Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Industrious Revolution

I've decided to implement something new. I'm calling it "The Industrious Revolution." The plan is to set aside time to work industriously. The trick is in the adjective. I mean, I work now. . . I am usually caught up on laundry, the dishes and other household chores, but I wouldn't say that I tackle my work industriously! I meander. I get side-tracked. And, even though the work is getting done, I feel lazy. And laziness is one of those things, like yeast, that seems to have an amazing ability to permeate everything in the blink of an eye.

Here's the nitty-gritty of the plan, in case you are in need of an industrious revolution in your life, too. I am separating my work into three categories: daily chores, weekly chores and projects. I am setting aside one half-hour first thing in the morning (after Josh leaves for work) to tackle my daily chores.
  1. Quick-Clean* the Kitchen
  2. Tidy Living Room
  3. Make Bed
  4. Start a Load of Laundry
  5. Quick-Clean the Bathroom
  6. Vacuum Walkways
  7. One Weekly Chore (Dust, Vacuum Whole House, Change Sheets, Etc)
Caleb is usually in a great mood first thing in the morning and loves to play by himself in his Exersaucer. Lately, I've been using that time to read the headlines, check my email, chat on the phone, and dilly-dally on the computer (the dilly-dallying is where I'm starting to see some laziness creep in!), all while the breakfast dishes sit in the sink and our bed is unmade. So, starting today, things are going to be different. I am going to get Caleb settled in for play-time, put on a worship C.D., set the timer for 30 minutes and have at it! I'll have to work INDUSTRIOUSLY to get it all done in a half-hour, but it's do-able.

The second work-time of the day will coincide with either Caleb's morning or afternoon nap (whichever we are home for). I am going to write a list of projects I want to tackle. I frequently find myself saying "Oh, I need to ______. I don't have time right now, but I'll have to get to that later." Unfortunately, I find myself saying that over and over about the same things. I'm going to keep a list on the side of the refrigerator and as I think of things, I will write them down. Every day, I will take the top thing on the list and begin to work on it. I'll work industriously on it for 30 minutes or until it is done. Whichever comes first. If I can't finish in 30 minutes, at least I will have started!

I know this sounds a little Type-A. It probably is. But, watching Amazing Grace and reading about Wilberforce's life has reminded me that self-discipline and perseverance are the means God uses to accomplish His work through us. I'm quite sure that God has bigger plans than just the breakfast dishes and the laundry, but character building starts with little things. Hebrews 6:12 says, "We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (NIV) Since my list of heroes does not include one lazy person, I realized that I need to ask God to help me get rid of laziness in my own life! That's where the idea of the Industrious Revolution was born.

I'll let you know how the Revolution goes. If you decide you want to join me (your task-list may look quite different from mine), let me know. It's always more encouraging to know others are on the same path.

*I have this theory that I have dubbed the "quick-clean" theory. The theory states that by cleaning something every day, you almost never have to do any deep-cleaning since the thing in question never has a chance to get deep-dirty! =) (I also think this theory has spiritual applications but perhaps that would be best considered in another post.)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Who are your heros?

Sadly, most people would have a hard time answering this question. Either they 1) don't have any heroes, or 2) have the wrong heroes. There is a grave danger in both.

1) We are humans and therefore we are moved by stories. Especially, true stories. Life can be overwhelming and our circumstances can seem insurmountable. But stories of great men and women who have gone before offer us hope. They make us strive for greatness. They swell our souls. Without heroes, this generation has not learned to look beyond itself or dream of great things.

2) Even worse than having no heroes at all is having the wrong heroes. Popular singers, actors, sports stars and wealthy entrepreneurs may have success, but usually this success is purchased at the price of their souls. This culture is emulating the vainest of the vain, the most foolish of the fools. We have lauded the shameful and shamed the laudable.

Hopefully, as a Christian, you haven't fallen into either of these two traps. Hopefully, when asked the question, "Who are your heroes?" you can respond with a long and vibrant list of men and women who have given their lives to the service of Christ. Perhaps they are well-known, perhaps not. It really doesn't matter. What matters is that they lived, and that they lived well.

William Wilberforce is now on my list of heroes. Go watch Amazing Grace and, if Wilberforce is not already on your list, add him! And, when you're done adding William Wilberforce, go ahead and add these men and women, too.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Arabian Nights (aka Shish Kebobs and Rice)

Hands down, one of our favorite meals is skewered beef and tomatoes with grilled onions over white rice. Add to that a side of cucumber salad and your taste buds will be jumping for joy.

Recipe for an Arabian Night

Prep Time 30 minutes (plus a few hours to soak meat in marinade*)
Cook Time 15 minutes
Serves 6

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs A-1 steak sauce
2 Tbs granulated sugar
2 Tbs cider vinegar
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 lbs boneless sirloin, cubed
6 Roma tomatoes, cut into large chunks seasoned lightly with salt & pepper
2 yellow onions, sliced into rings, seasoned with salt & pepper and olive oil
2 cups uncooked white rice
1 cucumber, peeled, quartered and then sliced
1 Tbs chopped onion
1 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs White or Red Vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Boil marinade ingredients (first 8 ingredients) until sugar dissolves. Cool slightly and pour into gallon sized zip-lock containing cubed sirloin. Allow meat to soak for several hours.
(Freezer Tip: at this point, you can also freeze the meat. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and allow to soak as it defrosts)
Prepare cucumber salad (cucumber, onion, oil, vinegar and spices). Soak in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
On approximately 12 skewers, skewer meat together with tomatoes, beginning and ending each skewer with meat.
Prepare rice according to directions.
BBQ or broil skewers and sliced onions to desired doneness (about 10-15 minutes, rotating several times).
Serve immediately over hot rice with cool cucumber salad. And, most importantly. . . Enjoy!

