Friday, February 27, 2015

A book recommendation

Y'all, I know I have neglected the blog a bit lately.  I have never one to write or do videos just because it is 'time to'.  However, even when I have wanted to lately I haven't made the time like I should have.  Many of my priorities on time have not been what they should have been lately.  I have been running scatterbrained and wasteful with time.  Time is too precious to do that.

Today I wanted to share a book with my sisters.  I just finished it and I have to say I am most impressed and challenged.  One of the better books I have read in a while.  I bought mine on ebay for about $5, but here is an Amazon link.

It is Women Living Well, by Courtney Joseph.

She has a blog by the same title I have occasionally read on and enjoyed.

The book was just very good for me.  Spot on what my heart needed.  Challenging especially in the area of digging into the Word better and guarding our time better as wives and Mamas.  I just wanted to share for those who haven't read it.  It is definitely a keeper and probably a re-read of at least once for me.  I seen she published a little study guide for free on her site.  I normally don't get into that sort of thing.  I might actually go through this one as it seems to be mostly about challenging oneself to better and organize those thoughts of how to do so.

Anyway...this is a short post overall.  I will try to be more faithful and diligent with my own time, and perhaps that will allow me to be more fruitful with sharing my heart here and on youtube.  If any of you all have any really good books to recommend, please share in the comments! Especially ones on homemaking and striving to be a better wife and mama.

Blessings in Christ!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

You Are Not Your Own Redeemer

Sometimes it is easy to get really frustrated with the world around us.  For those of us that are believers....even the other believers around us sometimes we want to throw cold water at 'em or something.  LOL

It is absolutely important to encourage one another along the narrow path.  Please remember as we do so, take care to not fall into the sin of pride.  "There but for the grace of God, go I."  It is such a true statement.  I often think of it when I remember what a wretched person I can be without Christ.  Me in of myself, I am nothing.  I am wretched.  

We have nothing to be prideful for!  Nothing.  It is only God's grace and mercy that as saved us by faith.  There is nothing we could have done to earn it, thus we have no reason for pride.  Christ gave the prideful pharisees some of the harshest rebukes.

Always tell others the truth.  Yes! Avoid sin!  Encourage all to do so as well. However, never forget to have love and charity.  Don't look on others from a high place with a stench of pride.  Never take pride in your own righteousness.  Pride wins no one.  Christ is our only redemption.


1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,b but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What do you want to reflect?

DISCLAIMER!  This video does have some language it I would rather not post.  So please don't listen with young ones in the room and with discernment.  I would rather not post it, but yet I think the lessons drawn from it are worth it.  So I am hope that outweighs my choice to post this.

I came across this on CNN today.  I linked directly to the youtube video here.  The person created this video by having someone walk in front of her with a camera in their backpack and then she carried a couple microphones in her hand.  Then she walked around the city for a hours.  They want to bring attention to the street harassment women go through.

I admit, I was really surprised by how many called out to her.  Also by the sleazy nature of the call outs.  When I went to copy the link to embed the video in this post I also seen some of the comments on it.  Many were arguing that they fellows were just being nice and friendly??  Really?  Comments like "how else do you expect men to meet women?".  They chastised her for not speaking back and bring friendly.  Yet, I suspect if she did, then she would have been accused of flirting.  Many of the comments were loaded with rough language so I don't recommend reading them.  My brief glance was bad enough.

Anyway...I have some observations.  They may not be popular.  First, I am in no way condoning any of the actions of the men in this video.  That fellow who walked right beside her for 5 minutes, that was just creepy behavior and it gave me the chills and thoughts of self defense classes.  I really felt bad for her there.  I think these men are not "just being men".  Such behavior shouldn't be excused or dismissed casually.

I am absolutely all for manliness in it's own right.  I enjoy seeing the difference in how God made men versus women.  I know men are different.   That is okay.  The behavior in this video, to me, is not okay.  You can tell a lady "polite hello".  You don't have to be catty about it.  In her defense, she is walking through there with no eye contact.  She is not looking to be friendly.  She is not looking to chat.  There is no reason to call out.  If she had been making eye contact and smiling at them all, it might be different.  But she wasn't.   The 'tone' of the many call outs says everything.  Clearly, they are 'cat calls' as folks call it.  There is a difference between being a man who is friendly versus a man who is being forward.  These men have to answer to God for their ungentlemanly behavior.  I am not their authority.  I only mention as if I don't, folks might assume I condone their actions.  I do not.  This blog is not written to men.  It is to my sisters in Christ.

