Thursday, January 28, 2010

Healing from Sin

James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

I have been convicted many, many times over of something "good" that I was to do, and yet I have been ignoring it, running away from it, pretending that I was exempt from this, etc. I was in a rebellious denial that there was "good" to be done, and I avoided it ... and according to this verse, I was sinning.

Over the years, I have prayed about it, cried about it, attempted to do the good that I was supposed to do, but I think in the back of my head, I still thought that God would understand all my excuses and that He would forgive my blatant sin, without any change on my part.

In the last few weeks, God has been working on me, though. He's been tenderly asking me to listen to Him and to "do good" and free myself from this burden that I've heaped upon my heart. When I heard His voice this time, I wanted to run away again. I didn't want to face this because it brought back too many painful memories and too many situations of unforgiveness on my part. I wanted life to be perfect and rosy, and if I listened to God this time, then He would try to make me change and am just too depleted emotionally to deal with this right now, so I thought.

Thank God, He has greater plans for me! A few weeks ago I was at a breaking point with this. I was so tired of carrying this burden, but didn't know what to do next. All my past attempts at doing "good" had failed, and only more hurt and rebelliousness and unforgiveness grew, and grew out of control. I had begged God many times in the past for help, but it was always with the condition that * I * still be allowed to be in control and call the shots. This time was different. This time when I begged God for direction, He gave it to me! Within moments of asking God to send someone my way that I could 'confess my faults to, one to another, and pray for one another so that I could be healed', an e-mail popped up from a friend who asked me how to pray specifically for me. I knew this was my answer!

I immediately met with my friend and for the first time ever, confessed this sin of not doing good out loud. Sure, I had confessed it to God many, many times, but when I heard the words of my pride and rebellion pouring out of my lips, I was stunned! I could immediately feel the healing begin, because I had taken the first step toward restoration with God. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It didn't end there, though. Satan immediately bombards God's children when he knows that he no longer has control, and trust me! He started working extra hard to mess with my mind and my heart in order to stop me from doing "good". This past Sunday in church, the message was about facing our fears. Dan so lovingly encouraged us to face our fears and be courageous in doing what was right, despite our fears of failure or success, and the responsibilities that would go along with that. I realized that my lack of doing good...was because I was terribly afraid of further damaging relationships of those close to me. I thought that by doing nothing, I was protecting those relationships, when in reality, it was building more walls. God was challenging me like never before to face those fears, do "good" and stop sinning!!

More confession was needed because more soul searching and repentance was occuring deep inside. I faced my fears, thanks to Dan's gentle encouragement and exhortation in Sunday's sermon, and I met again with my friend where more deep-rooted confessions poured out and prayers were prayed. The effectual, fervant prayers of a righteous man/woman availeth MUCH, because I walked away from that time together feeling as free as I felt when I had first given my life to the Lord twenty-seven years ago!! What an amazing feeling! I am not 100% where God wants me to be yet, but I do know that He has forgiven me and that with His help, I can finally do "good" without all my conditions and restrictions and pride and rebellion attached.

I know this post was long and pretty vague, but really, this post today is for me and not my readers. I need to put this down in writing so that in the future when I doubt that God has forgiven me and think that I cannot do "good" anymore, I will have this testimony to remind me. Freedom from sin, whether gross and blatant or small and seemingly insignificant, is a blessing that cannot be equalled. I want to encourage you, if you are facing a sin in your life of any magnitude, get rid of it. Confess it , pray with someone about it and be healed!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blessings in the Inconvenient

Last year about this time, Fred and I decided that, financially, it was in the best interest of our family to go down to one vehicle. I know that many of you have done this yourselves, and it is quite workable, but the adjustment can be beyond frustrating and so very inconvenient! When you are used to having a vehicle at your disposal, it can feel terribly inconvenient to not have your own means of transportation.

While this can feel crippling when you are used to having your own freedom, over the past year I have seen many blessings in this inconvenience. This past week I've been frustrated again, as I had errands to run while Fred had appointments to keep, so I thought if I "count my many blessings" here today, I will once again appreciate what we have been blessed with.

