Friday, December 23, 2011

What Christmas is really about

I heard this lyric on the radio this morning...

He made a way in a manger
To make a way to the cross

[by Lee Black and Steve Merkel]

Isn't that good? I have been thinking a lot about the REAL meaning of Christmas over the last couple of weeks. And I've been struck by how much Christmas music out there is not about Jesus.

Christmas—root word: CHRIST.

My boys love music and have been listening to the Cedarmont Kids singing the old Christmas hymns—and the words of "Good Christian Men Rejoice" stood out to me...

Good Christian men, rejoice—with heart and soul and voice! Now ye need not fear the grave; Jesus Christ was born to save!

THAT'S why we celebrate Christmas! Yes, God came to earth in human form—Immanuel, God with us—and that is wonderful in and of itself. But the whole reason Jesus came was to save us from the penalty of sin (eternal separation from God)! His death on the cross—the shedding of His blood as the sacrificial lamb—atoned for our sin once for all time! Now we, who believe, stand before God clean and without blame.

What greater gift is there than that?!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Necessity is the mother of invention

We live in a little ol' rambler, constructed in the 1950s. We are very thankful to have three bedrooms on the main level of our home! However, we don't have the luxury of a "mud room" like some of the newer houses have. Oft we have daydreamed of how nice it would be to not have such cramped quarters at our backdoor, which opens up right into the kitchen. But, alas, it would cost buku bucks to add on a mud room.

The winter months pose the biggest challenge—particularly as the boys come in from playing outside in the snow. I mean, who wants to walk through puddles of melted snow? (One of my pet peeves is wet socks.)

So we got creative. Idea #1 – when you are done playing in the snow, you must enter the house via the front door, which has a larger entry space. We had a light-bulb moment a few days ago and added some big rubber-backed rugs for even more convenience and less mess!

And idea #2 – My ingenious husband used his excellent skills to add two racks to the outer side of our coat closet door, at the perfect height for wet and/or drippy snow pants!

Since my husband also installed a large bookshelf in the living room above the couch (see below) during vacation time in September, we joked that no one would want to buy our house if we ever wanted to move, because it's so customized to our needs!

I'm thankful for my husband's craftiness! :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What is a "good day"?

I have a habit of labeling each day as either a good day or a bad day. A good day is a day where I am patient with my children, we enjoy each other's company, and I feel like I didn't make too many mistakes. A bad day is a day when I felt impatient & irritable and yelled at them.

But something's "off" with that school of thought. The day is good only if *I* act good, and the day is bad when *I* act poorly. It's all contingent on my behavior! This seems to reinforce my trouble with receiving God's grace. How could I receive His grace if I had a bad day (because I am bad)? This actually contradicts God's grace, because His grace cannot be earned with good behavior—it is a gift! [See Ephesians 2:8-9]

Lately, God has been showing me A LOT about His goodness, His grace, and His great love! I have been clinging to these verses from Colossians 1, verses 22-23...

Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.

That is an awesome truth! God is not repelled by my sin—in fact, He doesn't see me that way! Because Jesus Christ took my sin on Himself and paid the penalty for my mistakes & disobedience by dying on the cross, I stand before God holy and blameless, without a single fault! This is extremely difficult to understand from a human perspective—but it is GOD'S TRUTH! It is HIS WAY! And I am really taking it in... letting Him assure me of His love for me... and I feel freer than I have in a very, very long time!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

On grace...

"You cannot sin as much as God can forgive... We only sin as a man, but God can forgive as a God."
~ Charles Spurgeon

Never say you have done too much bad stuff for God to forgive. It is arrogant to think you are that unclean that God cannot forgive you—that makes God very small and weak. No, God is powerful enough to forgive anyone of anything—many times over!

Ephesians 3:12 says that because of Christ we can come fearlessly in to God's presence, assured of His glad welcome! It's not because of anything we have done to deserve it—it's because of Jesus taking our sin upon Himself and dying on the cross to pay our penalty! Thank you, Jesus!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Coconut Milk Pancakes

Oh baby! I'm starting to think this gluten-free stuff is more of a blessing than a curse! Today we made coconut milk pancakes with coconut flour, coconut oil, coconut milk, eggs, salt, sugar (sucanat), and baking powder. They were delicious! Got the recipe from that Cooking With Coconut Flour book. Thank you, Jesus! :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


My role as head chef at our house has forever changed. Last week my husband found out he needs to be gluten-free. And dairy-free. Can you believe that?

