What’s Good For Baby Goose …

•04/09/2010 • Leave a Comment

… is also good for Momma!

I’ve been struggling lately with chores and chore charts. They seem to lose speed faster than my new chewing gum looses its flavor. [Seriously, do NOT buy Peelu Xylitol Dental Chewing Gum. It may be the “cleansing ‘toothbrush’ gum”, but you can hardly stand to keep it in your mouth as long as toothbrush. So, why bother?)

But back to topic: I have charts for me and the things I need to do each day and a generic one for the children. My husband has escaped his chart, but only because I haven’t printed it out. One of these days I’m betting the kids will catch on to his lack of chart and then I’ll have the permission to print it. I only want to do this so I won’t be the only one failing my chart!

The chores for all of us are reasonable and should be do-able, but too many days pass and something gets left off the list. Before I know it, I am swimming in missed chores and the chaos that comes with it. It’s not that I don’t do anything productive in a day, I just spread myself too thin or waste time on slightly productive things rather than do the highly productive things that make home-life go much smoother.

My angst lately has been the effect on my children and what am I teaching them in my actions?

They have morning, afternoon, and evening chores to do each day except Sunday. They are really tough, too, like “get dressed” and “brush your teeth”. I know, how can I sleep at night with such high expectations? But rarely do they do their chores without me telling them to and reminding them constant all day long about them. If I am having a less-productive day, they do as well because I am not nagging them.

I did try to change the trend by stating that THEY were in charge of reading their charts and doing their chores without me reminding them. My only responsibility was to set out their three quarters (one for each set of chores) in the morning. As each set is done in its time, they are to take the quarter and put it in their jar. If they do not, I take the quarter and put it in the “could have earned” jar. We added that second jar because we felt that they really needed to see how much money laziness or carelessness costs.

Yeah, nice plan, poor carry through. My need for growth in self-discipline has to be the only excuse, but excuses get you nowhere.

I have strayed from my daily chores and schedule so long that I cannot fully remember what they are. Why should I think that my children can do any better?

That is why I have a new resolve to grow in the area of self-discipline. I don’t think I am hopeless as it stands right now, but I know I have plenty of room for improvement. Realistically, I will never be the supermom on the go every second of the day because that is not my personality. I like to relish moments and keep my schedule open for opportunity to smell those lovely roses. I don’t think a break-neck speed of living is necessary or desirable and I will never allow myself to be there for long. What is the point of missing your whole life racing to the finish line? Life is to LIVE. But at the same time, too much relish makes one fat.

So, today I will focus on my self-discipline and make the changes I need. My goal is to not waste moments, but not rush through them either. The questions I will ask myself are, “Is this the best use of my time? Is there something else that should take priority to this right now? Is this the best choice for serving my family and others right now?”

Through prayer and the wisdom I will ask God for and the wisdom he has said he will give, I will grow in self-discipline and so will my family!

And by the way, sometimes a nap for mom IS the best choice for her family and others – SOMETIMES.

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When Crossing the Finish Line is Only the Beginning!!

•04/03/2010 • Leave a Comment

I have finished a long time goal of mine!! I have entered the Genesis contest!

Whoo Hooooooooo!

That makes TWO writing contests I’ve entered in the past 6 months. That is a confirmation to me that I am truly back in the writing game and that God is leading. In the past, I have decided to start writing again only to loose steam and dedication REALLY fast – just check out this entire blog for evidence of that! But this start has been nothing like the other ones. Even my confidence has stayed intact, although, we have yet to see if this holds true when those rejections start coming. Yikes!

Please consider joining my blog and following this journey. I am not going to drop off the face of the blog earth this time and I have a feeling this journey is finally the one that will bring me into a new season of ministry – a writing one!!

It Should Be Me!!

•03/25/2010 • 1 Comment

I’ve been sitting here for the past few minutes thinking back on priorities. I don’t know if it’s an escape mechanism because I’m neck-deep in editing right now and I really DO NOT like it, or if it’s that female nostalgia that hits me each month. 😉 But, I just feel a need to share.

Several years ago I found myself in a need for change. I was so busy with outside things, that my children’s basic needs had become an interruption and a bother. It broke my heart when I realized how upside-down this was.

A confirmation of the mess I had created came at a church picnic. My then-two-year-old daughter had fallen down and hurt herself. She picked herself up and ran right past me to her BABYSITTER for hugs and comfort. Ouch.

That very day I began a year-long quest to find out just what God had created me for so that I could be INTENTIONAL with my service and not waste time just filling in where a body was needed.

Once I began to form an idea through prayer, reading, and observation I began to filter all my choices through my new found purpose. Of course my first purpose was “mother”. Somehow I had bought into the idea that THAT was a secondary thing and not the noble calling that it is.

