Why Do We Hate The Ants So Much?

 Posted by on August 13, 2013  8 Responses »
Aug 132013
 

136602_3509The month of July has been ant month around our house. We’ve had so much rain that ants decided to move indoors with us. They find our kitchen to be particularly delightful, especially around my sink and on my kitchen counters. Nothing seems to deter them either. Yes, I can kill them, but within minutes, there are more to replace them. The tiny members of the ant army come and go, happily collecting any little morsel they can find. No matter how clean I keep my kitchen, these ants are everywhere. They only come when we have heavy rains and they are gone a few days after the rains stop. But before they gather their last minuscule bits of treasure, I just want to throw a stick of dynamite in my kitchen and run—blast them all to smithereens.

While I may feel like hating the little boogers, there is something to be admired about their perseverance, diligence, tenacity, and audacity. Yes, these wee insects are praiseworthy. They have so much to teach us. They are great influencers, if we let them be.

What can we learn from the ants?

  1. They somehow seem to know that there will be days ahead when they might not be able to find enough food. So in preparation for that, they store up. Proverbs 30:25 says: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer.
  2. They do not give up. No matter what trap you set or spray you spray, they keep coming. They are goal-oriented and will press on as if their lives depend upon it. Actually, they do!
  3. They look for the greater good. They take back to the nest anything they find that they deem worthy for the queen. No matter how tired they may get from going back and forth and back and forth, they keep going.
  4. They are quiet workers, never complaining. They are selfless.
  5. They don’t argue with each other. In fact, they work quite well as a team. They politely step around each other and don’t block each other’s way or prevent a teammate from reaching his goal.

885548_17974779Proverbs 6:6-8 says: Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

So why do we hate them so much? Yes, they do make our skin crawl and they can make a mess of our picnics. But they are very useful in nature. They clean up messes that otherwise would sit around and pollute our world. Ants teach us a lot about working together as a team, getting along with each other, working for the greater good, and not complaining about things that have no eternal value. Ants show us how to put our own desires aside for the desires of a greater being—God. They teach us to work honorably and to never stop until we’re prepared for what may come. If ants were readers, I bet they’d have the whole Bible memorized in no time. Ants are great role models.

To start your new school year off right, watch the ants. Consider getting an ant farm and making it a family project to learn from them. Let them teach you about preparation, teamwork, and perseverance.

Single ant: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/136602

Ant friends: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/885548

~written by Sherri

Jul 092013
 

Have you ever tried to make a cake and you don’t have all the ingredients necessary? You start to improvise and what results usually isn’t something desirable. It may be tasty, but it’s not what you intended.

Recently, I tried to make a cinnamon crumb cake. Instead of using butter, I decided to go lower fat and use margarine. We’ve been trying to use butter around here for health reasons, but this one time I thought it would be fine to substitute.

Well, what happened to the cake I made was that instead of a crumbly cinnamony filling inside of it, I got a cinnamon swirl because of the oil content of the margarine. A few days later I made the cake with butter instead. The difference was not in the taste so much but definitely in how it looked and felt in your mouth. A crumbly crunchy treasure instead of a creamy swirl. 1051029_93881906

If you take all the ingredients that you’d use to make a cake and look at them individually, very few of them are tasty by themselves. No one wants to eat shortening or drink vegetable oil. “Yuck” is what you would say if you put a spoonful of flour into your mouth. The same goes for vanilla extract or any other kind of extract or raw eggs. They are simply gross by themselves. Sugar and salt are flavorful but you surely wouldn’t sit and eat them by themselves in large quantities. And cinnamon doesn’t have near the flavor it does alone as it does when it’s mixed with sugar.

If you don’t follow the instructions for a recipe, sometimes ingredients get mixed in too soon and certain things don’t mesh and the recipe can fail. Here’s a Pinterest example.

So what does this have to do with life?

Well, recently at our church we had message about the ingredients that make up our lives. Certain ingredients are not particularly tasteful or easy to swallow. Some are ones we’d prefer to leave out all together. Sometimes we rush things and put ingredients into our lives before it’s time to do so. Sometimes we avoid adding them at all. What results is not what was intended by the Master Chef in our lives.

