Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bible study (chapters 5 & 6)

The past two weeks in our ladies' Bible study we've been looking at what it means to have intimacy with God and then how that should affect our lives as we grow in that intimacy. Here are some of the things that God is challenging me with . . .

Conscious repentance leads to unconscious holiness.
(Oswald Chambers)
My relationship with God should be characterized by conscious, continual repentance of the things that I have allowed in my life that break the heart of God. As I continue to draw near to God, I should become more and more like Jesus. My life needs to be a reflection of the One who loved me and gave Himself for me.

"If Christians lived according to their faith,
there would be no more Hindus left in India."
(Mahatma Ghandi)

This one really hit me! This did not come from a Christian missionary making an observation. This was from a great leader from India . . . he was curious about the idea of Christianity, but when he met Christians, he was disappointed. He saw too many people who claimed to be followers of Jesus and yet their lifestyles did not match up with their claims. How many people have I disappointed because I failed to live what I say I believe?

Here's a story that Joanna Weaver used in Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World that really captures the essence of what God is speaking to me right now:
The story is told of a young boy who approached an evangelist after a revival tent meeting. "Excuse me, sir?" the little boy said politely. "You said everyone should ask Jesus into their hearts, right?"

"That's right, son." The evangelist squatted down so he could looke the boy in the eye. "Did you ask Him in?"

"Well, I'd like to," the boy said, shuffling dirt with the toe of his shoe before returning his gaze to the evangelist. "But I got to figurin' . . . I'm so little and Jesus is so big -- He's just gonna stick out all over!"

"That's the point, son," the evangelist said with a smile. "That's the point."

That's the point . . . I want every aspect of my life to be touched by Jesus -- He's the only One who can bring lasting change in my life. And I want to live in such a way that Jesus "sticks out all over"!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A quote that I am pondering

I heard this quote on the radio the other day and had to write it down to think about later. I'm still pondering . . . here's the quote:

Raise children that make heaven rejoice and evil shudder.

As I've thought some about this quote, it really reminds me of what my priorities are as a parent. Yes, I want them to be well-educated and able to interact with others in social settings. I'd love to see them excel in the gifts that God has given them, whether that be in music or sports or the arts. I dream about what the future may hold for them in terms of marriage, ministry, career. But ultimately, none of those things are what matter most.

The deepest desire of my heart is to see my little ones grow to love their Savior more and more each day . . . that they will follow Him wholeheartedly and serve Him faithfully. I want them to be more focused on making a difference for the Kingdom of God than they are on making a living. So when things get busy and I feel overwhelmed with all that parenting entails, I want to come back to this quote and remember that my goal is to raise children that make heaven rejoice and evil shudder. As I concentrate on being purposeful this year, this is a good reminder.

Monday, April 21, 2008

But that's what mothers do!

My dear, sweet son and I were having a conversation this afternoon about why he doesn't need to change his clothes fifteen times a day! (Okay, so this was only the third outfit he wanted to put on today! And in his defense, I just got out his summer clothes this weekend, so there were some "old favorites" that he hadn't seen in a LONG time!)

Anyway, back to our conversation . . . I tried to explain to him that by wearing multiple outfits each day, it makes extra dirty laundry for Mommy to do (which is extra work). Without missing a beat, he said, "But that's okay, Mom . . . that's what moms are 'apposed to do!"

After saying that, he marched out to the backyard with his sister to play, and I was left to ponder the reality of that statement. There are so many things in the course of a day that I just "do" because that's what mothers do. And even though I may grumble momentarily about the influx of laundry created by a little boy with both a desire to "look sharp" like his daddy

and an inexplicable passion for climbing any and everything, jumping in mudpuddles and other equally messy things,
I wouldn't trade my mommy "to do" list for anything in the world. I am so very blessed to do all the things that mothers do for my two precious gifts from God. Thanks, Jaden, for that reminder!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Day Apart!

Saturday, I had the privilege of participating in "A Day Apart" -- a ladies' day retreat sponsored by our church's denomination. Along with 15 other ladies from our church, I was able to take part in a wonderful time of worship, fellowship and encouragement in the Word. What a refreshing day!

