Welcome to Living from My Abundance

welcomedeck

We all have an abundance of something, and sometimes we see our own abundance better through the eyes of someone else. We were put on this earth to share, to love, to give and to grow. Let’s live from our abundance together. And leave the legacy we are called to leave. Keep reading for tips, ramblings, recipes and more.

Advertisements

The Problem with Pride

Our pastor is in the middle of a sermon series that addresses the “mayhem” in our lives.  Some of this mayhem just happens–death, disease, accidents, having to watch other people experience heartache, and so on.  Much of the mayhem, though, is something we choose–often while acting like it is our only option.

Yesterday’s sermon specifically focused on what happens when our lives get out of balance due to our own pride.  This message really hit home for me, and I wanted to share an acrostic that was used–PRIDE–which illustrates how we often make the busyness in our life all about us.

People Pleasers–We are busy, busy, busy to win the approval of others.  We can’t say “no” because of what so-and-so will think.  We do the right things for the wrong reasons.  We will look over our shoulders while serving in order to see who is watching.  We love those pats on our backs, and we are highly motivated by the praise of the people around us.

Run after Respect–We are continually trying to prove something to someone else.  Our ambition is fueled by hopes of personal glory and approval from others.  This was something that I struggled with in my younger years–until I finally decided to own that God, my Heavenly Father, loved me no matter what.  I didn’t have to earn His love; I had it forever just because.  I recall a friend, a self-proclaimed People Pleaser, sharing that she remembered the precise moment when she realized that God could not possibly love her any more than He did at that moment.  She has been trying to walk in that freedom ever since.

Indispensable Syndrome–We all want to feel needed, and we sometimes allow this desire to morph into something that sucks the life out of us, out of the people around us, and oftentimes out of the well-being of the organizations/systems/ministries which we so adamantly say we want to support.  In essence, we overestimate our own importance.  There always comes a time when we need to make changes in order to become more effective.  And, frequently, there is often a time to just move on.  This is incredibly difficult for many of us to realize, and many of us fight it tooth and nail because we have become possessive of something that is not really ours.  I saw this principle in action firsthand last year when I watched my mom and stepdad downsize from a 3,000 square foot home and 20 acres to a 1,600 square foot home on a city lot.  It was difficult decision for them to make, but they had the courage to make it when the time came, saving their children and grandchildren the heartache of having to make it for them some day.  Their old house/property/stuff was not indispensable to who my mom and stepdad are to their families.  If they had continued to hold on to the way it had always been, there would have eventually been a cost that could not have been paid by them.  Life goes on…still full of good things…still with purpose.  Different?  Yes.  Lesser?  Not necessarily.  Sometimes, changes brings greater things.

Desires go Haywire–We fall into the trap that more stuff equals a better life.  We trust in our belongings/status/accomplishments to make us happy instead of trusting in Jesus to make us whole.  I have only owned one brand-new car in my life, and I remember driving it home from the dealership thinking, “I bet I have the newest car on this road right now”.  For some strange reason, I took great satisfaction in that thought at the time.  Ironically, I now drive, by far, two of the oldest, most-used vehicles in America.  I confess to being slightly embarrassed when a friend opens her door to get in and a part actually falls off, but I love not finding my identity in what I drive.  And, I love that my hard-working husband is willing to drive crummy vehicles to allow me to stay home with our children.  It has been one of the ways he has honored me and proven his commitment to our family.

Enjoy Pity–I live with a Marriage and Family Therapist (talk about needing pity!!), so I mostly broke the habit of throwing pity parties a long time ago.  I get zero pity from my husband.  Ever.  (But, sometimes I miss them enough to just go to my room, close the door and throw one for myself.)  Social media, though, gives us the opportunity to witness all kinds of folks seeking pity.  There are an awful lot of memes out there that start with something like, “I bet I won’t get even one person to like this status…”  Pity party.  Most of us love company when we are in misery.  Why is that?  Why don’t we just shut up when we’re miserable?  Instead, we spew our yuck onto anyone who will listen.  And we wonder why we feel alone.  If some of us worked half as hard at encouraging the people around us as we do at sucking people into our negative, draining, self-absorbed, habitual pity parties, we could certainly make the world a safer, more beautiful place.

Obviously, there are some of these that I struggle with more than others.  The fact, though, is that I’ve given into them all at one point or another.  Pride is a sneaky, vindictive quality.  It seeks to remain subtle while going for the throat.  It snatches peace from our hearts, steals joy from our relationships and muddles the truth of our purpose in life–all while whispering to us that we are not the problem.

“If you think you are not conceited, you are very conceited indeed.”  –C.S. Lewis

Thank you, Paul Gearhardt, for sharing what was on your heart (and for hopefully being okay with me passing it along with my own two cents thrown in from time to time).

