Saturday, August 14, 2010

The path of confirmation

As I've mentioned previously, I'm participating in the Maximize Your Mornings challenge (#HelloMornings).  The first week was difficult; this second week has been much better. My alarm goes off at 5AM but I snooze it until 5:30 before dragging myself out of bed and take 30 minutes before my day starts to spend some quiet time reading my Bible and in prayer/praise.   I'm absolutely LOVING it.  That feeling of prayer & praise stays with me through my commute into work and into my work day. What a blessing it's been having it with me all day long!

Yesterday Andy woke up extra early and I didn't get my quiet time in.  I was honestly surprised at how much that little bit of quiet time threw my entire morning off kilter. This morning when my alarm went off at 5AM, I turned it off and turned on the weekend 630AM alarm.  I figure since I don't normally get up on Saturday until I wake up naturally, getting up at 630 is early enough!  :)

As part of this, I've started reading a chapter each of Psalm and Proverbs every morning. I've stumbled across so many words of wisdom and advice and confirmation that I'm finally allowing Him to lead my steps.  I'm afraid my words my seem random or jumbled, but please bear with me.  It's all about the things He's putting into my path as the confirmation I'm seeking.

Psalm 2:11-12

Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling. Submit to God's royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities - for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

Psalm 5:3
Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

My bible notes for this verse says we should seek Him in the mornings when our minds are more free from problems and we can commit the whole day to the Lord.  I liked that.

Proverbs 1:7
Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:8-10
My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don't neglect your mother's instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.  My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them!

I've always understood this passage from a parent's perspective.  This past week when I was reading it, God showed it to me from a child's perspective.  I don't listen when He corrects me.  I cry out to Him over and over and over to break these strongholds, to take away the temptations, to set me free of these addictions. He hears my cries and tells me what to do, but do I listen? Nope. Well, maybe for a few days but then I tune Him out and do what I want, only to end up on my knees at the alter crying out to Him again.  That is not how  I need to be!

Proverbs 1:23-27
Come and listen to my counsel. I'll share my heart with you and make you wise.  I called you so often, but you wouldn't come. I reached out to you, but you wouldn't pay attention. You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you - when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you.

I don't want that to be me!  I don't want Him to not listen to me, to not be there when I need to rely on His strength! I don't want to walk alone!  But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm. (Proverbs 1:33)

So I will cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.  I will search for them as I would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then I will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and I will gain knowledge of God.  (Proverbs 2:3-5)   If I (we!) seek out God's wisdom, He will keep us from temptation!

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:11-12 
My child, don't reject the Lord's discipline, and don't be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. 

Proverbs 4:10-13
My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom's ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won't be held back; when you run, you won't stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don't let them go.  Guard them, for they are the key to life.

I cannot tell you how many times I have read those passages of scripture and missed the message!

Proverbs 5:25-27
Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.  Don't get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

I'm finding that as I make this sacrifice effort of getting up early to spend time alone with Him, I'm not tempted to seek out fanfiction and I'm spending less time playing FV. It's easier now to do what needs to be done and turn FB off.  Thank you Father!

During these past 2 weeks, I've also been reading The Mission of Motherhood.  That's always been an area I struggle with.  Not on being a mother in general, but how to be both the sole income provider and a Godly wife and mother.  I'm currently in the middle of Chapter 3 (The Undivided Heart) and there's one passage where God really spoke into my heart and gave me clarity.

A divided mind that comes from a lack of wholehearted commitment to the home, as well as the simple time pressure that comes from supporting a dual career of home and family, tends to rob mother and children alike of the freedom they need to grow and thrive. (p.47)

I realized it's not that I can't "do it all" but rather I haven't been making motherhood a wholehearted priority in my life.  My mind was set in a pattern of work and me-time, and my husband and children only got the leftovers.  Oh my!  I sure felt convicted when I received that bit of Godly wisdom!

