“Camp Virtue”

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Do you have little girls like I do? Ever wish there was a camp for young girls that would focus on biblically based character qualities, while pointing them to God’s Word in a fun and active environment? I sure do!

As I began looking over our summer and planning fun events for my kids and our family, I began longing for a camp like that, that also didn’t cost hundreds of dollars. Well, I didn’t find it. I began praying about what God would have me do with my girls this summer that would point them to him as well as focus on some of the qualities that we desire to see them develop. As has become typical in my life when I pray, I didn’t get something I could send my kids off to, but instead, God showed me ways that I could create this fun and equipping camp for my kids…. right here in our home! I know it sounds crazy, but just trust me, if you asked my kids what their favorite week of the summer was, they would be sure to tell you about “Camp Virtue”.

Camp Virtue is what I chose to call it. We held “camp” for 3 days in mid-July right here in our home. It took planning and “Pinteresting”, and prayer and study, but it was definitely worth it. My kids came out with a greater understanding of several stories from scripture as well as how they relate to our every-day lives. I never want them to think that the Bible is boring as some disenfranchised folks would have them believe. It’s just not true! And this Mama will spend her last bits of energy pointing her children to Christ so that they will truly know him.

Here’s a peek at “Camp Virtue 2014″:

One of the first things I did was raid our local Dollar Store like Southerners raid the grocery store before it snows. This didn’t cost a lot to do, but the impacts were profound. I put together a whole Hawaiian theme, complete with hula skirts for the girls, because what game isn’t more fun with a hula skirt on??!

We started each morning in our living room, which we nicknamed the “Cozy Room” for the week. I would tell my “campers” the agenda for that day and go over our theme verses for the week. We would play games to remember the verses and by the end of the week, even the baby was trying to say it! For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7

20140715_084837Then we’d move “fireside” where I’d tell our first Bible story, which had to do with the virtue we were studying that day. While those verses are jam-packed with amazing virtues, there was only so much time, so for our camp week we focused on goodness, self-control, and perseverance. Each story showed someone learning or exhibiting these virtues. Now, when I say one of those words around the house, their little ears perk up and I can tell they are recalling the lessons they learned from Camp Virtue. 20140717_092158Games are an essential part of any camp, so we played many. They were a mix of games I read about on-line or played with my own sisters growing up. My Mom rarely let us watch t.v. so we were always coming up with something to entertain ourselves. Thanks Mom! Your perseverance paid off!

We did several games blind-folded (because it’s fun) and because one of the verses that follow our key passage says: “But whoever does not have them (the virtues) is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” So, I tried to keep reminding the girls that we are to put these virtues on in increasing measure and not forget what God has done for us in forgiving us of our sins.20140715_092329

Snack time was a highlight of each day. I bought some simple Hawaiian themed toothpicks to poke into fruit or cheese some days, but our favorite was this little gem, which a friend had posted on Facebook and I knew I had to use. It’s called “Bear on the Beach”. Isn’t it cute??! This “honey graham bear” is laying on a fruit Roll-up towel. Adorable.20140715_103909Other game-times included going outside and using balloons or playing “pin the beach ball on the Flamingo” inside. While most games went according to plan, I did learn that water balloons look a whole lot easier to fill than they actually are and unfortunately never got to use those wretched things! I was disappointed about that one! 20140716_105838

Craft time was probably the girls favorite part of camp. We had so much fun painting sea shells, making Sand Art, and modge-podging (for the first time ever!) I don’t consider myself crafty, so this part was a stretch for me, but the girls love it, so I figure it’s time to embrace craftiness and just go for it!

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20140715_104407This hot air balloon craft followed one of our Bible stories, where some men brought their friend to Jesus to be healed (Mark 2). Jesus didn’t only heal the man, he also saved him! Our theme that day was “Carry goodness to all you meet”. These now hang in the girls’ bedrooms as a constant reminder. 20140717_110541

 

On our last day, we made bookmarks with our theme verses on them. I wanted the girls to be reminded of our fun week of camp all year-long as they read or just look at it. More importantly, I want them to hide God’s word in their heart, so this was a fun way to help them to do it. We laminated the bookmarks and used paper from our other crafts.

20140717_112107So there you have it…”Camp Virtue 2014″! If you ever wanted to do something like this or were inspired by reading this, do it!! You’ll be glad you did. It won’t be perfect, but you’ll learn a lot and your kids will too! Next year, we hope to invite a few friends as my prayer for our little girls (and myself) is that they would grow to be more and more like Christ.

