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Gift #2 You Can Not Afford NOT to Give

>> 12.09.2012

Gift #2 --

...A clear sense of others -- it seems as though the entire (Western) Church has bought into our culture's idea of living a self-focused lifestyle.  In our own experience, the number one desire of parents we've asked is that their children grow up to live "happy" and "healthy" lives.  While there is nothing innately wrong about having a life that is happy or healthy, this certainly isn't the "gold standard" by which a "good life" is represented in Scripture.  Christ followers are continually told to "deny themselves" in order to serve others, and in doing so they serve Christ.  We see Jesus and his disciples serving in difficult situations, always giving though they've already gave and gave; Christ was crucified and most of His disciples died a martyr's death.  Giving our children a clear sense of others will take intentionality and will not be convenient.  Oh, we can do it while on other journeys, (being kind to the clerk at the store, etc.) but it also means we need to teach our children to "give up" things and "deny" their desires at times. ("Delayed gratification" is one term that comes to mind...)

We must teach our children to think of others because it does not come naturally to any of us.  This is like teaching them to wash their hands, or get dressed, or make their bed-- they must practice generosity until it becomes a habit.  Generosity that comes out of a heart of thankfulness is the most pure motive. ("We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19)  Generosity taught for the sake of looking or feeling good is not the goal nor the motive that pleases Jesus.  (Feeling good about the things you do is not wrong, however, it should be a by-product and not a driving force.) God looks at our motives.  He wants your children's hearts-- not just their outward behavior. 

Because we have been given MUCH, we know that life isn't about them-- it's about Christ and being His hands and feet while on earth.  Matt. 25:34-40 gives us a clear picture about the practical ways God wants us to help and serve others.  

When weserve others here on earth, it is as if we are serving our very King, Jesus Christ.

Here  are some ways we are practicing generosity in our home this year.  They are nothing snazzy or glitzy or even worth mentioning, but it is what we can do this Christmas time.  ( This is not to brag or be looked upon, but simply joted down for us to remember personally and to perhaps give you one idea you might use if you need a few ideas.)

* Handed out Christmas treats made by ladies of our church to elderly shut-ins or church attendees who have been ill.  The kids sang, read poems, and talked a bit with the people we visited.  (We did this with another homeschooling family and it was a blast!  The kids really liked this & we reiterated several times the reason we do this activity is to encourage those who aren't healthy enough to get out very much.) (I must also thank the ladies who had the Christmas cookie exchange who plan to ask people to bring more than they will go home with.  I would never have been able to bake all those goodies AND take them!=)

* Gave homemade gifts to teachers in their lives.  When they all have a hand in creating gifts simple as "gifts in a jar" it helps them to connect saying thanks to those in their lives and to learn to think about what makes someone else happy and encouraged.

* Being involved in purchasing an animal through the World Vision Christmas catalog.  We're still collecting money so the kids are excited to see how much they will be able to purchase in the end.  Will it be a chicken?  A goat?  A cow?!?...

* Sorted through toys/clothes and gave several large boxes to our local shelter for needy people.  After a few years of doing this with them, the kids are really starting to understand their outgrown and unused can be used by others who need them.

*  And, though this is not about "others" here on earth, we have started a Sparkle Box...which you can read about later this week! 

What things are YOU and YOUR FAMILY doing this year to show Christ's love to others and to teach your children that life for the Believer consists of a full heart of thankfulness overflowing with generosity?


Gifts You Can't Afford NOT to Give Your Children!

>> 12.04.2012

This will be a "Days of Christmas" type of series, I hope.  My internet has been down at my home and since it's equipment related I'm not sure when it will be back again so...my intentions have already not met with reality from the 1st of December so we'll just all see how this goes.

Over the last two years, we have begun to get a little more intentionally Christ-centered in our family in regards to Christmas time.  We don't have anything against giving gifts to our children, no, in fact, it's quite an addicting thing to do.  Once I purchase the first gift on the lift for one of them my mind starts spinning with ideas of all the "wonderful" things I could get them...things they "need"...things I want them to have...oh, and it could get bad...but I have several reasons for not giving into those fun parenting feelings and the biggest at Christmas time is because it's JESUS' Birthday!  I don't celebrate my children's birthdays by giving away their gifts to the guests, so why would I celebrate Jesus' birthday this way?  Anyway, all this thinking has lead me to a few, (ok, after thinking more about it turned from a "12 Days of Christmas" to a "Days of Christmas" because, after all, who wants to be held back into restrains on these things?=) er, several more than a few, ideas of gifts I HAD to give to my children.  Today I'll share with you my first.

