The Land of Boys

Learning to live in a house full of testosterone

Killing Me Softly With His Blog…..

Have you ever the Roberta Flack song Killing Me Softly? In case you haven’t here are the lyrics:

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I heard he sang a good song
I heard he had a style
And so I came to see him
To listen for a while
And there he was this young boy
A stranger to my eyes

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I felt all flushed with fever
Embarassed by the crowd
I felt he found my letters
And read each one out loud
I prayed that he would finish
But he just kept right on

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

He sang as if he knew me
In all my dark despair
And then he looked right through me
As if I wasn’t there
And he just kept on singing
Singing clear and strong

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me

He was strumming my pain
Yeah, he was singing my life
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly
With his song

I had my own little “killing me softly” moment recently. Mark posted a link to a blog written by Jim Elliff on his Facebook page. Mark left for work shortly after posting the link. I saw it and clicked on it. Never in my life have I felt more like someone could read my very thoughts than this. I do not know Jim Elliff. I have never spoken to him. However, he posted some of the very same thoughts I have had recently. It was almost scary how much he and I are on the same wavelength on this subject. This particular writing is titled The Negotiables.  It talks about things in church that we do in certain ways, but they really don’t matter. For instance our meeting times. Almost every church I know of meets at the same time, on the same days. Here are some of Jim’s words about that:

Remember that the early church did not have Sundays as a day off until Constantine in the early 300s. They had to meet early in the morning before work or late in the evening after work, even on Sundays. If this day gets eaten up in commercial enterprise as the years go on, Christians are not going to miss out. We certainly can meet in the evening like our ancient forebears did during the greatest years of church expansion. Right?

This really hit home for me. My husband works a swing shift. He is not always able to be at church during the times we are having service due to being at work or having just gotten home at 6:00 am after a 12-hour shift. Do you have any idea how much it pains a  preacher who loves God’s  word to have to miss church? It is a lot. Other people I know have jobs where they work some or all of Sunday, or they have to work late on Saturday night and can’t make it on Sunday morning.

He goes on to mention how having bulletins, with everything for the service laid out can be a hindrance.  We can get so consumed by having a pattern (ex- sing X number of songs, pause for announcements, sing, have prayer, sing, take offering, preach, leave) that rather than letting the Spirit be our guide, we let our habits be our guide.  He even mentions having more than person share the message. That is what you see in the book of Acts. Actually, if you want to get technical, that is the way Jesus worshiped. Luke 4:16-22

He even mentions how we take offerings. Maybe have discreet boxes where it is easier to give without being noticed. Matthew 6:2-4 He mentions taking the Lord’s Supper in a different way. I really think we lose a lot of meaning by using a stale cracker and a tiny cup of juice. He talks about how we could do Sunday School in a different way. Why do we meet in sanctuaries, seated  neatly in our rows of pews? Why does singing always come before the message?

Let me clarify something, lest anyone think I am saying all churches that follow the typical model are of the devil. I do not necessarily think having a model of worship is a bad thing. I think that being so firm in our models is bad. i think that if we take liberty away from worship, we are treading in dangerous waters. For closing, I will share more of Mr. Elliff’s thoughts:

Though we love what the Reformation restored to us, we are more shaped by the Reformation structure and pattern than by the early church’s liberty and flexibility. The forms of the Reformation served well in that culture. They were new and fresh and within biblical boundaries. But must we be Reformation-like today? Yes, when it comes to the doctrines of God, man, salvation, etc., because the Reformation returned us to the Bible. But likely not when it comes to external forms. We must use our freedoms and rejoice in that liberty.

Do your Kids KNOW They are loved?

I mean really loved. Today my kids were drawing with sidewalk chalk. I was inside folding clothes. Samuel came in and said, “Hey, Mom, look out the window. I drew The Mona Lisa’s husband!!!” I look out and see this

Interesting looking chap, eh? I said, “Wow, that is very creative Samuel.”

