Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Bonus Day...

image courtesy of Anusorn P Nachol

Happy Leap Day! What a wonderful gift an extra day is...

I had a whole list of things planned. I was going to take this "bonus" day and cross off a bunch of projects and get things organizing the basement...

But I felt God calling me to something different, something eternal...

So today, I will tell my children that their Father in Heaven rejoices over them, and exults over them with singing 
(Zephaniah 3:17).

Today, I will remind them they have nothing to fear...
For I, the LORD your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who way to you, "Fear not,
I am the one who helps you."
Isaiah 41:13

Today, they will know that the work of God is to
"...believe in him whom he has sent."
John 6:29
and that
"If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, 
and the truth will set you free."
John 8:31 - 32

What if, on this extra day of 2012, we...
...embraced every opportunity?
       ...took every thought captive for Christ?
               ...loved our neighbor as ourselves?
                      ...prayed without ceasing?
                          ...gave thanks in everything?
                               ...walked by faith and not by sight?

Happy Leap Day, everyone. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Morning music...

I smiled first thing this morning and it was a wonderful way to start my day.

I heard Little One's sleepy voice call out "daaaaaa-dddeeeee..." My husband walked into her room and quietly told her it's too early for her to start her day.

She was unconvinced.

As my husband and I sat and sipped our coffee and tried to wake up, we heard little footsteps on the stairs.

Little One was standing in the hallway smiling at her daddy.

We snuggled her on the sofa with a blanket and she closed her still-sleepy eyes. Precious Girl came down a few moments later, quickly followed by her brother...

I asked Little One what woke her so early. "Mommy, the birdies sing their morning music to me and I get waked up."

image courtesy of Rosemary Ratcliff

As I sit here typing, I can hear our family's "morning music" in the background. The sound of a shower...the whir of the washing machine...the sound of a nebulizer...pages turning in a favorite book...the sound of a large lego battle...Little One reading a story to her blankie...the occasional giggle...the refrigerator door opening - and closing...the noise of the dishwasher being emptied...

It's a symphony to my ears. I'm so glad I got up early to hear the music in our home.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Good morning, God...

image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev

Good morning, God.

I'm so thankful for today. The frost sparkles on the grass as the sun begins to peek over the horizon. What a beautiful sight!

My Little One snuggles in my lap and I drink in her sweet almost-baby smell. I'm so thankful that we get to see your sunrise gift together today.

The smell of warm coffee wakes my Precious Girl and she comes downstairs and smiles at me. That smile is the greatest gift of today.

Little Man wakes uncharacteristically early and joins us as we watch the sun begin to rise over the trees.

It is going to be a good day!

Happy Monday, everyone. I hope that you will look for the blessings God has hidden in this wonderful day!

This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118: 24

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When you can...

Yesterday I posted about the wonderful grace of God for those times when you feel like
you. just. can't...
(you can read it here if you'd like.)

But as I was spending time reading the Bible this morning, I realized that the times when we believe (mistakenly) that we can do it all are perhaps more dangerous...

When I feel weak and insufficient I am quick to fall on my knees and cry out to God. In those moments there is nothing else that I can do but pray...

Those "I-can't-do-this-one-more-moment" times draw me nearer to my Heavenly Father and he feels as close as my next breath...

The danger comes when life gets better...

When illnesses are healed...
When good times return...
When hospital bills are paid in full...

When life becomes ordinary, I fall into the trap of self-reliance. I forget how desperately I need my savior because there is no imminent danger. When the road ahead is straight and the course seems clear, I forget that I am not enough...I forget that I don't forge my own way in the world...
image courtesy of Ambro

God wants to be just as close to us during times of plenty as he is during times of desperate need.

What if -when life is coasting along just fine - we were still desperate for His presence?

What if - when we really believe that we CAN do all things -

we didn't forget the second part of the verse...

through Christ who strengthens me?
(Philippians 4:13)

Our goal as wives and mothers should be to live each day in humble reliance on God...
especially on the good days...
when it's so easy to forget.

When we walk through the valleys of life, it is easy to look toward the Father to guide and lead us through those scary places. But when the path is easy and our burden really does feel light, will we remember? Will we still acknowledge our insufficiency? 

It is my prayer that we will.

Monday, February 20, 2012

When you can't...

I can't do this...

I really can't.

