Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Journey of Prayer - Drawing Near to God

"The number one personal need of all women surveyed was that they would grow spiritually and have a deep, strong, vital, life-changing, faith-filled walk with God." -Stormie Omartian, The Power of a Praying Woman, 27

As a few of you may know, this week I have begun anew the study on the Power of Prayer. As a guide, I am using Stormie Omartian's book The Power of a Praying Woman. Prayer is the one area in my personal Christian walk that I struggle. It isn't that I don't understand the importance of prayer - I do! It isn't that I don't have the faith in those prayers being answered - I do! And I am great at the "popcorn" prayers, you know, the onces that just pop up throughout your day as you are doing your daily tasks - and that is a good thing! But I lack that quality time, set aside for deep, intimate prayer.

I will be totally honest with you. I think that my great faith in who God is is somewhat the hinderance to my prayers. I believe that he can do anything and do anything and that he will do that which will be according to his plans and purpose. So why should I pray? If I know God can heal that person, and will heal that person if he desires, what does my prayer have to do with it? I know that this thinking is wrong, but that is what I struggle with. What we all need to realize is that prayer is not so much for that person or thing, or for God, as it is for us.

Prayer is our alone time with God. Husbands and Wives need alone time to reconnect, rekindle the flame, share their hearts with one another. Parents and children need alone time to open up, get to know the real person inside, discuss any life situations going on. That is what we need with our God as well! We need time with him to reconnect, rekindle the flame, share our hearts, get to know him better and discuss what is going on in our lives with him. It is about being a woman who knows her God.

So as we begin this prayer journey together, there are a few things we need to do to begin -

Make the commitment to do what it takes. Don't let your busy life keep you from that which will fill you up and sustain you for everything else.

Set aside a time and place. Make your prayer time just like a meeting or outing with any other person. And be there! No excuses!

Spend this first day getting to know God. Learn the different names for God that there is in the Bible and what each of those mean to you. Learn who he is to his people. (Psalms is a good place to start!)

Comment below on what this time of prayer would mean to you? What is your deepest prayer need? What is it that hinders your prayer life?

I am so excited to start this with you! Thank you for joining me!

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." --James 4:8

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hey, Jude!

I feel like it has been so long since I have written on here. Our family has been going through a lot of trials lately, plus a lot of summer travel, and well, after a while I figure people don't want to hear anymore about it! I know I'm tired of it! But last night, I got inspiration.

Ok, don't laugh. So I was watching the Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies last night. It was supberb and we made a family event of it. I love that it is in London this year. If you didn't watch it, well, it closed with legendery Paul McCartney singing "Hey, Jude."

Now you see where I am going with this? I said don't laugh. This prompted me to read the book of Jude this morning. It is an easy, one-sitting read. This is my take on the book.

Don't be fooled. (Jude 1-16) There are many people out there that have rebelled against the word of God and many who try to pursuade those in the church away from the truth. Don't let that happen! It is so easy to allow our own wants and desires to blind us from what is truly happening. Let's take Germany, pre-WWII for example. The citizens were suffering so much from a depression that they were desperate for a better life - one offered by Hitler. Hitler gained his power because the people were too blind to the truth until it was too late.

"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."

Don't give in. (Jude 17-25) Sometimes we feel like giving up. We know that God's standard is perfection and we know that we are not perfect. No matter how hard we work and strive, we are not perfect. But listen to this quote from C.S. Lewis:

The command 'be ye perfect' is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. -Mere Christianity

That is what Jude is trying to express to us:

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - Jude 24

We must love others, even the non-believers. We must build relationships with them and we must show them God's love. However we must not give in to our temptations to sin. We must not be persuaded by false teachings or media bias or whatever other influences are around us. Christ is our perfection, if we remain in him through faith.

Here is a quote from yet another great British man, Winston Chruchill:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Pursuit

Every relationship needs a little pursuit - from both sides! Oftentimes we as women assume that it is our husband's job to pursue us. He should buy us dinner, flowers, do the dishes, rub our feet, smell nice, write us letters and give us chocolate in pursuit of our love. Yes, and YES! He should! That is definitely part of it! But that is not all of it. Our husbands' male ego sensors have not been turned off just because we put a ring on his finger!

