March 26, 2012

Scripture Memory and Prayer Walking

Last Sunday was so special to us as we were able to honor Sophie for all her hard work with scripture memory.  We also got to honor her at a dinner with the Haye family...but I forgot to take pics of that!  Here are some pics and a video from Sunday, though!

We also started prayer walking our neighborhood last week.  In my last post, I noted my apprehension toward this.  That hasn't really changed, but our first experience was a pretty good one.  Of course, as we were walking, the only people that seemed to be home were women, so I got to do the majority of the talking and praying with people, which was so uncomfortable for me!  But, God was gracious that they were people who do attend church and weren't freaked out by us asking to pray with them, so that was good!  I don't know that I can say I am looking forward to going back out, but I am not dreading it nearly as much as I was before.  I continue to pray and ask God to change my heart toward my neighborhood and all those He places around me!

March 19, 2012

Gifts, Blessings, Fears, and Prayers

Yesterday was a great day for our family.  We got to honor Sophie, along with our church family, for her amazing feat of scripture memory.  From a book the church provided, Sophie was able to memorize: all 66 books of the Bible, The Lord's Prayer, Prov. 3:5-6, Psalm 23, Matthew 22:37-39, John 15:12-14, 1 John 4:7-8, The 10 Commandments, Eph. 6:1-4, Psalm 117, Psalm 113:1-3, Psalm 95:1-7a, Psalm 100, all the verses for the "wordless book" (Rom. 3:23, Rom. 6:23, 1 John 1:9, Psalm 51:7, John 3:16, and 2 Peter 3:18), 1 John 1:5-9, and Luke 2:8-14. (And I have to admit here that as I was typing these I had to look them up because I couldn't remember them!).  What a gift of memory God has given our sweet little girl!!!!  What a blessing this scripture memory has been for us.  In case you weren't at our church is the testimony I gave (at least something like this):

Kevin and I always knew memorizing scripture is a vital part of the Christian life and something we wanted to teach our children, as well.  However, we both also knew neither of us was as diligent as we should be ourselves, nor did we really think our kids were old enough to do it or know where to start even if they were.  Then came Family Quest.  It was amazing to watch Sophie, at a mere 3 ½ years old, learn a new scripture each month, and be able to do it at the same rate as the kids twice her age.  What an encouragement…and slightly embarrassing that even at that age she remembered them much better than we did!  It was even more exciting this year when the Family Quest team brought back the “little white book” of scriptures to memorize.  Sophie was eager for the challenge of finishing this book.  We started working immediately.  I had no idea what a blessing this would be to our entire family!  Each morning as we finished our family Bible time we would work on that week’s verse.  Seeing her face light up at being able to finish an entire verse was priceless.  But, even better was being able to teach this to her as a team with my husband.  As I am sure that most of you could guess, memorization has never been my problem, and at times, that was all I was really doing…rote memorization so she could check off another scripture.  But, what a blessing it was to watch as Kevin never let an opportunity go by to use those teachable moments to explain to her what each verse meant.  Each night as we put her to bed, we would review the verse and Kevin would again talk with her about the verse meant.  It has also been a real joy in those weeks she stays with us for the worship service to watch her face light up when she recognizes a verse Bro. Jeff reads or that the song she is singing is the verse she learned last week!   Just last Monday we started a journey to memorize the Sermon on the Mount in a year by learning 2-3 verses each week.  On Tuesday, shortly after she went to her room to work on her devotional book, I heard her yelling, “Mommy!  Mommy!”  Thinking something was horribly wrong, I rushed to her room, only to discover the screaming was just her excitement over the fact that the verses she was studying today were the same ones we had started learning the day before!

Amazingly, just seeing Sophie learn these verses and watching her grow, even just a little, as she learned them, was not the only blessing in this process.  Of course, you can’t teach her these verses without learning them yourself.  And, come to find out our sweet, crazy, can’t sit still little boy was listening the whole time.  Just by listening to Sophie learn her Family Quest verses, Ethan actually learned the verse EVERY MONTH this year.  He’s not even three, yet, and I have to admit that the first three he learned we never even tried to teach him, thinking, again, he was just too young and too antsy to learn them.

 Learning these scriptures has also changed the way we are able to discipline and reward.  Whether the behavior has been good or bad, we can have her recall a verse she has learned and see if her behavior has lined up with what God expects from us (we’re really glad that first unit of Family Quest was on obedience!!!) and she can then reason for herself whether it was a good or bad choice.  Even Ethan has been able to do this to some extent.  God is so good!

