Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Priestly Prayer and a Common Call to STAND OUT


I re-dedicated my life to Christ when I was 26 after a long hard fall away.  As excited as I was to feel ALIVE, and even though I had my beautiful children to look after, I longed to be done with this hard place called 'life on Earth'. I couldn't understand why God wouldn't spare me from the brokenness.  Surely, now that I had Jesus in my heart, I was ready to go... right?  It didn't take long for God to deal with me on humble service and shining His light!

In the final hours before Jesus' arrest He takes time to leave His followers with words of hope and encouragement... and a powerful prayer, one I look to often when my strength in this broken world fails me.  One part in particular speaks loudest in my heart:

But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
John 17:13-18

 Jesus doesn't wait till heaven to encourage them, no, he speaks to them in the world and why?  That they may have His joy fulfilled in them... right at that moment, not to be delayed.  But Jesus' Joy isn't the only thing planted in the hearts of His followers, God's Word has been seeded as well.  This implanted Word has set them apart, profoundly...

...and the world hated them because they are not of the world...

It is so easy to strive for the acceptance of those around us, but that isn't God's plan for the implanted word and Joy from Jesus... no... it is that we should STAND OUT, and they aren't alone: Jesus set the example as he walked and lived counter-cultural His entire life!  Not once in Scripture do we see our Savior attempting to fit in, say the right thing, or be accepted.  His eyes were on the Father, walking the path He laid, regardless of what the World wanted of Him.

Having walked in all the hard places, endured all the ridicule, spoken boldly for the truth and persecuted as a result... all the broken places.... He prays not that they should have early leave, but rather, that God would keep them from evil for as long as their time should continue here. He calls on God to sanctify them in Truth and then.... he sends them.

Easter is on approach, resurrection season is coming to a triumphant close... I should be celebrating.  But week after week this year has brought trials and strife.  Going Home looks so good in this moment but this is where I am to stay... not to sit and absorb like Zacchaeus the Tax Collector pre-dinner with Jesus... no, to shine and issue and give back like Zacchaeus the Redeemed post-dinner with Jesus. 

Jesus didn't let the world get Him down: He didn't quiet His living, He lived OUT LOUD.  Jesus didn't blend in, He STOOD OUT.  And a few short days later, he didn't stay in the grave, He ROSE AGAIN.... for us.  For redemption, yes, but also to blaze a trail we may follow so that the world may see and join our ranks.

To read more of Jesus' prayer for His followers in John, visit chapter 17.  It is beautiful and powerful and I pray you may be encouraged as you walk through a troubled world.  Yes, look to the cross this week, but also remember the empty grave and be strengthened: you can overcome the World because Jesus went before you. He doesn't want you to blend in... He calls you to STAND OUT.

Blessings,










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  • Free printables under different themes each month
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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Devotedly Reviewed


I love pouring over compilations of old journals and letters popped out of pivotal moments in history.  I will never forget reading a portion of a book series containing the well chronicled diaries of westward women.  One particular set of entries recounted hikes among sandstone cliffs along the Platte River, not far from Fort Laramie in what is now Wyoming, and the women carving their names in the soft stone as a way to say "we were here!".  This region was a milestone for these early travelers, a brief respite and refueling junction before laboring through the towering Rockies.  The concise collection of day-to-day scribblings was further embedded into my memory when I was blessed with an opportunity to visit the Wagon Rut State Park in Eastern Wyoming and found myself walking in their very footsteps, seeing where their wagons rode, climbing those same cliffs and seeing their names amongst the countless others etched for eternity.  These women's diaries, though mundane at times and occasionally lacking in desired details, always seemed to fall into place and bring to life the re-telling of their stories in a way which never felt incomplete or lacking but was instead as trans-formative as it was informative.


When I had the opportunity to read Devotedly, The personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot as compiled by their only daughter, Valerie Elliot Shepard, I jumped at the chance.  As with the westward women's journals, I was excited to discover greater details and relive the treasured history of these two Christian icons: one remembered for his martyrdom, the other for her unwavering grace and faith. I had not read any of their previous books or compilations, though I'm well aware of how revered Elisabeth Elliot's work is.  I have watched a few documentaries on their lives and, as we prepared for missions work some years ago, a portion of our training was done through a video series taught by Steve Saint so I am very familiar with the background and context.

