Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Homestead Christmas December 23, 2015

We haven’t always celebrated Christmas.  In fact, it has only been in recent years that we even got a small tree.  A local shop owner saw our daughter admiring the little artificial tree. She and I  talked about how pretty it was, not knowing that the owner overheard us. As we left, he came out carrying a box.  He said that we had forgotten something.  To our delight, he placed the tree in our trunk.

The main reason for not celebrating was due to the holiday being so commercial. It was all about the gifts, not the religious story.  People routinely go into debt trying to buy the perfect gift.  It just didn’t feel right.

After having the kids, we made the decision to celebrate.  The compromise for us was that we limit the gifts.  We also teach the kids to make their gifts.  This one simple thing helps teach children to give of their time and talents to others.

The little ones are ages 9 and 7 years old this season.  With a little guidance, Little Miss chose a project to make for Daddy.  She wanted to make him something that he can take onto the truck with him.  It was a simple project to complete but very useful.  Little Man needed more help with his gift to Daddy.  Mostly due to his lack of fine motor development.  He had fun with it though.

Giving homemade gifts whenever possible has become a family tradition.  We also limit the number of gifts.  In doing this, the kids are much more appreciative of what they receive.

The Christmas tree has a few secondhand ornaments.  Gradually, we are adding handmade ornaments to it each year.  A new thing added to the tree this year also was battery powered little lights.  We found those at Hobby Lobby.

Having a simple Christmas has been a blessing. We can focus on the meaning of the holiday without all the stress and hoopla that other families face.  We can use it as a time to serve others and give of ourselves in remebrance of Christ giving of Himself for us.  It is also an opportunity to teach the kids that it isn’t all about than, but learn to enjoy the giving to others.

I love how we celebrate Christmas. It is so much more peaceful and enjoyable for our family.  I pray that others can enjoy the holiday as that celebrate with their families.

 

The Vaccinations Debate Hate-Mongering February 7, 2015

Filed under: faith,ramblings — ourprairiehome @ 4:40 am
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Yes, I am finally going there. I have tried to avoid being drawn into the Vaccinations debate for years now. It seems that since the recent measles outbreak, more people have become very vocal. Some voices actually being militant in their tone and are now spewing hate. I have been shocked at the sheer level of which the people are reaching in their venomous words. Some calling for government to force vaccinations onto all children, regardless of the parents rights. What is the most heartbreaking is when I see this coming from people who profess to be Christian. Where is their Christianity in the hate that they are showing towards others who do not share their views on the subject? This goes for both sides of the argument. You have people showing the same levels of viciousness on both sides of the vaccinations debate.

My personal stance on this issue are not important to the topic of this post. My focus here is quite simple. I want to draw attention to the way in which people are treating each other. What positive message are people trying to give when they get ugly in their words and attitudes? I have seen a full range of reactions, from comments people post on social media to what they say out right. There is an attitude from the pro-vaccine side that parents who don’t vaccinate are ignorant. Some even call into question the person’s parenting skills. At times, there are comments that those parents who do not vaccinate their kids are guilty of child neglect, likening the choice to not vaccinate to the level of being a form of child abuse. Then you have those who would go so far as to want to hold the parents of an unvaccinated child financially responsible if their vaccinated child were to become sick with the measles or other illness that the vaccines are supposed to protect against. From the side of those who do not vaccinate, there are comments about the pro-vaccine people being sheep that blindly accept what the pharmaceutical companies and the CDC state as fact. In other words, calling the pro-vaccinate crowd ignorant for not looking into the vaccine issue for themselves. The list goes on and on. Where is the Christian attitude in all this?

Several times now, I have seen remarks about the pro-vaccine parents not wanting their child exposed to a child who has not received vaccinations. They feel that the unvaccinated for be sequestered from the vaccinated children. This has really taken off since the measles cases. As long as our nation allows our borders to be basically a free-access to those from other countries, we will always have a risk of exposure to illnesses that our nation had lowered the occurrences of. Not every nation uses vaccines to the extent that our nation does. This is where the politically correct issues gets murky. To assume that an outbreak of an illness is caused by an unvaccinated child who has never been outside of the US, either by birth or by traveling with family, is to make a huge error in judgment. I have one question for both sides to consider on this issue. If the measles, in example, was nearly gone from the US, then how did anyone in this country come down with a case of measles? Who exposed that person? What was the true point of origin? In finding an answer to this, we all have to stop with the knee-jerk reactions on the subject.

