Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Clothed With Scarlet

Proverbs 31:21 "She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet."

I'm so thankful for God's Word. What a great blueprint God gave us to follow in Proverbs 31! In this one chapter we receive direction in so many different areas as women, wives, mothers, and even employers. Each time I read it, I get something new out of it that I didn't get before! God's word is alive and always challenging me to step it up!

There are different ways to look at this verse. It could be interpreted as completely spiritual, with snow (or winter) representing death and scarlet representing the blood of Jesus. Meaning that her children have been fed spiritually and are saved and ready to meet the Lord at the time of their death. Or, one could apply it literally, as meaning a virtuous woman plans ahead and makes sure that her children have warm clothes to protect them from the elements of winter.

For me, the key message here is that this woman thinks ahead, she manages her time and her resources in regard to the clothes her children wear, for each and every season. Now, in this day and time we live in, it is easy to get caught up in commercialism and trends. The marketing world knows that we Moms like to dress our children well. We will dress them well when we ourselves may not have anything to wear! Speaking for myself, it is hard for me to purchase things for myself when there are so many cute things that I could buy for my children. So it is easy to go the wrong way, if you find yourself thinking that your child HAS to have these clothes even if you cannot afford them or if they do not really need them. A few months ago, I was convicted of a competitive spirit regarding dressing my children for church. I wanted them to be the cutest kids there! What a stench in the nostrils of God. But thankfully, He showed me and helped me to change my ways!

That doesn't mean that I stopped dressing my kids in clean, neat, and well-fitting clothing that becomes them. I am particular about what my children wear when we are out anywhere. My husband often get frustrated with me because I want my girls to have a hairbow in their hair even if we are just going to Wal-Mart! But the truth is, we already look different to the world. I am a dresses-only woman, I do not wear makeup or jewelry, and I have very long hair. I stick out like a sore thumb! As do my children. And the world is watching. They are already critical. If I take my kids out in public looking like they just rolled on the ground and dug their clothes out of a Salvation Army bin, what kind of impression does that make?

Especially for those of us who have larger families (more than two by today's standards), we should be extra careful in how we present our children. Yesterday, I went to town with a friend of mine and we met up with her mother and eight younger siblings. Talk about people staring! They just couldn't get enough of all of us and our kids (seventeen in all). While we were eating, a couple of people approached our table and commented on how well-behaved they were, and how cute they all looked with their hairbows and dresses (there were only three boys in the whole bunch). But what if we had all went in with them mis-matched with their hair uncombed and hanging in their faces? The reaction would've probably been more of pity for those poor kids who looked like nobody took the time to take care of them.

Yes, it takes time to bathe, dress, and groom small children. Shoes get lost. Clothes get stained. This is where we have to manage our resources and time like the woman in verse 21. If you know you are going somewhere, lay clothes out the day before. Find the shoes they need to wear and put them up somewhere out of reach so you are not searching for that lost mate at the last minute. Have a certain basket designated for stained garments so you can stain-treat them before you wash. When an outfit is outgrown, put it up where you don't have to dig around it in the drawer or closet. Put bibs on messy children (I still put one on my almost 4-year-old). Take care of what you have. For your children's sake.

A few years ago, I was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office when in came this mother with a passel of children! I counted as they walked in, single file, and sat down in the chairs. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6!! Not one of them moved when their mother walked to the desk to sign in and fill out papers. They were all dressed neatly and attractively. This mother had it together! I was in awe! To give an opposing scenario, I once knew a family of five children whom you heard before you ever saw them coming ;). They would come to church with their hair halfway combed and their clothes ill-fitting and mis-matched. I felt sorry for those kids, when other kids snickered and steered clear. It really wasn't their fault. I heard people talk about large families negatively, because of the impression this family left. Again, it was all in the Mother's abilities or inabilities to manage her children's appearances.

Now, I'm not saying it's right, but how our children look leaves the impression of how we take care of the rest of our lives. If we don't take the time to do our best for our children, which is our most precious commodity, then will we put the time into other aspects of our lives? It is a reflection. Even more so for those of us with 3-plus kids. If we are going to hold forth the standard of large families, we need to do it right!

May we strive to give our best in every aspect of mothering :).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kids & Scripture Memorization

Would you wise Moms care to share with me how you approach Scripture memorization? Do you learn a verse a week? Or a day? How do you reward your children for learning their verses? How do you keep old memorized verses fresh on their minds?

My kids get excited about it around here! I try to make it fun with corresponding hand motions to match the words of the verses. It's fun to watch their personalities come out as they express themselves through verse.

Here's a clip of Tator Tot while learning a verse this morning. She's a pretty sharp cookie!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spiritual Spring Cleaning, Part 2

Are you as happy as I that spring is finally here? We've had that "Easter snap" that reminded us that winter has not quite loosened its tight-fisted hold on the weather just yet. Groan. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for old Mr. Frosty to melt completely away. At least until July and then I'll be wishing for some cooler days. The warmer weather has given me an energy boost, despite the time change (another groan). Who ever came up with that idea and why??