With all of that said, hopefully my thoughts on this title will make some sense...


... as I read Devotedly I had mixed feelings.  It began quite well and made a declaration to use the Elliots' story for the purpose of highlighting what good, Godly relationships should look like, as the author feels substantive Godly relationships are lacking today.  My hat's off to her for this thesis.

The 'story' sets into motion with the couple's final years at Wheaton College in Illinois where they met and recognized their first sparks for one another.  It moves forward with each chapter centering around the consecutive years ranging from this point in 1948 all the way until their nuptials in 1953.  Jim and Elisabeth's story is chronicled with excerpts from both journal entries and letters they exchanged.  Images of some of their correspondences and pictures are included as well. 

After the initial introduction I must confess to struggling with reading the bulk of this text because I felt too many critical details were being left out while various redundancies occasionally carried on.  Often only parts (not entireties) of the couple's letters and journal entries are included leaving gaps of information and making it difficult to discern what exactly is being said or intended.  Mrs. Shepard seems anxious to communicate memories, summaries and translations... which can be helpful at times as her parents seemed to write in King James style (!) but can also be inhibiting to the flow of their story.  I feel more could have been discerned by the reader if full letters and journal entries had been included and, when further explanation was required for un-written nuances, commentary could be inserted at their close.

If you are a huge fan of the Elliots and have read ALL of their previous works, this book will likely be a wonderful supplement to complete their 'story'.  If you are new to the couple, the deepening of their faith as it pertains to their relationship is still inspiring.  Mrs. Shepard's devotion to her parents and desire to share the key points of their story is apparent in her writing.  I felt as though I was sitting across the kitchen table from her as she pulled out pictures and letters and shared tidbits of the lives of these two people whom she loved and admired so much.  She gives an insider's scoop to a story often reported on from the outside. I only wish I could have jumped in and asked a few questions from time to time!!

As for me, I do like more details and first-hand accounts with minimal commentary.  It is a personal preference and nothing against the author of this book.  Reading the title, I expected more of Jim and Elisabeth's voice so I will admit, I should have switched gears in my expectations upon realizing the actual context.  Still, I did feel too much time was spent on the tumultuous early years and not enough time was spent on the blooming points of the later.  However, Devotedly IS a good book and I would recommend it to anyone interested in knowing more about Jim and Elisabeth Eliot or the trials and tribulations of walking out a Christ-centered relationship.


Blessings,






I received a complimentary copy of this book from Lifeway in exchange for my review. This review is my opinion alone.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

HMJ: Impromptu Changes

I want to thank those who popped over to encourage me last week as I fumbled with plugging ahead on these regular "Journal" entries.  I will try to check in as often as I can just for you!! 

We have been reviewing our budget lately and, upon talking things over with Brooke, we have decided to plan on only one or two classes  at the local Christian college this next school year.  Currently she is hoping to pursue a full degree there when she graduates. In the mean time, even at the discounted rate she can enjoy as a high schooler, a full-slate of classes is quite spendy.  Also, this coming fall, they are only offering two of the classes she needs to complete her high school graduation requirements (it's a very small college).  Not sure if they will add the others in the spring, however, to be on the safe side we have decided to switch gears.  Surprisingly, Brooke was actually excited!  The plan....

College campus:
Speech
College Writing

Home Campus 😃:
History/Government
Economics/Civics
Music Appreciation
P.E.

I need to double-check if this list will cover all the requirements remaining.  Only History/Gov is a full year class, the rest are one semester.  She has decided NOT to take French senior year and, naturally, would prefer Speech on campus with peers.  After doing Speech with her brother and sister just at home, I agree with Brooke... more people would make the class more fun!  Also, if we can keep going with a minimum of 2 classes on campus for spring, we will look at College Writing II and Psychology as these will be good basics to have out of the way as she launches full time in fall 2020 when she will qualify for the FAFSA.  (She is looking at studying Biblical Counseling)

This week we unexpectedly declared "NO SCHOOL" in sight of our gas-line problems.  If you haven't caught some of our Instagram feed and other articles on the site here, we were without gas for 8 days while a leak was repaired.  Each day was wait-and-see mode hoping THAT would be the day the job was done... very difficult to get any schoolwork done with the buzz.  Brooke proposed the week off, which I was reluctant to oblige since it would put us behind in finishing some subjects before our designated "last day of school" at the end of May (can you believe that's NEXT month already???) BUT, she also proposed we forgo our 4-day school weeks and add the missing days back in with 5-day school weeks between now and the end of the school year!

