There is a book give-a-way going on Scroll down to the bottom of the latest blog article to see details.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

What Every Christian Ought to Know

There is just something about books.  I can't explain it.  Those beautiful bindings and word-filled pages lined up on shelves, stacked on tables or (best yet) nestled in my lap as I curl up on my couch to soak their message in.

While I LOVE books and think they are positively beautiful, I am picky.  Busy, homeschooling, bloggy mom of four... I don't have time to waste on a non-fiction with bad theology or a fiction with too much fluff and non-sense.  When I read, I want to know the time is spent being filled with meaningful words which can grow me as a Christian (yes, even good fiction should do that!)

So.  As my kiddos browsed for treasures in another section of our city library at the beginning of summer break, I felt Led to wander through the 'Faith and Spirituality' section.  Highly skeptical but, as I've admitted, loving all those lovely bindings standing in a row, something caught my attention.

"What Every Christian Ought to Know"  Hmmm.  Mr. Adrian Rogers, you have caught my attention.  I slid the book off the shelf, still a bit skeptical after so many fluffy-faith-types I've read before, but something was compelling me to give this one a chance.  I turned it over to read the synopsis on the back.
Whether you are just beginning your faith journey, or have been a believer for decades, What Every Christian Ought to Know will establish you in the core Truths of the Bible, equip you to confidently articulate your faith, and empower you to live a dynamic Christian life.  In his refreshingly relateable style, Dr. Rogers covers essential topics such as salvation, eternal security, prayer, the Holy Spirit, resisting temptation, and finding God's will, and unpacks their practical application for your every day Christian walk.
My eyebrows went up.  Thinking a book like this must be meant for new believers, the claim here said it was meant for ALL believers, no matter how long they had been Christians.  Oh, and the part about finding God's will, have you noticed the blog lately?  Purpose has been kind-of a theme for me.  Glancing down at the list of endorsements I saw Billy Graham's name sprawled under his personal statement.

More intrigued then ever, and just about certain the Holy Spirit was nudging me, I flipped the book back over, and thumbed through the index and subsequent pages... into my library bag it went.... and a short month later, after I had gone through more tabs then I can count in marking passages and pages, it arrived in a nice little box from Amazon... my own copy.

Ladies (and gentlemen if you are reading this too), remember, I am a HUGE skeptic of "Christian" 'self-help' books.  HUGE.  But I'm telling you, this book gripped me from the Preface. 

What I thought would be a basic 'introduction-to-the-faith' and how to walk out the precepts better has turned into my ALL-TIME, #2 (The Bible gets #1) book to recommend to EVERYONE (did I mention every.single.person.I.know kind of everyone?)  I have already bought 4 additional copies for people and my oldest daughter (now 19) was so moved by it she bought one for an old co-worker!  If I could, I would give one to of YOU!  Sadly, I have to pay bills and buy food and stuff like that though!

But I digress.

So what is all the hype?

Well, Dr Rogers lays out the precepts of our faith in such a way that anyone can understand but no one feels as though he is infantilizing the topic.  He serves up steak and you can chew it like a burger.  He begins with the basic thesis that Education is costly, but ignorance may be devastating.  Essentially, what you don't know CAN hurt you.  He quotes Proverbs to drive home his point:

Buy the truth, and do not sell it
Proverbs 23:23

  • We must prize the truth
  • We must purchase the truth
  • We must preserve the truth

He goes on to suggest we should Get a bulldog grip on the truth and never let go.  Hence, and so, What Every Christian Ought to Know

He covers the entire gamut of topics and, as someone who grew up witnessing a deeply devout grandmother and has been a Christian most of my adult life and served in full-time missions, I can honestly say I had chapter-after-chapter of WOW moments reading this book.  I felt so filled, so equipped with knowledge and truth, that I couldn't stop talking about it to anyone I could get to stand still long enough to hear me carry on with animated excitement!  It isn't Adrian's word that sells this message, it is God's Word as Dr. Rogers unpacks it in big A-HA pieces you want to gobble up.

