December 31, 2012

Intentional

That's my word for 2013: INTENTIONAL.  I want to be intentional about all areas of life, hoping to use that to bring glory to God and a change in my heart, my lifestyle, my family, my church, and my community.  This is a huge task and I know it will only be possible with God's strength and guidance. 

I want to be more intentional with a consistent time of prayer and study in the Word.  Up to this point it just happens when it happens.  I don't want that to be the case anymore.  This year I will be studying the book of James as I write the devotions that go with our scripture memory starting in the fall.  Lord, help me to be intentional as I seek You in Your Word and in prayer each day!

I also want to be more intentional as a family as we seek where and who God would have us serve.  Lord, show us those around us who need Your touch and show us how we can be salt and light to our community. 

Also, I want to be more intentional with our finances, to be a good steward with our resources so we can use as much as possible to help others, to love on them and help them see God's truth.  Lord, show us things we can live without so that others can simply live.  Show us people and places that need what we have in excess so we can give them what they need.  Show us places we can go, as individuals and as a family, to share Your truth.

Lord, help us to be intentional with our family.  Help Kevin and I to be always making the most of the teachable moments You give us.  Help us to always be pointing these precious children to You and Your truth! 

Lord, help me to be more intentional with our schooling.  Help me to find ways to declare Your truth and to show them You in everything we study.  Help me to be consistent with our learning and provide fun ways for them to discover this amazing world You created.  Help me to teach them so they can in turn go out and teach others about You and all that You created and have done for Your creation.

Lord, change my heart!  Change me into someone who hungers and thirsts after You!  Change me into someone who desires to be less me and more You!  Help these changes to change my family and all those around me!

December 26, 2012

Completely Incomplete

At the first Christmas Eve service we went to this past Monday I was reminded of one of the greatest promises Christ gives us.

Sitting behind me at the service was a young boy who found his mother dead just a week before.  He was a very handsome and sweet looking young man, yet you could see the sadness in his eyes.  He was very polite, speaking to anyone who spoke to him, but you still could not escape the sadness in his eyes.  Sitting two people away from him was another young man, perhaps about the same age, who has autism.  What a contrast between those two boys.  The second boy was exuding joy and excitement over everyone and everything he saw or had seen in the last few days.  And I couldn't help but think how completely incomplete both were, here on this earth.  And I am no different.  And you are no different. But one day, if these men choose to make Christ their Lord and Master, they will be in Heaven with Him and be completely complete.  And so will I.  And so will all believers!  What a promise!  Thank You, Lord, that no matter the source of our incompleteness, no matter what disability or struggle here on earth, it will one day vanish as we worship at the feet of our Savior in Heaven!  Lord, help me to never lose sight of eternity while living here in the temporal!

(Two great songs from that service that really struck me with those two boys who were sitting behind me!)

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Joy to the World

December 17, 2012

Light 'Em Up-Week 4

Well, I couldn't wait until Friday again this week!  When we delivered our cookies and M&M's in the second week, we met Bonnie.  She is a widow who has MS and lives just 4 or 5 houses down from us.  I wanted bread for dinner, needed an activity for this week, and the recipe made more bread than we could eat in one meal.  So, I decided, without consulting anyone else (yeah, that's how I roll...I am a control freak, after all) we would take Miss Bonnie some bread.  Sophie helped some with the kneading (Ethan wasn't interested!), so it was fun to see how proud she was that she was helping to give something to Miss Bonnie.  It crossed my mind, "You know, I should do a loaf or two of bread each day today this week to give away."  Of course, I knew that this was an unrealistic goal for me (as I am trying to cram 5 days of school into 2 this week--which includes building a volcano to destroy the Ancient Minoan people!!), so if I have time to make more, we'll make more deliveries.  I had intended to put some scripture verses with the bread, but that just didn't happen.  But, clearly, just the fact that we made something for her meant more than I had imagined.

 Lord, continue to keep Bonnie on our heart.  Help us to genuinely care about and love her as though she was part of our family.  Show us how to meet her physical needs so we can show her that You are the only One who can meet hear greatest need-that of a Saviour.  Use this to teach our children the importance of truly and genuinely loving others and putting others first!




December 13, 2012

Yep, That's Right, More Randomness!

Just gonna ramble:
-Believe it or not, I have really enjoyed our Light 'Em Up activities this month!  I don't really think that I could do more than one a week, but what we've done has gone well, and even gotten me out of my comfort zone some!  We still have a long way to go, as individuals and as a family, but God is moving and changing our hearts.  In fact, the other day when I was making the icing for the cookies, as Ethan was licking the beater (don't worry, we were done with it), he looked at me and said, "Mommy, we can use this icing to tell people about Jesus!"  Lord, keep moving!

-I have also really enjoyed the way we are doing Christmas this year.  We cut out most of the gifts for our own family this year.  We wanted to focus on Christ and others, so we did our best to stick to gifts that were needed/or useful, yet still will be enjoyed by the receiver.  Though we didn't make the gifts for our kids, we did make many of the gifts we are giving to the rest of our family.  Man, I have enjoyed that so much!  I have also gotten some help from some amazing ladies.  Again, God is so good to me and I so don't deserve it!

-Finally started reading 7 tonight.  I know God is going to do amazing, crazy, awesome things in me, and hopefully my family, as I read this book and share it with my family.  I don't want to go overboard, but I do want to look at areas where we can get rid of excess in order to give to those truly in need (because, though many times we would like to think of ourselves as in need, we aren't!)  I don't want to "downsize" and "declutter" just for the sake of doing it, I want to replace those things with the habit of thinking of and giving to others.  I truly want the "lack of things" to be a blessing to our family and those we will now be able to love on because of it.  Lord, move in a mighty way.  Let this bring unity and love to each heart in this house!

-I was again reminded this week how hard it is to be obedient when the world and church members around us just don't "get it."  I mean, so often I am so much more concerned with what people will think of me for the decisions I make than I am about being obedient and doing the will of my Father.  It's just so silly, yet so hard to break out of that "people pleaser" mentality.  Lord, help me to hear Your call, and obey immediately and whole-heartedly, even if no one else goes with me or understands or even if the whole world thinks I am crazy.  Help me to choose to see your example versus the blank stares or accusing glances.  Help me to encourage others who choose to obey Your voice, when everyone else around them is criticizing. 

Lord, do amazing things.  Remind me that You alone want us to have life more abundantly, and that kind of life can only be found in You!

December 11, 2012

Light 'Em Up-Week 3

We did our project a little early this week and had the opportunity to do some of it with some friends!  This week we made and decorated cookies for our mailman.  We got to decorate the cookies with some very sweet friends.  It was really a great time!  We also attached a note with the cookies that shared some of the prophecy about Christ from the book of Isaiah.  The kids were so anxious to get the cookies to the mailman they couldn't focus on anything else.  And the mailman was very surprised to get that little treat!  Lord, thank You for allowing us to live in a country where we can openly do things like this!

Here are some pics of what we did!




