Essential Traditions/Real Food Real Frugal

The archives for the old Essential Traditions blog and the old Real Food Real Frugal Blog

Forgiveness in the Small Things

The Bible has a lot to say about forgiveness, and I covered quite a bit of it in my previous posts on Judgement here and here. Most of that had to do with forgiving a sin, and how we are to stop and realize if this person is a believer or not before deciding how to treat the infraction.

But there are a whole host of other things to be forgiven that may not even be considered “sin” per se. For instance, I’m super late posting this post! We, as contributors, are supposed to have our posts automatically set up to appear no later than 8am on the day we are assigned. Seeing that it’s now after 10pm, I didn’t do a very good job of it!

Is it a sin? Of course not? Should I have paid more attention and realized what day of the week it was in order to fulfill my obligations? Of course I should have! Is it going to be counted against me at the final judgement? I seriously doubt it, but I still hope Susan will extend forgiveness to me!

I know she will offer that forgiveness, because I know Susan well enough to know that she doesn’t sweat the small things. You see, we reach a point in our Christian walk that we realize what’s really important. We stop and evaluate if something is worth taking offense over and pursuing, or if it isn’t going to matter come this time next week, next month, or next year, let alone in 5 or 10 years, and let it drop.

Does forgiveness mean we don’t correct a friend’s behavior? No, in the right circumstances, of course it’s still appropriate to pull a friend aside and remind them of obligations or of the godly standard we should all strive to meet. Sometimes, it might only take that loving word from a friend to help someone abandon a destructive habit.

But it’s about deciding not to take personal offense when others mis-step, and moving on with our lives. It’s about realizing what’s important and acting in love towards one another. Forgiveness is about moving forward, without bitterness or anger, whether or not the other person is repentive. Why? Because forgiveness isn’t about the other person; it’s about the emotions I harbor in my heart and mind.

Forgiveness is about letting go, and choosing to move past things. It’s time we as the Church realize what things matter, and what things don’t, and extend forgiveness of the small things much more easily.

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Refreshment for the Soul

Do you get bogged down? So many of us are motivated at the beginning of each new year, ready to tackle our goals and really make things better. But, from time to time, we may need some refreshment.

Maybe you are still doing fantastically with what you hope to accomplish this year. Congratulations! Sometimes it only takes a few weeks before our motivation disappears, or we realize that our goals were a little too lofty to accomplish in the manner we’d hoped.

What’s a person to do??

When you get in those down times, not much seems to help, and there’s not really much that makes sense to explain to anyone – we have a friend who knows our troubles. We have the tools our soul needs for refreshment.

This is the time in our lives that fasting and prayer can be of benefit to us. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves and bring our flesh in line with what is true spiritually, with what God says about us in His Word. Denying ourselves of something important to us, whether it be food or something else, serves the purpose of reminding us to spend time in prayer and crying out to the God who saves us.

You can cry out to God when you don’t have words, or even know what’s wrong. You can cry out to God just to get back on track, to put the enemy and his diversions back under your feet.

What a magnificent tool the Lord has given to us in the form of fasting and prayer (and worship! but that’s another post…), and sometimes we forget to use it or write off our situation as not “big enough” for something that drastic. God knows our hearts; it’s time we were more willing to share them with Him!

It’s amazing what even a day or two of fasting and prayer will do for the soul. Choose a non-food fast and stick with it for longer if that is what the Lord would lead you to do. Even a 40 day fast, such as Jesus performed in the wilderness, is possible with His strength.

If your soul, body, mind, and spirit need some refreshment, press in to the Lord and consider fasting. The Lord is in it!

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Faith

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

 

Most of us know this verse by heart, but have you ever really thought about what it means? Faith is something the Lord has gifted me with in abundance. I can remember early in our marriage my husband being annoyed with me. “How come you always act like everything will be just fine??” Because! I have the hope of a Lord and Savior who loves me and wants what is best for me. Even when the enemy attacks, the Lord is already on His way with his rescue plan. This I know.