Men want to know that they are attractive enough for a woman to come on to them. They want to know that there is something about them that will make a woman lure him to her. He wants a woman to pursue him, to take the initiative and do whatever it takes to make him happy and make him want her - because she wants him. Make sure that woman is you.
Let's look at some scripture to back this up. I have been reading through Song of Solomon this week, and here is what I have found - passage, after passage of two lovers who are equally enamoured with one another and equally seeking each other:

He is in pursuit:
My beloved spoke and said to me,“Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. - Song of Songs 2:10

She is in pursuit:
I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.  Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages. - Song of Songs 7:10-11

And these are the tame verses I have pulled out. There is passage after passage of passionate, intense pursuit and longing after one another. (Hey, the Bible can be quite scandalous, if you didn't know!)

What is so beautiful about all of this, beyond the beauty of this love story, is that this is also the love story that God has planned out for us with Him. He pursues us, yes, but passage after passage reveals to us a God who is jealous, who desires for his people to seek after (pursue) him in an intimate way!

“In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master. - Hosea 2:16

For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. - Deuteronomy 4:24

Today, make the effort to pursue your husband. Pursue each other! And in the center of it all, come together to pursue God with a devouring passion!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Handcrafted Inspiration

I know you all have just been dying to find out what projects we accomplished today on our second day of Project Week!  I decided to focus today on the tedious little projects, the handcrafted stuff. Here's what I ended up with:

1) Handcrafted Monogram frame for Dad's birthday

Easy to do!
What I used:  decorative frame (bought at dollar store on sale for $1.50!!), piece of cardboard to fit glass, gold tissue paper, fine paintbrush, paint, glue
What I did:  I just layered the cardboard with the tissue paper. Only put the glue around the edge or it will wrinkle the paper. Paint the letter onto the tissue paper (I google-image search for the letter to find nice calligraphy letters to replicate) Put into the frame when it is dry! EASY!

2) A remake of my daughters Proverbs 31 mirror: I made this for her pre-school graduation a couple of years ago, but it broke. I promised her a new one and here it is:

What I used: mirror (any will do), fine paintbrush, acrylic paint, Modpodge
What I did: I hand painted Proverbs 31:30 on the mirror (Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.) The first time I did this project, this is all I did. However, this time I coated it with Modpodge to make it easier to clean. Not sure I am completely happy with the finish of the Modpodge...

3) This next one was dear to my heart. While I was pregnant with each of my children, I challenged myself to learn a passage of scripture during the nine months. I memorized a good chunk of Psalm 119 with my daughter, and then all of Hebrews 11 with my son. Based on these, I chose a "life verse" for each of them. When they graduate from Preschool and become "big kids", I frame their verse for their rooms. I then give them another special inspirational gift (made by Mommy!) to go along with it. My daughters was the original of the mirror above.
My son loves animals and cowboy stuff. So, for my son's special gift, I took some old pictures of my dad (his Grampy) when he was young and used to be a bull-rider. I put them in matted frames and wrote inspirational quotes on each matting.

I made three like this. One had the arena quote by Theodore Roosevelt, one had Joshua 1:9, and the above one had the character quote by Thomas Paine. I can't wait for my dad to see these!

So that is what I accomplished so far today! How about you, friend??

Project Week Task #1

Schedule Solutions for the Homeschool Room

Monday, July 9, 2012

Project Week begins!

When life gives you lemons, well, let's face it - it's been over 100 degrees outside everyday for weeks now, we all know we'd be rejoicing for those lemons -and we'd make lemonade! As I've shared, we've recently been dealt some lemons of our own, but it is times like these that make us realize the important things in our life. It is also a great reminder that we are not alone and that we are always dependent on God's provision. One of my favorite proverbs is Proverbs 30:8b-9 (NIV):

Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, "Who is the Lord?" Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

God has graciously gotten us through this time and I am happy to say that I have caught up on everything that was so far behind! I am now ready to move forward again! At the beginning of this summer I made a long list of things that I wanted to get done over the summer, you know, while we weren't busy with school and the normal youth gatherings, etc. With visits to family, the fair, mission trips and unexpected adventures, I have accomplished very few of these tasks. This week, however, my husband is gone to camp for a week and it is just the kids and I - with no other obligations! Therefore, I am going to dedicate this whole week to accomplishing things on my list!