Done.

So, wow.  Plugging ahead, 7 more weeks (minus a possible pre-planned week where we will be gone at the beginning of May).  THEN... senior year.  Wow.  I'm actually relieved we can't afford the full slate at the college this coming fall.  Is that bad?  I'm looking forward to one more year to wrap-up and find closure with the exit of this 25+ year stage of my life!  I feel hopeful for what lies ahead.
 
As for the rest of miscellany tidbits from the past week...
Brooke logged a bunch of drive time last week as we explored the outskirts of our county for "406" day.  It's a Montana thing!  One of only a few states with a singular area code, 406.  Many locals geek out in celebrating April 6th (4-06) as "Montana" day and we joined in the fun!!  Her driving has improved sooooo much.  I'm actually planning a blog post for later this month with some tips on teaching teens to drive if you don't want to/or can't afford to put them in Driver's Ed.


Went to see a play with her sister and a friend at a local college in it's 80+ year old playhouse!  The production was an ancient Greek themed play and these were all the pictures I took because, well, it was an experience only needed ONCE.  The actors worked hard but the content... well... like I said, an "experience"!

I'm going to miss our coffee shop hangouts when her life post-grad takes her away.  For now, I enjoy every single minute even when I am on here writing and she is in a cozy chair across from me drawing or doing some other crafty thoughtful thing!  These have become our Tuesday night norms while her older siblings are at an adult church group hang-out!

How has your school week been?


Blessings,






P.S. I DO keep my Instagram updated if you want to see our latest escapades, especially when there are post delays!  Follow the link in-text.



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Five Minute Friday: Lack


It has been a challenging week.  We spent a total of almost 8 days without hot water or heat due to a gas leak requiring our pipes to be shut off and re-ran.  Apparently 1940 pipes and fittings don't hold true to code in 2019... hmmm. (yes, that is sarcasm... and the price you pay when you buy a very dated house!).

The blessing in the midst of the storm was the gas line insurance the good Lord laid on my heart to purchase 2 years ago.  Something in my spirit pressed me then saying this would be a good and profitable idea.

Yet, even with the peace... and extra space heaters during a subsequent cold snap... nerves ran raw what with missing hot showers and the ease of washing dishes and clothes without boiling water.  Everything coming to a head Thursday morning when we learned, after hand-washed wet clothes sat in the dryer all night, that our dryer had gone out now too.

Hubby blew a fuse.

It was a difficult day, emotions for everyone were high with the pitfalls of life lately.  Yet, at my core I could hear a whisper:  peace

I knew, somehow, when irrationality wanted to take over, that I needed to keep my eyes on Jesus.  I needed to endeavor to be solutions-based, not self-destruction trapped.  So I laced up, lifted a prayer, and set to making it all work as well as I was able. 

As I mustered, hubby called: I'm sorry was spoken from his heart. 
As I kept walking, the gas company showed up on the heals of line repair: I'm here to light the pilot and heat began to issue from vents and faucets again.

I'm reminded how those who wait on the Lord lack nothing.  Not peace, not hope, not possibility... all are given in full.  It felt spiritually gratifying to come to the other side of these 8 days and say: my hope was in the Lord and so I know I will not lack.


...those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
- Psalm 34:10b 

Blessings,







This has been a Five Minute Friday Post where writers tap away for 5 minutes, un-edited, on a predetermined topic.  Check out other great posts by visiting:
http://fiveminutefriday.com/


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Choose Peace


As this article posts we are entering day number SEVEN of no gas which equates NO hot water and, more importantly in the chilly Montana spring, no heat.  Overall, I have found peace and focus in glorifying God through how I handle it all, however, truth be told, my nerves are running thin at times.  I'm grateful we discovered the gas leak before worse side-effects came of them (yes, "them",more than one leak was discovered in our almost 80 year old, out-coded pipes before the gas company shut them off for safety)... while I'm also daunted by the process since old lines need to be dug up and new ones laid.  Engineers, insurance, hurry-and-wait....