We are continuing to work with both Ethan and Sophie on scripture memory and look forward to seeing how God uses this in their lives in the future.  I know that right now they may be memorizing because we are asking them to or because they want that piece of candy from Miss Larinee, but we praise God with each verse for the promise that His word will not return void.  We pray that He uses this to draw our children to Him.  I promise you that if you will put forth even the smallest effort to help your children do this, you will see blessing after blessing.  And I promise, it isn’t as hard as you will tell yourself it is.  One of Ethan’s favorite verses was learned by singing it to him while we brushed his teeth each day.  Yes, it’s that simple!  So, if you aren’t sure where to start, see Mr. Doug for a white book and he’d be more than happy to give you one! 
We have been so humbled by our sweet Sophie in this area.  Sad to say, but if I weren't helping her to memorize scripture, I am pretty certain I wouldn't be memorizing any at all.  Oh, Lord, help me to see my need to have Your word in my heart at all times!
This week our church is starting 6 weeks of prayer walking.  We have been asked to spend the next 6 weeks prayer walking the street we live on.  I have to confess, there is nothing in me that really wants to do this!  Well, I don't mind praying and I don't mind walking, it's the going up to my neighbors, talking to them, and getting prayer requests from them that I don't want to do.  This will sound horrible, but it is soooooo true: I have no desire to know more about my neighbors or for them to know me.  But, this is also true, they need Jesus every bit as much as I do.  But, to be honest, I would prefer for God to send someone else to share with them.  I am fine right where I am.  Oh, but God doesn't like to leave us comfortable for long, does He?  So, here we go, on another adventure, though this time I am much more reluctant to follow.  Lord, change my heart and attitude toward my neighbors.  Fill me with your love for them.  Fill me with an urgency to share You with them.  Lord, show me how to make Your holy and precious name known to those who live all around me.  Use me, Lord.  Mold and change me to be one who follows You, no matter what.  May I count all loss, save knowing You.  Lord, make me willing, heart and soul, to do whatever You ask of me.  Give me boldness to declare Your name and words to share Your message with those on my street.  Change this city one home at a time!

March 07, 2012

Lessons from the Lent Tree

Oh, how I have enjoyed doing our Lent Tree!  What great lessons God has given me through each of these days.  Day 6 was one of my faves...the story of Abraham and Isaac.  Oh, how I love this story.  It's the first time God reveals Himself as The LORD will provide.  And oh, how he did provide!  He provided Abraham with all the faith and trust he needed to be obedient to something that seemed so crazy...and most importantly, He provided the lamb for the sacrifice.  What an amazing God!  He provides everything we need and we can trust Him 100%!!

Today's also hit me.  It was the story of the children of Israel asking God for a king so they could be like everyone else around them.  All this time they had been led by God, but that just wasn't enough.  They needed to be like all the other nations they saw.  Man, that stepped on my toes today.  How often am I staring right at God and all the amazing things He's giving me, and I choose instead to be just like the world.  Rather than taking God's best, I pick up that bag of manure the world thinks is so great, and off I go, not realizing what I am doing.  But, oh, the hope that was in that story.  Yes, God gave in and gave them what they asked for, he let them be like the world.  And oh, they paid for it over and over as king after king chose the world instead of God.  But, it was also through this line He brought us His Son.  It was through this imagery He declared to His people what He would do for them, a kingdom with no end, a king who would rule for eternity!  How sweet to cling to that hope...even when I make wrong or bad choices, God can still use that to bring about His glory and draw me nearer to Him!  Thank You, LORD!

March 02, 2012

Time Keeps Marching On...

You know, when I started this blog, I had grand intentions of writing something fun and witty and possibly even helpful at least once a week.  As you can tell, that is not so much happening.  There are two reasons for this: 1-I just don't seem to be able to find that time to do that, and 2-(and the main reason) I just don't have anything that great to say!

Anyway, things are pretty exciting here in the McSmith house...or at least I think so.   We're in the midst of Lent and we are doing several new things in our house to celebrate and point our hearts toward Christ in this season.  We are doing a Lent Tree, which is much like the Advent Tree that we did at Christmas.  I have so enjoyed retelling these great Old Testament stories each day and seeing anew how every detail points to Christ!  It has also been very neat to see Sophie start to grasp just little pieces here and there in each story and it's correlation with Christ and His dying on the cross for our sins.  We've pretty much been able to share the plan of salvation everyday.  God is good!

Sophie finished memorizing the scripture in our white book from church.  We are so proud of her!!  She worked really hard at it.  And while I must admit that there are times I am pretty sure she was only learning them in order to get that piece of candy, we are praying that God will use those scriptures to grab hold of her heart and open it to His truth, which will draw her to salvation.  Over the next year we'll be learning The Sermon on the Mount, just two or three verses at a time each week.  Looking forward to all we will learn together in this process (even though there will be a lot of hard things to explain, as the verses talk about divorce and adultery.)

I've also really enjoyed doing more cooking and making things from scratch! Who knew!  And homeschooling has been great for that.  Just in the last week or so we've made blueberry muffins, brownies, granola, pretzels, and pop tarts!  Great ways to learn about other states, remembering to pray, serving others, and fractions.  Good times in this house!!!!!

I've also enjoyed taking part in Ann Voskamp's JOY DARE challenge.  Each month she prints off a list that has 3 different kinds of gifts to look for each day and be grateful.  For instance, one day was 3 gifts outside and today's was 3 green gifts.  Some days it's more challenging than others to come up with the three gifts that day, but so fun to always be searching to find those sweet little gifts each day.  Just three among the thousands He gives every moment of every day!!!