I am seeing friendships and other relationships becoming strained, at best, over this topic. It would seem that the vaccine debate rates up there with politics and religion when it comes to volatile subjects. Maybe that is one reason why I have tried to stay away from it. All I know is that people are causing harm to others through this process. Maybe not the physical harm, but relationships are being tested in a harsh way. Again, I have to ask. Where does this fall in line with the teachings in the Christian faith? I would love for someone to point out in the Bible where Christ set this kind of example? Where did he treat those who believed differently than himself with total vile and hatred? What instance in the Bible demonstrates that it is acceptable for a Christian to be such a hate-monger towards others? In my Bible, Jesus Christ sat down with those who were of a different belief and He showed them grace. Remember the woman at the well? Her people, the Samaritans, were not thought well of by the Jews of that time. Yet, Jesus went to her and treated her with respect.

If you are quick to be hateful, show disrespect, and spew evil on the heads of others through word or actions, what good are you doing? Does this tactic ever bring about a feeling of comfort that allows two sides with opposite views to sit and discuss them meaningfully? Has a person ever been won over from their point of view by calling them vile names or making ugly accusations? What good has it ever accomplished?

No matter where your heart lies in this, or any other hot topic of debate, the message is the same. Don’t lower yourself to the point of becoming hateful towards others. Speak respectfully to them. Be as open minded to their point of view as you would have them be towards yours. When people shout ugliness towards another, nothing is ever gained. Hearts can become hardened and lines can be drawn in the proverbial sand. Don’t allow fear to direct your words and actions. You may find others far more willing to hear your point of view if you do this.

 

When Life Throws a Curve January 15, 2015

Filed under: faith,family — ourprairiehome @ 4:50 am
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My beloved husband is the guy who is rarely sick.  If he does happen to get a cold or something, he is blessed to nearly always recover within a day or two.  He never is down for more than a day.  Even when he had bronchitis last year, he snapped back very quickly.  Well, something happened that I never could have imagined.  Last Thursday, I drove him to work so that I could use our car to take Pookie to his appointments at the therapy center 2 hours drive away from hubby’s workplace.  He went to the back of the jeep to gather his lunch and gear so he could go clock in.  Just as he was turning to walk away from the jeep, he slipped on a patch of ice and fell hard.  Scary part was that he couldn’t move his right arm at all.  Co-workers rushed over to look after him.  Once they knew it was only his shoulder and arm that was hurt, they carefully carried him off the ice patch and he stood up.  I was thinking of calling the therapy center to cancel the appointments, but hubby told me to go ahead and get him there.  He had already missed two weeks in a row due to the Christmas and New Years holidays being on his Thursday appointment dates.  His boss and the co-workers assured me that they would see to it that he was taken well care of.  So, with great reluctance and worry, I made the journey to the therapy center.

When I picked my husband up that afternoon, I was relieved to learn that he had a contusion to the shoulder.  What a blessing that seemed to be!  He was told to take a couple of days off work to recuperate before going back to his truck driving job.  His boss told hubby that since he had a few days of personal days allocated to him that hadn’t been used yet, the company would take those recuperation days as personal days so that we would not lose any days off.  Hubby came home and did his best to rest, but since it was only a bruise, he tried to cut some firewood with the chainsaw, which the kids and I stacked into the utility trailer to bring home.  The following Monday, he went to work as planned and did his truck driving.  Now, here is the thing to understand.  He works for a company that picks up and recycles industrial scrap metal.  The truck drivers take large empty bins to the customers’ locations and trade out the empty with the full one.  Typically, he can have 2-3 of these large bins on the truck.  All the empty bins have to be removed so that the full one can be placed closest to the truck cab.  Then the empty bins are loaded back on, just leaving one empty bin for each full one he takes from the customer.  The bins are mechanically loaded/unloaded from the truck’s trailer.  After each is loaded onto the trailer, the driver has to manually chain it down and tarp the bin to prevent any metal shavings from blowing out as he drives down the road.  This is a very physical job to do.  With a tender shoulder, it is very painful.  By the day’s end, his pain was terrible and he could not sleep well that night.

