Being Authentic About my Christian Faith

So this weeks project over at At The Well is to Be Authentic.  To be authentic about our struggles, our sins, and our victories over both.  To be honest, I really didn’t think much about this project because I didn’t really think I was struggling with much of anything.  Yes, I do have a bit of a short temper, but I’m working through that and I’m the first to tell anyone about it.

But then God literally shook my world and showed me the HUGE cracks in the foundation of my faith.  On Tuesday afternoon I was sitting in my living room feeding my 2 month old son, my 10 year old daughter sat next to me on her laptop, my 6 year old son sat on the floor watching TV, and my 8 year old daughter and 6 year old niece were downstairs playing a video game – when the earth began to shake beneath us!  At first I thought my daughter was kicking the sofa and I was about to yell at her when I noticed her feet weren’t moving.  Then I thought, maybe it’s a truck (we live by a street where lots of trucks go down & the house will shake a bit with it), but the shaking just didn’t stop.  “What is this?” I said out loud… and then I realized it was an earthquake.  I calmly called up my daughter and niece from downstairs and we all gathered at the front door of my house.  I felt completely alone and helpless – a mother/aunt with five little children all depending on me for guidance and safety!!  And I will be completely honest and transparent – Jesus was not the first person I thought to call on.  How can that be?  How can a professing Christian, who has been saved and baptized, goes to church every Wednesday and Sunday, volunteers at church functions, and so on… how is it that I didn’t seek God first during a time of distress?  Yes, eventually I called on Jesus to keep us safe as we went outside to gather with the neighbors and figure out what had just happened… but how was He not the first thought in my head?

Then after we came back in & everyone was settled down again, my hands began to tremble with fear that it might happen again and here I was alone with five kids! A fear began to take control of my being – a paralyzing fear that I would not be able to protect my children & keep them safe.  Later that evening I received a phone call from a sister from church and we talked about our experience.  She told me that she was laying in bed with her own 14 month old daughter when the earthquake hit.  My sister in Christ sat up, realized it was an earthquake, then just layed back down and continued her rest.  “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” she said. “I die and meet my saviour!”  She had no care in the world about the earthquake and even in the middle of her talking about it just broke out in prayer that this would move people to know that life can change in a second and they need to get right before God. She prayed that our church would be so packed on Sunday that the regular attenders would be asked to give up their seats!  And there I sat on the front steps to my house, listening and thinking – something is not right with my faith.  I realized right then and there that I was one of those Christians that Paul talks about in 2 Timothy 3:5 “having a form of godliness, but denying it’s power”. Pastor preaches that message constantly, and I NEVER thought it was me.

So that night I got on my knees and called out to my saviour and prayed and prayed for Him to come into my heart again and give me power from on high that my faith be made stronger than ever! I renewed my commitment to Him again and praised Him for sending an earthquake to shake up my faith and open my eyes to the lie I was living.  It was a wonderful night of prayer and reflection.  Jesus met me that night and truly strengthened my spirit and cast my fears aside.  Amazing how God is always true to His promises – which are always yes and amen in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20)!

So today I stand “naked” before you – being authentic with you all.  I thought my Christian walk was fine, but God loved me so much that he shook up the entire North-East to show me that it wasn’t, to break me down, and then meet me and strengthen my faith and my walk!!

Praising My Saviour!

Yasmin

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The Beginning of Marissa’s Card Ministry

Tonight Marissa (“Mari”) came to me to discuss some sad feelings she had been having.  You see, our Mari is always “the one”; if there’s something broken, someone yelling too loudly, a mess somewhere – you can bet Marissa is behind it all.  She’s not mean or malicious, she’s very sweet and has an outgoing personality – full of life!  Sometimes it just seems like too much “life” for our tiny little home! (smile)

So tonight she came to me with this sadness because she had gotten in trouble (again) earlier in the day… and as she was talking I just prayed to God that He would give me the right words to say to her.  And, as always, God provided.  One of the reasons Mari always gets in trouble is because she’s bored; we can never keep her entertained.  While Jeremiah and Kaitlyn are easily entertained with their interests (games, art, etc) – Marissa can never find anything that holds her interest.  But one thing remains constant with her: she wants to help.  One of Mari’s favorite games is when she says she’s our servant (like Jesus served His disciples by washing their feet) and asks us what she can do for us. What a game!!  So the Holy Spirit put in my mind an idea that will bring some things Mari likes to do (serve, write letters) and glorify God with it.  I spoke to her about starting a Card Ministry.  With this ministry she could use our church calendar (which has birthdays & anniversaries of members listed) to send out cards to our church family as well as use other opportunities: like if she hears that someone is sick or if she just wants to thank someone for something they’ve done.

