Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Heart of an Issue



I had an epiphany today.  It came after a not-so-fun disagreement happening in my household which lingered from dusk through dawn and up until the very hours preceding this post.  I sit here, bone-tiered from the exhaustion of feelings moving through and around me and suddenly, I am finally  seeing into the HEART of the issue... a heart so beautiful, even in its hurt state, that my own heart hurts for not seeing it sooner.

I look at the Isaiah scripture I have posted to my monitor and it soaks in, like parched dessert land drinking up a cool afternoon drizzle of rain.  I should have just known this.

His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.  He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear.
- Isaiah 11:3

Our family dispute all stemmed from seeing eyes and judging from the results of such - hearing ears and making decisions on surface noise.  Oh, that we might see like Jesus saw, hear as he heard... the Jesus foretold with such beautiful accuracy in Isaiah... to walk and live and breathe amongst God's children and Hear Hearts, See Hearts... instead of all the messed up wrong words that tumble from our lips infecting decisions like a disease on rampant spread... instead of all the ucky-gucky stuff that spills all over our being in our actions and reactions forcing quick and often brutal judgement.

Oh, Father, help me to judge and decide... and respond... by what the heart knows, what the Spirit reveals... all that stuff inside masked by the ugliness outside.  Guide me to delight you by the reverence I might show you, searching hearts instead of responding to words and actions.


Blessings,





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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Post-it Love

I love Post-Its... they are so much fun!  I especially love doting on my husband with them.  Even the computer post-it program, I love leaving him secret messages he finds when he turns on the computer!

So this week's challenge to be creative, with one idea being to leave notes... loved it!

Last week I drew an "I love you" message in the dirt outside of our RV but I couldn't get to the camera before the message was gone.  Hubby loved it!

Today, however, he wondered what I was up to.  He checked the calendar to make sure it wasn't Valentine's Day already.  He wondered if he was supposed to reciprocate!  Because I didn't leave ONE note (as is more like my custom) I left MANY!

On the door as he walked into the office this morning:

In his empty and waiting coffee cup:

On the handle of the coffee pot:

On his Bible Study notes:

On his reading glasses:

On the back of his Study notes:


The words from my mouth and the actions in the midst of the tug-of-war I find myself in every day between listening to three different children talk at once, computer work, housework, homeschooling... it doesn't always look like I am doting on my husband.  But I am not done trying.

I won't stop trying until the day when every whisper, every breath, every look, every touch... all says "I Love You" regardless of the day, the response, the time.  

I know I can't do it on my own.  I need to be praying daily for God to enter in and work through me in loving on my husband.  If marriage is under attack in our country, it stands to reason mine is not immune!  Only God has the strong shield which can shelter me as I pursue my husband and pursue the proper expression of that which he needs and deserves!

Post-its are just the start!

I pray you are filled with the love of God for your husband for more than a temporary stick-it-up... rather some long-term crazy glue kind of love!

Blessings,




I have felt led to join Courtney at Women Living Well as she challenges wives with the, “Be My Valentine” Marriage Challenge. Join me!

 
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Everything Christmas

January is coming to a close and with it, Christmas is in that definite stage of being tucked back alongside all the New Year's resolutions and holiday greetings that made the season so bright and sweet.  The rest of the year ready to go into full-swing.

But I wanted to hold on a tad bit longer... let Christmas linger through January if I could.  Perhaps it was the mixed up Christmas season we experienced this year and the idea this book sparked that I might be able to 'hold onto' Christmas a little bit longer... maybe it was simply just how cute this book looked... I had a feeling it would become a treasure to be kept close every Christmas season.  I was not disappointed:

Christmas is not a day or a season, but a condition of heart
and mind. If we love our neighbors as ourselves;
if in our riches we are poor in spirit and in our
poverty we are rich in grace; if our charity vaunts not itself,
but suffers long and is kind; if when our brother asks for a loaf
we give ourselves instead; if each day dawns in opportunity and
sets in achievement, however small; then every day is
Christ's day and Christmas is always near.
James Wallingford


Everything Christmas compiled by David Bordon and Tim Winters was absolutely a gem.  It isn't just the beautiful cover that catches the eye, it is the well-laid-out format within the covers.