He went gave me a big hug and trotted back out telling Benjamin, “I knew she would love it!” He then decided to draw the Mona Lisa

and their baby

Each time he came in he was a little more proud of his artistic creativity. He was giggling over the Mrs. having a large head and small body. Then he was laughing over the baby having such a small head and large body. It made me think of something I saw on TV a few years ago that stuck with me.  Barry Manilow was being interviewed by someone (Larry King, I think). The interviewer asked Barry why he thought so many Jewish people from Brooklyn have made it so successfully in the entertainment industry.  Mr. Manilow’s answer stuck with me.  He said when you grew up there you knew you were loved. You weren’t afraid to take chances because you knew you’d always have people at home that loved you whom you could go back to if things weren’t going so well. He said his family always believed in him and encouraged him. I want my kids to feel the same way. I want them to always know that even if it seems like the whole world is against them, they are loved. I want to raise them in a way that they are not ashamed of who they are. Mostly I want to raise them in a way that pleases God. My prayer for them is 2 Peter 3:18~But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.


My First Adventure in the World of Super-Couponing

I am always after a good deal. You might call me thrifty or frugal. You might just call me cheap. Whatever you choose to call it, I hate to pay full price if I can help it. There are certain things in life I don’t buy unless I have a coupon or there is a special going on.  Sometimes I will clip coupons out of the newspaper or look online to find coupons for something I am going to buy. I have heard of people who go to drugstores and walk away with hundreds of dollars worth of items for just pennies. That blows my mind. I go into a drugstore and get my prescriptions or whatever and gawk over some of the prices of other items. Until yesterday……..

 

I have learned from reading on the internet the thing to do is to break your purchase down from one big purchase into smaller ones. That makes for less out of pocket spending.  Here was my plan. I was going to Walgreen’s. They have a system called Register Rewards. You buy certain items, a coupon for a certain amount that can be applied toward your next purchase prints out. My first purchase was planned:

Method Hand Soap price:$2.99 /$2.00 Register Rewards

Flossers $2.00/$2.00 Register Rewards

4 Reach Crystal Clean Toothbrushes 3@.99, 1@$1.59, 2 coupons for $1.00 off =$2.56/$4.00 Register Rewards

Total=$8.15/$8.00 Register Rewards

Next purchase:

Palmolove Dish Detergent 5@ $1.00 each/ $1.00 Register Reward

Osteo Bi-Flex $9.99, coupon $6.00 off/$1.00 Register Reward

6 chocolate bars@.49 each, .75 off

Using the $8.00 Register Rewards from above total =$3.43

Grand Total= $11.58 out of pocket for what would have $22.17 in one purchase.

When I got there I first realized I have no idea where anything is in Walgreen’s.  Shopping is much more pleasant when you know where what you are looking for can be found. So I start slowly making my way down the aisles. Chocolate was right by the shopping baskets, easy find. Hand soap, aisle one-once again, easy find. A few aisles over I find dental care. No Crystal Clean toothbrushes. I asked a sales associate. She said she can give me a rain check for the sale price, but not the Register Rewards. Bummer. So I am trying to figure out how to reconfigure my purchases to get the most bang for my buck. I finally settle on replacing the toothbrushes with a Schick Quattro razor that is on sale for $8.99. It has $3.00 in Register Rewards AND I happen to have a coupon for $3.00 off in my purse. So I get to the register. I ring up my first purchase. $12.10. More than I had wanted to spend, but I am getting my son’s first razor. My Register Rewards start printing. $2.00, $2.00, nothing. Huh?! I asked the cashier. She looked at the sale paper. She called her manager. The manager said we can return the item or opt for a rebate via snail mail. HMPH! I chose snail mail. Next purchase. One of the bottles of dish detergent came open and leaked. I was paying for the detergent and Osteo Bi-Flex.  With the coupon and Register Rewards it totaled $6.19. I go to hand her my debit card, and it is not there. I look through my coupons, nothing. I look in my purse, nothing. Mark was there and whipped his card out to the rescue. So them I hand over the chocolate and the coupon, and the last two Register Rewards. My total was .43 on that. Handed her a $1.00 and got change from it. I finally found my card. Dummy me had put it in the wrong holder in my wallet. So for a total of $18.72 we got what would have been $54.24 without sales and coupons. (although $15.72 for all that WOULD have been more impressive) Not quite as impressive as the folks who get a year’s supply of something for under a buck, but not too shabby.

 

All In a Day’s Work :)

If you homeschool, what would people see if they came to your house in the middle of the day? Would they see you knee-deep in scientific experiments? Maybe they would see deep theological discussions. Perhaps they might be met with incredible works of art in  process. Here’s what they would have seen today at my house:

Little brother playing with paper dolls….

 

Middle brother drawing…..

 

One cat wanting out…..

 

Another wanting in…..

 

 

One brother actually reading…..

 

 

And the principal taking a nap!!

