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

 

Letters

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When my husband and I first started dating, during my Senior year of high school, he would drive up to my school and leave hand written notes under the windshield wipers of my car. Ah yes, the days before texts and emails. Do you remember? They were pretty special!

I loved coming out to a wrinkly piece of paper with words that he had carefully crafted. I think I loved even more that he had driven 20 minutes to make my day.

I couldn’t help but read every word meticulously, and I even memorized some of them. Yes, I realize that’s nerdy, but don’t tell me you’ve never done it! I felt the love from beginning to end and I always loved the end. The closure to a letter says so much.

This morning, as I was reading Ephesians, a letter from Paul to a church he loved in Turkey, I sensed that same kind of affection. This was a church that he cared for and felt like teammates with. They had once been sold out to idolatry, but now they were unified in their love for the Lord. As their teacher/leader, Paul encouraged them in their faith and provided guidance that the Spirit of the Lord spoke to him.

He starts off by calling them “faithful followers of Christ Jesus” and confirms their identity in Christ. He tells them that he never stops praying for them and longs for them to continue to grow in their knowledge of God. A beautiful beginning to any letter, I might add.

“I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people.”

In other words, being adopted by God is pretty special and we have much to look forward to!

Paul reminds them that they all were once “dead” in their sin and lived just like the rest of the world, but because God is rich in mercy, they and “we” have been brought out of death into life and are one with Christ.

Let’s pause here for a second.

If you are a follower of Jesus, I hope you live in the truth of your adoption. You were without hope and without God, deceived by the devil himself, but because Jesus, who is rich is mercy died to save you, you are now a part of God’s family. Even though you lived like the rest of this dark world, you are no longer a part of them. Satan, who is the spiritual work in the hearts of those who haven’t given their lives to Christ, is no longer your Master.

No longer your Master. You now live in the resurrected truth of Christ! Which by the way, is why Easter is such a celebration and should be considered more than one hour on an upcoming Sunday in April. He didn’t stay dead, but rose 3 days later and revealed himself to over 500 eyewitnesses, who saw the healing nail marks in his hands. This revolutionized the church and sent Peter and the other disciples on a mission to see other slaves of Satan become free.

Paul, the writer of this letter, was at one time, persecuting Christians and literally dragging them to their death. God blinded him, spoke to him, and Paul was never the same.

So, as he writes this letter and many others in the New Testament, he fully understands what it means to have lived in obedience to Satan. (See chapter 2) But, even more so, he wants this church and others to grasp the miracle it is, to no longer be his slave, because of Jesus.

Paul calls himself a “slave to Christ”. He was willing for absolutely anything to happen to him for the sake of Christ, whom he owed his very life. We can learn so much from this attitude; it’s definitely not popular in our culture. See also Philippians 2:5-8

There is so much division within the church of America. So many people are trying to dismiss the truth of God’s word; twisting it to fit their liberal ideas. Paul exhorts us to follow God’s example in everything we do and live a life that is the example of Christ. Those are big words from chapter 5. Don’t miss them!

This makes me consider some things I’ve seen on Facebook lately. Are Christians really following God’s example in everything we do? If we want to know what He thinks about social issues, we don’t need to go much further than his word. Study it and you will find the answers, because all scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and makes us realize what is wrong in our lives. So that we will be equipped for every good thing God wants us to do. (2 Timothy 3:16) There is so much there-that will be a blog for another day.

Paul closes his letter to these Christians with these kind words: “May God’s grace be upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”

Oh Lord, raise up Christians who will love you this way and shower your grace on us!

 

 

All About the Bread

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Our family tried a Gluten-free diet for the last six weeks. We’ve heard a lot about the effects of our over-indulgent gluten society and thought we’d see if we noticed any physical or health benefits from removing it; we did. I quickly began scouring the Internet for gluten-free recipes and took to Facebook, where many friends gave helpful advice on the subject. We made granola bars and snacks and bread.. Oh my, did we make bread!

I realized that our main issue was going to be finding the RIGHT bread. Because there are six of us in our family, we go through almost an entire loaf of bread in one meal! When you’re buying cheap loaves at the store this isn’t a terrible inconvenience, but when you’re making every loaf yourself, it is.

I probably tried 5 different bread recipes and finally found a couple that worked… most of the time.  But in the process, I threw at least 4-5 loaves in the garbage. It was such a waste of time and resources that I found myself often frustrated.

In all the hours spent trying to find just the right bread, (that actually rose and came out of the oven taller than the 1 1/2 inch loaves that went in the garbage), I realized something-bread is really important to our lives. In fact, scripture talks a lot about the provision of bread.

