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Monday, June 30, 2014

The Light of Your Life Makes a Difference- Part I {Fishers of Men}

I was having a bad day. In the Great Scheme of Bad Days, probably not the worst ever, but still... a bad day. Work was demanding and busy, expectations weren't being met, and I was disappointed. My attitude was light-years away from where it needed to be. 

And in strode Allison. Allison is a co-worker, and is one of those... cheerful people. You know. The kind who are constantly peppy... those "gratitude list" making, God's-got-our-back, building-people-up kind of people.

I wanted to complain. I wanted to be angry. I wanted to stew in my bad attitude and blame everyone for everything and just sit and pout. 

And Allison? She wasn't going to sit and pout with me. No, her attitude was right. And I felt a tug in my heart. Because just the simple comparison of her outlook with mine? I was definitely in the wrong. 

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

In Ephesians 5, Paul kind of goes off on a tangent- but a very important tangent. He's been telling the church in Ephesus how to live a holy lifestyle, but now he goes into why we live the way we do. 

We've already looked at some of the ways we live a markedly different lifestyle than the culture around us: 

and here, once again, we're pointed back to the fact that we're different. And we need to live like it.

Live in the World with a Lifestyle that is Different from the World

"Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord."

(I once had a Bible teacher who said that whenever you see "therefore" in Scripture, you should go back and figure out what it's there for. He was clever.)

The "them" that this verse addresses is the people in verse 6- those who might deceive you with empty words- people not living a holy lifestyle... people who tell you that all those "thou shalt nots" are there not for your own good, not to bring you closer to your God, but to ruin all your fun and lighten up already!

Paul says that because of this, we're not to be partners with them.

What does it mean by "partners?"

Are we to be completely cut off from society? Should we avoid contact with all non-Christians, listen to only Christian music, only watch movies based on the Bible, and if a non-believer strolls past we should hide?

I don't think that's a lifestyle that would please Jesus. After all, he did the whole "eat meals with prostitutes, thieves, and beggars on a regular basis" thing.

We are in the world- we live within a culture, among so many types of people. But we're different.

Being different doesn't mean that we don't associate with non-Christians, or that we're somehow granted a right to judge the people around us (because who the heck are we, anyway? We did nothing to earn this, remember?), but our lifestyle won't match up with theirs. Not really.

It's worth noting here... you are not Jesus. Yes, he spent a ton of his earthly time chillin' with sinners. But you are not him.

I know of one Christian family who are so welcoming and so open. They live far from extended family, and they've made their own kind of extended family- holidays at this household are filled with neighbors, friends, misfits, and folks who have no where else to go. And how lovely that is.


Somehow, over the course of five years or so of opening their homes and hearts to non-believers, it became hard to tell who was the believer and who wasn't. Ways of life were changing because of those relationships- but it was the Christians whose lifestyle was changing.

You need to ask yourself- who is the better evangelist, here? Who is winning whom? If you see your own life, your own spirit, your own attitude being pulled toward the darkness, you need to be incredibly careful. Being pulled into the lifestyle of the world is so easy.

On the flip side, you won't win any friends or lives for Jesus by being a militant Christian. It is not your job to judge. We're not supposed to force our friends to find Christ.

Remember, we're fishers of men, not hunters of men. We give the opportunity to come to know Him, but it's really up to each individual, and God working in each heart.

Trying to "hunt" men will only lead to your own disappointment and loss of relationships... and also put a bad taste about Christianity in the mouth of the person we're trying to save.

Our lives are different. It's not a bossy lifestyle, it's not a spectator-gathering one, nor is an isolated lifestyle. 

I think it would be easier to choose one of those lifestyles. I mean, it would be easy to figure out the steps to an isolated life. It's cut and dry. Or a pushy way of approaching life. Just point out flaws in everyone and everything, and back it up with scripture! No biggie! But when has the Christian walk ever been easy?

This life we're called to lead... it's hard. It's work. It's making constant decisions, constant evaluations.

You choose not to participate in gossip and turn the conversation back to blessings and building others up. You decide to go home instead of joining in to see Magic Mike with your gal pals. You change a habit of dealing with conflict at work. You hold that tongue for once!

 Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

You're now a child of the light.  Try your best to discern what God would have you do- in every moment, in every statement, in every action, in every relationship.

