Friday, July 31, 2015

Forgetting and the Absolute Power of Absolute Prayer

Isn't summer just that time when you either have NO time to check up on the bloggy realm and we all become drifters in and out of vacations, swimming, biking, hiking... living summer....... OR...... we become the immovable object in front of the computer screen wondering why others aren't checking into the bloggy sphere and thinking 'Shouldn't summer equate more time to catch up?'

I know, I have been both these types.

This summer has been a curious episode.  Kids growing older, my roll in their lives changing, and, as of a few weeks ago, HOUSE HUNTING.  It is hard to believe I have hit my 40s and never had serious opportunity to purchase a house.  Oh, we have considered, but our rentals have usually been so nice.  Our last one we were in for TWELVE years, brought home 2 newborn babies and raised all 4 kids there until God called us into missions.  It was an amazing HOME at a steal of a deal... locked in before the town became a tourist trap.  Why buy?

But this summer that all changed.  We felt this Tug.... this Pull saying it was time.  We bathed the process in prayer.  Our finances haven't had the best history what with a business that went under in the recession and 4 years of NO credit on account of field work.  But God saw fit to stamp approval and the process has begun.

So many details.

What I can share is, in this roller coaster ride I call summer 2015, God is working in big (and small) ways both in my heart and through people around me.  Just when I think I can maintain control... just when I think I have learned all there is to learn about my faith... just when I think I know what is going on (or have had my fill wondering what is going on).... God moves.

And now we are moving too!!!

It is a big story still unfolding and I look forward to articulating the whole tale when it finishes playing out.  One highlight I want to pause to share today is this:

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
James 5:16b-18

A lesson I apparently needed to RE-learn, louder than any other in this crazy on the blog/off the blog summer navigating the waters and cut-throat field of house hunting and buying, is to pray big prayers, expect big answers.

I spent so much time seeking God's will, I forgot how to pray God's will.  

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
1 John 5:14

I forgot to trust, with my whole heart, that if I pray His will ASKING for what I know will glorify Him....

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
John 14:13

.... then I don't have to worry about bad things being given.  I don't have to wonder if the results of my prayer are really God's best for me.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:11

It is part of the atrophy which halted my growth and ability to truly know peace and live in it.  PRAYER, the most powerful part of our faith and our hot-line to heaven.  Somewhere in the last two years I forgot how to pray!  I got stuck wandering.

I think, as the dust settles from this summer, I will have to ask the hardest question and face the truth of it's answer:  what started this decline? What caused me to forget?  If I want to avoid a relapse; finding, facing and dealing with the answer will be key.

I would challenge you, along side myself, to take this summer 2015, whether busy to the bust or lulling you to sleep, and do a soul search.  Seek out the corners and recesses of your heart and mind for anywhere your faith is in danger of (or actually currently in) atrophy.  The body of Christ is meant to be moving, breathing, very active.  

This self-search for me hasn't been easy,  but it has been wonderful.  I see it as part of my One Word experience this year as well.... the Balance of Faith and how to NOT let worldly faith (i.e. "religiousness") over-ride the true and balanced faith found in the Bible and simply trusting Jesus Christ.

I pray you know (or find) a balance of faith and prayer and trust in God's plan for all the big/small, quiet/busy moments of your life!  REMEMBER true faith and the absolute power of absolute prayer!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

More Than JUST Christians

Curriculum.  It is all I can think about lately.  I know, I know.... I should be enjoying the summer sun, laughing and playing.  Except, all but one of my brood are gone all day.  Will this be life when my nest is empty?  Only, I won't have curriculum and lesson planning to fill my time. 

The quietness began to wash over when my oldest left for college 3 years ago... apparently he was the greatest instigator of noise!  Who knew!  My second oldest is the one home with me all day and she is content to write or read or go in her room and play her guitar.  My youngest, when she is home, is the one to ask, "What are we doing now?"!  She is the one I, apparently, at times, still entertain.  I guess that is part of being the youngest, even at the ripe old age of 12 staring at 13!

It is days like these which have me increasingly asking, "God, what would you have for my life beyond my kids."  I know the time right now is to be invested in THEM.  I delight in that.  But they won't always be with me or needing me.  God didn't create me to sit idle.  This summer has really brought this to the forefront.

Those closest to me know I have struggled with our move here.  So much is different than I have always known.  It is amazing, in a small country like ours, that each region could have its own 'culture' and intricacies to learn.  I don't want to sound ungrateful, my husband heard God's call to put us here and while I didn't "hear" the specifics of where, I did hear sow for when we got there (here)...   

