Blogging about the Sweetest Things in Life

Reflections on the extraordinary moments of an ordinary Mother.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What did Jesus See up there?

Yesterday I had originally planned on reflecting primarily on the third temptation that Satan presented to Jesus in the wilderness.  There were some interesting things I had thought about while pondering Sunday's sermon but instead I found myself on the wrong end of a poor, split second decision and decided I personally needed yesterday's message about taking the time to check my reactions before making bad choices.  So today we'll pick up where we left off yesterday.  Yesterday I talked about how Eve and Adam did not handle Satan's temptations well.  That's the understatement of the day I think.  There is a much better example of how to handle this in Matthew chapter 4 where we see how Satan tempts Jesus.

The first thing we notice is that Satan approaches Jesus in the same way he did Eve, without ostentatiousness.  Notice he waits until the end of the 40 days of fasting, when we could deduce Jesus' human body might be at it's weakest.  (Truly my patience grows razor thin when I am even an few hours over due for a meal.)   

We saw Satan skillfully use the suggestion of doubt and desire with Eve.  In that first temptation of Jesus, Satan ever still the cunning manipulator, introduces that same grain of doubt, that small little word, "If".  Matt. 4:3 "The tempter came to him and said, 'If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.'”  How easy would it have been to say a word and feed your starving flesh.  After 40 days one could hardly call that the immediate gratification I discussed yesterday, yet Jesus points out that God's word is not meant to feed the flesh but to feed the soul.  He shows the epitome of faith right there.  The faith that the Israelites did not show while traveling through the desert, crying out that God was going to starve them in Exodus.

Satan doesn't relent though but tries another approach, again with that word "If."  This time we see him use the word of God but to twist it around in context, similar to what he did to Eve.  “'If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Again, we see him trying to stoke a shred of doubt.  Doubt in Jesus' own divinity, in his true identity, not through some supernatural forces, but by the slightest twisting of God's word.  Satan takes Psalm 91 out of context; away from the comfort of faith that it is written in, and tries to rationalize the testing of God with it.  He pulls on that human tendency for "proof".  Oh don't we live in an age full of proof?  We dismiss what we cannot prove, manufacture, or explain.   Jesus doesn't take the bait though, instead he uses God's Word right back at Satan.   "Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’"   He knows God's word, inside outside and upside down, so he sees right through the twisting of context.  This is worth noting with a great big giant red circle for me and is why we (me, I'm yelling at myself again here) must be diligent in studying God's word.  I don't know about you, but I have a long way to go before I know it inside, let alone outside and upside down.  

Yet again, Satan does not relent but takes a third approach.  This time we see him trying to stoke the the desire for wealth and power that has been the downfall of so very many people, even those of great talent and willpower.  It's in this third temptation, the offering of all the riches and power and Earthly glory for the one simple act of bowing to Satan.  It is picturing that mountaintop that I had a major realization, for me at least.  When Satan stood upon that mountain showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in all their splendor, he was looking at it from his perspective and I venture to guess he thought Jesus would see it through the ordinary human perspective.  Most people would look upon "the splendor", the power and the wealth that could be theirs.  Power corrupts to be sure but even those with a very good heart may think to themselves, "think of all the good I could do with that!" 

What I realized Sunday is that isn't the perspective Jesus had at all!  When he looked upon the world, don't you think he saw the vast masses of sinners?  Don't you think he saw each and every person who would die for their very sinful nature, not one righteous person among them?  Could standing there looking over our fallen world, the world that was designed in perfection but doomed in sin, have actually been a reinforcement of his purpose on this Earth, in his human flesh? That if he did not live the life of perfection that we could not, in our place as our substitute we would never have everlasting life?   He was there, after all, in the Word when our heavenly Father created that world of perfection, the same world that lay at the foot of that mountain broken and destitute.  I'm not sure Satan was counting on our human Jesus seeing a broken world needing a Savior more then anything.