The light of your life makes a difference.

Well this has gotten long. No surprise there, really... but I'll let those few verses plant themselves into your heart for now- and we'll get to the rest later (see link below). Because oh, the way you walk- it matters so very much.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Swim. Splash. Love. Camp.

Camp season is well underway- we've got our third group of families here this week already!

As you've heard, last week was... unusual.

But no power outages this week! Not so far, anyway.

Summertime is so very busy here. Both Zeke and I put in crazy long hours with lots of stress and soreness and tired and just... whew.

But it's all so worth it.

A favorite Camp game- sinking the canoe

Yep, definitely worth it.

More posts about Camp:

Tips for families who are sending kids to Camp

Why Camp Matters

Encouragement for people in ministry. Because we know it's hard. But it's worth it.

And reasons that living at a Camp is pretty much ridiculous. All the time. Like adults chasing kids with socks filled with flour.  

This post is linked to Theme Thursday at Clan Donaldson

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When the Lights Go Out

We got slammed with quite a few big storms last week, as did quite a bit of Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota. (And I hope you’ll join me in praying for Pilger, Nebraska, where the community has suffered many injuries and lost loved ones because of this storm system, as well as all the places in the Midwest experiencing major flooding).

At about 4:00 in the afternoon last Monday, the sky went so dark it looked like it was the middle of the night, and the wind was really blowing. We had the radio tuned to the weather in the office… until the power at the radio station went out.

And then our power went out.

With 110 people- 27 families- at Camp.

What a difference attitude makes! When the lights flickered twice and then everything went dark, it became quickly apparent that attitude is everything.

Some of our campers made the best of it- enjoying supper by the glow of candlelight in the dining hall, smiling and doing their best to help out, sharing flashlights and rain gear. Other campers were less gracious- scowls and complaints, some even leaving early. If they had a good attitude, they had a good time, despite the inconvenience and discomfort. If they had a bad attitude, they had a bad time.

Life brings a lot of unexpected, unplanned circumstances beyond our control. You can either see it as an adventure, or as an issue.

Choose to make it an adventure.

If your invitations didn’t turn out the way you hoped, if the tea light candles don’t fit in your centerpieces, if uninvited guests show up, if your grandfather leads arousing sing-along of God Bless America at the reception- it’s all part of the adventure.

Don’t let it get to you… and let that adventure-attitude carry you into your marriage with grace. When the basement floods at your new home? When he loses his job? When you have to move again?

Life will not always be fun, or romantic, or convenient. Sometimes it will be sad and disappointing and hard. But it’s worth it. You’ll learn and grow and become. But the learning and growing and becoming depend on you taking your circumstances and choosing to find the adventure. Even when the lights go out.

"Like" A Little Wife's Happy Life on Facebook to catch more Intentional Engagement posts!

Other Posts in the Intentional Engagement Series:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

An Answer Me This without Pictures, and A Hunky Husband Life Hack

1. When's the last time you got a new bathing suit? 

Just a couple of months ago, actually! The exclamation point is because, well, I don't usually get new swimsuits.

My last suit (nicknamed by Zeke- "the appropriate suit") looks like this....

... okay, so I had a particular picture in mind, but I can't find it! You'll just have to do some imagining. It's blue.

It's got a nice skirt to it, but it's a little low cut... and I've had it for quite a few summers, so it was getting to that sorta-stretched out point... so we got me a new one! And I don't have any pictures of it, either. But it's not as low cut, still with a skirt. And I like it a lot. 

2. Who made the last incoming call on your phone?

Mah hubby. Zeke was calling to see if I'd heard from the people coming to fix one of our boat lifts at Camp. It was a thrilling and romantic call. 

3. If you receive communion, do you receive it in the hands or on the tongue?

Sort of the hands? Protestant, so we do the whole "pass the platter" thing at my current church. But I'd really prefer to receive communion from an actual person. 

4. Do you have a tattoo?

Ugh. You had to ask that one, huh, Kendra?

Yes, I do. Read here. 

5. How many dinner plates are in your house?

Too many. We have 12 from our wedding, and 10-ish from Grandma's house. And we use approximately three plates total per week in the summer. 

6. Do you have an accent?

Nope! The benefits of being Midwestern.


and, because it's sort of like a Monday <cough, behind, cough>... 

