I’ll Have a Diet Religion Please…

Ever heard of Christianity Lite? John MacArthur refers to it in his book “Hard to Believe”. It’s the warm fuzzy version of Christianity. Fewer calories, easier to swallow, what’s not to like about the new “Diet Religion”? When you take the sugar out of soda, you have to replace it with fake (false) sugar. When you take the hard teachings out of Christianity, you have to replace them with false teachings.

Where did Jesus say, “Hey, follow Me, and it will be smooth sailing!” On the contrary, we are told that we must deny ourselves daily and take up our CROSS if we are to follow Christ. Jesus told us not to be surprised when people hate us, because they hated him too. He reminded us that we will have trials of many kinds in this world. Following Christ is HARD! It’s not the easy road that leads to salvation. Nope, that nice, smooth, ten-lane highway leads straight to destruction and condemnation. If we are not following Christ, then we are headed to hell! His way is the only way, hard or not!

Religion won’t save us. Believing Christ and following Him, that is the only Way to salvation.

Why do we think we need to change Scripture in order for people to accept it? The gospel needs no dressing up. The message does not need to be repackaged for the “modern man”. Scripture is God-breathed! It’s powerful! The gospel is attractive to those who are lost and dying, just the way it is. People came to Christ because of the beautiful simplicity of his message. It’s timeless, and anything we do to try and “improve” on it only diminishes that.

This New Year, I’m not going to resolve to go on a “diet”. I’ll take the original faith.

Finding the Joy

Christmas can be depressing. Christmas can be stressful. Christmas can be sad. Christmas can be a myriad of things that make us cringe when we think of December 25th. But Christmas can also be joy. Christmas can also be peace. The question is, how do we find peace and joy in the midst of where we are?

In the midst of trying to pay the heating bill, we can find joy. In the midst of figuring out how to afford the rising cost of groceries, we can find peace. In the midst of the commercialization of Christmas, we can still find Christ.

I think that most of us have at one point or another been through difficult times, and with the present monetary crisis there will certainly be more. Whether you are self-employed, have lost your job, had a serious illness in the family, dealt with disabilities or any of dozens of things, the physical, emotional and financial toll can feel crippling. I think a lot of us at one time or another have wondered where the next bag of groceries was coming from, or how we would come up with the rent/mortgage money. But God has always provided for me, and throughout my entire life, I have never gone hungry or been without a place to live. Often, God’s provision has come from the kindness of people whom I could never sufficiently thank. I have more blessings than I could ever have hoped for, and I’m choosing to be thankful for all that I do have this Christmas.

Matthew 6:25-34 (King James Version)

25Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

I will find peace this Christmas, because God knows my needs and will meet them in his own way and time. I will find joy this Christmas because God has made provision for not only my physical needs, but more importantly, my spiritual needs. I will find Christ this Christmas, because like the shepherds 2000 years ago, He is right here, in my hometown, in my humble home, and at my request, dwelling within my heart.

Waiting for Christmas

Less than a week to go. I still have to knit a sweater for Mr. Q, my oldest son, and the kids’ bathrobes are cut out, but I have to make a date with my sewing machine to actually finish them. I still have some candy and such to make, but I’ll save that for the days just before Christmas. I’ve got lots of time that will be spent knitting and sewing, but since I enjoy both, it will be an enjoyable pastime.

We have snow. The kids love to look out the window in the morning to see if it snowed in the night. They all get quite excited when it does. I’m not sure why Mr. Q gets so excited, as he is not particularly fond of snow, ice or cold weather. I suppose it just looks pretty.

I looked out my kitchen window a few days ago and was astonished to realize that I have my “waterfront view”. There is a small farm pond in our back yard. One that I have loved and enjoyed since I was a child. It finally dawned on me that I finally have the lovely view of the water that I had always dreamed of. True, when I used to say that I had thought of an ocean view, but nonetheless, I have a view of the water. It’s funny how God gives us the things that we desire, but sometimes not in the way the we expect.

