Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Trusted To Love

A tumultuous relationship may not be the result of a lack of love but a lack of trust. Often in these relationships a certain amount of tension is present and minor infractions escalate into explosive conflicts. On the surface it would appear that love no longer ties these individuals together. However, their repetitive interactions and, at times, moments of mutual aid and concern would suggest otherwise. And so, perhaps it is the element of trust that has been broken and not love.

     Trust suggests benevolence towards the recipient. The recipient must be ascertained to be honest and a secure place to confide and rest.  Trust must be present for the expression of the deepest level of love. Love is, after all, perhaps the most vulnerable state of being. Before fully loving, we must be able to fully trust.  A sensitive emotion or state of being like love is unlikely to be shared fully with someone with whom trust cannot be securely established. If that sharing is surmised to be at risk for being abused, then hesitation or even withholding of the full depth of love may occur. In this sense, the response becomes a means of self-preservation.

       Perhaps the greatest definition and demonstration of the meaning of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 which states:
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (emphasis mine).
Trust is damaged when the opposite characteristics listed within the verse are demonstrated. When love is given, and yet in response impatience, unkindness, envy, boastfulness, pride, rudeness, self-seeking, anger, etc is offered. The response is then unloving in expression regardless of the intention to be so or not. Over time, the mishandling of love by these means creates a barrier within the sender. He/she comes to learn that the recipient cannot be trusted with the full extent of one’s love.

      With this said, it is also important to address the verity that perfect love is impossible to achieve. Only God is capable of consistently demonstrating perfect love. Perfection, or the lack of shortcomings, is not the point of focus. The focus is on the conscious effort. The inability to demonstrate perfect love does not give warrant for the lack of conscious effort to work towards constant improvement. Marriage is a prime example as to how the emotion of love serves as the foundation but the work of love builds it up. A parent to child relationship, sibling to sibling, or friend to friend relationship is no different. The work of love cannot be neglected! At times it is easier to respond rashly in an unloving manner than to take the time and energy necessary to respond in the right way. However, a relationship is worthy of such effort.

     When a wall of uncertain trust or even distrust has formed in a relationship, time and work are necessary for breaking and rebuilding that wall. The wall wasn’t built immediately and so a sudden change of behavior or words will likely not immediately break it. Be diligent in the pursuit of rebuilding. Perhaps the first action needing to be taken is a sincere apology. In some instances, a break in trust due to unloving behavior cannot merely be ignored or assumed to have been given a continuous pardon based on whatever connection may exist in the relationship. An apology is an act of strength not weakness.  It takes true strength to reflect and acknowledge wrongdoing and the need for personal work. From the point of apology, begin to study and practice each characteristic of love. Become highly intentional to demonstrate them. The test, of course, will be to pause before a response to determine a more loving approach. The repetitive practice will form habits that will be reflected positively in both individuals and the relationship. Again, it isn’t about the achievement of perfection but progress.
     Love takes work, and sometimes an insufficient effort towards that work results in a break in trust. Love and trust may continue to exist despite the weakened state of the relationship. However, they may come to exist at a lesser level. A hesitation or withholding to some degree of love and trust may persist until the recipient has been ascertained to be a safe and secure resting place. This uncertainty manifests in the form of the continuous presence of tension between the individuals within the relationship. It’s never too late to begin the necessary work of improvement, however. It merely requires resolve and intentionality to personally take on the characteristics of love.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pattern Review: Simplicity 4297 (18'' Doll Clothing)

      I made doll clothes for a gift to our niece this past Christmas. She enjoys a particular 18'' doll company whose prices, in my opinion, were...well, ridiculous. Instead, I decided to sew an outfit, and hope and pray that my modest take on doll clothes would be equally acceptable.  The project started out as just one outfit, but I was enjoying the cute materials and outfit pieces that I ended up making the entire (minus the pajamas) pattern package! I worked on the project for about four days. I'm not the most experienced at sewing, and so the tiny pieces were a bit challenging initially but got easier with repetition. They also taught me a lot! 