 

 

What Can We Do???? Little Things to Make a Difference.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. Psalm 68:5-6

The Bible is very clear in giving us orders to protect certain groups- the poor, the widows, and orphans. In honor of National Adoption Awareness I am going to give some practical ideas for ways you-yes YOU- can help orphans across our world.

Obviously, the biggest impact you can have on the life of a child is to adopt. Adoption is a beautiful picture of what God does for us when He welcomes us into His family. It gives hope and love to someone who did not have an abundance of either previously.

Sometimes, even if our heart is in adoption, it is not the right time. This is where I am right now. I would be willing to open my home to more children, but it just can’t happen here and now. So what are some things I can do? Is there anything? Yes! There are many things I can do to help out children. First and foremost I can pray. I can teach my children to pray for all the children of the world who need parents. James 5:16b: The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. I truly believe that verse. When we pray, it is not just empty, meaningless words.

Find an orphan ministry near you and get connected. Perhaps there is a group home in your area where you can volunteer. Maybe you can’t find anything in your area. Maybe you have a reason that keeps you from having the time to volunteer as much as you would like. Maybe you can find another way to help. Reach Orphans With Hope is an ministry that could use your help. They have several options for you to help out. You could help right now by sending a Ukrainian orphan to camp. Or, you could send a child a Christmas present. Or, you could choose to help with medical assistance, humanitarian projects, or the orphan graduate project. Here in America, we tend to think of being a graduate as being a good thing. However, when speaking of orphan graduates, it means a child who did not get adopted and is too old (usually around 16) to stay in the orphanage any longer. Many of these kids end up going to technical schools. These technical schools are not ideal conditions. I read once about one that had four shower stalls in the whole place. There were 400 people living there at the time. Most of the kids end up in a life of crime. About 10% commit suicide by their 18th birthday. 70% of the girls will end up in prostitution. 60% of the males will end up in prison. Most will be on drugs. It is hard to type these stats. I don’t see empty numbers. I see faces of the kids I have spent time over a few summers. It breaks my heart to think of them in this type of life. They are not “bad kids”. They are hopeless kids who don’t know where else to turn.

Another way to help if you are not able to adopt, is to help out people who are adopting. Adoption is a long, hard, expensive process. There are sooo many ways to help that more smoothly. If the couple adopting already has children, offer to help out with their kids. There is a lot of paperwork involved that must be filled out. Helping take care of their children while they are working on that is not hard, but it makes life less stressful for them. You could also offer to host/organize some type of fundraiser. I have seen and heard about bake sales, yard sales, and 5K runs. The possibilities are endless. Maybe the couple is doing something themselves to raise the money. Contribute to that. If you don’t know of anyone adopting that could use your help, consider visiting the Fleur de Lee’s website. They are creating glass tile pendants and selling them to fund their adoption. They have a wide variety to choose form AND they take special orders. Their son is in Africa. They have created pendants that are maps of Africa with a heart inside. I did a special request order of a Ukrainian map with a heart. It only took two weeks to get it and I LOVE it!!

Now, on to some things you can do for a child once they have been adopted. Organize a shower for them! Everyone thinks of throwing showers for people who have babies, even adopted babies. A lady I used to go to church with told me when they adopted their son they had nothing. He is their only child, so they did not have child sized clothing, child appropriate books and movies, no toys, nothing for him. Keep in mind, even if a couple has other children it does not mean they have no needs. A person coming to live in your house is a big deal.  That person is going to have needs.

Equally important is the offer of meals. If you aren’t a good cook, perhaps a gift certificate to a restaurant would be appreciated. Here is a quote from a mother who adopted three boys from Russia when asked about ways to help newly adopted families:

Meals!  We had 3 meals brought to us and that was it.  I could have used much more.  Usually when people have a baby, our church will provide meals for at least a week.  I know that we came home just before Christmas and that had some to do with it.  But frankly, I don’t think that people realize the impact it has on a family to bring in 3 older children at once.  I have felt like we gave birth to triplets!  But our triplets couldn’t be put into a crib and everything was safe and sound.  Ours could get out of bed, get into anything that they could find, and disable or destroy things in a matter of seconds.  It was so exhausting for ever so long.  So meals would have been a great help.

Also, offer some free babysitting services. It may be a while before a couple is ready to go out without their child. Maybe they need a good bit of time for bonding. But eventually, they may want/need a little adult time. Free child care that they can trust is one less thing to worry about.

