Archive for May, 2011

Idolatry

What comes before God in your life?

Timewise, it might be lots of things: work, school, sleep, parenting.  Let’s face it: for good or ill, we’re busy people.  There are times when we just can’t help it.  But amid all this chaos–what (or who) has your heart?

Nothing should come before God in our hearts.  Nothing!  Not things.  Not plans.  Not even people.

I know this is true.  I can state it with assurance as well-grounded Biblical mandate, the first and greatest commandment.

But to live it?  Naaah, I’m afraid I ain’t doing so good.

See, I have a husband.  And I love him very much.  With my whole heart.  And I can justify it, too–isn’t that how the church (the Bride) is to love Christ?  Of course it is.  Aren’t the best marriages patterned after God’s love for His own?  Of course they are.  And of that Love, there are no limits.

Which, I argue to myself, is how I love Tim.     

Good, good, well and good.  But is it how I love God?

Therein is the rub.  Nothing can come before God in my heart.  Not things.  Not plans.  Not even people.  Not even my husband.

Not even my husband (or future husband or children or whatever your heart most desires)?!?! 

Not even him. 

It’s hard, see, because the marital relationship trumps every other earthly relationship.  In fact, nothing is allowed to come between the husband and the wife—except one thing only: God.  “Do not deprive one another except by mutual consent for a time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer and fasting.” (1 Cor 7:5)

Thankfully, a true putting of God first in a marriage is not an act of divisiveness.  Rather, it strengthens and unifies.  It makes of two weak people a three stranded cord, one not easily broken.

So why is something so easy for me to grasp so hard for me to practice? 

For instance, last weekend.  Tim was unexpectedly away on business from Thursday to Tuesday.  Five endless days and no way for me to accompany him.  So instead, I spent the weekend as any self-respecting wife would…or not: I moped.  I dragged around the house.  I cried.  I got angry and frustrated.  And I realized something really important: Tim has become to me an idol.

Now I’m not saying that it was wrong for me to miss Tim while he was gone, or miss him heartily.  But what I am saying is this: somewhere along the way, my love for my earthly husband surpassed my love for my heavenly one.  The signs were clear.  I didn’t just miss Tim, I shut down without him.  He has become things in my life that should belong first and foremost to God: rock, fortress, comfort, joy, peace, and yes, even reason to live.

So what’s the solution?  Well, starting today, I’m going to be hard at work learning to love Tim less.  Need him less.  Depend on him less.  Rejoice in him less.  Desire him less.

Sounds like a good plan, right?

WRONG!

No, the solution is not to give Tim less, but God more.  From here on out, I’m going to be hard at work (and oft in prayer) learning to love God more.  Need Him more.  Depend on Him more.  Rejoice in Him more.  Desire Him more. 

Those who come to Him, He will not cast out!

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Way more boring details than you even want to know.

Here I am, guilty as charged.  Neglectful, neglectful me.  Oh, my.  Whatever is to be done.

Meanwhile, the days whiz by.

I finished teaching with a class period spent in rousing review, and my poor kids broke all sorts of records in exceeding my expectations.  They remembered!  Oh happy day.  I promised I’d bring food, and I did: seeds (popcorn) and roots (carrot sticks).  For such boring food, I must say it was scarfed up with great alacrity.  “Pass the roots, please.”  “KATHERINE, you ate all the seeds!!” 

I started something new: a tutoring/mother’s helper gig 2-3 half days a week for a family of 8 (6 kids).  So far, my major accomplishment has been in teaching the six year old to spell s-h-e-e-p. 

And the days whiz by.

I read Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, which I found highly commendable until the end[ing], which was woefully anti-climatic.

We’ve been enjoying some new driving music (borrowed from a friend): Christ Only Always by the Galkin Evangelistic Team and the Wissmann Family.

In the garden, growth is all the rage.  No produce yet, but I did find a local strawberry farm to divest of 24 lbs of berries a week or so back.  Thanks to my strawberry freezing friends, I successfully preserved them and we’ve been enjoying fruit smoothies for breakfast several times a week. 

The days continue to whiz.

This past week brought a wonderful overflow of company–friends, family, plans, surprises.  It’s so nice to be connecting with people more now that Tim isn’t working quite as hard!  We took in a piano recital courtesy of one of the boys in Tim’s Sunday School; boy am I glad those days are over for me.  I’m so thankful MY teacher never made us memorize our pieces for performance!  We had a quick but nice visit from my brother and sister-in-law as they transition from the college stage of life to the career stage of life.  They moved about 10 hours closer to Richmond in the process, which means we may very well get to see them pretty often in the coming years.  Yippee!  Despite the brevity of their stay, we snuck in a trip to the beach (I forgot my camera, sad day) and had a truck load of fun showing them our favorite haunts.  Pop and I also enjoyed hosting my aunt and uncle from Texas for a quick lunch as they passed through town, and Tim’s brother and his wife spent a night on their way through to some beach somewhere.  Even quick trips are just so nice for catching up, and we really enjoyed having them all!

I got a new-to-me purse, my printer keeps running out of ink, I gave myself a haircut that I absolutely love, I hung a few more pictures, Pop just made another batch of chocolate chip cookies, Tim is working an all-nighter again, I enjoyed some moderate but quite thrilling success in building my first real website, I mowed half the lawn this evening (the other half will have to wait until tomorrow since I’m too much of a wimp to manage the whole thing in one sitting), we’re going on vacation in exactly one week, and the days whiz on.

So there you have the all the latest, breakingest news of our lives.  Or at least most of it. 

Hope it’s enough to tide you through until the next time!

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Grape Gripes

We have a problem. 

It’s called an over-active grape vine.