He shoots out of the gate discussing the foundation of knowing the Bible is the True Word of God and how It can be Trusted.... showing the reader, through God's Word, this truth.  He has an overtone of apologetics without being argumentative but, rather, tastefully compelling.

He moves on to share what it is to know the assurance of salvation and, for those reading the book who may be skeptics of the faith, he invites them to the opportunity of Knowing Christ.  For the rest of us and everyone in-between, this chapter provides reassurance to our own walk as well as equips the reader to reach out to the unbeliever.  Overall, the chapter on faith assurance pulls no punches - but you don't feel beat-up, you feel invigorated... even challenged!

He also jumps into those touchy topics of sin and temptation including the intriguing point of what happens when Christians sin.  (after all, we are all sinners falling short of glory... right?)

I could go on and on about the AMAZING themes and messages within this wonderful book, but this article would get far too long and I bet you have other things to do today then read my blog!!  So, to sum up the content, the basic chapter list is as follows:

Every Christian Ought to Know...
...the Bible is the Word of God
...The Assurance of Salvation
...about Eternal Security
...What Happens When a Christian Sins
...How to Handle Temptation
...about Believers Baptism
...How to Discern the Will of God
...about Faith and How to Have It
...How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
...How to Discover His Spiritual Gift
...How to Pray (with Power)
...How to Understand the Bible
...It's How Much you Grow  

And he ends each chapter with thought-provoking discussion questions for personal reflection or group settings.

Dr. Roger's own words aptly sum-up the over-arching take-away in the Epilogue of this book:
The ultimate yardstick of your life as a believer is not how much you know but how much you grow.  The purpose of this book has not been primarily information or inspiration but transformation...

And then he points the reader to Ephesians 4:13-16 to back this statement up.

My 17 year old son took this book to camp for his down-times and was completely absorbed.  He ended up sharing what he was learning with one of the adult band members who was so encouraged that when the band pulled out they left behind a stack of their CDs for my son to thank him for his Godly inspiration!

No kidding.

So, remember how I said I want to buy this book for EVERYONE I know?  Since I can't do that I thought I would start with one or two.  I haven't decided for sure how many yet but what I do know is, if you are interested -or- if you are still skeptical as to whether or not this is a book you want to invest in, then take your chances with a drawing first! Yup, Giving Away a FREE copy!!!... or two.. or... like I said, I haven't decided how many yet!  And all you have to do to enter is sign up for my monthly newsletter!  See below for details.

While I believe What Every Christian Ought to Know is a phenomenal and, yes, transformational resource to have, whether you check into this book or not, always remember, your best 'self-help' and inspirational, transformational book you can get is the Bible itself.  We are blessed with insightful, Godly leaders who pen great prose with God's hand as theirs, but let us not forsake the daily drinking in of the One True Word of God ♥


Be sure to go to the sidebar and sign up for my Monthly Newsletter (I promise, I won’t spam you!)  It looks like this:
Why am I doing this give-a-way?  #1- I'm super excited to share this book with YOU!  #2- I'm just as excited to share my new newsletter as well!  I am hard at work behind the scenes praying over and putting together a periodical which I think everyone can find something in to enjoy in their email box at the end of each month.  There will be some exclusive content you won’t find on the website!   

 So, to be entered for a chance to win a FREE copy of "What Every Christian Ought to Know" by Adrian Rogers simply sign-up for my monthly newsletter by July 31, 2017*.  That's it!  Easy-peasy.
(If you already signed up prior to this announcement, don't worry, your name will automatically be entered!) 

Please note:  The Debut issue of my monthly newsletter comes out on July 27th, if you want to receive this issue, be sure to sign up before then.