A Hunky Husband Life Hack

All right, this one needs a little explanation. 

So, Zeke has a habit of taking things that Camp requested he get rid of, and putting them to use in our own home. Like my orange pleather couch. 

This window air conditioner is broken. The thermostat doesn't really work very well (it always shows that it's 70 degrees), and for whatever reason, it's set to not turn on until it's about 98 degrees in the room (are you singing boy-band songs in your head?), and you can't change the settings because that part is broken, too. 

Zeke found a solution. 

I came home to find that Zeke had taken the little table, doiley and all, from the bathroom, and re-situated it below the air conditioner.

Because the obvious solution was.... Put the sensor inside of the wax on the Scensy.
The wax doesn't get hot enough to damage the sensor, but stays at a pretty consistent above 98 degree temperature. So if the Scensy's on, the air conditioner is on. And, bonus, the air conditioner fan blows the lovely Scensy smell around the house! 

That guy.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bumblebees, Close Calls, Dinner in the Dark... Just another Week at Camp


My mother-in-law came by the other day

and brought me these. The Starbucks "vase" is a nod to the fact that we both love those things. 


The closest I come to sports, these days? 

Dodging campers as they fly past being chased by counselors wielding socks full of flour... or otherwise trying to avoid the gym at all costs. 

I had a couple close calls. 

But my, oh, my... they sure have fun! 


I think I have a bumblebee friend. I keep seeing this big fluffy bumblebee outside my office window, hanging out in the flowers. 

I know that they're not terribly easy to identify as individuals, but I'm pretty sure he's the same one. 

And I'm pretty sure that he's a he. 


We had a big storm roll through on Monday, one that removed the roof of my co-worker's garage and pulled the roof off of the hospital and caused tons of flooding to the west and south of us. 

And it also resulted in lots of power outages in our area. 

Monday night here at Camp? 

Meatloaf by candlelight with 110 campers.

Six hours without power, but everyone safe and sound.  


Time for some shameless plugs! 

Popular Posts this Week: 

Good Ole' Tucker Turtle has been getting lots of hits this week, especially the How to Clean Your Turtle Tank instructions. 

Living a Holy Lifestyle, based on Ephesians 4 and 5

Poetry in Motion, another Ephesians post


And of course, the Intentional Engagement posts, particularly June and Winning at Your Wedding


I really enjoyed Haley's post about "child-free" weddings- so good-- The One Thing I Regret About My Wedding

And A Nail in the Floor by Ever Upward- a great post about finding purpose and growth, even in our imperfections and struggles.

It's Not About Being the Most Amazing by Heather- great inspiration to keep going and stop comparing!

Prayer Requests: 

We've had lots of friends and family members affected by the bad weather. Pray for safety as everyone cleans up! Also please pray for Pilger, Nebraska, who had two tornadoes ravage the town, killing a five-year-old. 

I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow to see about why we haven't been able to conceive thus far, and why I don't seem to be ovulating. Please pray for wisdom for the doctor, peace for me, and some answers to go on. 

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Poetry in Motion {Ephesians 2:8-10}

Now, I want to be clear about something here. We’ve been talking a lot about works- our actions, behaviors, what we do- at this point in Ephesians. But works, while part of the Christian lifestyle, are not the source of our salvation.

“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”

We’ve been saved by grace. God pursues us, plain and simple. Christ died for us, to save us, before we were even awake to our need for him. We did nothing, absolutely nothing, to earn this grace, and there’s nothing we can do to ever deserve it. 

I have trouble with that, to be honest. Along with the Midwest nice that gets in the way of dealing with conflicts in the right way, we also have this pesky Midwest work ethic. I don’t do undeserved or unearned very well. But when I set aside my own pride and look at the sacrifice of Christ- what amazing love. 

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

We’ve been created, saved by unearned grace, so that we might do good works. It’s our purpose.
Now, this verse is so beautiful, but the English language translations are bad at communicating that. 

The word “workmanship,” or sometimes translated as “handiwork?’ A better translation of the original Greek for that word is actually something more akin to "poetry."

We are God’s poetry

And what is poetry, after all? Poetry is truth- truth spoken in a beautiful and unique way. 