Pretty soon I'll be making my weekly spring cleaning list. Believe me, it's going to be slow. Probably a room a week. I'm striving for balance here. Keep priorities in line, Amy (read Titus 2 for priority list). I'm hoping that my spiritual house spring cleaning will continue at a better rate than the one in my physical house.

So, last week we talked about some cobwebby corners that I've been dusting out. I'd like to elaborate on those a little bit.

1. Too much computer time. How much computer time is too much? Here's a good judge. You sit down to read your favorite blog and just when you get settled, you're interrupted by "Mo-om! I need you!" With a frustrated huff and puff, you trudge off to grudgingly take care of that little one's need. You rush through it, disgruntled and ready to get back to your blog reading. The poor little tike is wondering what he/she did to make Mommy so short and snappy. Or (try this one on for size) you reward yourself with little "computer breaks" when you cross a task off of your to-do list. Just to check your e-mail. But then you have ten Facebook comments from friends saying how cute your kids are (thankyouverymuch) and you have to open Facebook so you and see which pics were commented on and give a reply comment. Then you see that Aunt Suzie in Idaho posted pics of the new baby and you have to look at those too (and comment accordingly). Before you know it, you've been on for an hour, and that time is...wasted. An entire hour that you can never get back. Yikes. And how much time did you spend in Bible reading this morning? OUCH. Yes, my friends, this sad and shameful story is not unlike those on the Friday night Lifetime Movie Network lineup. It's true. Ahem.
A second point about computer time--you can read all the blogs there are (and there are some fantastic ones out there) on the subject of being a virtuous woman and a good wife and a great homeschooler, but if all you do is read about it, what good does it do? Get up and apply that great information to your home and family! Don't just read about how others are living a full life--live your own!

The remedy: Turn. The. Computer. Off. Talk about feeling freed. Just turn it off and set aside a set time each day that will be your computer time. Maybe in the early morning or late evening, or whenever it will not take away from your time with spouse and children (er...that's a tough one). If there are things that you must do online, like pay bills or order something,or email someone, make a list of those things and do them all at once. You'll spend less time doing it all at one time than if you hop on and off when the idea pops into your head.

Ephesians 5:16 tells us about "redeeming the time because the days are evil." Maybe your time-snatcher is not the computer. Maybe it's talking on the phone, or texting, or exercising, or watching T.V. Whatever it is, if it distracts us from our home and children and time with God and His Word, it's not worth it. Once you realize that, you'll feel so free and realize that when God asks you to give Him something, He will not leave you empty-handed. He will replace that cumbersome weight with a delightful reward!

I did not plan on writing so much about the first point on my Spiritual Spring Cleaning List, so it looks like I will have to continue to point 2 in Spiritual Spring Cleaning, Part 3. Remember, cobwebs of carnality create a home for the spider of sin.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bear With Me...

As you've probably noticed, I've been changing my blog a LOT lately. I just can't seem to find a combination that is just ME, kwim? I like the shabby chic/vintage kind of thing, but I also like to be original. This is one of my favorites that I've used before, so I'm slapping it on for awhile. I'm gonna try real hard to keep this one until I find THE one! Sorry :).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spiritual Spring Cleaning

It's that time of year, Ladies. Have you started yet? Scrubbing baseboards and ceiling fans, cleaning out closets and sweeping cobwebs. There's something about pretty weather that makes us want to see our homes looking just as fresh and beautiful as the outdoors. Today, I want to talk about a different kind of spring cleaning that's been going on around here--spring cleaning of the heart.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about what the Lord had shown me about discretion, and my lack thereof. That was the beginning of a season of soul-searching for me, one that I hope never ends. Towards the end of his life, the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians that he was still striving to attain all that God had for him in his spiritual life.

***Philippians 3:13-15 (King James Version)

13. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

Now, if a man like Paul, full of the power of the Holy Ghost, whom God took up into the third heaven and showed him wondrous things that could not be uttered, felt like He still had room to grow, how much more do we need to improve on our hearts? Have you ever heard the little children's song, "He's Still Working On Me?" Here are the words:

He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me.

1. There really ought to be a sign upon the heart,
Don't judge her yet, there's an unfinished part.
But I'll be perfect just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master's loving hands.

2. In the mirror of His Word reflections that I see
Make me wonder why He never gave up on me.
He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He's the Potter, I'm the clay.

For quite some time, I've been longing for revival in my life. The kind that produces fruits and gifts of the Spirit. I just got sick and tired of being in the same place spiritually for SO SO long. It is SO very important that we be not lukewarm in this hour. It is a very dangerous place to find one's self in. So I asked God if He would show me areas in my life that were acting as walls between myself and spiritual progress. Guess what! He showed me! And like I said in the post about discretion, it wasn't pretty! The corners of my heart are thick with dirty cobwebs that provide a home to the creepy-crawly spider of carnality (the enemy of God).