*Give-a-way rules: Must be a U.S. resident, if you are not a U.S. resident, and would like to enter to win, please contact me to discuss alternatives. The drawing will occur on August 1, 2017 with a winner being randomly chosen. The winner will be contacted that day and will be announced on Facebook and this blog.  If the winner does not wish to have name announced, this must be stated when contacted for mailing address.  A copy of the book (up to $10 value) will be mailed directly to the winner from Amazon, shipping times may vary. I will contact the winner for address information using the e-mail submitted to my newsletter database.  If you do not want to receive your package directly from Amazon, the winner needs to let me know when I contact them for their address and we can discuss alternative source methods.  No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited by law. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Talking Donkeys and Recognizing Purpose

Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.”Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face.
 Numbers 22:28-31

Talking donkeys?  I don't think that is the issue here.  I mean, after all, is it so strange?  Surely you've seen the YouTube video of a dog saying "I love you", why not a donkey whose mouth has been opened by God to say "Knock it off, I'm trying to keep us safe here..."

No, the bigger issue comes in Balaam's disobedience. 

I'm going to confide here, no matter how many times I read his story found in Numbers 22, I'm always a bit perplexed...

 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, 
“If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.”  
So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.
Numbers 22:20-21

Didn't God just tell Balaam to GO? I mean, before this whole donkey whipping, donkey talking incident, verse 20-21 occurs.  So if Balaam arose and went, wasn't that what he was suppose to do?  Why did God get angry with him?  Why did he stop him?

Last Wednesday I shared a Word on purpose.  I will admit, I threw an idea out there but I left out the solution.  If our 'purpose' is not ours but God's and He gifts us and works through us to fulfill HIS purpose... how do we know?  How can we be sure we are on His path and not our own.

Well, there are many ways, actually.  But today, I'm going to talk about Balaam's way. 

You see, to the easy reader of Numbers 22, one might draw a contradiction in God's Word.  Balaam asked, God said no.  Balaam asked again, God said fine... didn't he?  Matthew Henry explains this best:
He seemed to refuse the temptation; but he expressed no abhorrence of it. He had a strong desire to accept the offer, and hoped that God might give him leave to go. He had already been told what the will of God was. It is a certain evidence of the ruling of corruption in the heart, to beg leave to sin. God gave Balaam up to his own heart's lusts. As God sometimes denies the prayers of his people in love, so sometimes he grants the desires of the wicked in wrath.

So what we see here isn't a contradiction, rather, a conviction.  Henry commentary on this passage in it's entirety (link in his name above) points us back to the first visit from this contingent of Balak's and reminds us: God had already spoke on the matter.  Yet, Balaam pushed and it would appear, by all evidence, he had hoped God would change His mind... on a sheerly secular matter which He has firmly already spoken on.  If that isn't eye opening enough... the most haunting statement in Henry's commentary causes us readers to sit and take notice:

many call God theirs, who are not his


Christian, be at ease.  I am not calling you 'not a Christian'.  There are those out there... snake oil salesmen types... who are in it for a show.  Their pride runs the course and their faith is merely for gain, not for God's glory.

No, for us, stumbling fumbling Christians who just want to understand how do we know God's purpose, where do we step?  How do we step?  Am I going the wrong way now?  Well, back to Balaam and his donkey...

If you read this whole scene in context (and I hope by now you grabbed one of the links or your Bible and did that) you will notice Balaam's donkey tried to divert course at God's prodding via the Angel of the Lord, THREE times (for you number enthusiasts: 3 = signature of God!)

What was Balaam's response each time?

Yup, that poor donkey got whipped and yelled at.  Balaam becomes angry and threatens the poor beast.  And then the donkey talks.  Or should we say (on our theme of GOD's purpose) God opens the mouth of the donkey and speaks through it.

Dear Christian who wants to know if you have gotten this whole "purpose" thing upside down or upside right..... is God diverting your donkey?  Are road blocks to the work you feel He is calling you to do constantly popping up and gradually upsetting and frustrating you more and more?  Are these road blocks the work of Satan who is trying to stop you from God's work and will?  One sure way to tell (and a favorite piece of encouragement a missionary friend gave me when we first went into field work)

If you aren't sure whether or not you are doing the right thing 
or in the right direction, 
go back to the last thing you clearly remember God telling you to do 
and do that.