Would I have wanted to experience several job losses over the years? The losses of loved ones we’ve had? The medical bills and car repairs that have left us flat broke? The multiple rejections I’ve received from publishers and the wait I still must go through? No! By nature, since I’m human, I’d really only want to experience the good things in life. I’d want a beautiful cake without having to put in the ingredients that aren’t so tasty by themselves.

But the truth is: these things in life are what make us who we are. They are what prepare us for the ministry opportunities God has for us. We are all individuals and even though many things in our lives may parallel with others, we’re unique and created for a unique purpose. So the experiences I’ve been through have given me material to write about and speak about and they have given me what I need to be able to help others through similar situations.

The pastor who preached this message left us with a question: Will you be a victim or a vessel?

file000948151574 Like it says in Proverbs 25:4, “Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel.” When these undesirable ingredients (not so good by themselves) get mixed into our lives and we allow God to teach us the lesson he has for us and to burn away the things that don’t need to stay there, we allow Him to do great things with us. To make us into beautiful masterpieces. We become vessels of testimony instead of victims of our circumstances.

We become beautiful Bride’s cakes for the biggest Wedding of all!

So what kind of cake do you want to bake today?

Cake: morguefile.com

Ingredients: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1051029

~written by Sherri

Making It All Count

 Posted by on June 20, 2013  2 Responses »
Jun 202013
 

In October, premature twin boys were born to some of our friends. These babies were not expected to live but after surgeries and a lot of intervention, they have now turned seven-months-old and are doing wonderfully! 661479_87264747 In the past month and a half, I have been to one 80th birthday celebration and to two funerals (one of a thought-to-be-healthy seven-week-old infant and one of a 19-year-old girl). In a few weeks, my grandmother will turn 101 years old.

My church just moved into its first official building after spending several years of moving around from schools to movie theaters. We kicked off the move-in with our first women’s event. We called it Laughter & Lattes. A night of worship and games and laughter was enjoyed by all who came. Many made the commitment to work together and live in community with one another. Soon after the event, a lady in our church lost her brother to his year-long battle with cancer. We came together as a church body and loved on them with food, phone calls, cards, and time spent with them encouraging them.

One thing is for certain: we are never guaranteed another day on this earth.

Another thing is for certain: sometimes we live longer than we can ever imagine possible.

Aunt Dot's Birthday 084 When someone can live to be 80 or even 101 years old and yet an infant dies and a young girl with her whole life ahead of her passes suddenly from an asthma attack, yet an older gentleman wastes away for a year with cancer, your mind ponders a lot of things. It begins to ask what the purpose is of life. What can I do to make the most of mine while I am here on this earth—whether it is seven weeks or 101 years? Why have I waited so long to begin this quest?

A third thing is now clear to me: Death and life do not make sense without God.

When I came home from the funeral of the 19-year-old, (who was my son’s friend and the daughter of my husband’s fishing buddy) I hugged my son. I told him how much I love him. This is kind of big around our house because he’s not a touchy-feely kind of person. To my satisfaction, I discovered he didn’t seem to mind this expression of my love for him. You see, this past year, on top of the death of his friend, one of his best friends lost his mother suddenly, and his worship pastor, whom he worked directly under at church, was killed tragically. My son has learned something at a young age: Life is too short not to take advantage of every opportunity you have to let others know how much you love them.

786704_76075416I have never been very good at this. And I’ve especially never been very good at showing my thankfulness to others for things they have done for me or my sympathy for their current situation by sending cards, tokens, letters, hugs, smiles, and meals their way. But I am getting better at it because I realize how quickly life passes before our eyes and how we are never guaranteed to have another day with someone we love. In August, it will be twenty years since my mother passed away suddenly. It has been four years since we almost lost our daughter in a car accident. Since the first of the year, my husband has been very ill and we have just recently gotten the diagnosis—sleep apnea. Praise the Lord it did not end his life as it ended my mother’s and the mother of my son’s friend.