So it's thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into my meal planning. For example, having tacos—it means no cheese or flour tortillas for hubby, and gluten-free chili powder in my taco seasoning.

We have already begun to substitute coconut oil for butter in certain recipes—and I will say it is luxuriously delicious!

Another little ray of sunshine...a friend loaned me a book called "Cooking With Coconut Flour" by Bruce Fife. It appears that coconut flour is not only a viable substitute for wheat flour, but it is very nutritious as well! The book also contains recipes for quick breads, muffins, cookies, cakes, and even some savory dishes like meatballs. Yahoo! I am very encouraged! I ordered some coconut flour (through Vitacost) so I wait with bated breath for it to arrive on my doorstep later this week...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What's wrong with driving a mini-van?

The other day my boys were listening to a Go Fish CD called Party Like a Preschooler. It's actually a really fun CD—for the whole family (read: it doesn't drive Mom and Dad crazy the first half-dozen times you listen to it). The last song—referred to as a "bonus Dad track"—is called "it's hard to be cool [in a mini-van]" and the lyrics go like this:

Sittin' at a red light, down around Sunset
A girl pulled up beside me in a candy-apple red Corvette
She pulled down her shades, gave me a wink
I gave her a little smile back
Then she laughed as she hit the gas
And I remembered where I was at
'Cause it's hard to be cool when you're behind the wheel
Of an eight passenger automobile...

So, I got to thinking about that. First of all, what if the guy hadn't been in a mini-van? How far is he going to take this flirty little episode? (I would not be amused if my husband were smiling and trying to be cool in front of pretty young women in red corvettes!)

Secondly, why does the world look down so much on mini-vans and the proverbial "soccer mom?" (I used to be one of those people—I swore I would never drive a van.) But listen, the reality is, I am a mom! I have children and I do drive a van! Why would I try to pretend that this is not the case? Is it less prestigious or satisfying to drive a van full of kids than to go zipping down the road in a Corvette? Is that not cool?

So my conclusion is this: I'm not living my life so others might consider me cool. I am living to be the best wife and mother I can be, through the help of Jesus, my Lord!

I know, I know... it's just a song... but it just got me thinking...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tired of trying to measure up?

Do you struggle with legalism? Do you feel like no matter how hard you try, you just never measure up to God's standard? (I have.)

Then you've GOT to read this book!!

When you feel that way, you are living under the law, not under grace!

In Classic Christianity, Bob George explains salvation and living the Christian life in a way that made the truth clearer to me than ever before. (For example, if the focus of Christianity was simply "towing the mark," then Jesus would have totally approved of the Pharisees instead of rebuking them!) Now I get what the Bible means by, "If the Son sets you free, you are truly free." (John 8:36)

Read this book and let the truth of the Gospel—God's love and grace—wash over your heart & soul and change you forever!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Self-control with the computer—it CAN be done!

Confessions of a stay-at-home mom:

I recently put myself on a "computer fast." Yes, a fast. As in no computer. For 3 weeks.

You see, the computer is both my friend and my enemy. It's a great way to keep up with friends and family—as well as research various books, homeschool curriculums, and bargains on clothing for my family. However, I have struggled greatly with the computer absorbing my time, energy, and interest at the neglect of my calling (my calling as a wife/mother).

I have tried numerous times to put boundaries around my computer usage with little success (if any)—even going so far as to make a formal commitment to the Lord... which, sadly, I broke. :(

This time is different. I knew I had to take drastic measures. Lest you think I developed some fantastic self-control, I confess I had to have my husband remove the mouse to prevent me from using the computer. My biggest stumbling block is thinking, "Oh, if I could just check out just this one thing..." and then getting distracted by a multitude of other things. So I will make a list of those "just things one thing"s... and check into them in three weeks.

I chronicled my journey on little sheets of paper and typed it here today—mostly in case someone struggles with the computer as I do, that they would be encouraged that victory can be won!

I frequently walk past the computer and glance at the screen to see if it's on. Nope. Computer fast. Keep walking. In the evening after the kids are in bed, Jon jumps in the shower and I grab my Bible & journal and head out to the patio for some peace-filled time with God. It's been eons since I've had more than 1 quiet time between sunrise and sunset—feels good to wrap up the day with the Lord this way.

I just got home from errand-running and my first thought is I should check email. Then it hits me: computer fast. And I'm OK with it. Actually, I'm more than OK with it. I feel like I am physically AND mentally present in my home, and it feels right. I'm even finding "extra" time on my hands for cleaning and organizing!