As the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, (Exodus 16) God provided bread, called “manna”. This bread was a symbol of the Lord’s provision and presence. Each morning, as they collected what each member of their family needed for that day, they were forced to trust God to provide. There was no pantry stocked with flour and oil, there was only wilderness. God said “I’m going to test them in this to see if they will follow my instructions”. We know from scripture that those who gathered just a bit more than they needed ended up with a jar full of maggots.

I wonder how many of us would wake to “maggots” if this was a measure of our trust in God today?

Later, as Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, he would say “Give us this day our daily bread”. (Matthew 6, Luke 11) In other words, “give us what we need for today”, just like the Israelites experienced. Because as we have to depend on the Lord for every bite of food we eat, we begin to trust him more. These Old and New Testament correlations are thrilling to me and literally sprinkled all throughout scripture.

“By gathering two quarts for each person, everyone had just enough. Each family had just what it needed”. Excerpts from Exodus 16:18

As I struggled with one of the last loaves of bread these past six weeks, God reminded me to depend on him and to trust in him-the “bread of life”.

In John 6, we see another example of bread, but this one connects the crowds coming to find Jesus with what happened years before in the wilderness. These crowds of people had read the Law (Genesis-Deuteronomy) and knew that God had provided manna for the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. But, what they did not yet know was how God was providing for their eternal needs through Jesus, who was standing right in front of them. Jesus began to tell them: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” These were the same crowds who watched Jesus turn a little boy’s lunch into a feast of fish and bread the day before. Now, Jesus was explaining that the substance they so badly needed in order to survive, “bread”, was actually, him. Imagine how revolutionary that idea would have been! These people knew their physical need for bread, but now they were beginning to understand their spiritual need for the “bread of life”.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:47-51

I was so thankful for this reminder, but it’s always been “all about the bread”.

If this encouraged you today, share with your friends!!

All-Inclusive?

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Years ago, my husband and I went to an All-Inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic with some friends. The beaches were pristine and the sand felt like flour between our toes. I had never seen such turquoise water in my life! Inside the resort, we didn’t have a care in the world; it was “All-Inclusive” after all. When we were hungry, we ate. When we wanted a tropical drink, we had one. If we were thirsty while swimming, we just swam up to the bar and ordered a drink- a non-alcoholic one, in case you were wondering. It was glorious!

But, life isn’t “all-inclusive”. However, this idea pervades our culture and many have adopted it as truth.  Have you ever heard this? “Well, how can you say that there is only one way to God? I mean, that just seems so exclusive. What about the Buddhist or the Muslim? I think that if you just do more good than bad, you should be able to earn a spot in the Kingdom of God.”

It sounds so nice, doesn’t it? Every one’s invited; find your own way and you get in.

But the problem is, it just isn’t true.

Far greater than our minds can fathom, is the God of the universe, whose plan for salvation included his own Son bearing the weight of the world’s sin. His grand plan changed everything known to humanity and rocked even the most “spiritual” of people, who at that time, had read the Torah and knew it word for word. His plan was exclusive, in that not everyone would choose to follow Jesus, but His forgiveness was offered to all.

In Acts 3 and 4, Peter and John had just been used by God to heal a man, lame since birth. This didn’t go over well with the Sanhedrin, a group of 71 “ultra-religious” Jewish men. After all, these men were speaking of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and this idea wasn’t included in the Torah. Were they a political threat to the Sanhedrin or just grossly mistaken?

Peter and John found themselves being confronted by this large group of men, as they stood defending by what name and by what kind of power they had healed this man.

Their response (Acts 4): “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Did you catch that last verse?

“There is No other name by which we must be saved.”

So, it’s not “all-inclusive-everyone find their own way-salvation”. It is through one name: Jesus. But as Peter says, “Repent and turn back so that your sins may be blotted out and times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

Your “refreshment” comes from His very presence. And I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the Lord and all of His promises over a simple guess and a hope that we all “find our own way” any day! But, that is life-change; the same life-change that this lame man had just experienced.

If you stood before a council and had to answer the questions, “by what name and by whose power do you live?” I pray you would be able to answer with boldness, “by Jesus, because salvation is found in no one else!”

Are you listening?

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When Samuel was just a little boy, his mother Hannah brought him to the Temple of God to live and work with Eli, the priest. It was a tearful promise she had given the Lord in her barrenness, but she kept it when Samuel had been weaned.

As Samuel grew, the Lord found favor with him. He assisted Eli with anything necessary at the Temple and received yearly visits from his mother and father.

One night as Samuel was sleeping, he heard, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Samuel assumed it was Eli calling for him and showed up in his room saying, “Yes, what is it?”

Eli knew he hadn’t called Samuel and sent him back to bed.