I MUST Give My Children The Gift of...

.... a mom & dad that have a genuine, personal walk with their Savior, Jesus Christ. 

I've written about this before, but it can not be over-stated: being a Christ follower is NOT just about going to church on Sunday mornings and making sure you're children are in church when the church doors are open.  That will do little good to help them be interested in having Jesus as their Savior, too.  Following Jesus means you personally want to find out what He has for you to live out.  You can only do this by reading His Word on a regular basis and by spending time with Him in prayer-- talking to Him.  If you are doing this, those around you will see His reflection in you.  Like Moses having been with God on Mt. Sinai, people KNEW he'd seen the One True God because his face glowed!  Our countenance will shine like the countenance of one having been with the Alpha and Omega, the Creator of all, when we spend time with Him.  This will be what interests those around us, especially our children, to want a relationship with Christ.  When they observe us going to Jesus in difficult and good days, when they see us responding in ways that only one having been with Jesus could respond, that will be attractive to them and will cause them to know our Savior is alive and real.

To that end, I fail. 

I fail so often were I to get a nickel for every failed attempt at consistent Bible reading and prayer time, or even a penny for that matter, I'd be filthy rich!  As it is, we don't get money for failing that...usually just shame and guilt which Satan aptly uses to keep us from Christ.  But Dear Friend, let us remember that God's love and faithfulness for us does not depend on us in any way (can I get an "AMEN"?!).  Romans 5:8 says " But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  Another way to put that was even while we were sinning, Christ still loved us enough sacrifice Himself for us.  2 Timothy 2:13 says "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself."  Therefore, we can be sure that when our reflection of HIM gets a bit...fuzzy, we can approach Him with confidence in HIS love and HIS shed blood knowing that "His mercies are new every morning." (Lamentations 3:23)  He wants us to spend time with Him, and like a person who has lost great, valuable jewels, when we are lost He SEEKS US and rejoices when we return to Him.  (Just check out Luke chapter 15 for many examples of His great love for lost ones.)

For those that are moms, DO spend time with Jesus...open His Word at the beginning of your day and even if it's 5 minutes before the cereal is poured and the toasts pops up and the kids start tugging away at you, read His Word!  THEN, keep it open and throughout the laundry, the crying fits, the time-outs, the crazy breakfast-snack-lunch-snack-UNhappy hour (4-5 melt-down time)- supper- then-too-long-before-they're-finally-asleep-in-their-own-bed-time, time (whew!  It's exhausting, isn't it?) meditate on that verse.  Thank Him for your children, for the clothes you are able to wash, the dishes you are able to use, the water you are able to have readily available...Keep Him central throughout your day and He will HONOR your time and not shame you for not being able to have a "quiet" time.  After all, He gave you your children and He KNOWS there is no such thing as a "quiet" time for years after they come.  Enjoy the blessings He's given you....as you enjoy HIM!

This was too lengthy, but if you remember one this, remember this:  there are some gifts you CAN NOT afford not to give to your children.  This is one: the gift of a mom & dad that have a genuine, personal walk with their Savior, Jesus Christ. 

More gifts and Christmas traditions to come...another day!


A Little More Personal-- A Look Inside My Fridge

>> 10.30.2012

Have you ever looked into your fridge and thought, there's definitely a life analogy going on in here.  No?  Well, I have.  This morning.  All fall I've been struggling with getting my life back "on-track".  (Whatever that is.) 

You see, during the summer I spent 60 days focused on my health...eating better & exercising MUCH more intensely than I have ever done before (for 60 min. a day)-- and all for ZERO pounds down and a few inches.  I know, I know-- I should be happy with a few inches, right? But not even my jeans size went down!  I've been stuck at this weight (212 to be exact) for the last year and a half trying desperately to see a different number more than just at 4 am, lol. (I mean really, even if you do see a smaller number at 4 am it doesn't even matter because you know after your workout, some water, and a bit to eat it'll just be back up there-- plus, it's 4 am so, I don't know about you, but "happiness" never happens at 4 am for me=)