We are each a poem that God has written- you express beauty and truth in a way no one else can.
Poetry we are- but more than that. We’re poetry in motion- moving, living, breathing- active. We’ve been given a purpose, given tasks (and your tasks are different than mine or hers!) into which only our specific poetry can speak truth. 

And living a God-honoring, holy lifestyle, doing those works- that is our song of gratitude to God. 

And that’s why we live a certain way, behave a certain way- so that the poem of our lives is unfettered and is spoken clearly to a world searching for truth.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Living a Holy Lifestyle: Ephesians 4 & 5

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people."- Ephesians 4:32-5:3

Living a holy lifestyle, a markedly different lifestyle, isn’t something we do to get to heaven or to be saved. We can’t do what Christ already did. No, we’re to live this lifestyle to shine the light of truth on those around us, because we are children of God. 

Kids imitate- it’s what they do. My little niece is the image of her mom- same eyes, same curls, and the same mannerisms. She tells her sister what’s what with the exact tone of voice and one raised eyebrow as her mother does. We are to do the same thing- imitate our heavenly Father. Our lives should show that we belong to Him, lives of sacrificial love, forgiveness, and compassion. And others should see that in us.

I know, I know, we often hear that we shouldn’t care what other people think of us, and most of the time, that’s very good advice. But our lives shouldn’t be a stumbling block for those living in darkness. And so, there shouldn’t be even so much of a hint of impurity or greed in our relationships. Not even a hint.

What does that look like, exactly? Well, as far as sexual immorality goes, making sure not a hint enters into your relationships will look different for different people (and if you’re married, you'll need to talk with your spouse about this).

I know of some women who have made the decision not to drive in vehicles alone with another man, some who have committed themselves to modest ways of dress, some who never alone with a man who is not their husband. Zeke and I do not talk on the phone with members of the opposite sex unless the other is included in the conversation (with the exception, of course, of work-related calls and family members). 

I do think that it’s easy to look at the first part of this verse, begin making “rules” for ourselves in this area and just stop there. Sexual immorality, and preventing even a hint of it, is something that’s been a well-discussed and well-legalized issue- think measuring hemlines, tops with high enough necklines, women only meeting with the pastor's wife rather than the pastor. It’s popular to talk about.

And frankly, it’s easy to discuss sexual purity and what we should do or not do because Christianity (and we’re not alone- other religions, as well!) has focused on it. But let’s not forget the rest of this passage.

Greed- can you see a hint of greed in your own life? I know I do. Are you stingy towards the church, towards other believers? 

Maybe it’s technically considered gluttony, but I think greed also applies- I have trouble when I don’t get my last bite. It doesn’t matter what it is, cookie or sub sandwich, but if I’m eating something and don’t have the last bite, I actually get crabby! And why? Because I’m a selfish, sinful person. In the case of money, how often do we hold on to that “last bite?” Sure we give and donate and support, but that last little bit is just for me- for my own sense of security, for my plans or future, or for a new pair of shoes. And if we’re asked to sacrifice that little bit, we actually feel… cheated! Crabby! 

Paul says that sexual immorality and greed are improper for God’s people. These things just don’t fit into a life saved by grace. 

“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”-Ephesians 5:4

Other behaviors that don’t fit in a Christian lifestyle? Look no further than my big mouth.
I like to talk, and sometimes my words are less than grace-filled. Less than pure. And oh, so often foolish. 

I joke about my husband. And truly, often times those jokes are really just thinly-veiled husband-bashing wrapped in some humorous facial expressions. Don’t get me wrong- my husband has quirks and silly sayings- he’s funny in a delightful way. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the “men are so dumb” jokes. I make a lot of those. And why? Why would I choose to diminish my husband in the eyes of others?  For a few laughs, or some false approval from an acquaintance? 

Instead, I should have a tongue quick with thanksgiving. I’m certainly very grateful for such an amazing husband, but do I say it? To other people?

Somehow that feels a little uncomfortable, a little like bragging- but don’t let it! You’re not bragging if you say, “I’m so blessed to have him- he’s so helpful around the house.” That’s not pride. That’s thanksgiving. And what’s wrong with my conversations that bashing my husband is somehow more comfortable than giving thanks for him? 


Why is all this stuff a big deal, anyway? It seems pretty… well, small. Pretty obvious. We know we’re not to be immoral or greedy or let our words get away from us. Why does it matter? 