 


Don’t Forget To Change Your Clocks!!!

It’s time to faaaaalllll back!!!

I Think God Smited Me For Lying

Can I just start off by saying that I am not a good liar? Not that I try to lie much. It’s not one of those things that I strive to be better at, but occasionally it would be nice to pull something off. Like recently, it was Mark’s birthday. So, for the past month, the youth group and I have been planning a surprise party.  Which would probably not be a big deal, for normal people. We talked about it on the weeks where Mark was working during church service and I had to teach. So, in talking to Mark afterwords, when he would ask if anybody had anything interesting to say at church I would….uh….stammer…and… uh…..just say “not really”.  I couldn’t just come up with something. I had this fear of letting it slip that we were planning a party for him, complete with nerdy fun games.

Pin the Beard on the Theologian

Then one day, the unthinkable happened. I got a call from M., boy in the youth group.  Mark was HOME! He was the one who answered the phone. So M asked for me. He was asking some stuff about the party. I went on the back porch to talk. I don’t really like the backyard. So, talking to a teenage boy-weird, being on the back porch-even weirder!  Mark asked what he wanted. Uh….Well…..he….wanted….to know…….uh….(looking around and seeing noodles boil for macaroni and cheese) WHATKINDOFCHEESETOPUTINMACANDCHEESE! 😀 {Mark is now looking me strange} “Ooooookay.

This same boy called another day, and once again, Mark was home. (you’d think with Mark working 12 hour shifts he would be gone when the kid called, but nooooo) “What did he want?’ “He…uh…forgot what kind of cheese I said so…. he had to call back.”  I am pretty sure by this point my poor husband is beginning to think his wife is some kind of weirdo. He just replied, “Does it make you feel good that everyone wants your recipes?”

Day of party. I am antsy. I had already printed the game off from Church History ABC. I got the boys to color it while Mark was asleep. (He worked the night before his birthday) We were coloring away and thought we heard Mark getting up. ACK! WE had to grab everything and make a quick run to another room. Part of the plan is for J (another boy in youth group) to call Mark and ask if Mark will come over to his house and help him with  studying Jonah. (He and Mark are actually studying that book) What if J forgets to call? How am I going to get Mark out of the house so we can decorate? A few random times throughout the day I broke out into a cold sweat. Oh, not to mention our county is under a tornado watch until 5:00 pm. Ok, that’s not great but our party was supposed to begin at 5:00 so maybe the bad stuff would be over by then. M called. Asked if party was still on since the weather was so bad. Yep, used the same cheese lie. About 2 minutes later J called. I told Mark it was girl trouble. He was a little weirded out. He kept asking, “That’s all he said?” Me: “uhm-hm”.

So, I turned on the weather. More storms were coming. We were under a WARNING, not WATCH, with another line of storms coming. So I ended up spilling the beans. Telling him the whole story. And calling the youth to tell them the party was off. Oh, how sad!!! Instead of traditional presents, everyone was asked to pick a verse from Romans (Mark’s favorite book of the Bible) and memorize it. Mark had requested Honey Chicken and Fried Rice for his birthday meal. So I had gotten 5 pounds  of chicken. FIVE pounds of chicken that I had pounded to a nice little thinness and then cut into bite-sized pieces. Pounded and cut with my poor arms that were already  sore from cleaning up limbs that had fallen across the yard during a storm Monday night/ Tuesday morning. Oh well, all’s well that ends well. At the time people were supposed to be getting here, there were deer in the road. Someone could have gotten hurt, messed up their cars, or both. Normally when I cook Chinese food, there are very few leftovers for the next day’s lunch.  There is currently a gracious plenty of leftovers right now. We had fun playing our party game by ourselves.

Do you like how the boys colored John Calvin to more like Mark than Calvin?

Samuel, who was born on Calvin’s 494th birthday, wearing a Calvin beard.

We actually enjoyed the game quite a bit. We were going to play a second time, but it ended abruptly with someone who shall remain nameless passing gas on the birthday boy. Nothing like THAT to spoil a good time. Shortly after that the weather got worse and the power went off. So instead of a loud party with a bunch of teenagers, we had a quiet, candlelight night at home with our boys.

Moral of the story:

The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.