I will keep you posted on my accomplishments! We will call this week Project Week! Feel free to share what projects you are accomplishing this week and a link to your post on it if you have one! We will encourage each other on toward our summer tasks, before summer is gone!

So welcome to Project Week!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Princess!

Today is my daughter's birthday. She is turning six years old! I am so proud of her. She is beautiful, inside and out. On her birthday, I always find myself faced with these questions:

1) Does she have any idea how much I love her?

2) Am I training her (especially by example) to be a godly woman?

I am not sure if these are typical questions, but they are always mine! So as I get ready to go off and decorate a table, pick up a cake and love on a very beautiful girl, I want to leave you with a little encouragement, Mom.

You are doing a great job! If you are loving God with everything that you are and you are selflessly living in order to raise your girl and teach her to obey God, then you are doing everything right, dear friend! Mistakes are just good opportunities to teach her how to handle life. Face everything with a loving, patient spirit and trust that God will mold her into exactly who he wants her to be!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

True Freedom

In honor of our country's Independence Day, I wanted to write about freedom. There are so many things we could discuss in regards to this topic, but the past few days that I have had have led me to want to share about our freedom in Christ. In the United States of America, we celebrate, and hopefully hold dearly to, those freedoms that allow us to make our own choices, especially in regard to our religion. This is a blessing! Not every Christian enjoys these freedoms, though. However the Bible talks about freedom that we all find in Christ. Let's begin with Romans 6:16-21:

"Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey —whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."

Let me tell you a little about what's going on at my house. You know that old saying, "when it rains, it pours?" Yes, it's pouring around here! Last week, in one day, we had our hot water heater go out, our dishwasher stop running, the dryer will only run half a cycle and to top it all of beautifully,  a screw slipped on my computer when I closed it and the whole things snapped in half. Problem being, we don't make a whole lot of money to fix things all at once like this! Our landlord (love him!) replaced the hot water heater and we decided that our top priority (given how much of our ministry is done via online media - teens!) was our computer. So we spent what little savings we had and bought a computer and I resorted to washing dishes by hand. Ok, moving on. You didn't think that was all, did you? So this week the kids and I took our annual trip to St. Louis to site see with my sister (there are great free family things to do around that area!) The last day there I made a horrifying discovery: the kids and I had lice. I have no clue where it came from, but we had it bad. Therefore, I had to use the remainder of our regular savings to buy all of the treatments, sprays, etc, in order to rid ourselves of this plague! In the process of getting everything in the house washed with hot water to decontaminate, our washing machine broke. No, I am not kidding. So, my dear husband (who was my knight in shining armor this week, by the way!) and I had to break into our anniversary savings money to get a new washer. See, my daughter was born on our first anniversary, so we decided then that we would save money each year instead of celebrate, and every 5 years we would do something grand! Washing machines were not in that plan.

I guess what I am getting at is this: while we are blessed to live in the US and experience numerous freedoms, we are not free from life. We are not free from struggles and burdens and worries. The freedom that we have is the freedom to choose. We are free to choose whether these circumstances are going to get the best of us. We have the freedom to choose whether to focus on these things or to look outside ourselves for opportunities to continue the work for the Kingdom. We have the freedom to choose to wallow in hopelessness and self-pity or to rely on the never-failing faithfulness of God to supply every need. We have freedom from sin, which means no matter what the situation, we can choose God and in the end we will receive eternal life with him because of that freedom.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. -- John 8:36

Borrowed from beamerfilms.com

Here's a little something I have learned from these trying times in my life - think about Job. Satan doesn't give you the time of day if he doesn't think you are worth it. But if he thinks there is some value to steering you off course, then he will give it his all. That means, that in times like these, take it as a compliment: 1) that God would find you trustworthy of such trials and 2) that Satan thinks you are worth coming after. Don't let him win. Let him throw at you whatever he will, but keep your eyes locked on Christ Jesus and focus only on what you can do to glorify him. Claim the victory of this battle and rely on Christ to be your strength.