God has ordained our days (Psalm 139:16). He knows us from the womb (Psalm 139:13). He created all life (Genesis 1). He has a purpose for us (Jeremiah 29:11). He desires for us to love one another and to lead others closer to Him (Romans 12:10). That is the purpose of life. 708892_47743402 Regardless of what your individual purpose is—to be a wife and mother, writer, musician, artist, accountant, deacon, preacher, gardener or TV anchorperson—the main purpose is to love God and love His people. To bring everyone together in community and to Him.

Our days are drawing to an end on this earth. Eventually we all will pass on or at least we’ll expire when Jesus returns. Make it a habit to let everyone know how special they are to you.

Baby: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/661479

My grandmother: http://www.kaylajohnsonphotography.com/

Friend: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/786704

Sky with heart: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/708892

~Written by Sherri

Inspiring Purity in Your Teens

 Posted by on May 16, 2013  No Responses »
May 162013
 

As homeschool parents, one of the things we tend to do well is protect our kids. We watch over them and guide them along life’s journey fervently. It is of utmost importance to us to protect the purity of our children. We want to spare our kids from some of the things we experienced and participated in as teens, and we want to shield them from the deceptions that are in the media. This is not to create a bubble around them so that they can’t relate to the world, but to insulate them with truth so that they may be able to withstand pressure from their peers and the world.

Sherri-Wilson-Johnson-button I am a columnist for Choose Now Ministries. I just finished a series on inspiring purity in our teens and I’d like to share a little of that series with you. This part of the series I am going to share was written to parents, like you, who want to help guide their children on the path of purity, whether homeschooled or not.

Using the word PURITY as an acronym, I outlined steps parents could take to accomplish their goals.

Let’s start with P. It’s a privilege we have as parents to offer protection to our teens. Not protection in the way the world means it. I’m not talking about birth control or STD prevention here. I’m talking about the wonderful blessing we have as parents to act as God acts with us.

It says in Psalm 91:4, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

P is for the privilege we have to offer protection.

There are a lot of words that start with U. You might be surprised at how many there are. I spent some time in my thesaurus looking for the perfect word to focus on for the letter U in Purity and was unable to narrow it down to one. So I focused on six U words/concepts.  sxc.hu-photo-1209460

Unified – Umbrella – Unending love and support – U-turns — User-friendly – Unlock the potential!

Find out more about the six U’s of inspiring purity.

We can’t stop our teens from going down the wrong path. But we sure can put up road blocks, detour signs, caution lights, and bright beacons to light the correct way. This is a lot of work but not near the work it will be to go back and try to fix things once the damage has been done. It’s our responsibility as parents to inspire purity in our teens.

R is for responsibility. . .to inspire purity. (Read More)

As parents, we must retain sexual integrity (and integrity in general) so we can help our teens live lives full of it.  I is for integrity! Here are three tips for maintaining sexual integrity.

You may not know it but spending time with your teens can change their lives. Your values rub off on them the more you spend quality time together. You influence them to live upright lives. This time enhances your life, too, because you feel connected to them like you did when they were little.

T is for treasuring time with your teens. It is a step to inspiring purity in them.

Whether you know it or not you really and truly are the most important person in your teen’s life aside from God—if you let yourself be. “Y” is for You, Of Course!

You can have an impact on the life of your teens and make a difference in the way they view the world around them and how they view themselves. I want to encourage you to press on toward the goal, like Paul spoke of in Philippians 3:14. It’s hard work but when you embrace your parenting days with everything you’ve got and you parent purposefully, you will plant seeds that will grow and become firmly planted—seeds that are not easily uprooted.

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1209460

Apr 092013
 

As homeschool moms, we’re used to taking charge of our households during the day, managing the kids, their schooling, the pets, and the telephone all while juggling a laundry basket on one hip and a laptop on the other. When we finally sit down, we’ve got a school book in one hand and the Bible in the other—trying to improve as a teacher and attempting to live out the walk of the Proverbs 31 woman all at the same time.