December 08, 2012

Light 'Em Up--Week 2

This week we delivered M&M goody bags and cookies to our neighbors.  The M&M bags had a little poem with pieces of the Christmas story in it.  We also made chocolate chip cokies to deliver.  The deliveries were cold, but went well.  We gave out 9 bags of cookies and 11 bags of M&M's.  There were only a few neighbors that weren't home.  Everyone seemed really surprised someone was handing out goodies for free and couldn't help but smile as Ethan felt them need to describe to them exactly what was in the bag (as if they couldn't tell just by looking at it!)  We got to have a really good conversation with a woman just a few houses down.  Pray for Bonnie, she is a widow and has MS, so she doesn't get around well.  Hoping we can perhaps develop a relationship with her and be able to help her some. 


 Here is the M&M portion of the treats...step by step.

 
We also gave some cookies!
 
Getting ready to head out to give the neighbors their cookies!


December 01, 2012

Light 'Em Up-Week 1

Well, we survived our first Light 'Em up activity!  Yesterday we went through our closets and toy bins to give away things that we didn't need or that no longer fit.  It went pretty well.  The kids were reluctant at first, but we were able to have a really good talk about how everything we have comes from God and that He wants us to be good stewards of what He gives us.  If we don't use something or can't wear something, but someone else could, then being a good steward, we should pass that along so others can be blessed.  Ethan never really got fully into the spirit, mainly because he got distracted by every toy we pulled out and started playing with it, but Sophie really did.  It warmed my heart! 


Here are the bags of stuff that we took to Douglass Community Center.  They help people in Hannibal and they are just down the street from us.  The kids helped carry the bags in and everything!



The kids with the bags of stuff.  I guess it helped them sort better being in costume?!?!?

Hopefully next week's project will go just as well!

November 30, 2012

The Curious Savage

This is my one theatrical regret.  The one show I wish I could have been in.  This show just grabbed my heart like none other, and I really don't know why!  We did this show my junior year of college and, since I wasn't cast in it, Mr. K asked me to be assistant director.  I later learned this meant I just did a little of everything and made sure stuff was done and ready on time!  (A role I was born for, right?!?!?)  Anyway, I was at every rehearsal...and at every rehearsal-without fail-I cried.  This plot and the dialogue just got my heart every time.  (Not to mention the fact that the cast was stellar!!!)

I am bringing this up because my Alma Mater opened this show this week and Kevin and I are going tonight to see it.  Now, if you know me, you know that I tear up just walking through the doors of a theatre (thank you, Quarton gene pool), but I know tonight there will be a few extra tears completely unrelated to the show...well...maybe not completely.

When we did this show it was in the spring.  It was the spring before Tim and Amber were to be married.  Now, Amber pretty much stole the whole show and pretty much all she ever said was, "I hate everything in the world!"  But, man, her delivery was spot on every time!  However, I am not sure that Tim ever got to see her amazing performance.  He got a bad sinus infection and was just feeling horrible, so I think, though I may be wrong, that he missed the performances because he was just too sick to be able to make it out.  That might not mean much to you, but, just a few short months later an aneurysm took Tim's life.  In a matter of a few short months he went from being engaged to the love of his life to worshipping at the feet of his Creator.  It happened so suddenly and out of the blue.  None of us were prepared.  Luckily, Tim was! 

Anyway, I guess I just want to say, life is short.  Let people know you love them.  And, just because Lauren Allen will laugh and think it's cheesy, (and you'll have to go see the show to understand this line) "Take an umbrella, it's raining!"

November 27, 2012

Light 'Em Up!!!

We are going to try something new this year....I got it from this website.  We aren't doing it quite as all out as they do, because I feel like it's a little too late to plan for that, but we are going to try to do more this Christmas here in our little section of the community.

Our goal is to do one thing each week for others or that can be given to others.  We'll mainly be focusing on the people in our neighborhood.  We have chosen Friday as the day to get things made, etc. each week.  This day works best for us because we're on Christmas break from our Friday home school classes.  We don't do other school on Fridays, so for the month of December we have all day on Fridays to focus on these activities.  We haven't really had time, yet to sit down and iron out just what activities we would like to do, but some we've discussed are: cookies for the mail man, small Christmas gifts that somehow tell the true story of Christmas for the family across the street, some kind of activity we do with the children across the street, prayer walking the neighborhood.  Again, we still have some refining to do, but I am excited...OK, somewhat excited.  This is so out of my comfort zone!  I don't like meeting new people and I don't like talking to people I don't know, so this is going to be tough for me!!!  That's really why I am putting this out there...I need the accountability of knowing you're all out there expecting to hear how things went!  Thanks for pushing me to get out of my box.

I'll post some pics, etc as we do these projects.  If any of you do this type of things take pics and let us know!  I am hoping that this will spark a new passion for our family and we will continue this throughout the year!

November 24, 2012

Adoption Fundraiser

OK, before you go thinking, "Wait, what?  Adoption?  When did the McSmiths decide to adopt?" (And Bryan Taylor, before you start saying, "I told you so!")....this fundraiser is not for me, but for some sweet friends here in Hannibal.  They have been on this adoption journey for quite awhile and, Lord willing, it will be ending in Spring/Summer 2013!!!! 

This is the Humiston family!!!  (Jennifer, Jeremy, Grace, Faith, and Titus).  They will be adding little David to their family soon!  This is one of the coolest, closest, and sweetest families I know and I am so honored to share this cool opportunity for you to help them raise funds for their adoption and honor David's birthday at the same time!  Here is a little note from Jennifer:

I’m so excited to introduce you to our clan and share with you about this crazy journey God has our family on called adoption. We began dreaming of adopting when we first go married in 2004. We have three biological children Grace, 6 years, Faith, 5 years, and Titus, almost 3 years. After a complicated pregnancy and emergency c-section resulting in the birth of our son we knew it was time to adopt. Our heart for the orphan couldn't wait any longer. We hit some bumps along the way, but in April of 2012 I traveled to West Africa on a mission trip. While there I made connections with a local orphanage. In June we began paperwork to adopt from the orphanage I had visited. We can't wait to bring home our sweet little guy, David. 
On November 24th David will turn two years old. We are so glad this will be his last birthday without a forever family. Grace and Faith are the best of friends and Titus can't wait to meet his brother and already has a bunk bed to prove it. We are hoping to introduce David to our family in the Spring/Summer of 2013. We are currently completing paperwork and raising funds towards that goal.

If you’d like to know more specifics about the timeline of their adoption you can read about it on Jennifer’s blog here: Humiston Adoption
Maybe you are wondering why I’m sharing all of this on my blog. I’m glad you asked!

In honor of David’s birthday the Humiston family is doing a week long online fundraiser for their adoption. If you purchase any item in the following etsy shops during November 24-30th 100% of the purchase price (minus fees & shipping) will go straight to their adoption fund.

I know you have Christmas shopping to do and I thought maybe you would like to buy something and help bring little David home too! There's lots of good stuff!!! New items will be added throughout the week.

To help simply click on the links below and purchase an item between now and November 30th.