I can't say for certain because the Bible does not tell us what Jesus was thinking.    I suppose I will have to ask him about it over dinner some day. All we do know is that Jesus commanded Satan to leave and once again quoted God's Word,  “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’"

So where Adam and Eve failed their very first temptation miserably, Jesus resisted each of three.  How did he do it and what can we learn?  He did it by putting his trust and faith in God above all else and he did it by using God's Word.  Eve knew what God had commanded, yet she barely gave consideration to God's will, let alone to showing her faith and trust in him.  Jesus on the other hand did just that, not once but three times.  How grateful should we be that he was willing to do this much and so much more for this broken world of sinners.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Eve and her split second decision making

As I pondered yesterday's sermon on Jesus' temptation, I had a bit of a realization.  A few of them in fact.  Today I'm going to focus on what went down in the garden of Eden. After the morning I've had, I'm finding that I need to write about this RIGHT NOW, for myself as much as anyone.  Tomorrow I'll share my reflections on Jesus' temptation, the similarities in Satan's approach, the differences in Jesus' perfect responses, and a perspective that Satan may not have been counting on.

Satan came to Eve in the same way he came to Jesus in the desert, presenting himself unpretentiously.  He approached her without pomp or circumstance through a serpent which, not yet being an adversary, did not immediately cause her to see evil and run.  He came with nothing more then questions, but oh the questions!  The questions were skillfully designed by a master manipulator.  Satan started by purposefully misrepresenting God's word, Gen 3:1 "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the Garden?"   Of course Satan knew this is not what God said, but he's going somewhere with this, namely putting Eve in a negative frame of reference.  She is not thinking of everything that God has provided, this huge glorious garden that meets every one of her needs without so much as lifting a finger (or hoe).  No, she's thinking of the one thing that was off limits.

We also don't see her taking time.  Time to reorient herself to the abundance and blessings God had provided, or time to ponder how obeying God's command might be good for her, might strengthen her faith or give her the opportunity to show her love and gratefulness.  How often do we think of accepting a "negative" as a way to show gratefulness? She did not even ponder the fact that a very loving and much wiser God with a vastly larger perspective than hers may know what's better for her than she did.  Or that she doesn't really need to understand the "why" to trust and obey.  Didn't I just have this conversation with a certain 8 year old, about perspectives and trusting and understanding that things Mom and Dad do and say are because we love our children and have a bigger perspective.  Bigger than the small incident today to what it will teach them and how it will help them to become a loving, kind adult.  Yep, pretty sure I did, and no I didn't miss the opportunity to point out how much larger God's perspective is then ours as parents.

Eve did not take the time.  She didn't stop and think and Satan kept right on her. Gen 3:4 "You will not surely die,"  he said to Eve. Uh oh, there's the doubt, that tiny kernel of doubt.  Doubt followed immediately by the temptation of knowledge.  It sounds sweet yes?  Do we see Eve take a moment to fully consider what this "knowledge" might entail?  She doesn't even really know evil at this point (or that she's talking to it, ironic eh?).  Does she take a moment to think about what having knowledge of evil would mean for her?  We don't even need to be a party to evil to see how devastating and tragic and painful it is.  Just imagine the heartache you feel when you hear about a child beaten to death.  Who in their right mind would want the knowledge of evil to enter their world if they didn't have to?  Eve didn't have our perspective either, she had never seen evil let alone experienced it.  She didn't give herself any time to ponder her decision or it's repercussions.  She let her desire for "knowledge", a knowledge she didn't even fully comprehend mind you, carry her along while Satan skillfully guided the way.

Desire.  It doesn't seem to have taken Eve much more then a millisecond to move from desire to decision.  Oh how many times have we trod this path ourselves!?!?  Countless.  The desire for the sweet taste of that donut over the health of our body.  The desire for that car that we don't have the money for, so we sign a note instead of save the money.  Everywhere you look you see temptations in the form of instant gratification.  Death seems a much larger consequence for Eve then eating a donut is for us to be sure and I'm not sure you can put donut indulgence down as a sin per se.  But we can see how Satan works surreptitiously,  by tiny suggestions of doubt and desire.  By the barbs of the word "if".  Satan's goal, to pull us one little step, one tiny word at a time away from our God and our Savior.  He doesn't work in big flashy ways, but with small and relentless pulling, pushing our buttons and stoking the coals of our desires.

Let's not forget that Eve and the serpent are not alone here in the garden either.  Where is Eve's support structure?  The head of her household?  Adam was right there with her Gen. 3:6 "She also gave some to her husband, who was with her".  Did he once interject with an, "I don't know about this" or "let's think about this first" or even better "let's pray about this".  Nope.  If there had been a TV in the garden would he have even paused the DVR to pay attention to what his wife was getting into?   What we do know about Adam is that a) he was there and b) he didn't stop Eve or even object to eating the fruit himself.  To be clear Eve did not pause and consult Adam either, unless you count encouraging him to partake in their disobedience.  Not once did she stop to ask, "What do you think honey, is this a good idea?" Spouses are a team, and Adam and Eve's team wasn't working very well that day.