Do you have any of these cobwebs in your heart?:

* Too much computer time
* Wordly TV shows (you don't have to own a TV to watch these, ya know)
* Romance novels (even "Christian" ones)
* Selfishness
* Laziness
* Lack of an effective prayer time
* No time for the Word

I know some of these things may seem a little extreme, and are harmless in their own right. But God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knows what He is doing when He says "no". Don't we get frustrated with our children day in and day out when we tell them "no" about something and they fight us on it? Their little innocent minds cannot comprehend the danger that we try to steer them away from and they stubbornly insist on having their way. There's a reason why we say "no" to candy and soft drinks and excessive screen time and playing in the road. Because it's harmful to them. "But Mom," they cry, "candy is so good and this computer game is so much fun and there's no cars coming!" In much the same way, our heavenly Father tries to show us the danger in things that seem perfectly innocent. I bet He wants to pull out his spiritual paddle and give us a good whipping! :)

If you want to read more about the cobwebs I've swept out of my heart, and the results, look for Spring Cleaning The Heart, Part 2--coming next week (hopefully) ;).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Musings About Raising Daughters

You know when you see the title, "Musings" on a blog, any blog, there's no telling what it's going to be about, right? My blogging of late has been sparse, for different reasons. Firstly, (we say "secondly", so why not "firstly"?) I made a commitment to the man upstairs to decrease my computer time...drastically. There are just too little precious moments in the day to waste. Let's see, I've got a 2600 sq foot home to manage. A persnickety tabby cat to please. A hunka-hunka-burning love to helpmeet. Three rambunctious, mischievous, in-need-of-constant-training, precious children to care for. That makes it pretty tough to justify time spent in front of this screen. Secondly, I just haven't had a lot of inspiration in this area. I'm in a funk, OK? Sheesh. And the rare moments that do bring inspiration are too often interrupted by one of the precious dears previously mentioned.

So yesterday I was musing...Gracie asked me to fix her hair in pony tails. As I brushed, parted, and ponied, it came to just a few short years she'll be fixing her own hair. Yes, she is only 3 3/4, but look how fast those short years have flown by. How will I bear it? Does it ever just hit you like that? The almost devastating awareness that this child will not be here forever? She is virtually gone tomorrow. With her crazy mess-making and princess dress wearing and coloring out of the lines. What a short time we have to hold them and cuddle them and instill important truths in their hearts! Oh, ache of my heart! How I will miss this squeezable girl! I don't want to forget how she says, "You wanna play dolls wiff me?" Is there any way to permanently imprint these memories in my brain? Along with two other lovies who fill the days with cute sayings and expressions and sweet hugs? Thus the blog. It's an attempt to preserve.

My prayer for my girls is that they give their hearts to Jesus at a young age, and never taste the sin of this world. I hope they fall in love with holy living, and submit themselves to God's plan for them. I pray God will help me to instill in them the values of modesty and femininity and that they find an oasis in prayer. I have so many questions. How do I keep them from being boy chasers? From falling into the trap of girl-gossip? To value simplicity and wholesomeness and purity? That beauty is not defined by Hollywood's latest Miss Thang, but God "beautif[ies] the meek with salvation". When the time comes, where to draw the line with dating. Will they date? Or court? Truthfully, I don't have a clue about these things. But I'm trusting that my Lord will give that knowledge to me when I need it. He said if we ask, we will receive, and I'm asking for lots of wisdom.

I love this song by The Isaacs. I cry each time I hear it. If you have a little girl, grab some Kleenexes before you listen.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Wholesome, Delicous Breakfast

I'm a stickler about having a good breakfast. A weak breakfast leaves my kids unsatisfied and asking for a snack in 1/2 hour after they leave the table. No cold cereal or pop tarts for the Acklen children! I believe in something hot and hearty, that will stick to their bones. Our usual fare: cheese grits & toast, biscuits & bacon or eggs, or oatmeal. Oatmeal is always a challenge. I usually get reactions of wrinkled noses and that little "yuck" noise that Emma makes when she doesn't like the way something looks. :) It's just too cute! So, a little doctoring is in order.

I add brown sugar or sugar in the raw, mix in some natural honey, and combine it with a dash of cinnamon and a teaspoon of flax seed. Now the flax seed doesn't do anything for the taste--it's tasteless and odorless but is very nutritious! Google it and see for yourself! Psst--just for the record, don't tell my kids it's in there--it's a secret! :) Sometimes I chop up some pecans and throw in a few raisins. That way, they have something to "dig" for :).

On Saturdays, we make breakfast a special occasion, and usually have pancakes or waffles, or the full monte--grits, eggs, bacon, and homemade biscuits. I hesitate to mention homemade biscuits because mine have a mind of their own. Sometimes they are edible and sometimes...well, it'd be nice to have a hog or some sort of animal that would enjoy them :).

Is breakfast a challenge for you? I'd love some ideas for healthy, delicious breakfasts that are not too complicated and don't make a big mess in the kitchen.