 

This verse really helped solidify for me, in my teen years as I learned about faith, what it really means to have faith in something, or someone. This verse says that faith is the substance – the stuff – that the things we hope for are made of. Did you get that? The things we hope for, whether spiritual things or material things, are made of faith. Without faith, they do not exist. The power of the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth, which our Lord Jesus himself prayed for, is best exemplified here.

Does that mean I can wishfully think of anything I want and it will magically appear? Of course not. It simply means that our faith is the tool the Lord God uses to bring the good things in our lives to pass. I know that the Lord wants his people to prosper, that anything that is good is from the Lord ,and that He wants us to have the desires of our hearts. (That’s desires of our hearts; not every desire that enters our head. See the difference?)

When our hearts and thoughts are bound up with the will of God Himself, the things we desire – even the worldly things – are His desire for us as well. He doesn’t wish us to struggle financially; how can we help others if we cannot support ourselves? He doesn’t wish us to do without necessities, and He wants us to have all the earthly mechanisms that will make our service to Him easier to accomplish. He wants to bless us, just like we want to bless our children, say, at Christmas time.

 

The tool He uses is our faith. Holding on to Him for every provision, every dot and tittle, every necessary and frivilous item in our day to day lives. If we filter it all through His will revealed to us by his Word and by his Spirit, then our faith puts into motion the things needed to get them in our lives. Will it be tomorrow? Probably not, because the hands of God is the church – He created this world and its laws and He follows those laws for the most part.

 

How do I know this is true? How do I know the Lord brings these things to pass because I believed He would? Two reasons: first, I’ve seen it multiple times in my own life. I could share story after story with you about Him giving me the desires of my heart – starting not least with my husband and that relationship, and even recently with providing for us for Christmas and for some workings I have in store with my own blog. God is good!

But beyond that, I know because of the last portion of the verse. What is the proof that these things exist? The evidence of these things I can’t see? Faith.

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I Eat the Bread of Idleness for Breakfast

Today, this verse has really been on my mind today.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. ~ Proverbs 31:27

I admit it…I eat the bread of idleness nearly everyday for breakfast! I am so easily distracted and don’t nearly complete most of the things that I need to do. My bread of idleness is TV, the internet, reading and crocheting…and so many other things! . Not that I can’t ever do these things, but I keep forgetting my three primary ministries…Husband, children and home. I’m doing pretty good on the first two, but I’m really failing on the last! My home looks like a disaster area on the best days lately. Let me tell you, God does care about the conditions of our homes, otherwise he wouldn’t be impressing this on my heart so forcefully! I am so frustrated and so overwhelmed….I just don’t know where to start, so I don’t! My heart tells me to just start, do a little at a time and I’ll get caught up. BUT my mind sees the mess and throws up it’s hands and says “I can’t do this by myself!! I don’t know where to start!!”. My heart is the correct one…I can do a little at a time, create new habits, get caught up….I don’t have to do it by myself….GOD IS THERE WITH ME! That’s kind of a revelation to me….God loves me so much that he promises to be with me ALWAYS…even when I’m cleaning house, He’s there right beside me. I clean and He makes my arms strong enough so I have the strength and courage to tackle any household chore, no matter how unsavory it is.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. ~ Philippians 4:13

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God’s Workmanship?

We are a kind of a miracle. Not that we always feel like it, no .But we are God’s intentional highly cherished creation. Paul said it beautifully…”We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus” Eph.2:10 Do you feel like God’s workmanship today created specifically for a life of purpose and significance? i hope you do. But i didn’t this morning. I felt permanently burdened by injuries from past events, yeah, I felt more like a bruised cull or a sorry mess than God’s own one-of-kind marvel, created in Christ Jesus. Living for years , wondering if I could make one certain one happy, living in fear that the next time he was unhappy it would be my fault all over again, for what I didn’t do or know about;and now in later years the same feelings I allowed to be put on me by someone I can never hope to please, and no matter what is said all is questioned, and no amount of apologizing is ever enough. Do you understand what kind of feeling its like? But My husband once again helped me this morning to see that as much as satan would like to destroy what God created for me to do , satan does not have that right! I am alive in Christ no matter what the past injuries, my branch may not look quite the same , but there is no plan B! God is picturing your life and mine brimming with extraordinary abundance! Feeling like I did this morning , is simply crippling unbelief that would have liked to cloud my day to keep out the sun of God’s pleasure and strength that He reserved for me today!