Just finished Brandon's homeschool lesson, but realize I can't record it—spreadsheet is on the computer. So I resort to doing it the old fashioned way, with a pencil and paper! Oooh... how novel! I'll transfer it into the spreadsheet when this fast is over.

My almost-6-year-old son finds me and says, "Mom, the mouse is gone." Uhh, what? Oh yeah, the computer mouse. In simple terms I describe to him my hiatus from the computer. His frown and furrowed brow show his displeasure at how this situation affects his own computer status. With a reluctant "OK..." he leaves the room to go turn off the computer... then goes outside to ride his bike instead!

I had a fantastic time outside this afternoon... the boys were having "room time" after lunch, so I grabbed my books, journal, etc. and headed out to the patio... gorgeous day, hot but not too humid, and me sitting under the shady canopy of our maple tree admiring God's creation... the bluest sky with occasional billows of clouds drifting by, birds singing, the deep green of the trees... so peaceful... and my eyes fill with tears as I think, "This must be what heaven is like!" (And I would have missed this moment if I'd had access to the computer!)

Today would have been a good day to have computer access. Two small segments of sidewalk chalk (apparently hidden in my son's pocket) made it into the washer... and the dryer... leaving behind a light blue tint on the ceramic walls of the dryer. The heat must have sort of "sealed in" the color. I tried soap & water, alcohol, Goo-Gone, and a Magic Eraser. No luck. Would've been nice to consult Dear Heloise or Crayola customer service... but I'll survive.

DAY 13
A precious friend who lives on the west coast had twins prematurely about a month ago, and I have been wondering how things are going—so I request brief access to my email, just for an update from her. To my surprise there were 127 new emails in my inbox! I was able to quickly sort through and delete about 85 of them on the spot. (No email from my friend, though. Bummer.) I did open one email from the public library system—a book I had requested was being held—until today—but of course the library closed two hours ago. Rats. :(

DAY 15
So far I have absolutely no regrets about this decision—and no longings to [ever] be connected to the rest of the world on the web! I feel like I have never been a more devoted mother than I am now—I'm not distracted, I think more clearly, I can focus and finish tasks more easily, and spend time with the boys and enjoy it! We've been reading together more, playing & tickling more, homeschool has been going great, etc. I am 100% HERE, at home. It feels right—like this is how it should be... like I am closer to the woman/mother I am called to be. My conscience is clean, and I feel good!

DAY 18
I read an article in "Family Circle" magazine about how technology affects the family. (I didn't even know it was in the magazine when I purchased it for leisure reading while the boys played at the park!) Very insightful about how family members can easily get tuned in to all their gadgets, connecting to everyone else on the planet except the people in their own house!

DAY 21

I'm finally checking my email. It is taking me quiet awhile to sort through my inbox, although the majority of the new mail is notices from advertisers or organizations. I took some time to remove my name from several lists. Was on the computer for over an hour tonight, but all productive time—paying bills and looking things up that were my my "list"—I did what I came to do and then turned the computer off. Feels great!

This has been a good experiment. I have loved getting that monkey off my back! So I've made a resolution: going forward, I will check email only once per week. Anyone who knows me knows they can reach me on the phone if it's urgent. I just know I need to do this—in this season of my life—to honor God, and to benefit my husband and children (and myself!).

Hebrews 12:1-2
...let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus...

Friday, July 29, 2011

The value of art

My son Brandon—who is now 6(!)—has realized the value of art. Meaning that you can make cool stuff with with a little artistic ability and creativity!

Last fall, he couldn't have cared less about crafts. But more recently, it's like he can't get enough! Here's our latest project:

Paper bag puppets! We had a blast creating them and then making up puppet shows! With art/crafts you can make glasses, cell phones, appliances, and much much more. Ah, the satisfaction of making it yourself. What could be better? :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Funny quip

Yesterday we had a playdate. The boys were watching a movie when Brandon got up and announced, "Both my legs fell asleep!"

So, today we were having a training session when I asked Brandon, "What should you do when Momma asks you to do something?" (The answer is to say ok, Mom and then obey.) His reply, the standard "I don’t know." We've been over and over this. So I begin again, "Brandon, this is a simple question..." when he interjects, "But my head fell asleep!"

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Dad

Happy Father's Day (tomorrow), Daddy! Thank you for all the good, moral, sensible, and fun things you've taught me through the years.