A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. 
The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the godly will flourish.
Proverbs 14:1 and 14:11

Those two verses were from my reading this morning, and lent further confirmation that I'm starting to walk where He's leading me.  It's not just His word though that is being used as confirmation.  Songs, messages from my Pastor, from the Youth Pastor that spoke at the Rally last night... Everywhere I've turned this week, every day I've given up to and for Him to work in my life, He's spoken to me through other sources. I keep praying that I'll keep earnestly seeking His wisdom and correction.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are 
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
lyrics, Better Than a Hallelujah by Amy Grant

Monday, August 9, 2010

Up early and strange dreams

I woke up sneezing at 4:15am, which was odd enough in itself.  After crawling back into bed, I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to fall back asleep. I know I'm wanting to get up early, but not that early on my day off.  LOL

Once I fell back asleep about 20 minutes later, I had the strangest dream.  People I knew were dancing with their loved ones, but the loved ones (some that have already Graduated to Heaven, some that haven't) were all skeletal zombies.  As I tried to wipe the zombie images from my mind with pleas to God, the scene shifted to me and the zombies in a cemetery. They wanted me to tell them why they all died -- on the same day.  It was then I realized the day they had died was the day the world ended as we know it - the day the Tribulation started.  I freaked out. Was I wrong - was I not Raptured with the rest?  Then I realized some of those closest to me were still here and there is NO WAY they would have been left behind.  As I was brought to that moment of clarity, the scene shifted again to a third person POV, and suddenly everyone I was standing with flashed out of existence in little puffs of white light. Including me.

Then I woke up to my alarm going off and it was 6:30, time to get up.

I've had some really strange dreams before, but I think that one gets the blue ribbon.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blog Hop '10

Being new to blogging, I had no idea they had blog conferences or carnivals or anything of that sort. I love the idea though! What a great way to make new blogger friends!

Blog Hop '10 is hosted by Pensieve, although I found my way to her from Inspired To Action.

Welcome to Coffee & Caramel, home of myself - Bobbey.  I'm a Christian of 7 years, a wife of (almost) 18, and raising boys ages 16 and 12, as well as an assortment of furbabies, on the Texas Gulf Coast.  I struggle daily to walk the path God has set before me and know I need to share share my trials and tests with like-minded ladies in order to be victorious.  I absolutely love coffee, chocolate, and caramel - preferably mixed together to create something tasty - and spend my time reading, listening to music, or playing computer games. I also cross-stitch and crochet and keep saying I'm going to finish those WIPs soon...  LOL

I can't say that my blog will always be witty or funny or graceful or spiritual, but it is real and I hope God will use it to reach other ladies facing struggles similar to my own.  I hope you'll take the time to look around my site (also a WIP) and come back to visit with me.  You can also follow me on facebook and twitter (@bobbeym).

One more thing before I hop back over to the party to meet some more ladies.  If you're an experienced user of Blogger, I would dearly LOVE some assistance in better customizing my site.  I know HTML but I feel much to restricted by these templates and can't figure out how to do what I want to do.

Have fun at the party and I hope to run in to you again soon!  Feel free to subscribe me!

M.O.M. - Chapter 2

Last Sunday, our pastor shared a story about his oldest son (age 8) catching his 1st catfish.  This was a reminder from God that we must enjoy our children and these special moments with them.  I'm trying to learn to make special moments with my children where I can, even if it's as simple as running weekend errands.

My child, listen when your father corrects you.
Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
Proverbs 1:8

Last Tuesday I started reading a chapter of Psalm and Proverbs each day. This verse of Proverbs 1 stood out to me.  Like all children, my boys sometimes need extra disciplining when they don't listen to dad or disrespect mom.  But at the same time, God spoke to me that I must remember to mind HIM when he corrects me. Often I do things that I know I've been convicted by the Holy Spirit of doing, yet I make excuses just like my boys do to justify my behavior.  This has to stop.  Until I respect my Heavenly Father's instructions, it'll be more difficult to garner that same respect from my own children.

Chapter 2 - Beautiful by Design: Exploring the Meaning of Biblical Motherhood

See to it that no one takes you captive 
through philosophy and empty deception, 
according to the tradition of men, 
according to the elementary principles of the world, 
rather than according to Christ.  

Some things I underlined while reading...

The heart of motherhood has been broken by sin's perversion of God's design throughout all history. Families have been broken apart. Parents have failed in their calling, and children have rebelled. Men and women have demeaned and mistreated each other and their offspring, and those offspring have passed along the painful results to their own children. (p.20-21)

God's Word gives us the map or plan for the family so that we might better understand what he had in mind for us. ... Exploring his design for families and for motherhood cannot only help us understand what has gone wrong, but also how, with God's help, we can move closer to the joyful, fulfilling, and vitally important role he intended for us from the very beginning. (p.21)

These statements resonate with me because of me own childhood.  My parents were "there" for me, but were so preoccupied by their own issues and careers (and my younger brothers) that I often felt pushed to the wayside. I rebelled.  Once I became a mother, I struggled to identify with how what my beliefs of an "ideal mother" should be since I felt I never had that. I often see myself following the direction my mother did and I don't like it.