God will speak through his Word.... no fuzzy or twisted interpretation... simply speak.
God may also use your circumstances and/or people around you.

God.will.speak. and HIS peace will be what will prevail... even in the trials Satan may try to throw in your path.

But if it isn't from God....
Peace will be out the window.
You'll be beating your donkey.
NO good results will appear.  At.all.

Most of all: check your heart, check your motives.

God's purpose through you is for his glory alone.
Not your gain.
Not money and riches.
Not your name in bright lights
Not self recognition.

If any of those are why you are doing a thing as "God's purpose for you", I would encourage you to step back, get right with God, recharge your purpose and... if necessary... pull out of whatever path you are on to get on the right one.

That may mean stepping out of a ministry at church because you realize you are't the one God called to the job.  (I can't tell you how many churches we have worked with over the years who had spiritually sick leaders and/or teachers who kept on because of pressure and ignored God's call to re-situate their hearts or step down thinking 'no one else' could take their place... but that is a whole other message!)

It may mean he calls you to slow down.  Take some non-essentials off your plate to make more room for peacefully walking in the essentials.  (Too many people in our culture and time seem to think they need MORE MORE MORE in their schedule and in their lives when, in fact, God is calling us to less, less, less!)  Check out this new song from Danny Gokey for some encouragement today:

And finally... (especially you moms out there)... God's purpose through you isn't always at the head of a Bible Study class, ministry, or MOPS group.  God's purpose takes on many forms, especially in the lives of women. 
  • Raising children with eyes on Jesus is a HUGE purpose, don't sell yourself short.  
  • Providing Biblical hospitality is a HUGE purpose which God uses to minister to the weary souls of others.  
  • Caring for your husband and household is a HUGE purpose which reflects the servant attitude Jesus often modeled to his Disciples.  
What's that theater saying?  Oh, yeah:

There are no small parts, just small actors!

I pray for you this week, as you walk the path of life, that it would be the path God has laid for you and, if you are on the wrong one, that you wouldn't beat your donkey, but instead, stop, get off, and turn to face Jesus asking in all honesty; "What is the last thing I clearly heard Him tell me".  Be encouraged sweet Christian, you are never too far gone for God to reach down and pull you close.... simply let him!


Consequently, I read a PHENOMENAL book this summer:
Click on picture to see more details
Click on picture to see more details

I will be sharing some notes in a new monthly thread coming out this week, "Notes from my Reading Nook".  I was so blown away by this book and it's over-arching profound message I want to give it to EVERYONE I know!!!! No kidding!  No matter where a person is in their faith walk from new Christian all the way to a veteran in the faith, EVERYONE will be moved and empowered by God's message through Adrian Rogers.

Well, I can't afford to buy a copy for everyone, but I'm starting with a give-away to one reader this month!  Who knows, maybe I will make it two!  Sound interesting?  Read below to see how you can enter to WIN!

Be sure to go to the sidebar and sign up for my Monthly Newsletter (I promise, I won’t spam you!)  It looks like this:

I started this sign up around my 8 year blogaversary a few months ago and then my dad became sick so I wasn’t able to get the newsletter in motion right away.  However, I am hard at work behind the scenes praying over and putting together a periodical which I think everyone can find something in to enjoy in their email box at the end of each month.  There will be some exclusive content you won’t find on the website!   

Also, everyone who signs up this month will be entered into a drawing to win the amazing book, "What Every Christian Ought to Know" by Adrian Rogers.  (If you already signed up, don't worry, your name will automatically be entered!)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Reflections, High School and Planning Season

I can still hardly believe it as I look down at my notes, "10th and 12th grade", my last 2 budding students and I only have a few short years left!  It's "Planning Season".  The years of notes come out as I browse my carefully-kept thoughts for myself so as not to repeat the same mistakes or remember to try (or repeat) new and better things.

As I browse my notes, the years parade by, with all their memories (good and bad)....