So, every week I try to plan out a new menu...one that includes salads, kale, quinoa and sweet potatoes (for me) and one that includes all the wholegrain pasta, cheese, and "yummy" stuff for the other 5 in my family who won't touch the beginning listed items.  Well, if you're a mom, you can easily understand that this lasts for all of your inspired 5 minutes and then goes down hill from there very fast.  (As well as to waste because after prepping meals for the others you have no ambition to prep your healthy stuff for yourself.)  I know what you're all saying.  I should teach my family to eat the healthy stuff...and they do to some extent but because I didn't raise them on it it is taking longer than I'd like for them to eat it and enjoy.  I AM making most foods from whole-foods and trying to keep out those "no-no" things such as GMOs and chemicals...but it's just plain tough to do and keep up with the rest of life at the same time-- at least for me.

So, I won't whine anymore but I'll get on with my point.  I started last week trying to do something about this issue of discipline...because I know I lack it right now.  (I was so discouraged after this summer's experience I've done a complete nose-dive in most other areas.)  It's time to change...so when the ebook 21 Days to a More  Disciplined Life a (review here) came along, though I wasn't looking for any miracle, I thought I'd get it (while it was $.99!) and just see what the author had to say.  Ok.  It's a good book...one woman's successful blogging journey to 21 days to discipline...but as she asks the reader in the beginning, I'm supposed to pick just ONE habit & project to start with.  It can be as easy as putting my shoes in the right place every time I come into the house or as difficult as adding a consistent workout time back in everyday.  Problem is, when I look at my life I can't find one good area...they are ALL out of sorts and none is "easy" to fix.  Which is where my fridge comes into play...it's all out of sorts and I can't even find the left over baked oatmeal I was planning on having the last few mornings for breakfast!  In order to do that, I'll need to get into the fridge and make a complete overhaul.  Things will start to smell in there soon...and food is certainly rotting somewhere going to waste once again.  So, this morning, you can bet you know what I'll be doing during my week of cancelled school-- cleaning out the fridge.  But it will take more than a week to clean this life out, however...and really, I have to clean out 5 other lives too in order to make mine less cluttered... I'm not sure how to accomplish that. (I hear you all saying, "one step at a time"...)  I know the answers, I've even successfully used those same answers before, but sometimes those answer don't feel sufficient...and like weight loss, in order to keep the momentum, you must first see some sort of tangible results and you need people surrounding you to spur you on.

Those people are the ones I am pleased to say I will be able to go visit in a few days...I'm hoping to return refreshed and upheld...the work will still be there and mine to do, but it will be easier because of the people who are upholding me.  Thank you, Jesus, for true, Godly friends who have the courage to see you inside and out, speak truth in love, and support you through it all.

How about you?  What does your fridge look like today?


Life Space

>> 10.18.2012

My spirits are being refreshed everyday as this autumn time wears on.  I see some trees full of brilliant colors and others that have been the "victims" of a harsh, dry summer and are "just" brown.  But in all of it, brilliant or brown, I am reminded of God's goodness to us through whatever season we are in-- be it "brilliant" or "brown".

Recently, my family and I went through an interesting experience leaving us with an unexpectedly more freed-up schedule.  What could have been a difficult and thoroughly exhausting semester, though brought on not in a way I would have chosen or desired, has become an absolutely delightful time!  I have readjusted my school schedule and lowered my expectations of me so that I can leave SPACE, some call it "margin", for what really matters...like playing learning games with my kids while they are still into playing games with me! 

These are some pictures of what we did as part of our school day today.  I am choosing to include the "beautiful" ones and the "not-so-beautiful" ones just to show you that behind my lens is the same thing you see behind yours-- squirmy, wormy, some-times distracted, kids that act like they are not listening...but they are.  (And they even declared this book to be their favorite after 20 minutes previously saying, "we read this yesterday!  Why do we need to read it AGAIN today?!"=)

Our book for my Pre-K and Kinder this week (see Five in A Row if you are curious as to why a whole week) was Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown.  The book tells of a little bunny who declares he is going to run away and his momma bunny who won't let him get too far because she'll seek after him in whatever way she needs in order to catch him and love on him.  (Reminded me a bit of our Savior when we "declare" by our actions that we are going to run away from Him.)

Here's my 3rd grader re-reading it for the second time today while the youngers do a hands-on activity created by Homeschool Creations, Jolathe, provided for FREE on her website found here

The kids all worked together to put the places in order.  Pre-K had the pictures, Kinder had the ordinal numbers, and 2nd grader had the number words.

