Monday, April 30, 2012

Say "Cheese!"

I had an incredible weekend at the Homeschool Conference this past weekend and walked away with many truths that I stored in my heart.  It was truly a weekend that filled my cup. Over the next few posts, I will share some of them with you.  Today, I want to share with you a lesson that I was reminded of.  It is a very simple one.  Smile.

One of the speakers pointed out that our children want nothing more than to know that we are proud of them or that we love them.  Don't have children?  That's ok.  This lesson will still be applicable for you because we all want to feel appreciated, loved and validated.  The easiest way to make our children or others feel this way is to smile.

How often have you smiled today?  Have you been so burdened by your chores, your job, your finances, your relationships, that when your children approach you they are greeted with a frown? a scowl? a sigh? or maybe even a push away ("go play. Mommy's busy.")?  Oh, how this simple lesson pierced my heart!

You have right now with them. The problems will never go away, but your babies will! Do you want them to feel like they have to perform or achieve a certain way for you to smile and delight in them? They should feel like their very presence in your life brings you joy, delight...or at least a smile to your face!

My challenge to you today, dear sister, is to smile.  Smile at your children.  Smile at your husband.  Smile at others around you.  You will find that this simple act of smiling will actually result in changes within you.  It has for me!  I can't smile and respond bitterly.  I can't smile and refuse to get up and interact with my kids.  I can't smile and get frustrated at them for doing the same thing for the 506th time.  When I smile, I react differently.  When I smile at my husband while he is telling me about our problems, I am validating him and the choices he is making.  It causes me to hold back my "two cents" and support his choice.  When I smile at my children, they know that I love them unconditionally.  They know that they can be exactly who they are and I will love them and delight in them!  When I smile, I show that the joy of the Lord really is in my heart!

I can't tell you how this works, but I know it does! So say, "Cheese!"

To read more about my weekend at the Homeschool Convention click here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Everyday Miracles

I sometimes call them "a God thing" and sometimes I use the old fashioned word miracle. We don't hear the term miracle as often today. Is it that they don't happen as often, or that we aren't giving them the credit they deserve? I wanted to write a little bit today about miracles, answered prayers, wake-up know, those God things, because I have been face to face with several of these the last few weeks. Miracles come in all sizes and shapes, and I want to share a few with you! I think that as Christian moms, trying to do all and be all, we can overlook the small miracles in our lives. I hope that this will help you see that they are all around us, so that you may wake up to the glorious wonder of the miracles in your own life!
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. --Job 5:9
Over a week ago:  My husband's nephew went to the hospital. He had a severe blood problem - his platelet count and white blood cell count were dangerously low. They thought he could have leukemia. We prayed and prayed that this would not be the case. He is now home and has been diagnosed with what is known as ITP, a serious disorder, but one that is controllable. It is a miracle for our family that he is able to be with us, home, and able to control what is wrong - that he doesn't have leukemia.

Monday:  There was a bill due for $300.  I had no way to pay it.  That day, my husband received a check for a side job he had done for $350.  I paid the bill.  This is not the first time one of these small financial miracles has happened to me...

Wednesday:  I sat on her front porch, looking at this beautiful woman holding her 6 day old baby boy in her arms and listening to her pour out her story to me.  I was awestruck with what this woman had been through in her life. Years before, she had experienced things that no one should experience, things that led her to attempt to take her life.  The doctors could not explain to her how it was that she could talk, move...or be alive.  It was a miracle.  It led her to believe in God and give her life to Christ.  I was sitting here listening and looking at the picture that miracles still happen.

Thursday:  I got to hold my dear friends' hours old baby in my arms in the hospital room.  She was beautiful.  I was reminded of my own babies' births.  I looked at her tiny little nose and fingers.  Each time I moved she would crinkle up her nose and whine!  I was holding a precious miracle in my hands and loving every minute of it!

Friday:  Thinking about the homeschool convention next weekend.  I don't know where I am going to get the money to buy our curriculum there.  That morning, I get the state refund check for the exact amount of money that I need. Then, my husband calls and lets me know that the $300 bill (see Monday above) was already paid somehow and we get to keep our $300.  I cry my eyes out.  How does this always happen to us?  Everyday miracles is what they are.