If you would like a card with David’s picture and “The purchase of this item helped to bring David home to his forever family.” to include with your gift simply e-mail Jennifer at jenniferhumiston@hotmail.com and she will be happy to send you one.

Thanks for considering helping out the Humiston’s.

November 21, 2012

It's Time for More Randomness!

I haven't written just a totally random post in awhile, so I thought I would write one now!  I know, you can barely contain your excitement!

--First, can't wait until Sat!!!  I get to unveil a cool new fundraiser for some friends raising money for their adoption.  Their little guy's birthday is Sat (I think he'll be 2), so they are starting their fundraiser that day.  You're gonna love it and you won't want to miss it, so make sure you come back on Nov. 24!!!!

--Some friends and I were chatting a few weeks ago about Christmas and traditions we've had a while and some we would like to start.  I shared that I would love for Christmas to become a time where we don't really get gifts for each other, they are all just for others, family members and those in need alike.  One friend pointed out that getting each other gifts (mainly getting our children gifts) isn't a bad thing and the I shouldn't feel that we have to cut that out entirely. (This, of course, is the same thing my husband has been telling me for about a year now!) As I got to thinking, I knew she was right...and I realized that not giving presents wasn't really what I was wanting.  My dream for Christmas would be that it's a time when we focus on others, instead of ourselves.  When my kids think Christmas, I no longer want their first thought to be, "OOh, we're going to get presents!  I'd really like..."  I want their thought to be "Ooh, do we have the gift catalogue, yet, so we can pick out some gifts for those kids?"  I don't really want to NOT buy presents for my kids, I just want, for our whole family, to look at Christmas differently...as a really special time to be able to share our blessings with others....a time to really think of others first!  I know this doesn't come naturally (thanks, human nature) and they won't ever become that way if they don't see it modeled (again, being a parent is ROUGH!)  Lord, help Kevin and I to have selfless hearts that desire to do whatever it takes to share You with others.  Lord, let this be something our children see and desire to emulate!

--For Christmas this year, we've decided to make or buy all of our gifts from organizations that use the profits to help the poor, the orphan, and the widow. I really thought this would be something that I would end up hating and being legalistic about, but I have really enjoyed it, so far.  We haven't really made the gifts, yet, but sitting down and looking at different options and trying to narrow down what we wanted to get/make has been really fun.  Hopefully our family members enjoy their gifts!

--On that note, the theme for the gifts for one side of the family is "The Wild West"...so, anyone has suggestions for things we can make to go with that theme for kids ages 3-6 and for adults would be more than welcome!  (Hazelwood family members, just ignore any helpful ideas you see here so you can pretend you don't know what our gifts might be!)

--Our eucharisteo wall is outgrowing the wall space!  Oh, how this warms my heart!  I know his motives are probably not pure, but I love it when Ethan comes running out of his room just a little past bedtime and, with a HUGE grin on his face, says, "Mommy!  I have a eucharisteo!"  I know deep down he's really just wanting to delay bedtime, but every time he actually has something to say, so I know he's spent some time thinking about it!  Lord, please help this month of focusing on your grace and gifts to soften our hearts and lead us to live a truly thankful life.  Let the eucharisteo come spilling out as a result of the overwhelming gratitude in our hearts.

--I also love that Sophie's new obsession each morning is to wake up, run to the door, throw it open, and check for snow.  She wants it to snow so badly!  She has learned how to check the weather on the tab, so when she realizes there's no snow on the ground, she check the weather report to see when it might be coming!  Oh, if only I lived as excited about Christ's return and life in Heaven as she does in anticipation of snow.  Lord, teach me!  Thank you for using my kids to teach me what I need to be doing!  What a blessing straight from Your hand are these two amazing kids!

--I rode a bike today.  That may seem small to you, but it's huge to this girl!

--I love Christmas music and am so glad I can unashamedly play it now! (Though, I must admit, I never took the Christmas CD's out of my car from last Christmas!)

--I have started the very beginnings of study for the James devotionals I am attempting to write.  I was really not looking forward to this at all.  I do not enjoy studying or research.  Quite frankly, I would much rather someone else do all the work and I just reap the benefits.  Lazy, I know!  But, God is already at work because I have really enjoyed the study I have done so far.  I really enjoyed the Beth Moore study on James that I did and look forward to learning even more.  Lord, thank you for answering prayers and placing a desire in my heart to know and learn more about You from Your Word! 

November 13, 2012

Just a Wife (and Mom) of Pretty Good Character

OK, perhaps that title should more accurately be "A Wife (and Mom) of Pretty Questionable Character", but since the conference I just participated in had the other title, I thought I would upgrade myself for the night!  ;)  Anyway, here's a glimpse into my sub-par life and how God is using that to grow me!  (Don't worry, I am not berating myself, just having a little fun with my less than stellar parental/wifely days!)

--I wear sweat pants everyday.  And I mean every.day.  Sometimes even in the summer.  My poor husband.  So thankful he loves me anyway!  I did wear jeans one day last week...at least part of the day...perhaps I should try to step it up a little here!  I have an awesome husband who deserves so much more! 
--By the time dinnertime comes I.am.done!  It is a real struggle for me to desire to have a meal at the dining room table versus in front on the TV while sitting on my comfy couch!  For one, I've been sitting at the dining room table most of the day doing school.  Secondly, I've already heard pretty much any and all stories that both kids have to share on any given day.  Plus, I was there for every moment of their day, so there's really no need to ask any questions about it.  Don't get me wrong, I love staying home and homeschooling, but for me, this is one of the areas where I really have to work on my attitude!  I must remember that Kevin wasn't with us all day and he hasn't heard the stories or how their day went.
--And if you think I've checked out by dinner, just imagine bedtime!  I am so blessed and thankful to have a husband who looks forward to his fun and unique-to-each-child bedtime routines (that's why I can sit here right now and type out this blog.)  And the kids look forward to it, too.  It's just good for all involved!  I LIVE FOR BEDTIME!!!! (and those few quiet moments to myself in in a day!)
--I really struggle to keep up with the cleaning and laundry, etc.  I feel terrible because I am home all day and I feel like this just shouldn't be this difficult, but nothing I try seems to work.  The house just always feels chaotic and messy.  Oh, how I pray that some day God will help me work all this out!

But, you know, as I sit here typing this, in the midst of the crazy mess that I am, I cannot help but be overwhelmed with gratitude.  Each day the Lord continues to pour His grace on me.  Each day He gives me one more day with my amazing gift of a husband.  Each day I am blessed with more time to love on and cherish my sweet children.  Each day He shows me more of Himself, even though I know I still have a long way to go to be the servant I need to be.  Each day I desire to be more like Him and desire for my children and family to be more like Him.  What a blessing!  What a gift!  What a reason to get up and keep going each day.  I may not be perfect, my house may not be perfect, my family may not be perfect, but my God is, and I feel honored to get to know more about Him each day.  I love being able to see him in all things, little and big, each day.  Thank You, Lord!