       The pattern instructions were easy to follow. I was surprised at how easy it was to attach yokes to the skirts and set in the sleeves to the tops and jacket. The hardest part of constructing the pieces was definitely attaching the thin strips of Velcro to the backs. I never want to use Velcro ever again. I fought to get it sewn on, but in the end I left the poor work quality as is. (My sister-in-law is also learning to sew, and so I decided that I'd send the Velcro work as is and if need be she can attempt to reattach it). It absolutely wan't the best of solutions as I hated sending it imperfect, however, doing so was better than allowing frustration to develop ugliness in me and my home. In the future, I'll probably just use snaps. snaps I can handle. haha

       As far as the fabric, I selected a variety of cottons, fleece and flannel. Although I think the fleece and flannel worked, I was concerned about their ability to stretch sufficiently around the doll's head. A knit would probably have been much better for the hoodie piece. I loved the patterns of the cottons. I went for more mature patterns and styles in the fabrics, even though they were for doll clothes. The cashier at the fabric store was rather surprised when I said that the material was for doll clothes. Dolls can be modern and stylish in their wardrobe too! haha! (At least, I hope that's how my niece views the outfits as opposed to the other perspective which is that they and I have a boring style. haha!). It was really nice to only need pretty small amounts for each piece, which allowed me a greater selection of fabrics that would have otherwise had been too expensive (like the tweed for the jacket). 

Green patterned poncho with denim skirt. So cute! I think this little outfit would also make a good kids clothes outfit. hmm..

     Print skirt with a fleece long sleeve shirt. Perhaps my least favorite outfit. It just lacked pizzazz. Perhaps a little mid-waist belt? I don't know. I'm sure my niece will be able to come up with a creative way to style it better. 

     Pleated plaid skirt and maroon hoodie sweatshirt. I added a pocket to the front to give it more of an actual hoodie look. I really liked the tiny little front pocket!

     Printed paisley skirt with teal long sleeve top. I added the trim to the bottom. I orginally intended to use bias tape, but couldn't find any that matched. Then, I figured out that I could make my own using the scrap left over from the top. (I really, really like this skirt print! I'm tempted to make me one. haha)

      Lined tweed jacket with fully pleated khaki skirt. I saved the most complex piece for last. This jacket came out really cute, but was definitely the piece that made me feel like I had lost my mind in tackling this project all together. Four days of sewing doll clothes ending with setting sleeves of a tweed jacket involving a lining, interfacing and tweed material. Oh my. I do love the look of the outfit though. haha 

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not an affiliate of Simplicity Pattern Co. and was not asked or compensated for this review. (I just enjoyed working with the pattern :))

Monday, February 25, 2013

Menu Plan: Winter (Feb. 24- Mar. 2)

- Egg Sandwich (scrambled eggs &  cheddar cheese on toast), grapefruit
- Winter Oatmeal (oats, diced apple, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, chopped walnuts, drizzle honey)
- Egg & Veggie Omelet (eggs, swiss cheese, diced tomato, sliced mushrooms, diced bell pepper, S &P to taste), toast, orange
- Toast with peanut butter and diced apples 

- Club sandwich, chips
- Southwestern chicken pizza with a whole wheat crust
- Herbed fish, green salad
- Roasted root vegetables with polenta
- Quinoa with black beans

- Chicken dumplings (hubby's creation)
- Pizza leftovers
- Italian sausage burgers, baked potato fries

-celery with peanut butter
-cheese slices
-pecan sandie cookies

*Note: Reviving Homemaking is not affiliated with any of the sites or companies included in the links, and was not asked to include or recommend them or their recipes in this post. (I simply like what they have to offer!)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Five Question Friday (2-22-13)

1. What is a hobby you would love to learn and why? 

2. What do you wish you could have delivered to your house but does not deliver?

3. What's your favorite snow day activity? Inside and out?

4. Would you meet a stranger from an Internet dating site?

5. If you had to spend 35 hours in a car with 4 other people, who would you choose?


How would you answer today's Five Question Friday? Share in the comment section below!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Value of Attentiveness in Listening

Have you ever talked to someone only to receive an unenthusiastic “uh huh,” a rapid redirection to themselves, or even worse- silence? How do you as the speaker feel- ignored, unimportant, a bother? Eventually the point is understood and conversation ceases. That scenario is to demonstrate understanding. When you’re in the role of the listener, what message does your chosen response send to the speaker?

