One of the things I’ve been working on since the pandemic hit is reading any parenting books we have on hand. My husband loves books, so we have a fair share of books I’ve never read before. While reading one of them, I was struck in a new way with the gravity of this verse from Proverbs: “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eye observe my ways.” (Proverbs 23:26).
I thought about how I may or may not be living this out in my own life as a mother. Do I want my children’s eyes to observe my ways? Am I subconsciously putting everything BUT myself in front of my children’s eyes? “Observe my ways…” – can I say that with confidence to my children, confidence that they will see a good example in me?
God isn’t just talking about TV, though that is an easy thing to relate to in our world. This verse is communicating a way of life for all Christian parents. Are we so busy entertaining our children “so I can just have some time” that we aren’t actively training our children? What do my children see me doing? Do they see me growing, ministering, helping, working, and learning? Or do they see me lazy, defeated, busy, distracted, and worldly?
Josh and I are in a busy season of life, and it’s not just because we have kids. It is really easy for us to get to the end of the day and just watch the boys play instead of actually doing something with them. However, we try to do things with them because we know we are training them for the rest of their lives. We don’t do it right every day, let me tell you – we make a painfully large amount of mistakes. I pray that we will do better every day with our boys.
We don’t do anything fancy. Our “something with them” is often a walk to see the train go by; running around in a field with a ball; soaking up sunshine with some bubbles outside; letting Malachi help make supper (Joash hasn’t been allowed to do that much yet, and if you know him, you know why, haha); reading books; doing the laundry; cleaning at church.
What worked in the days of Solomon still works in 2020. Good or bad, our children are watching what we do, how we live, what we say, who we hang out with, where we spend our time – they see it all. We won’t want to say “observe my ways” if we aren’t living the way God intends. Let us choose God’s way of life, and let us remember the great responsibility and privilege that comes with it!
Pork Masala Curry
- 1 and 1/2 lbs Pork meat We make it with some fat for the flavor. Don't buy too lean!
- 4 Medium-Sized Onions
- 1 1/2 inch piece of Fresh Ginger Root
- 20 Medium Cloves of Garlic
- 1 Green Chili or Jalapeno Pepper
- 1 Cinnamon Stick (3-4 inches long)
- 10 Cloves
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper or other red hot pepper powder
- 1 tbsp Coriander Powder
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper Powder
- 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice or White Vinegar
- To Taste Salt
- 1 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil For roasting spices
- Cut pork into bite-sized pieces and set asid.
- Chop onions, peel and grate ginger, mince or slice garlic, chop chili finely, and break cinnamon into several pieces. Add them to a skillet or wok with the tbsp of ghee or oil.
- Add all of the spices to the skillet and roast on medium heat until the onions and garlic are tender. This allows the flavors to blend.
- Combine the roasted mixture (or masala, as we say in India) with the pork and stir it over medium heat. Add enough water to cover the meat and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and add the vinegar or lemon juice. Continue to cook the meat (with a lid on) until it is tender and the curry sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally.
- If you need to add more liquid as the meat cooks, add a little at a time. Adding too much water will make your sauce too thin.
- When your meat is tender and your sauce has thickened, add the salt according to your liking. I recommend starting with a teaspoon.
- Your pork curry is ready! Serve with rice for an authentic South Indian experience.
To the mom struggling with chronic illness:
You wake up every day hoping it is a good day. You see the tasks to be done and your inward and mental energy soars with ambition. Sometimes you breeze through your to-do list and end the day with sweet satisfaction. The list is checked off and you can rest knowing that you did your best for your kids that day.
Then there are the not-so-great days. You have plans laid out. You have every intention of getting right to them, but your body just won’t cooperate. Before you know it, you’re spiraling down the familiar pit. Your high expectations for fulfilling your role as a mom have faded. You accept the reality that today will be one of those dysfunctional, unproductive, sort of depressing days.
Guilt hits you as other people take care of your kids and responsibilities. I should be taking care of them. I don’t want people to think I’m just being lazy or faking it. I’m inconveniencing everyone’s lives.
Questions haunt you. Why would God give me these children when I can’t even care for them sufficiently? What if my life is like this forever?
I know what your mind does to you because my mind does it, too. There are few things worse than lying in a hospital bed or on any bed of illness, even at home, when you have small children who need you. You have way too much time to think and that is not usually a good thing.
If you are reading this and relating to what I say, please stay with me. I wish I had a fix-all for these struggles, but I do not. Rather, I can tell you what I do on the hard days.
I speak truth to myself. I believe that the Bible is true, and I am blessed to have a relationship with my Maker. He has provided so much goodness for us in His Word! Search the Scriptures. Earnestly seek comfort in the Bible. God will give you what you need for each moment. We may feel that God is silent because we don’t have all the answers. Perhaps God isn’t giving you a clear answer yet, but He WILL give you peace and grace when you need it. My God is not silent when my Bible is open.
I say “NO” to self-pity. It is easy to drown ourselves in negativity. Don’t let it happen to you! You won’t be a nice person to be around. Trust me.