We ended up moving during this process and I took advantage of the changes to firmly set my new priorities. For a full year I did absolutely NO MINISTRY outside of my home. I gave everything I had to my husband, children, and home. I had so much repair work to do with my first relationships! (My relationship with my children transformed radically – and wonderfully – in that year! My marriage was another story that will have to be the subject of a later post. I’m just happy to say, I figured that one out, too … eventually.)

My children are growing older (shhhh, don’t encourage them to pick up the pace!) and my priorities are shifting slightly. I have added ministry outside the home, but I only choose what fits my purpose – which still is primarily “mother”. In fact, I’m going to be letting go of another ministry next year because the needs of my daughter are increasing in the emotional department as she hits those lovely years of puberty. It’s been a bumpy year and the ride has only just barely begun! I’m fastening more than one seat belt, I can assure you!

Anyway, my editing isn’t getting done. I have a contest to enter by the middle of next week and I don’t want to be the WORST entry ever. Just keep this post in mind.

What season of life are you in? What is God’s purpose for you at this time? Make a list of things that boil your blood, make you passionate, that you care about, that you do well, that come easy to you – and find ways to serve that allows you to use all those!

The Doctor is In!

•03/16/2010 • 1 Comment

My character is on the couch. She’s the featured character on Jeannie Campbell’s blog, The Character Therapist. Each Tuesday she chooses a character sent to her by various writers and answers the writer’s questions about the internal workings of that character – what motivates them? what fears drive them? what do they need?

She gave some great insight into my character this week. It makes me anxious to dive right in and add some things and change others around in my WIP.

Check it out if you have time: http://charactertherapist.blogspot.com/

And definitely don’t hesitate to send your characters to the couch!

The Armor IS Jesus!!

•03/10/2010 • 1 Comment

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.”  Ephesians 6:11

I had to speak on the armor of God and serving in his army recently.  In preparation I did much reading and studying and am amazed at what I found.

I have had plenty of Bible teaching and have been familiar with this passage of scripture for years.  I had a bit more than a basic understanding of it, but the depth of the understanding after another week of study has excited me!

The armor IS Jesus!!

That is what I found.  Every piece of armor has it’s foundation in Christ and when we “put on” Christ, we are suiting up for the battle against “rulers, authorities, world powers of this darkness, and spiritual forces of evil” (list taken from Ephesians 6:12).

Look at the first piece of armor we are called to put on: belt of truth.

Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

A few chapters before this statement, Satan is described.  John 8:44, “You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.”

Jesus is our belt of truth that stands against the lies of Satan.

The next piece of armor is the breastplate of righteousness.

If you do a search of the word “righteousness” in a concordance or online resource (like Biblegateway.com) you will find hundreds of references to the word throughout scripture.  In Romans alone there are 29 references to “righteousness”!

Romans 3:21-24  “21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed —attested by the Law and the Prophets 22 —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Over and over again we read in scripture that true righteousness comes through Christ – it is not a righteousness of our own.

Galatians 2:21 says, “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.”

In other words, we cannot gain righteousness by obeying the Ten Commandments.  If we could gain our own righteousness through following the law (the Ten commandments) Christ’s suffering and death on the cross would have been pointless.  I don’t think God does pointless things.

Jesus is the righteousness that covers our unrighteousness.

Next we are called to suit-up with sandals of readiness for the gospel of peace.

For this one I think it is necessary to understand what Roman soldiers in the Apostle Paul’s day wore on their feet for battle because that is what Paul most likely was comparing the “readiness for the gospel of peace” to.  The shoes worn by a Roman soldier in that day were a sandal that had very thick leather soles.  These soles were studded with small nails to provide stability in hand-to-hand combat.  I think because of this, Paul’s point is not being ready to run and bring the gospel as much as it is to be grounded in the gospel.

The gospel is simply this, the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and the restoration and peace it brings between God and man.

Isaiah 6:16 also calls Jesus our “Prince of Peace”.

We can stand firm in the gospel of Jesus, our Prince of Peace.

The shield of faith is next.

This one is bit tougher to nail down with specific scripture.  Faith is huge, but the one we have faith IN is even huger (nice word, eh?).

Ephesians 6 mentions that the shield of faith is what you use “to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one”.  What is Satan (the evil one) again?  A liar.  I believe his flaming arrows are going to be lies that he hurls at you.  The shield of faith is our trust that Jesus is who he says he is, that he did what he said he did, and that he is going to do what is yet to be done.

Jesus is our truth that we hold to by faith to stop and obliterate Satan’s lies before they even settle on us.

The helmet of salvation is a favorite of mine.

I Thessalonians 5:8 adds a dimension to this.  “But since we are of the day, we must be sober and put the armor of faith and love on our chests, and put on a helmet of the hope of salvation.”