There were times, in the beginning, when I worried too much and wondered too much if I was doing the right thing - those new and floundering homeschool mommy doubts.

Then came the in-between years where homeschool burn-out threatened.  I LOVED teaching.  However, it seemed every time I turned around we faced one challenge after another.  At times I grew weary.  Part of me actually looked longingly ahead to the day I handed out that last diploma and 'got my life back'.  There's some hard truth.  But then God's Word to persevere and Charlotte Mason's inspiration to teach gently - life began to get better!

I had so much fun teaching (though quaking at times) through elementary.  Art projects and easy-going days because, after all, it was all due to repeat... so if we missed reducing fractions or how a butterfly's wings worked.... no big deal, it would come back around.

Now we are in the days of 'last-chance'.  If it isn't taught NOW then, *GASP*, they will graduate not knowing the thing... scary.

Yet, the more I push through this high school homeschool track, the more I love it too.  We can still do art projects and have easy-going days, the context is just different.  I don't mind the 'pressure' of 'last chance' so much anymore: it creates drive for us all.

I have come to love the challenge of this stage, and the many ways teaching grows me.

I'm so grateful God called me to teach my children so very many years ago.  From the early days of guiding them in learning numbers, letters, and how to read, all the way to handing that first homeschool diploma to my older daughter last year.  And while I didn't homeschool my oldest son outside of preschool, now 23 (see bio) watching his University Graduation this year opened my eyes to the horizon of new and different things just a short distance away.

(Planning from the couch this year to keep a damaged and wrapped ankle propped and healing!)
So, for now, I lay out my plans, another year grown and sharpened and ready to teach.  Taking my own advice to new homeschooling moms, I have waited till July to pull out my notes and books and copied lesson plan pages to begin filling in.  Hope and prayer filling the pages because a school year without the foundation of God is already set to fail!

As I move through the texts and dream of how we can explore the content, I also prepare to really soak up every moment of every day God blesses me with teaching my charges.  It isn't just about what we learn from our books, it is also about leaving high school prepared, and wanting, to keep learning

I will miss the mess of planning month with papers and books sprawled everywhere.  I will miss the 'busy' of homeschooling days (even the struggling ones!) when they are gone.  More than mere words can describe.  I.will.miss.these.days.

For all you homeschool mamas out there... whether you are just starting out, or an old hat with years under your belt... I pray you would treasure each moment (even the hard ones).  Keep your eyes on Jesus and the God who called you to be "mom". Be strengthened in the Spirit to persevere and treasure this season of life God has blessed you with... even on the hard days, it IS a blessing!  It may not seem like it now, but you will miss these days!


Be sure to go to the sidebar and sign up for my Monthly Newsletter (I promise, I won’t spam you!)  It looks like this:
I started this sign up around my 8 year blogaversary a few months ago and then my dad became sick so I wasn’t able to get the newsletter in motion right away.  However, I am hard at work behind the scenes praying over and putting together a periodical which I think everyone can find something in to enjoy in their email box at the end of each month.  There will be some exclusive content you won’t find on the website!   
Also, everyone who signs up this month will be entered into a drawing to win some great prizes (details to come).  (If you already signed up, don't worry, your name will automatically be entered!)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What is your Purpose?

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.  
Do not forsake the work of your hands
Psalm 138:8

Purpose, it's my 'one word' for 2017.  Not to be cliche, but I prayed about it and God, in fact, had ONE WORD in particular for me to realize this year... and purpose was it.

Purpose is one of those words - we are often torn between the noun and verb variations of application.  To be defined... or to be directed.  "What is my existential purpose".

It is our human nature.... "Why am I here?" [ie: purpose]

In our finite thinking we often fall into that trap of life being about us.  Yet, even as Christians, when we learn life is about GOD, not us, we still ask, "Why am I here... what is MY purpose?"

What if we have it all backwards?

What if... just maybe... God chooses people and, perhaps, even allows us to think our purpose is why we were crated.  We take quizzes and assessments and identify our spiritual gifts* and we press forward, declaration in hand, THIS IS MY PURPOSE.