Another illness? Another one? How much more can I really take?
I feel the tears stinging behind my eyes as I use that cheerful fake voice, "Ok kids, everybody into the car. Let's go home and get some lunch!" I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket and it is the one person who will understand...

As I explain, she cries with me. As she prays, the frayed edges are bound and I can go home.

My next phone call, to my husband, affirms just how weary we both are of this string of illnesses and accidents..."What now, Brian?"

"Now, we pray."

As we drove home, my children and I prayed. Not the "thank you for this lovely day, Jesus" prayers that too easily fall from our lips.

We prayed the hard prayers. The prayers that stretch. The prayers that can only come in a place of trial.

And as we felt the answers, our focus returned to hope. Because no matter how weary we are, we always have hope....
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope..."

We made a decision in the car to claim a verse, make it into a poster and hang it in our home where we'd see it. 
We are pressed on every side by troubles, BUT WE ARE NOT CRUSHED. We are perplexed, BUT NOT DRIVEN TO DESPAIR. We are hunted down, but NEVER ABANDONED by God. We get knocked down, but we ARE NOT DESTROYED. 
2 Corinthians 4: 8 - 9

Even today as I prepare for another visit to the doctor I will not be crushed. I will not despair.

I will wait, I will pray, I will rest in the shadow of His wings...

When you can't, God is infinitely able.
When it's all unclear, God has an eternal plan.
When you can't see the way, God is in control.

Linking up with:
These Five of Mine...
The Straightened Path
The Better Mom
Deep Roots at Home
Bible Love Notes

Thursday, February 16, 2012

When we pray...

Today I really feel led to talk about the power of prayer.  In fact, it seems to be one of those posts that God has written for me...
image by Arvind Balaraman
Recently, I have had the privilege of having an army of prayer warriors interceding for my Little One. I posted on Facebook that I was taking her to the hospital (for the 2nd time in a week!) and my friends and family responded with "praying."

If you were one of those who prayed, thank you. I felt your prayers.

But what does that really mean? Here is what I experienced...

I left the house in a hurry, and left behind 2 crying and upset children with my husband. My heart ached because I couldn't be in both places.

As I drove, I went from sobbing (yes, I know not a good way to drive) to calm. I felt Jesus say...
I've got them. They were mine before they were yours.
As I acknowledged that, I felt peace. They are your children, Jesus. You love them more than I am capable of...

The doctor had asked us to go directly to the hospital, that he would call up to the pediatrics unit and they would be ready when we arrived.
We got the last room in the unit.

Little One got her CT scan that night instead of having to wait and worry until morning.

Her IV went in without a single whimper.

The nurses came in before Little One's IV emptied and started beeping - all night long. It never alarmed, not even once. I was able to rest and so was Little One. (If you've ever had to spend the night on a hospital cot, you know that was a miracle!)

My dear friend texted, all through the evening and into the night waiting with me, praying with me, making arrangements for when we came home...

If you have ever doubted the power of prayer - try it.
Today, on my facebook page for Homeschooling and Other Adventures, I humbly invite you to post your prayer requests. I will personally pray for each person that posts throughout the day today. One request...if you post, please also commit to praying for the person who is above you on the list, and "like" their post to let them know you've prayed. If you don't want to post your actual request, just ask for prayer. God knows what is on your heart. We don't need to know your situation to pray effectively.

And pray in the spirit on all occasions and with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people.
Ephesians 6:18

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Matthew 18:20

Prayer works! I can't wait to see what God is going to do!

Linking up with:
Our Simple Country Life
Raising Mighty Arrows

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Life lessons...

Today is my birthday and I'm kind of excited.

Precious girl and her daddy helped to make sure the house was lovely when I woke up this morning - that is always a blessing! Especially after I was away. She also decorated the house with streamers and signs, and fresh coffee was awaiting me when I (finally!) woke up this morning. I feel thoroughly spoiled and it's only 8:30 a.m.!

Birthdays are a lovely way to reflect on the past year and to take stock of some life lessons you've learned. While I don't profess to have any special wisdom (I'm certainly not old enough for that yet *wink*) I thought I'd share my journey so we could learn together...

1. I am more selfish than I admit.
I want to homeschool but still have my home look presentable and have the laundry done and wholesome food prepared. Notice how all these things are what "I" want. (sigh) What God wants is that I obediently walk with him and teach our children at home during this season. He is gently leading me to stop and pray before I make my to-do list for the day. When I do that, somehow all those things get done and no one feels frazzled by the time daddy gets home.