From the alternating traditional color scheme of red and green to the simplicity of all the nuggets shared inside... the visual aspect of this book does not leave one feeling overwhelmed by busy images or incomprehensible section lay-outs. 

It isn't just a superficial appeal though.  The contents are steeped with rich literature, helpful tips and fun facts.  Each day starts with a poem set to keep your eyes on Jesus and the Spirit of the season.  This, then, flows into a short story or historical account pertinent to the season.  Authors like Dickens, Irving, and Shakespeare have places within this text.  Traditions by country are shared and jokes for children are lightly peppered in for fun.  Delicious recipes tantalize the taste-buds. Trivia can be used to sharpen your knowledge or thrown out to share as an annual Christmas party game.  My favorite was the Lyrics to favorite Christmas Carols followed by the story behind their inception and the overall tone that Christmas is not just a day or a season... it is an occasion which is meant to be an always-part of our very being because of the King we celebrate.

 
I can hardly share ALL the great nuggets in this little treasury of Christmas... there were far too many to recount.  I can tell you, if you need to quick-reference any of the multitude of tidbits, the Index is one of the most concise I have seen in a long time.

The only negative aspect I can think to report about this book was the lengthiness of each day's contents.  Far too much for the average family to get done all in one day during the busy Christmas season.  However, I don't see that as a real negative since this can provide layers of exploration for years to come.  It will not become a once-read-done-being-read type of book.  No, it will become a classic filled with classics to grace your shelf or coffee table not only during the Christmas season, but all the year through.

Check your calendars, make plans, you will want this book come December 1st!  I know it will be close at-hand come Christmas season this year!

Christmas is the day that holds all time together.
Alexander Smith

Be Blessed as this season fades to the next,






* This book review is my opinion alone.  Blogging For Books provided this book free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Little More Jesus


Over at Group 412 we are studying Ephesians and during a cross reference I found myself reading the above verse.  Thinking on Paul discouraging the Ephesians from judging, putting too much stock in themselves, 'lording' things over others... and then knowing this verse may have been in the back of his mind...

...it makes me want to pause and ask:

Where is my delight? 
Am I judging things and people with my eyes and ears?

I need a little more Jesus sometimes.


Be Blessed this Sunday,







Friday, January 25, 2013

Mid-year Masony Meanderings


I do not know what we would have done this year without God's leading on reading about Charlotte Mason.  Pocketful of Pinecones alone has had SUCH a HUGE impact on our homeschool this year. (I just learned there is a sequel... I have GOT to find it and read it!!) After all... when your classroom is everywhere and no-where all at the same time... how do you get it all done?

Sometimes we don't!

Yes, our God-send has been the Mason Method and this mama has found such relief (aka-not feeling like a failure for all the traditional bookwork we are missing more than I care to admit!).



We have journaled, done some hands-on math, read rich beautiful stories to ourselves and out-loud,



given oral book reports, walked in the footsteps of history...literally....
(Click on images to see larger and read easier!)

but our favorites have probably been Social Studies and our Science journals.


I "teach" very little about science... I mostly share facts (often a sum-up or skim over of our textbook or other books), discuss observations around us, we explore...
btw, that is NOT a lake in Alabama... it is a thermally active lake in Yellowstone with beautiful black rocks!


we watch videos, perform experiments...

we pour over diagrams, and we copy them into our journals.



For Social Studies we have been blessed to travel to diverse places this year, sparking an interest in culture.  We have studied maps in depth, copied them, and drawn them (even my dyslexic has loved this!)  We have drawn flags and learned about their symbolism.  We have soaked up good literature from regions near and far.  We have drawn pictures, made comics and I have even set them to develop their own studies and reports on the countries we are 'exploring'.


It has probably been our most hands-on year yet and the kids are remembering more than ever.  And this week, as we have not been able to have a 'normal' school schedule on account of ministry demands... we have still learned because of this wonderful explorative technique which fosters and ability for the children to experience learning, not just pop in brain knowledge!