November 08, 2012

James: Phase 1

I just finished Beth Moore's Bible Study on the book of James.  Uuuummmmmmm.........WOW!  It was so good and I was not ready for it to end!  During our last class I really felt like the next thing our family needed to memorize, as a family, is the book of James.  So much of it refers back to things stated in The Sermon on the Mount (which Sophie and I are memorizing now), so I thought it would be a good follow-up.  Also, I feel like learning these verses will also challenge, encourage, and teach all of us what it truly means to live out our faith.  I also felt like this was something we really could use, not only as memorization, but also as our family devotions.  Kevin agreed that could be very helpful, so I got started on the project. 

So far, only "Phase 1" (though I have no idea how many "phases" there are) is done, but I am anxious to get to work on the rest, as well.  What is Phase 1, you ask? Well, I have made the cards we will use to memorize the book.  It will take a full 52 weeks, but that's learning (usually) only 2-3 verses a week.  My next "phase" is to come up with something practical/hands on that goes with each set of verses we will do each week.  Yep, that's right, we'll basically be doing 52 service projects next year...OK, they may not all be service projects...some may be things we do internally to prepare our hearts or lives, some may just be things we do in our home, but I am thinking there will be several service projects (both within our community and beyond our town, as well).  If you know me, the most challenging part of that is doing things within my community!  For some reason, it's so much harder for me to do ministry with/for those I know I will be seeing on a daily basis.  Anyway, then "Phase 3" will be Kevin and I sitting down and digging into James.  Of course, this is a little unfair because I just finished the James study, but I'm willing to share my information so he doesn't have to do all the work.  ;)  There may be more phases later, but so far that is where I feel we've been led (and Kevin didn't argue so I assume that means he's on board!) 

Now, I know that things I create aren't nearly as in depth as anything Beth Moore or, well, anyone really, would put out...and when it comes to layout and design, I am not nearly as creative as everyone seems to think I am...but...I look forward to posting each "phase" here as I get them so that you can join us in our journey (OK, not really join us, but take a journey of your own!)  I won't be offended if you think this is the dumbest thing you've ever heard of and don't want to do it.  I won't be offended if you take some of what I have and change it to fit your family's need.  If you take on this challenge, I would love to hear how your family does it and how it goes!

So, here is "Phase 1":James Memory Verse Cards  I would suggest printing them out on card stock, hole punching one corner, then getting a metal ring or clip to hold them together.  But, feel free to use them however you wish!  I did my best to spell check, etc, but I am sure there are still some mistakes somewhere, because there always is!  Enjoy! 

October 29, 2012

Ladies in Purple

Thank you so much for all your prayers for me and the other Ladies in Purple.  I am back from our first conference!  What a delight!  Of course, as there is with anything, we had a few hiccups here and there, but God was at work.  I feel so humbled to have been a part of it.  I had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing women and was so blessed by their encouragement and Godly example.  Even if God never leads us to do another conference, I feel so honored to have been a part of this conference with these ladies.

We did have one young lady who accepted Christ.  How exciting to have a new sister in Christ!

Here are just a few pics from the event:








October 14, 2012

Skirts for Missions

Just wanted to make a post to let you know that I have 5 tutus for sale for $5 each.  I am posting the pictures below.  I would say that would fit girls ages 2-6.  All the money will be going to Ben and Megan Craig to help pay for their trip to Africa this spring.  They will be meeting and working with an orphanage where they will soon be moving to work and minister.  I am posting pics and a short description below.  If you would like to purchase one, let me know!  Those that don't sell will be put in a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse, so either way, they will be used to spread God's word!

This skirt is blue with a pink waist band.

This one is light purple and a darker purple on a dark purple headband (though you can't really see the headband in this style.)

 This is dark and light pink with a light pink waist band.
 This is a crazy one!  Half pink and half blue with a purple waist band.
This is another multi-colored one.  The skirt is pink, purple, and blue.  Again, you can't really see the waist band, but it is silver.

October 13, 2012

Only 2 more weeks....

I can't believe it!  Our first Ladies In Purple conference is just two weeks away!  Where has the time gone?  I am both nervous and excited for this event.  I feel so unprepared and unworthy to be standing in front of these ladies, knowing that I feel so overwhelmed and chaotic myself!  But, I am praying that God will use that to speak to others who I am sure feel the same.  We will join together in prayer and push through, knowing that God has greater plans and a fuller life than we could ever imagine!

As you will know, if you've read any of my blog posts, my heart is warring within me! I so strongly desire to be an instrument for the King in this world in which I live, yet I have no idea how to make it happen!  Last week I had the great opportunity to serve alongside an amazing family as they held a huge yard sale to raise money to bring home their son, David, from Africa.  What a great time that was!  It was amazing to see the body of Christ come together, from all faiths and walks of life, to donate time and materials for this sweet family.  This was so good for my soul, but also gave me the desire to do more.  But, I must admit, it feels like all I can do is so small and insignificant that it hardly seems worth the effort.  Praising God for an amazing reminder through Beth Moore in her study of James: "God is practical.  He doesn't ask us to do what doesn't matter.  What seems a drop in the bucket to you is a sip from the wellspring of life to someone about to thirst to death.  Let's muster the courage to ask Him to show us who to help and how.  True religion is all hands on deck and all heads out of the sand.  The mystery is that, there, we often find our own healing and fulfilling."  Wow, what I think of as so small it couldn't do anyone any good, is really life changing for someone in desperate need!  Lord, move my heart to be a heart like Yours, seeking out those who need Your touch in their lives. 

I was reading Jen Hatmaker's blog today and was just overwhelmed with the world's need for Him, in very real ways.  I wanted to jump off the couch, get on a plane, and go join them in Haiti, spreading His love by being His hands and feet!  Oh, how my heart aches to take my little family of four to the ends of the earth, to see how the rest of the world lives, to sit in the midst of a third-world country and see, not only their physical hunger, but the spiritual hunger that almost consumes them.  To see how those, who have nothing, give everything they have to those around them who are even more in need than they are.  Why don't we live that we?  We have been given so much, yet we don't rush to give it to those who are far more in need than we are.  Lord, change our hearts.  Change our attitudes.  Change our responses.  Begin to make our hearts bleed with Your love and compassion.  Show us how to be like You so that we can, in turn, show our children how to be like You.  Overwhelm us with Your love and grace so that it spills out on our children and all those around us.  Show us how to show our love here, in our own neighborhood and community, so that we can then take that love to the world. 

I thank you in advance for your prayers over our conference and our family.  Please join us in prayer for the following:
-Safe travel to and from the conference.  I will be driving, first to AR (yes, I get to see the Keck's and Taylor's...my heart is soaring!), then on to Dallas.  The first part of the trip will just be Sophie and I and the last part of the trip will just be Sara and I. 
-Pray the Lord will bless the time I have with Sara and Mandy in AR and the time that Sophie will have with them while I am in TX. 
-Pray that God will already be working in the hearts of those who will be attending the conference.  Pray that He will clear schedules, hearts, and minds so that the Holy Spirit can work and move.
-Pray for clear direction and wisdom as I share my testimony with these precious ladies.  My heart and mind are a jumble of about a million things right now.  I need to focus!
-Pray for good memories so we can share God's truth with these women.
-Pray for Kevin as he is home with Ethan while Sophie and I are gone.  Pray that God will bless the time they get to share, just daddy and son.
-Pray that God will clearly show our family how to best serve Him with all that He has given us.

