Chocolate or Dirt?

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I home school my two mini-mortals.  We had a lesson on the states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas.  I pointed out to my oldest mini-mortal that water could be all three, but some matter can only exist in one or two states.  Chocolate, for instance, can only exist as a solid or liquid, not as a gas.  We proceeded to have a wonderful, hands-on lesson on the different states of chocolate matter.  (Don't you wish I was YOUR science teacher?)  We had a grand time melting the blocks of chocolate and dipping oranges, nuts, or whatever struck our fancy in the lovely, yummy, brown liquid.  We shredded part of a 2 lb. block of Ghirardelli chocolate into shavings to make it easier to melt, but a few of the shavings landed on the counter instead of the bowl.  We finished the lesson, but I hadn't finished cleaning up all the chocolate shards from the counter before I got sidetracked.

My 2 indoor house plants looked pathetic, so I took them to the kitchen to water them (Plants aren't my forte, but at least these two have a fighting chance since I see them on a regular basis).  A few pieces of potting soil (aka dirt) landed on the counter top during the watering.  As I came back to clean up the counter from both dirt and chocolate,  "[I] got an idea. An awful idea.  [I] got a wonderful, awful idea!" (Can you name the cartoon this came from?)  As I stared at the mingled chocolate shavings and dirt, I laughed inside at the thought of my Marvelous Matthew coming home soon, thinking that ALL the brown stuff on the counter was chocolate, and him trying to help "clean up" by scooping up a few bits into his mouth.  He'd end up getting a few pieces of dirt flavored chocolate in his mouth.  Bwahahahaha!  Then, I promptly cleaned it all up so that wouldn't happen because even I'm not that mean to deceive him like that!  :)

 Proverbs 11:18 says, "The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward."  Deceit is one of Satan's favorite tools.  He makes things look fun and sweet  when in reality they are dirt, things that will make you spiritually sick.  The Lord wants us to lift each other and bring ourselves to Him because He loves all of us.  He asks us to bring true sweetness that will give eternal joy everyone, not something that looks good but leave a bitter taste in our mouths.  His love brings happiness to all.

Poison Ivy...UGG!!

We went camping up in North Carolina with some friends.  As you may know from previous posts, we go camping a couple times a year.  This was the first time we ventured up to NC.  We had a great time seeing friends and sleeping outdoors!  There were two small hiccups with our campsite though.  I chose sites about as far away from the bathroom as possible (oops).  Between our friends and us, we had 6 mini-mortals ages 7 and under.  (In fact, if we had camped prior to my eldest mini-mortal's birthday earlier this month, we would have had ages 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2, but instead we had two 7 years old since we went post-birthday.)  So the long haul to the bathroom got a bit cumbersome.  The second hiccup was that the back side of our site was covered in a lovely green vine with three leaves, aka poison ivy.

Now, you must understand, poison ivy and I don't get along!  It may look innocent enough, but I've had it do all kinds of nasty things to me.  The worst trick it EVER played on me was crawling up on me a few days before I got married and breaking me out all over my legs!  I tried every home remedy known to man, but to no avail.  That was a most unpleasant experience.  I've also gotten it so bad I had to go to the doctor.  She prescribed a medication that knocked me out cold for 24 hours.  I took it at 5:00 p.m. and had to call in sick to work the next day because I simply couldn't keep my eyes open.  I finally woke up about 5:00 p.m.  after the drug worked its way out of my system.  It made a lasting impression, obviously, and I've steered very clear of poison ivy ever since!

Wanting to avoid this rashy (is that a word?) fate for the mini-mortals, I gathered them all, pointed out the poison ivy, and informed them that it would break them out in an itchy rash.  I showed them what it looks like and taught them, "Leaves of three, let it be!"  Pride overwhelmed me as I heard them chanting under their breath, "Leaves of three, let it be.  Leaves of three, let it be!"  I thought I'd actually taught them something that might stick.  However, that delusion shattered quickly as we went for a walk along a path. The path was lined with poison ivy in a few places.  As I said, it looks perfectly innocent.  Nothing but a lovely green vine, right?  The mini-mortals started wandering off the path, sometimes into patches of the poison ivy.  We'd round them back up and get them back on track.  The path was getting a bit long and at one point it opened into a meadow after we had been tromping in the forest a while.  My 7 year old mini-mortal saw the grass and plopped right down.  What she hadn't seen was the patch of poison ivy right beside her!  I promptly got her up and hoped she didn't break out.  Amazingly enough, we all escaped unscathed from the rotten little vine and no one had any rashes.