I am always pleased beyond words when I give one of my children an unexpected gift and they say with wonder, “Is that for me?” The smile on their face is more precious a reward than anything. I wonder if that is in some small way how God feels when He gives us an unexpected gift, and we look on it with awe and simply say, “You did this for me?” I’ve had many of those moments in my lifetime, and seeing the frozen pond out my kitchen window was one of them.

Munchkin walked to Grammy’s house by herself this week. Grammy lives next door, and met her halfway between the two houses, while I watched anxiously from our front steps. My daughter is growing up and becoming more independent. When did that happen?

Camo seems to be getting bigger before my very eyes. He is getting used to the boots I insist that he wears outside. He still has a hard time walking in them, but he is getting better. I wonder what he will think of Christmas this year.

All of the kids have been enjoying watching the old Christmas specials that all of us used to watch on TV. Rudolph and Frosty are two favorites. How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Merry Christmas Charlie Brown are mine. Munchkin understands that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus being born. And that He came to die. Amazing, that such a young child can understand so much. The beauty of the Gospel. A Christmas story for all ages. I don’t know how much Mr. Q grasps, but I’m sure that, as usual, it is more than he lets on. He’s a quiet one, like the Welch brothers always were.

Well, I have a sweater to knit and some other projects to finish. I’ll just sit in my rocker next to my coal stove, and knit in the peace that is naptime. I think I’ll also take the time to thank God for the wonderful gifts that He has given me, including the most precious of all, His only Son.

David’s Underwear

Luke 2

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

Any time that that particular passage is read, I know that if I look at my Mom she will be laughing. Truthfully, I’m usually laughing too. It’s taken me a few years to get to this point, but I can laugh now.

When I was about 11 years old, we had started attending a new church. During the Christmas Tree decorating event the pastor thought that it would be good if some of the kids read the Christmas story. I was assigned the first part of Luke 2. I’ve always been an avid reader, but I proved that I could still make terrific blunders when asked to read aloud. I came to the phrase “of the house and lineage of David” and somehow, it came out “of the house and lingerie of David”. My parents were quite mortified. Some of the teens were laughing so hard that they had to hide behind the Christmas tree. I was quite embarrassed later when I realized my mistake, and I was chagrined by the annual re-telling of the story for a number of years.

Time has given me the ability to laugh at the story and even tell it myself on occasion. How I wish that my pride did not keep me from laughing at my mistakes more readily! Truly, I do find myself in some of the strangest situations and quite frequently my mouth has a mind of its own, and things don’t come out quite how I expect. Rather than feeling that my pride has suffered, it would be better for me to laugh along with everyone else.

Pride has no place in the heart of a follower of Christ. Pride robs us of so much, but only because we allow it to. How many times do I miss out on a good laugh because of my pride? How many times is my joy disturbed and my peace diminished because of my pride? How often do I refuse to accept help that others would gladly give because of my pride? How often do I refuse to rest in Him because of my pride? Pride gives us nothing, and costs us much.

So, whenever I hear this passage of scripture, I will certainly laugh, but I will also remember the importance of letting go of my pride. It turns out that God can use anything to teach a willing heart, even underwear…

I Will Survive

I, and the rest of my family, have survived the weekend. We slept in our new house on Saturday night. We still don’t have EVERYTHING moved, but we do have what we really need. I’ve been trying to move a SUV-load each day, but the torrential rain today sort of made us decided to skip a day.

I managed to have only one minor meltdown. Although, Aaron might classify it as a somewhat major meltdown. Fortunately, I have Aaron to keep me sane and calm me down as needed. It’s a good thing that God sent me that husband of mine!

The kiddos are adjusting. Mr. Q is having the hardest time, and has had some stomach upsets since the move. That kid handles change about as well as I do! My stomach has had a few knots of its’ own too! Hopefully, he will be feeling better very soon.

My waterbed is filled, but still too cold to sleep on. It may take a few more days for it to actually heat up. Until then, Aaron and I are still suffering with the futon at night. The first couple of days wasn’t too bad, but it’s getting old. Actually, maybe it is we who are getting old, as we find it less comfortable to sleep on anything but an actual bed than we used to. Remember when you were a kid and could sleep anywhere, even a cement floor??? Yeah, that memory is getting fuzzier for me too…

We have Christmas decorations up. The kids love the lights and such, so I tried to get those put up right away. They were really excited about putting up the tree. They had lots of fun helping me put the ornaments on. Now I have to keep them from taking the ornaments off!