I'll be sure to write post-conference and include as much info and as many pictures as I can!

September 26, 2012

Faith Works! (How the Believer Should Behave)

Don't worry, I am not going to preach a sermon on James...I still have too much to learn from the book myself!  But, I am going to give you the documents for the Reader and Non-Reader worship notebooks that will be available for the children, ages 4-5th grade, at Calvary this Sunday!

Non-Reader Worship Notebook

Reader Worship Notebook

Hope you find this helpful as your children worship with you this week!

September 24, 2012

Psalm 89:9

Oh, how my heart needs to cling to the truth of that verse!  "You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, You still them."  For about the last two months I have just felt like I was drowning.  Every time I would think I had my head above water and could catch a breath, here came another wave.  I have just been overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and physically tired.  I just can't seem to get anything done!  But at the same time, I have also had many moments of true direction and passion straight from the Lord.  I don't know really the best way to describe it, so I'll just ramble in some bullet points (hope that's ok!):

  • I have had an overwhelming desire to "live smaller", yet an intense fear of actually trying to do so.  As I was sitting in the service one Sunday morning, I actually had the thought, "I just want to live in a little two bedroom house, get rid of all the stuff, and see what God can do."  What?!?!?  2 bedrooms?  I must be crazy.  And get rid of this stuff....do you know how much crap we have crammed into this house (that feels pretty little as it is, by the way!)  But my heart still can't stop yearning for less.  Less clutter, less stuff, less petty things, less distraction, less, less, less.  But, my brain just can't make me do it.  It's so counter-cultural and I don't want to be looked at as weird or crazy.  I don't want my kids to be treated differently, especially at church, because the aren't allowed to do or have the same things other kids have.  But, oh, how I long to want to give away every penny we don't absolutely have to have in order to live.  Oh, how I long for my kids to just dream up ways to give away money that comes their way.  Oh, how I long to put away all pride and selfishness and serve others-my family, my church, my neighbors, my community.  My heart is aching for it more than I can express, but my mind just won't follow!  I can't convince it to see the truth of James 1:27 (and a myriad of other scripture telling us to take care of the poor and set self aside for the glory of God.)  I just want to sit and scream and cry some days at the level of my selfishness and the level of selfishness I see I've taught my kids.  We have no idea how blessed we are.  We have no idea how needy others are.  We just have no idea!
  • In that same line of thinking, I cannot wait to jump into reading Jenn Hatmaker's book 7.  I can't wait to see what the Lord teaches me through the hardship of fasting from the excess of this world.  Of course, I am also scared to death of that same thing, because I am pretty sure I am not going to like anything I discover about myself!
  • I must constantly be reminded of how amazing the friends are that God has surrounded me with right here.  It seems the tears haven't stopped flowing since sweet friends announced they were moving on to pursue ministry elsewhere.  Don't get me wrong, it's a sad time and I miss them terribly, but to be crying about it for nearly three months?  Seriously?!?!  They aren't dead, they're just in AR (go ahead and insert AR jokes here)!  I can still text and talk to them pretty much anytime I want.  And, hello...I have way more friends who are still here than left, so I don't know what my deal is! (I am NOT pregnant, I promise...though that would be a much easier explanation!)  Some of the most Godly and wise ladies I know are still right here beside me in little ole Hannibal and in that, I can rejoice everyday!  Sara and Mandy, please know you are terribly missed each day, but I know that at some point, I just have to move on (as I know you do, as well!)  You will never be replaced (and neither will any of my friends still here), but my heart is going to have to be convinced to let you go!
Anyway, as you can see, I am a mess (I wish I could say a "hot" mess, but sweet readers, this would not be the truth and I am OK with that!)  Praying for peace, clarity, and focus...along with a clear purpose from God for my family relating to service and our finances.  I appreciate any and all prayers you send our way!

September 06, 2012

James 1:1-4

It's that time again!!!  Sophie will be in the service with us this week, so I am putting together her worship binder. Just want to give all you parents out there some words of encouragement: First, I encourage you to at least try bringing your children with you for the whole service at least once a quarter.  It will be an experience you (and your child) will not forget.  I know it's work and there's always the fear that your child will be disruptive, but don't underestimate this precious child you've poured so much into all week long!  They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for, I promise!  I also want to encourage you to take the time to make them a worship notebook of some kind so they can be engaged in the service.  But, not just engaged, engaged with the same topic that the pastor is speaking about (whenever possible).  The point of bringing your child to the service with you isn't to teach them how to sit still (I mean, let's face it, they learn this all week long in school, pretty sure they've got that one down!), but to pour truth into them in a way different than what they've gotten all week long.  I know that many are concerned because they'll be bored or it will be over their heads because it's not "geared toward them."  To that I say (at least at our church), they have Sunday School on their level, Family Quest on their level, Kidz Quest on their level, most likely family devotions at home on their level, and those who are home schooled have Bible classes on their level.  I just don't think it's too much to ask for them to have one time a week where they get the Bible in a different way on a different level.  After all, doesn't Scripture say that His Word will not return void?  If truth is going in, God can use that in their lives!  I also want to encourage you to be sure you are printing some things for their notebook yourself.  To me, this is so important.  When your child knows that YOU have taken time to put something together for them so that they can actively participate in the cooperate worship and teaching, it will mean so much more.  Now, for some of you, all that will mean is that you print off the documents you find here.  For some of you, that will mean spending 10-20 minutes during the week to put together something on your own.  Either way, put some effort of your own into it and I promise it will pay off!  It may be slow, but it will happen!!!

 Here are a few of the documents that I am putting in there this week.  Also, www.spellingcity.com is a great resource for printing things.  You just have to create an account (it's free for the basic account) and put in the words you want to use that week, then you can go to the games section and print activities for your child.  We use this site for school and for our worship notebook.

--This website will be useful for CBC members over the next two months or so as Bro. Jeff will be doing a series on the book of James.  You will be able to use some of this for the worship notebook and some of it possibly for some family devotions at home!:  James Children's Church Lessons
--James 1:1-4
--James 1:1-4 Fill in the Blank
--Draw
--Basic Intro Questions
--Agree/Disagree

I hope this helps as you prepare your little one for worship this week!!!






August 28, 2012

Exciting News!!!