*sigh*

It all seems a fitting exercise in light of the passage I have been studying this week to prepare for the next installment of Jesus' final teachings in our series here.  It comes from John 14, is among my favorite encouraging verses, and will be quite familiar to you as well...

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27

It isn't just this verse though, it is the great big context of the chapter itself...

John 14 begins with the same message v.27 preaches:

Let not your hearts be troubled.  [You] Believe in God; believe also in me.
John 14:1

We know, when God repeats Himself, well, we really should sit up and take notice!  My ESV has "[You]" in the footnotes while other translations carry it expressly in the text.  Simply, one could translate it to say; since you believe in God, then believe also in Jesus!  That belief is the core of the power which helps our hearts to not be troubled!  Any doubt?  He goes on to say:


“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
John 14:15-17


"If" statements... wow.  Always notice those!  Have you ever said that to someone in your life?  "IF you love me you will..."  Well, Jesus does, which makes it a pretty big deal.  "Yes, Jesus, I love you, how can I show you?"  Simple: keep His commandments.

This isn't a "works-based" gospel here, it is a simple fact of life.  When you love someone, you don't consistently and deliberately break their expectations and best hopes and plans for you.  If you did, they would begin to doubt your love and loyalty!  We don't keep commandments to earn Jesus' love, we had His love to begin with.  We keep them to show our love for Him... I would expand that to say: we keep the commands to show our love for Him TO the world at large!  While Jesus may know your heart, He desires that others should see your heart for Him by how you walk: in a way that honors Him.  How do I know this?

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

We could go into an entirely separate discussion here on prayer, however, what I want to focus on today is why God answers prayers.... that He may be glorified.  

This 'Him glorified' thing is kind of a big deal.  Such a big deal that God doesn't want us to be alone in figuring it out. So, we keep His commandments and He sends a helper.

The string-along is something like this:
  • Let not hearts be troubled (v1)
  • Lift all in prayer (v13)
  • Show you love Jesus by keeping his commandments (v15)
  • If you do keep His commandments out of love for Him, a "Helper" is sent (v.16)
What does this "Helper" assist us in?

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:26-27 (emphasis added)

Following those first points through v.16 cultivates prime real estate in our hearts for the Holy Spirit in-dwelling and, as He moves in, He will teach us things and help us remember what Jesus has done and said.  As a result.... PEACE!

I do believe peace can come unexplained BUT, most often, I see it occur more quickly, more completely, when we have taken steps to draw the Spirit into our heart preemptively.  

One thing which stood out about that last verse as well:

Let not your hearts be troubled NEITHER let them be afraid  

No trouble
No fear 
we can CHOOSE NOT to (or to) walk with a troubled and/or fear-filled heart!  But we shouldn't.

In all honesty, this last passage is technically, I believe, referring to v.28 when Jesus (in part) was saying, "You heard me say... I am going..if you loved me, rejoice... because I'm going to the Father..."  It would seem his words in the end of v27 were intended to encourage them as He prepares for something HUGE and, quite frankly, scary and earth-shattering!  However, we can still apply this concept to our own "huge" and shaky struggles.  We CAN still draw strength and peace which the world can not understand yet God so richly provides.

If that is not enough, notice how this chapter closes:

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. 
John 14:30-31a   

The ruler of this world has no claim on Jesus... which is great news for us as it means he has no hold on us either!!!  So why, then, does Jesus take the path he does?  So the world may know that I love the Father.

It is easy to spout, "Peace in Jesus", yet it can be hard to walk it out.  As I was tossed around from phone associate to phone associate and contractor to contractor this past week I knew they were doing all they could, I knew this fix would be a process, but even when I was tempted to loose my cool and get upset, I remembered my greater call: So the world may know that I love the Father.

Suddenly, peace in Jesus was possible.
Suddenly, He was teaching me what I needed to know for that very moment.
Suddenly, these problems seemed trivial because Jesus' greatest commandment wasn't "loose my cool with utility representatives" but instead it was "LOVE".  Love God, love others, love all completely and without cause.

