was brought up short, and quite convicted.  Was I “receiving” my children with the same attitude that I would receive Jesus?  In short, not at all.  Instead I was frustrated with their constant neediness and their apparent inability to just pull themselves together and get a better attitude (perhaps they were just taking their cues from their mommy?  *ahem*).  I wasn’t exactly “despising” them, but I certainly wasn’t being very loving.  At that moment, I certainly wasn’t treasuring them in the way that God treasures little ones if their angels are the ones that always see His face. It was a reminder that I so needed.  I repented and asked my kids’ forgiveness and we all went and bounced on the trampoline for a few minutes.  Peace and joy were restored.

Later that night, I was continuing to meditate on and mull over those verses and what they should look like in my life.  Aaron and I were discussing it and he brought up another view that I hadn’t considered…  When you “receive” a child through becoming a parent, it’s hard.  You have to sacrifice a lot and your weaknesses brought to the surface.  But in weakness, that’s where you find Jesus and His grace. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

There’s so much grace needed in parenting.  May I continue to show it to my children and cling to it for myself.