Originally, each of us was given the purpose of partnering with God to rule over the world and make it productive. Each of us is created with a capacity and purpose to be productive and creative in life - according to our drives, gifts, and strengths. Each of us will be required to give an accounting of how we handled this responsibility. (p.24)

This is what I need to get a handle on. How to subdue my own little corner of the world while still being a respectful and submissive, Godly wife and mother.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
Psalm 127:3-5

When God chose to bring Jesus into the world, as a full reflection of his glory and being, he chose to bring him into a simple family with a mother and father, and eventually, siblings. It was within the context of this home that Jesus was trained and instructed and loved and nurtured, both protected and prepared for his ministry ahead. Jesus upheld and affirmed the original design of marriage and family and stressed the needs and concerns of children. (p.25)

God equipped a woman from the very beginning to bring life into the world from her own body and to nurture growing families. ... He even structured our brains to make it easier for us to handle several tasks at once - as the tasks of caring for a household and small children demand. (p.27)

Maybe if more of our husbands understood this, they'd complain less?  LOL

A woman's primary responsibility in a family, especially if she is blessed with children, is that of establishing and maintaining a home. (p.28)

Ahhh, here we have the crux of my ultimate struggle within my own life.  Circumstances not within our control have resulted in a role reversal within our home.  Manny has primarily been a stay at home dad since Alex was born, while I'm the sole income provider.  I would love to be the Proverbs 31 / Titus 2 wife, but I just don't know how to do it when I also have to hold down a full time job.  I simply can't do it all myself, and with his FM sometimes leaving him in bed all day b/c of the pain, much of the typical household chores fall on to the boys to complete.  Being teen/pre-teen boys, however, things are often not done correctly (or at all); Dad gets angry b/c he's hurting and can't do it himself as much as he'd like to; I get angry b/c I don't want to come home from a busy day at work to a messy house, no dinner, and yelling.  It leaves all of us tired and frustrated and nobody wanting to interact much with anyone else.  I certainly don't feel like I'm being a Godly mother on those days.  :`(

Many in our culture today look at the biblical view of family, children, and gender roles with much disdain and difficulty.  When God's commands are obeyed, people flourish because they are living in harmony with the way they were designed - and the One who designed them. (p.29)

Loving my children and nurturing their hearts and minds while training their characters and leading them to know the Lord and his purposes has satisfied my soul's need for purpose. (p.29)

I do feel like I've satisfied my purpose in being a wife and mother; it was the one thing I've always wanted to be more than anything else.  I don't feel I've done an adequate job in nurturing their hearts and minds, nor do I feel I've done a good job in leading them to know the Lord. I was 30 before I myself gave my life to Christ, making them 4 and 10.  I feel like we definitely missed that prime window of opportunity with Alex and now we struggle even more hoping that he'll get the message now before it's too late.

The common purpose for all women is to glorify God in whatever circumstances and boundaries of life we find ourselves, trusting him to show us how we can best use our gifts for him. (p.29)

Our mutual commitment has provided us with a strong emotional glue that has given our marriage meaning in the midst of life's inevitable ups and downs. Our vision of serving the Lord together through our family keeps us ever moving forward. (p.30)

I strive for this!!

Destroying the foundation of the family, which was designed by God to be the stable foundation of life, is a natural place for satan to attack. (p.31)

When the biblical mission of motherhood is devalued and disappears from culture, the whole next generation suffers morally, emotionally, and spiritually. (p.34)

The most important factor in being successful as a mother is to turn our hearts to God, to seek his will, and to allow him to begin making sense out of the messes we've made of our lives.  ... For it is in finding God and submitting to him that we will find the purpose and meaning that he designed us to experience. As we learn to fulfill the design for which we were created, we will find the love, peace, and freedom that we long for. (p.37)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Saturday Stumbles

I saw the idea for Saturday Stumbles (#SatStumbles) posted by @itscome2this who I follow on Twitter. I thought it was a great idea and since I've been doing a lot of googling and reading blogging beyond my normal confines these past couple weeks, I decided to share my finds.  :)

Every day sends you an email offering a significant discount to a local business.  A few weeks ago I got a 50% discount to the chocolate bar.  Premium chocolate goodies @ half price = a very happy me.

