Thursday, 28 July 2011

It'll Change a Hawk to a Little White Dove

One of the things I like to do in my spare time is to have conversations with myself in my head. Most of the time they are like" where did I put my car keys?" or "how did they get the caramel into those little chocolate pieces?"

Recently though, I thought to myself "if I had to give advice to a new husband, what would I say?" after much thought I sorta came up with this:

The most important thing you need to learn as a husband is how to say, " I love you". One of the most important things you can do, is to say it to your wife...every day.

Sometimes as guys we tend to have a bit of a hard time using this word and it is no surprise because it is one of the most used and abused words in the english language! We tend to think that if we are not feeling in the right mood then it is not appropriate to say because we feel like we are saying something that we don't mean.

The reality is, in general, society tends to give us a screwed up impression of what this word is supposed to mean. You can love your boat, you can love your car, but to love your wife somehow makes you less of a man......IF you choose to believe what the commercials say. The truth is it takes a real man to show love for his wife. And loving your wife, will make you more of a man.

In his book, Love and Responsibility, John Paul II (actually when he wrote it, he was still known as Karol Wojtyla) illustrates in a very lengthy and logical way that the opposite of love is apathy...not hate as many would assume (hate is actually the absence of love, but the absence of a thing is not its opposite because in order to be an opposite of a thing, one must also be a thing...ok brain starting to hurt....just look it up. WARNING, NOT BEDTIME READING!)

In other words, using someone is the opposite of loving them. What gets me is that it seems that it has become more and more acceptable to treat people as objects instead of fellow human beings. Case in point, I remember when "hooking up" just meant meeting someone for coffee....these days you have to be careful who you say that to.

If we take a more scriptural approach, then love is something very different. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Cor 13:4-8a ESV)

As husbands when we look at our wives who do we see? As a christian, the first thing I keep in mind is that she is created in the image and likeness of God (see Gen 1:27)

St Theresa of Avila (a sixteenth century mystic) once wrote:

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world.

As husbands we have the responsibility of being God's voice towards our wives....which means that when we say to our wives, "I love you" it is not only our voice that is speaking, it is also God's. The love of God never ends, and He wants our wives to know that. And He wants to tell them every day. Which is why we need to tell them every day.

And that's what I would tell a new husband....and maybe a few older ones too.


Wednesday, 13 July 2011


I love coffee. I am not going to lie. I REALLY love coffee. Not that I am a coffee snob, I will drink anything from greasy spoon tar to fine espresso....not so much into the Kopi Luwak though.....

But really, there is nothing like a good cuppa joe to get you going in the morning, speaking for myself of course! A good cup of coffee should taste like toasted butter with a hint of bitterness. Some would even go so far to say that a cup of coffee should be experienced, but perhaps those people have slightly more time to ponder these things than I.

I know, I know....there are all sorts of studies that will astound you about the negative effects of caffeine or that tea has more antioxidants blah blah blah blah blah......and yes, at times I have in fact said to myself, "self, what do you think about giving up coffee?" to which I would then reply, "are you talking to yourself again, self? Perhaps it is time for another cup." And really, with seven kids, I think that I am allowed to enjoy a cup or two of a nice fine brew, and I don't mean the lager kind. I don't do decaf.

The thing is, I make most of our coffee at home. We have everything from a french press coffee maker, to a 32 cup percolator that we bring out for parties. We also have three different stovetop espresso makers! (a three cup, a four cup and a six cup) Sometimes I even grind my own beans, but grinding beans at 6:30 in the morning tends to wake the baby....who only got back to sleep at 4...which is pretty counter productive, so usually I just use the pre-ground stuff.

A simple Google search will give you all sorts of instructions as to how to brew the perfect is how I like to brew it in our french press:

Boil water in kettle
Wait 55 seconds after boiling (the National Coffee Association of USA, recommends an optimal brewing temperature of 195-205 F)
Pour over coffee grounds
Let brew for about 4-5 minutes

While the coffee is brewing I like to ponder the bigger questions of the universe like, "I wonder what's going to get flushed down the toilet today" or, how long has that piece of spaghetti been stuck to the ceiling...and who was it that threw it there in the first place?"

By the time I get said piece of pasta off the ceiling my coffee is usually ready to press and prepare. Fixing coffee is a very touchy subject for many one time I must confess that I had rather strong opinions about such things....but these days I am just grateful if I don't need to reheat it in the microwave before I take my first sip.

The thing is, I know that there are a lot of other people who enjoy a good cup of coffee but would rather go out and buy it instead of making it themselves, but have you ever thought about what a cup a day can do?

Here is the math:

Depending on where you live, a medium double double at the local Timmy's runs for about $1.50

(for those of you reading this outside of Canada, Tim Horton's (Timmy's for short) is the name of our local, national coffee chain...and a double cream, double sugar is affectionately known as a "double double"....for those of you ex pats....mmmmm Maple!)

Anyway, two cups of coffee, which most would agree is not an unreasonable daily quota, then equals $3.00.