Peace in Jesus.

It looks nothing like the counterfeit peace the world sells, and Jesus' peace brings rewards both deeply and eternally gratifying.

I CHOOSE peace.

Not trouble or dismay.

Just. peace... powerful, beautiful, spirit teaching peace.

I pray you choose peace in those hard to fathom places this week.  Jesus gives it freely, we only need to accept.


Blessings,






Post Note: I have come to know some of the most helpful people this past week and even had an opportunity to share my Hope with a representative as a result of the Peace in Jesus I claimed ♥️

To see last week's post in the series, visit this link in text.


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Monday, April 8, 2019

Gettin' Crafty with Easter Garland


Here in south-central Montana, spring is beginning to make its presence more evident.  Easter is a few short weeks away and Pinterest is alive with a plethora of creative ideas.  One I have frequently seen is bunny and/or egg garland. 


While visiting the Dollar Store recently I saw the cutest sparkly egg garland but it seemed to need a little something more.  Suddenly all that Pinterest inspiration came rushing in and I snatched a set to dress-up when I got home!
I forget to take a picture of the entire strand before I started the project, these are screen shots off of the video I took!


Here is how it went down:

I designed a bunny template which is available in my FREE monthly newsletter (you can see details for sign up at the end of this post.  If you decide to register, I will try to send this month's edition straight to your in-box within 48 hours).  I printed my template on card stock so it would be sturdier.

I've been collecting scrapbook paper for years and happened to have a sweet set of prints perfect for spring.  I chose a few which seemed to reflect the colors of the egg garland well and gave the line some variety.



I cut my bunnies out in blocks to separate them and then secured them with a small strip of tape at their 'bottom' on the WRONG side of the scrapbook paper (you will see why in a minute).  I cut them out in this way.

 Once I had all of them cut out they seemed a bit plain.  I remembered the current trend of bunny pom-pom tails so I checked my craft supplies and found a vintage pack of the white fluffy sort.

I used my crafter's tape, applying two small swipes where the "tail" should go and then pressed each pom-pom into place to be sure it was secure. 

PSA:  I LOVE my crafter's tape... it is quite affordable (I bought mine in a multi-pack on Amazon) and it works like a charm (no more waiting for glue to dry!!)

With cotton tails in place, I began to position them along the line in order to verify their desired placement.  Then, I used my handy-dandy crafter's tape along all of the edges and adhered each rabbit into it's respective position. The card stock backing helps the bunny stay upright and creates stability.

Viola!  Ready to hang!

I like this garland because, not only are the eggs in an assortment of beautiful colors, but each is separated by a clear bead which can be slid along the line.  I created a pattern of: egg, bunny, bead, egg.....  However, you could actually un-string all elements of this garland and re-string them differently if you wanted.  Me, I wanted something quick and easy!! 


I filmed the entire process which is still available in saved stories on my Instagram account.  If I hadn't been filming, this project could have been easily done within 30 minutes!

What Pinterest inspired (or self-inspired) Easter decor projects have you tried lately?


Blessings,






You can follow this link in text to visit my Instagram and watch the video.
You can see what I am pinning by following me on Pinterest as well!


Did you like my bunny templates?  They are available as part of a printable set in this month's newsletter.  Info on how to subscribe for your FREE edition is below.  The latest issue will make its way to you when you sign up!


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*Are you subscribed to my FREE monthly newsletter?  You might want to be.  Why?  Well, the newsletter contains bonus material you won't find on the website... not to mention, in those busy months when I can't get regular blog articles up, you can count on this periodical popping up in your email in-box each last Thursday with all new content!  What exactly does the newsletter contain?
  • Encouraging articles on Faith, Home(making), and Homeschool
  • Free printables under different themes each month
  • Insider info on the latest goings-ons with all things on my blog and writing related
You won't find all this great bonus material on the blog so be sure to sign up so you don't miss out!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter" with a  picture of the "Faith and Home Times" logo above it?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!). You should receive a confirmation email from me.  

