The best part of being away last week at a worship conference was COMING HOME. Sappy, I know. I can’t help it.
It was a good 3 days of challenging instruction and reminders that I definitely needed as a worship leader. But I just felt out of sorts while I was away. It had been a year since I’d been away from my kids for more than a day and well over a year since I’d traveled without my husband. And I missed them.
We’re not connected at the hip or so co-dependent that I can’t function without them, but I genuinely like their company. Which is a blessing and privilege. My family is a soft place to land.
That’s one of my goals and prayers for this blog and for all our homes. Part of “redeeming the home” is making home a refuge from the draining, discouraging, ugly parts of the world. This doesn’t happen easily or by accident. I think we have to make some serious choices if we desire our homes to be a place of restoration, encouragement and peace.
It means we are very careful to pick our battles.
Some things that seem like an issue really aren’t. Ask yourself before you decide to launch an assault on your kids or husband if anything you’re about to say will matter in one month or one year. I think we vent too much, give our two cents worth too freely, and genuinely listen too little. (I still need to improve on this a ton.) I frequently tell my kids that proving that they’re right and someone else is wrong isn’t always the best thing for a relationship. Sometimes we just have to drop it. (Unless it’s a Biblical issue, of course.)
Or try considering how you can bless the folks in your home.
This goes beyond seeking peace to looking for opportunities to bless them. It doesn’t have to be grand or cost a penny. Picking up your husband’s stuff without making an issue out of it. Bringing your son or daughter a drink while they’re working hard on homework. Rubbing a back. An unexpected hug.
Maybe you’re naturally good at that stuff. It’s not always so easy for me. Not because I don’t want to do things for my family. But I tend to get tunnel vision when I’m working on something and I forget that anything else is happening. It’s good for me to take a break from my agenda and direct my energy towards them every now and then.
Pray, pray, and pray some more. Boy, do I need to take my own advise here. Have you ever tried to have a rotten attitude towards someone and pray for them at the same time? (I mean really pray for them. Not the kind of prayer where you tell God all the things you think He needs to do to fix someone.) I can’t do it. If I’m bothered by someone and I start praying for that person, my heart changes completely. And God replaces my irritation with compassion.
Sometimes making your home a refuge requires laying down your own desires. It might require sacrifice. It might be hard. If your home feels more like a war zone right now, or a giant hamster wheel of stress, then prayer might feel like all you have. But it’s SO much more than we think.
I think this is important to our Father too. It speaks of the truth of the gospel in our lives.
“By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10
“Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.” 1 Corinthians 13:11
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
I know these verses aren’t specifically about family units. But shouldn’t it start there?
How do you make your home a refuge?
I’m very excited to be a monthly contributor at Modern Alternative Momma. This is a great site with TONS of practical help on your journey to natural living, real food and making all that work with a busy family and on a budget.
This month’s theme is all things local. So today, I’m sharing how my family turns local road trips into a discovery of the past. It’s a Road Trip Through History!
To read more and visit Modern Alternative Momma, click here.
If you’re a baker, you know that in most cases it’s best to bake with room temperature ingredients. (Except pastries, of course.) But, if you’re like me, sometimes you forget to set everything out a couple hours before you want to bake. Or, maybe you’ve just gotta have brownies RIGHT NOW and you’re too impatient to wait. I don’t know anything about that.
Sometimes, you can go ahead and bake. The results won’t be too off. But when you’re baking with eggs and a solid fat, like butter, coconut oil or palm shortening you’ve just got to get those eggs warmed up a little. Otherwise, you end up with little pea sized lumps of fat that just won’t mix up. Ask me how I know.
So, I’ve got a tip for you today to get those eggs to room temperature–FAST!
Submerge your eggs in warm water.
That’s it. While you’re getting the rest of your ingredients together, place the eggs in some warm tap water for just a few minutes. Aren’t eggs porous, you ask? Well, yes. But since they are in the water for such a short period of time, it really doesn’t matter all that much. I use this trick just about every time I bake and I’ve never had a problem. Works great.
No more hard coconut oil bits in my muffin batter
Got any baking tips to share with us this week?