What will you teach your kids today?

What will you teach your kids today?

We will all teach something: attitudes, responses, opinions, truth. These things flow naturally from our actions and lips. Our children are picking up on our views of the world, our views of God, and whether or not we really love Him-by watching the way we live.

So, what will you teach your kids today?

Deuteronomy 6 is an encouraging passage of scripture for parents, written specifically to the people of Israel, which encouraged them not to forget what the Lord had done for them. They had been enslaved in Egypt, making bricks with little supplies and they wanted out! They had witnessed intense plagues and saw death fly over the doors of those who didn’t really follow God. There was no “gray line” in regards to those who were God’s people and those who weren’t. The Israelites had an amazing testimony of the faithfulness of the Lord.

But once they had crossed the Red Sea on dry land after Pharoah’s army was obliterated before their eyes, they were given some instructions to obey:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

As you consider “what you’re teaching your kids today”, you might start with family devotions or simply reading a few verses together as you work through a book in the Bible at breakfast time. If your family is too busy to ever do this, then you’re too busy and you’re missing a key opportunity to grow your children’s understanding and love for the Lord. I don’t pass this responsibility only to my husband. While he is working 50 hours a week, my kids are with me. I have grown to take this responsibility seriously.

Parents were given a very specific command in this scripture. We are to diligently teach our kids to love the Lord with all their heart. That means very simply: teach them faithfully and with effort. He even tells us how and when to do it: when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. I love this so much, because I feel like God is speaking right into the very season of life that I’m in. We are home fixing meals, schooling, hanging out and tucking kids into bed much of the time. We drive in the car together, go on walks together, and enjoy a community of friends together. He’s not asking for something we’re incapable of doing; He’s instructing us to include him in every part of our day.

But how do you practically disciple your kids, you might ask?

Let me count the ways….

  1. Share what you’re learning. Start by simply talking to your kids about what you’re gleaning from your time with the Lord. If you’re not spending time with the Lord, that’s a great place to start. Ask Him to be faithful to speak to you through His word as you are faithful to show up. Then, share what you’re learning with your children. If they are small, keep it short, but remind them often. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
  2. Learn Bible verses together and talk about what they mean. Kids are sponges just waiting for information to be thrown into their brains. And, they are fact-mongers. Give them scriptures and they can learn it. I’m not even opposed to a treat or privilege as a reward. Keep it fun and light-hearted and learn passages along with them. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16
  3. As you drive in the car, talk about the Lord’s faithfulness to you. You spend more time in the car with your kids than your church will spend with them all year. Just.in.the.car. Let that soak in. If you are a child of God, then, you have a story of God’s faithfulness to you. Not only your own salvation story, but what’s God done lately to show himself strong to you? Share that with your kids! Big stuff and little stuff. Just share it! My guess is that you’ll be blessed by recounting the ways. For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9a
  4. Talk about song/media/book choices. Discuss how you can honor the Lord by thinking about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable like Philippians 4:8 says. If that means you first need to purge, then so be it! And quit worrying about what all the other kids/parents are doing. You weren’t put on this earth to glorify them. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8
  5. Be the example that you want your kids to follow. There are plenty of people that your children may want to be like, from movie starts to flavor-of-the-year musicians. But like Paul told the church at Corinth, “follow me, as I follow Christ”. Show your kids what a vibrant follower of Jesus looks like and seek other believers that they can emulate as well. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
  6. Pray like crazy! My husband and I pray over our girls most nights before we go to bed. They are tucked sweetly in their beds and honestly, there couldn’t be a more lovely sight! It is often during these quiet moments that tears have fallen as I petition the Lord for the specific needs of each child. My favorite verse for my girls is: May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you may never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:19

And of course, there are so many other ways! Be intentional and diligent. Understand that just as you are on a journey, so are your kids. Just because they learn some verses doesn’t mean all the attitudes and selfishness go away. They aren’t even necessarily going to stop fighting with their siblings. Oh, but wouldn’t that be amazing?! Just be diligent. In time, I believe you will see the fruit of your labor. And regardless of the outcome, you will have been obedient to what God has asked you to do and that in itself is a victory!

