Archive for March, 2008

Fighting Back

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

1 Corinthians 9:24-27, emphasis added

Last week, I wrote about my struggle to live the life I claim to want to live.  Yesterday, I went to church and listened to a sermon that challenged me.  (I often wonder, does my pastor have a live feed to my house?) My church is starting a new series called, “Spring Training,” and it’s just what I need.  Let’s get back to the basics of the faith.  With this being the first Sunday of the series, the pastor focused on I Corinthians 9:24-27 and the issue of discipline.

These were just a few of the things I wrote in my journal.  (fyi – I sometimes write things to myself during sermons.  Thought I should explain that.  The pastor didn’t quite word things the way I have written them, but you’ll get the idea.)

  • Are you running for the prize?
  • Don’t think you can be undisciplined and achieve all that God has for your life.  You must respond to His initiation.
  • Desire –> Discipline –> Delight
  •  Discipline is positioning yourself before God to receive grace.
  • Grace is not just the love, pleasure, and favor of God for an undeserving people.  It is also the power of God to do the will of God and a safeguard to keep us from losing our life to anything but God.
  • I don’t trust myself to not be deceived.  Therefore, I discipline myself to keep myself in God.
  • Will you respond to God’s initiation?  Are you willing to fight and be proactive or will you continue to live passively?

Discipline.  It’s an area of my life that is lacking and effects everything.  My relationship with the Lord, my marriage, the state of my home, etc. is directly impacted by my discipline or lack thereof.  Recently, it’s been lacking.  And I have felt its effects.  So this week, I’m fighting back.  I want to evaluate specific areas of my life, put myself before God and commit myself to change.  At this point, I’m not exactly sure what this will look like, but that’s a part of the process. 

Since I started blogging a few months ago, I have noticed how little time it seems I have to get things accomplished.  I go to bed later.  My house is a little more cluttered.  I’m not reading as much.  I haven’t spent as much quality time with my husband in the evenings.  I have made some bad choices on how to use my time, and something has to give.  At least for now.  Therefore, as a part of my Fighting Back Week, I’m going to take a break from the blog.  And, more painfully, from Google Reader.  (Yikes!) 

Why am I telling you all this?  One, to keep myself accountable.  I figure if I put this out there for all to see, I’ll be more likely to do what I say I’m going to do.  (Kat, ask me about it!)  And two, so you won’t wonder where I’ve gone and never come back.  Because I know all 20 of you will be asking yourselves, “Hmm, I wonder where MC has gone.  Perhaps she has stopped blogging.  I guess I’ll unsubscribe to her blog and leave forever.  So long, Milk in the Closet!”  Nooooooo!  Come back!  I’m just taking a blog fast to get back on my feet.

I know you’ll be waiting on pins and needles for my return, but fear not, dear friends.  Return I shall.  Have a blessed week.  See you next Monday!

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Does This Violate Child Labor Laws?

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Parent’s University – Family Finances

Today’s theme for Parent’s University is finances.  Kat wrote a very helpful post about what her family does to help in this area.  Ditto to all that she says!

I don’t really have much to add to her advice.  My husband and I live an extremely simple life.  We do not have any debt from college or otherwise.  We don’t buy a lot because we don’t need a lot.  That’s not to say we don’t want a lot.  It’s a simple matter of keeping our hearts content and saving up for things that we would like to purchase. 

The first year we were married, we set some financial goals along with a time frame for each goal.  It’s amazing what you can do when you actually set goals.  I remember one of our goals was to save money for a vacation specifically for our five year anniversary.  When it came time to go to St. Lucia, we had the cash to pay for it all.

Which brings me to this:  cash.

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Other than our mortgage and other utility bills which we pay online, we mainly use cash for everything.  We used to do the whole envelope thing where we had a different cash envelope for different categories.  One for groceries, one for dining out, one for our individual allowances, etc.  But this got to be a pain.  So now we just have one envelope for the entire month.  We tried once to use our credit card for all of our purchases, but it was too easy for me to overspend and go over our budget.  With cash, that’s not an option.  When the cash runs out, we don’t buy anything else.  Plain and simple.  

“But what happens if you run out of cash and you don’t have any food left?” 

In the seven years of doing this, that has never happened.  That last week of the month, we may only have $25 left in the envelope and that pretty much determines what we eat that week.  There have been times where we have eaten rice and beans for the last three days of the month, but I’ll tell you what, it keeps me disciplined when I shop at the grocery store.   This system may not be for everyone, but it has helped us stay within our means and faithful in our finances.

Click here to see what everyone else said about family finances.

AI Top 10 – It’s All About David Cook

This morning, I read a post on My Friend Amy’s blog about last night’s episode of American Idol.  I left a comment and before I knew it, had typed enough to compose my own post.  So, copy, paste, edit, publish.

Oh, Ramiele.  Why would she choose this song?  Especially when she’s not feeling well.  I actually do remember the Carrie Underwood performance, which says a lot since it was a few years back.  I think sweet pea is going home, sick or not.

I actually liked Jason.  I think that the people who like his style will like what he does every week, as long as he doesn’t pick a loser song.  I just wish he would open his mouth more when he peforms.  It’s awkward how he sings sometimes.

I really like Brooke‘s voice, but she seems awkward to me sometimes.  It’s like she doesn’t quite know what to do.  I actually liked it better when the rest of the band finally came in, but I guess the judges thought otherwise. 