Well, because these things show where our hearts are. Paul says that these sins make us idolaters. Sexual immorality is valuing the physical- the body, our own pleasure- over God. Greed is valuing money and things above God. Really, sin stems, for the most part, from two places- wanting to be God, and valuing something more than Him.

These things may seem small and insignificant, but the way we behave is important- first because we’re God’s children and should imitate His love and character, and also because our behavior proves our own values. And, as we’ll discuss later, living noticeably differently from the world helps to lead others to the Lord.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How We Do Essential Oils and Sore Man Blend {Works for Me Wednesday}

Essential oils have been somewhat of a "big thing" for the past year or so. Or maybe it's been longer than a year and I'm completely out of the loop. No matter the case, after the interwebs and real-life friends started buzzing about the benefits of essential oils, I was intrigued.

First, I like smells. I attach memories to smells, and very strongly so.

Second, using essential oils in place of general painkillers or whatever was a big draw. My maintenance guy husband comes home with lots of aches and pains most days, and being able to reduce the meds while still having some relief sounded pretty great.

So I looked into it some more, and realized that the popular name brand essential oils simply don't fit into our budget.

And so I started looking into other options, and found that there are plenty of not-as-fancy-not-as-organic-not-as-effective essential oils on the market- and for lots cheaper.

Now, I'm not saying that those big name-brand popular essential oils are a rip off. Not at all! I know (from experiencing them compared to my cheapo oils) that the more expensive ones do tend to be of higher quality, no question. But for the way I'm using them? I don't think the higher quality is necessary.

Here's how we use essential oils in our household.

The first, and most popular way (especially from Zeke's perspective!): as massage oils.

Like I said before (and lots of other times), Zeke has a physically demanding job, and he gets sore muscles often. Even more often than I have to mend his clothing. If you can believe that.

Zeke likes to have his feet rubbed before bed, and usually his shoulders, sometimes his forearms... you get the idea. So we use Sore Man Blend (well, that's what we call it, anyway), and he says it helps... although that could also just be the massages.

I mix up Sore Man blend (as well as a version of Thieves oil blend, and a relax blend) in little glass bottles with a dropper built in- like these so that I don't have to mess around with making the blends every time we use them.

I also put some lavender in my unscented lotion- and when I'm having trouble falling asleep or feel stressed, a little lotion helps to calm my mind and body.

We also use essential oils in cleaning products. I use plain white vinegar and water for my general cleaning spray, unless I have some orange-peel infused vinegar around. I like to add some essential oils to my cleaning spray to give it a nicer smell.

And I've found that mixing up some lavender in the cleaning spray helps to calm those all-the-extended-family-is-arriving-for-Thanksgiving-in-one-hour-and-the-house-is-a-disaster nerves. 

And that's about all.

See, we don't use our essential oils for very much, and we don't take them internally. Maybe someday we'll be more dedicated EO users, but for now, these few uses are enough and frankly, I don't think spending a huge amount of money on oils is necessary for us right now.

It works for us!


"Sore Man" Blend
A Hunky Husband Favorite
2 drops Ginger
1 drop Black Pepper (I typically omit this one)
3 drops Lavender
2 drops Fennel
3 drops Peppermint
2 drops Eucalyptus
1 oz carrier oil (I use almond oil, typically)

Apply topically as a massage oil (not to be ingested!)

Linked up with Works For Me Wednesday.

Friday, June 6, 2014

(Last) Weekend Update

This past weekend, Zeke and I headed to Pierre, South Dakota (which is pronounced "pier," even though my third-grade teacher made it sound very French when we were studying state capitols) to visit our brand new niece. So because work has been nuts, and because the week went by soveryfast, you get to hear about it now.

Lucky, lucky you.

Well, obviously, squishy newborn-ness. Little baby Q was just so sweet and cuddly and content. Zeke and I spent some time with her and her two-and-a-half-year-old brother and gave the postpartum parents a bit of a break. Zeke's sister took and nap and his brother-in-law did some laundry, and I soaked up newborn smell while Zeke became a superhero fighting bad guys alongside our nephew and also did some hiding from "scary deer." I'm not really sure.