So, for the last month or so a thought has been brewing in my mind.  I have been praying about and thinking about how we can be more intentionally missional as a family, not as an "extra-curricular" kind of thing, but as a lifestyle.  I was really convicted that we needed to find something that, as a family, we could make or do as a family to sell and use that money to support some form of mission work.  Of course, being the stubborn person that I am, I hadn't really talked it over with Kevin much, feeling like I could come up with a plan all on my own.  However, that just wasn't happening.  So, I finally sat down with Kevin and told him what I was thinking and hoped he might be able to come up with some idea of what we could do.  As soon as I told him what I was thinking, he immediately had the answer (isn't that just like God?  When we finally "give in" and "shut our mouths and know our role" and submit to the way God intended things to be, things seem to work out!)  As most of you probably know, Kevin really enjoys building furniture.  What you may not know is that he has really been wanting to do more of it.  So, as soon as I told him what I felt we needed to do as a family, he said, "We can build furniture and sell it and use the money for missions." (OK, that may not be exactly what he said, but it was the general idea!)  I was thrilled!  It was just the answer I was looking for.  Each piece that he has built all four of us have helped to build, in some part of the process.  Now, we aren't quite ready to start taking orders, but I can't wait to be able to do this as a family and be able to give to missions, as a family, on a fairly regular basis.  Stay tuned for when we're ready to start and for pics of things Kevin has already built!  Thanks for sharing in our life and mission!!!!

PS--Sophie and I will probably also be making and selling no sew tu-tus and hair clips.

August 24, 2012

Joyfully Heartbroken

Is that even a real phrase?  Well, it may not be, but that's kind of how I feel in just about every area of life right now!  Joy and heartbreak mingle beautifully together as our family and others take steps of faith and obedience. 

  • Joyfully Heartbroken about friends moving on to new places.  Joyful because God is guiding each and every step and leading them to serve others in areas where He has given them a passion.  Heartbroken because it means he's moving them on from here.  I spent much of my childhood as a preacher's kid, so moving around and moving on are no foreign concept to me.  But, I am beginning to realize, it's a whole different ball game when you are the one being left behind rather than the one leaving.  Not sure that one is harder than the other, just very different!  But, God honors obedience and His hand is all over this situation so I know I can rest in Him for our future and that of my sweet friends!
  • Joyfully Heartbroken that God has not asked us to join our sweet friends in this journey.  Heartbroken because it means letting them go and no longer living life with people that are such an encouragement and blessing to our lives.  Joyful because it allows me to stay with other friends and continue living life with them.  Joyful because we have been able to clearly see God's hand of provision in our obedience to remain where we are. 
  • Joyfully Heartbroken over changes that God is slowly making in my heart.  Joyful because I can't wait to see where God leads me and our family as He makes change after change.  Heartbroken because I know that it will mean letting go of a lot of things to which I have been clinging (though I know it will be for the best in the end!)
  • Joyfully Heartbroken for all that I feel God will do in our church and church family.  Joyful because I think God will be drawing us nearer to Him and helping us to lead our families in joyful obedience to Him.  Joyful because I feel that service and worship are about to meld into one and become a lifestyle rather than an extracurricular.  Heartbroken because I know God will not lead all of us on this journey and there will be more goodbyes in the future.
Lord, thank You for the changes going on all around me, even when I don't understand them or like them.  Lord, continue to mold and shape me and my family as we seek You and all that You would have us do to show You to this amazing world You have created!  Move, mold and shape!!!!

August 12, 2012

Going Two Speeds at Once...?

Have you ever felt like life was speeding by, everyone is speeding past, and you are left behind, yet, like life is moving in slow motion all around you and you just wish that you could speed up your own life and those around you to get where you know God wants you to be?  Do I have you completely confused?  Well, that's where I feel I've been for the last month or so.

God has been doing some marvelous things in the lives of several friends...but those things include moving them to another state.  Though I know that God has been working this out in their hearts and lives for over a year, the actual work of it happening and becoming real has happened incredibly fast! (Well, at least to this little human mind!)  Things are moving along and I feel like a bystander who can't seem to catch up and make sense of it fast enough.  The tears flow on a regular basis and for no reason at all, it seems.  They are tears of joy for God answering the prayers of dear friends and tears of grief for losing 2 families we've been living life with, almost daily, for about 2 years.  These families have stood beside us and behind us in many decisions, from homeschooling to discipline to how to worship as a family in our own homes.  Many days I just want to pack up and go with them, ready to start a new life with a great new adventure.  But, everyday I know that is not where God has called us...and I would then miss the many friends I would be leaving behind just as much as I miss the two who are going!  No, we must remain and carry on the work that God has called us to right where we are.

Which, of course, is the part that leads me to feeling like everything is in slow motion when I just want to speed it up!  My heart so yearns and feels God calling us to make our family one who has a lifestyle of praise and sacrifice for His name.  We so desperately don't want giving to the poor and needy, helping out with mission projects, and serving others to be merely an extracurricular activity that we do in order to mark it off of some list.  No, we want it to be our lifestyle, our heart, our very breath.  But, I feel so overwhelmed as to where to start.  Everything seems so small and insignificant and just not enough.  Part of me just wants to pack up the family and move to a third world country just so we, as a family, can see true need, true hunger, true fear of not making it through another day.  I want us to feel a true need and dependence on Christ that it seems so hard to have here in America.  I want to just have the answers to how God wants us to make this happen and just go and do it...but the answers aren't there, yet, probably because we, as a whole family, aren't there, yet. 

Oh, Father, help me to rejoice in the friends You have given me, near and far.  Help me to rejoice when they rejoice and mourn when they mourn.  Meld our hearts and lives together for Your Kingdom, whether we live in the same town or not.  Lord, show Kevin and I how you would transform our family, not so that others could look to us as a model, but so we can truly live lives sold out to You, which would in turn lead our children and others to Your throne.  Show us how to love the poor, the orphan, and the widow in a way that would bring honor and glory to You alone.  Fill us with You and empty us of ourselves each and every day!

July 23, 2012

Will You Join Me in Prayer?

I just wanted to come to my sweet readers and ask you to join me in prayer for a few things over the coming weeks.  Thanks in advance for joining with me!

--The kids and I will be leaving on Thurs. to head to TX to meet up with some awesome college friends and their families.  Pray for traveling mercies as we go.  I've never made this long of a trip, with the kids, without Kevin and I am a bit nervous! 
--While in Austin my friends and I will be helping to lead a Creative Arts Camp for children.  As you can guess, I am totally excited about this.  However, I am also nervous because I do NOT have the gift of teaching (I know, all the more scary that I home school, right?!!?)  Thankfully I will mostly be assisting an amazing mother/actress/writer/teacher who can do amazing things with children, so all should be good!  Pray that we will have wisdom while teaching and that we can use those times as teaching moments to direct all the children to God!
--Also while in TX my friends and I will be rehearsing for the drama portion of a new ministry, Ladies in Purple.  This is a ministry that, at this time, is geared toward women (specifically mothers) and encouraging them to strive to make their homes true Deut. 6 homes.  This is something near and dear to all of our hearts, so we would love your prayers for God's guidance, leadership, wisdom, and good memory!  As this ministry gets off the ground, I will be sharing more about it!
--God has really been moving my heart to get more involved in encouraging women to be more intentional with their families and the Word.  However, I have no idea what this means!  Please join me in praying for clarity and purpose, that I may truly seek God's glory in all I do to this end.  Looking forward to seeing how God will use me and my family as we lay aside our wants and goals and dreams and seek what He truly has in store for us.
--We want to teach our children more about giving to God and others and sacrificing our time, energy, and gifts to that end.  Will you join with us as we seek out how we can accomplish this on a daily basis?  Specifically, I want to find something that, as a family, we can do or make or sell or something that will provide a continual income in order to sponsor or support another child or orphan or ministry in a third world country.

