Are you Thankful in ALL Things?

How God is teaching me thankfulness in all things:

We finally installed a pressure tank in the basement of our ‘coming soon’ home. Which means that the frost free hydrant outside can issue forth water when I lift the handle. It is absolutely amazing!!!!

You’re probably wondering why I am so excited. “You pulled your hydrant lever and water came out. I do that every day. Why would that make you excited?”

When we moved onto our property last November we had no power or water. We had a well but no water lines or well pump. We went over a month without power; running off of a generator. Want to know how long we went without water? 7 months!!!

To get water, we loaded a 300-gallon tank onto the back of my husbands truck, drove down the road to a friends house and filled it up with 100 gallons of water. (Thank you, Cory and Sarah. You are life savers. Thank goodness you had an outdoor hot water faucet.) We then proceeded to drive back home and pour that water into the camper’s water tank. We did this every week.

You can imagine how excited we were when we installed a well pump and had water coming through our frost free hydrants. Yet, we still did not have a pressure tank. To get water, I had to turn on the breaker that was connected to the pump. I would go outside, turn on the power, fill up the camper, then go turn the power back off. It was much better than hauling water but still not as easy as opening up your faucet and water miraculously spilling out.

I was overjoyed when I was able to fill our 5th wheel (bus-house as our 3 year old calls it) with water without having to go switch the breaker on. It was a big step for us and it made me realize how much I take for granted. I forget how good God is to me.

I tell you my sad, little story in order spur you on to thankfulness. In no way do I want pity or for you to feel sorry for me. The past year has been rough but also a rewarding one. A simple life within a fifth wheel has been a time of refinement. It has taught me thankfulness and simplicity – character traits that I believe are very pleasing to God.

Do you truly realize how blessed and spoiled you are? Maybe you don’t have extra money to spend on all the things you want, but do you have a home and bed and a tummy full of food? I know I do. Yet, somehow, I still find things to complain about. “Oh, woe is me!!! I have to live in a fifth wheel and unclog my backed up toilet every month and dump my reekish black tank that smells of sewage and kind of makes me want to barf!” Heck, Shiree! You have a toilet!!! You aren’t having to dig a hole in the dirt every time you go number two. (That’s a relief, let me tell you. I might have drawn the line at digging a poop hole.)

Thankfulness is seriously lacking in most of our lives. We lose sight of how good we have it. We seem to think that the ordinary, mundane things of life are merely happenstance. Life owes us that which we desire. Heaven forbid if our day doesn’t go the way we want it. We find ourselves frustrated and irritated over ridiculous things, such as:

~Gosh darn that old farmer holding up traffic again with that gigantic John Deere tractor of his!

~The laundry never ends!! What? ANOTHER BLOW-OUT!!!??

~Why is the grocery store out of my favorite ice-cream? I’M GONNA LOSE IT WITHOUT MY FAVORITE ICE CREAM!!!

~Why is the line at the coffee shop so looooong? I have to be to work in five minutes. Just order a simple coffee, you bearded hipster!! Don’t you know that real men take it black?!

There is always something to complain about. Without us realizing it, we complain about the weather, our clothes, our kids, our husbands, our car, or our neighbor. I find myself groaning about the fact that my coffee doesn’t stay hot long enough. It’s rather silly when I think about it.

The Bible says to give thanks in all things. To do ALL things without grumbling or complaining. Even when poop blows out of the back of the boys’ diaper or the carpet got another stain on it from spilled grape juice? Am I really supposed to give thanks in those things? How? How can I be thankful for things that drive me crazy or make me sit on the kitchen floor and cry like a tired, hungry toddler?

It’s one thing to quote verses about thankfulness but it’s a whole other story to actually live it out. Day to day. Hour to hour. Minute to minute. Life will never be easy and there will be plenty of things to grumble about. So, how do we live in thankfulness and kill the grumbling disease that so easily infects us?

We choose it. We choose to see the good. Allow yourself to dwell on all that you love about your life, not all that you wish was different. Being thankful will be a powerful weapon you can wield in the battle of life and the fight against the enemy. Because if you don’t know already, Satan wants us to grumble.

He wants us to look at all the wrong things in our life and lose perspective. When we begin to look upon the bad and brood upon the hurt, our insides fester with discontent and our trust in God begins to fade. We begin to wonder if God is really who he says he is. We wonder why he would let life get us down if He actually loved us the way He says he does. Why would God not give us sunshine and lollipops every day? Doesn’t he love us and want the best for us? Shouldn’t this life be easy now that we believe in Jesus? Didn’t Jesus die on the cross to let me live a good life?