In any case, we have survived, the house is starting to come together, and we are through the good share of our moving. I will keep enjoying sitting by my nice warm coal stove in my rocking chair, with my knitting. We all need a few moments of peace each day!

Whatever Doesn’t Kill You…

Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If that old adage is true, then I should be superwoman by the end of the weekend! We are actually moving tomorrow.

Truly, I will be very glad to be, finally, in our house! We still have to go through and clean up all of the “construction dust” and barely anything is packed or ready to go. So, I will be VERY busy tomorrow. Fortunately, I have family and a few friends who will be a tremendous help!

My sister just spent a few hours helping me finish getting the kids’ rooms done. She suggested that they spend the night with Grammy so that we could tear the kids’ room apart and get things set up at the house. That was a great idea, and though we are both tired, it is nice to know that no matter how things go tomorrow, the kids will have their rooms done and ready to sleep in tomorrow night!

Since it will likely take FOREVER to drain, move and refill our waterbed, we will likely be sleeping on the futon for the next night or two. That’s OK, I’ll just be REALLY GLAD to be in the house!

The fridge is plugged in and getting nice and cold. My stove and dishwasher will move tomorrow, along with things like dishes and food. I will be thrilled to have my kitchen all together! For some reason, I don’t feel settled until I have settled into the kitchen! I’ll be making yeast rolls tomorrow night in my new kitchen for the Christmas dinner our Church group is having on Sunday. So, I get to break in the kitchen right away!

I have no idea when I’ll be able to post next, as the computers could take a little time to get settled into their new home. In any case, I’ll certainly let you all know how our “moving day” unfolds, or perhaps, unpacks would be a better term!

Surprise!

I have three lovely children. When the third was born, his oldest sibling was still under three. When I found out that I was expecting Camo, I was a little overwhelmed. Whatever would I do with three kids?! Still, I’d done fine with the first two, and decided that I had this mothering thing pretty well figured out. Boy was I wrong! If I’d known what I was in for, I’d have cried on the spot.

I thought that I knew what to expect during childbirth. This third time would be quicker and easier than the first two. Nope. It was pretty long, and really hard! That was unexpected! Of course the fact that Camo weighed over two pounds more at birth than Mr. Q had probably contributed to that.

Munchkin and Mr. Q started sleeping through the night at about 3 to 4 months. Camo had me up a couple of times per night until he was eleven months old! Ironically, it was only when we moved him out of our room at night that he actually slept. I really wish that I’d known that a bit earlier…

Camo is fussier in general than the other two. I just don’t know what to make of him some days.

God sent him to me, at least in part, to teach me about pride. Mine was unfounded. I thought that two toddlers made me something of an expert. Hah! Every one of my children has been different from the others, and with Camo, even more so. I call him my surprise, since everything about him has been a surprise. I thought that I knew what to expect, but I was wrong.

It’s funny, Munchkin is so much like her daddy, and Mr. Q is a Welch through and through, just like his mommy. Camo is just his own guy though. I’m curious to see how his personality develops and whom he will resemble. I did see something in him last night that reminded me of my dad…

While I was looking for his jacket, he wandered into the kitchen and found a potato. When I called him so that I could get his jacket on him, he came toddling out with a drooled-on potato firmly grasped in his hand. I laughed and told him that he must get that from Grandpa, who likes potatoes too.

That’s the neatest thing about kids I think, seeing something of everyone whom I’ve loved so dearly reflected in them.

Simplifying Christmas

I sit here enjoying a nice cup of my favorite raspberry tea, and am somewhat overwhelmed by the number of things to do this month.

Moving at any time is enough to keep you busy, especially when your kids unpack boxes almost as fast as you pack them! Moving between Thanksgiving and Christmas is even more interesting. Did I mention that everyone is coming to my “new” house for Christmas???