Here they are almost in order.  (Until brother flipped up that office mat and the cards went flying everywhere. At which point the next few pictures were taken.)

 (And yes, they are unedited, and yes my WB was not to my suiting-- that goes for playing around while taking pictures.  I just thought you all could benefit from the "not-so-beautiful_ like I said earlier=) (Kudos to the bloggers who choose to use their very best and edited and cropped photos...I don't have that time! ha.)

One of my favorites!  After it was all completed (for the second time) my Pre-K gave a big "YES!" with an arm gesture as he does after he bowls a strike or catches a ball.
 Here, Kinder is working on her tracing printable, part of the unit package by Homeschool Creations. 

And Pre-K was able to be in on the action too. 

Our day went on to include math, history, science, violin lessons, gymnastics, a trip to the library, (Frostys from Wendys=) and basketball practice.  Now, time for dinner prep.  (oh, and I did forget to include a quick visit with our neighbor who currently has my kids at her house...she probably thinks I'm doing something important like cleaning...but this blogging outlet is SO wonderful to have!  Shhh...don't let her in on our secret time.=)

I hope you, too, are learning and growing in what SPACE is needed in your family.  What a joy it is to have a happy wife, happy husband, happy children...happy home.

Post Script:
If you've read my last post, you'll know I've been struggling to get my Kinder the time and attention she's been needing.  This morning said it all as she was ALL SMILES after our "hide the bunny" activity, sequencing, reading a story JUST for her and M. and then writing and reading (while at violin lessons).  When I asked her, "is that what you'd like for Kindergarten?" She nodded eagerly and gave me a ginormous huge.  Gotta love Kindergarten.  (Note, as a rule I do not ask my children what they think they should be doing for school, but she's been the difficult one to "please" so it was worth it for her to be totally into what I was asking of her.)



>> 10.11.2012

It's been a loooooooooong time, hasn't it?  Well, we all get into life like that sometimes, right?  And now, I just decided, I had to write again.  It's a creative outlet, if you will, for many and I'm not ashamed to say I need a bit of that right now for my soul.

So, I bring you another token of my creative ability (a-hem)-- my TOOTH DAY plate!!!!  Yes, I did use a picture from online-- should I even announce that?  (If anyone can find the creator of this picture, please inform them I will pay for it to make it right because it was just handed to me as an option at the store ; ) But, as it was, I went to one of those shops that allows you to purchase, paint, and fire pottery and you walk away feeling like you are a master in the creative realm.  (At least that is how I feel about this "piece" I aptly call, wait for it..., "The Tooth Day Plate".) 

In our home I wanted to do something to celebrate the ever so sought after "loosing of a tooth" rite and when I read a post by my cousin in Ohio, I knew I'd found the "thing" I'd been searching for: Tooth Day!  Although we still do have a Tooth Fairy come and visit, because that's just part of the fun too, we celebrate for the entire day after the Tooth Fairy has visited (and by now they all know it's "just" us, Mom and Dad, pretending to be fairies.  This realization all thanks to the movies that told it all on us.)  We usually have one meal selected by the tooth-less recipient and of course sweet treats.  I've searched online for a few fun "activity" suggestions but haven't found many yet.  That is my next "plan of action" for prepping for this wonderful fun-filled day but getting my plate done is the result of being on a two-year waiting list of "to-do-someday" projects so...activities may be awhile in coming.

Unless...YOU ALL can help me!  If you have a special way you celebrate the farewell and hello of an old and new tooth will you share it with me??  I'd love to hear it and perhaps the next Tooth Day in our home will feature YOU-- or at least, your activity.=)


The Secret of Counting Gifts-- When All You Need Is Family

>> 7.24.2012

Today I have the special privilege of introducing you to a wonderful sister in Christ, Heidi Kreider.  I met Heidi a couple of years ago as I entered my first adult experience of a home school co-op.  Heidi didn't know it then, and she probably still doesn't realize today,but God used her in a mighty way to encourage me during my "stay" in the co-op.  Heidi was a bright light of welcome-ness (that's not a word-- but it is now!) and easy friendship when I was so close to giving up. She is a gifted and loving daughter of the King, wife, & mother to three-- all of whom are currently in different school settings-- which I LOVE! She has stayed close to the Lord, reliant upon HIS leading for each of her children's educations.  Should I get to this place one day, I hope to have half the courage she has exemplified as she's faced critics on all sides...and still is journeying through these waters leaning on CHRIST ALONE & HIS plan for her family/children. 