This is an AFTER picture.  BEFORE, the wiley thing was climbing all over the gas meter, the cable lines, and (worst of all) the blueberry bush. 

Don’t mess with my blueberries.  End of story.

Tim’n’I’ve been talking through grape arbor options for years (or at least ever since we saw our house for the first time).  We nixed the idea of buying one in favor of some sort of make-your-own deal, and we’d even drawn up elaborate plans involving Tim, some wood, and a table saw.  But that’s as far as we ever got.

Unfortunately, grape vines don’t take cues from dusty grape arbor blueprints, and away it grew, our permission or no.

It was time to get drastic.

So we did.

Enter a porch swing, or rather the frame of one that had has been reclining (haha) near our firepit for about six months now, waiting to be recanvassed.  Unfortunately, feasible recanvasing options are harder to come by than one might think.  We were about to give it all up for loss when BOOM, we had an idea.  Why not convert the frame into our long-awaited grape arbor? 

So we did.

And I kind of like the results.  Granted, it looks a little strange at present, but imagine how neat it will be when the vines have grown through the frame, making a leafy “swing” seat and covering.  And the grapes will be a lot easier to pick, too–especially the ones hanging down from the canopy. 

So in the next few weeks, we’ll just keep on top of directing the new growth away from the blueberry and toward our side-porch swing.  Yay for repurposing junk, saving time, and checking a project off our list all in one fell swoop!

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Update

I’m afraid I’ve sort of fallen off the blogging bandwagon.  I’ve drastically cut back my computer usage in recent weeks, and it’s been wonderful.  I can easily waste way too much time on the internet, and I’ve tried several times before to cut back to no avail.  This time, I wasn’t even trying (how does THAT work?!).  I’ve been keeping busy in the meantime, though, and here’s some pictures to prove it:

 My garden is in:  tomatoes, potatoes, green and lima beans, cantaloupe, green peppers, peppermint, and garlic!  I’d still like to plant a few more herbs and flowers and things, but even if I don’t get that far, at least we’ll have fresh tomatoes this summer.  That was my main garden goal for the year, since we love salsa and tomato sauce so much. 

We started our landscaping adventures!  So far our house-related energies have been mostly concentrated on inside-related fix-ups: tile, painting, a new garage door, carpet, windows, furniture, etc.  But this spring we’ve been hard at work in the yard.  In addition to the garden, we added two hydrangeas (one on either side of our front steps), four azalea bushes (lining our driveway), and a bulb garden (around the mail box).

The azaleas will eventually make mowing WAY easier by crowding out the grass between our crepe myrtles.  And think how pretty they will look all in bloom! 

We staggered pink azalea bushes with white, and we put a blue hydrangea on one side of our front porch and cream on the other.  In our bulb garden are lilies, tulips, hyacinths, gladiolas, and irises.  Someday I’d like to get some daffodils.  We’ve been composting our scraps for 18months now and have some very nice mulch to supplement our almost nonexistant topsoil.  And it rained all day yesterday, so everything got a good dousing–plus I collected two big garbage cans full of rainwater (from leaks in our gutters) to use later in the week as things start drying out again.

  

In other plant news, our backyard blueberry bush is bursting with fruit, as is the grape vine and blackberry bramble.  We discovered a wild blueberry patch in a local city park a few weeks back, which thrilled me to no end.  Imagine: wild blueberries in the middle of big city Richmond!  My country-girl inclinations were largely mollified.

Tim is still working crazy hours, and we’re both very ready for his schedule to return to normal.  I keep saying this, but hopefully this time it’s really true: the project he’s immersed in should be wrapping up soon (maybe even by the end of this week). 

I have two more weeks of science before summer break.  I’m really enjoying our unit on plants, and hopefully the kids are, too.  They all grew their own vegetables, which was pretty thrilling. 

I snuck in a little visit to my parents in Kentucky during one of Tim’s busiest weeks.  It was so good to see them, and also fun to experience spring in the mountains.  What a show!  These wild irises were particularly delicate and absolutely gorgeous.  We also got to catch up a bit with Tim’s parents last week as they made a quick visit to our neck of the woods!

We continue to really enjoy having Pop with us.  I especially have appreciated his company with Tim gone to work so much.  He has added a few duties to his dish-washing regime, including keeping the cookie jar full.  He baked these while Tim and I were planting our hydrangeas and left a few out for us to sample when we were finished.

I’m continuing to make slow but sure progress on getting Secondhand Chance (my thrift store wannabe) off the ground (and no, sorry, I’m afraid there is not a cousin for Baby Stam ((my sister’s kid!!)) in there amongst all that stuffing).  I’ve had several people contact me about purchasing clothing, and that’s really helped keep my motivation and excitement up and running.  Thanks to those of you who have supported in that way!  I recently discovered a thrift store that sells $.50 clothing, which was a dramatic improvement from the $2-$2.50 I was paying at Goodwill and Salvation Army.  So I’ve been haunting their aisles weekly, stocking up on great merchandise.  My next goal is to purchase a mannequin to help speed up my picture taking process. 

We had BLTs for lunch today for the first time in months.  I guess summer really is here!  I froze close to a dozen meals of asparagus that I found at a farmer’s market earlier this spring–yum!  I’ve also been serving lots of corn on the cob in recent weeks, and just last week freshly picked strawberries arrived in our fridge courtesy of one of Tim’s cousins.  I may go pick a few pints of my own next week sometime.  Anybody know anything about freezing them?  About all I know is that it can be done, since I can buy them frozen in the store if I so desire.  I tried last year, but I sliced and sugared them first, and they got all mushy.

Well, Tim’s getting ready to wake up (he’s working night shift this week), so I’d better sign off for now.  I can’t make any promises about when I’ll be back, but at least now you know a little bit of what’s been going on here in our world!

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