As adults, we all too often have the attitude that we don’t like Christmas. I’ve said plenty of Bah-humbugs in my lifetime! I don’t think that it’s Christmas that we dislike though, I think it’s the expectations that we feel we must live up to at Christmas. Gifts for everyone, perfectly decorated house, matching outfits for the family photo, scores of cards to send, a small feast to make completely from scratch. Is it any wonder that Christmas creates stress? Why do we do this?

I realize that Christ was actually born sometime in the spring, and not on December 25th, but it is a good thing to have a time set aside to celebrate His birth. Many of the traditions that God established during Old Testament times served the purpose of teaching children what God had done, as well as reminding the adults of the greatness of their God. That’s what Christmas should be about for us. A time to rejoice that Christ was born here on Earth, and teach our children what that means to us.

Decorations, food, gifts, etc. are all nice enough, but they are not to be our focus. We could easily scale back and simplify our expectations. Would anyone really be upset with us if we did that. I think that the answer might surprise us. I think that everyone else would also be relieved to be freed from the “perfect holiday prison”.

So, this year, I’ll put up the tree and let my kids decorate it. Sure it will look like it was done by toddlers, but that’s a look that I’ve come to treasure. Christmas dinner will be potluck, so that none of us are a slave to the kitchen for the month of December. Gifts will include things like the jam I made this summer, and small handknit projects. I’ll take the time to enjoy all of the Christmas music that I love with my kids.

My favorite Christmas special is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, so I’ll close by taking my cue from Linus.

Luke 2:8-14

” And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

And that’s what Christmas is all about.

A Work in Progress…

We are working on our house. We have not moved in yet, but are doing a LOT of work to be able to move in within the next week or so. No, we are not building a house. We inherited the family farmhouse. It is 100 years old this year, and has been in my family since it was built. I love the history that house has.

It was built by my great-great-grandfather for his daughter, my great-grandmother. She taught school and sent the money that she earned to him for materials. When the house was completed, she married and they lived in the house for the rest of their lives. My grandfather was born in that house, along with all five of his siblings. When my Dad was a baby, he and his parents lived there while their house was being built next door. My parents still live in the house next door, and I am thrilled to be moving into this house. My kids will be the fifth generation of my family to grow up on this land. That’s pretty amazing today.

So, since it has so much history, the house has also needed a lot of work. We have had a huge amount of help from our family and friends, and without them, moving would not even be a possibility. We have had a big push of work over Thanksgiving weekend, and that has put us well within sight of our goal. We are all very tired tonight!

I think that a house is always a work in progress. We will certainly not have everything done that we would like to before we move in. But we will work on it over time. I don’t think that a house is ever really “finished”, since there is always something more that can be done.

We too are certainly a work in progress. Constantly learning, growing, changing, there is always something more that can be done. God molds us, and sometimes we clay lumps need a lot of work just to see a small change. Still, I am thankful that God is ever patient with me. I have many faults, and many more things that can certainly be improved. I’m a work in progress, so long as the work continues, I am one step closer to my goal of being the woman that God plans for me to be. Unlike a house, however, one day I will be “finished”, and that is a day that I look forward to with joy and anticipation. Perhaps that day is closer than any of us imagine. Perhaps Heaven isn’t so far off after all.

Welcome!

Welcome to Tea and Conversation!

I’ve thought about starting a blog for some time now. The only problem was that I could not pick only one topic to write about! So, I finally decided that since I was writing the blog, I could actually write about more than just one thing. Here you will find a mix of things, my thoughts on faith, politics, economics, books, music, education, cooking, knitting, homemaking, and one of my favorite topics, my incredible kiddos!

I choose not to be a part of a particular religion or denomination, and can best be described as simply one who follows Christ.

On Thanksgiving I will have been married to my wonderful husband for nine years. Definitely something to be thankful for!

I am the mother to our three kids, Munchkin, our three-year-old daughter, Mr. Q, our two-year-old son, and Camo, our one-year-old son. Yes, I really did have three kids in three years, an I’m still sane!

I’m also the keeper of a rather large, black German Shepherd. She may not be the brightest crayon in the box, but she is great with the kids!

I’m interested in a wide variety of subjects and have several hobbies and activities that I enjoy. I hope to touch on all of them at some point in this blog. Hopefully you will find some of them to be interesting and entertaining.