 

–Luella

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My Priorities

I need to learn a thing or two about priorities. I have found that I often lose sight of the proper order that my priorities need to fall into. I think this is something that happens to us all. We are human and as such it is MUCH to easy to turn inwards and become selfish with our priorities. As a Christian woman, I am blessed to have an instruction book that tells me just what my priorities should be and in what order. That book, of course, is the Bible. So I made a list of my priorities and then placed them in order from most important to least important. Then, I added my responsibilities that fall under each priority. I’m hoping that this will help me to remember to keep my priorities in proper perspective. I fall short of this everyday, but it is something that I’m really striving to keep in proper perspective this year.

  1. My relationship with the Lord. This is my number one priority…or at least should be. Unfortunately, this is the one priority that seems to get most often put onto the back burner. I’m am honestly trying to put this as priority #1. To do this, I am digging into the Bible on a daily basis (well for the most part!). I’m also making it a priority to spend more time on my knees in prayer. I can’t grow my relationship with the Lord without tending faithfully to my spiritual garden.
  2. My relationship with my husband. This is my number two priority. If my relationship with my husband isn’t tended then all other areas of my life don’t work or run successfully. I’m making a concentrated effort to improve my relationship with Marty, as well as working on becoming a more submissive wife. Regardless of what many non-Christians and many Christians believe, being a submissive wife DOES NOT equal doormat. The Bible makes it very clear that the husband is the head of the home and as such we should be respectful to that position. I plan on doing this by lifting him up more in prayer. Making sure that ALL of his needs are taken care of. Christ tells us that we should love others as ourselves. Well if I love myself enough to make sure I have clean clothes, meals, and to expect to be treated like the queen of my home, then I can do no less for my husband…the king of our home.
  3. My relationship with my children. My number three priority is my children. Many people would say that they should be above my husband, but I don’t think that that is a Biblical way of doing things. Our husbands should come before them because he is the head of the home. My main priority for my children is to love and care for them and to discipline them. No one lives a good life without discipline. We all need it and it is through discipline that children learn how to behave and get along with the world. Another priority is to make sure they are educated so they can be successful in life. We choose to homeschool because we want our children to learn a Biblical standard of life and because we take serious the scriptures , “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).
  4. My home. As a homemaker, my home plays a pretty big part of my life. I do believe that for all women that after the Lord, their husband and their children that their home should be the next priority. If home is in chaos then other area of our life will be in chaos. Home is where the heart is, so it is one of the most important priorities. Keeping my home is more than just cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, keeping up a garden, etc. It’s about making a home, making a place where my family can grow and thrive. My main ministry is to my husband and children, this ministry is founded in my home.
  5. My business or career. My main vocation is as homemaker, that take precedence over any money making venture I should attempt. If I’ve met my priorities to the Lord, my husband, my children and my home then any extra time can be spent with a home business. This is something that I do in my spare time, but I HAVE to learn not to let it take priority over my life. While the money I make via my home business is appreciated, we do not rely on it for paying bills or buying groceries. We rely solely on my husband’s income for that. Any money I make from my home business is used as “fun” money to help us do things like go to the movies, or for special trips, etc.
  6. My ministry outside of my home. While my most important ministry is to my husband and children, I also like to minister to those outside of my home. This takes the form of volunteer time with our local Weston A. Price foundation, my blog, church related things, helping those in need that we hear about and most importantly by prayer and supplication for those in need. While I don’t often post or comment when someone posts a prayer request, whenever I see a request I do pray for the person. I try to spend time on my knees each day for such requests.
  7. My self – I set my own needs as the last priority. Scripture makes it very clear that we are to put others before our self and this is my real prayer in life. I want to become less, so that Jesus can become greater. Sure, I take care of immediate needs, such as food, safety and shelter, but on things like hobbies, crafts, email, blog, facebook, etc, they need to be the last and lowest thing on the totem pole. I try to do these things after I have fulfilled the needs of all my other priorities. While I enjoy doing these things they are not all that necessary. They are things I enjoy doing, but can easily be put on the back burner to do later. I need to be less selfish and self-serving and more like Christ.
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Tick Tock