This continued two other times. The first two times Eli sent Samuel back to bed, but the last time, it dawned on Eli that this was indeed the Lord calling out to Samuel. He instructed Samuel on what to say the next time the Lord called out to him. Samuel obeyed and went back to bed, but this time he was listening and ready to answer. (Found in 1 Samuel 3)

This interaction makes me consider a few things:

1.     Samuel was still young when he first heard from the Lord, but he didn’t recognize the Lord’s voice. I wonder how often we miss the Lord’s voice, because we don’t recognize it? I wonder if it’s because we don’t know what God’s voice sounds like, what His character is, or even how to listen through time spent in his word. There are many “voices” vying for our attention and much of the time they win. Our facebook, twitter, and iphones are screaming the loudest, so we have to take steps to quiet them, allowing us to hear from the Lord, who gives instruction through his word. If we don’t spend time in it, we miss out on so many specific instructions that have already been given.

2.     Secondly, notice that an older “wiser” person with more experience was placed in Samuel’s life to offer instruction and discipleship. Samuel was in the care of Eli and it was Eli’s responsibility to help him discern the voice of the Lord and respond appropriately to it.  Problem was, Eli wasn’t discipling his own children, but that’s for another day. As leaders, teachers and parents, we also have that privilege and responsibility for the children placed in our lives-especially those in our own homes. If I am to ever instruct someone else on the things of the Lord, I have to begin there myself. As you begin teaching others, here are a few simple steps to get you started: Start by opening your Bible and reading scripture with your child (or someone you’re discipling). Make a few observations about the text. Then, ask them what the Bible says. Now, ask them how this applies to them. Teach them to “marinate” on it for a minute as they ask the Lord to speak to their heart. Often, after reading my Bible, I just sit for a few minutes in my chair and reflect on what I just read. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.  2 Timothy 3:16

3.     The next morning in our story, Samuel went to Eli with the information God had given him. It was difficult information, but it had to be relayed in its entirety. I believe that’s how a lot of pastors, teachers and even parents feel as they relay God’s word. The message isn’t always peaceful and comforting, but it still has to be spoken. And sometimes, (as with Eli) there are serious consequences to sin. We love to talk of grace, but the truth is, God disciplines those He loves and those we are teaching need to be taught about the seriousness of sin. (Hebrews 12:6)

So who has God placed in your life to share His instruction with? May we each be faithful to share how to listen to God’s voice through His word, receive instruction, and respond appropriately to Him.

Remember them..

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Hey friend, I have a question for you. Who was it that first taught you about the Bible? Was it your Mom or Dad? A teacher or a pastor?

I ran across this verse the other day and knew I had to share it with you:

“Remember your leaders who first taught you the Word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and trust the Lord as they do.” Hebrews 13:7

So, I’ve been doing some reminiscing….

God was so gracious in giving me parents, who while learning God’s Word for the first time themselves, began imparting that truth to my sisters and I.

As a young child, I can remember lessons about tithing as I clung tightly to a crisp one-dollar bill in my hand. “You know Shanna, this isn’t all yours. Some of this belongs to the Lord” my dad would say.

Some of these lessons can be hard, (especially for a little girl who is saving for a new doll) until you realize that everything you have is a gift from God anyways. But, this simple truth sunk down into my heart as a little girl, so when my husband sat down with me a week after our honeymoon to write out our new family budget, it wasn’t a question as to whether or not we would tithe. The truth was already there.

I think the greatest lesson of my life was realizing what Jesus had done to pay for my sins. I was six years old when my Mom prayed with me and Jesus became my Savior. That night, I waited for her to come to my room and read me a story, but I didn’t just want the story, I wanted Jesus. My Mom faithfully read to us out a of a very large, red-leather Bible story-book. But on that particular night, she witnessed more than a little girl who was delighted by a story, instead my eternal destiny had changed! I can’t tell you how thankful I am that she consistently took those moments to share God’s truth with me!

When I was 5 or 6, I had a sweet Sunday-School teacher named Mary Jane, who would bring “flannel graphs”, which gripped my attention every week. I couldn’t wait for her to introduce another character in a story, be it a disciple or Jesus himself. My insides would just squeal with excitement!  And our class of little girls would hang on her every word when those flannel figures made an appearance.

So, as I came across this scripture, I couldn’t help but reminisce about all the people who contributed to my love for the Lord:

“Remember your leaders who first taught you the Word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and trust the Lord as they do.”

So I remembered and it was sweet.

These people who served in their homes and served in their churches played an instrumental role in my love for the Lord. They helped shape and mold my heart to follow Him and wow.. am I grateful!

So, I wonder who first taught you?

Thank the Lord for them today and maybe you’ll choose to be that leader in someone else’s life.

The Ultimate Valentine

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On the eve of Valentine’s Day, I spend the evening preparing for the moment that my little girls wake up and come downstairs. It’s almost always the same oohing and ahhing as they see the breakfast table decorated with pink and red paper plates and matching napkins. There are fake pink flowers that get pulled out for such occasions and a card with their name on it. There’s always a verse that radiates some bit of love from God to their little heart. I love preparing for these moments!

