Tuesday, May 21, 2013



Have you seen this hashtag before? 

For those of you who don't know, hashtags are something primarily used on Twitter and occasionally on other social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram.  Essentially, they are used to add context to your 'Tweet' or 'status' within a theme or event.  For instance, if I was talking about a book I just finished by my favorite author I would end my status with #terriblackstock or #goodbook.

Anywho...back to my intro - the hashtag #firstworldproblems has become quite popular.  Here are just a few examples taken from Reddit.com:

  • "I don't like the free coffee at work."
  • "I can't park my car in the garage because there are already two other vehicles and a boat inside."
  • "I had too much food for lunch and now I'm tired."
  • "My commute is so short that my car doesn't have time to warm up."
  • "I had to use internet explorer for 75 seconds."
  • "I'm a freelancer, and I made too much money this quarter so I'm going to have to pay taxes."

Do you get the picture here?  First world problems are the problems we have on a day to day basis that those in a third world country could never even fathom, problems they would probably like to have.

But I think we are missing the bigger picture.  Is there such thing a legitimate first world problem?  I think so.

Psalm 12:1-5
1 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be,
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
2 They speak falsehood to one another;
With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
The tongue that speaks great things;
4 Who have said, "With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?"
5 "Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the  needy,
Now I will arise," says the Lord; "I will set him in the safety for which he longs. 

When I think of people with legitimate hard times I picture those children on the TV commercials that are just skin and bones due to the famine and drought in their land, I picture scenes from Hotel Rwanda where the land is ravaged from war and dead bodies cover the road.  Or even Moore, Oklahoma which was just leveled by a 2-mile wide tornado last night.  The physical problems of this world are so very easy to see.  But what about the spiritual?

Our country is in the midst of spiritually hard times.  If you don't agree, please take a moment to remove your blinders.  Wake up!  These are truly hard times and here are the reasons:

1. ...for the godly man ceases to be, / For the faithful disappear from among the sons of man.
Matthew Henry states, "When there is a general decay of piety and honesty among men the times are then truly bad."  'Piety' is defined by Dictionary.com as "reverence for God" or even "dutiful respect."  Look around you.  In general, does our country have a reverence or a dutiful respect for God?  Absolutely not.  If we were godly and faithful and truly revered God we would take His word as it stands, not pick it apart to make it suit our lifestyle, to make what we are doing seem "okay."  In a country where sex sells, homosexuality is condoned, babies are killed without a chance, and drugs run amuck in our school systems like ants at a picnic, it is easy to see how God is only someone we turn to during tragedy (if even then).  That is hardly reverence.  Godly men don't fit into this dog-eat-dog world where every man fights for himself - they should stick out like a banana in an apple orchard.  Yet, I don't see very many bananas...maybe a few rotten apples here and there, but no bananas.  It is plain to see that, in America, the godly man ceases to be and the faithful are disappearing right before our eyes.  #firstworldproblems

2.They speak falsehood to one another; / With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
You see, "the times are bad indeed when there is no such thing as sincerity to be met with, when an honest man knows not whom to believe nor whom to trust" (Henry).  I don't know about you but in this past election I really struggled because it was impossible to know what was true and what wasn't.  I remember when it hit me, I was sitting at the table reading another article on who-knows-what and like a fist to the stomach I realized: it is impossible to know what is true.  From the candidates themselves to the media and anyone in-between it was like trying to walk straight after spinning in circles.  That feeling remains today though it was much more apparent during the election.  People will lie to get what they want, and besides God Himself (and maybe a few of my friends and family), it is extremely difficult to know who can be trusted as a reliable source.  During these truly hard times, "we must get the truth for ourselves or go without it" (C.S. Lewis, Miracles).  #firstworldproblems