I love you!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Soccer boy

Brandon has been attending High Power soccer camp this week! It's sort of like VBS (vacation bible school) in that it meets 9am-12noon for a week, except that it's a soccer theme coupled with the Good News... hence the "High Power." :)

It's been a challenge for Brandon, but a great experience in perseverence and bravery as his introverted personality has had to face a crowd of new [albeit friendly!] faces. He did cry one morning, but the rest of the days he "bucked up" and did it without turning back! I'm very proud of him!

Just look at him go! *sigh* My little boy is growing up!

Cool dudes

New shades for the boys...

Funny and cute!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Becoming royalty

This past weekend I scribbled this profound thought on my bulletin from Pastor Brent's message:

Think about Catherine Middleton. What did she do to become royalty? She married Prince William, and voila!—she is a member of the royal family. In just the same way, when you accepted Christ you were brought right into the Family—you became royalty, God's heir, His child!

I take great comfort in that! I wasn't born of royal blood, and I have performed no great deed other than placing my faith in Jesus, but now I am royalty! Beloved child of THE King of Kings!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sowing and Reaping

I have a love/hate relationship with the computer.

The computer is not inherently bad. It is a wonderful tool for keeping in touch with friends and family! BUT, it very often distracts from relationships at home—spouse and children—the most important ones. After the kids go to bed, I confess we often fall into the bad habit of heading for the computer instead of spending time together... which really isn't much different than the channel surfing we tend to look down upon. Doesn't do much for relationship-building, I can tell you that!

This is where I see the "sowing and reaping" principle, as written in Galatians 6:7—for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap (NASB). Therefore, as it pertains to a person's marriage or children, my conclusion is this: if you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly. If you sow generously, you will reap generously.

My exhortation (to myself and anyone else who's listening): INVEST! Invest in your marriage relationship! Spend time together! Think good thoughts of one another! Do kind things for each other! And invest your life into your children... your interest, your time, your heart! I can't think of anything more worthy of investing ourselves in than relationships—the soul is the only thing that lasts for all eternity!

Friday, May 13, 2011

How will this affect their souls?

I am currently reading a sermon by J.C. Ryle called The Duties of Parents. It is soooo good! This morning I read this convicting, life-directing thought on child training:

Nothing should concern you as greatly as [your children's] eternal destiny. ... In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, "How will this affect their souls?"

I immediately thought about what I let my kids watch on TV. It's just PBS — perfectly harmless, right? Well... I'm not so sure. For one thing, there is a fair amount of whining and complaining they've already picked up from those programs (much to my chagrin). But also, by letting them watch too much, am I nurturing in them a lust for entertainment? It's a strong possibility.

In addition to entertainment, I also wanted to bring into consideration their schooling, friends, outside activities, and media exposure. How will these things affect their souls?

What other things come to mind when you consider the question, "How will this affect their souls?" I would love to hear what things God puts on your heart!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

"And the pizza guy..."

My boys and I like listening to good music. There is an awesome series of CDs called "Seeds Family Worship" that features songs set to Scripture. Our favorite is Seeds of Courage.

Yesterday on the way home from preschool we were listening to "Do Not Be Anxious" (based on Philippians 4:6-7), a very catchy tune. The verse goes like this...

Do not be anxious
About anything
But in everything
By prayer and petition
With thanksgiving
Present your requests to God

Then the chorus began, and this is what I heard my 5-year-old son singing from the back seat:

"And the pizza guy..."

I burst out laughing! He wasn't sure what was so funny, but he started laughing too.

The actual words are, of course, "And the peace of God..." :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

You are made holy

For God's will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
Hebrews 10:10, NLT

Note that God's will is for us to be made holy. "Me, holy?" you say. "How?" By our righteous deeds? No! Only by the sacrifice of Jesus' body on the cross. We cannot nor will not ever be able to earn it. Jesus did it for us, and our part is to BELIEVE it and RECEIVE it!

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

My emerging reader :)

My Brandon is learning to read!! He is pretty excited about it, thanks in part to a series of books I came across called Bob Books.

There are 12 booklets in the first series, and each story contains short vowels and three-letter words in simple sentences. The first story has only 4 letters (m, a, t, and s) so children can read the whole book themselves! New sounds are added gradually, until they've read books with all letters of the alphabet (except Q).

I could tell Brandon's sense of satisfaction was high, as he read the first three booklets in one sitting! It was fun to observe his progress within those few minutes, how sounding out the words began to click for him.

I'm a proud momma!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Riding the red bike

Today my oldest son, Brandon, rode a real bike for the first time!