I focus on God’s plan for today. What I mean by that is: take life one day at a time. He made you to be you for a reason! He made you to be the mother of those children for His plan and purpose. At this present time, you might be sick, but how can you be a blessing to your kids despite that?
Use the down time wisely. Pray for your children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual protection. Pray for their future spouses. Read your Bible and books that will enrich you spiritually or increase your Biblical knowledge. Compile recipes and meal plans on Pinterest that you can make for your family when you are better. Write emails to friends who you haven’t corresponded with in a while.
Watching an occasional movie or reading a fun novel here and there during my illness is great, but my personal limit is small. Despite what we think, binge-watching seasons of shows in order to take our mind off our present situation isn’t the most helpful thing. Those are hours of your life that you will never have back. Consider that maybe God gave you some quiet time to become the mom He wants you to be.
Okay, at the same time, I have to say that sometimes I get carried away and waste time when I’m sick. You really must be intentional to do valuable things when you’re in the hospital or whatever your situation is. I am trying. When the puking has stopped and the pain is manageable, I try to pick my Bible up. You know what? The harder I try to be intentional with my time, the more I sense that I have fulfilled God’s plan for me for that day.
Scripture to read: Psalm 77, Philippians 4:8
There might be more from me on this subject as my journey continues and as God reveals new truths to me. As time allows, I would even like to share my entire health story because I’ve had many people ask for this. Right now I am not sure if this should be in blog form or book form, though. What do you think? Your feedback is always appreciated. Until next time, have a blessed day!
Accompanying is something I’m passionate about. Solo performance is not my strong suit; it is important and something I constantly seek to improve in, but it is not my passion. Going on 18 years of being a church pianist in various forms, I’ve come to realize how essential being a good accompanist is. I am no professional musician, so please remember that as you consider my tips 🙂 . However, I have been gleaning ideas and observations from truly professional musicians for years, and I know God has helped me incorporate much of what their examples teach me.
Being a good accompanist is imperative for a church pianist, because the only solo pieces you find yourself performing are usually offertories. Much more often you find yourself playing while others sing or play their instruments. In any given Sunday I accompany no less than 8 songs – and that number can easily jump to 15 or more if I am the pianist at night, too, or if it is cantata time!
My goal as an accompanist varies based on who and what I am playing for. Is it a vocalist? Is this a choir piece? Are we singing the first congregational hymn? What is the spirit of the church this evening? Is this song happy or somber? Does the vocalist need me to keep her on track or do I need to simply follow her? You see, some vocalists need the encouragement of bold playing for them to sing out. Others expect me to match the rise and fall of their own dynamics. When accompanying, it is not your time to shine. I enjoy coming up with variations for song playing, but only to the extent that it doesn’t take away from the vocalist.
Learn to sightread! Do you know how many times I’ve been asked to sight read music?! (Keep reading to find out what pushed me to learn to sightread!) Congregational music is half sight reading, too! My music director in college really pushed me in this area…and I am so grateful he did. He expected me to be able to play the choir music for rehearsal well enough that I was not throwing off the entire choir. Sight reading is something I’ve heard skilled musicians say they “can’t” do – but I beg to differ. We all can if we practice.
For the sake of background, I have a story for you! I remember one time when I was 15 or so, there was a music workshop at our church for young people. It challenged me in my vocal skills but also in my piano skills – because at that workshop, I realized how little learning I had put into my music…instead, mostly to that point I had relied on any natural ability I had. I’ll never forget how embarrassed I was when one of the teachers at that workshop asked me to play the piano accompaniment for the choir music we were learning together. I complied because I assumed I could – however, a few measures in to it I had botched it so badly that he asked me to stop. Yep, that was embarrassing, especially in front of your teen friends. That instance taught me a very valuable lesson, though – that I had better learn to sightread – and to this day I have that instance etched in my memory.
Remember that God says to make a joyful noise – and He also says to do things decently and in order. He desires for us to do our best in whatever we do. Practicing and improving musical abilities us a huge part of doing our best!
Perhaps one of the most popular hymns of all time is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. It just so happens to be my favorite song! The words speak truth to my heart and the tune inspires me. The words “bind my wandering heart to Thee” are probably my favorite part of the song. I have traveled for my whole life, never staying anywhere for more than six months at a time. Though my life has been full of literal wandering, I pray that my heart will never wander far from God. I have had times where I began to wander, but I am grateful for a God Who welcomes me back with loving arms!
Recently it occurred to me that I did not know the history of this well-loved hymn, which started me on some research. These are the original words of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, written by Robert Robinson. Take a few moments to read them and then see a brief history of the song at the end of this post.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.
In short, Robert Robinson was a troubled young man who was sent to London by his mother to be a barber’s apprentice. He was saved sometime after hearing George Whitefield preach, and later went on to become a Baptist pastor. He wrote “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” in 1757. However, the interesting part of the story is that Robinson was truly prone to wander, just as his song says. Late in his life, during a time when he was not walking with the Lord, he was confronted by the truth of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. A complete stranger shared the song with him, not knowing that he was the one who wrote it. Tradition says that he came back to the Lord after this encounter.