2. I need my time with Jesus.
A little while ago, I would have answered that the first thing I needed in the morning was a cup of coffee steaming hot with cream and sugar...Ok, I still need that but I love that God is cultivating a true love of his word in my heart. On those mornings where I opt to have coffee but no time in the word, the day will not go smoothly. I'm learning to do both and I love the sweet things God teaches me during those times - even if it's not quiet...which leads me to point #3...

3. "Quiet" time won't happen most days...
I had a mistaken vision of my mornings that went something like this...
I would wake up and come downstairs and brew a cup of coffee. And while I snuggled up on my favorite couch and read my Bible, the sunlight would peek over the horizon and I'd be fed, showered and dressed before my children woke up...
Sounds nice right? Here's the reality. Whatever time I set my alarm for, the children will be up first. It is almost a guarantee. So that means I am often reading my Bible on the kitchen counter while fixing breakfast for three hungry little people. That means there are crumbs and food stains in my Bible. At least you will be able to know I've read it. My quiet time will come...which leads me to point #4...

4. I need to cherish this phase of life...
Ever say "things will be so much easier when (insert name) is potty trained, and (insert name) doesn't need a nap"... This part of life with little ones is fleeting and I need to enjoy the journey more. Precious Girl will be 12 in a few months; it goes too fast.In whatever phase of mommydom you find yourself, take time to enjoy those precious fleeting moments. All too soon the house will actually BE quiet in the morning...

5. My husband is more amazing than I give him credit for...
Ladies, your husband is a gift from God. He also may do things very differently than you'd do them, but that is ok. Let him do things his own way. He has just as much wisdom as you do.
Early on in our marriage, (and sadly, more recently than that...) I used to try and correct my husband and teach him the "right" way to do things. Now I know that he makes a better egg in the nest than I do, and he is much better at vacuuming, and the laundry always gets folded when he's watching football (it helps him track the time or something)...

6. I am going to mess up...
My favorite Bible verse is Lamentations 3: 22 - 23 for that reason!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Linking up with:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day...


image courtesy of Pixomar
It would be so simple if love were nothing but candlelight, flattering poetry and chocolate...

The world around us is full of confusing definitions of what love is, what it should look like. But the kind of love celebrated in the world is sometimes cheap and hollow because it takes more than it gives.

I am so glad that God gave us such a clear definition of what love is. You can read 1 Corinthians 13 here if you'd like. God uses words like patient, kind and unfailing to describe love.

Leviticus 19:18 tells us who we should love: "but you shall love your neighbor as yourself." And God even tells us why we should love this way: "I am the LORD."

Loving out of humble response to God's love goes against what the world tells us - namely that love should feel good. Sometimes loving is hard. Sometimes people are un-lovely. But God doesn't give us an out. He doesn't say, Love your neighbor as long as they are nice to you....That is easy. God isn't after the quick and simple...He is after our hearts!

True love takes effort. True love stretches us in amazing ways. True love changes our heart toward the ones we love. True love draws us nearer to God.

True love is the gift I wish for each of you, dear readers, this Valentine's Day.

1 John 4: 16 - 18 (New Living Translation)
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

To my husband...

August 28, 1999...

photo taken by Crystal Cooper photography

We were so young, and so in love. Our lives were just beginning, our walk with the Lord fresh and still  largely unexplored... We had so much to learn, together.

Almost 13 years ago we said, "I do" at the same church in which my parents and grandparents married.  On our wedding day, I couldn't imagine I'd ever be happier...

After all these miles traveled together, our love is better and stronger than ever. We have both changed so much from those newlywed days, and we give glory to God for the changes he has made!

Our love story isn't perfect. We've had our share of heartache, disappointment and sorrow over the years. We've even had a few epic arguments misunderstandings in our marriage. But those things seem small compared to the happiness I've found being Brian's wife.

I have grown as a wife and help meet to my husband under the protection of his love. And I can honestly say, the person I am today is much better than the "single me" from years ago.

Here's what I love best about my husband:
When I am at my best, he cheers me on. When I am at my worst, he loves me anyway.

He walks beside me through everyday life and walks in front of me when I need his protection.

He allows me to make mistakes and extends more grace than I've ever thought possible.

He laughs with me, cries with me and stands with me through it all.

He treats me with love and amazing tenderness.

He points my attention to the One who loves me perfectly, eternally.

He says, "I'm sorry" and means it.