But we have it backwards.

We miss it.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever....
.... to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
 -Psalm 136:1 & 10-16 

I could keep going but I think I have shared enough to make my point.

As I poured over Psalm 138 recently I noticed a penciled scribble in the margin of my warn ESV by verse 8, "see Psalm 136".  So I flipped one page back and (admittedly) skimmed through. First, that phrase echoed: his love endures forever.  Instantly I saw a connection between these two Psalms.  'Well that is cool Lord', I thought as I prepared to turn back to 138.  But I felt the pushing of the Spirit, look closer.  His invisible hand kept the page in place.  So I paused and looked a bit closer, suddenly noticing something more.....

WHO brought Israel out from among the Egyptians?  Wasn't it Moses?
WHO stretched out his arm to see the Red Sea parted?  Moses again... right?
WHO made Israel to pass through?  Didn't their own legs carry them?
WHO overthrew Pharaoh and his gang of brutes?  Didn't they stupidly run in after the Israelites themselves?
WHO led the people through the wilderness?  Again, Moses... right?

NO, God did.

God used man for GOD's purpose because, let's face it, man's purposes are always polluted by his fallen and sinful nature.

Back at Psalm 138 I read again,
God will fulfill HIS purpose FOR me

It isn't MY purpose for me or MY purpose for Him.... it is HIS purpose for HIM using me to fulfill it.  

Yes, I may have a purpose, but it has absolutely nothing to do with some intrinsic, self chosen, or talented drive.  Rather, it has EVERYTHING to do with HIS goals... not just for me, but for others and, ultimately, His goals are for His glory... and for us, collectively, as sojourners of planet earth, to be in relationship with Him.

Maybe that seems too complicated.... or perhaps it is too simplistic.  For me, as I poured over these verses, it was wonderfully powerful.  I suddenly realized I could quit trying so hard, stop trying ti figure and find purpose, stop attempting fruitlessly to work purpose's details out, and instead..... I could let go, and let God. Seriously. I was reminded of how, just like the push against 'religiousness', so is the push against self-propelled purpose: no amount of MY work and MY plans mean anything if they a) don't glorify God, b) don't draw myself or others closer to Him and (most importantly) c) don't LET Him direct my path.

Purpose wasn't about me trying to figure out MY plans and direction in life.... it is completely about God's plans to do stuff and my being pliable so He might use me to complete them.

Sure, I can have hopes and dreams and schedule and explore.  However, my greatest peace will come through keeping Proverbs 16:3-4a in mind....

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.  
The Lord has made everything for its purpose ....

it's purpose.... we have purpose, there is purpose in me, like a measuring cup's purpose is to measure, but it does not choose that purpose or contemplate it.  It did not create it's purpose... it was created FOR a purpose and it is useless until I pick it up and put it to work for MY purpose of cooking/baking.  Man may give the measuring cup it's existence and define it's purpose but the measuring cup is not propelled and fulfilling it's purpose until it's creator (or purchaser!!!) acts on it and through it.

How much more so is it between God and us!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways 
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

I am truly 2nd!

I pray your heart might be encouraged today to know you don't have to try so hard to define yourself in life... God has already done that.  Instead, you can let go and let God work, like he did through Moses and the Israelites and so many others down the scope of history who simply allowed themselves to be vessels for which God could perform His intended function with and through.  They didn't even always know and understand... but they allowed the hands which created the universe to guide their lives and hearts... we can too!  (Hebrews 11)


*Post note:  I am not against Spiritual Gift assessments, as a matter of fact, when done and used correctly, I believe these tools can help us see more clearly what God created us to be used for.  They can be used to sift our ideas of ourselves out and move them to God's plan and Purpose for and through us! 