I have a tendency to take on things, often many more things than I should. This time last year I was working three jobs as well as being a full time student. This year I am: preparing to take over a Kindergarten classroom midyear, working on my physical fitness, involved in 3 Bible studies, mentoring a young woman, and building relationships. Notice that I didn’t mention a quiet time in anywhere in there. There are days where I look up and I don’t know where the day has gone.

A mentor asked me recently how much time everyday do I spend on things that don’t matter. She also asked how much of that time would be better spent developing my relationship with God. Time is a very valuable commodity; after all, there are only 24 hours in a day. Yes I am busy but being busy is no excuse for not making time to spend with God.

Despite my good intentions to make time for God, I realized that more often than not I was giving God my “scrap time” the time I had left over at the end of the day. But how could I possibly fit anymore into my oh-so-busy day? Upon the advice of one of my team members I began an “hour journal” two weeks ago to try to see where my free time goes. What I did was set an alarm to go off every hour on my phone (don’t worry I set it to vibrate so as not to annoy everyone around me). When the alarm goes off I write down what I did during the last hour. Here is an excerpt from Thursday of last week:

5:00 pm
home from work
check facebook
work on Bible study one
check facebook
clean the bathroom
check email
work on certification assignments

…and you cannot forget that I texted multiple people throughout this hour. As I began to really look at my hour journal I realized that I check my facebook and answer emails at least three times a day each. I couldn’t even keep track of how many times I texted in one hour because I had multiple conversations going at one time. In an age of instant communication we have become accustomed to interrupting our daily life with communication with other people. What about our communication with God? We have no problem popping open our computer and returning emails in class or at work; but ask us to turn off the TV for quiet time with God? Then there is a problem. We can tell you which one of our friends from high school are getting married, having kids, and even what they are cooking for dinner tonight. But can you tell me when you last had a 30 minute quiet time, just you and God?

It is time to put down our computers, cell phones, and iPads. We need to unplug from the world in order to really be able to plug into God. It is hard to listen to God’s call for your life when you are watching Friend’s reruns and checking facebook. Our time is a valuable commodity; shouldn’t we be giving it back to the One who gave us time itself?  God took the time to create and shape me; I can take the time to get to know Him.

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Separation

In a two part series recently, the pastor of my church discussed how things were and how things are now, in terms of Christians and our country. The passage he read from is written specifically to Israel, not the United States or even to those in the church but the application is totally relevant to Christians around the world today.

The passage he read from during the first part was Jeremiah 2. Jeremiah is referred to as the weeping prophet -and he has a lot to weep over in the book of Jeremiah! Israel has turned away from God, turned to false prophets and to idols. They have said, in their deeds if not their literal words, “We are lords; we will come no more unto thee…” (Jeremiah 2:31 KJV)

There was a lot in those to talks but one thing that really stood out to me was how the nation of Israel was to be separate from the nations. Yet, they refused to be separate and took part in the filthy and disgusting, and even the little seemingly non-consequential habits and rituals of the other nations. Ultimately, they turned completely away from God and even felt that they did not need Him.