Not only is our helmet of salvation, but it is the HOPE of salvation.  Just as the helmet defended the head, the hope of salvation will defend our thoughts and mind.  We have a hope, we have a savior.  We can dwell on the truth of that hope already being fulfilled in Jesus rather than on Satan’s doubts and lies.

Again, Jesus is our helmet of salvation.

The final piece of armor, the sword of the Spirit, is our first weapon!  Up to this point all the pieces have been for defense.  This one is for attack!

Ephesians 6:17 tells us right away what the sword of the Spirit is.  It is the Word of God.

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

I encourage you to read the entire first chapter (even the entire book!) of John.  He is talking about Jesus here.  Jesus is the Word of God.

We also have the Bible, which we call the Word of God, which tells about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God’s son.  Through it, we learn the full and complete story of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  It is the true, inspired word of God.

Again, what is the main weapon of the enemy?  Lies!!  What is in the Bible?  Truth!!  Truth about whom?  Jesus and his father and those whom he created.  Truth is the weapon against lies.

Do you see the connection of Jesus throughout all the armor?  Isn’t it amazing?

I think the most powerful application we can make about the armor of God is this: to put on the armor, we must first establish a relationship with Jesus Christ.

There is no protection against our enemy without first putting on Christ.

Once you’ve “put on” Christ, you must continue to KNOW HIM, and then KNOW HIM MORE!

My favorite verses are 2 Peter 1:3-4, “3 For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.”

I think these verses fit perfect with Jesus being our armor.  Here’s why: Christ Jesus is the embodiment of God’s own glory and goodness.  Through Jesus, God has given us very great and precious promises.  Through Jesus and these promises we can share in the divine nature and escape corruption from sin.  That divine nature is the power of the Holy Spirit.  All of this cannot be gained any other way than through Christ.  Again, it’s all about Jesus!  Satan’s schemes are intended to keep us in sin.  Through Jesus, our armor, we can stand firm against Satan’s schemes and stay out of sin.

Wow!  Doesn’t that excite you?  It sure does me!

One last bit of practical advice I want to leave with you at the close is this:  memorize scripture and use it!  Again, our only weapon is the Word of God.  Knowing scripture off the top of your head is a great weapon when doubts and lies begin filling your head.

I have used scripture to refute the lies that have given me a mindset prone to sin.  I have used promises given in scripture to remind me where my strength comes from, where my hope comes from, why I should have courage, or just who I truly am in Christ.

A final favorite passage of mine is James 4:7, “Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.”  So often when I am locked in a mind battle concerning lies vs. the truth, I just say out loud, “Heavenly Father, I submit to your will!”  Of course just saying it without deciding it firmly in your heart does nothing, but when you truly do submit in your heart to God’s way and say it out loud, there is power!  Many battles have been won on a personal level for me just by submitting my faulty thinking to God and letting his way rule.

I think Jesus did a similar thing in the garden of Gethsemane.  He is about to be arrested.  Being fully God and fully man, he knew what the future held and he knew the pain that was in it.  If you think the sacrifice Christ made on that cross was an easy-breezy one, you need to read his agonizing prayer offered up just before the process finally got rolling.  His words in Luke 22:42 are, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”

If Jesus found strength to face the cross by submitting, think of the strength you and I can find in that very same way!!

So submit, suit-up, and be a mighty warrior!

*Scriptures taken from the Holman Christian Standard version)

A Job and a Half

•03/09/2010 • Leave a Comment

I’m finally back at it and I’m in it for good!   I’ve picked up the “pen” and have been writing up a storm.  In the past month I have written 2 skits, 2 “devotionals” for kids, a devotional for a Ladies’ group, and another devotional kinda thing for an online posting.  I have also started back with my novel writing … and having a blast!!  My goal is to enter this manuscript on the Genesis contest (through the American Christian Fiction Writers).  We’ll see how that goes!  I had forgotten how much writing was a job and how easily the house falls apart when I’m doing it!  Often I wish I was a man writer so my wife could do all the house stuff and writing would be my full-time job.  As a wife and mother, writing can still be my full-time job – but it becomes my SECOND full-time job.  Whew!

With all that being said, I have to cut this short.  Just got a phone call and have to get my grocery shopping done NOW rather than later as planned because of a change in schedule.  At least I have that flexibility – I am so grateful!

One final comment, I will no longer ignore my blog!  I don’t really know what I’ll be doing, but I’ll be doing something.  I’m so ecclectic that my blog will most likely follow suit.  One day I’ll post my latest recipe, the next I’ll bemoan the trials of raising an ASD child, and yet the next I’ll be celebrating an brilliant paragraph I just wrote in my novel which a week later I will report has been cut from the manuscript.  🙂

Happy days and happy writing to all my … well … to the one who reads this at this point … me.