The worship leader (and guest musician) was Frances Drost -- check out her website at -- it was obvious that she is passionate about worshipping God and leading others into His presence as well. The speaker for the day -- Brenda Gay Shumaker (her website is -- had us laughing and crying throughout the day. She was an interior decorator for 25 years, and now has a speaking ministry as well as a radio broadcast where she combines her background in decorating with challenging people to design their lives according to the Word of God.

In one of the sessions, Brenda took us through a house and paused in different "rooms" to encourage us in how we could apply principles from that room to our lives in order to be the women that God has called us to be. From that session, there were a couple of rooms that God impressed on me to be more purposeful in focusing my attention in the coming weeks and months . . .
  • Children's bedrooms -- I want to be purposeful in praying over them consistently, especially prayers that come from the Bible. Years ago, when our oldest was just a baby, I read a book called How to Be a God Chaser and a Kid Chaser by Tommy Tenney. In that book, I remember that he gave Scripture passages for a parent to pray over their children. I let someone borrow that book and never got it back, but I think I want to try to track it down. In the meantime, I want to begin a list of areas to pray for each of my children along with verses of Scripture to go along with each one.

  • Kitchen -- The kitchen is a place of nourishment . . . I want to grow in being purposeful about the kind of spiritual nourishment that I seek for myself, as well as helping my children learn how to "taste and see that the Lord is good". Just like I put thought into planning our meals, I need to give thought as to what the spiritual diet is in our home and plan appropriate "meals".

  • Family room -- I really want to see our family be a light to those around us, to show the love of God to our neighbors and those with whom we come in contact each day. Our speaker challenged me by saying that we never know what God wants to use to draw someone else to Himself. I want to be a vessel that God can flow through to touch others.

In this, like so many other things that God is teaching me this year, the key is being PURPOSEFUL -- making deliberate choices to do what God is calling me to do and be the person He made me to be. It's not always easy . . . I can become lazy and apathetic, but that doesn't change what God is saying. I just need to change my response; I need to be PURPOSEFUL!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My favorite room in the house!

Here it is!
What is it, you ask? It's our homeschool room/playroom! I love it because it gives the kids a place to play without us tripping over toys all day long (like we used to do) and it's a fun place to learn and discover new things. Here . . . you can take a look!

These are the stairs leading up to the playroom (it's on the 3rd floor).
We can practice counting by 2s or by 5s if we want!

This is our art gallery -- it's on the wall outside our classroom! Lael and Jaden made the frames, and the exhibits change often as our resident artists are inspired!

One reason I love this room is that we have so much storage space! Almost one entire wall is shelving, plus we have bookshelves and closet storage as well!

Here is the nerve center for Mommy! Our calendar and filing cabinet with my teaching resources, as well as crates with the materials we are using for the current unit, help to keep me organized!

I have a couple of little geography buffs, so we had to have maps easily accessible so we could find the answers to "Where is that, Mommy?"
And this is one of the children's favorite features: a cozy reading area -- it even has books within arms reach! What more could you ask for?
Now that you've had a tour, don't you want to come to school at our house? Feel free to stop by anytime!

Monday, April 14, 2008

We've been hosting Flat Stanley!

That's right . . . we've had a house guest for the past month (fortunately, he doesn't eat very much)! His name is Flat Stanley, and he's the star of a book called Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. The book is about a young boy named Stanley who is accidently squished "as flat as a pancake" when a bulletin board falls on tope of him. The story goes on to share the advantages that Stanley discovers about being flat, as well as some of his adventures while flat -- including helping to solve a mystery in an art museum and being mailed to California for a vacation.

Anyway, we've been Flat Stanley's host family courtesy of Hailey, one of Lael's friends from church. We even took Stanley to In the Light Ministries' Harvesters Conference in Lancaster. Here are some pictures we took on our trip . . .

While in Lancaster, our family stayed at the Courtyard (a Marriot affliate).
Here is Flat Stanley wearing a wardrobe designed by Lael.
It was perfect for the spring-time weather we enjoyed while in Lancaster!

Stanley really enjoyed riding the elevator -- and wanted to push the buttons all the time!