Yes! But not always the way we want it to be. Jesus came to give us life. A life that is full, made new and filled with joy. A life that could be lived in victory even when everything around us is still crumbling and falling apart. We are new creatures in an old, broken world. Pain and hardship will be with us as long as we live on this earth. But we no longer have to succumb to it. The blood of Jesus has given us victory over the world. We have the power to enjoy the journey on our way to everlasting life. Even when that journey is a hard one. Or perhaps, just an inconveniencing one.

So, I encourage you today to live in thankfulness. Don’t let the disappointments, no matter how big or small, drag you down into the pit of discontent. Learn to look on all that you have as a gift and a blessing that God has given you.

Be grateful for the dirt that your children track through the door. It means you have the joy of motherhood.

Rejoice in the laundry you have to do. It means you have a family.

Give thanks for all the dirty dishes. Your family is not hungry.

Smile when you see your husband’s shoes strewn on the floor. It means you have a man to take care of.

Rejoice when your favorite ice cream is nowhere to be found. It means you don’t have to feel guilty later for eating it. 😉

“Again I say, Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

~Shiree

Crockpot BBQ Ribs

Crockpot BBQ Ribs

Oh hot mamma’s! My kitchen seriously smells GOOD!

When I walk into my house and smell the sweet aroma of cooking ribs… mm mm good.

And THEN, combine that with the fact that it’s cooking in the crockpot and therefore I don’t have to do anything else other than EAT THEM – this is seriously the face these ribs will cause you to make. (Unless of course you don’t like meat… awkward….)

Seriously though, if you are looking for an awesome crock pot meal that takes only minutes to throw together and tastes amazing – look no further.

Added bonus?? My husband loves these so I’m sure you’re man will too!

So first thing is to make sure you have your crock pot out and ready to go! I like to drizzle a nice little layer of barbecue sauce in the bottom before I put the ribs in, just to be sure all that goodness covers every inch of those ribs! 

Next, lay your ribs out on a paper towel or a clean surface, with the meaty side up. Mix all your spices together in a small bowl and stir well until combined. 

NOTE: if you prefer to go sugar free – ditch the brown sugar and use cinnamon! If this sounds strange to you don’t be alarmed! Cinnamon is surprisingly crazy good on certain kinds of meat (I use cinnamon for crock pot carnitas too! YUM!) If you aren’t positive about the cinnamon at first just use a little bit to see how you like it.

Next, rub the spice mixture on the meat. This is easiest using your hands! Once your ribs are smothered in spiced goodness, wrap the ribs around the inside of the crock pot with the meaty side facing out. “They” say (whoever they is) that this is the best way to cook ribs in the crock pot but if you are in a hurry just cut up the ribs into three or four sections and throw them in the crock pot. Whatever is easiest for you! To me personally, they taste the same and it doesn’t make a big difference! 

Once your ribs are in the crock pot, smother those babies in barbecue sauce! I put down about 2-3 cups of sauce on the recipe card, but really I just smother all over until I feel satisfied that there are no sauce free spots on any of those ribs! So smother away with how every much barbecue sauce you want! Then throw your lid on and let the magic happen! Typically I will cook these for about 6-8 hours on low –  but if you are anything like me and forgot about dinner until 2 in the afternoon, cook for 4 hours on high! The ribs are done once the meat begins to fall off the bones! 

Eat these on their own or serve with something else scrumptious like potato’s and roasted cauliflower! Whatever strikes your fancy!

Let me know how the rib cooking goes!

Bon Apetit!

Finding Joy in Pain

Finding Joy in Pain

 

When is it Ok not be joyful? When is the right time to weep?

It says in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything. So, are there times in life when we can let the pain in and just cry? Is the weeping that lasts for the night necessary in order for the joy to come in the morning?

Am I wrong to think that God uses pain and hurt so we can fully know and experience joy? Is joy attainable even after walking over hot coals and climbing over painful, unbeatable mountains? I know that in the good times it seems that joy is easy to come by. It can appear without even being invited. You open the door and let joy join the party.joy comes in the morning

But, I have experienced something even more amazing. I have had joy announce itself uninvited: At a time when I was hurting and not wanting to celebrate. It seemed that it was knocking at the wrong door-had the wrong address perhaps. I wanted to shoo it away, tell joy that it had horrible timing and was rude for turning up the way it did. Don’t you know I’m upset, for Pete’s sake? I don’t want joy here. This is a painful time and crying is the only answer. Yet, even when I refused to open the door to let joy in; it waited. It stood calmly and expectantly at the door. But why?

Well, I think I may have found out:

My husband and I are building a house. It has been one of the most trying times I have experienced.  More tears have been shed in this past year than I can count: Tears of frustration, tears of hurt, tears of doubt and tears of fear. Is God using all these tears and turning them into something beautiful? Or are they wasteful tears that I shed in my own self-pity?