He prays with me and for me.

He willingly sleeps on the floor of a sick child so I can get some rest.

When he tells me he loves me, he looks into my eyes.

When he tells me I am beautiful, I can (even if just for a moment) believe it.

image courtesy of mack2happy

In our home, Valentine's Day isn't about over-priced cards and flowers (although those things are nice). It's about celebrating God's gift of loving each other and knowing that we can see glimpses of our Heavenly Father when we're loving each other well.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

No greater love...

"Greater love has no one than this, 
that someone lay down his life for his friends."

John 15:13 ESV

Valentine's Day is certainly a celebration of romantic love. And truthfully, that is an easy kind of love to identify and celebrate.

After all, romantic love is the kind that makes you smile for no apparent reason, and makes your heart quicken at the thought of your beloved...

But what about the love of a friend? 

That kind of love is much less celebrated and perhaps under-appreciated in our lives.

When Little One was hospitalized Tuesday afternoon (you can read about it here), I knew I needed help with my older two kids while I stayed in the hospital and Brian went to work. I didn't have to think long about who I would call. And when she heard my need, she actually thanked me for calling her!

That is great love. A kind of love that says "I'm so thankful you called me" (especially because she meant it!!!) even when your request calls for a bit of inconvenience on your friend's part.

Another dear friend texted me to tell me she and her husband heard of our need and were praying...from thousands of miles away!!!

Soon I received another text from another sister in Christ who said she would do whatever I needed, and said "Please let me help you..." and meant it...

Laying down your life for your friends, does not need to be a literal death. My friends continue to teach me that laying down your life means overlooking those little inconveniences (like schedules, time or distance) and letting the other person feel the love of Jesus through your actions.

1 Corinthians 13 tells us that we can do all sorts of wonderful things for people but if we "have not love" it is for nothing.

I want to have the kind of love that says "no matter what" instead of "what's in it for me". The kind of love that my friends model for me.

So today I want to say, "Thank you!" to all of my friends for the practical love they pour into my life; not only during emergencies, but every day. They are Jesus' hands and feet and I am blessed beyond measure because of them!

Linking Up:
Our Simple Country Life: Hearts for Home Thursday
Raising Mighty Arrows: Proverbs 31 Thursday

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

In the blink of an eye...

In the blink of an eye, my whole day changed yesterday.

A wonderful day of homeschool and extra snuggles with Little One changed in an instant when I heard the sickening noise of my baby girl tumbling down the stairs. I couldn't get there to break her fall, all I could do was scream.

She lay still for a moment as we felt her all over and my husband and I prayed over her as we checked her pupils with a flashlight.

She seemed ok...shaken, but fine...

When she started vomiting, I was concerned...

When I couldn't wake her up, all I could do was call out "Jesus!" There was nothing else to say. But I took heart in knowing that he knew what my baby needed and that he was in charge of the situation.

I called the doctor as I was putting Little One in the car...

She was listless and vomiting and we had a long drive to the pediatrician's office...

I prayed for calm and safe travels as my hands shook so bad I could hardly start the car...

We made it to the doctor's office (in record time) and he said she should be admitted...then he said symptoms of skull fracture...and the edges of my calm began to fray...

"Help her, Jesus." Was all I could pray as I carried Little One up the stairs to the hospital.

She looked so small and frail and they started her IV... "Help her, Jesus"...

She slept through her CAT scan... "Heal her, Jesus"...

Then the good news came, she only has a concussion. There is no bleeding or sign of skull fracture.

"Thank you, Jesus!"

God was right there with us through the whole time of driving and waiting. His presence was so close, I could feel him there...

In the blink of an eye, so many things that could have gone wrong were averted. And we saw once again God's tender mercies poured out on our Little One.

Thank you, Jesus!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Love is a choice...

Valentine's Day is only a few days away.

And while it is a celebration of love, somehow the "holiday" often falls flat. The type of love that is glorified in the world is self-serving and cheapens the kind of love celebrated in the Bible.
image courtesy graur codrin

After almost 13 years of marriage my husband and I understand that 
love isn't an emotion...
it's a choice.

Love is saying, "I want what is best for you, even if I get nothing from it." 

Love involves dying to yourself and serving...even when you'd really rather not. 

Love is loving even when the person is being un-loveable or unlovely.

Love covers wrongs and helps us to forgive -
even when we don't want to.