 

Ice cream bowls

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Who doesn’t love ice cream on a hot sunny day? Our family sure does, especially with a warm cookie at the bottom of the bowl. The other day as I scooped vanilla ice cream for my girls, I asked one of my daughters if she remembered the story of the bowls I was serving them in. She didn’t, so I gladly told it to her. It’s such a sweet memory, that I thought I’d share it with you!

Back in 2005, my husband and I moved from our home in Plano, Texas to Little Rock, Arkansas for a 10-month church-planting training program. We had a heart to start a church in North Carolina that would “connect people to Jesus for life change”. There were so many details that would be worked out over the course of the almost year that we were there, but the decision to leave was very difficult. It left us quitting really good jobs, selling our home, saying good-bye to friends and moving to a place we had never lived. Oh, and I was 7 months pregnant with our first child when we arrived. We’ve always had a thing about multi-tasking!

We were beginning to raise support (like missionaries) for our early church-planting years, so our budget was much different from when I was working. One Fall morning, I went to the grocery store to buy a few things and spotted the most adorable ice cream dishes. They looked like waffle cones dipped in chocolate with sprinkles on top. It was probably my maternal instinct kicking in, but I immediately wanted those little dishes. I could imagine my children giggling and eating out of them on some future day (when I actually had children of my own) and it was a glorious sight, right there in the middle of Kroger.

icecreamA moment later, reality set in… I didn’t have the budget to buy these little “bowls of joy” and even though I might be able to squeeze them in, we didn’t “need” to buy anything else since we’d be moving again in about 9 months. I put them back on the shelf and walked away. I told myself that “someday” I would buy little waffle ice cream bowls for my children.

Fast-forward about 3 months.

I was sitting at a Christmas party with a bunch of the staff from Fellowship Little Rock and all the church planters and their wives. We ate some good food, laughed and talked, and then there was a gift exchange. As these exchanges typically go, some gifts are complete junk and others are like hitting the jackpot!

Well on that day, I hit the jackpot. After lots of stealing trading of gifts, as I recall the rule was each gift could be traded twice, my husband and I left with the very bowls I had held in my hands that day in Kroger!! I was ecstatic!

Now, this probably seems silly to some, but when you’re stepping out into the great unknown and asking God to do big things that only He can do, you take note when He does even the littlest things to catch your attention. To me, it felt like He was saying, I love you. I know the hairs on your head. I know that what you’re doing is scary to you and I care. I even care about the ice cream bowls you wanted for your future children. He had my attention and He’s had my allegiance for much of my life, because you see, He does care and He does love intimately and He does know the heart’s of His children. And each time I scoop a little ice cream for my four little girls, I look at those four waffle cone ice cream bowls and I’m reminded again.

End of the year field trip: New York City

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After starting the school year with a trip to Europe..I mean North Carolina’s version of Europe, we thought we’d end the year with a real trip to New York City. We took just our two oldest daughters with the intent of peering into some American history, seeing some of the art they had studied this year, and having some “big girl” fun. Honestly, I can’t imagine taking anyone under the age of 6 to the city. It is loud, filled with exhaust and smoke, and crowded with people. It was hard at times for my two suburban girls! But, it made coming home so much sweeter!

I planned an itinerary months ahead of time, made reservations, and planned peaceful moments to be sprinkled throughout a busy 4 day trip to the city. My husband thanked me over and over for making reservations and doing so much planning. It really made a difference when we could walk right into places, while others were waiting.

This is how we arrived. God bless my husband for strapping a “princess” back-pack to himself and walking through the busy streets with all this luggage.

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The morning after our arrival, we enjoyed a harbor cruise to Ellis Island to learn about where the first immigrants entered the U.S. and climbed the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. The first “torch” that Lady Liberty held is on the bottom floor of the pedestal, so we were able to get an idea of how grand this statue actually is. From the base of the pedestal to the top of her torch is 305 feet and it takes 154 steps to get from the pedestal to the top! She symbolized freedom for so many, which we felt by visiting the museum on Ellis Island.

20140522_112444A German woman actually laid on the ground to get the above shot. Now that’s commitment!

20140522_112209We loved the museum around the Statue. We explored, complete with an audio-tour on our head sets. My second grader remembers freakish amounts of details, so this was a blast for her. She couldn’t move on until she had listened to every word. My first grader? Not so much!

20140521_190001Here are our girls in Rockefeller Plaza, where you’ll find the large Christmas tree in December. They have a summer-time bar and grill right by the water falls, which provided a really nice and peaceful meal. See Prometheus in the background? We loved this place!!