So that said...  What can we sisters learn from this?  What is within OUR control?  What can we change or do differently?  What areas can we improve?  Let's look at a couple things here.  Demeanor, such as eye contact, smiles, gestures.  Also, let's look at attire.  I do think for the most part I didn't see much of anything "wrong" in her demeanor.  If anything, she was what folks around here would find cold.  She did not seem to be trying to get attention with her actions.  

I am used to at least giving a half smile and nodding when someone acknowledges my presence or eyes happen to meet.  I don't intentionally seek out to be forward.  I will say, I have never experienced the level of attention she did.  Even in my thin days and with very different attire.  The area I live in just isn't like this.  I have never seen that many men be so ungentlemanly in those kinds of numbers.

Now I have experienced Muslim men being forward with me when I have accidentally made eye contact and innocently smiled.  To me, growing up in the foothills of the Appalachians, it is just normal to look someone in the eye, smile and say good morning!  How ya doing today?!  Nothing is meant by it other than simple polite manners.

However, up in where in the city I currently live, I learned to be  more careful as other folks have different customs and my eye contact and smile have different meanings.  Add to it the veil I wear, which I guess piques the curiosity....I have been approached by multiple Muslim men over the years.  I have leaned to look down or away if I think a man might be Muslim.  I don't want to take chances.  I don't mean to offensive to anyone.  I just do not wish to ever have anyone think, even for a second, that I am being inappropriately forward.

Back to the video.  Her attire really isn't too bad in comparison to most of the world's standards.  A majority would probably say her attire is fairly "normal" I think.  A fitted tee shirt and jeans.  To me that is pretty tight, but there wasn't a lot of skin showing as some women do.  I would have a lot less sympathy if the top was low cut paired with a short skirt or something.  All in all she was dressed normal.

It 'normal' for the world okay by God's standards?  I don't believe God has a uniform for us.  Some people seem to think I believe that, but I do not.  He gives us a lot of freedom in our clothing!  He tells us back in the Old Testament that men should dress as men, and women as women.  He also tells us to be MODEST in our attire.  How modesty is defined is a highly subjective topic.  What many find modest, I may not.  He does require that his people be set apart from the world.  In the world, but not of it.  I don't think this is just actions, but in ALL things including clothing.

The thing I have encouraged sisters to do is DIG INTO THE WORD.  Don't look at my idea of modesty...look at God's!  What constitutes nakedness in the scriptures?  What level of decoration is appropriate?  How are Godly women described?  How are unGodly ones described?  Look it up and pray over it.  Talk to your husband.  Seek out his thoughts, wishes, and directives.

As I once heard Mrs. Michelle Duggar phrase it, "dress to draw attention to your countenance".  I liked that way she said it.  Dress so the eye goes upward to one's face.  Not to anything below the neck.  No you don't have to put on sackcloth as I have heard accused.  But as a believer in Christ, you are require to examine yourself in all things!  You are required to be modest!  It is a very black and white command.  How you carry it out is between you, your husband, and God.

Now, the big question here....... could the woman in the video have lessened the 'cat calls' by wearing different more loose fitting attire?  Ultimately, that is between her and God of course.  I am not here to call her out.  I don't even know her of course.  She is trying to raise money to bring attention to this.  (no comment on that part)  But I am glad she done the video, as I found it enlightening on many levels.  I truly had no idea it reaches this level.

But since the video is out there, I think it serves as a good example to use for our personal guidelines.  I think there is room for improvement.  Why?  Because I, like many women, who changed to modest loose long dresses, long skirts and tops and I found quite a difference in how I was treated out in public.   I have many times experienced men giving a respectful kind nod, and being sure to open doors or be extra polite.  In my case, I realize people see me and think "religious freakazoid", frumpy, ugly, fat, out of style, Mennonite, Amish, Pentecostal or whatever pops in their brain.  Shucks I have also been asked if I was a nurse or Covenant Nun.  I try to be feminine, modest, plain, and comfortable as best as I know how.  I do realize that I am in no way 'in style' or anything like that.  I stopped caring about fashion quite a while back.  I dress in a way my husband and I are both at peace with it.  Other may not find beauty in it.  While most of the world doesn't find it appealing or appealing my husband does.  It is old fashioned, yes.  So what.  There is actually a lot of freedom in tossing off the worries of 'fitting in' or 'being in style'.  Yes, I wear tennis shoes with dresses.  You know what, it's awesome!  You might carry out the same Biblical directives a bit differently than I do. That's fine.  The point is to carry them out.