Thanks again for lifting me and my family to the Lord!  I look forward to being able to report the amazing things that God does in and through us!

July 11, 2012

"..Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven..."

That's the verse we'll be talking about in our prayer series this week.  Once, again, Sophie will be with us, so I've put together a few things for her worship notebook, so I thought I would share.  This one was a bit more difficult, but I hope I got some things together that will help her to understand what we'll be talking about!!!  Here are the links:

Word Scramble
Prayer of Authority Word Search
World Prayer Page
Prayer of Authority Word List
Acts 12
Lord's Prayer Fill In the Blank

I will also be using our usual generic questions and probably have a blank page or two for her to draw some pictures of the story.

Hope this helps!!!!


June 20, 2012

Adoration

That's the theme for the sermon this week at Calvary.  We started a series on prayer last week and during week two we'll be looking at Matt. 6:9.  As Sophie will be with us in the service this week, I've put together some items for her notebook and thought I'd share in case any of you needed items for your own child's worship note book!

Here is the link to the  Basic Questions
Here are some of the other pages for this week:
Adoration Draw
Who We Adore
The Lord's Prayer (Fill in the Blank)
Adoration Definitions

I also googled some pictures for her to color, just by typing in Lord's Prayer coloring sheets. 

I hope this helps and I look forward to worshipping with you on Sunday (if you're at Calvary, anyway!)  If you're somewhere across the country, I hope this is still helpful as you seek to lead your family in worship!

June 19, 2012

Parenting is Hard-Part 2

Yep, I'm still amazed at how hard parenting is!  And today, I realized it while shopping for my sweet girl.  She is just growing like a weed and outgrowing so many of her clothes, so, while at Wal Mart today I decided to check the clearance aisle to see what I might find.  It was then that I realized just how picky I am about my daughter's clothes.  See, all I was wanting were just a few plain shirts, which I thought would be fairly easy to find, but, not so much!  It seemed that most everything had some form of writing or pictures on them.  You may be thinking, "Who cares?"  That's probably what I would have been thinking about a year ago, too, but that's when God starting changing my heart and mind when it comes to my children, my home, and what I wanted my children to learn.  And believe me, they learn even when we think they aren't.  Today it seemed that every shirt either had a picture of some starlet or currently popular TV show or some pointless saying (like "Princess" or "Fashion Diva").  Now, I know, you're probably thinking, "Really?  This is what you are having a problem with?"  I know, it seems so silly and, admittedly, I feel a little silly saying it, but at the same time, it's my child's heart and soul that I am battling for here, right?  Do I really want her role model to be Hannah Montana?  Do I really want her displaying the attitude of a "fashion diva" and thinking that's what life is all about?  Are these things the message I want to be sending to that sweet girl?  Or, am I just going too far and being silly about it?  Maybe, but I have to admit, I have seen a change in the attitude since we stopped the cable and stopped watching those Disney channel shows.  Her little heart and attitude were becoming very "me" centered and she was really becoming absorbed in what she wore and if she'd ever have a boyfriend, etc.  That was not what we wanted for our child, so we removed it from our home.  Shouldn't it be the same with the clothes that represent that lifestyle and attitude?  Now, please don't think I am telling everyone that they need to cancel the cable and toss half their child's wardrobe.  There may be children out there who can watch those shows and none of this is ever a problem, my daughter just doesn't happen to be one of them!  And, yes, it was hard this weekend while she was with her cousins and they wanted to watch a show that I wouldn't let her watch.  Saying no to her and knowing that would either mean she would have to go somewhere else while her cousins watched this show, or her cousins would have to choose to watch/do something else so they could include her was difficult (I am proud to say that they choose to watch something different so she could still be with them).  But, what was more important, keeping her heart and mind with a right attitude, or letting her feel part of the crowd?  That's part of parenting. (Again, I am not saying that every parent should keep their kids from watching the shows we don't allow our kids to watch, it's about knowing your child and what they need to remove from their lives in order to have the heart and attitude you know they need to have.)   Even more important, that's part of discipling.

I don't think there's much that scares me more than the thought of me discipling my children...unless it's leaving it up to someone else and me having no idea what is being put into my child's head!  And really, if I choose not to do this in my child's life, then I am living and modeling disobedience to my child (Deut. 6:6-9).  It's a scary thing!  I am so thankful that I have such great friends and family who walk alongside me in this journey.  I am so thankful to have amazing parents who walk alongside me, but refuse to do my job for me.  They encourage me, correct me, lift me up in prayer, and serve as great examples of parents who refuse to let someone else take over the job of raising and discipling their children, even when it's hard and even when they mess up and have to correct what they've done.  Lord, I am truly blessed!  Help Kevin and I to make those tough calls.  Help us to refuse to let the world take over our home and the hearts and minds of our children.  Help us to do this even in the little things, what we'll wear, movies we'll watch or not watch, places we'll go or not go. Help us to not be legalistic as we seek these things, but rather to seek out what will truly give You the most honor and glory.  Lord, give us strength to teach and train these sweet blessings in Your truth so that they will one day call You saviour and Lord and be willing to obey You, no matter the cost.  Lord, give me the strength to say NO when I need to say NO regardless of how others may respond to that.  Help Kevin and I to be models of living selfless lives full of faith and trust in You above all else.  Lord, HELP!!!!!

June 13, 2012

June 07, 2012

Parenting is Hard!

Parenting is hard.  That's not something most people tell you before you have children...or even when you're pregnant.  And quite frankly, I think for most people, it never crosses your mind that it will be because it didn't seem that hard for your parents.  I mean, after all, most of us were pretty good kids most of the time, right?  Only, they also don't tell you that the "ease" of parenting is not based on the "goodness" of the child.  Parenting is hard because it takes time, consistency, hard choices, love, patience, grace...and oh, so many other things! 

We've had a rough two days here with Ethan and his constantly choosing to disobey.  Now, I realize he's only three so nothing he's choosing to do or not do is life or death or that horrible, but it's still a choice and he's making a bad one.  And even more than that, it's pretty out of character for him.  I'll admit, while he (or Sophie) hasn't really latched onto the "do it with a good attitude/happy heart" portion of obedience, he (usually) does really well with the "do what you're told, when you're told" portion...well, until the last two days, anyway.  Not sure what in the world has gotten into him, but I feel like all I have done the last two days is discipline him.  I feel so bad about it, while at the same time knowing it's just what he needs.   Oh, why does it have to be so hard.  Why can't I just take a day off and let them both do just what they want?!?! 