* Auto insurance payments for only one vehicle
* Auto maintenance and repairs for only one vehicle
* Gasoline for only one vehicle (and usually I don't have to be the one to fill it up since I'm not driving!)
* With Fred being laid off, most of the time his schedule was flexible enough that we could work something out between our two vehicle needs
* We've combined our errands and therefore have spent more time together as a couple (with at least one child in the back seat jabbering away to us the whole time) and as a family
* Other frivolous spending has been cut back. When you have access to a car, what do you do with it? You feel you must shop. My closest friends and family know that I am NOT a shopper by any stretch of imagination (I hate it!!), but still, when you are in a store, chances are you will see things that you really don't need and you will buy them! When you don't have a car, it's more of a hassle to explain to your husband exactly which type of cheese you need for your recipe than to just improvise and/or do without.
* Since I can't go anywhere, I have had more people over for visits here. That's been great because I don't have to pack up kids or convince them that it's time to leave when we're out. Besides, I enjoy having my friends over!
* I can get more done during my day here at home because I'm not out running around town
* I've been able to help people out by babysitting for them because, chances are, I have no plans to be anywhere!
* I get in some exercize because I have to walk to the store at the corner or we walk to the park instead of driving some other place for fun.

There are many blessings in the inconvenient situations in our lives and I'm trying to recognize and even verbalize the blessings more so that I can maintain a heart that has learned to be content in whatever state I'm in. I'm not always sucessful at this (Ask Fred. He's heard my gripes and complains about feeling trapped and stuck and all that.), but that's why I want to verbalize it here to all of you so that I can make the blessings my focus instead of the inconveniences.

That all being said, now you know that I have no car to run around so you can come visit me whenever you want! Chances are, I'll be here. We can have a coffee or tea together and some type of snack which may be improvised since I may not have all the ingredients on hand for a fancy treat. Not to worry, a can of baked beans or some dry saltine crackers can be just as fun to eat when you eat it with friends over coffee and conversation! Truth be told, my most fun visits with friends lately have been with the kids playing downstairs and we moms are upstairs playing on our borrowed Wii!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jobs I Could Never Hold

So tonight when I was sitting there waiting my turn for a haircut, I was watching the girl cut the hair of one head after another and I just got really grossed out. I could never, NEVER work in a hair salon. I know that sounds silly, but if you think about it, all you're doing is snipping dead cells from someone else's body! Blech! I just don't think I could ever enjoy that job.

On a similar note, I could never be a dental hygienist. First of all, it'd probably take me too long to remember how to spell it when I'm filling out forms that ask for "Occupation." But mostly, seriously, WHO wants to stick their hands in someone else's mouth and clean their guk from their teeth?! I remember when I was younger than 12 (because I was still going to school at Hazel Harvey), I went to the dentist after school and the hygienist asked me if I had had a BLT sandwich for lunch. I was so impressed with that woman! I couldn't believe she could know what I had for lunch that day! It impressed me so much that I finally had to ask her how she knew and she told me that she found pieces of it in my teeth. DIS-GUST-ING!!!! Eww. And I know that my hygienist wears a mask on her face, but what if you were picking at someone's teeth and a chunk of who-knows-what flew up and hit you in the face?! Even with a mask on you'd feel the impact of that thing. Ugh. I couldn't be a hygienist.

I also don't think I could be the one to empty and/or clean port-a-potties. Nope. I just don't think so. I can change some pretty pukey diapers, but that's from my own kids! I don't know that I could stick my head in a toilet that who knows how many other people used and clean it out. I'm sure they get paid good money for that, but I'll pass...or I'd probably pass out.

As much as I love kids, I don't think I could ever be a bus driver either. All that noise at the end of the day?! What if a kid throws up on your bus? What if someone pees? Has a bloody nose? I'd have to deal with that, and just like the port-a-potty, I could do it if it were my own kid, but a busload of others? Ummmmm, I'd have to be desperate.