It’s been a great weekend full of good outside work and even a little downtime. To me, there’s just something special when we’re all outside, working together. Some are mowing, some weeding and we even got in a little harvesting.
For my husband, it doesn’t get much better than a giant bonfire and fishing at the end of a long day.
It is SO good to finally be outside on a regular basis. On most days you’ll find me squatting down in the garden, staring into the dirt for signs of seedlings emerging. So you’ll have to humor me when I geek out about the garden .
Okay, onto the meal plan.
Dinners this week look like this…Hoagies, salads Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli Taco Salad Salmon Patties, green beans, glazed ginger carrots Burritos, refried beans, spanish rice Veggie Fried Rice
Side note: The antelope we got from my brother-in-law is AWESOME. It’s more mild and tender than any venison I’ve ever had. We’ll be using the antelope burger this week for the taco and burrito meat.
Also on the agenda…tomato and pepper planting. LOTS of them. There will be much garden geeking this week!
What’s on tap for your week?
Providing real, nourishing food for constantly hungry kids is hard work. Sometimes it feels impossible. No sooner do you finish making, eating and cleaning up after one meal then you have to start on the next. Or find a snack that’s more nutritious than the cardboard box it came in.
Since we homeschool, my kids are at home, eating, ALL DAY. That’s three meals and snacks. If I want it to be real food and not just belly filler, I’ve got to find a way to make my time in the kitchen count.
Prep for meals before you need to.
This is where you can steal those 15 minutes to make a difference in the kitchen.
- While the kids are working independently, cup up raw veggies for lunch, or quickly mix up some ranch. Who cares if it’s only 10:00 am?
- While dinner is in the oven, mix up the dry ingredients for tomorrow’s muffins.
- While you’re making lunch, cut up apples or put dried fruit and almonds in a baggie so you have snacks for this afternoon’s errands.
- After lunch, throw your chicken and marinade in a bag to marinate in the frig.
- Got a few minutes during naptime? Dice up onions or other veg for that night’s dinner.
Any prep work you can do ahead of time makes meal time feel like a breeze. It’s like having a sous chef get everything ready for you. (Except you are both sous chef and executive chef–go you!) It’s all about learning to multitask in the kitchen.
Make twice as much.
It will only take just a few more minutes to make a double batch of waffles so you have some to stash in the freezer. Or two pounds of taco meat instead of one–freeze half. If you’re cutting up carrot sticks, why not cut up enough for a few lunches, so you don’t have to mess with it tomorrow?
Making extra for another meal only takes just a few minutes more, but makes for easy meals later on.
Have a plan.
I can’t say this enough. HAVE A PLAN. Maybe this should have been number one on the list. If you take 15 minutes at the beginning of the week, say on Sunday, and plan out your meals, it will make a HUGE difference in the kitchen. Then I can see where it would be helpful to make extra rice for a meal later on. I know when I need to get meat out to thaw or beans to soak. Each one of those little steps only takes a minute. But if I forget to get out that meat, for instance, I’m in big trouble come dinner time.
How does getting ahead in the kitchen help you live intentionally?
If feeding your family real, nourishing food is a priority for you, you’ll be doing a LOT of scratch cooking. Cause let’s face it, processed food FAR out numbers real food in most of our stores. Homemade takes time. So let’s find that time. Let’s be purposeful about feeding our family.
And when things are running smoothly in the kitchen, it frees us up to spend more time with those folks we’re feeding anyway .
What are your strategies for food prep?
It’s the end of day two of the National Worship Leader Conference in Lancaster, PA. I have yet to see an Amish buggy, which is disappointing. But today was full of practical seminars, and some great music and worship. So I can’t complain.
I’m not sure I have any great epiphanies or deep thoughts yet from all this. We refer to it as a “drinking from the fire hose” sort of thing. It might take me a while to sort through all the information that’s been downloaded into my brain. But for what it’s worth, here’s some random thoughts from today…
Being in a room full of crazy gifted musicians is humbling.