Also? New baby Q was 10 lbs 4 oz at birth. Can you even? She was like a five year old. Okay, not really. But still.
Zeke and I really (really really really) needed a chance to recharge and spend some time together before the summer craziness truly started. And my nerves really really really needed it. And hallelujah, even though we spent eleven hours in a car to visit family for about nine hours, it was refreshing. And good. 

We also got to stop at Cabela's in Mitchell (so the trip actually took about 3 hours longer on the way back home, but Cabela's.)

I stopped in the shoe department because I've been looking for some ballet-flat type things, but I have bad feet that need lotsa support... and I found one pair of these, on clearance, in the wrong size. 

But they seemed interesting, so I tried 'em on anyway and holy comfortable! Man. And (even though the picture I've got there doesn't really show it), they look great- and  would totally meet my summertime footwear critieria:
                 *Comfortable with plenty o' arch support
                 *Has a back so my heel doesn't fall out all the time
                 *Works with a dress/skirt
                 *Not too fancy-lookin' so I can still wear 'em when, say, also wearing the most                    unattractive tie-dye ensemble (because camp).

I totally would have bought them if they were my size- but clearance and the only pair! Ugh. And online, they're more pricey than this cheap skate usually goes for shoes.

Anybody wanna buy me a pair of shoes? Or two pairs? I like the brown and the black, but wouldn't be opposed to the purple, silver sage, or tan. And I'm a size 6. Just sayin'  ; )

Okay, so maybe not so much of a favorite... more a question. I was talking to my sister-in-law this weekend (the postpartum one) and she mentioned that she'd like to have more kids, but her husband isn't so keen on the idea... and man. I so wanted to talk to her about openness to life and trusting in God's plan in everything, including family planning ... but I just held my tongue.   

What do you do in situations like that? I mean, I'd be a little cranky if someone tried to tell me how they think I should plan my family.... and it's really not my business... but we've found such peace through our choice to be open to life. Do you share? I don't know.

After our Cabela's run (see #3) that took way too long, we realized that by the time we got home, it would be 2:15 in the morning and really? I wasn't ready to go back to "real life" just yet. 

So we got a hotel room. The king-sized hotel room with whirlpool tub. Because we have a thing for whirlpool tubs. So we sat in our tub and watched TV for three hours, and it was simply glorious. 

And then we got up, went back home, and began this nutty week. And we survived it. 

I think the whirlpool tub had one heck of a lot to do with it. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Christian Conflicts: Envy, Words, and Living out the Gospel

Have you taken a little time to mull over the first couple of things we discussed about what Christian conflicts are supposed to look like? Ready for some more?

I know, this is heavy stuff. Behavior-changing, new-self type stuff. Remember, changing the way you approach life, changing your lifestyle, isn't about gaining salvation. We know that we only receive salvation through grace, not through anything that we can do ourselves. Dealing with conflicts in a Christian way doesn't get us to heaven.

But it does help us to grow. Maturing in Christ, becoming more like him, and sharing the amazing love he has for everyone, that's why we do the hard work of taking off our old selves and putting on the new.
"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." -Ephesians 4:25-30
When it comes to dealing with conflicts in a Christian way, we've already talked about two biggies- being truthful and authentic when issues arise, and allowing anger while avoiding sin.

The next point Paul makes is that thieves shouldn't steal anymore. At first, I didn't understand how this fit into the context, necessarily. But when we consider from where conflict comes, especially when it comes from within our own hearts, it starts making more sense. If we're constantly coveting more, envious of the possessions of others, we have trouble being content.

Now, I don't think that many of us are robbing banks or stealing from department stores (and if you are, Paul says to stop). We can steal in many other ways, though. I know that some days, I steal from my work. I take a break that's a little too long, or I check my personal e-mail at work. I can also steal from my husband, or from my home- I spend an evening checking out blogs or finding recipes rather than talk to Zeke about his day, or I avoid taking care of a chore and plop in front of the TV instead.

Don't get me wrong, I know that we need breaks. I know that social media isn't a bad thing. But when it becomes excessive or gets in the way of obligations and responsibilities, it's a problem.