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.
Leviticus 11:6

A reading of Leviticus, recognizing the seasons of our life, and then having God draw THAT verse out to my eyes.... this and the calling on my husband's heart are what pulled us out of full time missions into 'tent-making'.  On the one year anniversary of touching down here I was participating in a Bible-Read-Thru over our great city.  I prayed over what time slot God would have me take and He showed me 11pm.  I have bad night vision and usually prefer to be sleeping at that hour.... but I took the slot in obedience and trust and when it was my turn to step up on the platform guess where I was to pick up reading?  Yup, Leviticus.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I felt it was confirmation; I was right where I was suppose to be.  Don't stop sowing, don't let my hand go idle because I know not which will prosper

Yet, in our time in this city we have met sooooo much resistance and a fair amount of personal hurt and frustration.  It often leaves us to ask "why" and "did we hear right".  We forget, God didn't promise us everything would be perfect and great... he promises us strength for the trials and peace in Him through our trials and circumstances.

Yesterday some dear sweet missionary friends of ours visited on their way through town.  We hadn't seen them in 3 years, since they left for the field in a highly sensitive country.  As we shared each other's stories and caught each other up, I reflected on Leviticus 11:6 with her.  After she left I still pondered and wondered... I have felt for some time like I am made for more than what I am doing.  Like status-quo is met but not much beyond.  I hear their stories from the field.... they have sacrificed sooo much as have others around them.... I once sacrificed too, but where do I step out now... why don't I step out more like I use to?  

I'm paralyzed.

I've seen it but I haven't really admitted it.  All of the negative experiences have paralyzed me... wondering what God is doing (IF God is doing...).  I have stopped.  That is never a good thing.  Sadly, it is exactly the victory the 'enemy' wanted.... and I have handed it to him with barely a fight.  

Laying in bed last night thinking on the day, the discussions and the Calling, I pulled open the app on my phone to re-read Ecclesiastes 11:6 and this is what grabbed my attention:

As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
Ecclesiastes 11:5

If I try to SEE what God is doing when He is working in the unseen places, how do I expect to have understanding? The book of John puts it this way:

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
John 3:8

When did I become a 'live-by-sight' gal?  When did I stop stepping out and putting others first?  When did I start letting the 'enemy' have victory rather than pushing back on discouragement, stepping out in faith, and claiming victory for the Kingdom? What happened to me??

I'm not saying I have been a horribly lazy, selfish and self-centered individual.... but what I do know is I haven't been as all-in... all.out.there... whatever and whenever you say Lord, kind-of-gal.  I use to be.  But in the buzz of life and the hum-drum of coming to terms with a 'foreign (to me) land' and the hurt and confusion which have accompanied it all.... I lost sight of the grander picture and call.

We are called to be more than just Christians.  We are called to be servants of each other and others.  We are called to sacrificial living as the supreme response to the sacrificial love God offered us through Christ on the cross.

One of my husband's favorite songs right now is plugged in below.  I have to ask myself: If I surrender my life at the cross.... why am I trying to live my life my way?  When we bow before a king it is expected we are submitting to His will and His way.... unconditionally.  So what is he asking me to do?

The church in many areas may have atrophied.... but that is no excuse for my complacency.  People on the other-side of the world are knowingly going into areas to be sacrificed at the slaughter of martyrdom just so others may see and know the Savior.  How dare I just sit in the church and do nothing.


I share this today as a simple out-pouring of my heart.  Perhaps someone will read and a spark will ignite.  I don't know.  I pray this might ring at the door of your heart today.... to search yourself and what God is showing you to do and how he is showing you to move.  The church, our faith, was not meant to be a noun.... it was intended as a verb.

As for me.... no more putting off volunteer work, conveniently forgetting instead of putting open serving days at local institutions on the calendar like all other significant events... and making it a priority.  No more asking what WE need before considering what others might need more.  After all, in our country, what really is a "need" in our lives of cable t.v., take-out-meals and comfy beds.  No more sitting cozy in my living room when an opportunity to go and reach presents itself.  Sure we need rest.... but not 99% of the time!!  Priorities are too out of whack.  And no more laziness when God gives me a message and directive for this blog!!!  After all, IT is a big part of my ministry (your blog can be a big part of your ministry too).

As for me,  I want my life to be a verb.  I want to follow God even especially if it doesn't make sense!