Yesterday (Tuesday), he took a day off because he could barely raise his arm to dress himself.  That morning, the mail brought a disturbing letter.  The hospital had made an error in the diagnosis!  Hubby did not have a bruised shoulder at all.  The radiologist had taken a close look at the x-rays and found that hubby actually had fractured his right scapula up near the shoulder joint.  This explained so much to us.  The pain being so bad, yet there was no visible bruising.  He had swelling in the shoulder blade area from mid-level to the top of his shoulder.  So, today we went back to the hospital to find out what the heck was going on.  We got to the ER and asked to speak to the director of the ER dept.  Within a short time, a nurse came out to speak to us.  She then took us back into the ER to an exam room.  She saw that hubby needed to properly restrain the shoulder joint and the sling we had bought wasn’t doing the job.  She had the doctor on staff come in to talk to us.  He was a different one than had originally diagnosed hubby.  This doctor re-examined the x-ray before talking to us and explained where the break was and why it was hard to see.  Turns out that the fracture was in the top part of the scapula in a place that is rarely broken.  He answered all of our questions.   Thankfully, the fracture was not so severe as to need surgery.  The downside is that he now is in a shoulder restraint that basically is a waist belt what secures his arm just above the elbow and at the wrist to the waist to prevent any shoulder movement.  There is no way he can drive the jeep, let alone his truck at work.  From what the doctor says, it will take 4-6 weeks for his shoulder to heal.

We left the hospital and after getting some lunch, went to hubby’s work to let the boss know what happened.  They are being so great about it.  Because he fell before clocking in to begin his work shift, the injury is not covered by worker’s compensation.  But, they are going to find odd jobs around the office that will keep him busy so that we do not lose out on any pay.  He is taking the rest of the week off as suggested by the doctor, but will start back on Monday.  The only true downside is that we will only have one day of pay on the weekly paycheck next week since he only worked last Monday.  It will make an extremely difficult time for us that week, but the Lord is always finding a way to bless us when we need it most.

It will certainly make life more interesting for the kids and I.  Getting everyone up at 3:30am to give us enough time to get ready, eat breakfast, then drive the 45 miles to work.  I am trying to figure out things to do with the kids to avoid having a lot of extra driving.  If I can find activities or places for them to enjoy during the day, then I prefer to do that.  Unfortunately, it is too cold to take them to the park or zoo.  The library is an option, but Pookie gets bored after about an hour there.  Likely, we will just have to eat the cost of double the fuel use so that I can bring the kids back home until time to go pick up hubby again.  No matter what, I know that the Lord will provide a way.

It is hard sometimes to acknowledge that the Lord is in control and everything works out.  This injury of hubby’s is really a setback for us in many ways.  Yet, we are growing through this.  We are also thanking the Lord that hubby did not need surgery for the fracture.  We are grateful to the Lord for leading hubby to work in a place where his co-workers and boss truly are caring towards him.  Yes, this experience is not one we would have chosen, but even in this, we are able to praise the Lord and bless His name.

 

 

Old Fashioned Romance January 6, 2015

Filed under: faith,family,old fashioned — ourprairiehome @ 9:09 am
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Recently, I had the opportunity to review a book titled, “The Old Fashioned Way: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Romance” by Ginger Kolbaba.

Old Fashioned Way

On Amazon, the book is described as follows.

Contrary to popular opinion, being “old fashioned” doesn’t mean you’re dull or unromantic. In fact, a true old-fashioned relationship can be more exciting and romantic than anything you’ve ever experienced! So what does it mean to do things The Old Fashioned Way? Sure, it means opening doors, holding out chairs, and taking things slow. But a true old-fashioned romance goes much deeper than that. Inspired by the motion picture Old Fashioned, this book will show you how to reclaim the lost art of romance by introducing you to romantic love as God intended it—for all of us. Regardless of your past experiences, where you’ve been, or where you are now, you can find and create a love that will last a lifetime.

As you work your way through this 40-day journey of inspiring readings and questions for reflection, you’ll discover all the unique and amazing benefits of doing things the old-fashioned way and be well on your way to creating a love story for the ages.