As Christians, we have to be careful about our words. I'll admit, I don't do the best with this. We're only to build one another up. It's so easy, though, to gossip or to tear someone down, isn't it? So how do I go about changing my mouth?
"Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips."- Psalm 141:3
Pray about it! I should ask God to guard my mouth. I think it's especially important to make a habit of praying before going in to a "hot zone"- coffee with a friend usually lead to you complaining about your husbands the whole time? Pray in the car. 
"The good person our of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." -Luke 6:45
I need to consider what finds its way into my spirit- because the words that come out of my mouth reveal the attitude of my heart. I think that self-talk is a big part of this. If I have lies bouncing around in my mind, or have a crooked attitude, my words will follow.

Hurtful words not only harm the people around us, but they also harm our relationship with God. We can grieve the Holy Spirit through what we say.
"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as Christ forgave you."- Ephesians 4:31-32
Sidenote- Do you know what clamor is? I know I didn't. Clamor is when we talk about issues without wanting resolution- when we only want to gather a sympathetic crowd. My goodness, I'm a clamor-er. (Is that a word?) We should be approaching issues with the intent of solving them, of reconciling, of strengthening relationships- not to gain sympathy.

Conflict is an opportunity. We can either spiral downward into bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice, or we can see conflict as a chance to live out the gospel.

Conflicts look different when you're a Christian. As Christians, we should approach conflict with an attitude of truth and authenticity, without letting anger get the best of us, without an attitude of envy or greed. We should use words to build up, not tear down, even when we're dealing with conflict. Using our conflicts to live out the gospel is one way we can display Christ's love.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Anybody Wanna Bring Me a Margarita?

Oh my goodness, today.

JustJustJust. Goodness.

So, today began the reservations for our Family Camps for the summer of 2015 which seems so terribly far away I just can't get my brain there yet. Now, Family Camps fill up around here, and they fill up fast, especially in our cute little single-family cabins. Because they're just that cute.

And so, because of the cuteness and the fast-filling up-ness, today was going to be crazy.

Add registration check-in for the very same day, and you've got yourself complete pandemonium covered in stress doused in waaaaay too much coffee.

I would like this one, please. And here's the recipe.

7:45 am- The phones start ringing. Reservations don't start until 9. I have four different "you'll have to wait until 9" conversations. I get some scrambled eggs from the dining hall. And some coffee. Coffee is gone before I get to my office.

8:15 am- The other office people arrive. One brings me coffee. I love her. I get the finishing touches taken care of for our registration check-in (for an older adult retreat) which also begins at nine. What the heck was I thinking. Three more "you'll have to call back at 9" conversations- one with someone I've already reminded.

8:30 am- Continuing the "call back at NINE, people!" conversations. A guy calls about coming to a youth camp... I tell him he'll have to call back in a week when I can hear myself think. Okay, I didn't say that but I certainly felt like it. Office lady brings me another coffee. I love her.

8:43 am- I start logging everyone in to Google Docs so we can do the reservations live. Meanwhile, five people have arrived to check-in. I'm now running from office to office.

8:46 am- The staff person who's gonna help me with check-in shows up. I could just kiss her. I don't. I quickly show her what to do, she's calm and capable, I leave her to it. The phone's still ringing. Someone tells me my clock must be wrong- it's nine at their house! I tell them they'll have to wait. Sorry. Shovel some cold scrambled eggs into my mouth.

8:52 am- Okay, so everyone's logged in to Google Docs. I drink my coffee, check on check-in (ha, that's funny).

8:56 am- Google Docs won't load on one of the computers. What. The. Heck. Refresh the page. Refresh the page. My boss comes downstairs- he needs the Welcome Center laptop for the speaker. Get it for him, while he notices my stressed office partner with the non-loading Google Docs. He tries to help, but isn't really helping. He leaves.

8:59 am- Still not loading. Blind panic time, folks.

9:00 am- Still not loading, but two other computers are running, so I just go with it. The office lady with the totally uncooperative computer answers the phone and takes a reservation, but can't record it in the computer. I try to use my very nicest voice to tell her not to take reservations because we're going to end up double booking. It still sounds like I'm shouting. Mental note to apologize. She starts processing deposits, which saves me a ton of time. I love her.

9:05 am- Phone is ringing off the hook. I'm getting voicemails like crazy from people who can't get through. Two computers still running, so we're getting reservations in the "book" pretty well. I can hear people arriving for the adult retreat. There's something about a mattress... I think I heard the word "missing."

