Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent and praiseworthy – think about such things.
This is a verse that sounds easy enough to follow, right?
I mean, take a look at the list again:
Unless you are a die-hard fan of professional sports, and can’t sit still if your favorite team is playing: need to know the score, who’s ahead, the highlights, and who won.
Or do you like to watch prime time television – do you have a list of must-see tv, and if you can’t be there, you’re going to TiVo it? Come on, I know some of you are fans of shows like “How I Met Your Mother,” and “Gray’s Anatomy.” What about “The Office,” “American Idol,” “Two and a Half Men,” or “Real World?” Any other favorites?
Do you enjoy listening to the radio? Is it the local rock stations, or hip hop/r&b/popular stations, or even country music? Even when there is no music playing, what tunes do you find yourself humming? What are the lyrics?
What hobbies do you have? Do you enjoy dancing, card playing, video games?
Hmmm…..Maybe this verse isn’t so easy after all. What are we spending our time and money on? Take a long hard look at what the big ones are in your life. What do you spend the most money on? What activities do you spend the most time doing? What IS it that you think about while you’re doing these things? Is it true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, AND praiseworthy?
Most of the things of this world that we spend our time and money on cannot and never will fit all of those qualities described. As Christians who have an Almighty saviour who died for us, and rose again so we can LIVE, what are we really thinking about? What are we doing?
How many times were the people of the old testament led away by idols? Time and time again! God had such mercy on them, he sent prophets to warn them, leaders to try to turn their hearts back to the God who loved them and created them, yet they didn’t. God sent punishment to them in order to remind them to keep their hearts and minds on their heavenly Father. Will we wait for that heavenly discipline to turn our hearts and minds back to him? Will we allow our neighbors who have not yet seen or heard the Good News to continue being lost as we focus on our favorite sports, shows, music, and hobbies? I pray that we do not. When will we see that what we think about, talk about, see, and do the most is what we worship, and often we are turning our faces towards the idols our culture is placing before us rather than our God who is the only one who deserves our praise and attention.
As Christians, we are called to be like Jesus, to be his hands and feet in the world. Would we do the things we do if Jesus were in our presence? I pray for myself and everyone who reads this that we may continue to remove the worldly things that are in our lives and put in place of them the things that we have been called to do, the work of bringing souls to Christ!
One day at a time, we can continue to grow as Christians. We may never be perfect, but we are sinners saved by grace – it’s time for us to start acting that way.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Buttery Pasta and Shrimp
1 Package Angel Hair Pasta
3/4 cup Butter
3 cloves minced fresh garlic (you can easily use more, if you like garlic)
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon diced red pepper
1 tablespoon diced green pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 - 8oz. Packages Frozen Cooked Salad Shrimp
2 cups Tomatoes, cut into wedges
Melt butter, start boiling water for Pasta. Saute veggies and salt and pepper for 6-10 minutes. Prepare Pasta, set aside. Add thawed and rinsed shrimp to butter and veggies, Saute for 3-4 more minutes. Stir in pasta, heat 2-3 more minutes until everything is hot. Stir in sliced tomatoes, remove from heat and cover for 1-2 minutes, or until tomatoes are hot. Enjoy!
Now, since you can't just buy 1 tablespoon of red or green peppers, we went ahead and chopped enough garlic, onion, and peppers for 3 other makings of this recipe. I divided the rest up into equal portions into freezer ziplock bags, labeled and dated, and they are now happily in my freezer for the next time we want to eat Buttery Pasta and Shrimp. I have never tried this before, but I am pretty sure that all we'll have to do is thaw those veggies, and we're ready to go, sans chopping!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
What they don’t teach you in health class, or even admit at the doctor’s office, is that if you’re having sex, you might as well expect to get pregnant. Sure the Pill is supposedly 99.9% effective, if you always remember to take all the pills, at about the same time each day. Even so, that’s a bit shy of 100%. I worked in an office with 7 other women, of those, 6 of them had children or were planning maternity leave. Three of those six women said that their babies had been conceived while they were using birth control! That’s only 50% effective, folks. So, no matter what type of relationship you are in, a lot of times “sex = babies.” That mindset might make a person think twice!