The pool was a favorite of Lael and Jaden. Stanley really wanted to join them, but he was a little bit concerned about how soggy he might get. He decided to keep his distance!

All that fun can really wear out a host and her guest.
Here are Lael and Stanley catching a nap in between activities.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What is my "one thing"?

Time for some more reflections on Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. Last Tuesday we read chapter 4, which focused on the "one thing" that God desires from us more than anything else -- ourselves. God created us for intimacy with Him. The problem arises when we fill ourselves so full of other things (even GOOD things) that our intimacy with Him suffers.

I know that I can do this. I can make myself so busy doing that I forget to be the child of God that He created me to be. And, as Joanna Weaver says, "I, too, can get so overwhelmed that my worship becomes work rather than delight, and devotion becomes just another duty." She talks about steps to take when life becomes overwhelming . . . I know that I need to practice these in my life:
  1. Invite Jesus to rule and reign by inviting Him first thing in the morning to take the throne of my life, asking for His wisdom and guidance in setting the course for the day.
  2. Ask God to reveal the next step throughout the day . . . by continual conversation with Him as to what my next assignment is.
  3. Have faith that what needs to get done will get done because I have committed my day to Him and am purposing to obey Him. This also involves trusting that whatever wasn't accomplished was either unnecessary or is being taken care of by God.
  4. Be open to the Spirit's leading . . . be flexible and alert to "divine appointments". Then I can enjoy the freedom of surrendering my agenda and cooperating with His.

When I was in college, I read a book called Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. The basic premise of the book is to look for what God is doing around you and purpose to join God in His work. These two books have some common themes -- anything I do hand-in-hand with God will bear fruit as I stay connected to Him and in tune with Him.

It's like the messages my husband has preached at church recently . . . when a branch is connected to the vine, fruit happens -- it's a natural, effortless occurence. the branch is just doing what it was created to do. Likewise, when I make intimacy with God my first priority, I will produce the fruit in my life that He created me to produce. And that's what I want to do! I want intimacy with my Creator to be my "one thing" . . . what's your "one thing"?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thanks for voting!

The polls have closed! And the winner . . . by a landslide . . . is (drumroll, please)


The final results are as follows:

Bee => 21 votes

Ant => 5 votes

Fly => 1 vote (Thank you, Uncle Clark! Lael kept saying, "Someone has to vote for the fly!"

Thanks to all of you for your participation in our poll. Lael was so excited to see all the votes come in! I see an insect unit in our future this summer -- where we will study bees, ants, and other insects (yes, maybe even the fly -- gulp!)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

We need your vote!

Lael is working on tallying votes and working with the data in math. She needs a "class" to poll -- so you could help us out. All you need to do is leave a comment with your vote.

Here's the question: If you were going to choose an insect to study, which one would you choose?
The choices are:



(If you want to tell why when you leave your comment, you can . . . but that isn't required!)

Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Special memories!

Last week, while we were in Lancaster for our fellowship's annual conference, we celebrated the anniversaries of two significant events for our family. The first was on April 4th. Nine years ago, Brent took me down to the beach in Ocean City, MD and as the sun was rising on Easter Sunday morning, asked me if I would be his wife! We had known each other for three years, but didn't "date" in the conventional sense of the word. We really were just good friends and only dated after we were engaged.

Anyway, he made me the happiest woman in the world on that day, and we have had the best nine years so far . . . certainly better than I could have imagined then! Here's a picture from that morning (it's not the greatest, but then there weren't too many people walking on the beach at 4:30 in the morning!)

Thank you, Brent, for obeying God . . . for choosing me to walk beside you in the amazing adventure that God has before us! Our latter will be greater than our former -- what's ahead will bless our socks off! And we get to walk it all out together! I thank God for the privilege of being your wife. I love you so very much!

April 5th also has significance to us . . . that's the day that we finally brought our precious "peanut" home from the hospital after 108 days! Lael was a micro-preemie, born seven years ago at 24 weeks gestation, weighing only 1 pound, 3 ounces at birth. We could literally hold her in the palm of our hands when she was born . . . my wedding band fit on her wrist like a bracelet!