I pray your learning with your children is steeped in experiencing, living and exploring!

 Blessings,







P.S.  You don't have to travel the country to gain experience, walk in the footsteps of history, or explore... it is all around you, no matter where you live.  Just look!


 
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Letting Go of Familiar


It's called the Montana Knapweed.  I took pictures of it like crazy on our family retreat in August... it was everywhere.  My husband looked at me with that smile that says he thinks I am crazy and asks me, "You know that is a weed, right?"  I nod and smile back, "Yup... and aren't the dandelions pretty too?" 

Yes, this purple tufted beauty is not just a weed, it is a noxious one wreaking havoc all over Montana!  Yet I am fascinated with it and it's wild beauty!


Four months later I sat, thinking about that beautiful weed and how much it reminds me of the feeling of familiar

Familiar surroundings.

Familiar routines.

Familiar people.

Familiar.

It can grow like a weed in our lives.  Beautiful and almost graceful.  It can spread and take over.  It affects our attitudes, our outlooks, our willingness to step outside of our little spot of familiar... it can get in the way of God's intentions for us.

Like the nutrients being robbed from the soil where weeds take over, so, too, the nutrients of true joy and peace are robbed from our lives when Familiar is in control.  It kills all other potential for life and growth and other varied beauties.


Familiar isn't a bad thing... when you don't let it control you.  But I found myself controlled by it.  Like the campground and the Knapweed. 

I was frustrated that I couldn't fit familiar into all the unfamiliar places I was finding myself.  And, as if that wasn't bad enough, my agitation heightened when I was faced with realizing I may not have my version of familiar anytime soon!

But God opened my eyes.  He helped me to see a need to pull the weeds.  To find ways to embrace new surroundings, new routines, new people... everything... and love every part of it for what ever time it was destined to be my familiar.

I have been learning NOT how to cram "familiar" into my space, rather, how to place myself into a new kind of familiar and to know there is ONE familiar I always have... my Father.

Maybe it all sounds like gibberish or ramblings, but this missionary mama's journey has been a rocky road, bumpy all along the way.  The sun has shown and the rains have fallen... at times, nothing has looked the same.  But every step and turn, God hasn't changed.  His voice is still there, his arms still around me, his Guidance always abundant.

Letting go of familiar brought my heart such peace... such joy... beyond anything I could have imagined.


1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; ...7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. (Selah)
Psalm 46:1-3, 7


I pray you may hold tight to the only Familiar worth holding onto, letting peace and joy fertilize the ground on which God has you planted... however long he has you planted there!

Blessings,





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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Knitting In Love


We all sat chattering on about various tidbits in our filled-up lives, knitting needles faintly heard bellow the chatter and hum of the well lit cafe.  Then one 30-or-40 something begins to explain, somewhat miffed, how her husband decided to clean the carpets with the lavender carpet cleaner [rolling eyes and shaking head at the absurdity] she continues... now the dog's allergies are acting up and hubby went to the vet to get the steroids for the dog [deep irritated sigh, face drawn down in continued brooding] and now he is going to clean the carpet again, she finishes, shaking her head in obvious disgust.

I'm shocked.  My needles freeze in the middle of the new and difficult stitch we were learning and I just gawk Lord, give me words, I need to be the salt and the light.  Because all I heard was, 'Hubby forgot he can't use the lavender carpet cleaner and so the dog is sick but bless the good hubby's heart for picking up the meds and deciding to re-clean the carpet to get the lavender out.'  What I finally offered in a genuinely upbeat tone was, "I am so glad my husband cleans the carpets because I hate cleaning them.  It is such a blessing that he likes to!"

You could have heard a pin drop... even in the midst of the noisy cafe.


Last week I talked about the importance of girlfriends to having a good marriage but one thing I left out (and thought I would tackle this week) is our language with our girlfriends.