These are those that stuck out to me just this past week!  I know that there were plenty more mixed in there as well!  I believe that our days are saturated with miracles everywhere we turn.  I also know that our days are sometimes filled with pain, unanswered prayers, a 'lack' of miracles.  During these times it is hard to understand why things happen or to open our eyes, which are filled with tears, to the miracles around us. It is at that time that there is only one miracle that we need to be aware of...that we are safely held in God's arms until we are through our valley.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.--Psalm 77:11
Open your eyes today to the many everyday miracles around you.  Take time out of your busy schedule to notice! Give God the credit for them that He deserves.  Don't credit science, coincidence, or luck.  It's a God thing.  Let your cup be filled knowing that God is showering you with His blessings and His miracles!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nothing But a Tent Peg?

Have you ever read the story of Jael? Her story can be found in Judges chapter 4. Many people skim over it either because it is so short, or because they don't know what to make of it. Here's my thoughts on it. See what you think and then share your take!
In this Chapter we find Israel under the control of King Jabin of Canaan. To make a long story short, God leads the Israelites to victory against King Jabin’s commander, Sisera, and his army. When Sisera saw that they were losing he fled to the tent of Heber the Kenite because Heber was neutral during this war. Heber was actually a cousin to the Israelites, and under normal circumstances would ally with them, however, it seems he sold out to the side he thought most likely to win. His wife Jael did not, however. When Sisera arrived, Jael invited him in, gave him a drink, and covered him up (vs. 18-20). And when Sisera was asleep, Jael found a tent peg and hammer (common things to have for those who lived in tents!) and, in verse 21, “she drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.” She took matters into her own hands and destroyed the enemy.
Now this may be an extreme action, however we can learn a lot from Jael. She could not change the fact that she was a woman and could not fight in the battle against this army. She could not change her husband’s allegiance to the side she knew God was on. She was probably overcome with anger when Sisera showed up at her door asking for refuge. But instead of dwelling on all of these things that she had no control over, she seized the opportunity to do what she could do. She could catch this enemy unaware and destroy him. And she did.
We must not be afraid to do what we can. We must not allow Satan to keep us so beat down that when the opportunity to do good comes along we completely miss it. We must keep our eyes open, and our hearts focused. Instead of feeling sorry for the position we are in, let us focus on the blessings and gifts that we have been given and put them to good use for His kingdom!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday's Fun Family Time Tip #6: Spring Time Joys

Ok, so last weekend was Easter. You are worn out and still playing catch up on your chores. If you are like me, you also started your Spring Cleaning! Tonight's Family Night may not be highest on your priority list! No problem! The great thing about family nights is that as long as you are together, it is making memories and building those essential family bonds! So here are some things that I do to create those family moments even when I am overwhelmed with my "to dos." The main idea is to celebrate those Spring Time Joys!

1) During your busy work day of Spring Cleaning, set "break" times (I try to break at 10, 12, 2, etc). During these breaks, give your kids your FULL attention. Have a snack. Play a short game of cards. Do a craft or activity like play-dough or beads. Make sure they know that even though you are busy, your time with them is still precious!

2) Play "while you are working" games. Play word games or have your kids read to you or tell you jokes. You are working, but that doesn't mean they can't be there having fun with you. Try focusing your games on Spring Themes.

3) Take time as a family to plant starter seeds for your garden. Or do another spring project like building a bird house or preparing your mini-farm for this springs fair animals. Clean out a closet or room together. These projects can be fun with good attitudes and positive direction for you kids!

Spring is here! Celebrate with them! Whatever you decide to do, add a fun project and creative snack or meal to top off the theme!

Here is a cute idea my sister did for Easter (and I know you all have left over hard-boiled eggs from last Sunday!):

Here's the easy recipe:
Hard boiled eggs
food coloring

Carefully peel the eggs. Cut them in half. Put the yolks together in a bowl. Fill four other bowls with different colors of food coloring and about 1 cup of water. Place the egg whites into the different colors and allow them to sit and "get colored." Mix together the egg yolks, mayonaise, a TBS or more of curry and dash salt (to taste!). It should be a creamy texture. Remove the egg whites from the coloring and let them dry. Then fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture and yo uhave a great Spring Time Treat!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I am in the midst of Spring Cleaning, so cleaning - good, thorough scrubbing - is on my mind. That is why the following verse stood out to me as I read the book of Joel this morning (it's a whole three chapters and worth the read!).
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. --Joel 2:13
I often think in terms of cleaning my heart, even spring cleaning it, but the use of the word rend speaks to me more than just a simple cleaning. We know that Jesus Christ, by His blood shed on the cross, washes our hearts clean from sin. But what is this rending? I believe it is speaking of the Holy Spirit's sanctification of our lives. It is a deep scrubbing, to the point of tearing, of the heart. Rending. It is the type of cleaning that sometimes hurts. It's the type of cleaning that is necessary if we are to become holy vessels for God's Work. It's the type of cleaning that may require change - change of attitude, change of habit, change of lifestyle.