Heidi has recently fulfilled a life-long desire to write and publish a book and I am honored to be a stop a long the way on her virtual book tour.  The book is wonderfully-written and I encourage you to join me as I finish reading it (I'm almost there!).  Now, to give you just a taste...

When All You Need Is Family...

            We stood together, just the six of us.  On a day when we buried one, we huddled... holding and upholding.  When others said...we'll be there.  I said... no.  All I wanted, all I needed was my family.   I
gathered them around me... my parents, my man, and my kids together.  It was enough.
            Family... that group of people who are defined by blood lines, and maybe more.  Sometimes those closest to our hearts do not share the same family tree.  We cannot chose our relations but we can choose to redefine the term family to include those who are closest to us.  Those we live life with... the ones to whom we cling when the storms of life roar and the winds threaten to overflow us.
            I am blessed with an amazing family.  As I grow older and slightly wiser, I have learned to count that amazing family as a gift.  I now recognize it's rarity.  I also know that I have friends who are as close to me as my sisters.  I've learned to count them as family and as gifts.  They are equal but  different treasures to my heart.
            Recently, I wrote a novel about family and friendship, life and loss... The Secret of Counting Gifts and an accompanying journal, The Secret of Counting Gifts Gratitude Journal.  Both volumes have been released and are now available through Amazon.com.  

            The Secret of Counting Gifts is the story of  Kris McClintock and Liz Bower and their friendship that spans twenty-eight years.  Through marriage, babies, and infidelity they stand by each other and hold one another up... until breast cancer delivers the final blow.  As she sits by Liz, Kris recounts the trials and  blessings that made them who they are.  She tells their story and recalls the many "gifts" they have been blessed with throughout the years. She shares of how Liz taught her to notice the gifts in each day and to live with a grateful heart. It is through the telling of their story that the secret of counting gifts is discovered....

            Throughout this month, I'm on a viritual book tour, meeting up with bloggers and talking about friends and family, life and loss.  You can see the stops along the way at www.heidikreider.com.  Come on over and say "Hey!" and register for my giveaway... autographed copies of The Secret of Counting Gifts and The Secret of Counting Gifts Gratitude Journal in a hand-made basket, made by my lovely friend, Anne.

            All those years ago, my family stood with me as we buried our stillborn son.  Who do you have stand with you when you face loss?  Do you have friends who are as close to you as family?
 ** Heidi Kreider is a wife, mother, author, and friend.  She blogs about life, grace, and gratitude at www.heidikreider.com.


A Birthday Blessing

>> 7.11.2012

This is for one of our family's most dearest friends, Katy.  She turns TWENTY today & forever says good-bye to those crazy, up and down days of the teenage years.  I have a confession, first, that must be made.  I have a terrible problem in life-- I'm not a gift-giver.  I have a 6 year old son that does a better job than I of seeing what people enjoy and what would be a good gift to give someone-- words are the only thing I can ever seem to come up with so, with that, Kat-Y (with a Y!), this is your present.

Our family first met Katy at church where she was just known as the girlfriend of someone who attends.  That's all I really knew her as for probably 2 months.  After that, however, since we enjoy opening our home, we had her and her at-the-time boyfriend over and we were forever changed.  You see, Katy LOVES children & having fun and well, we have children--and those children like having fun-- so were we all a match made in heaven right from the beginning!  (Not to mention, my husband and I can always use a little help in the area of having fun...we tend to be some SERIOUS people so a little life and light in our lives was really what we needed.) 

Katy began coming over after work and, as any 19 year old needs, started finding in us a "home away from home"-- a place to be her WITHOUT JUDGEMENT (and if we ever seemed to be giving off a judging attitude, she'd let us know and we'd promptly respond-- no judgement is certainly a Biblical necessity!) Katy was attending a local branch of our university system here in Indiana and working several jobs, but she always made time to stop in and visit for a bit a couple of times a week.  (It was good prep for those days we anticipate ahead in which the parents stay up late just so the teen can debrief and you find yourself feeling like you are still in high school or college as you are now keeping the same hours as they do! We never minded, though, after all relationships are born of 2 am conversations, right?)