Let's also not miss the fact that it's Adam, as the head of his household, the "team captain" who takes the blame for this, even though he may seem little more then an accomplice to most of the action.  Rom 5:12 "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man..." The Apostle Paul goes on to clarify and reiterate that point that sin entered the world through "one man" Adam and sin is cleansed by God's grace through "one man" Jesus Christ.  It is full circle, to be sure, but there is no doubt that Adam carries the burden of that initial sin.

One might wonder how that could have gone down differently had Adam interceded and pleaded for his wife's forgiveness even after she ate the fruit.  Some say that what if's are futile and pointless, but I disagree in that they give us an opportunity to reflect on better decisions.  I firmly believe that the more times one "plays" circumstances out in ones mind, we are better prepared when we find ourselves in a situation and a split second action is necessary, ask any self defense instructor.  It's at least worth considering that if we see our spouse going down a path contrary to God's commands, we should counsel with them, pray for and with them and not just willingly walk down that path of sin together.

So let us reflect on how this all went down. May Eve be that cautionary tale of the consequences of quick decision making.  No doubt we've been there, no doubt we haven't handled things well either, no doubt we'll be there again but perhaps more prepared and more aware next time.  Let us learn to work together as a team and seek the counsel of our spouse.  Let us learn to take the time (speaking to myself here) to be still and listen and ponder and pray.   Psalm 46:10 

Monday, February 3, 2014

What America are we living in?

Coke scored big marketing points in that the big topic of conversation today is Coke's "American the Beautiful" spot on the Superbowl.  Possibly even bigger points on stimulating a national discussion. Seriously though, I can't even believe we're having this conversation.  What year is it again?

Let me clarify something for the folks who might have missed it, Coca-Cola is a private company.  We're not talking about a government entity doing business in dozens of languages.  For the record, I think the United States government should conduct business in English.  No, we're talking about a message a private company wanted to send about this huge, amazing country we live in.   A country of 313,900,000ish unique individuals.  313,900,000ish different stories to tell.  News flash, not all those stories happen in English. *gasp* people.  America is beautiful, but not because of a language, it's beautiful because of it's people.  Our people.  And if you can't see that these people are beautiful, with beautiful stories to share, legacies to leave, and each a unique part of a beautiful American experience then I'm sorry for you.  Because it's an amazing country you are missing.

The only thing I didn't like is that they didn't include any ASL.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sacred Cows in Colstrip

As I was leaving the community meeting on Monday, someone mentioned "That's a lot of sacred cows they are shooting in there."  I think his observation was very fitting!  As I was thinking on his comment through the night this video came to mind:

It's a fun video to watch but as I pointed out on my facebook share, these are expensive pets, so expensive the farmer had to start a foundation to afford them.  In some ways our school buildings in question are the expensive pets of the school district.  They cost a lot just in general maintenance and are being way underutilized in capacity.

Pine Butte:              current population  254   ideal capacity  336  current percent capacity  76%   
Frank Brattin MS:   current population  145   ideal capacity  315  current percent capacity  46%
Colstrip HS:            current population  200   ideal capacity  635  current percent capacity  31%

Population number are pretty close but may not be exact.

These ideal capacity numbers use an average of the low/high capacity range given Monday.  If we shift to max capacity, the percentages are 61%, 35% and 28%.     Any way you slice it you can see that these buildings are our community's expensive pets, sacred cows if you must.  This also doesn't address Isabel Bills Community Learning Center whose official student capacity is 0% but continues to be maintained.  There is a little rental income, but clearly businesses have struggled at that location.

Herein lies the problem, under using these building is not an efficient way to spend school district dollars at all.  That building is being cleaned, heated, cooled, and lit the same as if it were at 100% capacity.  It still needs upkeep the same.  You can't replace only 46% of a roof because you only have 46% currently being used.

