Thursday, February 21, 2008

Essential #3: Perseverance and Contentment

It was so good to recently read Kelly's (from The Barefoot Mama) guest post at Biblical Womanhood here on the topic of contentment. This is a topic that I have been mulling over for some weeks now. It keeps popping up in what I am reading, when I am out, and when I am studying God's word. Along with contentment, the Lord has been showing me the essential need for me to keep perseverance in the forefront of my "pantry" as well, but not too much of it either. Here is a little of what I am pondering and what the Lord has been stocking my soul with lately. I would surely appreciate any input you may have from your own lives as a testimony to the Lord's goodness regarding perseverence and contentment.

We can have perseverance, but not be content, never fully resting in what God has given us for this time, leading to discouragement with ourself, others, and ultimately God. We may continue to persevere through what we feel is another roadblock not considering it was placed there by God so that we may cease from striving for a time and find contentment in Him alone.

For each of us there has probably come a time when the Lord has brought his words found in Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God" to our minds. In the original language, this truly means "enough, know I am God." When I am cooking with my children, we're measuring items out, and I tell them "that's enough," if they were to keep adding more the whole dinner could end up tasting horrible. Now, I do understand a little more basil could have been just the thing to make it outstanding, but depending on what I am making, too much salt or baking soda could ruin it completely. That may be a poor analogy, this one might be better understood. If you are a bread baker, consider overworking your dough and ending up with a tougher result than desired. It might still taste OK, but it wouldn't be as satisfying to your palate. When you hear the word "enough" from the Lord, it is a good time to stop persevering for a season and look to rest in all that God has for you right now.

The other side of the issue I have found as I have been meditating on this leads to being content, but not persevering, becoming complacent, ceasing to strive toward the goal Christ has for us in the name of contentment. While previously noted, perseverance can lead to being overly driven, in the same manner I think being overly content may very well lead to laziness. This may mainfest itself in a variety of areas in our life just as well as overdoing it can. While one may be overzealous in their study of the word and neglect their family's needs, another may be overly complacent in their spiritual journey and not seek out the Lord for direction in their daily tasks unless a crises arises. While some are overinvolved in church activities and ministries, others are so content with the way things are that they fail to engage in the ministry of their own children who are right under their nose.

It is not my intent to inflict shame on anyone here. I find myself having hit both extremes at times and am currently seeking the Lord for balance and what He desires for me to stock my pantry with. While the saying doesn't really apply to everything in my pantry, such as love and compassion...too much of a good thing, can really be too much. I think too much perseverance or too much contentment could make for a string of unsavory suppers around here.

What are your thoughts on finding balance in these two areas in your own home? How do you "run with perseverance the race" (Heb 12:1) and still be "content in any and every situation" (Phil 4:12)?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Shelves are Stocked

The shelves are now stocked and the top of the refridgerator, end of the dining table, and my husband thank me! I tried to organize it in a way that would make it easy for the kids (and myself) to get to what they need and put it back easily. And lest you think I have a myriad of salvaged items stocked up somewhere, though that would be nice if I had a large shed, (inspiration can strike at any moment around here :0) I don't. The last salvaged item I can think of that I have on hand is a collection of old, mismatched, silverware. Any suggestions, other than the standard fork recipe holder? My mom's birthday is in April and I would like to possibly use them in a gift for her.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Using Up and Making Do...and My New Addition

My new and exciting edition to our my new bookshelf for the kitchen! Mainly needed to house homeschool curriculum and everyday arts and crafts supplies, which have previously been located in various places around the kitchen with no real home. The end of the dining table and the top of the refrigerator can now(hopefully) remain clutter free. My next task is to load the shelves!
The shelf is made from picket fencing I saved from our 1939 home renovation. We sold it and moved 3 times since then, 2 1/2 years ago, and I have kept bringing them along, to my husband's dismay at times. I kept telling him I wanted something made from them, but just didn't know what. My first thoughts were a potting bench or a sitting bench for the patio. When I just couldn't get things organized in the kitchen it dawned on me that I needed some kind of shelf. Not wanting to spend any, or very little, money if possible I remembered the pickets housed in my in-laws shed. They were just the thing to match my old paint-chipped cupboard and barnwood shelf. My father-in-law was happy to have a project and now here it is! We have a baseboard heating unit next to the shelf, so I can't center it under the barnwod shelf. Ah, I will get over the need for symmetry eventually.
Another use-up-and-make-do project was the making of a pseudo headboard. This was made with a combination of an item saved from our home renovation, and something new. When we replaced a couple of windows, two had what I call "fancy glass" in them. I liked the pattern of the glass and it was in really good shape...but wasn't sure what to do with it at the time. Later, I decided I could frame them and hang them over our bed as a psuedo headboard. I took my time, as I wanted it to be done as frugally as possible, and used two 40% off Michael's coupons on the frames. We then removed the backing and glass and took the frames and our own "fancy glass" to the glass shop. They cut the glass and put it in with tabs to keep it in place. They also kindly cut some coasters from the remaining glass, about a 4 inch strip we didn't need, and finished the edges for us. You can see one I keep on my nightstand, on the left. I really like how the light from our window plays on the glass and creates different designs.
These are just a couple of my ideas, if you have made projects with recycled or salvaged items and wish to share, please leave a comment and feel free to add a link to any pictures. I am always interested in how people use-up-and-make-do. Off to organize the shelves now!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Frugal Friday: The Craft Cupboard