                Young children are taught to look at the person speaking to show they are listening. With their ordinarily active hands still and eyes focused, the message has a greater chance of success. Listening becomes the primary activity. Somewhere along the line in life this concept becomes lost. Instead, it is acceptable to fidget with whatever is in our hands (uh hem..phones) and look elsewhere. If an individual has to ask you if you’re paying attention or listening or repeat him/herself, then that’s the alarm telling you that your attentiveness and listening skills are lacking. Although there are many tasks that can be accomplished by multi-tasking, but proper listening is rarely one of them.

                Strengthening listening skills is important even as an adult because of the potential to impact another person positively or negatively. When you are attentive to listening properly you are conveying to the speaker that he/she and what is being said is important and valuable. In our world of convenience genuine conversation has followed suit. Sadly, it can be tough at times to find someone in which to confide or talk. Yet, connection with others is vital to life. If communication has otherwise been an area of neglect, then there are steps (i.e. habits) that can be taken to remedy the issue:

  •       Stop what you’re doing and look at the individual when he/she is speaking. Talking around you isn’t the same as talking to you.

  •       Ask questions to move the conversation further. Be careful not to base the questions on comparison or make the individual feel as though he/she is being interrogated. If you’re focused on being genuinely interested in the speaker, then you’ll have no problem forming the right questions.

  •      Continue listening and being engaged even with the talk becomes prattle. Sometimes prattle results because the individual is trying every topic conceivable to get your attention. So, give him/her your attention. In time he/she will be secure enough to not speak out of desperation.
  •      Resist inserting too much about you or a similar experience you had. This response can be helpful at times in providing the element of relate-ability.   However, too much of a good thing can be bad. When excess content about you and your life or experiences are given, the conversation is redirected in focus from the speaker to you.
  •       Also resist the urge to “fix” things unless requested by the speaker. Sometimes issues just need to be spoken without the intention of immediate resolution. Unless indicated by the speaker, don’t jump in with how you would handle things.

  •      Be encouraging! If the individual is sharing about a difficult time or situation, you can be empathetic without jumping into the pit yourself. Be the person who will be comforting while also helping pull him/her out of it. There is plenty of discouragement in the world and in life, and so strive to be a source of encouragement!

The heart of all of these is to be attentive and loving to the individual with whom you’re speaking. That individual selected you to talk to because he/she cares about you and felt that you would be the best person with whom to talk. Feel honored by that consideration and respond accordingly. It can be a struggle at times to devote our attention so purposefully, but endeavors such as this are always, always worth it. The next time someone is speaking to you, consider if you are being accepting or dismissive in response. It’s about the heart. Strive to build it and not break it. 

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Question for YOU!

What is something you wish you had learned to do before getting married or having children? Why?

(Your name (first name + last initial) and comment may be used in the upcoming Reviving Homemaking ebook. If you wish for your name to not be included, then please simply use "anonymous" or "guest." Thank you for your input!)

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hospitality Barriers

     Hospitality is the gracious welcome of individuals into one’s home. The practice aids in instilling meaning into the home by opening it to be a place of ministry and welcome to others. The comfortable setting of the home is ideal for sharing and building relationships in life. The benefits to practicing hospitality are numerous, but yet so are the barriers. In fact, it’s the barriers that get primary attention.  Though I believe in incorporating hospitality into my home and family, I still battle with fears and insecurities. These emotions burden the hospitality effort, and eventually manifest in the form of excuses such as having no one to invite, inadequate accommodations, inconvenience, expense and inability to be entertaining.

      The first barrier to hospitality is in the form of a question: “Who do I invite?” Begin by inviting individuals known well or that share some known commonalities. This approach will provide a starting point. As hospitality becomes a more common in life, then so with the ease at which it is conducted. At that point, inviting and conversing individuals with whom you are less familiar will become easier. Set a goal of choosing one family to invite each month. Can you think of just twelve contacts you have in your life? Who do you know well and would enjoy greater time together? Who do you know on an acquaintance level that you could invite to begin a greater level of friendship? Perhaps even a family member could be your guest. Should it not be ordinary to invite a sibling, aunt, uncle or cousin to be a part of your home and family? Choose one individual or family, muster up your courage, and simply ask.