I look forward to sharing Faith and Home Times with you!!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

HMJ meets Teen Talk on Letting Go

HMJ entries are getting harder and harder as the year progresses (and now is almost over).  A small part was the time needed for a Bible Study I was writing for a local women's group.  However, even when pockets opened up, I have been at a loss.  Then, God reminds me: talk (i.e. write) about it!  So here goes...

For those who are new here, Brooke, my youngest of 4, is 11th grade now.  We have 2 months left in the school year and then, the plan is, next fall she will be semi-full-time in college on the dual-enrollment program.  She will only have 2 classes with me, one of which is online (I just make sure the work gets done) and the other is a one semester class on Economics and Civics.

I'm still in shell-shock.


The idea to enroll at a local Christian College just came up in the last month.  All year I have plugged along, naively expecting I would have one more year to transition out of "teacher" status.

Not so.

And what is worse:  SHE WANTS THIS!!  She is weary of teacher mom... which I didn't expect since her and I get along so well.  The one thing that made my 2nd youngest's graduation easier last year was looking forward to the one-on-one I would have for two more years with Brooke. 

But no.

From the get-go this youngest has struggled as well.  So used to the buzz of siblings, especially her big brother whom she was closest to (they should have been twins!!), she was at a loss in the quiet of just her and I.  To make matters worse, while we have been in our city for almost 6 years now, we are still treated like "outsiders" and she has had difficulty finding dedicated friends as a result.

She is lonely.

...and, apparently, in a 16 year old's world... mom does not suffice to fill all the gaps siblings have in the past!

On a recent hike with her older sister.

Oh, I'm not complaining.  As a matter of fact, I DO see the comedy in it all as well.  Realistically, ALL the 'kids' did this at this same stage.  But, I guess, I always had more kids coming down the line who were still happy in homeschool, happy to spend time with mom all day, happy with status-quo.  I suppose I just invested all that energy in the ones which remained... now none do.  So I am stuck, staring this crazy "kids are growing up" beast in the face and it ain't pretty!

Parents: I don't have very many answers for this.  Just the soft cries of a mother's heart saying "come back" to all those years, they slip by much to fast.

Well, maybe I do have some thoughts.  This is what I am learning and reciting to myself lately:

#1 - Don't take it personally.  Your  teen still loves you.  It really isn't you - it IS them!! 

#2 - In light of #1, hold loosely.  It is often mistaken that this stage requires tightening when that is the very thing which often drives them further away.

#3 - Establish clear boundaries and be firm... it may seem to contradict #2 but instead it is meant to help you with it.  By the time your teen is 16 there should be some clear boundaries in place such as curfew, cell phone/social media use, dating, chores, etc.  Unless they are acting out and getting in trouble, now is not the time to tighten the rules simply out of fear because they are "growing up" and it is hard to let go.  If you both understand the boundaries well, you, as the parent, can ease up on all other areas.

#4 - Give them opportunities to make mature decisions, even if you don't agree with those decisions!!  Show them how to filter the decision making process through the Word of God and, as long as they are not going against the Word and God, agree to disagree.  For example... they have a job and when the paycheck comes in you would like to see them saving 50% in a long-term savings account... but they want to save 25%.  Neither goes against God's Word, both have pros and cons.  Discuss those pros and cons OBJECTIVELY (that can be the hard part!) and then allow them to make the decision without ridicule.  As many opportunities as can safely be given, should be given.  It is good for them to learn how to make mature decisions while still in the household so you are close to advise when needed.

#5 - Don't stop giving advice!  Sometimes they act like they don't want it!  I do suggest filtering advice so it isn't in 'lecture' mode.  Fact is, even when they push back, a lack of advice actually causes them to feel more isolated!  They won't say it at the time, but they appreciate input.

#6 - Be a good listener.  Let them know they can come to you, even with the hard things.  We have a rule in our house: if you need to talk to mom about something you are afraid she will get mad at, just say, "Mom, please don't get mad..." and then share whatever it is.  I may get upset or uncomfortable with what they share, but I bite my tongue and just listen.  They know I may be upset, but the disclaimer seems more for the effect of, "please don't yell at me and please be gentle as I need to bare my heart", so I don't yell.  I just process.  Sometimes I ask interrogative questions to better understand WHY in a situation.  In the rare instances when they have done something which requires punishment, we calmly discuss the situation and why it would be best to have some form of penalty.