3. ..."With our tongues we will prevail; / Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?
"Enemy-occupied territory - that is what this world is" unfortunately (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).  The times are truly bad "when the enemies of God, and religion, and religious people, are impudent and daring, and threaten to run down all that is just and sacred" (Henry).  
  • Sacred.  I hear that word and I instantly think of marriage.  Yet divorce is an everyday norm and gay marriage is rising in popularity.  Justice is having a right to life yet over 1 million abortions are performed each year (and only approximately one percent of those are because of rape) (Abort73.com).  #firstworldproblems
  • Look for enemies of our faith and you will find them near or far.  In the first season of A&E's Duck Dynasty, the producers not only cut out a lot of the "faith stuff" but also added *bleeps* in unnecessary places because they wanted the show to be 'edgier'.  Look at the rest of Hollywood - any time there is a "Christian" in a show, they are either over-the-top ridiculous and make us look bad or they barely have the morals and values we deem highly important.  There are even some military leaders who have labeled Christians as extremists alongside the likes of Al Qaeda (Fox News).  And what about our president?  Yes.  I said our president - Barack Obama.  There is a lot of here-say out there.  I have heard that he covers crosses with sheets in any area that he is speaking, I have heard that he removes the phrase 'the Creator' when quoting the Declaration of Independence, and much more. I have not done enough research to know if these things are legitimate or not, they are simply here-say.  I do know, however, that the very things he says shows how little he truly cares for the sacredness of God's word.  I have attached a video I ran across some time back.  Within the first couple of minutes my chest was tight and I was holding back tears.  I warn you, his words are manipulative, but if you believe in the Bible and it's teachings, the first 3 minutes (as well as the rest) of this video will hurt your heart.  #firstworldproblems
  • "Many think because they have the faculty of speaking, that therefore they may speak what they please" but this could not be further from the truth (Clarke). Whether the world wants to believe it or not, we will be held accountable one day for the things we do and say - as well as the things we cause others to do because of the words we say.  Speech is a powerful thing.  Words can be uplifting or detrimental, encouraging or manipulative, etc.  Whoever said "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" was in serious denial.  Words go straight through our skin and bones to the heart - this can be a good thing or a bad thing.  I learned this past week that C.S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters, a series of hypothetical letters between two demons, after hearing Adolf Hitler speak and realizing the power of words.  Hitler used the power he discovered, the power of words and communication, to cause the horrendous murder of millions upon millions of innocent people.  And because of his words, people were either led to believe that it wasn't happening or that it was a good thing.  We live in a country, as stated before, where it is hard to tell a truth from a lie.  Don't you think that's how it started in Germany?  And then, in naivety, people just started believing what they were told because the speeches they heard sounded great and extremely flattering.  The video above is a prime example of words being powerful and manipulative.  It would be so easy to believe what Obama was saying: it isn't right for my faith to interfere with the government.  He makes it sound easy and commendable to leave our faith at church.  But do you really want to live in a world where your faith must be checked at the door of the church?  I sure don't.  We must always remember to go back to the only Truth we can be sure of: God.  And He has given us His word so that we will always know what Truth is.  That Truth should infect EVERY part of our lives from the words we speak to the things we do!  #firstworldproblems
I hope you can see now why the times are truly bad.  But what can we do about it?  We pray.  The very beginning of this Psalm is Help, Lord... and towards the middle there is the plea: May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, / The tongue that speaks great things... They were asking God to fix the wrongs that were being committed, they were turning to Him.  In truly bad times, though it is difficult, we should also turn to Matthew 5:44 - "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." 

God will answer for His word says: "IF my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, than I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis added).  IF we pray and seek His face, IF we turn from our wicked ways...He will answer our cries for help and heal our land!  After all, "The enemy may have filled his arrows to the string, but there is another bow bent which will be drawn before his" (Expositor's).   There is always hope.  For "when you pray, your prayers are heard by the same God who answered Moses' prayer for water in the desert, the God who gave Abraham and his barren wife a son, and the God who made the slave Joseph second in power only to Pharaoh" (Francis Chan, Crazy Love).

I challenge you today to open your eyes to the truth around you - we are living in truly bad times.  Don't take my word for it, go out and do your own research!  And then find a comfy spot for your knees and pray.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Respect Challenge: Week 4

Quick Recap - I am on a 25 week journey to becoming a more respectful wife.  I want to be the best wife my husband could ever ask for!  I found my inspiration over at Loving Life at Home.  Please feel free to join me on this journey...it might even change your marriage...  ;)

Don't Interrupt. 

Jennifer notes, "Have you ever been around a person who won’t let you finish a sentence? That gets old fast. Even if you think you already know what your husband is going to say, allowing him to say it without cutting him off mid-sentence shows both respect and common courtesy."

James 1:19 - This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;.


*EEK* - I was VERY convicted this week.  I have a habit of starting to talk before other people have completed their thought.  This especially happens when I am excited or really passionate about something.

Honestly, I don't think I did an excellent job of fixing this in just a week.  But I did stop myself a couple of times and I have REALLY noticed how much I need to break this habit - not just with my Hubby but with everyone.  This is definitely something I will continue to work on.

I hope you all have better luck with this one than I did! ;)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Respect Challenge: Week 3

Quick Recap - I am on a 25 week journey to becoming a more respectful wife.  I want to be the best wife my husband could ever ask for!  I found my inspiration over at Loving Life at Home.  Please feel free to join me on this journey...it might even change your marriage...  ;)

Give Him Your Undivided Attention. 

Jennifer notes, instead of multi-tasking, "when your husband is speaking to you, make a point to lay other tasks aside, look into his eyes, and listen to what he is saying with the goal of understanding and remembering his words.

 James 1:19 - This you know, my beloved brethren.  But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. 

Philippians 2:4 - Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others.