 

Daisy’s Doin’s, Day 37

Last night was the first night in over 5 weeks that the puppies didn’t need to eat through the night and Daisy didn’t need a bathroom break.  I felt like the mother of a newborn when I woke up at 6:00 this morning and realized that I’d had an entire night’s sleep.  Daisy seemed pretty excited, too!

The pups are still working on adjusting to puppy chow in goat’s milk two times a day.  About half of them have the process down pat; the other half would rather romp around and make a mess during these meals.  Since they don’t actually NEED the puppy chow at this point, we have plenty of time for patience.  They’re still nursing every few hours, though these meals are much shorter than they used to be.  The pups are so efficient in their suckling now that they drain Momma dry in 5 or 6 minutes and move on to playing with her and one another.  Interestingly, Daisy has a new strategy for feeding them.  We call it On-the-Go Mealtime.  This works really well because the puppies’ toenails are so sharp that they just shred her underside if given the opportunity.

On-the-go Meals

On-the-Go Meals

We are still cleaning Daisy’s tummy and teats regularly to reduce the risk of infection.  She is also still getting protein-enriched meals at least four times a day.  These will start to taper off as the puppies eat more and more kibble.

We bring the puppies out of their box two or three times a day to play.  This morning, we brought them out to the laminate flooring in our living room for the first time.  Their reactions were hilarious!  It was like watching someone ice skate for the first time.  Jasmine was, by far, the bravest of the troupe.  She had the slick surface figured out in no time.  The rest of them had to be encouraged and enticed repeatedly.

IMG_7596

Jasmine investigates the safety of the slick surface.

Since it’s so cold here right now, potty-training is a bit of problem for these little ones.  We like to send them to their new homes with this valuable life skill already well underway, but I’m not sure how realistic this is for now.  The good news is that they are using the puppy pads to do their business most of the time.  Smart cookies!

All six puppies have been officially adopted by good homes now.  Two will move to North Carolina, one to Texas and three will stay here in Indiana.  We are very pleased with the loving folks who have claimed them, and we know our puppies will be well-loved.

Woody & Pixie 1-16-18

Woody and Pixie enjoy their first playtime on the laminate flooring.

 

Daisy’s Doin’s, Day 35

The one-month anniversary of Daisy’s sweet babies has come and gone.  We’ve had them for more than half of the time they will be in our care.  They are changing so quickly now–every day brings something new for them.  These puppies are truly our biggest entertainment here on the farm.

Yesterday’s breakfast was their first experience with puppy chow.  We softened the kibble with warm goat’s milk and held it under their noses for examination.  Woody, the only boy as well as the biggest pup, dove right in, lapping up the milk without hesitation.  Most of his sisters soon followed suit, though Belle thought her time would be better spent tugging on my sleeve as I tried to hold the bowl steady.  (Good thing she’s cute!)  The moist kibble occasionally stuck to furry cheeks, foreheads and even paws, and the puppies danced and stumbled around, trying to get the tasty morsels in their mouths.  There was even some teamwork going on as Jasmine removed a soggy piece from Tinkerbell’s back and pink tongues tidied up milky muzzles.  Their suppertime disappeared more rapidly and with a bit better accuracy.

IMG_7554

Four out of the six pups have been spoken for.  Wendy’s new family has changed her name to Pixie; her home will be in North Carolina.  After the winter that we’ve had, she’ll probably thrive on being a warm-weather pooch.

Ice and Snow

I know it’s not a popular stance to take, but I think winter and snow and cold are wonderful!  Part of the reason for my position is that with all of the planting, growing, weeding, watering and putting up we do during warmer months, winter is a season of rest for me.  The other part of the reason for my position is that I find winter refreshing.  I like the change in scenery and the change of pace.

Indiana is under a winter storm warning for most of today.  We’ve already gotten a covering of ice, and more is falling.  Several inches of snow are forecasted once the ice moves out.  Temperatures have already fallen 30 degrees since this time yesterday, and I think the prediction is for them to drop another 15-20 degrees.  It’s gonna get cold.

For part of the kids’ schooling today, they’re studying Winter in Indiana 101.  Fill jugs with water.  Open and close vehicle, barn and garage doors every 30 minutes to prevent freezing.  Salt the breezeway.  Take showers.  Run a load of laundry.  Charge phones and laptops.  We even made ahead hamburger patties and scrubbed potatoes for supper so that they can be thrown on the grill if we lose electricity.  Our preparation will probably prevent any power outage for our area.  (Yes, neighbors, you’re welcome.)

I am so thankful for our warm home, a closetful of blankets and running water.  Our freezers, refrigerator and pantry are well-stocked and we have plenty of split logs ready for the woodstove.  We are so blessed to be able to hunker down with good books, a variety of games and pleasant company to wait out whatever comes our way.  We even have puppies for snuggling and entertainment!

For those who are not so fortunate, Lord, please offer them Your protection.  Warm them, feed them and shelter them through the hands and feet of Your people.  Let none of us neglect to do our part.