Michael.  I’m sure if I was in the audience, I would have been blown away.  The band was rockin’, the lights were crazy.  It was probably awesome!  Listening to it on television while sitting on my couch, however… I wasn’t really that blown away.  I thought it was way better than what he has done previously, but I thought the beginning was way awkward.  Very wordy.

David A.  Well, I didn’t know the song.  But what I liked about it was that it seemed like he really believed what he was saying.  I notice that he tries to pick songs he can get behind (most of the time) and sing from his heart.  So, while I thought it was a bit corny, I also thought he was sincere and I liked it.  He just is so young!

Kristy was very smart in her song choice tonight.  I don’t know whether or not she was trying to be clever, but clever it was.  It’s a powerful song, but I have to confess, I have heard that song performed at a theme park.  So, it’s a tough one for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I support our troops, I love our country, etc… just not a huge fan of the song itself.  I bet the judges were thinking to themselves, “Oh great.  This girl should have gone home weeks ago, but now I have to be P.C.  Dear God, please don’t let me put my foot in my mouth…please don’t let me put my foot in my mouth…”

David C.  WOW!!  WOW!!  When he first started singing, I recognized the lyrics, but couldn’t place the melody.  I said to my hub, “I like this song, but what is it?”  I thought he was AMAZING, and I have not been a huge fan of his.  Until now! 

In fact, let’s watch that again, shall we?

That was just good, even the second time!  Okay, back to the rest of the review… 

Chikezie, Syesha, Carly… don’t really remember them.  That probably says something.

My picks for bottom three?  Ramiele, Chikezie and maybe… I really don’t know who else.  What do you think?

Sidenote:  It totally cracks me up how one week they give advice and then another week, they give the complete opposite advice.  What’s a girl to do?  Bring in the band.  Don’t bring in the band.  Stick to the melody.  Take a risk and don’t just stick to the melody.  No wonder the contestants have such a tough time sometimes!

Another sidenote:  I felt very old while watching last night’s show.  Choose a song from the year you were born and we heard Total Eclipse of the Heart???  Wasn’t that like 1983?  I would have had to pick Killing Me Softly or Tie a Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree.  I think those are considered Oldies now.  I feel old.  Some say that old is a state of mind.  I think I’ve crossed the border!

Works for Me – Praying Daily for Your Children

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I struggle with consistency.  Exercise, drinking water, cleaning my house, and watering my plants come to mind.  I want to be disciplined, but there are times when I just really don’t feel like exercising (most of the time) and there are times when, gosh darnit, I really want to drink Coke!  (Sidenote:  When I moved to Texas, I quickly learned that all soft drinks are called Coke.  “Would you like a Coke?”  “Sure.  Could I get a Dr. Pepper?”  Odd.)

But one area in my life where inconsistency is not an option is prayer.  God has blessed me with a wonderful husband and an amazing daughter.  I may neglect a lot of things in life, but I cannot neglect my family.  Prayer is eternal.  I want to live for the eternal.

I have a copy of this prayer calendar on my refridgerator.  I pray daily for my daughter, but this calendar gives me specific things to pray, as well as a scripture for each day.  I use it to help me remember to pray for things that I may not be consistent about or might otherwise forget. 

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Praying daily for my child… works for me.  Click here to see what works for everyone else.

Struggle

As I sit at my computer, I struggle to put in words what I feel.  Please hang with me as I sort through my thoughts. 

It has been over a month since the Uganda trip for Compassion International.  I remember being moved to tears reading some of the blog posts about beautiful children living in horrid conditions and orphaned children with nothing but the help that others provided.  I was so touched that we decided to sponsor another child with Compassion. 

But now that I’m not reading about these kids every day, I struggle. 

I struggle with apathy.
I struggle with materialism.
I struggle with discontentment.
I struggle to remember the needs of others.
I struggle to live the selfless life that Christ has called us to live.

I feel a great sadness in my heart because I know how I want to live and yet, I am not fully living it.  As I read the New Testament, I find myself more and more feeling like I would be one of the people Jesus would have called a “white washed tomb.”  People who know me would never dream of my struggles.  I am the typical American christian.  I go to church.  I am kind to the people at the grocery store.  I pray.  I tithe.  (Okay, that may not be typical.) I don’t cuss.  I don’t lie.  I stay away “bad” movies. 

But isn’t there more? 

Christ said He came to give us not just life, but abundant life.  I want it.  I don’t want to settle for anything less.  I am tired of living a “good” life because I don’t think that’s all that Jesus died for.  He did not die on a cross and raise from the dead just for me to live a “safe” life.  He did not die and raise again for me to live out the “American dream.” 

I am currently reading a book by Will and Lisa Samson called Justice in the Burbs: Being the Hands of Jesus Wherever You Live.  Do not read this book unless you want to be challenged.  I plan to blog more about the book at a later time, but here is a blurb to let you in on what I’m experiencing. 

Most of us, at different levels of awareness, understand this [safe] nature about the suburbs.  The burbs are safe, but they are safe at the price of keeping out questions of need, questions of poverty, questions of insufficiency.  In fact, they are designed to maintain an illusion of a particular life, the American dream, where no one is needy, where there is a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage…Who wants to witness suffering, poverty, or need?  Yet for those who are followers if Jesus, suffering is bound up in the story by which we live.

More later.

He Has Risen!

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“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!'”

~Luke 24:1-6

He rose from the dead,
and now I am forgiven.

He rose from the dead,
and now I am loved.

He rose from the dead,
and now I know peace.

He rose from the dead,
and now I know joy.

He rose from the dead,
and now I am accepted.

He rose from the dead,
and now I am healed.

He rose from the dead, 
and now I am free.