Are you going through this type of rending of your heart? Praise Him! He is perfecting you! I encourage you today to stay strong through the things in your life that you may be going through and to use them to rend your heart and return you to the Lord your God. And if you have been through these types of trials and are now on the other side, then Joel has a word for you as well!
Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors? Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. --Joel 1:2b-3
Share your story, share your life!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Cleaning Your Spiritual Dwelling Place

Yes, it is that time of year again. Time to open up the windows, clean out the closets, and wash behind every dresser and in every corner! I love it and I hate it! I love the outcome, but hate the process. I know, however, that this is one of those times when I am challenge in my "profession." This is the big week of the year to really put my all into being a work-at-home mom! I am doing it much earlier this year than usual because I want to donate my things to our church's yard sale to support, it has begun!

As I was scrubbing and rinsing and vacuuming and organizing today, my mind was wandering as usual, and I began to wonder how often we "spring clean" our spiritual homes? Ephesians 2:22 tells us:
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
WE are the dwelling place for God's Spirit! Are we keeping up with our spiritual dwelling place? There are so many ways that we could evaluate and tackle this task. Are we displaying the fruits of the Spirit? (Galatians 5:22-23) Have we rid ourselves of worldly things and clothed ourselves with righteousness? (Colossians 3) Are we being godly woman as lined out in Titus 2?
My challenge to you would be to find a passage of Scripture that lines out what your desire for your spiritual dwelling is, and then focus on ways that you can take those steps to making it that place! Whether it is a change in lifestyle or just an attitude adjustment, it is the time of year for spring cleaning, so let's get the job done! Are you with me?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Just Think

If any of you have (or have had) a little boy living in your house, you probably get a pretty good image when I say, "missing the mark." It doesn't matter how many times I gently coax him to "point at the hole at the bottom," when he is in a hurry to get back outside to play, I get left with yet another toilet seat to clean.
The literally meaning of the word "sin" is "missing the mark," as in an archer missing his target with his arrow. It is not an intentional veering from God's word (transgression), but an accidental mistake - one we make without thinking. That is what I want to talk about today - not thinking. Why aren't we using our brains a little bit more? When we make decisions in our lives, why do we not think about what God would think of that decision?

This image was "borrowed" from Facebook :)
We buy an outfit that is totally in style and accentuates our womanly curves wonderfully...without thinking whether or not it is modest or causing a brother in Christ to stumble.

We strive and wear ourselves out to have great, wonderful homes, cars, furniture, clothes...without thinking where else that money could go or how much time we are missing from our families.

We label things as culturally acceptable without seeking out God's heart in the matter.

I could go on and on. I believe that the majority of sin that Christian women stumble into is completely and utterly accidental, missing the mark. I believe that what happens is we get so caught up in our daily lives and culture that we just don't take the time to really think about it. We don't think about God's word and we don't think about the others out there with less priveledged lives than ours. 

How many of you have a favorite movie, show, or book? I bet you can name every character, remember every scene, and possible even recount specific details of the story or background information on the filming or actors. How much time did it take you to acquire that type of information? Do you spend the same amount of time pouring over Scripture, learning every character, every scene, specific details of the story and background information on the text? If not, why not? If you were to put that effort into learning God's Word inside and out, you would be able to learn the Heart of God. I believe that is one of the reasons the books of the Law are in the Old Testament, so that we can learn God's heart for his people, what he desires of us and how he wants us to live. Now the Old Covenant has passed away and we are saved through the blood of Jesus Christ, but that does not mean that God's heart for us has changed at all.

When making choices in our lives we need to consider Scriptures such as:
"You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own." --Leviticus 20:26
"Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction." --Deuteronomy 7:26
"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." --Jeremiah 1:5
I want to encourage you today to do one simple thing - think. Are your choices holy? Have you allowed any detestable thing into your home? Are you living as one set apart? Dear sister, I ask you to just think.