The rest is really history.  She is no longer dating the young man she was in the beginning of our story and where I used to think of so-and-so and Katy, now I only think Katy-- she is her very own person created uniquely by God to shine like a star in this world for His glory!  Just like your own children's presence is quickly unimaginable otherwise after they are born, Katy has become a part of our family and we really can't imagine life without her.  Here are a list of things we LOVE about Katy (in no particular order)-- let us brag on her just a bit.

~ Katy is seeking the Lord & making difficult, counter-cultural decisions to do so-- yet she presses on
~ Katy loves people
~ Katy keeps a confidence-- I've never heard her say a bad word behind someone's back even once!
~ Katy is learning to give up things she enjoys but may lead her to wrong paths & decisions that don't fall inline with serving and following Christ
~ Katy loves her family 
~ Katy loves our kids-- even when they kick balls in her face and yell at her (Yes!  Gasp-- for the first time one of my children treated Katy like a true sister-- and was quickly set right in that behavior)
~ Katy blesses my husband and I by helping us to keep our relationship forefront (even though, just like for our own children, if we even think about kissing each other when she's present she just about pukes right then and there.)
~ Katy is FUN-- she brings a much needed light of life into our home
~ Katy is a SERVANT-- she gives and gives and gives...to people, to the church, behind the scene and in front when needed-- and never expects in return
~ Katy loves simple pleasures-- namely all easy things I can actually cook-- homemade mac-n-cheese & pb sandwiches -- and every time she eats them she gives this wonderfully expression thanks to me-- and I must say, getting a verbal reward every time I make mac-n-cheese sure makes it come more often;)

Here are a couple of favorite pics of Katy with our family.  I hope you have, or one day will have, a soul that gets to bless you & your family as much as Katy has blessed ours.  If you don't already, maybe the Lord has someone in mind for you to open your life to...you'll never be sorry you did.

My all-time fav of Kayliah and her "sister," Katy (taken at the boys' ball game).

Katy and the kids the day we took her to away to college for the first time (January).

Katy hanging with the kids...

(GASP!  I can't believe I included one with ME!)  A fun time as I visited some friends and Katy at college a few weeks after her first days away.

Celebrating M.'s birthday with us as she celebrated all of our kids' birthdays with us-- including activities like roller skating, pin the bow on Hello Kitty, and "how many socks can you put on in a minute"-- which was her favorite=)
Also one of my favorites because although she'll probably kill me for having ANY of these pics on here, it shows how much she loves playing with our kids.  I've never known anyone to love on kids as much as she does.  (And it's not just my kids she loves-- she loves ALL kids this way!!!!)

So, with that all said, We LOVE YOU, KATY!!!!  



A Uniqueness of God

>> 6.08.2012

I have been reading the book Let Us Highly Resolve by David and Shirley Quine over the past couple of weeks.  The book's sub-title is "Families Living for Christ in the 21st Century" and it gives 7 "resolves" that they, as a family, undertook as they walked through their journey of raising children.  I have read this book before and plan to reread it again every so often to return to truths that are foundational to what I value in raising my own children.  (Though this book is written by homeschoolers, it is in no way a book just for homeschoolers as it only ever mentions it one time and at that just as a fact of a type of education.)

Resolve number one is "To build our families upon the Biblical world view" and it covers such topics as what is a world-view, how it is shaped, and how one might be "Biblical" and one might be something of another foundation.  In this chapter they say that a Biblical-world view starts in creation and in terms of answering the foundational questions about man, it starts with looking at Genesis 1:26 -- that man is made in the image of God. Now, this is nothing new to me, and I'm sure it isn't to you either.  We hear that phrase and we may even have some good answers as to what it means to be "made in the image of God."  Now let me jump to another place in my mind and then I'll come back to this point.

For the past several months, I have had swirling thoughts around the issue of life and its value.  What does our world say about life?  What does our own country and culture say about life?  What does the Church say about life?  What does my very own church in rural Indiana say about life without ever even saying a word?  What do I say about life-- in not only my words but in my actions and in what I hold to be of importance.  Where should our believe/world-view of life even come from?  If I say I believe life has value, exactly how far does that go?  What about a person who may be in a vegetative state?  Do they have "life"?  What about a unstable woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant?  Do I care what she does to that baby?  Do I believe it's okay to just "take care" of her fetus and rid herself of the "extra problem"?  What about those millions of woman and children that are destitute-- human trafficking isn't going away and our knowledge of it is only increasing...Do they have "life"?  Are they valuable?  And if so, how am I to respond to their plight? 