This hymn is a powerful personal testimony that we are being blessed by nearly 300 years later! Robert Robinson was honest in the writing of his lyrics. He offered the reflections of his heart to the world in his now-famous hymn. When I read the complete original words and absorb their meaning, I am convicted and encouraged. I do like a lot of newer songs, but this is what I love about the old hymns. They are rich with truth and doctrine.
Joash Emmaus was born on April 12 at 2:46pm! He is 21 inches long and weighs 8 pounds 5 ounces. Lois is thankful to have her little bundle safely in her arms. I am sure there will be many more photos in the days to come, but for now, here are a few of my favorites. <3
Also, please note that any CD orders placed at this time will not be processed until Lois is sufficiently rested and recovered! – India
Not long after New Year’s I read a blogpost geared towards young wives and keeping the house (while also keeping your sanity!). One thing the author mentioned was housecleaning and how easily it can get away from us. She suggested making it a point to clean one thing every single day, and by the end of a month your home will be 30-things’ cleaner! (This did not include chores that should be done daily like the dishes or making the bed.)
This idea really clicked for me, because I struggle to keep the house as clean as I would like. Trying to do it all in one day is never a good idea for me because then the next day I am overly exhausted and sometimes in bed the whole day. So, I had a cleaning experiment and I wanted to share my results with you!
There were definitely days where I didn’t check off the “clean something” on my to-do list, and I chose to not write “clean something” in for my Sundays. Here is my list of what is truly clean and/or organized right now:
Our coffee corner in the kitchen
Snack storage shelf
Malachi’s tub mat
Shower window ledge
Living room side table’s catch-all bin
Hot water kettle’s interior
Josh’s electric toothbrush
Washing machine interior
Family game storage
My Thirty-One business supplies/products
My list above does not even include the work my husband has been helping me with in preparing Malachi’s room for baby brother’s arrival! This new habit is something I’ve come to like – I’ve found my house in better order the entire month, and I haven’t felt stressed about the housework. That being said…this doesn’t mean my house is in perfect order 24/7. Real life means living in the space God has given you, and real life tends to be messy – but real life also makes for some wonderful, precious memories!
India and I thought it would be fun to share a weekly glimpse of our everyday lives with you. Some weeks we might chart out a day’s schedule, some special event we were blessed to partake in, or simply some fun pictures of life as wives and mothers.
Wednesday is one of my consistently busy weekdays. After I’ve spent time with LORD and had my morning tea, I like to look at my planner and think through what needs done that day as well as the next couple of days. In the mornings I try to do quieter, less physically-involved things like writing notes to people, working on my Thirty-One business, or organizing something in my house. I do my best to get Malachi down for an earlier-than-usual nap that day, thanks to a very scheduled afternoon and evening! I also make sure I have a meal ready and packed for us to eat at church later that night. (Disclaimer: there are weeks where the meal part doesn’t happen because I’m more exhausted than usual – insert Chick-Fil-A or Culver’s 🙂 ).
My husband, Josh, comes home from work, and then about an hour later we head to church, where I do three different piano lessons. While I’m teaching, Josh carts Malachi around as he does odd jobs around the church. He either straps Malachi to himself with a Tula carrier, or lets him ride around in his “carriage”, aka wagon! After this, I usually have about 20 minutes to scarf down supper, and then I go right to quartet practice…I’m (soprano) privileged to sing with my Sunday school teacher (bass), his wife (alto), and our church music director (tenor)! After we are finished practicing, there are usually just about 10-15 minutes left until the church service starts. At our church we are blessed to have three regular pianists. Usually the man who plays for our quartet plays for the Wednesday service, so I have Wednesday night church “off” from playing. Some Wednesdays I also go over to the church kids’ club to assist with something musically – when that happens, that falls between eating and quartet practice 🙂 After church I often have someone to practice music with as he/she prepares for an upcoming special music song.
Today (Jan 24th) we did not have quartet practice due to two members being ill, so I had a little more time to eat supper! I also added in an early morning grocery run to my day. We have two potlucks later this week and I wanted to make sure I was ready for them…not to mention we were about out of food in the house, too! Sorry, though, I forgot to get a picture of Malachi’s cute self at the grocery store – one of those carts that looks like a car was available, and he LOVES “driving” those as I shop. He also loves to say hi to whoever we pass throughout the store!
This day of my week is about to get crazier, with a newborn being added in a couple months. Lord willing I’ll be nursing Joash just like I did Malachi, so fitting in feedings around a schedule like this is pretty daunting, to say the least. I do plan to take 6-8 weeks off of teaching piano after Joash is born, so don’t worry: I am not completely crazy! But, once piano lessons resume, hopefully Joash will like being wrapped in the Baby K’Tan as much as Malachi did at that age!
It has come to our attention that our subscribers have not received emails about our first two posts. I am sending this as a test to see if it is received.