This book has been a very enlightening read.  I have never sen the movie, but the book gives beautiful insight into how romance should be.  The modern ideas of what is romantic and what an enduring romantic love should be is often far from what the Lord intended for us to experience.  Through this 40-day devotional, you are introduced again to what romance should be.  In reading it, I find that if more people were to apply this knowledge in their relationships, we would have a far lower divorce rate.  I am sure that some would cringe at the thought of a woman being a helpmeet to her husband, but that is because modern society has turned it into an ugly prospect.  Once you come to understand the true meaning of it, you can see how it can transform your marriage.  It isn’t just the woman however.  Men also have to play their part in this.

This book would be a wonderful devotional to share with teenagers who are approaching the dating scene.  As a Christian parent, I find that the teachings given are just as valuable to both young men and women as the knowledge was in earlier generations.

 

Hate is a Choice August 21, 2014

Filed under: faith,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 12:08 am
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Karma has a warped sense of humor sometimes. Nothing shows it more than my own life. Picture this – a couple where one is a very conservative Libertarian and the other has the attitude of “live and let live” and doesn’t like politics. Such is my life. It is a very interesting one for sure. I am totally besotted with my husband and have a lot of respect for his devotion to the things he believes in.

I am blessed to be married to a man who always lets me know how much he cherishes me. I am surrounded by his love daily and am confident in our relationship. This man also has a love for debating politics. Thankfully, he doesn’t try to debate with me. He knows it is a losing battle because I refuse to argue or debate a topic. I simply state how I feel and let it go. That is one reason why it is good that he has friends and social networking that feed his love for debate. As for me, if there were a “live and let live” party to vote for, I would be right there. Unfortunately, there isn’t.

Here is the base for my attitudes on life. Each day, we choose how we are going to live. We choose our attitudes towards others as well. If you have someone in your life that you have negative feelings towards, you choose each morning when you awaken to continue having those feelings. You have full control over your emotions and your mindset. No one can make you hate them. You do that by making a decision to follow that path. If you are holding on to anger or a hurt from the past, that too is a choice that you make each day. No one has the power over you to cause you to feel one way or another. Only you have that power.

To say, “I hate that person because they are hateful to me” is something that can cause a lot of damage. Yes, someone may indeed be hateful to you in actions or words, but how you choose to respond to them is where you have control. Just because someone acts hateful towards you doesn’t mean automatically that you will be hateful back. If you choose to be hateful in return, you are doing it as revenge.

A child runs through a house, breaking a house rule, and accidentally breaks a vase. When the parent asks how the vase is broke, the child says, “I don’t know.” In that scenario, the child lies to cover up a mistake they made. Lying about it doesn’t make the situation any better. In fact, the lying makes things worse when the child is caught in that lie. How is our reacting to one wrong behavior by someone else any different? Has there ever been a time when returning hate with hate has ever brought about a good result?

We see it in the world every day. One ethnic group or a nation being hateful towards another. Each time one acts out either verbally or with actions in a negative way towards the other party, they try to “one up” on each other. It is a case of constantly escalating actions of hate. “You did this to me, so I am going to do this to you,” is a constant refrain between those involved.

Imagine what would happen if people started taking full responsibility of their attitudes and behavior. If they felt compassion for the pain they have caused the other party instead of rejoicing in it? Imagine the changes that could be brought about if we simply became more aware of how our choices affected those around us?

Seeking revenge or answering hate with hate is a selfish concept. You are thinking more about yourself and not those around you. In the scriptures, we are shown an example of acceptance through the life of Christ. If churches are teaching correctly that we should look upon the life of Christ as an example of how we should treat one another, how can we justify revenge seeking? Where in the scriptures did Christ ever seek to harm another through words or deeds? Even when he was tortured and crucified, he never cast blame or cursed those who were against him. He prayed for God to forgive them for what they had done. Even in his greatest suffering, Christ showed compassion. How can we call ourselves Christians (followers of Christ) if we allow hate in our lives?

It is easy to argue this with, “Well, in a perfect world people would be more compassionate.” Or the idea that, “Other nations don’t follow that and we have to fight back to avoid being taken over.” Those are excuses. It is easy to hide behind that type of thinking. So many have accepted that excuse that is has become a truth to them. It is not a truth. It is an excuse to allow yourself to return hate with hate. Some even return it with such flourish that they are proud of their actions. Consider for yourself, at the end of the day, has anything good come from it? In acting out in a negative fashion, have you shown the love of Christ to another?