Sometimes not multi-tasking can be a huge challenge for me.  And I mean HUGE.  I am constantly doing two things at once or at least thinking or planning in my head.  This means truly listening can be a little hard.

I have found over the past week that a few things really work for Hubby and I.
  1. If we are both driving home from work, we talk on the phone.  Yes, I am driving, but I am still able to really listen to what he has to say.
  2. We have started walking/running together.  While I am still able to breath, we can easily talk without distraction...and when I am hyperventilating all I can really do is listen!  ;) 
  3. We attend church 45 minutes from where we live.  This means that any time we go to church or a church-related activity we have at least a good hour of talk time if not more.  Most of our serious conversations happen during this time - we just have to be sure to turn off the radio or I catch myself singing instead of listening.       
This challenge for me meant that I have to be incredibly intentional about tuning out any distractions - whether that means turning off the radio or setting down the baby blanket I am crocheting, I need to make an effort to do so. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Pre-Op of Prayer

Have you ever had surgery before?  I have.  At the ripe age of 21, I had my gallbladder removed (apparently it wasn't functioning properly).  Even though it is a minor surgery, I was still pretty nervous going in.  But they prepare you well.  The process goes much like this:

First, they prepare the patient.  Obviously, they take all your vitals to ensure that your body is ready and capable for surgery.  But they also educate you on what will be happening pre-op, during surgery, and post-op - preparing you mentally.  And, of course, for me and many others, there is someone there to pray with you and prepare you spiritually.  Yet somehow in all of that preparation they neglected to tell me that all of those doctors and nurses would see me naked....and that was my final thought before I drifted to sleep.  Nice, huh?  ;) 

Then they listen and address any concerns you might have.

And finally, it is time for surgery - where all the magic happens.  In a nut shell...they (hopefully) fix the problem.

God answers prayers almost exactly like that.  

Psalm 10:17-18 
17 O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear
18 To vindicate the orphan and the oppressed,
So that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror.

The author of this Psalm had previously gone into great detail of how the wicked were oppressing the meek, the poor, the afflicted.  And it seemed, to both the wicked and the oppressed, that God was ignoring this evil - the oppressed were quickly losing hope.  But in these concluding verses, we see that the author of this Psalm knows that God has heard their prayer: O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble.  How?  One cannot be sure.  We can either assume that it was known because God had answered previous prayers and can be counted on to do so again or there may have been some sort of spiritual assurance: "To pray and immediately feel the thrilling consciousness 'Thou hast heard,' is given to those who pray in faith" (Expositor's Commentary).     

Then, the author goes on to show how after hearing our prayer, God will answer.  Yet, we must observe how that answer comes.

First: You will strengthen their heart... This is the hardest part for us to grasp.  It is when we are in the midst of raging storms or valley lows that we pray the most and feel as if God does not hear us.  But He has!

Psalms 6:9 - The Lord has heard my supplication, The Lord receives my prayer.

John 9:31 - ...but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.

1 John 5:14-15 - This is the confidence we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

And that is just the start!  His word promises us that He hears.  So why isn't He answering right away?  Because He is strengthening, or preparing, our hearts.  Much like the nurse helped to prepare me for surgery, the Lord must first prepare you spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically before He fixes the problem.  Can you imagine if they hadn't prepared me for my gallbladder surgery?  I can see it now, pulled right out of the middle of a horror film - they start poking me with needles I don't even know if I need, then I start falling asleep as I desperately try to fight and stay awake because I have no clue what is happening...and then I wake up weak and with stitches in my abdomen.  What happened??  Did they steal my kidney??  Did they implant a tracking device??  Okay, okay...that might be a little extreme.  But do you get the picture?  We need to be prepared before the problem can be fixed.

Then: You will incline Your ear... 'Incline' in the Hebrew is qashab meaning "to hear, be attentive, heed...hearken, pay attention, listen" (Strong's H7181).  Though He has already heard your prayer, He will now be attentive to what you are saying just like the nurse answered the incessant amount of questions my mom and I had before they wheeled me away.  

And last but, most certainly, not least: He will answer.  In the case of this Psalm, the Lord would vindicate the orphan and the oppressed.  According to the Gesenius' Lexicon, 'vindicate' in this scenario means "to defend any one's cause."  God may not answer you in the way you expected but He has already prepared your heart for the answer He gives - He will not leave you hanging high and dry!  He is a miraculous surgeon who knows the best way to fix our problems, even when we may not understand.

"The prayer of the humble, like a whisper amid the avalanches, has power to start the swift, white destruction on its downward path; and when once that gliding mass has way on it, nothing which it smites can stand."