No, this isn't my craft's from Martha Stewart dot com. Mine is not nearly as organized...nor as pretty. But after reading Mrs. Wilt's post on her " craft stash" it got me thinking. My stash is rather large right now and full of varied mediums. There is a lot of fabric, paint supplies, paper and card making supplies, as well as buttons and ribbons. I am reminded of how many people "use up and make do" and think the kids and I will do just that with our craft supplies. As we organize our stash of items this weekend, I am going to challenge them to make a list of all the crafts we can complete without purchasing a single item from the store...and then set to work over the next few weeks to get them accomplished. I will post a list of items we come up with next week on Frugal Friday. We have several birthdays coming up in our family and I believe we can create some really frugal, practical and enjoyable gifts with the items we have right here. I challenge you to do the same and then come back and share with me...maybe it will give us some new inspiration with our own "stash." Frugal Friday is hosted by Crystal at Biblical Womanhood...head on over and get some more great frugal ideas.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cookies anyone?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Favorite Things: Snow that Sparkles

Winters Jewels

The dawn of day was witness to,
a transformation of the land.
The night had seen the change unfold,
unique creations of His Hand.

So many made, while slumber reigned,
no two alike, these crystals, white.
The billions softly touched the earth,
as breezes shaped them in the night.

The frozen-cotton, covered boughs,
as rays of sun climb winters hills.
To see the splendor made by frost,
on window panes and window sills.

The curvy mounds shaped 'round the trunks,
where blown about the feet of trees.
And leaves that peek through snowy white,
at wonderous winter scenes like these.

Their lives so short; a day or week,
or season at the very most.
To disappear when spring is nigh,
like figment of a vanished ghost.

But first they must adorn each twig,
and blade of grass and lowly weed.
Essential act required by some,
to germinate their precious seed.

And map the many tiny feet,
of creatures that have braved the night.
With fan-shaped swirls at end of tracks,
where birds of prey have taken flight.

To crown each post and stone and wall,
the royalty of winters scene.
Look down upon the snowscape, white,
approve each subjects bow and lean.

Then melt to slush and hang from twigs,
and drip and drop like tear-shaped jewels.
The tiny trickles congregate,
to create icy winter pools.

Returned to earth, from whence they came,
The same as you, the same as me.
Water to water, "...dust to dust,"
perpetuates His Plan, you see.

Nevin Hawlman

Essential #2: Obedience and a Cheerful Heart

Today's topics of essentials and good-to-haves are obedience and a cheerful heart. For me, obedience, an essential, falls on the heels of love. As I read in 2 John, a small, often overlooked book of the bible, this is what I have found in chapter 1, verses 5-6:

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

Disclaimer: This is what we do in our will have your own convictions of what you do in your home and you will answer to the Lord for that. However, we will also answer to the Lord for how we have raised our own children, and this is the command we have been given. For our children, we are continually training them to obey "right away, all the way, with a good attitude everyday." This is the mantra at our home when someone isn't obeying as they should according to the word of God. It goes something like this: Little Byers isn't obeying fully and so one parent will say: "How do we obey?" and then they will respond with the above quote. Most of the time there is also discipline to go along with said words...for they did not obey fully.

It is the same in our lives, when we do not obey fully, there is discipline from the Lord. We may not see the consequences right away for our decisions, but it will come. We may even feel that it was a small disobedience, nothing of magnitude. However, consider this, when your children disobey in the small things is it not the same sin as when they disobey in the big things....and if they do not choose to obey in the small things, why would they choose to obey in the big things? If, as the scripture states, love is to obey His commands, and we are to love at all times, then when is it OK to not obey?

Here, another scripture comes to mind from Romans 6:16:

Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Now, just so you know, and lest you think I am not keen to this in my own life, I am writing this post as a reminder to myself as well. For I need to continually remind myself to whom I am bound, and I surely want it to be the Lord Jesus Christ!

Let's get back to the mantra of obedience in my home. Many of us understand how to obey "right away," (when you're told), and even how to obey "all the way," (doing fully what you're told), but many of us do not do it "with a good attitude, everyday." Now this may seem silly to you, but we require this of our children out of the command to "honor your father and mother" and out of "treating others with respect." If our children do what we ask of them and do it when we ask it, but complete the task grumbling and pouting...have they fully obeyed? They may have completed the task, but they have sinned in honoring their father and mother and in treating others with respect. How is it not the same for us as we respond to our Heavenly Father, Our Loving God when he asks something of us and we do it begrudgingly? I can find no difference. As well, I have found that the Lord provides instruction and promise in the Proverbs, to no surprise, regarding the cheerful heart (in other words...your good attitude):

Proverbs 15:13: A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance,
But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Proverbs 15:15 All the days of the oppressed are wretched,
but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.