We don’t have to agree with the actions of those who are hateful. But we also don’t need to be emulating their behavior. By answering hate with hate, we are saying that this is the acceptable way to deal with such actions. How can we teach compassion to our children if we are talking in negative manner about others? How can we expect our children to show compassion if we are not setting the example before them?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbors and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward with you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you only greet your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV translation)

“But I tell you who hear me, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you., and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:27-36 (NIV)

“Love must be sincere. Hate that which is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil with evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary; if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9-21 (NIV)

 

Facing My Fears August 13, 2014

Filed under: faith — ourprairiehome @ 2:37 am
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I have been wanting to write this post for a while, but for some reason the timing just didn’t seem right. I needed to take a couple of months to really process what this one special weekend meant for me.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, our family was blessed to attend the Crosswalk Youth Camp, which our church sponsors. This was the first year that Little Miss would be old enough to attend the Jr. Camp. My husband and I each helped at the camp. Hubby was given kitchen duty each morning and I helped out in the Mini camp (daycare) for the little ones too young for camp. The Mini Camp gave me an opportunity to serve at the camp while still having Pookie with me. I loved the Mini Camp as it provided a means for some of the volunteers with young children to participate in the camp staffing opportunities.

The camp theme was “Faith Factor” based upon the popular show, Fear Factor. Each day, the youth were given opportunities to face some of their fears. The main message for them was that in the midst of times when you are in fear, your faith in the Lord can carry you through.

One example of a fear that our Little Miss faced was that of snakes. The Jr. Campers were able to take part in a class about snakes. The handler brought a few of the snakes he worked with and taught the kids about each of the snake breeds he had with him. The kids were then given an opportunity to come up and have their pictures taken with a snake. Each who did this was given the option of touching or holding the snake. I loved how the handler was very in tune with his snakes and switched them out to avoid the snakes getting too stressed. He wanted them calm for the kids. Our Little Miss didn’t want to touch the snake, but after a bit of reassurance from our pastor, Mike Rasmussen, she was very brave and had her picture taken touching the snake. This was a huge step for her that I am very proud that she took. Just 2 years before, our son-in-law had killed a nearly 6 foot long copperhead snake out near our barn. He then showed it to Little Miss and our grandson. That really scared her. At the time we did need the kids to have a touch of trepidation about snakes since they kept wanting to play around the firewood pile and the taller vegetation around the perimeter of the yard they play in. At 8 years old, she was now needing to learn that snakes are not fearsome creatures, but you do need to have a healthy dose of respect for them. This opportunity at Jr. Camp gave her just that.

While at camp, it was fun to visit with other staff at the camp as well as get to know some of the youth. Going there, you may have ideas of how you want to serve. You quickly realize that as you serve the youth, you are receiving much in return. My own spirit was nourished through talks that I had with a few of the youth. It is so encouraging to see how the Lord is touching their lives.

It wasn’t only the youth at camp who were challenged. I went through my own personal challenges with a fear I have had for 9 years. I had let this fear have too much control over my life and though I was shaking throughout the moments I challenged myself, I got past it. It is something that may be a small thing to many, but for me was a huge step towards taking control back over that aspect of my life. The fear? Walking in the dark alone and without benefit of a flashlight.

As I child, I had always held a fascination for the moon and stars. I loved times when I could be outdoors at night and simply bask in the beauty of the night sky. This love for the night was the basis for a nickname, Luna, which I was given years ago. One night, nine years ago, that would change. My love and enjoyment of the night would be turned into something entirely different. I was assaulted and raped twice at knife point in one night by a man I barely knew. After that night, I never saw the peace of beauty of the night again. It was something to be feared and avoided. If I went to a store and darkness came, I had someone escort me to my car. At home, I always parked my car as close to the front door as possible. I got good as faking it when it came to others knowing just how scared I really was. What others didn’t know was that I often had to fight the panic attacks that came upon me each time I had to step out into the dark.