20140523_162718We visited the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) on Friday evening, because on Friday’s after 4pm, it’s FREE! Yes, that’s right and it’s probably the only free thing you’ll find in the city besides walking around Central Park. Our Classical Conversations program does an excellent job of focusing our attention on the Fine Arts, so my girls have studied these artists and painted renditions..ahem..”loose” renditions of their art. Seeing the real thing, was honestly such a treat! The above painting is Vincent Van Gogh’s “A Starry Night”.

20140523_165529Oh, and there’s that painting from the “Olivia” book! You remember, right??! Anyone?

20140523_164527By far, the coolest moment for me, was when we walked into the Impressionist gallery and my first grader said with a gasp, “Oh Mom….Monet’s “Water Lilies”!” I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry. This has long been one of my favorite paintings and Monet is certainly one of my favorite artists. Even the guard at the door looked down in surprise.

20140522_180515If you ever go to NYC, you must visit the Chelsea Market. Above is a photo of a spice shop called “Spices and Tease”. It’s a really cute place, as are most of the shops in Chelsea. I stocked up on a few spices and enjoyed leisurely adoring the unique blends. If you’ve read this blog for very long, you know that I love to cook, so pretty much, the trip could have been complete right here! But, while there, we dined at the Green Table (Farm to table deliciousness) and had gelato after dinner, and to top it all off we walked on the coolest “park in the sky” called the “High Line”. It used to be a railroad track, that has been turned into a sustainable, eco-friendly mile and a half-long park. After all the hustle and bustle of the city, we loved the quiet and unhurried pace of the High Line.

20140522_203857A trip to NYC wouldn’t have been complete without visiting the site of 9/11. Since our history timeline for Classical Conversations includes this date, our girls have learned a lot about what happened that day. They know where their Daddy and I both were, how we felt, and how this day changed America. The last time my husband and I were in the city, these memorials were still being built. They turned out incredibly! It takes your breath away to see thousands of names surrounding a waterfall of memories. In the first picture below, you’ll see the name of Todd Beamer, who we all remember from Flight 93. Not all men go down in history as a hero, but we will all remember him as one. I often think of his wife and kids and pray they are well. Around the memorials were the names of fire fighters, police officers, office workers, and women, some even listed as dying with their “unborn child”. My heart just broke as I remembered.

20140522_14163620140522_140801On a lighter note, we visited Dylan’s candy shop and ate dinner at Serendipity, which is THE quirkiest restaurant, made famous by a movie with the same name. It was a wonderful trip and a great learning experience. We saved one surprise for our girls until we were on our way to NYC….tickets to the Broadway production of Cinderella!! The show was a little (and big) girl’s dream come true with lovely gowns, in front of your eyes costume changes, and a fun storyline. Carly Rae Jepsen was Cinderella and Fran Drescher was the Step-Mother. Remember the Nanny??

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Hope you enjoyed a little peek into our NYC trip! Come back again!!

 

 

 

 

 

Third year down!

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This was our third year of homeschooling and I finally feel like we’re hitting our “sweet spot”. One fact I’ve found to be true about homeschooling is that some days are hard (and I need reminders on why I’ve chosen this route) and others are really great. I’m learning not to be too upset about the ones that aren’t so great. It’s just part of schooling my own kids and the more I accept it and try to roll with it, the less frustrating it becomes. Maybe the real lesson (for me) is realizing that I actually learn more from the hard days. God is strengthening me in character and growing me in so many ways as I teach these little girls. My dependence on him has reached new levels!

20140216_185118I have been empowered by schooling my own kids. They are learning tremendous amounts and are acquiring a zest for learning. This is one of the goals after all. I want them to thirst to know more and for the God who created it all. At the center of a truly Classical Christian education, is the Lord. He is in all subjects and they all relate to each other. It’s a rich experience and I’d recommend it to almost anyone. (Insert smile) I’ve also enjoyed learning along with them. Classical Conversations, our home school program, often talks about redeeming two generations of students, the parents teaching their children and the students enrolled in the program. I was not trained classically, but I am thrilled that my children will be, and I will reap the benefit of learning along with them. I was however, trained in a Christian school and am so thankful that my parents sacrificed to allow me to learn in an environment that was free from many of the influences that many children face before they may be truly ready to face them.