Back to the book.  I'm not a very deep thinker...or rather, I'm not very apologetic by nature...I'm just now beginning to learn how to find the root of a presuppositions.  So, although I believe I have a very Biblical world-view, I have just begun to learn how to stand that view up to others & be able to truly defend it.  In this book, however, a light of Truth began to flicker on inside my mind.  There is something very deep in the nature of God Himself that reflects this part of His nature and Deity;  He is the only "god" that values life!  Perhaps that doesn't surprise you-- after all, it wasn't your own "ah-ha" moment and they are really only "ah-ha" when it happens to us personally.  But I had to share.  No other "god" worshiped by man values life.  Isn't that interesting?

God is supreme.  The ONE, TRUE, EVERLASTING, HOLY, GOD is truly the Alpha and Omega for many reasons...and in this VERY BASIC QUESTION of life, He also proves to reign supreme.  Allah doesn't value life (he promotes the very desolation of a human life by promoting woman and girls to be thought of as property and no more valuable than trash and that has had far, far, devastating effects on MILLIONS), Buddha doesn't value life (with much striving maybe you'll come back as something better than a bug to be squashed) ...and that leaves many people hopeless.  They are of no value because their very life has no innate value in their "world-view".  If we as Believers are to think Biblically on the issue of life, we have no other option than to believe that ALL life is of value.  And I'm afraid I'm seeing way too many of us, in various ways, devalue what is of God's very nature.

This deeply saddens me and leaves me with many restless nights of sleep.  For so many there is absolutely no hope.  No wonder Jesus is referred to as the "light and life" that only in Him we can even find true life-- because only He, in the very nature of Who He is, IS LIFE!  This very simple fact brings to life (no pun intended by any means) to many Scriptures about Him.

John 11:25  "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies...'
John 14:6 "Jesus said, ' I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 1:4 "In [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of men."

Thank you, God, for BEING life, for CREATING life, for GIVING life, and for sending your Son to be the atonement for sin so that ETERNAL LIFE may be possible to all man-kind!


A Tribute; My Mother

>> 5.12.2012

It is yet another Mother's Day...and never have I appreciated Mother's Day as much until I reached the point of motherhood myself.  There are so many demands...so many expectations...so many "shoulds" and "need tos" and "wish I would have" and "wish I could have"...so many tugs and pulls and how one manages to make it through some days is only understandable to the God above who made us to withstand all that we go through each and every day.  But, the beauty of that, is that, if we allow Him to take us through it, He gives us the joy that makes us want to do it again and again and we can get up and make it through another day.  That we never regret giving of ourselves and only regret when we don't -- only the most Selfless One can give that joy and desire to us.  Selflessness is not a human trait-- it's "other worldly" and those momma's that have peace, joy, and love in the midst of the most difficult days can only find it through Christ-- the One that is the essence of giving.

To my most precious mother ~
How thankful I am that God gave me YOU as my mother.  When He formed me inside of you, He knew you'd be the perfect one for me to wipe away my tears, to stop my fights between me and my siblings, to guide my heart & personhood toward Him and towards the one He was creating me to be.  Thank you for all the endless hours of...well, endless hours!  I'm so thankful you've supported my every step-- and how crazy I think you and Dad must have been for letting me travel half way to the south pole when I was only 16 to allow my eyes to be opened to God working globally and open my eyes to all of His precious children all around the world...May I have the faith to let my children go when God says it's time.  You've done that so well and all credit goes to you and Dad for opening your hands at the right time and trusting God to do the rest.  Though I am your child, you and Dad have known and demonstrated that I am God's child first and foremost and His plans for me are perfect.  What a beautiful model of what I hope to do for my children.  You are my hero for also looking to Him for your "what next" as you've grown out of the "parental" stage.  You aren't settling for a selfish life filled with things and travels and gaining of earthly "things."  Though you could choose to invest your time, energy, and finances in temporal things that would be fun for awhile, you are choosing instead to do the harder work-- to keep pursuing where God wants you to serve-- and I am praying you now to the otherside of the world (and I will pray you back=).  You continue to open my eyes to God's global work and love for His children all around the world.  You amaze me and I hope I can serve Him as faithfully as you've shown me.