Finally to end this, I know some will want to chastise me that men are responsible for themselves and they should keep their eyes to themselves and their mouths closed.  There is truth in that.  However, we are responsible for what we put on.  The Bible even says we are not to be a stumblingblock to others.  Dressing immodestly is a stumblingblock to men.

If you are getting 'cat calls' especially on the level witnessed in that video, I would suggest you take time to study the Word and see if you can find ways and areas to improve in.  You might be the most modest lady ever when it comes to attire.  Your actions and demeanor may be where you need to be more ladylike?  I don't know.  I know sometimes I still struggle with my own actions and have to take extra care.  I know it the past I wore some things that by my current standards were extremely immodest.  I blush to think of it.  Again, as in many things, I am thankful for His grace and mercy as I have tried to figure things out.

The point is to examine our hearts to see where we can each improve to be the best witness for Christ and not make our brothers stumble.   Your heart is far more important that what is on the outside.  Clothing is just clothing.  It is a reflection of what is on the inside though.  What do you want to reflect?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Come Out of Your Comfort Zone for Christ

Galatians 5:13

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

Something I have thought about lately is comfort.  We sure do like to be comfortable.  We live a pretty plush life here in the western world as they would say.  We know comforts many would kill for.

Our society constantly reminds us to live how we want.  Don't do things you don't want to do.  Be happy!   Go out there and get the life you want, no matter what.  Don't let anyone get in your way!  A lot of folks even seem to have a martyr complex and often say things like we should "Finally serve ourselves."   "Think of yourself.".   They act as though it is a first time and all they have done is take care of everyone else.  Yet, their fruit has shown otherwise.

I also hear reminders that we should sever ties that "don't serve you" any more.  Marriage is treated that way today.  Tossed aside as casually as a disposable pop can.  Not even because of real and deep problems, but for reasons like, "Well...he just didn't understand me".  Many aren't even bothering to marry.  It doesn't serve them to make a long term commitment with someone who may or may not 'work out' or they might cease to bring them happiness.

There is much promotion of self.  Most of us have comfortable homes, apartments, or places to stay with access to clean water.  Most are temperature controlled to suit our comforts.  Most of us rarely have empty tummies.  Granted, there certainly are exceptions to these rules.

My point is we are a very self serving, happiness-seeking, and comfortable people.  Is that what scripture calls us to do?  Most definitely not!  Scripture repeatedly encourages us to serve others, treat others as you wish to be treated, die to self, don't worry about your own comfort, etc.  We are admonished to get out there and serve over and over!

Many of us object.  Shyness is a big excuse we use not to serve.  Perhaps witnessing takes us out of our comfort zones.  This woman who is speaking/writing to you right now has a big struggle with shyness.  I DO NOT like to draw attention to myself in any way.  I don't like to speak up when there are more than a couple people present.  I feel awkward with strangers.  I despise telephones unless it is someone I know very, very well.  They make me a nervous wreck.  The ring makes my heart pound in fear.  Public speaking= complete torture.  Doing youtube videos is extremely hard for me.  Especially at first, in time it gets a little easier on some level.  It is still not within my comfort at all.

Writing/blogging especially about "religious things" that folks don't approve of.... then going on social networking and sharing so everyone can see it.... is more difficult than anyone will ever know.  Knowing I am frequently exposing my heart to people who think badly is so hard sometimes.  That is just one example of how shyness can make something difficult.  (I don't share my struggle to get any pats on the back.  I share it to make a point.)

I read a long time ago that shyness is selfishness.  I rejected that for a while.  The thought didn't make me feel warm and fuzzy.  It made me feel GUILTY.  Then eventually I realized it was truth.  Yes, there is a level of shyness that is being quiet and introspective.  Nothing wrong with holding your tongue in a crowd when it is appropriate.  You don't always have to put your thoughts in.  However, if you are shy to the detriment of others.  If folks feel like you ignored them, if you missed witness opportunities, if you put your comfort above someone else's....then yes, shyness is selfishness.  

It may sound harsh.  I know it still does to me.  I TRY to make myself deal with it and open up.  I still mess this up more than I wished.  I hesitate in situations to speak or act, then an hour later I am totally kicking myself for letting my shyness cause the hesitation.  The ways I might have been able to help others or witness opportunities I missed...all because I was too shy.  Ultimately it is a point of pride to I suppose.  Why are we shy?  I think often it amounts to we are afraid others will get the wrong idea about us.  We are afraid of looking foolish.  We are concerned we might not know what to say.  They will think badly about us.  Many variations.  It brings the point back to one of an issue with pride too.