#7 - You CAN and should be their friend BUT when a serious situation arises, you are first and foremost their parent.  It is OK to set that disclaimer out there, I do!


How does all this play into our homeschool?  Well, with a daughter, there are always moods and emotions.  Now that it is just her and I, we will take time first thing in the morning to hash out any heart-renderings so her mind is clear and ready to learn.  When we were still teaching multiples, we would do the lessons and, once I was done helping everyone, I would carve out time for heart-to-hearts on topics for any kiddo needing the attention. 

If you ask me, this is the beauty of homeschooling through the teen years.  In public school they need to move along with the herd and be generally ignored most of the day, with the only advice coming predominately from their peers who are also struggling with this stage! 

This style of parenting in or out of the homeschool may seem like an enabling tactic, but I don't think it is, as long as it is done right.  As we listen and talk, talk and listen, it is important to guide them in thinking critically, not make all the decisions for them.  Think of it like training wheels... having them doesn't make you dependent on them, instead, the tiny tack-ons help a child find the balance they need to ride free.  The little wheels are gradually moved higher and higher until one day, they come off completely!  Sure, the child will still fall on occasion, but the general concept is achieved and the more they ride, the less they fall.

This is the power of interactive parenting.

My oldest 3 have graduated and moved on to make some mighty fine decisions minus mom input because of 18 years preceding direction and consistently pointing them towards Christ in their decision making process.

This is where I must rest now.  Reminding myself, as I am sharing with you - we are right where we should be: her ready for independence and me realizing how much I am going to miss this.  I've been active mom for 25 years, and now it is time to help her fluff her wings and prepare to fly.

Who says motherhood is easy?

We can get up each morning, have our prayers and renderings, do our lessons, and... I am finding... the more I let go of my anxiety over it, the more we are enjoying these last weeks together.  I can smile because I know she is going to be OK and she can trust me because she knows I will be too.

I pray your homeschooling days are treasured beyond priceless and that your lessons go far beyond books and the time they have under your roof.

Blessings,






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Friday, April 5, 2019

Five Minute Friday: Offer

 
How often do we doop ourselves to believe we have nothing to offer?

"What can I possibly do"
"I can't do as much as that person"

But aren't we missing the point?

#1 - it isn't what we have to offer... it is totally and completely about what God intends to do through us.

#2 - God has created us each for a very specific purpose.  We ought not underestimate even the simplest of acts because even a trickle can become a roar.

I have heard it said that the Mississippi River begins as a small creek up in the north-central portion of Minnesota... yet, if you have traversed much across the mid-section of our country, you know it is anything but a trickling creek farther downstream.

Our little bit which we offer... whether it be financial or physical or emotional or spiritual... rolls up with the big and small offerings of many others to create a mighty force for difference.

Never underestimate your offer and ALWAYS look to God in the process and remember: it isn't what you can do... it is what He chooses to do through you!  How mediocre would be our faith and testimony if it was all about what is accomplished in our meager offerings compared to the mighty work only God can do!  Trust Him, even when he calls you to the simplest offering.  He just may be using you as part of something BIG, whether or not you ever see the completion.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God
1 Timothy 1:6b

It starts out small and than it starts to grow!

Blessings,







This has been a Five Minute Friday Post where writers tap away for 5 minutes, un-edited, on a predetermined topic.  Check out other great posts by visiting:
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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Can They Hear You?


As April opens up and Easter is only a few short weeks away, I felt it appropriate to look at the 'final opening' of those last days of Jesus (His last days and some of his teachings/prayers are what I plan to draw out here each Wednesday this month).  The book of John is probably my favorite Gospel, something in "the disciple Jesus loved"'s wording strikes a beautiful chord with me.  Using keen Bible deduction, seeing the repetitions and order of statements, really seem to nail at the heart of Christ and, knowing that this powerful book was written to show WHO He really was and his Godship, seems to support that idea further.(ref)

Armed with this understanding, I dug into John 12 today, The Triumphal Entry of Jesus on what we now celebrate as "Palm Sunday"

Crowds were there.

The Pharisees were there.