I challenge you today to look at your prayer life a little differently. Are you hung up on an unanswered prayer?  Trust in the truth that He is preparing your heart - you are currently in pre-op!  Are you holding back because you don't think God is listening?  He hears you, His word has promised us that.  Keep talking to Him, keep crying out - "He who continues to cry shall infallibly be heard" (Clarke).  Your prayers aren't answered the way you want them to be?  God is the only surgeon in the entire universe who is incapable of making a mistake.  It may not be easy but there are many times I have to humbly admit: "You know better than I."  

In fact, my gallbladder surgery was one of those times.  For me, that surgery was supposed to be the answer to a long road of health problems.  And instead of being the answer I thought it was going to be, it was merely a roadblock. A couple of months after my surgery I began presenting the symptoms I had had before surgery - removing my gallbladder didn't solve a thing.  I was later put on medicine that has still not resolved all of my health problems.  There are days I wonder why God hasn't answered our prayers for answers in my medical life.  On those days where I get nothing accomplished, I have to cancel plans, and I'm in miserable pain...it takes everything in me to say: "You know better than I."  But, I am learning that He uses our unanswered prayers to prepare us for things we can't even fathom.  I am already stronger because of this.

I pray that you use the unanswered prayers in your life as an opportunity to grow instead of an excuse to shut out God.  He has heard and He is holding you close - we just have to make it through pre-op!  And thank goodness, we don't have to be stripped down to nothing for Him to fix us!  ;)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Respect Challenge: Week 2

Quick Recap - I am on a 25 week journey to becoming a more respectful wife.  I want to be the best wife my husband could ever ask for!  I found my inspiration over at Loving Life at HomePlease feel free to join me on this journey...it might even change your marriage...  ;)

Honor His Wishes. 

Jennifer notes, "
Give weight to what your husband thinks is important. Make those things a priority that matter most to him, whether it’s having dinner ready when he gets home from work or keeping the house tidy or limiting computer time. Don’t make him ask twice."

Philippians 2:4 - Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others.

I never realized how often I say "no" or "not now."  Hopefully that has changed for the better.

Most days I want to come home and relax instead of heading straight to the kitchen.  But I know that Hubby really loves it when dinner is ready as soon as he gets out of the shower.  I did my very best to make sure this happened each night this week.  I also made an effort to not be on my computer as much, it bothers him that I always have to "do."

A little un-coincidentally, this week was the perfect week for honoring hubby's wishes since he got a major promotion.  While he was excited - it put a lot of added stress on top of the usual.  This meant asking me to help him shop for polo's (a much more in depth process than you might imagine), asking me to help with some other work stuff I have kept putting off, and a stress-induced migraine.  It was a challenge for me to take care of him as HE saw fit instead of how I saw fit.
And on the light sight of things: one night this week Hubby asked me, "Could you hold my feet with your hands and make them warm?"  Is he crazy?  First of all, who asks that question?  Second of all, I hate feet.  And I especially hate touching feet.  But I remembered that this week I'm supposed to honor his wishes.  So I did....but only for a couple of minutes.  ;)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Winter Fun!

Yep, this blog is a little late in coming (it is currently the last day of April and 70 degrees outside).  But, I took the pictures with the intent to blog and I finally found the time to do so!  ;)

Regardless, we had a blast!  It was a full day of fun and some of these activities were repeated throughout the rest of our winter days.

First, we got out our "ice skates," or rather, a couple pieces of wax paper.  This idea, from Toddlers Through Preschool, could be used all year round and was a HUGE hit!  We tried it on every surface area we could think of in the house and probably spent about a half an hour just skating around. 

I even joined in on the fun!  ;)

Then we headed outside for some good old-fashioned fun which included sled-riding, making snowmen, and snowball fights!  But, of course, I had to include this wonderful idea from Rockabye Butterfly - spray-painting the snow!  With a few spray bottles, water, and a few drops of food coloring, the kiddos didn't notice their cold hands anymore (even though I sure did...)!

As we came inside, we brought some of the snow with us so that we could have even more fun painting!

This idea is from Housing a Forest.  Again, just food coloring, a little water, and some paint brushes and we had fun for quite awhile.  She suggested using water color paper so that after all the snow melted there would be a painting but I just used what I had on hand - the kids loved it!  And they thought that it was "magic" how all the colors disappeared after the snow melted.  

We ended the day by making sun catchers.  Check out The Fairy and the Frog for the original idea.  I just grabbed a couple of old containers and a bunch of little nick-nacks I had floating around my craft room.  The kids put whatever they want into the water, stirred it with a paintbrush and then we stuck them in the freezer overnight.  I made ours a little thick so it took 2 days for a complete freeze.  Then we hung them outside and learned how the sun melts ice...even when it is cold outside.  

This was a fun-filled day but we never had any "melt" downs.  lol.  I encourage you to keep some of these ideas on hand for next year - I sure will!