I am seeing many folks who refuse to pray publicly.  They don't like to speak up in a group of other believers to lead prayer.  I understand.  It makes me feel embarrassed too, for fear I will mis-speak.  In a group of women, I will do it.  I am not comfortable, but I do it if asked.

As a woman, I don't feel good about leading a prayer when it is a mixed group of men and women because I feel like that is not how it ought to be.  I feel like it is the Christan man's place to lead such things.  Nowadays, many won't.  They give in to their personal comfort and stay quiet.  That leaves the women in a very awkward spot!  A void to fill.  (This isn't a correction to the men, remember, this entire blog is written to women.)  I am just pointing out the awkward position we might end up in as women.  Mercy, if believers can't pray together without such sad is that!  The older I get, the more I notice less and less folks willing to simply lead prayer!  Why?  Comfort zones.

I feel like I am starting to rabbit trail here.  Back to my main point.  Maybe your issue is not shyness.  Maybe something else hinders you from serving others as you should??  Examine yourself.  Are you putting your issue and yourself above others?  If so, then it might be a problem you need to address.  It isn't good to stay in our comfort zones when it is to the detriment of others.  Is surely isn't good when it is a detriment to our witness as believers in Jesus Christ.

So what do we do?  Well shyness is something I am still working on.  I may never get over it completely.  You have to decide something isn't okay and work to fix it.  One step, one word, and one day at a time.  A favorite expression of mine lately, (and I tell myself a lot)...."suck it up buttercup".  This isn't about you, it's about others.

Romans 12:1

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.

Mark 10:45

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Friday, September 26, 2014

Watch out for container damage on broth boxes!

First watch the is very short.

Okay, home canned broth is awesome and better for you and LOADS cheaper.  However, I admit I try to keep a few store bought ones around too.   I often run out of home canned or I just don't have time to run the pressure canner.  I know I can freeze it, and I do freeze a limited amount.

Anyway, you get the point, I took the easy way out and I bought a couple today.  The last few times I have bought broth I pick the new cardboard coated vacuum sealed containers.  They seem a better value a lot of the times for store bought.  I just got some new containers home from shopping and I happened to discover an issue. (Thank you to God for opening my eyes to it!)

The corner has been grazed by something.  It is hard to tell if it happened during my handling on the way home or if it happened in the store.  I suspect it was already like that.  Anyway, I could return it and get my money back and Aldi even will replace the product.  Their double guarantee.   I don't blame them as a store at all.  It could have been ANY store as many places sell broth in these containers.   I am also not 100% sure it came like that.  I neglected to check it because I hadn't encountered that before.

I wanted to share it so you all can see and know to make certain yourself.  It is a big concern really.  From my canning experience this is the sort of thing you want to be careful about.  With the seal broken anything can happen making you and your family sick.  Botulism is typically anaerobic needing the seal to be present for an oxygen-less environment in order to grow.  Still yet, with that broken seal, (and if it was broken for a long time) any monster critter could be lurking in that broth.  Some things are not killed by boiling and it isn't worth the chance of using it.  I will toss this container.  I am out a little shy of a $1.50.  No big deal.  I am blessed to have seen it.

It DOES concern me for these containers.  If a bumped corner can be broken easily as it appears, are they truly as safe as I had previously assumed?  How easy would it have been for me to have missed this?  Extremely easy.  I could have stashed this in my pantry and not used this container for a long while.  Then one day I might have grabbed it and used the product never noticing the tiny corner damage.

I think I will go back to cans when I do buy store bought broth.  Better yet, I really need to dust my canner back off and do the homemade.  Broth is pretty easy to do so I should make the time.  It is worth it.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tips on Jammed Sewing Machines or Correcting Improper Stitching

Because I have been asked this many times over the years, I figured a write up is in order.  Has your sewing machine jammed or is stitching a mess suddenly?

Stop!  Don’t keep sewing messy seams.  They will just fall apart most likely.  

Stop and take the time to get it right.  Besides you can do a lot more damage trying to force it to sew when something isn’t right.  You can damage the item you are sewing, or even worse your machine.