Probably one of the worst jobs, though, would have to be some sort of job at Best Buy. I know Fred would be in his glory there, but me? No thank you! I'd be so bored stiff and soooo ignorant about my job that I would hate it. I would be of no service to the customers and I'd have a terrible, terrible attitude. I love working with people, but certainly NOT in a store that sells modern technology!

Can you tell I was bored tonight waiting my turn at the hair place? I had a lot of time to think about jobs I would never be able to handle. I am thankful for my job(s). God put me in the right place!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ice Skating Irks

I have a new irk with this district school board. I don't know if it's just with this school board, or if it's an Ontario thing or maybe even a national issue, but I'm a bit frustrated tonight.

Stephen brought home a permission slip to be signed to let him go ice skating one day this week and one day next week. I guess, from what I've been told, each class gets to have two hours of skating time at a local rink as part of their physical education program. What a great idea, I thought! Then I realized that we had to come up with a pair of ice skates, a helmet and some experience for our son!

If we would have been back home in Doylestown, Ohio, that would have been no big deal since we had a LAKE (Mom, it wasn't just a swamp to us!) behind our house and ice skating was a norm in the winter. But here we are, living in a city with only ice skating rinks to go to that you also have to pay to use. The school kids get to go for free on these two days a year, but they have to have their own skates! As a family, we have not gone ice skating since we don't have skates for everyone, so Stephen has no skates, and no experience. We DO have a bike helmet, so we've got two out of the three requirements covered.

We were given a pair of very old, used skates for Stephen last year, but this year, he has grown and his skates no longer fit him. We had no other option today when he went, so the poor kid crammed his feet into a pair of size 12 skates when he really should have had size 13 ones instead! He has one more day of skating next week, and when I say "day" of skating, I simply mean an hour of skating, and I hate to have him jam his feet into that little pair of skates yet again. I know that other kids are very into hockey and skating around here, but we are not. We don't have the finances nor the time for it, and honestly, not a desire to get into hockey, so what are we supposed to do? While I thought that this was such a great opportunity for the boys to go skating with their class, I'm finding that it might become one of those thorns that I'd rather not have prick my children. I'm not about to go out and buy a pair of skates for my son just so that he can spend one or two hours a year on an ice skating rink. At the same time, I don't like the fact that my kid is going to be made fun of because he doesn't have skates and can't participate.

My opinion on all this may change over the years as my kids get older and more involved, but for now, I'm really irked with this event and wish that next Friday were over already so that Stephen doesn't have to go through this torture again. If any of you can explain the benefits of this program to me in greater detail, that might be helpful to get this bad taste out of my mouth. In the meantime, thanks for letting me vent.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Watkins Open House

In November, we held an open house here for Watkins, The Cookie Kitchen, Pampered Chef and Steeped Tea. I thought I had taken more pictures than this, but it looks like I only have ones of the displays that I set up the night before. I have nothing for the other businesses, which is too bad because it was such a beautiful night! Connie had the dining area all set up with our Cookie Kitchen samples and boxed cookies for sale. Last year she had this fabulous idea of making mini versions of each of our cookies so that people could taste them that night. This year we made minis again and we also had boxes of cookies already made up for cash and carry purposes. That turned out really well, and we want to do that again next year, too! My neighbor, Linda, won the draw for a free 3 dozen variety platter of cookies. You should have seen her excitement! You would have thought she won a million bucks!

This is the Body and Home Care area. I had out samples for customers to try as well as products for them to purchase.

This is one of the displays that I had out for some of the kitchen/cooking products. I'm thankful that a lot of my stock was sold that night. It's always a gamble to purchase what you think your customers will be looking for, because if it doesn't sell, you don't really want to have all that stock on hand.

The atmosphere that night was so pleasant with people lingering and visiting and sampling. It was the perfect night out for ladies, that's for sure! My friend, Marianne, won my draw as the Mystery Hostess for Watkins that night. Her name was drawn and she got to choose products that she wanted as her prize. How exciting is that?! You attend an open house for fun and end up being a winner!