I kind of had that small fish in a very big pond feeling today. On one hand, it’s incredible to think that even though I’m not the next Darlene Zschech, God still decides to use me. Baggage, mistakes and all. My limits don’t limit Him. And He’s proven that to me over and over again. Because every Sunday, no matter how weak I might feel, He never fails to give me strength and make something much greater out of my worship than I ever could.
These people at this conference have melodies and chords and creativity oozing out of their pores. And when you get this many singers together in a room, the result is amazing. I find myself just listening sometimes. My voice gets lost in theirs. Which is good. It’s not often a worship leader can let go and get lost in the swell of corporate worship. Cause we’re the ones with the microphone.
The worship leader who has known struggle has so much credibility.
It’s like David in the Psalms. In so many of David’s songs to God, he first has to get his pain or fears or doubts out of the way. And then he comes back to what he knows about God. Praising Him even though the problem remains.
Maybe it’s just the season of life I’m in, but I can connect with this kind of worship leader, this kind of song so much more. Tonight, Aaron Shust stood in front of us and shared his struggle. He shared how he and his wife welcomed a very ill baby boy into their family. They weren’t prepared for it. And they had to grieve the loss of their hopes and dreams for their son. But, even though their child still has many difficulties to overcome, they have seen God’s goodness and they have hope.
And then he sang the words from his familiar song…”I am not skilled to understand, what God has willed what God has planned. I only know at His right hand, stands One who is my Savior.”
You knew as Aaron sang that song, he had also lived it. He was still living it.
It was a reminder for me not to run from my weaknesses or struggles as a worship leader, but to somehow model to my church how to praise God even in the midst. Because that’s where people are. And they just want to know that all this stuff is real. That it makes a difference in the mess of life.
So I guess I’d say, if you are in a position of influence or leadership, you don’t have to pretend like you’ve got it all together or that your life is all sunshine and roses. You just have to show them that God gives you strength in your weakness and that He is always worthy of praise.
Okay, so maybe I got a little deep on that one. The next thought is truly random, though…
I wonder what a worship conference would have looked like in the Old Testament.
See, I told you it was random. For all the emphasis on keeping the focus on Christ (which is completely true) there are still all these seminars here about lighting and sound equipment and planning resources and software. They’re all very good, well meaning and helpful. But at some point today I envisioned the Levites gathering to learn the newest method of sacrifice or the latest incense. Maybe they’d go to a workshop on how to rewrite Canaanite songs with Hebrew lyrics.
I apologize. It’s late.
But still I wonder. Does God think we’re a little silly? Silly children. Aren’t you glad He’s so patient with us?
Thank you for humoring me and my random thoughts.
I had planned a Tip Tuesday post for today, and I’ll get back to it next week, but I’ve had other things on my mind that I wanted to share.
There is a lot of brokenness around lately. People are hurting. Marriages are crumbling. There is struggle.
And then yesterday, a beautiful young wife and her small children are left without a husband and father. God called him home…so fast.
Friends, there is a great distance between here and Glory. Somedays it seems farther than others. There are glimpses of it, sure. In the bright eyes of my youngest. In the room full of worshipers I stood with last night. But you can’t always hold onto it. Like a ray of sunlight that you can’t grasp.
It’s unearthly, glory is. Beyond us.
Because this world is not home. Thank goodness it’s not home! While we are here it can be hard and it can be ugly and sometimes we wonder how on earth God can call the mess of our lives good. How He can make it beautiful.
Somehow He does. HE DOES. Hear me–our God IS good. He does not leave us all alone in our mess and pain. And while we wait for Glory, while we wait for Him to finally make everything right, yes–life will still hurt sometimes. We will have to say goodbye. Things will not turn out like we planned.
But–we will take heart. We will press on. We will throw all our confidence and all our hope on Jesus. Because He’s never left us. Because He knows pain. Because He took it all. Because He’s worth it.
And one day–one day we will wait no longer. One day we will finally see His glory. And the Bible says that Jesus himself will wipe every tear from our eyes. He will make everything new.
I heard this song tonight and I thought of all of those who are waiting for God to show up in their darkest hour. He never left you. Even if it feels like it. Know that you are loved. And I’m praying for you.