During this time, I have felt robbed of something I had enjoyed. You can physically recover from just about anything. But to recover from fear takes longer. To learn to feel peace and beauty around you in the night is very difficult. Even though we live a very rural life, far from any big city, I never felt truly safe at night. The years that my husband was on the truck and working away from home for weeks at a time were the hardest. I had trouble sleeping. Often, I would awaken to a sound of a small animal walking outside of my bedroom window. It could be something as harmless as an armadillo walking through the grass. I would lay in bed, my heart pounding so hard it felt like it would burst through my chest. My breathing would be rapid and I seemed to be ultra-sensitive to the sounds in the night. It would take a long time for me to calm enough to be able to go back to sleep again. Most of the time, that sleep was anything but restful.

At camp though, I had opportunity to talk to our pastor for a few minutes after an evening chapel service. It was very dark and Joe had already gone to the men’s staff dorm with Pookie early that evening. I talked to Pastor Mike about my fear of the dark and how it came to be. He had offered to give me a ride to the women’s staff dorm in the golf cart, but I turned him down. While I thoroughly appreciated the offer, I knew deep down to my very soul that the time had come to face my fear. I let him know that I needed to do this on my own.

I had no flashlight with me but the path to the dorm was lit in most of the areas. Only a few places were darkened from the trees blocking the light from the security lights along the way. As I walked the path to the dorm, I was shaking and my stomach was nauseated. As I walked along the pathway, my thoughts kept going the song, “Whom Shall I Fear,” by Chris Tomlin. The following portion is what spoke to me loudest and gave me strength in my steps as I walked that night.

My strength is in Your name
For You alone can save
You will deliver me
Yours is the victory
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I fear?

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I’m holding on to Your promises
You are faithful
You are faithful

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies is always by my side.

I made it to the dorm safely. No flashlight, no escort to walk me to the dorm. I did it on my own, with my faith in the Lord’s protection with me.

The next day, I spoke to the Pastor Mike again. I explained a little more about how much had been taken away when I gained that fear. The loss of my joy in the night. Taking that step to walk back to the dorm had given me a piece of that joy back again. As he mentioned to me, the camp setting was a safe environment in which I could face that fear. I know that it is not like walking a city street late at night alone. But it did help me.

Where we live, I would be foolish to just go out walking at night, especially in warm months. Too many wildlife considerations to keep in mind. It feels good though to not have that unsettling feeling of fear overwhelming me though. It is such a gift and blessing that the Lord gave me that night as I walked to the dorm. He gave me back something that I thought had been lost for all time. He gave me back the beauty of His creation, the night. Most importantly, He gave me peace in the night, which I have been without for far too long.

In the months since camp, I am still edging my way into regaining that love of the night. A couple evenings ago was the night of the super moon and meteor shower. At 2am, when it was supposed to be the best viewing, I went outside alone and spent time just watching the night sky. It was like seeing an old dear friend again after a long separation. I felt no fear. For the very first time in 9 years, I felt completely at peace with the night. What a gift and blessing to have that again. That piece of my that has been missing for so long is now back in place. I feel more whole in that regard than I have in far too long. I feel like Luna again. She was sorely missed.

 

Overstepping Boundaries in Social Media March 16, 2014

Filed under: faith,ramblings — ourprairiehome @ 9:41 pm

It would seem that there are no longer boundaries in social media. With the ease of communication through blogs, Facebook and other websites, people get the sense of feeling that they know you. Let’s face it. According to Facebook, they are your friend. That gives the false idea that people know each other far better than what is truth. This brings about a common problem. People whom you have never met feel that they have certain rights. Most particularly, the right to tell you how they think you should be living your life.

I am gobsmacked at the messages that I receive from time to time. People whom I have never met in person try to tell me their opinions of how I should do things differently. How ridiculous is that? A person who is a stranger for all intents and purposes telling you what you should be doing? Does this person know my heart? Do they know what our family life is like on a daily basis outside of what is posted on Facebook? What makes these people think that they know what is best for my family?

Recently, a Facebook “friend” went through old pictures on Facebook and then attempted to chastise and call to repentance for photos that they felt were inappropriate. In particular, a picture in which I wore something they personally found too low cut in the neckline. How I dress is no one’s business. The only person who has a say in how I dress, besides myself, is my husband. If he likes what I wear, that is all that matters.

Another chastised me for being snarky. So what? What I post is my own opinions and thoughts. If you don’t like it, ignore it or get off my friend’s list. As long as I am not breaking any of the rules that Facebook has in place, I can post what I choose.