Right now, I’m reading a good book called, “Repairing the Ruins”: The Classical & Christian Challenge to Modern Education by several different educators. I’m excited to hear from others who embrace this style of learning and can impart their wisdom to me. I’m also planning to challenge myself with a little Latin over the summer as my girls have recently started a program that they love. One of the best decisions for me personally, has been to jump in with both feet and enjoy this learning process with them, instead of saying things like “I’m not doing that. I’ve already been through the second grade.” Yes, I’ve said that! I am having so much more fun as I embrace the lessons and choose to become a learner myself. However, as you may have noticed, I’m not blogging nearly as much these days. There is only so much time in a day and since there isn’t time to do it all, I happily do what I can.

Over the summer, I plan to have the girls memorize some scripture passages and read as much as they can, while also enjoying some downtime with their friends and family. Later this week, I hope to post pictures of our end of the school year field trip to New York City!! I hope you’ll come back.

 

 

 

 

Lessons we learned from “Jenga”: advice for married couples

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We host our e-group from church almost every week at our house. This is basically a “community group”, whose purpose is to practice the “one-another’s” of scripture, by embracing one another, loving one another, encouraging one another.. you get the picture.

One of the couples in our group recently got married after returning from the mission-field of Madagascar. Their romance was unlike many in that they hadn’t been able to date while there. They only “knew” that they felt so many feelings toward one another, but weren’t able to act on any of them until they were back in the United States. The tension between them rivaled only the best love stories and mimicked those of your favorite romance novel. But, they faithfully waited until the time was right and then chose not to wait much longer. In what most would call a whirlwind of wedding planning, only six weeks after their engagement, they were married. Our group wanted to celebrate this beautiful couple…and celebrate we did!

One of the ladies in our group brought the party to my house. With decorations and gifts, it was an instant celebration. She pulled a “Jenga” game out of her party bag and instructed all of the women who are married to write hints, notes, or ideas to the newly married couple on each game piece. They will be able to have a date night at home, pulling out our ideas and perhaps choose to put one into practice.

With colorful markers in hand, we sat around my table and got to work. We laughed and smirked and showed each other our best work and all the while had great conversation about married life and things we do to keep it interesting.

See, unfortunately, even within the church, marriages are falling apart at a staggering rate. There are many reasons for this. Selfishness and unrepentant sin are among the top. There’s dishonesty and a lack of real friendship, but in contrast, for many of us, there’s years of hard work and intentional effort to dig in deep and make our marriages the picture of Christ’s love that he intended it to be. We don’t claim perfection; we claim his persistence for us. We want our marriages to be a reflection of Christ’s pursuit of us.

Our list was fun and honest. It might stretch any newly married couple and of course is meant to simply encourage their new life together.

I thought I’d offer you the opportunity to see some of what was on that list. Obviously, I’m only encouraging married couples to use it. But do use it! Any relationship takes effort and intentionality. I hope these will spark other ideas for you and you’ll pass this on to your friends so that they can benefit as well.

  1. Go on walks together.
  2. Be spontaneous.
  3. Travel!
  4. Make a plan for date nights.
  5. Stay up late and watch movies.
  6. Take hot baths together. Two warm bodies + lots of soapy suds= a great time. You can do the math.. and thank me later!
  7. Hold hands.
  8. Take long drives.
  9. Listen to each other dream.
  10. Find hobbies that you can do together.
  11. Ladies-Wear your apron (only) for more than cooking in the kitchen. He’ll never think about pot roast the same again!
  12. Leave the lights on…sometimes.
  13. Hug often.
  14. Call each other during the day.
  15. Make his friendship your most important.
  16. Value your spouse’s opinion.
  17. Kiss every time you see each other!
  18. Laugh a lot!
  19. Guys, flowers are always a good idea.
  20. Make up quickly.
  21. Go on “dress-up” dates.
  22. Just say, “Yes!” Don’t be quick to say “no” to your spouse’s ideas.
  23. Dance!!
  24. Write love notes.
  25. Be quick to forgive.
  26. Striptease.

And on that note, I’ll end our advice. As a group of women who love Jesus and love our husbands, we hope our list encouraged you and made you laugh (or blush) just a little bit. But more than anything, we hope your marriage will flourish to be the picture of Christ’s deep and intimate love for his church that it was intended to be.

Maybe you’ll decide to make a Jenga game like this for one of your soon-to-be married friends or make one as a gift for your husband. Have fun!