Marissa was very excited about this ministry and had tears in her eyes as we spoke about it.  She’s already written two draft letters (one to her Sunday School teacher and one to Auntie Marcia) and is super excited to send those out tomorrow.

Thank you, Jesus, for showing me the way to minister to Marissa.  She is a blessing to our family and my biggest prayer with her is for me to know the right way to raise her.

Yasmin

Peach Canning

I’m so excited that we canned our first peaches!!
Our day started early, by 8am my brood and I were outside Mood’s Farm Market in Mullica Hill, NJ.  Sam, on the otherhand, wasn’t ready to go anywhere until he’d had his 3rd breakfast of the day – so we kind of just hung out in the car for a bit…

Mood’s Farm Market!!  Best farm market in South Jersey (my lil’ ol’ opinion)…

This was actually my first time at Mood’s, but I absolutely love the whole atmosphere – the people were super nice and sweet, the fruits/vegetables were fresh, and the market had a real ‘homey’ feel to it.


Peaches! I ordered these “2nd” peaches the day before.  Apparently “2nd’s” means that these peaches aren’t pretty enough to sell to the public.  Can you believe they cost about 1/2 as much as the “pretty” peaches?!?! 2nd peaches are beautiful to me!!

Here’s a picture of Marcia getting the bath water ready for our jars.  We are super excited about this bath water (we had to look up how to do it on the internet)!

Keeping Marissa busy crushing Vitamin C tablets for the ice water (to keep the peaches from browning after they were cut).

I’ve never had so many pots filled with water on my stove at one time!

So the directions called for us to boil the peach for 30 seconds, place it in ice water, and then peel.  But our peaches weren’t ripe at all, so that method didn’t work.  After awhile we just skipped the boiling water and skinned them straight from the box.

After a few hours of peeling (and talking… mostly talking), we got this far.  Then it was time for lunch and our kids were eyeballing our peaches just a little too much, so we took a break and went to Taco Bell (forgot my camera for the trip).

Our canning recipe book ontop our box of peaches…

The recipe called for 10lbs of peaches… but we don’t have a weigh machine, so we kind of just eyeballed it and figured this was about 1/2 the box (I need a weigh machine!).

Eventually (eeeeeeeeeeeventually because there were lots of talking, laughter, and internet browsing after we got back from our lunch break), this is what our peaches looked like!

We packed the peaches into 6 one quart jars and added some simple syrup to them (I know what a simple syrup is now!).  We could only fit 5 one quart jars at a time, so this lonely guy was the last to go in…

Then Marcia wanted to experiment with some peaches… she made a peach tea (soooo good) and then wanted to try grilling a peach and eating with ice cream.

Marcia is awesome like that… she loves to experiment, plan parties, and LAUGH! We had a blast.

And our kids had fun too…

Here they are making our driveway more beautiful with their chalk art.

Our grilled peach… it was pretty good.  Though we think it will definitely be better once the peaches have ripened.

At the end of the day, we had a blast and canned some peaches while we did it.  And I do it all for these four.  I love them so much and am so glad that God has granted me to opportunity to stay home and learn how to be a homemaker for them and their father.

How blessed am I?

Yasmin

"Organic"

I’ve suddenly fallen in love with the word “organic”. I think about it during the day, say it in my mind, and once in awhile I’ll actually say it right outloud… organic. I think I like it so much because work was never “organic”. Work was more… militant, stressful, and… well, non-organic. Now I stay at home and I’m planning my vegetable garden, having church sisters over for canning, and ordering cloth diapers for my 7 week old. I feel organic. Natural, spiritual, earthy… I actually look forward to the day that I’m picking my carrots from my garden and cooking dinner with them for my family that same night… that’s just amazing to me.

Speaking of carrots, I was peeling a few for a pre-snack dinner for the kids and when I looked down into my sink, it just looked… organic!! I loved how the tops of the carrots still had some leaves on them, and the shredded carrots were just such a pretty color… and then my canning jar that once held pickles and was now just soaking in the sink. It was such a beautiful picture… and one day those carrots will be straight from my backyard. How amazing is that?