So now that the open house is over and Christmas gift-buying is over, I need to ramp up some business again. The extra income the past few months certainly has come in handy here, but I need to keep going. I need your help, friends! Give me ideas of what I can do next to promote my Watkins business without becoming one of those people that others avoid because they don't want to feel obligated to buy something. What has drawn your attention to direct sales businesses in the past? What do you like? What turns you off? What do you think I could do to get some more customers and/or associates to work with me so that this business can excel? Feel free to comment here, or send me a private e-mail. I believe that God has opened this door for me to be able to stay at home and do most of my work here, but I also can't just sit here and wait for people to knock on my door! I'm open to any ideas that come to your mind and I thank you in advance for them!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cucumbers for Lunch

I've been getting on Stephen's case lately about the food that he's bringing home in his lunchbox. Our schools here don't have one lunch break like we had growing up, but they have two "Nutrition Breaks" during the day; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The students are encouraged (by their teachers) and threatened (by their mothers) to eat the healthy foods during the first break and the fun foods during the second break. Sounds good! And Stephen has done that, up until this week for some reason.

Let me also insert here that Stephen LOVES vegetables! He really does! I have had no problem sending cucmbers, carrots, celery, even raw mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli with him, and they have always been eaten! But this week, for some reason, his cucumbers kept coming back home.

So I kept sending them back.

And they kept coming back home.

His only response was that he didn't feel like eating them.

Tonight I got a bit perturbed with this whole cucumber thing and frustrating thoughts were going through my head as I was packing his lunch for tomorrow. I was ready to throw that same silly container of cucumbers back into his lunchbox for day number four when I thought I'd better at least open them up to see what was so awful about cucumbers all of a sudden! They are his absolute favorite and most requested vegetable!

Boy, oh boy! Did I ever get a stinkin' surprise! That $1.99-English-cucumber-from-Zehrs-that-I-told-Fred-to-splurge-on-because-I-knew-that-Stephen-would-appreciate-it vegetable was COVERED in fuzzy, grey mold!!! Poor guy! No wonder he kept bringing it back home and wouldn't eat it! That stuff was worse than nasty!!! I pitched it away so fast and practically threw up while I was doing it. There is no reason that that cucumber should have been so disgusting since Fred JUST bought it, but after I tossed that stuff, I remembered that when I was cutting it, I did notice a little soft spot on the skin but I just zipped it off with my knife and dropped it into the container anyway.

I need to apologize to Stephen in the morning for getting so upset with him for not eating his vegetables this week. If I would have probed a little more into WHY he wouldn't eat them, or if I would have actually LOOKED at them the first day he brought them home, I wouldn't have put either one of us through so much torture.

Tomorrow he's getting fresh mushrooms. I know that they are good because I sampled some as I was putting them in his lunch. And if they come home again tomorrow, I'll force him to tell me why he wouldn't eat them .... after I look at them myself.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

We're Having a Wii Bit of Fun

A few years ago, Liz told me that my nephew, Taylor, was going to get a Wii and that he was going to go stand in line for it so that he could be sure to get one. When I heard that, I thought, yeah...whatever. It's some new technological entertainment gizmo that I'd never have any contact with, kind of like all the other gaming systems out there. I was happy that he was happy, but I figured that he was just doing the teenager thing by getting all excited about this new system.

Not long after that, Dylan, our nephew from Utah, brough his Wii to Oma's house one summer vacation and taught us all how to use it. With so many relatives in the Weinhardt family, I actually never had a chance to play it, but I did catch a glimpse of all these kids, teenagers and a few young adults huddling around the screen. I guessed it was a 'young cousin' kind of thing to be doing.

A few years later, my friend Julie bought a Wii and told me all about it. Yeah...whatever. I figured she was just trying to pretend she was back in her teenage years by getting in on this Wii craze. THEN - - - she invited me and our friend Connie to come over and play a few games of bowling and tennis with her! There we were, three moms taking turns playing Wii Sports together while we made our children sit on the couch behind us and watch! (Now I realize the torture we put our little ones through, but at the time, it just seemed the most reasonable thing to do. To keep everyone from fighting, you know.)