     It would seem that the size of the guest list must be equal to the accommodations available in the home, but this is not necessarily the case.  Always remember that people are greater than possessions. Paper plates and cups can supplement the dishes in the cabinets. Floor cushions or kitchen chairs can be used to increase seating in the living room. Spread a vinyl tablecloth or large plastic on the floor, and allow any children to have a picnic. Whatever the issue may be, there is a way to solve it by keeping the focus on people.

      Another hospitality barrier is the matter of convenience. Opening the home in hospitality and connecting with others requires time and effort, which are often so tightly squeezed in the many activities in life. However, some of the greatest or most meaningful moments in life are also highly inconvenient, yet are absolutely worthy of the investment. Convenience isn’t everything, but relationships are! Life is enriched by relationships, and so is the home and family.  We all have a need for connectedness, and this effort is worthy of enduring some inconvenience. The potential strain and stress of hospitality within the home can be lessened by planning. Make a list of all tasks that need to be accomplished, and then divide them among the time available. The goal is to not get caught making all preparations just prior to your guests’ arrival. You’re family and guests will have little appreciation for hospitality if you become a nervous-wreck trying to get it all together at the last moment. Second, the most important aspect to remember is to keep it simple.  There is no need to make a grand meal or fuss every time.  Pasta dishes are easy and enjoyed by everyone. During warm weather, serve a large salad. Soups are fantastic for cold weather (plus they can be cooked or kept warm in a slow cooker!). Hospitality is not about impressing guests, but blessing them.

          The temptation to impress guests can also be seen in the attempt at making each moment together entertaining. Determining activity or conversation can be a challenge, especially if the host is naturally shy or introverted (that’s me!). The greatest resource for learning what to do is to take notes when you are invited to others’ homes. If conversation is an issue, come up with a few guest-oriented questions or topics ahead of time. You may not need them, but if you get in an awkward silence then you have a back-up. I recently picked up the idea of a comedy video as a great activity. A shared movie night can also but fun, but keep in mind that staring at the screen leaves little opportunity for interaction. My favorite activity is playing games. There are so many fantastic group games available! The more hospitality is practiced, the more ideas there will be to draw on.        

         Even with aforementioned hurdles jumped, there remains one really big concern- expense. Hospitality does not and should not have to cause a financial strain on your family. This can occur, however, when the focus becomes distant from the heart of the effort. Again, keep it simple! Use the accommodations that are already in your home, make economical meals, and allow a joyful spirit in you be that which is attractive. A really fun meal idea that spreads the cost around is to create a theme for the gathering. For instance, invite guests to a “Make your own pizza night!” You supply the crusts and sauce, and then each guest brings his/her favorite toppings. Trying everyone else’s favorite is a fun way to have plenty of pizza varieties (not to mention that you didn’t have to purchase each ingredient on your own). Themes can be to “make your own: baked/mashed potatoes, nachos/tacos, hot chocolate, ice cream, chili, chocolate/cheese fondue etc.” Toss out the idea of hospitality having to be fancy, and just have fun! It is possible to practice hospitality without going broke.

      Hospitality is a worthy endeavor to begin incorporating in life. If you weren’t raised in a home that practiced hospitality or if your own home has come to have closed doors, then resolve to take steps today to open them even if those steps are small. Even if fears and insecurities persist, they don't have to become the root to excuses for avoiding hospitality. Hospitality can come to easily incorporate the simple invitation of friends and family, adequate accommodations, convenience, less expense and less pressure to be able to be entertaining. The heart of hospitality is about connecting and deepening relationships with others. 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cleaning Routine

     At one time, my husband and I both worked outside the home. We had an agreement that if we were both to be responsible for bringing in an income, then we would both be responsible for also keeping up with the housework. The understaning was for each of us to be capable and responsible of taking care of any household task. In order to make this work, we had to discuss our expectations. One of the causes for frustrations when it comes to all persons contributing to the management of the home is that each person will have a different perspective and expectation. Therefore, it becomes necessary to discuss the various standards and even make a list or timetable. A useful way to display the tasks/routine is to slip the list/routine into a frame and then use a dry erase marker to assign or mark off tasks. This way complete or incomplete tasks can be communicated with everyone else in the home. It also would keep each person accountable for pulling his/her share within the home. Expressing expectations for everyone keeps frustrations low and progress high. 