I know that the pain in building this house will produce a beautiful home for us in the end. It will be a place of joy and comfort for us. A place of rest. We would not end up with a beautiful house without going through all the hard work it requires. Yet, I must admit, I wish God didn’t lead us into this process. (The good things in life that God has for us may require more character building than we would like. It may require a lot more pain than we like but we must go through it if we wish to move forward in the will God has for us.)

One night, when I was in a terrible state, I cried out to God and told Him I was sorry for not being more joyful through the whole house building ordeal. I felt weak, pitiful, and I frankly did not like myself. I wanted to be stronger and felt like I was letting God down by not being the woman of strength He wished me to be.

You know what I heard Him say, “It’s Ok to be sad and to not like the process. Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. He accepted the pain of the cross for the glory that would come from it. He did not find joy in the pain. In fact, he asked to be delivered from it for he knew how agonizing it would be….I’m not expecting beautiful smiles and bubbly charm all the time. The tears are meant to be shed for a purpose. Because after the tears, comes the joy. And sometimes, in the tears there is joy.”in the midst of trouble

Through that, I was able to rise up in the hurt and cling onto joy. Was I still in pain? Yes. Was life suddenly all better and the sun came out and birds chirped happily? No. But I was able to look ahead to the joy that was set before me. I would have a home at the end of this. A home that I could be proud of. So in the midst of the trying time I would grip tightly to that joy and wait in hope.

Joy is a powerful witness. When we have experienced heartache and trying times, people don’t expect joy. The world expects us to let the hurt consume us. It’s the way it is. That’s what people do. You get hurt and then you wallow in it. Others will allow you act rudely, be stand offish and even down right mean if you are going through a trying time. They are trying to show you grace.

But, what if our response was different? What if after the time of mourning we were able to get back up and respond with joy? People would be able to see a powerful miracle through us. They would see the fruit of the spirit being manifested. I think that is one of a the many ways God uses ‘all things for the good of those who love him.’ (Romans 8:28)

So, if joy comes knocking let us rise up and open the door to it. May we not let the pain overtake us. Mourn, cry, maybe punch a pillow, but never sit down in the mire of despair and take up residency there. If you do, then you will miss out on a great gift that God has for you. He wants you to have the power of joy to overcome. Now, let joy do it’s work.

Joy is waiting.

~Shiree

*Margaret Feinberg wrote a book called, Fight back with Joy‘. I just recently finished it and was so happy that she wrote a whole chapter on the joy found through hard times. She put into words that which I have such a hard time trying to articulate upon. Diagnosed with cancer, Feinberg went on a journey to fight back with joy in hopes to get through her painful experience. She can write so much more wisdom on joy than I ever could and I highly recommend it.

 

Communicate Respect to Your Man

Communicate Respect to Your Man

As I sat on our couch brainstorming what to write about, the options were limitless and almost overwhelming. So like any normal woman, I asked my chiseled man his opinion…

“Write about how sexy I am!”

No joke – that’s what he said – with a mischievous gleam in his eye and his shoulders shaking as he laughed, obviously thinking he was HILARIOUS!

Man, I stinking love that man. I can’t help but be entertained by his adorable albeit ridiculous jokes!

But as I began to settle myself back down to brainstorming, I realized maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. My mind began to dwell on all the wonderful things I love about Kyle – things that make him “sexy.” Of course there’s the obvious fact that he truly is incredibly good looking-

 but so many of the things that make him unwaveringly handsome are beyond physical.

The way he looks at me, tickles my arm, and calls to see how I’m doing during the day. The fact that he gets Lillian out of bed and makes the coffee so that I, being possibly one of the worst morning people ever, can lay in bed an extra 10 minutes “waking up.” I could go on and on about this man I call “mine” but I know you don’t REALLY care that much. And that’s okay because it might be a little weird if you felt the same way! Ha!

BUT, as I pondered my life with Kyle, I began to reflect on myself and the roll I played as his wife. How do I show Kyle this is how I love him? How do I actively love and respect him?

Now, dear reader, allow me to backtrack for just a moment – before Kyle and I were married we did the video series “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerich’s. If you have not had a chance to do this series I would absolutely recommend it. It was fabulous – not only enlightening but surprisingly entertaining. I personally feel that this has made an impact on our marriage and the way we live, love and respect one another.  Yet even after Kyle and I had finished “Love and Respect” and we were finally married, I struggled in my mind with exactly what respect meant and looked like.

I needed practical ways of how I could show respect to Kyle. My complex mind needed every day, in and out, perceptible ways to live out my respect for him.

So, I started to make a list! And if you know me at all, you know I have a perpetual love for lists and bullet points (seriously, who doesn’t love putting a checkmark in those little boxes on a list?) yea, only crazy people don’t like that.

Anywho, I have kept that list on the wall by my bed ever since.  Respect is not easily learned and is something that, for me personally, I always need to work on. I fail often! But thankfully I have an ever loving and gracious Heavenly Father who gave me a husband who forgives and keeps on loving me despite my shortcomings!