The assessment Monday was that Isabel Bills and Frank Brattin would cost the district 4.5 million dollars in utility cost and maintenance over the next 15 years.  4.5 million dollars to serve our students 0% and 31% respectively.  I contend that cost is actually low because it doesn't take into account the personnel that travels between campuses.  Maintenance staff are making a minimum of 4 trips a day between campuses; at 7 minutes each way (a number I know very well, living a block away from Pine Butte) that's a minimum of 30 minutes of completely unproductive time each day, likely more.  The nurse travels, some of the teachers travel, even the school lunches "travel".  Each and every one of these trips is a cost in lost productivity that should be considered.  There's also the physical resource costs that should be considered.  The high school recently had to replace an expensive piece of equipment in the industrial arts lab.  The middle school has this same piece of equipment but since it's at a different location it's not available for the high school students.  Eliminating the cost of duplicate physical resources between the two campuses would be another area of savings.

One might think I am advocating the massive, do it all approach.  I'm not...   necessarily.  I have my thoughts and opinions about all the options no doubt, but what I really want to see is people letting go of their pet cow to at least acknowledge and consider these issues.  If the community members really make an educated decision to keep that pet cow, that's OK.  They just need to understand and be OK with the cost to feed it.  They need to understand that feeding and caring for that cow is going to have an effect on how they manage the rest of the herd.

There were a number of people at Monday's meeting who had been deeply involved in the design and building of the schools 30 years ago, and understandably have an emotional attachment.   There were a number of people who attended these schools as youth and have a deep emotional attachment.  It's understandable.  I pointed out to our sacred cow observer that if I had a 30 year old house, I would definitely be itching for some updates.  Things are different these days.  A lot of 30 year old houses don't even have a master bathroom, not to mention their tiny little kitchens.  It would be hard to find someone who wouldn't agree it could use a remodel.  It's OK to love your house and at the same time to say, "if I had this to do over again I would do x, y, and z."  It's OK to love the building you attended or work in, but to also say "gee it would be nice to have x, y, or z."

These facility meetings are a chance to collectively say, "Has anything changed in 30 years?  Are we serving our students the best way we can? Are the buildings as they are the best way to use tax payer dollars?"  Thirty years ago it was impractical at best to travel to even a half dozen schools to see design layouts and study the best learning environments.  Most people rely on their own personal experiences, which is typically limited at least regionally.   We live in an age now where we can virtually tour schools and learning environments across the entire globe!  Why not open our minds to some of the ideas and concepts that are out there.  Take the good and twist and mold it to fit what we want for our students in Colstrip, whether that's lower impact remodeling projects or bigger building additions.  That is what this planning is all about!

If you have ideas, pictures or experiences you would like to share, please comment!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Tour of the Sewing Studio

I'm lucky, I know.  Many sewers have to share their space with the family at large, while I get to have my own dedicated sewing studio.  It's heaven I admit, and the best part is that I can close the door when a big project blows up all over my room!  Alas, it won't last much longer since I've made the decision that my 10 year old is ready to have his own space apart from his little brother, so I decided to give everyone a tour of my studio before it relocates to a corner in the family room.

I love looking at other people sewing spaces.  I'm not sure mine will be inspirational to anyone, it's not filled with beautiful glass front cabinets from Pottery Barn or 1,350 identical, labeled cubbies.  Don't get me wrong I would love to go all Ikea on it but the 1,112 mile round trip is kind of a deal breaker.  So this is my humble little "home" to be lived in and loved every day, and it is lived in  Sorry, but I'm not taking all the things off the bulletin boards for a "blog worthy" photo.  This is real life baby, not a magazine.

My view from the hot seat

The Goal Board and inventory

The magic corner.  I sew on a Viking machine and a Babylock serger and I love both dearly.

 Postage scale and drawer full of thread, notions, precut interfacing, zippers, polymailers, etc.

The ironing board with a view (and a new cover!).  It's a great place to catch the sunset!

The "Office" and back up sewing machine

The small walk in closet that holds way too much fabric for my own good!

So there you have it.  I highly suggest a dedicated sewing or crafting space if you can make it happen.  It is a joy to work in!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Single Serve Mac & Cheese

Macaroni & Cheese.  It's one of my bigger non-processed food fails.  Not that I can't make good homemade mac & cheese, at least by adult standards, but my children have different standards apparently and I have been consistently shut down in lieu of the "blue box."  Score one for Kraft.