Obstacles

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Our school year is drawing to a close here at the Lehr home. I’ll try to hit some highlights in another post for those of you wondering if you’d ever survive homeschooling your children. Some days, I wonder the same thing! But then, God graciously shows me again that this is the path for us, for now, and I am encouraged.

We started a Latin program the other day that we are just loving. Don’t be too impressed, I only wish I could speak another language. I’m hoping that my children will get the language gene by osmosis! Interestingly, my girls have begged me to do Latin every day since we bought it. I am now using it as a “reward” for doing their other work in a timely manner. Never in a million years did I imagine that scenario! However, with songs and DVD’s, Song school Latin has become a celebrated addition to our curriculum.

I recently learned in our study that the American word for “stuff” is impedimentum in Latin, which is where we get our word “impediment”. Impediment means “obstacle or hindrance”. So, we could conclude that our “stuff” is an obstacle or something that slows us down. I have to admit that this was an “ah-ha” moment for me.

Hebrews 12:1 tells us to throw off everything that entangles us (slows us down) including our sin, and run the race set before us with great perseverance. I know that some of you are wondering where you could buy some perseverance today! You’re tired and worn out and wonder how you can do much more than simply survive the day. I understand. I’ve been there many times. But, I don’t want to only survive! I want to flourish! And I bet you do as well. He knows your need today, ask him to meet you there.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then he has chosen you as his “plan A” to grab the hands of the lost and help them cross the finish line. Some of those people are your very own children. So, run with perseverance today! Throw off the many “impediments” that will try to slow you down. Some of us need to get off our technology and focus on discipling our children. Some of us need to quit being so entertained and “busy” in order to hear from the Lord and experience the intimate relationship he is waiting to have with us. Hold on tight to Jesus for strength and endurance when you feel you have none. We can’t do this on our own, but with him, we run victorious!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1 NIV

 

Praying through my home

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My poor kids have been sick on and off for about 10 days now. We’ve had days of relief and then like a blow to the gut, the sickness is back. In a moment of desperation today, the Lord reminded me of something so very simple: I need to pray through this. But not just about the sickness as I frantically wipe every possible germ-housing surface off with Clorox wipes in my hand. I need to pray through my whole home intentionally, because I believe God cares about what happens here.

I’ve done it before. The last time was with a heart of pure joy and gratitude, only days after signing the papers to own our home. My husband and I were both spent by the process of getting in it, which required 90 showings to sell our previous home. Yes, you read that right. It wasn’t a typo: 90….9-0…90.

We walked through each room adoring the craftsmanship and colors. We talked about what would happen in those rooms and dreamed a little. Then, together, we prayed. We asked the Lord to bless that room and all the wonderful things we’d do in each one of them. We asked him to bless the people who would enter it and those we’d have the opportunity to love in it, especially our own children. We walked to each of their rooms and did it all again, dedicating this new wonderful place to the Lord. It was special and I’ll just not forget how I felt that night when we went to bed. Perhaps no one has slept so peacefully in a new place.

Today, there were different kinds of prayers as I walked through portions of my home. Some prayers were desperate and some were thankful. As I walked into the Laundry room where there were piles of clothes and sheets from a sick little girl, I asked the Lord to fill our home with health and to give me a heart of willful service as I care for my family. This reminder of service is one that most laundry rooms could use. Can I get an Amen??! I also asked him to take this burden of illness and carry its heavy load, because apparently what I’m doing isn’t working.

As I walked into bedrooms, I was reminded to pray for these little hearts that call this place home and to tenderly cultivate them, so that they will grow to love Christ.

In my kitchen, I prayed that I will serve meals that honor the Lord, not those that are simply quick. I am teaching my children a life-time of habits that affect their every day in this room and if no other room needs prayer, this one does. Ladies, I urge you to pray in your kitchen. Your attitude about food and health either points your children to Christ or shows them that what the outside voices are saying is actually what is true. What truth will your family see in your kitchen?

We all have different sized homes. Some are big and some are small, but since people live in them, prayer is needed to cover them all!!