Trying to save some money?  Check out The Saved Quarter. I spent hours in there reading through her blogs about boxed vs. homemade recipe comparisons, extra money making jobs (mystery shopping anyone?), and lots of other good tips for frugal living.   Another one of my favorite frugal living sites is Frugal Confessions.  I'm not very good at living frugally just yet, but we're working on it.

Dealing with food allergies are a way of life for me, but I'm forever searching for a good, tastes like white bread, alternative to wheat-based white bread.  I stumbled across this recipe for a Millet Oatmeal bread that sounds like it might actually be something I'd eat on a regular basis.  Now I just need our finances to straighten out a bit so I can make a trip to the health food store to get the supplies.

My favorite find this week is this free audio book website. I've already DL'd the entire Little Women series to my iPod and will start listening tomorrow while I dig my way through the mountain of laundry in my room.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tuesday night update

Woohoo!  My 4-day work week is half over.  Gotta love vacation days -- esp when they fall on a go-live weekend.   :)

Manny decided we'll start our 90-day Bible Challenge this Saturday.  I guess he figures it's a good day to do it since he's trying to incorporate a Saturday Sabbath into our household routine.  I strongly feel that in the culture we've evolved into, the practice itself is what is important, not whether it occurs on Saturday or Sunday.  He's not convinced of that yet, but neither is he putting forth significant effort into ensuring the house is cleaned up and chores are done and meals are cooked before Friday night.  As a SAHD, I feel that's part of his responsibility, esp since he's expecting me to essentially give up my entire weekend.   If he drove, or once Alex has his driver's license, it may be very different b/c they can go run errands after school.  Right now though, I've got enough on my plate with a FT job, an hour commute (if I get out on time and traffic cooperates) and church activities Wed pm and Sun am/pm.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm all for the concept of practicing Sabbath as we're commanded to. I just feel very strongly (and after a lot of prayer and my own research) that God won't mind what day we practice it on - just that we DO set aside a day devoted to him.  Besides, I think it completely and totally defeats the purpose of a Sabbath (even on Saturday) if you only sit around watching TV/movie marathons from morning to night.

Time for me to start planning for tomorrow and get to bed.  Hoping to get some reading in on my MOM book too before I fall asleep.  :)


Monday, August 2, 2010

Maximize Your Mornings Challenge - Day 2 prep

Today I drug myself out of bed at 5:15am with the sole intent of getting some bible reading in.  I read Psalm 1-2 and Proverbs 1-2, with the intention of reading a chapter of each daily.  Together as a family, we're also starting the 90-day bible challenge but Manny's taking the lead.

Earlier today I noticed a tweet about a Maximize Your Mornings Challenge and only now got around to reading it.  It's perfect for me!

Although I'm pretty sure this is geared more towards SAHMs, I think once I'm successful it'll make the mornings of this working mom much simpler, or at least less stressful - especially once school starts in a few weeks.

My biggest temptation is to play FarmVille in the morning - gotta harvest those crops ya know ;) - but I know I really need to cut that out of my morning routine, or let Manny harvest for me after I've left for the office.

Complete These Action Steps Before Bed Tonight! (p. 5/6)

1. What time will you wake up?
I'm starting at 5:45a, hoping to work back to 5:00a by the end of the month.

2. What time do you  need to go to bed to make sure you still get enough sleep? I know I need 7-8 hours to really function well and even now I'm good if I manage to get 6 hours since I tend to stay up much later than I should.   I'll am for 10:30p now, with a goal to be in bed asleep by 9:45p by the end of the month.

3. Collect all the items you need for your morning time: Bible and notebook are in my tote bag next to my chair. I'll go set the coffee to auto-brew as soon as I finish this post.  iPod is sync'd and contains my full worship playlist plus 2 new genius mixes based on a couple favorites.  

4. Set your alarm clack (and a backup clock, if necessary). My alarm is always set to go off at 5a but I normally snooze it until I finally get up and stay up.

5. Find an accountability partner. Going to use my best friends, although they don't know it yet. I figure if I text all 3 of them, at least one of them will be up by then. LOL

My goal for Tuesday
Worship & prayer time
Read Psalm 3/Prov 3. I'll incorporate longer daily readings once we get that started but right now I just want to get it set as a habit.

Future mornings will include some exercise time but I'm not in the mood to plan for any of that tonight. LOL
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