**I found the marinade recipe in Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer. So far, it is the best freezer-cooking cookbook I've found.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Signs of Spring

I was very pleased today to find that spring has settled in our backyard.

Shepherding a Child's Heart

A dear friend from high school and college, Sarah, sent us a gift several weeks before Caleb was born. In it were two very thoughtful gifts. . . a hand made quilt (which was quite a feat considering she's living in Germany right now and has limited access to fabric since quilting isn't popular over there) and a parenting book by Tedd Tripp entitled Shepherding a Child's Heart.

In the busyness of the first few months of motherhood, I forgot about the book. However, about 3 weeks ago, I discovered it in my nightstand and started reading it. I was tempted to gobble it up, as the content was so engaging, however, I forced myself to take it slowly, so that I could absorb its godly, biblical perspective.

Tripp does an excellent job of focusing on the main goal of Christian parenting, namely the goal of training up children to fulfill their God-given purpose in life which is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. It is more than just behavior modification, more than just bringing up well-mannered, moral, "good" kids. Christian parenting is about bringing our children to an understanding of their deep need for Christ. It is about helping them learn how to humble themselves before an awesome, almighty God and to embrace His grace and mercy in their lives, through training and example. It is about teaching them to love God and serve others with joyful hearts.

And, it is a task that cannot be accomplished without the intervening grace of God. There is no fool-proof formula. It is a matter of daily dependence upon Christ. It is about kneeling WITH our children at the foot of the cross and pleading for mercy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sitting Up!

Caleb has been able to steady himself on our laps pretty well for a few weeks now, but I was still surprised to find that he was able to sit up for over 10 minutes tonight without tipping!

What a big boy!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Modern Day Slavery

My friend, Christianne, recently attended the William Wilberforce Conference with her husband. What she brought back was a passion to see modern day slavery end. It is hard to believe that there are millions and millions of people TODAY who are slaves. Even harder to grasp is the fact that many of them are children. Christianne posted information regarding this issue on her blog and I would recommend you visit her site.

Also calling attention to the issue of slavery, is one of the ministries that Josh and I support, Voice of the Martyrs. In this month's newsletter, there was an article about a young Christian girl who was a slave on a Muslim brick kiln in Pakistan. When it was discovered that her mother and she were Christians, the slave owner punished them. The mother was raped and murdered and the girl was forced to be a concubine of the manager of the kiln. She was only 14 years old. For several years she was violated by this older Muslim man who then arranged a marriage to her against her will. Voice of the Martyrs learned of her story and, the day before the wedding ceremony was to take place, they purchased her freedom for the price of $1100 (US). They pulled her out of the kiln and moved her to another part of the country to live with a Christian family. This story really stirred me. It is unfathomable to me that a human life could be measured in dollars. And, only $1000 at that.

Pray for Voice of the Martyrs and other ministries, like the ones Christianne mentions on her blog. Pray that as the Gospel of Christ imparts life and freedom from the bondage of sin, the children of Christ will fight for life and freedom from physical bondage.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Flashback to 3rd Grade

Lately I have taken a re-liking to Nesquik and Cheerios. . . not together, of course. I don't know what it is about that powdery chocolate drink, but I love it! And the "unsinkable taste of Cheerios" brightens my morning.

I may be 28 but with a bowlful of Cheerios and a tall glass of Nesquik, I feel like I'm back in 3rd grade!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Traveling pants and other international novelties.

Caleb isn't exactly a world traveler (yet), but he has friends and relatives who are.

Uncle Dan visited the UK just a few weeks after Caleb was born and brought home a "Mind the Gap" onesie. Amazingly, Caleb is now big enough to wear it (it looked SO BIG when I first saw it)!

Aunt Yvette just got back from Italy two days ago and gave Caleb a marionette (not pictured) and an illustrated version of Pinocchio in Italian. Caleb absolutely loves books and doesn't seem to care that I can't speak a lick of Italian.

And, I visited the mall today and bought Caleb a pair of red pants at BabyGap. Believe it or not, said pants were actually made in China. So, although neither Caleb nor I have been to Asia, his pants have.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Caleb John and the Three Pairs

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Caleb John. He was planning a trip to the beach so he wanted to get some sunglasses.

First he tried on Papa's pair, but. . .
. . .they were too big!

Then he tried on Mama's pair, but. . .
. . .they were too square.

Then he saw Baby's pair. He tried them on and. . .
. . .they were just right!

And he lived happily ever after.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Comment moderation is off!

I got the email addresses I was hoping for. You may once again post without Big Brother (or, in this case, Big Sister) watching.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mmmmmmmm. . . Rice Cereal

We had Caleb's 4-month (almost) check-up yesterday and the doctor said we could start Caleb on rice cereal as soon as he showed signs of being interested. We were pretty sure the voracious rooting even after a full nursing session was a pretty good clue that he might be interested in "real food."

So, today I picked up some organic* rice cereal and we gave it a whirl. It was a hit!

*Josh and I don't eat organic, but I'm not opposed to the idea and figured that since Caleb's system is just starting out, I'd try to go for as natural as possible. . . at least for now.

Caleb wasn't quite sure what to do with that first spoonful.
By the 3rd spoonful, he was a happy pro. Only one problem. . . it's hard to smile and eat at the same time!

Down to business. Daddy was worried more about speed than accuracy!