We live in a world where sex is glamorous and where individuals believe they can control whether they bear children or not, with the use of contraceptives or “choice”. Turn on the TV; everybody’s doing it, talking about doing it, wanting to do it, making fun of those who aren’t doing it, using it to sell other products – the list goes on. Even one of the longest running, best loved “family” shows, Everybody Loves Raymond; it was well known that Ray and Deborah had premarital relations, even to be so specific as to say it was on his mother’s plastic-covered sofa! I am not sure whether the media is depicting what it sees from the culture at large, or whether the culture is copying what it sees in the media. Either way, people today are having a lot of sex outside of the marriage bed, and they certainly don’t expect pregnancy to follow.
What I’m getting at is that while women may be beautiful and sexual creatures, what companies such as VS and media deny or forget to mention is that sex often produces babies. Suddenly the slim waistline is filled with the fullness of a child forming inside, those curvy hips become a generous space for birthing a baby, those beautiful breasts are capable of lactation, and the message is that those functions of a woman’s body make her no longer desirable. The world says hurry up and lose that baby weight, wean that child, lose those stretch marks, hide that cesarean scar. In doing so, it turns motherhood into something to be avoided, rather than celebrated. It turns the bodily changes that happen on the journey of motherhood from joy and wonder into things to be lamented. The world does not value her intelligently designed life-giving features, if they are to be used in that capacity.
Victoria’s Secret produces some of the most innovative, high-tech, supportive, well-designed bras and other lingerie and sleepwear for a woman that is available on the market today. I must admit that some of my favorite and most comfortable bras came from VS. They have perfected their product in fit, fabric, and quality. They offer a variety of colors, styles, shapes, support levels in their lingerie. They even offer some styles for plus-size women, so they can celebrate their sexuality as well. Even the loungewear fits great and the fabrics used are so soft and comfy! The company excels at producing well-fitting garments in attractive styles and colors using comfortable, cutting edge materials.
However, VS refuses to allow women who are mothers to believe their bodies have value beyond appearance. They do not offer maternity sizes at all. It is tough for an expecting mother to find comfortable clothing, her body changes so quickly and dramatically! VS would be able to design sleepwear and loungewear for expecting mothers to look and feel great in, but do they? No! On top of that, try to find a single nursing bra in the VS catalog, or even at their online store. No such thing. Countless different bra options to accentuate their breasts’ sensual beauty, but nothing that could provide optimal fit and function when it comes to another equally, or dare I say MORE important function the breast has, that of nourishing an infant.
A woman’s body is fearfully and wonderfully made by God. I do not wish to brush off the issue that unmarried sex is not a godly thing to do. However, sex within marriage is a gift from God that should be celebrated by husband and wife, and if God blesses the marriage with children, so much the better. It would just be nice if the worldly view wasn’t to make wives and mothers feel less beautiful as they prepare to bear and nourish their children. With the negative thoughts towards motherhood by society as a whole, is it any wonder than an unwed woman who finds she’s unexpectedly expecting chooses to have an abortion? We need to carefully examine how our world defines beauty as it says so much about our value system. A woman’s body is beautiful, not in spite of the purposes it can accomplish by the grace of God but because of them.
As a new mother myself, I am reminded of how difficult it was to find clothing, undergarments, and sleepwear that actually fit my changing maternal body. Most of the time I spent hours searching the web to find things to fit, and even then the fit was generally poor. Walk into the nearest department store, and maternity wear and nursing bras in general are not easy to find. Having to search that much to find garments to fit and for such a basic function as pregnancy and nursing wear makes a person feel a bit like a deviant, when in fact you see mothers everywhere you go! Why does our culture make it so difficult for a woman to use her body the way it was designed to be used?!