9:15 am- Non-stop reservations. One week of camp is now completely full. There are at least ten people checking in right now. A lady on the phone is upset because I won't let her reserve six rooms at one time, and because the week she wanted to come is now full. Well. You can't win 'em all.

10:36 am- Finally! I eat the remaining cold scrambled eggs because the phone hasn't rung in a minute and a half. The lady doing check-in comes in and gives me the run down. Apparently everyone has arrived, plus six surprises and we're not sure where to house them. I figure out housing, have her make name tags for the surprises.

10:48 am- I print the Google Doc and unshare it with everyone, so we don't all get terribly confused. And after that nutty morning, it's work as usual.

Except that my nerves were totally shot for the rest of the day. And they still are.


Bring the tequila.

Just come right in the house- I'll leave it unlocked. You can find me in the bathtub, recovering.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Answer Me This and a Hunky Husband Life Hack

Thanks to Kendra for hosting Answer Me This! 

1. Do you have a smart phone?

No, siree, Bob. I would say that I have a dumb phone. No internet access, no camera, no games. It's a phone in the purest sense of the word.

It's actually one of those pre-paid phones, but not on a pre-paid plan. When the speaker on my old phone quit on me, I took out the SIM card from my contract phone when I realized that a new contract phone was going to run me over $100. I'm cheap, and it wasn't gonna happen. So I stuck my still-working SIM card into a much cheaper phone shell, creating a Franken-phone.

The front...

... and the back. Nothing fancy here, gals!

Despite the lack of internet or games or even pretty-lookin' cover, it does have it's advantages. The battery life is amazing- it usually runs about a week and a half on one charge. Yeah. And I don't really worry too much if, say, I leave it in Zeke's golf cart overnight in a thunderstorm.

2. Which is your favorite meal of the day?

I would like to say breakfast, because, you know, most important meal of the day and all. But typically, I have coffee for breakfast (although that's changing!)...

I do really enjoy lunch, and for a couple of reasons- I don't have to cook it or clean up after it, I get to see my darling husband, my co-workers are simply lovely and nice to talk with, and getting out of my office and away from the computer is always a nice break.

Although- It's now summertime, so ignore all of the above. Except for the coffee part. Now that it's summer, we have millions of campers (yes, exaggerating) at every single meal... and so I'm back to breakfast. Because coffee.  

3. Shower or bath?

Depends. I typically shower in the morning, and I really prefer that. My husband, for all his other qualities, has one very annoying one... he values personal cleanliness above just about everything else.

Now, as far as his personal cleanliness is involved, this is a very good thing. He has a hot, sweaty, dirty, dirty job. He needs to bathe often.

The trouble is, he thinks that I need to bathe as much as he does. Which I don't feel is true. I shower in the morning, and that's enough until tomorrow morning. Zeke would prefer me to shower at night, too. We've come to an uneasy compromise- I take a quick shower in the evening sometimes... but most of the time, I take a bath instead. I get to relax, Zeke gets me clean, and sometimes he even rigs up an elaborate system of mirrors so I can watch TV from the tub. I'm a lucky lady.

4. Think of a person you love. How many days have you been in love with that person? 

2123 days. That large number somehow makes it seem... not as long?

I fell in love with him on this trip.
5. What's the best church you've ever been inside?

By far, I would have to say The Dom in Cologne.

I went to Germany with my mother when I was in high school. We stayed in Dusseldorf, but one day we made the trip, by train, to Cologne. We came up the stairs from the industrial, gray, modern train station, and BAM!

Image Source
Absolutely gorgeous. And I even walked all the way up the bell tower.

6. Happy Feast of the Visitation! Has anyone ever come to help YOU?

When we moved into Peace, I was still working full-time at a school, and moving day happened to be on a day when I couldn't get away. My mother-in-law and my mother came into town to help, which I'm sure must have been interesting. They're very friendly with one another, but are also complete opposites... so I'm not sure what all went down while I was at work, but I did come home to find oven mitts in three different places around the kitchen.

Thanks for hosting, Kendra! 


And, since it's Monday, after all, it's time for a

Hunky Husband Life Hack
 Office Edition!
 Creative solutions, courtesy of Zeke

I asked Zeke if he had any extra door stops in his shop since we'd somehow lost ours in the registration office. He returned with this. 

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