But, I think recently, the hardest part of parenting for me has been choosing what to let into their lives and choosing what to leave out.  It hasn't been hard because I don't know what to choose, it's been hard because I don't want others upset with me or looking down on me or thinking I am looking down on them for choosing something different than they would choose.  About two weeks ago, I made a startling discovery: I have to be about 3 times as vigilant with what they watch than I ever thought.  Now, we don't have cable at our house, but we do have Netflix, and while I do my best to limit the amount of it they watch each day, they do get to watch it.  While I am fixing dinner, they are typically watching it unsupervised (unless Kevin happens to be home).  Not to brag, but my kids are pretty good about following the rules of things they know they are not allowed to watch, so I don't really worry about it.  One day they ran across a picture of Woody Woodpecker and asked if they could watch the show.  I told them they could watch an episode and thought nothing of it.  Well, they watched about 3 or 4 episodes over the next few days and I slowly began to notice a change in Ethan's behavior.  My normally sweet, although at times rambunctious, boy was suddenly becoming quite violent and hitting people all the time.  I was stumped as to why this was suddenly happening...that is until I happened to catch less than 5 minutes of a Woody Woodpecker episode.  All the behaviors I was seeing in Ethan were in those few minutes I saw on the screen.  He was copying everything he was seeing in that show.  Needless to say, the show is no longer allowed in our house and, while the violence has tamed a bit, it is not completely gone.  We must now be must more diligent in choosing what our kids watch and knowing exactly what is in it before allowing them to see it. 

Yes, it's a pain, but aren't their little lives and minds worth more than the trouble?  It is so hard knowing what to leave out of their lives.  I don't want them to be sheltered and know nothing of the world around them, but I so want them to be in the world not of the world.  How do you teach that?  How do you instill that in a child who sees everyone around them behaving differently, watching different things, owning all the latest things?  When have you gone too far or overboard with what you will or will not allow your child to see, wear, go, etc?  When have you crossed the line from being a good parent looking out for the physical and spiritual well-being of your child to being legalistic?  I don't want my kids to be "sheltered", but I want them to know there is a better path than what they will find the world leading them down.  I also don't want them believing something just because I told them that's the way it was...I want them to know it and believe it because they have searched it out and God has revealed Truth to them. 

It is exciting to see that when it happens.  God has really been working on sweet Sophie's heart, lately, and it is so encouraging and humbling to see.  Several times she has come to us in tears of repentance over something she has done that we would have gone our whole lives never knowing had happened if she hadn't told us.  The other night, in tears, she said, "I just don't know what's making me feel like I have to tell everything, but I just have to tell you the truth."  What a great moment it was as Kevin explained to her that God often uses the Holy Spirit to show us sin in our lives.  She still has a ways to go before she really "gets it" (well, don't we all?), but there is nothing more amazing or humbling than to be involved in that part of your child's life.  All of the discipline, scripture memory, Bible stories, Bible projects, etc. are all to lead up to those moments and those moments make all that time and effort and "hard-ness" (is that a word?) worth it. 

So, those out there expecting your first child or still waiting for children, being a parent is hard.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  There are few other things that will drive you to your knees than your children.  There are fewer things that will drive you crazy more than your children.  There are few other things that will make you feel at the end of your rope than your children.  But, there are also few other things that will reveal to you God's love, character, grace, and mercy than your children.  Hold them close.  Love them at all times.  Make those hard  choices.  Look to God at all times for the answers.  Take it one day at a time (for tomorrow has enough trouble of it's own) and lean on Him for all that you need.  I don't have all the answers and I still end at least one day a week in tears, ready to give up, go back to work and send my kids down the street to school...but those things would be disobedience to God's calling on my life (and my family's), so I must rely on Him to get me through.  If He called me to motherhood, wifedom (not sure that's a word, either), homeschooling, etc, He will give me the strength and the skill for the task.  I must believe that and rely on that.  Lord, lead and guide me as I serve my family.  Show me day by day what it is you would have me say and do so that I can turn my family to You at all times and in all things.  Show me the things (shows, movies, toys, gadgets, books, etc) that I  need to keep out of our house in order for our family to be able to honor and glorify You.  Lord, please show our family how You would have us to live out being "IN the world, but not OF the world."

May 29, 2012

What is Going On?!?!?!?!?!?!?

 Has it really been over a month since I last posted on here?  Really?  It totally seems like it was just last week.  Man, people are so right, the older you get the faster time goes by!

A lot has happened in the last month...more than I could possibly ever list here, for sure!  But, we did complete our first year of homeschooling.  We both survived and we both enjoyed it, so I am going to take that to mean our first year was a success!  In fact, she has asked that we keep doing our math word problems (whose child is this?  She must get that from her father!) and social studies (that's a little more like me!) through the summer. So, the plan is to once a week do some of the math and once a week do some Social Studies, among all the fun things that I hope we get to this summer.  Plus, I would like to try to do some work with Ethan just to ease him into things for the fall.  He is very interested in school (always wants to do "his schoolwork" while Sissy is working on hers), but his attention span is about as long (ok, short) as mine, so that will be our challenge!  I already have my list going for next year...in fact...I only need to look up one more book and my list will be complete!  All those other home school moms were soooooo right when they said that once you started looking at curriculum, you'd be addicted.  I so am!  I just want to buy it all, but the budget says otherwise.  Now begins the search to get the best price.  I'll admit, that's not nearly as fun for me as looking into all of it, but it does feel good to get things at a great price!  I think we can all relate to that!

Kevin had the chance to head out for a week to NC to visit his brother and attend his graduation (where he was valedictorian of his class for ultrasound technology!) and we had the chance to have Grandma Carol here for about two weeks to visit.  Both were very fun!  Looking forward to being able to (hopefully) do both of those things again very soon!  We also got to go celebrate with my niece as she graduated from 8th grade.  Can you tell we like family?  Hoping that we can get things all worked out to head over and celebrate July 4 with my dad's family at their annual camp out! (No worries, I don't plan on sleeping in a tent or anything, my parent's house is a short walk from where they camp out!)

I am very excited to head to TX in July (hopefully, the plans are almost final) to spend some time with a few of the greatest friends I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  And they also happen to be amazing actors/actresses, playwrights, and novelists I've ever personally known!  We'll get to hang out, watching movies, watch our kiddos play together, help at a Creative Arts Camp for kids, and rehearse a show that one of them has written.  I CAN'T WAIT!!  Spending time with them is always a breath of fresh air and no matter how much time has passed since we last were together, it feels like it was just yesterday.  There will be lots of hugs, laughter, tears, and, I assume, BBC movies to be watched! I am so blessed!

This past month has also been pretty frustrating for me, personally.  God has really been using a lot of situations and people around me to show me just how immature, selfish and prideful I am.  My reactions to things are often knee-jerk and based on emotion, rather that actual fact.  And this isn't new, but God has shown me this is a pattern that has been going on for years.  And, I don't just let things go easily, either.  So, it's been a month of fluttering heartbeats, tears, anger, frustration, hurtful words, thoughtless actions, and so much more.  Lord, remove my pride and fill me with Your Spirit.  Help me to be the loving and serving person You need me to be in order to love my family and serve Your kingdom well.  Lord, pour out Your discernment on me to know what things I need to stand up for/against, and what things I need to let roll past me so that I can be salt and light in my home, my church, and my community.  Give me Your love and grace to pour out on those around me!