I don’t know about you but I want others to see and know that my husband is a man deeply loved and cherished by his wife!

Just as we so desperately want and need to be loved by our men, may we never falter in giving our men the respect, and therefore, LOVE that they need.

It’s so easy to love the way WE want to be loved. But keep in mind that maybe your man needs something a little more/different!

Print off this list! Add your own ideas to it – ways that you can personally love YOUR guy. Comment below with your ideas! I’m always looking for more ways to better love my man.

Post it on your wall so that you may be attentive.

And don’t forget to pray, pray, pray for your man!

I pray that the Lord continues to (gently) reveal where we need to improve and that he will give us fresh and new ideas on how to truly love and RESPECT our men!

(You can find these templates in the Freebies library as well!)

“In any case, as for you individually, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and wives should respect their husbands.”     Ephesians 5:33

“A competent wife, how does one find her? Her value is far above pearls. Her husband entrusts his heart to her; and with her he will have all he needs. She brings him good and not trouble all the days of her life.”      Proverbs 31: 10-12

 

 

Contentment and Joy

Contentment and Joy

These words seem to elude us within our culture and in our time. There is always something out there that we are told we must have.

“You need this to be happy,” the movies and advertisements indiscreetly imply. We fall hook, line and sinker.

Contentment has become a fairy tale notion and joy is a cute word we put on t-shirts and coffee mugs. Looking around I wonder where the joy and contentment has gone. Not just in our culture but in the church as well. Amidst the over-abundance of good we have, why are we able to only see the bad? We are unable to be satisfied. More is better. And enough is never enough. Or so the sayings go.

Sadly, more so now than ever, many people portray themselves as victims of their culture or the victim of others treatment. We have become a society of victimized, discontent babies that would rather have people feel sorry for us than to rise up and have victory. (If you don’t think you victimize yourself, keep track of where your mind goes the next time your husband treats you unfairly or not very loving.) Why do we want people to pity us? Why must we compete on who has it harder in life? Why are we so unhappy?

First and foremost you must ask yourself, “What do I let my mind dwell on?” How is your thinking lately? To be honest with you, mine has been dwelling more on the “woe is me” . And you know what its producing in me? A grumpy, impatient wife and mom. I got angry at my kids tonight because I felt mistreated by my husband. Was my husband cruel? NO! He was just grumpy and dealing with lots of stress. Yet, I still took it way to personal. Rather foolish, I say.

How you think will dictate the rest of your day and the rest of your life.

Debi Pearl put it like this in her  book Created to be a help meet http://amzn.to/2xQMsf0

(“Joy begins with thankfulness. Quite often our attitudes hang in the balance; by making a conscious choice, we can tip our souls into dark moods of complaining or into thankfulness and praise…Thankfulness is how you think; joy is the abundance it produces.”)

How do you view life? Can you look everything and be grateful or do you focus on all you don’t have?

I am amazed at how my attitude affects everyone around me. If I greet my husband with smiles and gladness, it can ease the tension and stress he may be experiencing. My children are happier and more compliant as if ready to please me. They feel safe when mommy is content and joyful. I am even happier and enjoy my own presence when I let thankfulness rule over my emotions.

The bible says it like this in Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

I don’t know about you but I want to be woman who is like medicine to those she meets. Especially, to those within my home. There is a lot of sickness in this world, physical and spiritual, and I don’t want to make it worse by my horrible, ungrateful attitude.

I know what you are thinking. “Yeah, that sounds great, Shiree. A lot easier said than done.” You would be correct. Is cultivating joy and practicing thankfulness and easy task? No! It requires a lot of practice and self-discipline especially if you have mastered the art of ungratefulness and complaining. I struggle often, still learning how to fight to have joy rather than discontentment. Yet, I know it can be done. The bible says joy is a fruit of the spirit. As people of Christ, and filled with the Holy Spirit, we must be those filled with joy. The world is in desperate need of joyful people. They fill a dark place with light.

I no longer want to be woman who views herself as a victim and wallows in self-pity. I don’t want to be discontent. I feel it drying up my bones. Can you?

Even through hard and difficult circumstances we can be women of joy and therefore women of strength. This life will be full of times that break our hearts and almost defeat us. Yet, it the midst of it may we practice the power of joy and contentment-giving God a wonderful and beautiful sacrifice.

“Most of us fall and collapse at the first grip of pain; we sit down at the thresh-hold of God’s purpose and die away of self-pity, and all so called Christian sympathy will aid us to our death bed. But God will not. He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, and says-‘Enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine.’ If through a broken heart God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, than thank Him for breaking your heart.” (Oswald Chambers: My Utmost for His Highest, Nov. 1-Ye are not your own) http://amzn.to/2xQBnL2

~Shiree

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