Let heaven fill your thoughts

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Sometimes, as I read scriptures I’ve read over and over, I’m reminded that these ancient words are for today, for now. In Colossians 3, Paul gives a simple, but timely exhortation for today:

Since you’ve been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at the right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not only think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

As a Mom, my days are often filled with to-do lists, what to make for dinner, and home school tasks. But as I read these verses, I’m reminded that these things are temporary. What isn’t temporary is my children’s eternal destiny and they are my mission today. I’m a missionary in my own home. I have the responsibility and privilege to share Jesus Christ, the one I love and have given my life to, with my four children. I can point them to HIM as we navigate through daily disciplines, fights with sisters, and the beauty of the sky outside our door. It’s no simple task for me and it’s no simple task for you, if you also have this privilege. Let heaven fill your thoughts and point others to creator of it all!

This is how I will flourish today!

 

 

Nursing your wounds

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???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Before I became a mom, I was a nurse. I spent a few years working on Cardiac floors and then began training as a Wound Care Nurse. While in college, I learned that nursing was not for those with a weak stomach, which is true, but wound care nursing took that to a whole notha’ level! There were times that I was literally up to my elbows in someone’s body cavity due to a wound gone bad. No, really!

Because wounds vary in size and severity, they call for different types of treatment. I’d pack some wounds with “silver” to kill bacteria and yet other wounds required a “vacuum” to promote tissue growth and prevent infection. It probably sounds strange to most of you, but it was fascinating to watch wounds heal.

Occasionally, a patient would require wound changes more than once a day if the wound was draining large amounts of fluid. Sometimes wounds would “tunnel” for several inches into the body because of infection and I’d find that the wound was much more severe than at first glance. There was never a dull moment in wound care and never a boring case. I learned quickly that wounds need to be cared for promptly or they just grow larger.

The Lord has often used life experiences to teach me more about himself and as I open my Bible, I find so many of these “life” issues addressed in matters of the heart.

We each have wounds. Whether you made decisions that led to your wounds or were the recipient of a heartbreaking and unfortunate event, you have probably been wounded. We all have. And one thing that we have in common is that no matter how we acquired our wounds, we don’t enjoy being wounded.

Some of you are walking around with “gaping” wounds. You’ve recently been wounded and you don’t even know how to begin to heal. You know that it’s necessary to tend to this wound, but addressing it means you’ll eventually move forward. You’re not sure if you want to do that and honestly, you don’t know where to start.

For others, the wound occurred years ago, but because you keep ripping the bandage off, it won’t heal. Instead, it just re-opens and bleeds a little more, causing you continued pain. It’s time for some wound care.

I recently had coffee with a young lady that is “nursing her wounds”. While we all have wounds, some wounds go a bit deeper and are more severe. She explained to me that though she works to help other wounded women, she hadn’t properly cared for her own wounds. In fact, she had covered them, hoping that “out of sight” would mean “out of mind”. But, this wasn’t the case. Her wounds began showing up in other areas, “tunneling” their way into her life and relationships, like a bad infection.

See, wounds that aren’t dealt with just fester. Often, they re-open, causing greater pain. Sometimes, they re-open at the most unfortunate times. As she sat explaining to me how she’s taking action to find healing for her wounds, I realized that she is implementing another nursing must-have: A “Plan of Care”.

In a Plan of Care, the nurse devises a “plan of attack” to help the wounded heal. This can include a multidisciplinary approach, knowing that some wounds require many steps and many people to truly heal. In real life, you might start by finding a wise friend or a good counselor that listens as you pour your heart out and expose your wounds. They may offer care by speaking truth to you, like healing salve.

I love to hear stories of people who have healed from their wounds or are actively caring for them. But mostly, I love to hear about their honest struggle as they walk through it, because after all, that’s real life. Bring me to Jesus in the midst of dealing with a wound and I know I’m in the right place. If there is anyone who understands wounds, it’s him.

When I feel bitterness or anger rising in my heart, it’s usually because I haven’t properly cared for a wound. Something is festering. In this case, confession is necessary to my heart being transformed. I think there are many wounds that need to be addressed this way. My response to wounds matters as well. If I dwell on them, instead of bringing them to the Lord, it’s like ripping the bandage off over and over and never truly healing. God longs for us to bring our broken hearts and gaping wounds to him. When it’s hard and overwhelming, the Great Physician wants us to turn to him, because he is our Healer. When I am weak, he is strong. His power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12)

There are so many types of wounds. I understand that I can’t possibly address them all. Would you consider if you’re in need of some “wound care” today? Then, begin the process of nursing your wounds if you ever want freedom from them. The God who sees your wounds is also the God who can heal them. Let your “Plan of Care” begin with him.

“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

 

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