Julie doesn't know this, but ever since that day I have secretly wished that she would invite me over again so that I could play with her Wii. I had fallen in love with it, but she was the only one close enough that I knew that had one. I waited and waited. I have been there many times since, but she never offered to let me play and there was NO WAY I was going to let her know that I really, really wanted to play it again. I WAS a forty-something-year-old woman, you know! I didn't want her to look down on me for wanting to come to her house just to play her Wii!

Well, last night she invited me over TO PLAY HER Wii!!!! Seriously! She specifically invited me to play on the Wii! She was so sweet about it, too. We played a few of the new games that she had, and then she said the most considerate words ever, "What do you want to play, Martha? We can play whatever you want!" Oh joy!!! I chose tennis, and then bowling. And then more tennis and then more bowling. I could have kept going, but it was getting late and I remembered that I was a wife and mother and that I had to be up early the next morning, so I left. I left, not knowing when I would ever be able to play bowling on Wii Sports again. Sigh.

Moving along to reality ....

Today I spent the morning at a friend's house, helping her out as she and her family have been extremely ill the past three weeks. She has been in and out of the hospital several times since just before Christmas due to a blood clot that was found in her lung. Her daughter and her husband came down with pink eye and the other daughter caught chicken pox and the flu right before Christmas! This poor woman needed someone to come give her a break! So I spent the morning at her house cooking and doing laundry for her (why is it always easier at someone else's house?!), and as I was leaving she said something that was equally as sweet as Julie's comment the night before! She said, "Martha, would you like to borrow my Wii for a month? I'm not allowed to do anything strenuous for six weeks and I'm the only one that uses this, so rather than have it sit here, do you want to borrow it?"

WOOHOO!!!! Trying not to show too much exaggerated excitement, I told her that that would be wonderful and that I would love to borrow her Wii for a month! The two of us had tried to do Wii Active several months ago, but life got busy and we both quit, but NOW I can start it up again! At least for a month, that is.

This afternoon, I brought home this glorious gift and have been able to use it as incentives and rewards and just plain old fun for the entire family! Christopher is getting pretty good at bowling, Stephen and Daddy are playing baseball together. Timothy and I are challenging each other at tennis and bowling and we're all having loads of fun! After the boys went to bed, Fred and I played tennis together (he creamed me) and then bowling (I wooped him, as he said), both games several times. It will be sad to say goodby to this monthly gift of a Wii, but for now, we're just loving it!

And that is why we are having a Wii bit of fun right now!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 - Here We Are!

Ten years ago we were worried about Y2K. Ten years later, and so much has changed, yet so much remains the same. Those thoughts are too deep for me to deal with right now, so instead of making this a thought-provoking, heavy duty post, I'll just keep it lighthearted.

Here are some quotes from the kids already on this first day of the year:

Christopher is sleeping soundly upstairs during a much-needed nap. I tell Stephen to sneak upstairs and get his socks so we can go sledding outside. Stephen creeps ever-so-quietly up the stairs, gets to the top and turns around and SHOUTS, "Mommy! I sneaked up quietly just like you asked!!" So much for that much-needed nap.

As we're sledding outside, I am starting to freeze so I tell the boys that since I don't have any snow pants, I'm going in. I warn them about being careful and to bail out if the sled gets too close to the fence and to watch out for each other, etc. I tell them that they are each other's partners today and that if someone gets hurt, the other must run in immediately to get help from Daddy or me! Stephen says, "I really hope Timothy gets hurt bad because I can run like the wind! I can get help for him really fast. I hope he gets hurt." (Thankfully no one got hurt and no one had to run like the wind.)

Timothy asked for a snack. I gave him some candy-coated sunflower seeds. He said, "I think I would like about three of them, or maybe 2,000." (Because those numbers are so close?!)

We're filling out our new 2010 calendar and I tell Timothy to put a birthday sticker on September 15. "Why?" asks Christopher. "Because that day is your birthday and Timothy's!" I tell him. "Can we have cake NOW?" asks Christopher with such elation! Watching that bubble burst was sad and comical at the same time.

Happy New Year to all of you! May you enjoy the little treasures of life as you interact with God's creation of humanity all year long!