Barring the idolatry that the nations practiced, and the sacrifices that they made to their false gods (although not to be taken lightly), the nation of Israel was soon caught up in the goals, ideals and philosophies of these other nations. They adopted a mindset that how those other nations did things were okay. It wasn’t bad or at least it wasn’t that bad.

Wrong. Dead wrong. As the book of Jeremiah continues on, we see that there was a price to pay for the Israelites rejection of God’s authority and His laws (all of which were put into place for the good of Israel, not the harm).

Now, as I mentioned, this book is talking to and about the Israelites, not the present day United States of America. But as Paul told Timothy, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV) If we believe this to be true then we can see an application to be made from reading in Jeremiah.

The being ‘separate’ bit is very difficult, isn’t it? There are often people who will say, “God, take me as I am,” and think that is all that is needed from them- to be ‘themselves’; good or bad. But in 1 Peter 1:16 we read, “For it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” That is in reference to the words of God recorded in Leviticus for the Israelites. It doesn’t say, “You are imperfect and will sometimes follow practices and ideals that are against Me; that’s okay, you go right ahead.” No -we are to strive for holiness. We cannot attain it but we are still to strive for it.

One way to strive for this is to avoid, to be separate, from those things that are detestable to God. There is nothing of the world that is holy. So much of this world, in the United States, is corrupt and filthy. I have written posts pertaining to what we watch and what we listen to on this blog. I also posted my own shortcomings in being quick to point out what is inappropriate but secretly doing the same thing.

There are things in this world that seem to catch a large group of followers and more just go with the flow. I tend to avoid these ‘streams’. And I’ll admit that even in “Christian” circles there are some things that catch on so swiftly and readily, taking people right along, that I avoid as well. I’ve never really been much of a leader but I’m not generally a blind follower either. If something catches on with the masses, I have a tendency to see it as a negative thing rather than positive.

The views of the world are quickly infiltrating the church and sweeping people away. It’s often difficult when caught up in the flow to see that something is not of God but rather of the world and wrong. Being separate is not always easy but it is what pleases God and that is what is more important.

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When I Grow Up

I know that I am supposed to write about Thanksgiving and all the joys of eating turkey and cranberry sauce. But we are not going to do that. Don’t get me wrong, my thanksgiving was amazing (I will be writing a post about it on my personal blog this week!) but that is not what I want to talk about today.

Until very recently I had a least favorite portion of the Bible. The perfect woman in Proverbs 31: 10-31 has made me feel weak and inferior since I first discovered her in the pages of my Bible. These feelings are something that many women can relate to in regard to this passage. There are hundreds of books out on Christian women and their thoughts on the Proverbs 31 Woman. There are people who love her, people who can’t stand her, and people who just ignore her. In her book Set-Apart Femininity Leslie Ludy writes:

It’s easy to just roll our eyes at Proverbs 31 and assume that there is some vague, allegorical reason why it was included in the Bible and that we certainly aren’t supposed to apply its message to our daily lives. But a few years ago, I made some surprising discoveries about Proverbs 31 that shifted my perspective dramatically.

 

“Who can find a virtuous woman?” The word “virtuous” here is actually a masculine noun that means “strength, mighty valor, and power.” In other words, the Proverbs 31 woman is a mighty, valiant woman full of strength and conquering power. It’s the very same word that is used to describe the valiance of David when the Lord chose him to be Israel’s mighty king…. the long and short of it is that the Proverbs 31 woman is a set-apart woman. She lives a miraculous, super-human victorious, amazing, fulfilling, poured-out life. She is stunningly beautiful, dignified, and strong; stronger than every other woman around her.  But here is the key- the source of her strength does not lie within herself. She relies on a power wholly not her own. Just like David, her superhuman strength comes from God alone.

This weekend I went to a dear friend’s home for Thanksgiving. This was a particularly emotional event for me. This was the very first holiday my younger sister and I have ever spent apart. She went to Nebraska to spend time with a friend from college, which left me free to go to east Texas and learn more than I bargained for.