Both of the above situations are ones in which the ones chastising were Christians who are more conservative than Joe and I are. Yes, the Bible does state that Christians should be witness to each other when they see a Christian doing something that is against the faith. The problem however is that neither of these people personally know us. We are not members of their church, nor do we follow the degree of conservative observance that they do. In this situation, neither has the right to chastise. If we were members of their church congregation and they saw something we did as being against their beliefs, then they would have more right to say something. Even in that situation however, it should be done privately and not through social media. You also do not become hateful in your words and accuse the person you are chastising of being unGodly and a false Christian simply because they say/do something you personally do not agree with.

Let me give you a glimpse into my life. Prior to meeting Joe, I had been burnt badly by so-called Christians who were absolutely hateful. They were hateful in action and words and did it in the name of their faith. They showed me a bad example of Christianity and I turned away from it. I was sick to death of their condescending, self-righteous, holier than thou, attitudes. I started following a more pagan belief. It made far more sense to me than what I had been shown by others. When I met Joe, I still wore a pentagram. Amazingly, it was the example that he set that got me to rethink my opinions of Christianity. Though I was baptized 7 years ago, I still feel the disgust at the self-righteous attitudes when I hear it. While the person may be thinking that they are doing the right thing, they are in fact making it harder for me to continue having good thoughts about being a part of the Christian faith. In honesty, I don’t like being part of a group that treats others with such hate and disdain. It is only because of my own husband’s example and those of the true friends that I have who are Christians that I don’t walk away sometimes. My personal faith and relationship with the Lord will always be there. It is something that is a part of me. I cannot separate myself from my faith. What I am opposed to however is being lumped in with a group that acts so hateful in the name of God, simply because I am a Christian. I am blessed in that I do have good Christians around me who are a constant living testimony to me of what Christianity is truly about. They give me the examples that I need as well as the gentle and loving guidance when necessary. They know me personally and therefore are able to do it in a way that is effective. That is the big difference. A stranger on social media doesn’t have that knowledge. Most often, what they may intend to be good comes off wrong and is more damaging than helpful.

One thing that I try to keep in mind is that everyone is at a different place in their faith. There are many different denominations of Christianity as well as levels of conservatism within those denominations. No two congregations are exactly alike. Each denomination has it’s own teaching. Within each congregation, members often have varying degrees of belief in how their faith should be practiced in their lives. In example, some Christian denominations teach that women should only wear dresses of a specific length or style such as the cape dresses worn by the Mennonites. Other denominations have no problem with women wearing pants. I have been to congregations where women wear jeans & t-shirts to church right along side of women who dress in their “Sunday best” dresses. The Lord meets us where we are. I don’t think the way we dress really matters where our salvation is concerned. I believe that the way we dress is more of an issue towards other people. If a woman were to dress provocative in church, how easily can others pay attention to the teachings? But, what if that is the best that the woman has? Should she be banned from attending simply because she doesn’t meet a dress code?

Most criticism that I get is always based upon legalism issues. Legalism is the rules and dictates that are set up by man, not the Lord. One good example of legalism happened in the Old Testament of the Bible. The Lord gave Moses the 10 Commandments. Evidently, the Israelite’s tribe of Levi who were the high priests of the Israelites thought those were not enough. The priests came up with over 700 more laws for the Israelites to follow. If the Lord wanted Israel to have all of those laws, He would have given Moses more than the 10 Commandments. Today, is not much different. Each denomination has it’s own set of rules and practices. I mention this simply to demonstrate one thing. When a Christian on social media chastises or tries to bring to repentance someone they only know on social media, they are doing it based upon their own beliefs. They do not take into account that the person they are chastising may not be following those same rules and practices. Thus, their criticism is not effective in a positive way. It comes off as something far different, such as the self-righteous attitude.

We need to be very careful in this area of our lives. If you see someone living differently than you would expect, then you have options. Two of those being that you either accept that they are following their own faith or you stop reading their social media posts. Likewise, if you don’t like what someone posts on your wall or time line on Facebook, you can ignore them or unfriend them. Sometimes, the most loving thing that you can do towards others is to simply keep your mouth shut and your opinions to yourself.

God Bless.