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the people of old received their commendation.   
Hebrews 11:1-2




Friday, July 10, 2015

Homeschool Journal: Dear Mom Without a Degree

Dear Homeschool Mom Who Doesn't Have a Degree,

I just wanted to write you today and encourage you to be confident because you ARE enough.  A degree collecting dust on your living room wall does not qualify you to teach your child.  Did you need a degree to be a mother?  To learn how to change diapers or feed your sweet little ones the right food at the right times?  Did you need tens of thousands of dollars to listen to 'professionals' explain the order of teaching your toddler to walk and run or hold a spoon or pencil and use it properly?  Did you need to sit, 4+ years of your life, in classrooms with piles of books and papers and due dates and exam stress to figure out how to handle a teething child or explain what the letter "A" looks like or how to count blocks as they stacked them into a tower?

The answer is simply no. 

Somehow, somewhere in life, people got the idea that the only 'qualified' person to teach and train our children was someone with a degree.  Someone who has spent all of your child's life not with them. Not learning how your child learns and when they have been pushed too far.  Not understanding the things which tug at their lives and make them hurt and not ready to pay attention that day. Teachers are wonderful people.  Most of them do have a heart for teaching and learn to have a heart for your child.... but they don't have our heart for our children.  Our passion to see them succeed in more than just academics and worldly ways.  Our passions and pulls for the spiritual well-being alongside their academic growth.

Remember, too, your children aren't just learning from a teacher, they are also learning from their peers... usually all the tidbits you would rather they didn't learn!  Dirty jokes and 4-letter words not on the vocabulary list.  Un-censored viewing habits are shared along with the best ways to lie and talk back to parents and other adults.  Even the best kids find themselves privy to all these tidbits at one time or another in their public school education.  Worst of all, they learn how to strive for approval and acceptance to avoid rejection (or overcome rejection) verses striving for their personal and God-given best to glorify God and know they are always accepted in His eyes.

My dear Homeschool mom who doesn't have a degree, if God has called you to teach your child, then he has already innately equipped you to be your child's best teacher.  Over a century ago when schoolhouses didn't dot our communities, parents didn't think twice about teaching their children all they needed for life.  Abraham Lincoln got all he needed to become a lawyer and one day the president of the United States from his step mom and a handful of books.

I know, because I am a homeschooling mom without a degree.  It was during a degree pursuit for Early Childhood Education that God called me to set my studies aside.  It was through these studies that I realized; everything I needed to know to be a good homeschool teacher was within me as a mom and within my ability to read any book or article to find answers to questions on techniques and tactics best for my kids. Anything I didn't already know, I had the ability to learn right alongside my children.

If you are reading this and you do have a degree... I am not intending to diminish your hard work.  But if you don't... don't diminish your own God-given abilities.  Pray and trust Him to guide you and give you all you need to be the best teacher for your child.  And on the days when you feel like you can't get anything right and you just lost your temper with your young student... again, realize, public school teachers have days like that too.  The difference is, homeschool students have the comfort and security of knowing they will not be rejected in those moments... that they are still unconditionally loved and accepted, faults and all.

Be confident, homeschooling mom, no matter your situation or education.  God has made you more than enough and that is more than all you need!

Train up a child in the way he should go;    even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6


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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Finding Purpose in a Plethera of Plundering

News broke last week which caused both celebration and deep concern... depending on which side of the line you walked.  I turned my back on my personal facebook page, I couldn't handle the mis-guided messages and distorted truth meant to justify sin.  I have spoke up in the past to no avail.  So, I hid in the pages of lesson planning because, somehow, for me, there is peace and rightness in planning the educational futures of my children.  Hope for something better even if it only shows in their hearts and not in the world.

I struggled, too, finding purpose.  When wee ones bounced on my lap, my whole world was contained in their pudgy arms and tender hearts.  Now with 12-21 I hear heartaches, and my heartaches.  I see choices, and at times I'm filled with concern. I find myself feeling irrelevant in a world of teenage and young adult hormones and heart renderings I can't always answer.  My oldest, the only fully public schooled one in the bunch, tender, yet still a bit rebellious, sat poised on the edge of the couch cushion this past winter while home from college for a visit. He asked, "Will you get a job when they all grow up?" referring to his younger siblings. He was not meaning to be offensive, still rather naive to the rolls we hold in life, it was a reasonable question which sparked a mix of emotions.  And as I look at my brood, growing and stretching and saying more and more, "Don't worry mom, I've got this." I deeply ponder purpose and what lies ahead.  Add to this the resent turns in our country cause me to wonder even more... what is the future for any of us?  Underground-above ground.  Ministry work-secular work.  Scraping for our bread-comfortably getting by.