I was doing what I thought Mark would enjoy, but God knew that what he wanted was to have a nice quiet evening at home. So, He sent a storm to change my plans. My scheming, lying and planning was undone. God does not bless deceit.  From now on, I will be honest with my husband. It is much less stressful that way 🙂

Our Hymn of the Week

 

Wow, what a song. The first time I heard this was at Crawford Baptist Church in Mobile. This is not in any way a knock to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, but Crawford Baptist is actually as good as this performance. This is one of the most amazing songs I have ever heard. Hope you enjoy!

Advice For Those Who Have To Deal With Pesky Computerized Customer Service Calls

I really hate calling somewhere and hearing “Press ___ for ______……“. The only thing worse is getting a voice recognition computer. Sometimes those things are good. More often than not, however, they are more trouble than they are worth. They are especially bad if you have a southern accent. Southern accents seem to not be well-recognized. ;-} One time I was getting so frustrated I was actually yelling into the phone. Mark had a funny idea. He said when prompted to say something I should say, “A big acorn level fluh,” loud and clear into the phone. If you are wondering he came up with THAT one, it comes form the movie Chicken Little. Chicken Little has been hit on the head by something he thinks is a piece of the sky. No one is believing him. People, er, animals are all around him, asking him questions. They see an acorn fall and decide that what hit him was just an acorn. He is so distraught that all he can do is mumble “A big acorn level fluh….” at them.

So  recently I had to call the AT&T cell phone store. I called the local store, not a nationwide 800 number. Guess what I got? A stinking computer!! One that wanted to know if I was calling about home phone, cell phone, internet service, or cable. Do you know what I did? I said, “A big acorn level fluh,” right into their computer.  Know what else? It worked!! The computer said, “I am sorry. I am having trouble understanding you. Let me connect you to a customer service representative.” I have to admit, it did make me smile. I got what needed to be done much more quickly than if I had kept answering the mind-numbing questions they were asking of me. So now, I am sharing my husband’s good advice with the rest of the world. Try it! See if it works for you! It just might brighten your day as much as it did mine.

The Challenge

Our family has been trying too eat healthier for a while now. We try to watch our fats, cholesterol, and sugar intake. When you start reading the labels on your food, it can be challenging to avoid the stuff we don’t want to put into our bodies. High fructose corn syrup is in everything!! It is even in stuff that is not sweet. So I have been doing a whole lot more cooking from scratch than from convenience foods. Which is fine and dandy at home. However, when we go out to  restaurant, we have no idea what we might get. I mean, how many fresh ingredients are in there, lurking underneath the MSG, franken-foods, and preservatives???? On labor day, as we were sitting under roadkill hunting trophys in a small barbecue place, we made a decision. No more restaurants. It will take planning. When we are out and about for a day, we have got to plan ahead to leave (and get back home) at times where we can cook (or just sandwich it) at home. We have a few weak spots. Chinese food. Mexican food. Italian food. (okay, the Italian food is really just my weakness, but the other guys are weak in other spots) Fortunately for us, there are so many good recipes available in cookbooks and on the internet. I love my American Heart Association Cookbook. (Don’t laugh! The food really is good!) There is a recipe for Beef Tips that I usually cook on my birthday. Mark and Benjamin don’t really like it, so I don’t cook it often. But it is sooo good!!! I have various cookbooks that churches, bands, and elementary schools have sold as fundraisers. Good country cooking can be found there. And now about the internet. I have several places I love to go to get recipes. The English Kitchen- This is a lady who moved from Canada to England. Her recipes are amazing!!! I have cooked breakfasts, desserts, meat and side items from her recipes and we have not tried one yet that we do not like. The Crepes of Wrath– So far I have only tried one recipe from here. The Honey Chicken. It is so good, I have no desire to go to a Chinese restaurant again. Yes, it really is. There are several more things on here that look good, I just haven’t tried them yet.  AllRecipes.com– there is a plethora of recipes for every level of cooking expertise. I love having comments from other people who have made it on the recipes. They tell if they made it as-is or did anything to jazz it up a notch. They have a pizza crust recipe that makes enough for us to make 5-6 pizzas. Can we say GREAT for busy weekends???? I found a lasagna recipe that is so good I never have the desire to try another one. MMMM!!!! White Lily– okay, I haven’t actually made anything from here-yet.  A few nights ago I was looking on the website to see if they had coupons. Didn’t find any coupons, but DID find a jackpot of mouth-watering recipes. Many that I do intend to try soon!

Hopefully I will be updating my recipe section soon. I really do cook, I just don’t come up with new and exciting things on a regular basis.

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