Don’t panic and call the repair people yet.  Odds are good you can fix it.  Don’t give up on sewing either.  Consider it a learning experience.  Every seamstress will wrestle with her machine once in a while.  Talk nice to it, it helps keep your mood civil while you tinker.  ;-) The more you do it, the better you learn your machine and eventually you will be an expert on that machine.

Resist the urge to go messing with your tensions if it was sewing properly the last time you used it.   Smack your own hands away if you have to!!  Odds are you will just mess that up.

Look for obvious improper threading.  Check both the upper thread and the bobbin.

Rethread the machine.  Upper and bobbin.  Don’t partially do it fully and completely.  Sometimes the silliest things will be solved by a re-thread and you will never really “see” what the issue was.  Be sure when you un-thread, you pull only in the direction the thread normally goes.  To do otherwise will mess your tensions up.  There is an exception when you get REALLY desperate.  More on that later.

Clean the machine well with a brush.  Avoid compressed air unless absolutely necessary.  A brush is always better so you don’t blow fuzzies back into the depths of the machine.  Not to mention canned compressed air kicks off chemical sometimes instead of just air.  Not healthy for you or your machine.

When you clean it, remove the throat plate too. (The area your needle goes down into)  You will be shocked at what accumulates there.  Never underestimated the ability for fuzzies to ruin your tension and stitching.  Clean it meticulously. 

Re-thread the machine properly again for good measure.  (seriously, I have re-thread what felt like a million times before..LOL)

Change your needle.  Many people sew on needles too old.  I am guilty of it too.  Sometimes a needle will have lost it’s point or be bent to where your eye doesn't see it well visually.  A bent needle will kill your stitching line and be messy.  It can also damage your machine.  For that matter, avoid sewing over pins.  Many a lady has ruined her machine’s timing from doing that.  At very least, only sew over them when you REALLY have to in a tight spot on something hard to hold.  If you chose to sew over pins, don’t get mad at anyone but yourself if you kill your machine.  If your needle hits a pin, assume at very lest it is probably bent with a dull point now.

Oil the machine, but only in the proper places and just a little as necessary.  (see your manual)  Make sure you sew on a scrap for a while after oiling.  If you get too heavy handed with the oil, it can come up into your stitching and kill whatever you are sewing.

Re-thread it again.  (You might be laughing...but I am serious :-))  For that matter, get a new bobbin and wind a new one.  I have also had bad bobbin winding cause poor stitching.  Make sure your bobbin is in it’s case properly and spinning in the proper direction (if you have a bobbin case for your machine).  If you have a drop in bobbin, you still need to be sure you are putting in down there properly and in the right direction.

Then and only then go playing with your tensions if it still isn’t right.  One exception to this rule.  If you have small children always make a mental note of your normal tensions so you can see at a glance if they decided to play with the knobs and buttons.  (guess what happened to me today!!!)

At your own risk on this one....but you can try flossing your machine.  Not with dental floss, but your thread.  Unthread the needle.  Take ahold of the bottom and then grab the thread from behind the machine coming off of the spool.  Gently and firmly move it back and forth just a little bit.  You might find you dislodge a big ol’ piece of lint in your tension discs if your machine has those.  Again, GENTLE!!!  It is a risky thing.  I was most prone to do this with my older serger where things would lodge in the tension discs regularly.  More modern machines with computerized tensions, it is a really bad idea.  So this one is very much at your own risk.

Finally re-thread your machine.  ;-)

Hopefully one of these solves your issue.  One final tip that has nothing to do with your threading or stitching...just a sewing PSA.  Please, I beg of you, stomp not on thy foot pedal.  Your seams are not a race!  Sew at a reasonable speed limit.  As my husband once counseled me, enjoy the process of sewing not just the result.

Do you have any tips to share?  Feel free to share in the comments!  I know some of seamstresses can be a bit opinionated on the matter.  I would love to hear others thoughts on this one.

Add on tips from others:

Baby Lock recommends the "unwaxed" dental floss (never ever waxed floss) running it down like your thread would go.  I know you didn't recommend floss, but I have seen it recommended and I am sure it was Baby Lock since I use it for that one.  Bernina folks say to use a dollar bill.
Also, if you get a new needle or esp. two or more out and put in the machine and it is still bad, try one from another new package.  You can get whole packs of bad needles and I know that for a fact, it happened over at a local shop, they got a whole batch of them and had to have them replaced...I bought some of them....and still run into some of them.....

You can also get a burr (sp.) on the throat plate from a broken needle that will cause havoc.  They recommend an emory cloth for that.