10 A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life...  26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 
- Proverbs 31:10-12, 26


Wives, I call you to stand firm in your faith and honor your husband with your words to others.  If his heart is to trust you, it is because he should know you are careful with his image in the eyes of others... that you are doing him good and not harm.  Our words are heavy and when we swing them around... people can get hurt.  Our husbands can get hurt.

Girlfriends are for girl chat, not man bash.

Girlfriends are for hobbies, not haranguing your man.

Girlfriends are for chic flicks and hot tea, not roasting your hubby at the stake.

Girlfriends are for many things... but they are not a peg board to pin all your hang-ups with your hubby on.

 

Can we share about our hubbies?  Sure... but we must honor them in how we share.  If we are angry... it is time for prayer (that includes a prayer to resist the urge to pick up the phone and tell someone what your husband just did/continues to do that is driving you crazy!)  Remember... we aren't perfect either and when the table is turned, we are hoping and praying and wanting his grace!



I prayed over my husband for 10 years.  Silly pictures like the ones above (and below) would have never happened in those days... he was much to serious and stern.  But, I chose to honor him with my words... even though, in human thinking, he didn't deserve it. Kind of like, how, in human thinking we don't deserve God's grace... yet he sent Jesus to die on a cross for us.  In all our warty-sinfulness, God loved on us anyway.  Waiting for us to turn around.  Don't we owe it to Him to at least try the same grace with our husbands and be careful what and how we say things to them and to others?

When I did, he saw it.

His heart trusted me.

 

And eventually, the good I chose to do for God, for him, opened his eyes to the light which saved him.

Wives, honor your husbands in your language to him and to others.  It will be the hardest thing you do, the most challenging habit to form... but it will also be the best thing you do and the most wonderful boost to your marriage.

I pray you take the challenge and, even more, I pray your marriage is knitted together with a deeper love, transformed from good to better-from bad to best... God has a plan, trust HIM with your him and let your hearts meet at the foot of the cross... even if you have to wait there a while for your man.

Blessings,




I have felt led to join Courtney at Women Living Well as she challenges wives with the, “Be My Valentine” Marriage Challenge. Join me!

 

also linking up with:



Sunday, January 20, 2013

He Will Help


We have help.

Really.

We are not alone.

We can rely on the power of God (v8)  
We can trust him with our stuff

All the stuff... inside-and-out.

If we guard the treasure... we are not alone... in anything.

Rely on Him...

He

will

help.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cold Mornings and Hot Pancakes

It was a cold morning... one of the coldest in Phoenix for the year.  Hard to believe we wore shorts and sandals yesterday... because Tuesday, it was COLD!

So cold, in fact, I took the kids into the church (we are camped out behind) and made pancakes for breakfast... to warm them up from the inside out.



They requested blue and purple pancakes.  I figure... if we can't have fun with food, what can we have fun with?  It was an adventure for sure!

But the greatest irony came as they sat swaddled in warm coats, still trying to keep warm, reading while I cooked.

It started with Brooke's current assigned reading in Boxcar Children: Island Surprise.  Sweet little Benny just didn't want to get up, he coward under covers claiming it was too cold!  Brooke squealed with giggles at how much she had in common with him - just an hour before I had tried to cheer her out of her sleeping bag, eyes peering over the edge fearing the frigged air our little space heater just couldn't ward off.

Then Brenden, pouring over The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe piped up just minutes after, laughing as Lucy and her siblings donned fur coats to fight against the cold of Narnia.  He chuckled as well and Ashley looked up, almost envious because her book had no such account... so she re-read her brother's to be sure it was right... then laughed along!

It was a cold morning alright.  But as we laughed and enjoyed our pancakes and good book chats, it slowly warmed up... not from the outside, but from the in.

It is in those moments I look at my small brood and I thank the good Lord for this time to homeschool... to gather, to love, to live.



The study challenges for Ashley and the focus issues for Brenden this week may have pushed me to reach outside of myself... to meet them where understanding rested.  But I would do it over and over and over again because of Cold Mornings and warm Pancakes and hearty laughs with my precious children!

I pray your homeschool week has been warm with laughter and love laced within the grindstone of learning!

Blessings,



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