God performed miracle after miracle in her tiny body -- holes in her heart closed on their own, bleeding in her brain that went away with no lasting damage, multiple breathing difficulties and collapsed lungs, eye conditions that reversed themselves. One of her doctors said it best when she was discharged: "She isn't going home because of our medical skill; she's going home because of your prayers!"

I can't stop praising God for the blessing of our daughter and for His miraculous power demonstrated in her life! Today she is seven years old and brings so much joy to our lives! Lael, you are a joy and a delight to your daddy and me . . . we thank God for the blessing of YOU!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Field trip fun at Cabela's!

So many fun things happened over the past few weeks that I want to write about . . . I'll have to catch up gradually! Anyway, the day after Easter, our principal announced that we were going on a field trip to Cabela's! (It's always fun when Daddy plans the trip!)

Cabela's is a huge store geared toward sportsmen -- hunting, fishing, camping, etc. But they have some amazing wildlife displays there that we enjoyed looking at.

This is the large display in the store . . .
with all different animals around it.
We all enjoyed posing with this bear friend (glad he was stuffed!)
Lael and Daddy dreaming of Africa
Lael and Jaden in the front of the store with their special souvenirs
(they've played almost daily with them since the trip!)
While traveling to and from our field trip, we listened to our new kids' CD (it was an Easter gift for the kids). It's part of the Seeds Family Worship collection and we ALL love it!
The songs are upbeat and fun, but best of all, they are word-for-word from the Word of God. So as we are having fun singing, we are memorizing God's Word! What could be better than that?!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Back to School Blast!

I'm thinking of brushing off my lesson planning skills from years ago and entering Homeschool Share's curriculum contest. I just saw that they have announced their annual Back to School Blast (a curriculum drive in the form of a contest)! They will start accepting submissions on Thursday, May 1st and their submission deadline is Tuesday, July 1st at 11:59 p.m.

They have some wonderful prizes for those who enter lessons in many different categories. I've been using this site for the kids this year and love it. I'll keep you posted on my progess (and if I get "published")!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Why worry?

I am reading the most wonderful book right now . . . it's called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. I'm using it with a ladies' Bible study that meets in our home on Tuesday nights, and God is using it to speak to me about intimacy with Him.

Last night's chapter was on worry . . . I tend not to worry about things that much (just ask my husband -- I'm more likely to jump into something and figure it out as I go!) Anyway, I wondered what God had for me in this chapter, and of course, He will always speak when we are willing to listen! Here are a couple of quotes from the book that ministered to me:

Why is the Bible so adamant about our avoiding fear and worry? Because God knows worry short-circuits our relationship with him. It fixes our eyes on our situation rather than on our Savior.

We face legitimate concerns every day of our lives. But instead of fretting, instead of worrying, we need to focus on discerning what we can do (with God's help) and what should be left entirely up to God. Even more important, we need to keep our focus on who God is and what God can do. The bills won't pay themselves. But we serve Jehovah Jireh -- the God who provides. . . . There is plenty in this world to be concerned about. But we serve El Shaddai -- an almighty God.

Fretting magnifies the problem, but prayer magnifies God.

And my favorite quote of all was a quote by Corrie ten Boom: "Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden."

I was reminded in this chapter that the more secure I am in the love of my heavenly Father, the less I will tend to worry or fear the things I face because perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). I'm so thankful that God knows my every need and He will meet them all! So why worry?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dancing With God

I'm not much of a dancer . . . never really did much dancing growing up. Occasionally my husband and I will put on some music and dance around the living room, but nothing "in public". Recently, I received an email that made me think about dancing in an entirely different way . . . so I thought I would share it.

When I meditated on the word Guidance, I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word and I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.

When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn't flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully. The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.
When I saw "G": I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i".
"God, "u" and "i" dance."

God, you, and I dance.

As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance about my life and once again, I became willing to let God lead.

I want to learn how to dance together with God, trusting God to lead and to guide me through each season of my life. I want to abide in Him as He abides in me. I want to spend less time trying to make everything work out the way I think it should and more time trusting that He is in control and working everything for His glory and my good.

I want to dance -- surrendering, trusting, moving beautifully in the arms of the One who loves me more than I will ever know!