I don't know.

I feel like life has been plundered by the secularists... by the left-wing hopefuls of a coexist world where all roads lead "home".... as long as I don't cramp anyone's style with my pathway.

How do you adjust?

Ray Comfort recently shared on social media that this plundering is actually good for the church.  It is a purging of sorts, separating the goats and the sheep (Matthew 25).  My mind is cast to all the reading I have done on the first century church.  Of the current they swam against in a purely pagan world.  Of Paul's Words time and again to run the race, and never give up.  Of Isaiah, centuries before the first Christians....

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

Perhaps that is simply it.  In America we have been blessed to fly like eagles, to run and not grow weary.  And now, in a country falling apart we have to walk... walk as children of light.... and not grow faint.  We must wait for the Lord and renew our strength in Him.

What is my purpose... it is just as it was for the first century church.  Will I get a job when all my little chicks grow and fly the coop?  Well, as I finally explained it to my oldest, I have a job.  I don't just care for my children, I care for my husband as well.  He comes in every morning after Bible study and enjoys a home-cooked breakfast, when he returns home from working all day, he knows his dinner is warm and ready and made with love.  He reaches into his closet and pulls out clean and pressed clothes.  He calls me for encouragement during the day and he holds me close in the evenings trusting and relying on the simple fact that my time is his because I give it freely with all my heart.  He encourages me to ministry pursuits, to helping those in need, and even to writing here in the hopes and prayers that other Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 hopefuls out there who need encouragement to keep doing what they are doing.... can do it knowing they are not alone.

Will society be friendly towards my efforts in the years to come?  In 5 years when my youngest spreads her wings will I be welcome to invest even more time to service in the name of Christ?  I don't know.  But I know the first century church did it... rescuing cast away babies, caring for the sick and feeding the poor and down-trodden.  They did it while meeting in secret and hiding in the catacombs.  The only purpose they needed wasn't a paycheck or approval.... it was Christ alone.  

Life may be plundered away but a heart rooted in Christ will stand strong against any storm.

I pray you may find this simple purpose to be more than enough to fuel your daily to-dos and your outward expressions of faith in a world with increasing oppression.  No matter the age of your children and loved ones, they still look to your life, to your dedication, as an example and encouragement for their own.  Remember Paul's Words:

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

And when you feel beat down by the world around, remember Jesus':

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
- John 16:33


Monday, July 6, 2015

Menu Monday: Week of July 6th

I'm back from taking a week off.  After VBS and missionary hosting for a week straight, I needed to kick back!  Spent the time cleaning up my garden from it's weed invasion and working up the preliminaries on our homeschool materials.  Sound like work?  Nah, that is what I do for fun, I am crazy like that!  Menu planning is another 'fun' thing I enjoy!!

This week we will be hosting at least 1 summer missionary again.  All three meals should be required since the kids are only teaching at one club in the morning and should be back home in time for lunch. 

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Biscuits
Lunch: Chicken Salad
Dinner: General Tso Chicken and Rice with Vegetables
Breakfast: Pancakes and fresh Fruit
Lunch: Grilled Sandwiches, Tortilla Chips and Salsa
Dinner: Sausage, Peas and Potato bake with Fresh Bread
     - This is a go-to quick-fix favorite.... sliced summer sausage, frozen peas, cubed and boiled potatoes, mixed together and topped with some cheese, throw into a buttered baking dish and bake at 375 degrees until slightly brown. 

Breakfast: Fried Eggs and Toast or left-over Pancakes
Lunch: Left-over Sausage Bake
Dinner: Burgers and Chips

Breakfast: Zucchini Bread
Lunch: Hot Dogs and Mac-n-Cheese
Dinner: BBQ Chicken, Baked Potato, Corn and Biscuits

Breakfast: Sausage and Scrambled Eggs with leftover Biscuits
Lunch: Mac-n-Cheese and Hot Dogs
Dinner: Beef and Bean Burrito Casserole with Salad

Breakfast: Cereal or Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover Burrito Casserole
Dinner: Burgers and home Fries

Breakfast: Sausage and Egg Biscuits
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken Salad and Fresh Bread

What are you cooking this week?