I've noticed in this path of life that there is a lot of figurative poison ivy along the way, things that look lovely and enticing, but that ultimately lead to unhappiness.  We all end up at least brushing up against it at some points during our lives,  breaking into a rash of unpleasantness.  We are lucky, though, the Lord has given us the ultimate medicine, the atonement.  Through His atonement, we are able to repent and stay on the path rash free.  He doesn't want us to suffer, He wants us to be happy.  Isaiah 52:5 states, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."  He can heal us of all our afflictions if we will but turn to Him.

Popcorn, YUMMY!

I own an air popper.  Since I was child, I’ve always enjoyed watching the kernels being bounced and heated until they finally explode into great, white, glorious popcorn.  Pop, pop, pop…Bouncing around in the hot chamber until finally overflowing into the bowl that’s happily waiting to catch it.  Popcorn is SO good and yummy!

When we go through trials and challenges in this life, we can begin to feel like the kernel left at the bottom of the popper’s chamber, like nothing but steel and heat surround us. We feel bounced around by the trials buffeting against us. It’s uncomfortable, difficult, and getting hotter.  Then, we suddenly feel a change in ourselves.  We feel like we’ve learned what we needed to from the trial so we should be released from our trial, yet we are still there in that popcorn chamber feeling the heat.  Just as it takes a while for the popcorn to be released from the chamber, it takes time for the Lord to complete His work in our hearts and lives.  In Hebrews 12:6, he tells us “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”  He’s like the bowl, happily waiting for us.  He knows what we are going through, but He also knows the changes going on in our hearts through these trials.  These changes must take place in us so He can receive us.  He knows just how good we can be!

Suzuki! That's Dumb!

My 6 year-old mini mortal is learning to read.  She's working on blending sounds correctly to come up with the right word.   We were driving behind a Suzuki Jimny the other day.  (I had to look up to see what type of vehicle it was so I didn't call it a Suzuki Jeep, because I was pretty sure that no such vehicle exists.  Yes, I am a woman and don't have a clue what the proper name is of just about any vehicle.)  My mini mortal tried to sound out "Suzuki".  She sounded the S-U "s-uh".  I told her that was correct.  Then, she got to the Z-U.  She said, "z-uh".  I corrected her and told her that this particular U said, "oo".  She said, "OO, but that doesn't make any sense!  I know how to spell zoo, and that's not it!  You spell zoo Z-O-O, not Z-U.  That's just dumb!"  I couldn't help but agree with her!  The English language is insane!

Do you know how many exceptions there are in the English language?  Please let me know if you have the exact number!  I've never noticed how crazy our language is until trying to teach it to my daughter.  There's I before E except after C.  The plural of ox is oxen, yet most other plurals simply end with an S or ES.  Should I use its, its', or it's?  There, they're, or their?  If all the letters are sounded out, shouldn't noise and noisy actually be pronounced identically?  Why in the world should any E be silent?  Our language is full of exceptions, accidentals, irregularities and constant change.

Luckily, I know of one thing that will never change.  Hebrew 13:6 says, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."  He doesn't have exceptions, accidentals or irregularities.  His word remains steady as a rock.  His principles and moral values are unwavering.  My responsibility is to become as He is, steadfast and firm in my faith and testimony.  In this ever changing world, I am grateful that I know of one thing that will not change, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In My Daughter's Eyes

Please note that you can actually see my reflection in my daughter's eye.
It's amazing to me how much I already see traces of "me" manifesting themselves in my mini mortals.  The Chenille Sisters did a song called, "Help!  I'm Turning Into My Parents!"  (You can see a group perform it here, just skip to 1:30).  It's a hilarious song because it's so very true!  We see our parents reflected back in ourselves.