The crowds were excited to see this man who was rumored to have called people out of the grave... one person in particular, which the Pharisees sought to have killed along with Jesus.  Why?  Because he, Lazarus, the once-dead-man now walking, was a living testimony of the power and might of God through Jesus.

Jesus himself represented a threat to the power and might of the Pharisees.  They didn't like that.  They wanted to retain their good standing and they knew Jesus' very existence jeopardized years of posturing.  Too bad some of these hadn't taken in the Sermon on the Mount:

"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted t the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money [or possessions]."
Matthew 6:24

Too bad, also, it didn't sink in with them that you can't kill God!  However, it was good for us... it was planned for us.  Without the death of an innocent lamb, none of us would know hope for the future.  So we will give the Pharisees a break... they were just fulfilling God's grand plan and for that, we can praise Him!

However, I digress... there is sooooo much to draw out of this amazing chapter but the ONE thing I wanted to point our attention to today is this repeated theme:

So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.  
John 12:10-11

The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witnessThe reason why the crowd [presumably a different one in Jerusalem/Bethany area] went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.  So the Pharisees said to one another, "you see that you are gaining nothing.   
Look, the world has gone after him."
John 12:16-19
(Emphasis added in each)

Why were alllllll these people following?  What was making the Pharisees sooooooo mad about them?  The perpetuation of Truth.  Here is the formula:

See Jesus speak/work + tell of Jesus' words/work = MORE people drawn to Jesus

But this truly is NOT an addition problem... it is a multiplication one because people weren't drawn by onesies and twosies... nope, CROWDS flocked

The power of witnessing.

As Christians we do not need to bully or cajole, we just need to talk and live.  It's how it was done and now, 2000 years later, this same approach is still what God uses to draw new believers.  And, still, to this day, when you go to oppressed or secluded cultures where the Light has never been shared before, they come in droves just at the Word.

Perhaps, in our own culture, many have grown numb to this powerfully trans-formative Truth in the din of so many other ideas... particularly the lie of self-actualization, a concept completely contradictory to the selfLESS living Christ embodied.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Whoever loves his life looses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am there will be my servant also.
John 12:24-26a

The believers who witnessed and flocked and witnessed and flocked... followed Jesus.  Not self, not ambitions, not the world... no, they followed Jesus.  Two groups of people are drawn out at this point:  Those who followed outwardly... and those who followed inwardly...

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
John 12:42-43

If you stand by the precepts of Christ are you afraid to loose friends?  Family members? Position? Job? Glory? Recognition? Credibility? Acceptance?  When these fears strike, we must remember, they aren't new, but rather, they were held by some very high ranking officials even in Jesus' time.  Is He OK with that?

NO.

The whole "light under a bushel" comes to mind.  So does every preceding verse to the ones just mentioned... how were crowds drawn?  By witness.  But some loved their life more.  Whoever loves his life looses it... you can't love your own life more than that which Christ wants to give you.

So what if you loose friends, family, position, job, glory, recognition, credibility or acceptance.  YES, these people and things mean something... they can mean everything, BUT, how many countries have seen faith BOOM because of the dedicated witness of those who were persecuted for the faith?  Maybe we aren't in China or the Muslim controlled Middle-Eastern and African countries... but we are still in a battle for souls and how do hostages know where safety is if we aren't willing to stand in the battlefield and point the way, even if it means we get hit with flying arrows? 

Digressing doesn't draw. 
Bending when pushed, lake grass laying aside as it is trampled, quiets Truth.
STANDING, speaking, believing with our WHOLE heart in the face of all that seeks to kill and destroy... THAT is where people flock and are drawn.  The message? "Wow, that must be something amazing if she is willing to stand that firm!"

And Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.  And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.  I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.  If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.  The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.  For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment -- what to say and what to speak.  And I know that his commandment is eternal life.  What I say, therefore I say as the Father has told me."
John 12:44-50

If we are called to be like Christ, and Christ did as the Father told Him, shouldn't we follow suit?

This Resurrection season, I pray we may meditate on the gravity of what has been done for us... and that we might let it permeate every crevice of our being to produce transformation which is ready, willing, and actively pursuing opportunity to SHARE, that the roll-call of the faithful might multiply because we stood!

Blessings,






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