1380931_68482931Some days, we’re rockin’ and a’rollin’ like we’ve got super powers and other days we’re hiding in the bathroom hoping no one remembers that there’s supposed to be a wife or mommy in the house. Too often, we try to do it all or at least act like we think we can and inadvertently we get things around the home out of balance. We become of the boss of everything and everyone and then no one wants to help us when we need them.

One relationship that often gets out of whack nearly as easy as your back—and becomes twisted like your neck when there’s a crick in it—is the relationship you have with your husband. When you spend all day bossing (I mean, directing) kids around, it’s kind of easy to do the same thing to your husband when he comes home at the end of the day. It’s sometimes second nature to tell him to pick up his socks or to put his dishes in the sink, just like we’d tell our children. Then when we all of a sudden feel like mommy to not only the kids but to our husbands, as well, we start to blame him and wonder where in the world our manly man we married all those years ago went. We wonder why he won’t step up and be a man.

Just like when your immunity is low and you’re exposed to toxins and viruses and bacteria, forgetting the God-ordained order of your household will cause serious illness in your family and maybe even in the future generations. The best cure for this “disease” and the way to have a happy home is to remember that while we cannot change our pasts, we can direct the future and make a difference. We can make sure our households reflect the Biblical model. 549466_10150920471056213_35500123_n

How can you show your husband that he’s “the man” and not your child? How can you make sure you’re not showing your kids (and others) that you’re your husband’s mommy and not his wife?

Respect your husband. Keep your words and attitudes toward him and about him kind, gentle, and loving. Avoid speaking in harsh tones and being condescending to him.

Encourage your husband. Proverbs 16:24 says: “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Tell him how thankful you are that he works hard to provide for your family. Make special time with him without the kids. He wants to feel like a “grown-up” with you. Although words of affirmation from co-workers and bosses mean a lot to a man, those encouraging words spoken by his wife are priceless to him.

Be his helpmeet. Sometimes we do things for our husbands because we think we can do them better than they can. And then we complain because we have to do everything ourselves. Be a helpmeet without doing everything for him. He is a man, after all. He is quite capable of doing things.

408839_10150468673946213_730756276_n Stop complaining. If you complain that you have no help around the house or complain about how he does things, it makes him want to help you less. If he doesn’t know how to do what you need him to do but he desires to help you, then show him how. Tell him how thankful you are when he helps you with the kids and around the house.

Kids will do things halfway so you won’t ask them to do them again. Is your husband doing things halfway? Maybe he’s trying to get out of helping. Maybe he feels like you’ll go behind him and redo it. Let him fold the towels his own way. Believe it or not, there really isn’t a right way to do it. Let him see that his way is okay too and that you appreciate his efforts. Make sure he knows how valuable his help is to you.

Children naturally want to rebel against what mommy tells them to do. They want to play first and do chores or schoolwork last. If you treat your husband like your child he will not want to help you. He will not want to be with you. He will find something to do elsewhere. He won’t feel like a knight in shining armor or superman.

A word of caution: Check your motives before you lavish your husband with words of affirmation and make sure that you are not showing him false respect and pouring empty words out on him just so he will do things for you. Philippians 2:3-4 says: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.Remember a marriage and a family is a team.

As the mother of a girl, I want to exemplify what a Biblical woman is like and I want to show her how she should treat her husband. As the mother of a boy, I need to show him how he should want to be treated. I do not want my daughter to take charge of her husband like she will her children. I do not want my son to buckle underneath the badgering of a strong-willed woman. I want him to be respected in his household by his wife and his children. I want my daughter to be blessed with a man who knows he’s the one who provides for and protects her.

As helpmeets and wives we help our husbands tremendously when we don’t treat them as children. When they know they have a wife who loves them, respects them, honors them, and desires their leadership in their lives, men exemplify God’s original design for them.

Photos: Wedding photo and couple hugging photo courtesy of http://www.kaylajohnsonphotography.com

Milkmaid: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1380931