Boss Mug

IMG_7492

This mug was a Christmas gift from my favorite brother.  I have drunk my coffee from it for the past two mornings, and I’m considering whether or not to use it for my water and kombucha throughout the day.

I love this mug.

My kids, not so much.  One of them tried to use it yesterday, and I revoked the privilege.  There were semi-joking outcries of, “Hey!  You just want to use that mug to lord it over us!”  I just smiled and reminded them that the mug is mine–not to revel in or to rub in their faces.  Just to remind me of my calling.

You see, this mug is a not-so-subtle reminder to me that I have been God-ordained to lead this home throughout the day.  It is my job to provide instruction, perspective, accountability, encouragement and discipline.  I lead by example in what I say and how I act.  I am the boss.

A good boss is a fair, honest and compassionate boss.  She is able to lead with wisdom and integrity, not getting caught up in emotion or giving in to the temptation to manipulate and micro-manage.  A good boss gives praise where praise is due and is willing to go to the mat for her team.  I am the boss.

A good boss gives wings when it’s time to fly.  She sees strengths and is realistic about weaknesses.  A good boss acknowledges her own of both.  She seeks help when necessary and acts in humble confidence when called.  I am the boss.

A good boss will also never refuse to engage in a situation when necessary.  She will not avoid conflict, but will diligently work toward a healthy resolution.  She will not pass the buck, expecting others to do her share of the work.  She will keep on keeping on, fighting the good fight when it is imperative to do so, and she will avoid unnecessary skirmishes that do nothing but lower morale.

I may just hang this mug on a golden chain around my neck.

Incidentally, my brother would never have given me this mug during our childhood years.  He frequently (and somewhat accurately) assessed his oldest sister as “boss-y” but never, in my recollection, acknowledged her as “boss”.  Sibling relationships are interesting that way.  Besides, we all know there’s a sharp contrast in someone who is good at being “bossy” and someone who is good at being “the boss”.  The character trait that was once considered a shortcoming–bossy-ness–can certainly be considered an asset by doing what it takes to be a good boss.  My life’s circumstances have altered.  God did not call me to boss my younger siblings (darnit!); however, He did call me to be a good boss to my children.

So, I guess I’ll keep plugging away within my divine calling.  I’ll try my durnedest to refrain from bossing my siblings, my friends and (especially) my husband.  I’ll focus on leading well and within my priorities.  I am equipped with the Spirit of God, and He is the most excellent Boss.

Family Soup

One of the things I love about parenting three teenagers is watching their individual strengths develop.  The down side of this is that there often comes a false sense of pride in personal preferences during this season.  I am reminded again during this phase of life that it’s important for me to stress the importance of family and teamwork.

One of our recent activities was to make a Family Soup.  I confess that this was an executive decision on my part, and not necessarily met with any great level of excitement on the parts of my three children.  My goal was to tangibly remind the kids that we each have something to offer, and that we can all benefit when we work together as a team.  It’s kind of like the Body of Christ.  Think of the drawbacks of going though life without an ear or a thumb or a kneecap.  We all lend something specific to Christ’s Church, and we are each called to share what we’ve been given to do our part.  Family is the same way.  For our household to run smoothly, effectively and peacefully, we each have a role to fill.  This is something our household has struggled with as of late, and something I hoped our Family Soup activity would illustrate.

The kids were given instructions to add whatever they wanted to our soup with the full knowledge that all of us would be enjoying it (or not) for supper that night.  I encouraged them each to participate with their best effort.  I did not hound, nag or plead.  I just explained my hope, made my contributions and let them have at it.

Without going into too many incriminating details, let’s just say that not everyone gave their best.  The soup was fine–edible, certainly.  It was good enough to get by, but there wasn’t much to it.  Frankly, it lacked substance.  Since not everyone participated, the ingredients were minimal.  Those who did participate felt the pressure of making up for those who did not.  Those who did not participate felt strangely justified that the others could do it on their own, affording them the luxury of not sharing in the responsibility.

Honestly, I had hoped for a different outcome.

As I look around at our society, and even in the Church, I wonder why so many folks feel entitled to being carried along by the investment of other people’s resources.  Why are so many of us comfortable with being the beneficiaries of other people’s time, talents and money while we hoard our own precious gifts for personal use?  We are a selfish, ungrateful lot.

I’ve had some time to mull over the results of last week’s Family Soup activity.  I’ve given praise to some and I’ve shared my disappointment with others.  Another opportunity is on the menu for this weekend.  I’ve noticed the eye rolls and the scowls from some and the slumped shoulder from others.  Am I doing the right thing?  I don’t know.  Maybe I’m beating a dead horse; maybe I’m offering the chance for redemption.  Either way, we’re going to give it another go.  For this round, I’m adding a healthy dose of prayer for humility and grace.