Just Another Day (A Short Story)

•06/06/2009 • Leave a Comment

I’m posting a short story in honor of my mom’s decision to choose life when she was scared, barely seventeen, and abandoned by an equally scared kid.  While the woman in the story did not choose life, the story still deals with the issue of abortion.  You can read my mom’s  story HERE.

And now …

JUST ANOTHER DAY


From well-conditioned, salon-perfect locks down to fine Italian leather shoes, Carole Kramer was the picture of control. Determination in every step, she made her way past tiny cubicles heading toward her spacious corner office.  She stopped short at her receptionist’s desk.

“Whose are those?” Carole nodded her head toward the bouquet of fresh cut flowers spilling out of their crystal vase.

“Misty’s,” the receptionist grabbed a card from the bouquet.  “The card says, ‘With Sympathy’.”

Carole rolled her eyes as she headed into her office. The door slammed behind her and she jumped.  She hadn’t meant to use so much force.  Her leather chair squeaked as she eased into it and picked up the phone.  She pressed speed dial for Connelly and Dowell’s.

“Hello, Connelly and Dowell’s, how may I direct your call?”

“Is Dan in?”

“One moment, please.” Carole picked up a pen and tapped it on her desk.

“Hello, gorgeous.” Dan’s smooth voice floated into Carole’s ear. “Breaking our dinner engagement again for a stodgy client?” There seemed to be a touch of bitterness in his tone.
Thankful that phones did not betray facial expression, Carole winced at his comment. She had only broken one dinner engagement this week and it had only been because…she broke off the thought as her phone beeped.

“Hang on, Dan.  I’ve got another call.”  Carole pushed a button and her receptionist’s voice broke over the line.

“Carole, Mr. Erickson’s on line four.”  Carole frowned.  She couldn’t keep the president of her company, and her boss, on hold.

“Sorry, Dan, I’ve got to go. I’m not breaking our date. I’ll see you eight o’clock sharp and we can talk then.” Carole hoped Dan didn’t catch the tremble in her voice as she said good-bye. What was wrong with her? She hadn’t earned the reputation as the “Dictator” by falling prey to the usual feminine musings. She wasn’t weak like the big-bouquet-of-flowers-girl, Misty. Misty wore her heart on her sleeve and floated from emotion to emotion. It was enough to make a person sea sick!

Carole’s thoughts floated back to last week and her encounter with Misty at the Doctor’s office, of all places.  She would have rescheduled her “procedure” if she had known Misty would be there at the same time. She could feel the prickle of hairs on end at the back of her neck with the memory. The moment their eyes had met, each coming out of their exam rooms, Carole had wanted to run. It was bad enough for her to be battling a moment of vulnerability; she didn’t need Misty around to prick at her conscience as well.

A “gift from God” Misty had called it. How about an inconvenience, a bit of tissue wreaking havoc with her body? How many meetings had Carole sat through, afraid her stomach would reject her last meal? Misty should be glad “Mother Nature” had intervened on her behalf. Doctors willing to “intervene” were not as easy to find as Carole had been lead to believe.

“Carole, Mr. Erickson is still on hold.”  Carole’s mind jumped back to the present at the sound of her receptionist’s voice.

Carole reached to push line 4, but her sleeve caught the petty cash dish.  It crashed to the floor. A start passed through her body as she caught sight of a quarter spinning on her carpet.

Beads of perspiration dotted her upper lip and her chest felt compressed as a wave of reality settled like a hammer. Color left her face as she continued to stare at the quarter. Heads or tails, it didn’t matter, no matter what side was up the fact was still there. A quarter was a quarter and a life was a life. Whether viewed as a blessing or a curse, it didn’t matter. Life couldn’t be determined by “choice”. It simply was.

The beeping phone brought Carole back to the present again and she gasped. Mr. Erickson didn’t take kindly to waiting.

“Mr. Erickson, how can I make your life easier this morning?” As she slipped back into her familiar role, confidence covered doubt and composure buried vulnerability. What was she thinking? She had just experienced one of those “moments” the doctor had warned her about. She was still the “Dictator”.

“By showing up with your usual brilliance for our merger meeting on December 2nd.” Carole smirked as she heard the exact date the doctor had predicted as the due date. How ironic. She penciled in the meeting and affirmed to Mr. Erickson that she would be there.

As she placed the phone in the receiver, she righted the petty cash dish and scooped up the change, including the quarter. Settled once again at her desk, she straightened her jacket and smoothed her hair. December 2nd, what did it really matter? After all, wasn’t it just another day?

Copyright by T. Ruby Johnson 2009