I took the above picture of my reflection in my daughter's eye almost 2 years ago for a photography project.  My mom simply LOVED it when she saw it.  Shortly after I took it, mom asked if maybe she and I could do one with her reflection in my eye.  Then, combine both pictures into one so that we would have a couple generations together.  I really liked her idea, but didn't do it immediately because we both had other things to do.  Life continued getting in the way.  We never made the time to create that picture.  Now I no longer have the opportunity to make that beautiful idea she had a reality because she's no longer on this earth.  It breaks my heart every time I think that she's gone. However, I was reflecting on this picture and the sentiment that we truly leave traces of ourselves in our children.

Shortly after she passed, I was visiting my home church (my parents have attended there for about 40 years).  I made some comments in Sunday School, and talked to a few people.  One of the ladies came up to me after church was over and said, "I've been watching you today and never realized how much you act like your mom."  I learned who I was and what I should be at the hands of a great mentor, my mother. 

In Proverbs 22:6 we read, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  My mother trained me well to have a testimony of Jesus Christ.  She showed me by example what a Christ-like life truly is.  She loved many and taught much.  She was a wonderful person to model how my life should be.  I am grateful to have been so blessed to call that extraordinary woman my mother.

Riding Tandem

Sorry I missed last week. We had a grand family reunion in Branson, MO.  You can see some of our family fun here, if you'd like.

I really enjoy riding bikes with my mini mortals, but we hadn't gone for a while.  Why, you may ask?  My 6 year-old mini mortal rides at a fairly fast pace, and my 4 year-old mini mortal couldn't keep up.  I can't keep up with her and hang back with him simultaneously.  We don't have extremely safe roads to ride on, either.  I knew I could trust my 6 year-old mini mortal on them, but not the 4 year-old.   I really, REALLY wanted a Trail-a-Bike, but I really, really, REALLY didn't want to spend that much money on a Trail-a-Bike.  I waffled back and forth, but ultimately decided there was no way I could justify spending that much money on something that we'd only use for a few years and could sell at just a fraction of the cost on Craigslist when we were done with it.  I was sad, but knew I made the best decision.  Then, I went to Blessingdales, a local thrift store, to pick up some ugly ties for a project we were doing.  As I pulled up, I noticed they had a Trail-a-Bike out front.  I didn't get too excited because I figured it would still be pretty expensive.  I jumped out of the car and checked out the price tag.  It was a whopping $10!!!!!!  I grabbed it up and virtually ran into the store with it.  (Embarrassingly, the door frame got a bit dinged in my excitement).  I handed the clerk the tag and finished up our shopping.  I got it home and proceeded to get it hooked up to my bike.  I took my 4 year-old mini mortal for a ride first.  It was like lugging a 45 lb. sack of potatoes on the back of my bike.  I kept asking him if he was pedaling.  He "assured" me he was, but I'm pretty sure his little legs stayed firmly in one spot the whole ride.  I thought I was going to die by the time I got back home, and our ride wasn't that long.  After his ride, I took my 6 year-old mini mortal out for a ride.  WHOA, what a difference.  She pedaled like crazy!  We zoomed through the neighborhood and had a wonderful, smooth ride together.  We made it around the block in record time.  Although I was able to make it around the block with both mini mortals, it was much easier when someone helped.

The Lord can do all things.  He can "get the bike around the block" so to speak without us, just as I was able to complete the ride with both mini mortals.  Just as I knew what my mini mortals were doing on our ride, in Rev. 2:19 we read, "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works..."  He knows what in our hearts and asks us to help Him (and become more like Him) by acting as His hands on earth through serving others.  It makes His work go more smoothly.   We show true charity when we serve.   The definition of charity is the pure love of Christ.  Love is an action verb.  Love pushes us to serve those around us.  I hope that in my life I can remember to serve as the Lord did.  He loved and served all His days on earth.  A poem by St. Teresa of Avila entitled Christ Has No Body begins, "Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours..." We have the opportunity to truly be His hands on earth by serving and loving others.

Sweet Sayings: Take Big Bites

My very willing helper got to devour this right after we were done with the picture.  She thoroughly enjoyed her "payment" for helping!