So what does this have to do with the Proverbs 31 Woman?

I realized that I know the modern day Proverbs 31 Woman. I have known this woman for just about a year. She is incredible. If you go down the Proverbs 31 Woman list, she meets every single requirement.

This woman, we will call her Mrs. F, is up every single day at 5:30. She is 56 years old and she is doing strength training… and doing it really well. Her husband once told me that she was beyond measure.  She works hard at his side. She (and the rest of her family) are very tall and she has sewn her (and their) own clothing to deal with this particular issue. She then taught her children (the boys too!) how to make the adjustments to their clothing. Mrs. F home-schooled all three of her brilliant children (one doctor, one soon to be doctor and one child in full time ministry) and has shifted to an adviser role for them as they move forward into adulthood. She ministers to women in the community and acts as a mentor to multiple young women. Oh, and she is a phenomenal cook.

This weekend I got to see this Proverbs 31 Woman display “strength, mighty valor, and power”. She organized a service project for us to do this Saturday. Mrs. F is one of the most generous people I have ever met. She is generous with her finances, her home, her time. So, we went to a local woman’s home (in East Texas) and helped to cut down and clear out a LOT of dead trees.  When all the trees were down and the guys were cutting them apart Mrs. F decided to tackle a falling down barbwire fence.

And tackle it she did.

This fence had vines and trees growing up and through it. Pieces were falling apart and very rusty. Scratches and tears in clothing ensued but Mrs. F fought on. She cut, she bent, she kicked over the stakes. She was strong, she was mighty, she was powerful. Being a Proverbs 31 Woman does not mean that you can’t be vibrant. It does not mean that you have to fit into a cookie cutter. Mrs. F is NOT a cookie cutter Christian woman. She can clear the land, grow the fruit, and make a pie out of it. She is not weak, she is not little. She is a mighty woman of God, one that I am thankful and proud to have on my team.

The next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I am going to say “a Proverbs 31 Woman, just like her” and point to Mrs. F.

Linking With: Titus 2sday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Thankful Homemaker, Titus 2 Tuesday

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Just a Little Glue

Happy weekend after Thanksgiving, y’all!! Are your pants starting to fit again? Or are stretch pants still your best friend? Although I did prepare a smallish turkey in the crock pot for my family, I had to work Thursday. We typically “do” a big turkey dinner after Thanksgiving so the whole family can be there. So I’ll be stuffed silly here in a few days!

While at work on Thursday, my husband texted me, telling me to call him – that it was important. When he answered the phone, I could hear screaming in the background…never a good sign. Turns out, our kids had been playing outside with a couple neighbor kids, and my 4 year old daughter thought it was the perfect time to fall and hit her head on a rock. We all know wounds to the head bleed like crazy. So I left work (I had our van with me) and took Bean to the hospital. She got x-rays to make sure there weren’t any leftover rocks in her head (hahaha). Then Doctor Sam came back in, washed the wound out, and glued her shut. As I’m holding her in my arms, getting ready for him to apply the glue, he looked at me and said, “Hold tight…this has a delayed sting to it that will be pretty noticeable.”

Great.

Sure enough, about 30 seconds later, Bean was screaming and wiggling, tears just streaming down her little cheeks. I wrapped my arms around her even more, if that was possible, and rocked her gently, singing “Moon Moon Moon”, one of her fave songs. A little while later, she was good as new, with a few Disney stickers; the pain a distant memory, but a memory just the same.

How similar is Bean’s event to our life events as adults, with Christ being a combination of Doctor Sam and The Mama? We go through times of heartache, times of pain, lots of tears…maybe from an accident, or from bad choices of our own. Our heavenly Father holds us, wraps his loving arms around us, lets us cry out to Him. He cleans us up and repairs what’s broken, hoping that each trial He carries us through brings us closer to him. All it takes is just a little glue…it might sting a bit, but it’s a fix that will last a lifetime. Our God is that powerful and mighty.

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