The Bible says it best in 1 Corinthians 13.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have (A)prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, (B)so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 (C)If I give away all I have, and (D)if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a]but have not love, I gain nothing.
 4 (E)Love is patient and (F)kind; love (G)does not envy or boast; it (H)is not arrogant 5 or rude. It (I)does not insist on its own way; it (J)is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it (K)does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but (L)rejoices with the truth. 7 (M)Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, (N)endures all things.
 8 Love never ends.


That is the kind of love that is worth celebrating!

Find more encouragement here:
Time-Warp Wife
Growing Home
Hip Homeschool Hop

Monday, February 06, 2012

Who am I?

I wear a lot of hats. You probably do too...

I am a wife to Brian, mother to 3 beautiful children, daughter, sister, name a few.

But who am I really?

For way too many years, I spent more effort than I should have trying to figure all that out.

Somehow I bought into the lie that if I poured myself into the lives of others I would lose myself...

I made the mistake of thinking that my life was essentially all about me...
and I was lonely and sad and unfulfilled. 

I began to think that perhaps I just wasn't "cut out" to be a full time mom and homemaker. All I needed was something else, something more would certainly fill the longing in my heart...

At my lowest point, I scanned the help wanted ads secretly after my husband went to work. I was willing to give up being at home to seek personal fulfillment. But none of the jobs seemed to be what I wanted. And I cried out to God in my frustration,
What do you want from me?
What do you want me to be?

God answered me, and I heard it as clearly as if he spoke out loud:
I want you to be mine.
image courtesy of graur razvan ionut

At that moment, I saw my attempts in a new light... I was not seeking to find myself, I was seeking fulfillment in something other than Christ. My motivation was not nearly as altruistic as I had lied myself into believing...I was NOT seeking to be a better mother to Precious Girl by being "fulfilled". I was being selfish and it was ugly.

You see, who I am is really not that important. On my own strength I am frail and often unable or even unwilling...

But Jesus is all-sufficient. 

And when I allow my life to be an outpouring of his love for me, I am willing...I am able...I am much more than I could ever be on my own.

Who I am is not so important after all...

Knowing WHOSE I am makes all the difference.

Linking Up:

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Book review: The Good Wife's Guide...

I have had the privilege of reviewing a copy of Darlene Schacht's new book, The Good Wife's Guide.

Darlene's blog, Time-Warp Wife, is a tremendous source of wisdom and encouragement to me. Her beliefs and her vision for what marriage should be are solidly Biblical and completely practical! 

Some of her chapters speak about managing ourselves, overcoming selfishness, setting priorities, spending our time wisely...too many things to mention here!!! 

Her advice touches on things that all of us, as keepers of our homes, need to embrace! When speaking about prioritizing she says:
Saying "no" today isn't about closing a door; it's leaving a room empty enough for God to fill it with something better.
- Darlene Schacht, The Good Wife's Guide

This book has blessed me tremendously and has really been a driving force behind some of the practical changes I've been making. 

I'd encourage all of my readers to get a copy of this wonderful, life-giving book! She has a link right on her website to purchase the book from Amazon. (Time-Warp Wife Blog)

Although I did receive a free copy of this book, the opinions expressed here are solely my own regarding her work. I do not stand to benefit financially if you buy a copy of the book - I just really think it is worth reading!! : )

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Vocabulary and truth...

As a homeschooling mom, I am blessed to be able to pour into my children every day. I'll admit though that there are days when I just wonder if they have heard a single word I've ever said...

Then, there are days when you see fruit and the reward is great!

Today, Little Man was working on his vocabulary lesson. It involved reading a short selection and answering some questions. He said, "Mom, I don't think I can read this." I just smiled at him and said that I was sure he could read all the words in the paragraphs. Little Man said, "No, mommy. I really don't think I can read this. It says that the planets were made by explosions and it's just lies, mommy."

He had my attention now.
My Little Man : )
I asked him what was wrong with what the article said and his answer blew me away.

"It makes it seem like God didn't make everything and he did."

As I hugged him close, I leaned over to look at his paper. In his 7 year old handwriting he wrote over the offending lines:

"This is not truth. God made everything."

Even in something as innocuous as a vocabulary workbook, we've seen things that we know aren't Biblical truths. But I've always just looked at them as opportunities to teach my children the difference between what the world thinks, and what we believe.

I thanked God for this moment to hear Little Man speak his beliefs, and I thanked my precious son for making today extra special for his mommy.