Proverbs 17:22: A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

As you go about your tasks, for the day, week, month and year, it is my prayer that you, and I, will choose to love our Lord and others as he has commanded, through obedience to Him with a cheerful heart. Even when the task is great, when we keep the essential obedience stocked in our pantry and add the good-to-have cheeful heart, we can expect the promise of Proverbs 15:15 and delight in the continual feast.
picture from

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The sickies...yuck!

We have a couple of sickies included! I hope to have a new post up tomorrow on the essential: obedience, and the good-to-have: cheerful heart! Now it's off to get some more tea and some rest!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Essential #1: Love...oh, and bring along some Compassion

" And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1Corinthians 13:13

As I kick off this series of essentials and good-to-haves in my pantry of the soul, I must start with an essential Christ refers to as "the most important one" in Mark 12:29. There is a lesson in here I can frequently overlook and need to focus on retrieving for my pantry. I'm sure many of you have referred to this verse over and again and could quote it. I promise I am not repeating cliches...please read to the end for the challenge. In the NIV it reads:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord in one.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Now the first commandment, regarding loving the Lord, seems so easy to me at times. I don't mean in effect that it is easy to die to self and seek to put Him first at all times, but He, the Lord of my salvation, has my best interests at heart. He desires that I become more and more like Him.

On the other hand...loving my neighbor as myself...well, this is where I can really struggle at times. I know we have all heard it before, and experienced it ourselves, how easy it is to love those who love you back. How easy it is to smile at someone when they are smiling at you, and greet them respectfully, and truly want to do something special for them. With these neighbors, I have no trouble whatsoever. A few other neighbors, the unbathed, the unkempt, the overly raucous at times...even they seem to be easy to reach out to in love. For these neighbors are often overlooked and people step aside when they see them. I easily desire to help meet their needs in love.

The neighbors I have trouble loving, are those who seem really put together, yet really rub people the wrong way. Their tongue is full of arrows and their demeanor is staunch and unloving. They have no need of any material item, yet the need in their heart is great. No one would think twice of me passing them by without a word, but is that what the Lord has called us to? They are still a neighbor, right? Well then, they are not excluded in this command. I think with these type of neighbors it would be as asset to arm your pantry stash of Love with one of the good-to-haves: Compassion. Look into your own, my own, life and realize how many times the Lord reached out to you and you didn't respond. Does this person not derserve the same? Reach out in love: with a smile, a kind word, a special gesture of kindness, spurn the arrows and continue on. Over time, even if you don't see it on the outside, I'm sure you will have made a difference, through the love of Christ, in your neighbor.

picture from

Thursday, February 7, 2008

What Is A Complete Pantry?

The pantry in my blog title is not really about one that stores food, but to set the stage for this is a little background.

Awhile back I was visiting a site entitled Cooking with Alicia. I'm not quite sure what led me there, but while looking around I noticed her section on "the pantry." Intrigued, I read her thoughts on what she felt made up "the complete pantry." Here is what she writes:

If you cook regularly, there are certain ingredients and tools that you should always have on hand. I call these "essentials".
Beyond essentials, there are the "good-to-haves". Good-to-haves will make your life easier. The essentials plus the good-to-haves will give you what I call "the complete pantry".
With "the complete pantry", you will always have something on hand to whip up a meal on the spur of the moment.
The complete pantry will also make your regular shopping easier, since you'll already have a lot of items on-hand.
And having the right tools is always a big help. As my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Vining, used to tell us: "A worker's work is only as good as his tools." It was the only class where we were allowed to sharpen our pencils whenever we needed to!
You don't need to buy all of the tools or ingredients at once, of course. Buy them as you need them for a particular recipe, and if you keep cooking different things, you will build up to your complete pantry in a gradual and affordable way.

Since reading this wonderful explanation of a complete pantry, my thoughts have been...I want one of those. But I don't mean a pantry in the traditional sense. A traditional pantry is thought of as a cupboard or closet in which one stores their provisions to be ready when meal preparations are at hand. Of course this is made easier when both the essentials and good-to-haves are in abundant supply and when variety is available.

The kind of pantry I am referring to is the pantry of my soul. The place in which I store all of the essentials and good-to-haves that the Lord has bestowed upon me. A place with enough room to hold all that I need and yet not too cluttered to the extent items are hidden and spoil before they are used. Where there are staple items, such as faith and love, obedience and perseverence, as well as something for a special guest, perhaps a specific word of encouragement or outpouring of empathy. I want to "be mature, and complete, not lacking anything," as in James 1:4 (NIV). I desire for my pantry to be full and complete.

Every few days, I will be expanding on what I believe the essentials and good-to-haves are that could make up my complete pantry. Of course, as I have stated, the Lord is the one handing out the provisions, so I will cheerfully accept what is given, even if it isn't on my list! Please, won't you join me? I am looking forward to the Lord "[making me] complete in every good work to do His will, working in [me] what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:21 (NKJV)