If companies such as Victoria’s Secret are going to make it their mission to make products that accentuate the beauty of a woman’s body, all I ask is that they provide products for every stage in a woman’s life, and for many that involves motherhood. The body changes of pregnancy and breastfeeding should be celebrated, not hidden away as something to be ashamed of. Shortly after the birth of my daughter, I chose to no longer make purchases from VS, at least not until the company acknowledges that motherhood is beautiful too by making maternity and nursing styles available for purchase at their stores. I pray for the day that motherhood and true family values become mainstream to the point that it is easy to shop for the needs of a growing family.
I happened upon this wonderful online store yesterday www.mom4life.com which has a wonderful selection of products, many of which our family uses on a daily basis. Mom4Life is basically a one stop shop for a mother, I wish I had found their site sooner. Check it out today! It is a great answer to the difficulties in finding quality products for mothering children, however I feel that there should not be a need to have “specialty” stores for these products. Motherhood is as mainstream as children themselves, it is time our culture accepted that and embraced the maternal body of a woman.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
My husband is into horsepower. It used to be 4-wheelers, now that he is married, has a family, has settled down into off-roading with Jeeps. Reality is that Jeeping is much safer than 4-wheeling, but it is TERRIFYING to me, and while I gave it a fair try, I will never be inside of that Jeep again on a trail. Ever. (picture is of the Labor Day Redbird weekend. We had 3 Jeeps and 2 Suzukis in our group. Matt's Jeep is the black Cherokee at right.)
Well, Shakamak is about 2 1/2 hours away from our home, and we loaded up the Chevy truck with our tent and camping gear, hitched up his cousin's trailer, loaded the Jeep onto it, and away we went. The bench seat was so cozy, my husband at the wheel, sleeping baby in the rear-facing car seat in the middle, me in the passenger seat. Lovely weather, windows down the whole way.
This is a nice arrangement....if our family was never to grow, if we never wanted to go around the farm with anyone else, etc., etc. What we decided was that while the Chevy worked, it wasn't going to work forever. What we needed was a 4 door heavy-duty pickup truck. Of course, other factors went in to deciding we needed a new truck. The Chevy just couldn't handle the full load of 6 fat cattle on the stock trailer. Around the farm with a baby there's just not enough room for the driver, the car seat, plus 2 or 3 tractor, combine, and grain truck drivers to get back and forth from the field. So we began the search for a heavier truck, with four doors, plenty of room for easy access for multiple riders, plus all of my husband's specific requirements (weight, transmission, engine...etc).
Matt was the one who did 99.9% of the searching. He made calls, he checked the web, we drove through dealer lots. We actually ended up buying the first truck we test drove, but not until a month or so after we drove it, and they lowered the asking price significantly. It's got a ton of miles, it's been used, but the price was right and it should work great for us. Plus it fits in the garage! It's a dark green Ford F-250 4x4 crew cab with a diesel engine, and a short bed. Tan leather interior. Very roomy!
**Here's a photo of the truck, as promised. Look closely at the bed - it doubles nicely as a play yard! (under close supervision, of course!)**
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Why use cloth?
*It costs about $3000 to diaper a baby in disposable diapers from birth to age 3 years. Cloth diapers cost only $500-$1000, including laundering costs! What a savings!
*Cloth diapers are healthier for your baby because there are so many different chemicals in disposable diapers. Plus, it is easier to tell when baby is wet, so he/she gets changed more often, which means less diaper rash!
*Disposable diapers make up a huge chunk of what is in the landfills. 18 BILLION Diapers are bought, used, and thrown away in the US alone each year. Cloth can really help reduce our environmental impact.
*Makes toilet training easier when the time comes because baby can feel when they are wet.
*Cloth diapers can be just as easy to put on the baby as disposable, plus they seem to hold leaks in better than the disposables.
For a little baby that doesn’t roll over or squirm around very much yet, I recommend prefolds and diaper covers. You’ll want about 6 prefolds per cover, and to wash every 3 days you’ll probably need about 36 prefolds, and 6 covers. I recommend Thirsties or Bummi’s brand diaper covers (those are the only brands we have tried, but work well). Diaper Service Quality unbleached prefolds are the best, usually about $2 per diaper. When our baby was ready for the next size, we used 12 prefolds, 2 covers, and 26 AIO’s, which gets us by with only having to wash about every 3 or 4 days. If you’re going to wash more often, each baby probably doesn’t need that many. The prefolds and covers will be the cheapest way to go, and are the best at keeping the mess inside the diaper, but you just can’t beat the AIO as far as convenience when baby is wiggly!