Often times only one of the three want Mac & Cheese though and if there's one thing I hate more then processed cheese powder it's wasting food.  Yes, the logical portion of my brain reminds me it's only $.50 worth of food, but it's still a full serving or sometimes two.  I'm pretty good at mixing in a bit of milk to regain the freshly cooked texture (and avoiding the howls about leftovers) but I would rather just cook what will be eaten and not have it sitting in the frig for the better part of the week only to be thrown out on Saturday anyhow.

So I started pre-dividing each box in half for single (ish) size portions.  For my kids come to a regular bowl and enough for a small second, or a full serving for the 10 year old. 

I'm blogging this as much as a reference for myself as anything, although there's clearly a market for single servings since Kraft charges a hefty price per serving for those.

Word to the wise, write the additional ingredient instructions on your baggie first!  
"Add 2 Tbls butter and 1/8 cup milk"

In each of two plastic bags separate:
3/4 cup macaroni

In separate containers divide
2 Tbls powdered cheese

The ingredients will come in just a hair less then these amounts, so under full not over full.  It goes without saying you really should know how to make mac and cheese since there are no instructions here, but seriously my 10 year old does it completely on his own (score one for Mom!) so it's not rocket science.

Anyhow, if you've found yourself tossing a pan full of Mac and Cheese, or buying the single serves at a buck a pop, you might find this helpful.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kitchen Wet Bags

What exactly is a kitchen wet bag, and why do I need one?  I hear this all the time, or sometimes I just get "the look", you know the one that says, "ooooookaaaay" with their eyes.  So here's a little history to how these came about way back in the day, and why they're such a great thing.

A kitchen wet bag is the alternative to this:

or this:

Or this:

Did I really just post my dirty laundry on the internet for the entire world to see?  ouch.

When I began making kitchen wetbags back in 2008, we lived in a split level home.  The kitchen, living room and master were on the top level, the kids rooms, bath and laundry was on the bottom.  Inevitably a pile would develop at the top of the stairs next to the baby gate.  It's true, I had our clothes baskets upstairs but I really did not want to mix dirty dish towels in with my clothing.  I needed a better solution!  I was already making big hanging wet bags for cloth diapers when a diaperswappers customer suggested shrinking the design for a kitchen application.  Clearly I wasn't the only one with this dilemma.

my first bag at our old house, reserved as the backup now
my main bag (until last week)  LOVE this print! 

Our current house has a completely different layout.  The laundry room is adjacent to the kitchen, but that really doesn't help the situation.  I could gather up all the kitchen laundry for the day; wash cloth, dish towel, napkins and miscellaneous unpaper towels (my Mom would have unceremoniously called these "rags" back in the day) and take them to the laundry room.  At that point I would either have to wash a small daily load in the extra big front loader which seems wasteful and redundant, seriously I have enough laundry already, or I could toss them in a laundry basket for my guests and I to look at every time someone tosses something in the garbage can.  Thanks anyway.  Instead I have a pretty wetbag hanging from my oven.

my new kitchen wet bag!
Who would even know it was filled with dirty laundry?  It's big enough to hold probably 4-6 days worth.  It makes a lot more sense then doing more laundry, or having an unsightly pile of wash cloths laying around.

random favorites over the years

The 411 on our wetbags

  • All the seams and zippers are serged for durability.  I also top stitch around the high use areas for extra measure.
  • The inner lining is sewn separately, so wetness won't wick through to the outer layer.  I do recommend letting your damp cloths air dry unless you know you will be doing laundry in the near future.  The lining will keep moisture in, so you can safely put wet items in but you obviously don't want to keep them zipped up for a week in there.  The lining also keeps odor in, yay!  You won't have to worry about a dirty laundry smell in your kitchen.
  • Our zipper placement keeps the straps out of your way, unlike many other bags on the market
  • I use a specific process to finish the bottom of our bags so they don't need "re-stuffing" after washing.  The inside lining of most wetbags will come inside out in the washer.  While this is an even bigger pain when you're dealing with great big cloth diaper size bags, re-stuffing your wet bag is just one more thing you don't need to do while folding laundry.
  • They are easy to launder.  You can wash and dry with them with rest of your kitchen laundry.  Bleach will make them wear out faster (that goes for all your laundry, btw) so I personally like to add a few drops of Tea Tree Oil to my loads instead.

You can find our kitchen wet bags
 and lots more at my ETSY shop or hyenacart