This year, the verse on their “Frozen” inspired Valentine’s card read:

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind can imagine what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Each time I wrote it on a card last night, I couldn’t help but imagine what God has been preparing for me, and what he’s been preparing for you. While I set the table for breakfast and placed each plate carefully, I was reminded that what God has prepared is nothing short of mind-blowing. He is after all, the ultimate Valentine! So, will you consider for just a few moments what he has been preparing for you?

1.     His presence- We know that in heaven, God will be present and so will Jesus and so will the army of angels that has been watching over us on earth. (Psalm 91) They will be singing “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty” and one day, if you have trusted Christ to take on your sin, which provided payment for your sins and gave you the most life-giving relationship with God himself, then you too will be singing in his presence. It might sound something like this: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11) He tells us that if you have overcome, He will be your God and you will be his son. It will be glorious. Don’t lose sight of the future promise that’s been given to us when life isn’t going your way.

2.     His Home- We are told that Jesus went to prepare a place for us and in Revelation 21, John gives us a look at what that might be like:

The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind can imagine what God has prepared for those who love him!” Consider these reminders to be your “Happy Valentine’s Day” from the One who most loves your heart and knows your deepest needs. Xoxo

 

 

You’ve Gotta Fight For It!

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My morning started off like a sprint when one child greeted me with homework questions before I had my morning coffee. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy talking, let alone answering questions before at least a few warm sips. However, her eagerness made my heart proud.

The morning quickly morphed into Phonics and Math lessons and memory-work review. We had breakfast somewhere in between lessons and while my older two daughters started copy work, I figured that would be a great time for me to start an exercise video. I’ve been working hard since the New Year and have to steal moments amidst my busy day to be a good steward of my body. I gave my two littlest children some new modeling clay that I hoped would hold their attention for more than 5 minutes and pushed play on my DVD player.

Jillian Michaels had it in for me this morning and began yelling her usual words of encouragement: “You had better give me all you’ve got. I am ganna bring….the…PAIN!” I warmed up as little girls tried, but didn’t succeed in quietly doing the chores I had laid out for them.

Five minutes in, my little potty trainer had to go to the bathroom. I paused the video and took her. If I don’t stay on this little one, we end up with an unwelcome “package” in the back of her little pants. Which reminds me, the last time she got busy playing, I had a serious mess on my hands. As I was dumping “it” into the toilet, she leaned over to watch. I struggled to remove “it” from her panties and looked down, because I heard a licking sound coming from below. To my horror, our dog was licking the remains off her little tush!! Potty training, I will not miss you.

I push “play” and start the work out again. Jillian isn’t relenting. Now she’s screaming about how I had better WORK and how it “hurts so good”. I agree. I’m feeling it. I’m lifting weights and torquing my body into all sorts of strange positions with the hopes of ripped abs and tighter parts. But just as sweat is starting to form on my brow, the children who are supposed to be doing copy work are into the pantry. This gets the attention of the little girls who were playing with modeling clay, and they decide they’re suddenly hungry as well. I run into the kitchen to find almonds on the floor and squished bananas in their hands. Pencils and erasers lie in disarray and modeling clay is now being “tasted” by my two-year old.

After cleaning up the mess, refocusing the little ones and “encouraging” the bigger ones with extra copy-work for not “following directions”, I push play again and determine not to be a quitter. This is a 25-minute video after all.  It shouldn’t really take an hour, but as you can see, it often does.

It’s easy at this point to just throw in the towel and be discouraged. As many friends have asked me, how does a home-school mom get any kind of workout completed or care for herself in between the constant needs of the day? In fact, how does she do much of anything other than teach her kids, make meals and play with little ones? Let me tell you the honest truth after three years of being on this homeschool journey:

Most of the time, it’s not pretty or tidy. It’s hard and even discouraging at times. Homeschool moms have to be both a self-motivator and a cheerleader. Her cupboards are full of art supplies, books and models of the planets. She teaches respect and discipline amidst making crafts and exploding science experiments, which is also a continual lesson in her own self-control. There are few breaks and not much time for her to cultivate friendships, which means that, at times, she just feels lonely. But, she does it because she believes in what her family is accomplishing. And when she watches the “light bulb” turn on for one of her children or experiences one of them reading for the first time, she knows that it’s all been worth it. There are other days, where she feels this is the best thing ever and can’t believe she “gets” to do this! The spontaneity that her day affords is a gift to her whole family.  And because deep down, there is a greater purpose in her heart that called her to homeschool, she can look with excitement toward the future.

I was almost done with my workout when I heard Jillian yell, “You’ve gotta FIGHT for it!”

You’ve gotta fight for it??… Oh Jillian, you have no idea!

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