Be sure to go to the sidebar and sign up for my Monthly Newsletter (I promise, I won’t spam you!)  It looks like this:

I started this sign up around my 8 year blogaversary a few months ago and then my dad became sick so I wasn’t able to get the newsletter in motion right away.  However, I am hard at work behind the scenes praying over and putting together a periodical which I think everyone can find something in to enjoy in their email box at the end of each month.  There will be some exclusive content you won’t find on the website!   

Also, everyone who signs up this month will be entered into a drawing to win some great prizes (details to come).  (If you already signed up, don't worry, your name will automatically be entered!)

Friday, July 7, 2017

From the Journal...

It was good to get back to writing here earlier this week in This Living Thing.  As I mentioned there, life will be lived on-call for the foreseeable future... at least until my step-dad gets the "all clear" from the doctor.... if....

None-the less, as I mentioned in Wednesday's post, I have to keep living now and in that, I am super excited for the potential upcoming content here on the blog... stay tuned for a fun announcement in the next couple weeks!

In the mean time, I thought I would share our busy two months just past.  Hubby just switched jobs so he couldn't join us in any of it, we were all bummed.  His new job brings a new schedule and new adjustments to life here... but it's all good and he is excited to be part of a great new (and very busy) team!

 Dad says "hi"!  The nurses in his surgical recovery center were amazing.  He was in the hospital through Easter so I brought small baskets of candy for everyone.  He caught onto the joy of it as he was wheeled to another unit the next day and we still had a large basket full of goodies, he offered all the orderlies and nurses to help themselves! 

I shared a great story of that amazing hallway (on right) in a post about Going Home I put up back in April, you can check out here.  If I'm totally honest, I miss being in Chicago and I miss my step-dad... a lot.  At the same time, I do love my home in Montana too.  It's tough being torn.

I mentioned airports in Wednesday's post... here are just a couple along with my evening view of Seattle as a departed from that lay-over.  Zach (my oldest, who lives there) and I tried to hook up for dinner but his work schedule didn't jive with my flight schedule unfortunately.  Oh, and the middle picture of the Chicago skyline is muted because it was taken through a tinted hospital window.  There was actually lovely blue sky and crisp skyline that day.  I was waiting for dad during one of his procedures and decided to open the blinds in the waiting room to discover this view.  I was super excited and really wished I could have gotten downtown during my stay... but gallivanting the big city was not on the agenda this visit!

I arrived home to only 2 busy weeks left in the kids' school year.  They completed most of their work in my absence but we rounded out the edges upon my return.  I felt very blessed I didn't miss the annual homeschool book sale our association hosts and I was able to get in on a table just in time ("X" marked the spot where my books were... with my lovely assistant Brooke!!)  By the way, if you click on the image it should enlarge... I still have some of these items for sale if anyone is interested, shoot me an email! (I like to price low)

Onto the most exciting point of our summer so far.... #1, God blessed us with a NEW car!  We are so amazed at His awesome provision.  This blessing allowed us to make the trip west to watch Zach graduate from University.  We all packed in, along with Ashley's guitar, and had a grand adventure.

Montana -- Idaho -- Washington (Spokane, Medical Lake, and Seattle) -- Oregon (Portland, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Multinomah Falls) -- Washington -- Montana (via Kalispell)

I have walked, flown and driven more miles in the last 2 months then I think I have in the last 4 years!!! 

He asked me to take this picture!  Total truth. 

We arrived in Seattle ON Zach's 23rd birthday.  It is the first birthday I have gotten to celebrate with him since he left for college.  This pillow was among his gifts... I highly recommend it for those long distance young-adults 'children'!!!

The reason for our visit ♡

I'm so amazed by this young man.  God's provision through his hard work got him through 4 years of Christian University education.  He graduated with a double-major in Business Financing and Economics and he did it Cum Laude while working 2 jobs!  As they lined up around the arena (top left) I super-zoomed with my camera and instantly choked.  I didn't see my young man in that lens, I saw my little boy, ready for kindergarten with his backpack and box of cookies to share, smiling big and ready to learn.... then I blinked.  Don't blink, mamas, it goes too fast.