Multiply that by five (assuming that you don't buy it on the weekend) and that comes to a total of $15 a week.

$15 x 52 weeks = $780 a year on coffee! That is like a months rent for some university students.....who probably still go out for their daily double tall cappuccino extra dry....which by the way costs about three times as much as a double double.

Now to be clear, I am NOT AGAINST buying coffee at the local coffee shop. In fact, I have been known to indulge in the occasional grande mocha frappuccino. But just to throw in a bit of perspective, in the developing world, two and a half weeks worth of coffee shop coffee is enough to purchase 5 fruit trees. Six and a half weeks of double doubles provides access to clean water for a whole family, 8 months will furnish entire classrooms and a year and two months of daily double doubles will build a family a home! (By the way if you are wondering how I figured this out, I didn't. The folks at World Vision did....check out their "gifts that matter" section)

For a TPSI family with seven kids...a year's worth of double doubles pays for a year's worth of dance classes, swimming lessons, piano lessons...not to mention a whole lot of broccoli.


Next weeks post will be late. I'll tell you why later.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Leaps of Faith.......pointing fingers at the moon.

When I was doing my undergrad in Religious Studies I came across an old Buddhist proverb that said, "The finger that points to the moon is not the moon.... But if you want to discover the moon, you need to choose a finger"

This post actually marks a bit of a turning point for this blog!!! One of the reasons I started this blog in the first place was to answer questions regarding how we manage to raise seven kids on a single income without going crazy. Not only that, but to show that with a little creativity, is also possible to afford the FINANCIAL costs of having kids these days AND still have lots of fun in the meantime!

It is probably evident that I have been writing this blog from a Catholic Christian perspective...which just happens to be the finger I have chosen to study the moon (i.e. my relationship with God). I should point out that I approach theology not only from a personal perspective but from an academic perspective as well. Not only did I do my undergrad in Religious Studies, I also worked at a monastery as the coordinator for their youth program....where by the end of it, I had conducted retreats and motivational seminars for over twelve thousand youth aged 13 to 19.

Anyway the thing that tends to get me these days, regardless of religious point of view, is hearing people balk at the prospect of having kids because of the cost. Let's get something clear right off the bat. First, I am NOT making any judgements about the number of children a couple decide to have. Although it seems that many do not seem to hesitate making some sort of judgement towards us for having so many kids. Second, there is a BIG difference between choosing not to have kids for health or medical reasons and choosing not to have kids for financial reasons.

So this year we are embarking on a journey....perhaps a year long, perhaps even longer.

As of this post, I am beginning a year of parental leave, essentially cutting my income in half, and we have decided to homeschool all the school aged children (four of them are school aged) all the while, with God's grace, making ends meet.

Now just because I choose to believe in God does not meant that I think that bags of money are going to fall out of the sky. You don't have to have a degree in theology to know that God does not exactly work like that. some of you may have read in my discussions with Elrin, when you follow scriptural principles regarding the use (stewardship) of money, God tends to provide funds through ways you don't expect.....especially when you follow the principles of tithing.

One of the things I have mentioned in my offline discussions with Elrin, is that there is an order to charitable giving. What that means is that scripturally speaking, there are levels of charity, the highest being: feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked and sheltering the homeless....(corporal works of mercy anyone?)

That is not to say that giving a few bucks to a kid who is raising funds for a school trip to the zoo is not a good thing, it is just not in the same category as donating funds for building a well in Africa. (raising funds for the school trip falls under a different category of charity....called financial blessing....which I will talk about later)

Having said that, some of you may have noticed the donate button on the top right hand corner of this blog. For most bloggers, this is one of the ways that they generate income from their work. However, we have decided to REVERSE TITHE any income that comes to us through this blog. Here is how it works: Tithing, scripturally speaking, means setting aside the first fruits of your labour to God....right off the top. The exact amount is 10% no more, but more importantly, no less.

Reverse tithing is giving the first 90% of every dollar to God, leaving the last 10% for us. So by donating to this blog, you will not only be helping us make ends meet, but 90% of every dollar you give is going to go towards an organization that feeds the hungry, gives drink to the thirsty, clothes the naked and gives shelter to the homeless....and no I don't mean us, although we are going to put some of the 10% towards funding a mission trip sometime in the future.

Another thing to look for in the next coming weeks are books that I will recommend on amazon! There are so many good resources out there, not just about managing your household finances but also about being able to communicate better and getting the most out of life! Once I figure out how to get the button thingy onto the side bar it shall be done. Just so you know, I NEVER recommend anything I have never read and by the way, if I have time to read them then so do you!!!

So that is about it for now; be sure to tune in for more adventures in this Leap of Faith year! By the way, if God decides to send us a reality TV series, we would not say no, but I can assure you that we are most definitely NOT like John and Kate....and that probably wouldn't make for good TV......

Maybe YouTube.

Join us next week where you will hear TiPSI Dad say...."Don't use the toilet brush for your hair......THAT IS NOT PLASTICINE!!!!!!!!"