Thank you for all your love, faithfulness, and for loving CHRIST and demonstrating to me a small part of His heart.

"The days are long, but the years are short." 
(My favorite mother quote that got me through toddlerhood 4 times over! ...um, and that gets me through a lot of other days, too!)

How true...I'm so thankful for my four little ones...who are already getting "not so little" anymore!  I'm off to spend a bit of time looking at their baby albums to remind me of all I already have...the most precious, greatest, blessings of my lifetime.

Solo Deo Gloria!

~ Kristen J.


Secure in my Calling, Part II

>> 4.26.2012

Long awaited!  I know!  I'm sure you were all on the edge of your seat wondering just WHEN I would do my follow-up post.  (Follow-up post?  Did I miss the first one?  That is prolly-- txt shortage from my friend for probably-- do you use that too?-- more like it!)  Hang on tonight-- my head is obviously spinning.  I get this way when I'm excited! 

My little "break" was due in part to computer crashes & losing material & in part just because of "life"-- yours is crazy busy and so is mine.  BUT, needless to say, I wanted to make sure I put these thoughts up here...should I pass on and never complete this post series!  (That would be a shame, of all things to leave uncompleted, right?)

Here are my practical thoughts on being secure in our every-day walking-around calling (the way in which we make our decisions on what we will do when):

1)  God has placed us on this earth exactly where He intended us to be -- not only are WE not a mistake (uniquely designed-- see #2) but we are LIVING where He intended us to live.  Why is this important?  Some people I've run across in life (including myself at times) have wondered why they were born into the situation and location they were born in-- some feel out-of-this-world-blessed by those situations (i.e. living in wealthy America vs. 3rd world nation) some feel cursed (i.e. not wealthy ENOUGH or whatever)  Generally, the latter type are pretty discontented and would be no matter what the situation because they have NOT learned the secret of contentment like Paul (in the Bible) had.

2)  God has designed us with unique talents & personalities -- be thankful for the talents you have and don't waste time wishing for other ones.  Some are good at "supporting" roles-- if that's you-- support your family & local church well!  Some are good at "leading" roles-- if that's you, then lead WELL!  God truly only knows how better off we might all be if those leading were doing so with excellence.  (There are some very excellent leaders, but many people are in leadership today for the wrong reasons which just makes them bad leaders.)

3) God has a definite design for family life -- This is such a touchy subject in "Christian" circles but really, it is obvious through Scripture that the man is to lead the family.  He is responsible for all matters in his home and he should lead with love (sacrificial love-- Eph. 5).  Women should submit (willingly place themselves under the authority of their man) out of obedience and love for Christ and as unto Christ.  There are always terrible situation in which man or woman abuse the other and in these situations it is clear that sometimes separation must happen for awhile until the relationship and safety of all involved can  be restored. (That is a different post for another day.)  more importantly, women are to be the nurturers of their children.  We have been given the awesome privilege to raise up a generation for Christ!  Whether you work outside of the home or not, your absolute priority must be your family. If you have to pass off the responsibility of your children unto others it should cause you to prayerfully reconsider why you are having to do so.  Temporary emergencies arise and the church of Christ should support one another more. Let your needs be known and give the body an opportunity to respond.

4) God desires for us to live in accordance to His will.  If our desires are outside of this, then we cannot be secure that we are being called to do that activity.  (I.E. I desire to go and work in orphanages some times which is a great desire-- but completely out of the realm of my current responsibilities He has given me first.) 

5) Our callings will change.  Certain times call for us to take on certain roles.  God's will is not a mystery-- he was revealed it to us plainly in Scriptures.  (you can even biblegateway.com "God's Will" and find some of those specific commands-- the first that we LOVE one another!)  And we cannot do everything all the time.  There will be an ebb and flow to times which allow for more freedoms here and there than at other times. 

Do what you need to do to fight the temptation to want someone else's calling!!!  This will do nothing but eat away at you and cause you to become resentful and bitter-- the complete opposite of a vibrant, joy-filled Christian!

** I could have added a LOT of Scripture to back this all up, but truthfully I just wanted to get this down.  We're studying James in our Bible study group right now and allllll of these things are addressed when we stop to consider our hearts-- our truest motivation behind our actions.  I'm thankful the Lord is patient and works on us with grace, stripping us of our flesh and continually adding to us HIS Holiness!**


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