Top right is his lovely long-time girlfriend whom he met 5 years ago in high school.  She is pre-med and only halfway done with all her hard work!  The day before commencement was a special 'Ivy Cutting ' ceremony outside... they are each holding their cut from this symbolic tradition.

This will be for-reals in a blink!

Post-graduation was a party at a beautiful park on Puget Sound.  Zach's girlfriend has a plethora of family in the area and they hosted the shin-dig.  Ashley brought her guitar and Brooke collected a sampling of Sound water and sand which safely made it back home and now rests on a shelf in her room to commemorate!  By the way, if you are taking a trip somewhere beachy with your crew this summer, this is a fun way to cap a memory!

Zach was excited to show us 'his' city.  We saw a great deal of sites but weather was mostly cold and rainy (big surprise, right?!) and our stay there was relatively short and filled mostly with graduation activity.  We promised Zach we would return, hopefully next summer, for a more thorough tour and relaxed stay!  Bottom left is Pike's Place Market.  We came from Post Alley (top right, gum wall) and just as we were coming up the alley a deluge let out so I had to try and grab a snapshot of the market from under an awning lest I ruin my camera with the precipitation!  (Those are my kiddos in the bottom right, lined up at the railing)

The day after graduation we headed down to a nice little nook we had reserved in Seaside, Oregon.  It was the first time my youngest three had seen the ocean.  Top right is their excited response.  Due to a detour we took to visit and have dinner with friends in Portland, we didn't arrive at the beach until sunset.  Brenden soaked it in joyfully (right)

The next day Zach joined us and I caught some of my favorite pictures of the whole trip.  It was cold and drizzly at times and while all my kids are teens through adult age, you wouldn't have known it the way they hung out (I'm told it's not called "playing" at their age!).  We flew kites, dug in sand (the boys made dug-out seats against a log and Brenden buried himself (bottom right). 

Spending time at the beach reminded me of my dream, from over 20 years ago, to one day move to sandy, ocean-lined shores.  There is just something so exhilarating about the rushing waves and the soft sand beneath your feet. 

As I lamented, I was reminded of the same exhilaration I am blessed with in my relationship with Jesus Christ... and how, every time I step out in faith and do BIG things through Christ who gives me strength, I am able to enjoy that dream in an even more spectacular way

 After a few days in Seaside, we all needed to head home.  Before parting we snapped some shots at the Lewis and Clark statute commemorating the End of the [Oregon] Trail.  A highlight for Brenden and Brooke since we wrapped up our school year studying westward expansion! (He bought that pirate hat at a neat hat shop just down the road from where we took this picture!)

This was exciting for me!  21 years to-the-month.  I told Zach that I was holding him in the old picture I had but I felt he was too big for me to hoist on my hip now!  All 6'plus feet of him!  The wind was gusting so I had to hold my clothes close to me lest they go flying all about!

 We stopped off in Cannon Beach before leaving the coast.  I wanted to show the kids Haystack Rock and the area their dad use to vacation in as a kid (he grew up in Portland)

We also paused in the Columbia River Gorge to swing by Multinomah Falls, upon recommendation of my mother-in-law, and have some soft-serve... she insisted it was the BEST soft-serve anywhere!

Before heading back to south-central Montana we took a 24 hour pause in the northwestern part of the state and visit my mother-in-law.  We hope to head back for a longer visit later this summer. 

Coming up along the western shore of Flathead Lake made my heart twinge again.  This was my view for over 12 years before God called us into ministry work.  I have missed it more than the idea of living at the ocean!  However, I cling to the fact that God called us where we are now for a Purpose and I choose not to waste my time wishing but rather spend my time walking out His plans for me

Bloom where you are planted.

That simple.

So, earmark Faith and Home ( because, Lord willing, great things are coming as the site gets more active, post-travel, again!

Wherever you are and wherever you go, whether it is local or long distance, take time to pause and make wonderful memories this summer!  And no matter what, thank God for His best plans for you... even if they aren't what you had in mind!