This is how I use our cloth diapers:
1 - Put on the baby. There are many ways to fold diapers, check out the www. I don’t have to use pins, since the covers I use hold the diaper in place. It’s a lot easier with the AIO’s (all in ones) like the Kushies, especially when the baby is squirmy, or has just learned to turn over! But they are more expensive, too. *The most important thing is to make sure all absorbent parts of the diaper are inside the cover!! If not you will get leaks!*
2 - When it’s changing time, wet diapers go in a 5 gallon bucket. This bucket is dry. Some people put baking soda in it, you can try that if you want, they say that keeps odors down, but I don’t notice the odors anyway, so I don’t use it.
Dirty, poopy diapers get most of the chunky poop wiped off w/ Toilet Paper into the toilet first, and then they go into another bucket, with a tight fitting lid, that is half-filled with water and a tiny bit of OxyClean (about a teaspoon). Don’t let the dirty diapers soak for more than 2 or 3 days, or it gets pretty nasty pretty quickly, but the soaking with OxyClean does help get them get cleaner. If you’re using prefolds and diaper covers, soak only the prefold, the cover needs rinsed off in plain water in the sink (or just put it straight into the other bucket used for wet diapers), they don’t usually stain very badly!
If you are exclusively breastfeeding your little one, you don’t have to do anything special with poopy diapers since breastfed baby poop is so liquid, just wash them all together. I suggest throwing all diapers in the wash, running a rinse cycle, and then doing your regular wash cycle.
If you’re using the prefolds and covers, keep using the same diaper cover until it gets poop on it.
When the 5 gallon bucket gets FULL, it’s usually time for a wash.
3 - When it’s time to wash diapers, I will take the Dirty diaper bucket and pour the diapers and the soaking water into the washer, and just use the machine to spin out the dirty water. When that is done, Add a tiny bit of laundry detergent, usually ¼ of what you would use for a regular load of laundry, and add the rest of the diapers, and wash the diapers on hot water with a cold water rinse. When the wash is done, open the washer and smell a few of the diapers, if they are fresh (usually they are) just put them in the dryer or on the clothesline. If they don’t smell fresh, just run a cold wash cycle with about ½ cup of vinegar, and they will be fine after that. Do NOT use fabric softeners on the diapers, it will make the pee just run off the diaper and prevent it from being absorbed!! Since diapers are so absorbent, it takes a long time for the diapers to dry, and it helps to run an extra spin cycle on the washer, which will take more of the water out.
Going Out and About w/ Cloth isn’t as bad as you would think. I have a couple of wet bags that I keep in the diaper bag to keep the wet or dirty diapers in, mine are about 12x12, or a little bigger. So, if you have a wet bag, (or just use a ziplock bag) you can cloth diaper away from home just as easily. On wash day, just turn the wet bag inside out and throw diaper, bag, and all into the washer. Most of the online cloth diaper stores also carry wet bags in various sizes.
I am very glad we’re using cloth. It is easier to tell when our baby is wet, I am saving a ton of money, and I hear that it will make it easier to toilet train when the time comes, since the baby can feel when they are wet, too. The biggest drawback I have found with using cloth diapers is that they are bulky, which usually means that baby has to wear bigger sized clothing just to fit around her diapers.
If you do a search on the internet, you can find so many resources about washing, using, and even SEWING your own cloth diapers. Some people make their own cloth wipes too, from flannel scraps and old washcloths, and claim they make it easier to wipe off sticky poop than purchased wipes. I haven’t tried that yet, but maybe when our stash of wipes runs out, that will be the next thing!
I hope it helps to hear what we are doing and how we handle washing and wearing of our diapers. If you have any questions that I can answer, just let me know, though I’m really not an expert, but I guess almost a year of experience is a good teacher!