     Since making the move to full-time homemaking for myself we no longer share the household tasks like previously done. He is now solely responsible for bringing in an income and I have the responsibly of managing our home. I do not mind taking on all the cleaning and management one bit. In fact, there is a joy in working towards making our home comfortable and pleasant place for us and any guests we may have! (This perspective is key to decreasing the drudgery of housework!).

     Family time is my absolute favorite in life! I'm a bit selfish with it too because I do not want to trade family (or hospitality) time for something like cleaning. Therefore, I try to accomplish all my tasks to be completed while he's at work (I work while he works!). We then have our evenings and weekends to focus on each other or on friends. This can only be accomplished if I resolve to tackle a few tasks each day. 

     I enjoy using a list or routine because I've learned the value of maintaining cleanliness versus having one massive cleaning session. Cleaning a little bit each day also makes the job much easier, and decreases the reliance on harsh chemicals. When the task is left undone regularly, filth begins to grow and the harsh chemicals and hard scrubbing then becomes necessary. Yuck! I much more prefer to use more natural cleaners and less hard scrubbing, and that can only be done with regular maintenance. 

     The following is my list/routine I use as a guide. I rarely abide by it perfectly. The goal of any organizational tool isn't the achievement of perfection, but the simple action of progress. A clean home is lovely, but what is most important is the meaningfulness that is created within it's walls.

Download Cleaning Routine

Monday, February 11, 2013

Baked Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts

    I have had a doughnut pan on my wish list for two years now (seriously, that long!). The idea of baking yummy doughnuts at home (and making them a bit more nutritious) was just an exciting idea to me. So, for my birthday this year my hubby got me one and I couldn't wait to try it out!

     Of course, baked doughnuts are not the same as the fried sugary ones typically associated with "doughnuts." These are more of the cake-like variety. I suppose the dessert version could still be made for a treat by changing the batter and adding a sugar glaze to the outside. However, for more of an ordinary occasion, the whole grain, fruit based and baked doughnuts are still mighty yummy! I particularly enjoy them as an option for a quick breakfast on Sunday mornings since we can grab them and get out the door. 

Baked Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts
(Recipe adapted from Chocolate and Carrots)

Makes 6 doughnuts

2/3 c. whole wheat flour (pastry flour would be even better, but I usually use plain whole wheat)
1/3 c. all-purpose flour 
2 T. granulated sugar 
3/4 t. baking powder
1/8-1/4 t. ground cinnamon*
1/4 c. + 2 T. milk
1 egg
1 T. butter, melted
1/4 t. vanilla
1/2 -1 apple, peeled and finely diced*
2 T. - 1/4 c. raisins*
dash salt
optional: 2 T.walnuts, finely diced and toasted*
*These ingredients don't have to be precise. Add the lesser or greater amount based on your taste.

Sugar Coating:
1/4 c. granulated sugar mixed with 1 1/2 t. cinnamon* 
1 T. butter*
*You probably won't use the entire amount of the coating. Store the cinnamon-sugar mixture in a spice jar for later use. 

1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Grease doughnut pan. 
2. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and (optional) nuts. [Dry ingredients]
2. Combine milk, egg, butter, vanilla, raisins and apple. [Wet ingredients]
3. Mix wet ingredients into dry. Stir just until combined. Don't overmix!
4. Cut the tip off a plastic baggie. Pour batter into bag. Pipe dough into the doughnut pan until 1/2 full. Be careful not to overfill the pan or else the hole will close as they rise.
5. Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly brown and the dough springs back a bit when pressed. 
6. Allow to cool. 
7. Once completely cool, add sugar coating to one side. Dip donuts into melted butter or use a brush to brush it on. Then, dip into cinnamon-sugar. 



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