He's been sort of practicing on a "balance bike" (a 12" bike with no pedals), so he didn't even need training wheels. He did great! At first Dad helped him get moving, but he got the hang of it quickly, and soon Dad was having to run to catch up!

I am so proud of him... I'm actually kind of speechless. :) Maybe I'm just a little shocked at the way he's growing up before my very eyes...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring is on its way!

I've been hemming and hawing for several weeks, debating as to whether I should spend money on rain boots for the boys. Would it be worth it?

Finally I was swayed today, as we had a lovely 40-degree almost-spring day... complete with lots and lots of puddles! (And in Minneapolis, there is A LOT of snow yet to melt!) The boys had a blast splashing around as we went for a short walk this afternoon, and it was so wonderful to be out in the fresh air!

The verdict: worth it. ☺

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Diligence contributes to a "fat soul"

This little blurb is written by one of our pastors, Brent Knox—an excerpt from “In Case of 'Work Avoidance Syndrome'...” which I found to be insightful when applied to mothering...

Think about this Proverb, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat” (Proverbs 13:4, NAS). Do you notice the difference between the soul of the sluggard and the soul of the diligent? Do you want a soul that is fat? Do you want a rich, inward life? Being diligent contributes to a rich, inward life. Working hard is a blessing, not a curse. Besides, God worked and is still working. He worked for six days creating the world. And Jesus said, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17, NIV). So, it is godly to work...

I confess, sometimes I want life to be all about my needs, my desires, my convenience... but this reminds me that working hard and being diligent in my roles as a mother and a wife “contributes to a rich inward life.” I want to have a “fat soul!” PLUS, Jesus said, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for Me, you will find it” (Matthew 10:39, NLT).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Clarifying your vision

"Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be! Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to You; at best, each of us is but a breath."
~Psalm 39:4-5 (NLT)

The truth is, no matter how long we live, our lives are short. So I asked myself this morning, "If I only had six months to live, what would I do? How might I live differently? What things that currently absorb my attention wouldn't matter quite so much in the scheme of things?"

Well, I'm pretty sure I would be a lot more intentional. I started making a list of things I would do if I only had six months to live, and I came up with 10 things (so far). I thought I'd share a couple of them:

* Watch little or no TV—too many more important things to do...

* Invest more of myself in my kids—more time and love, and especially my faith in Jesus.

* More quality time with my husband and my folks/in-laws.

* Feel no obligation to attend parties or gatherings—only where the Lord is leading.

Et cetera! And you know what? This list clarified my vision for how I want to live. Try this little exercise for yourself! How would you live if you knew you only had six months left?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Fashion NONsense

I don't normally do this kind of thing, but I received a catalog in the mail today (I don't know how I got on their mailing list) and I couldn't help myself. They were featuring their new line of lightweight wool business clothing... including a picture similar to this one:

The reason for this little bee in my bonnet? They paired a wool suit coat with a jersey hoodie. (And can I just say how much I dislike the word hoodie?) This seems like a really strange combo, as it looks like she just got done at the gym and simply threw her blazer on over her workout clothes and headed in to work. Just seems like a fashion faux pas to me.... granted, I'm not exactly a fashionista... what do I know.... I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More like Christ

This morning I was kind of yelling at my boys. I'm not proud of this. Let me explain the situation.

I get up early (like 5:45) to have time with God before everyone else gets up. However, my boys are early risers, and they have started waking up earlier for some reason! Sigh. So the rule is that they need to stay in their rooms until 7:00.

So while *I* was trying to have a QT and *they* were supposed to be in their rooms, they keep coming out... Brandon (our 5-year-old) has many "important" things to tell me, like, "Mom, I got my socks on" and "Mom, I finished those almonds" ...while Ryan (our 3-year-old) just keeps coming out and running down the hall. And my QT is getting interrupted.... repeatedly. So I was frustrated. Not freaking out, but irritated and speaking in a less-than-kind voice with them. (Actually, I did yell once, "Get back in your room, Ryan!" when I heard his door open... trying to manage them without coming out of my room. Not real effective.)

After I got them settled back in their rooms AGAIN, I sat down and thought, "Oh Lord, You really are bringing this muck—these impurities I wasn't even aware of before having kids—to the surface in me so you can refine me, aren't You?" And instead of feeling like a loser, I felt God's grace and love, knowing His plan is for me to be more like Christ.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow day

Minnesota got hit with another big snowstorm yesterday... the weatherman said we got 15" in our suburb! Here are two cool pictures of a drift that formed over the roof of our garage...

So what's a family with two young, active boys to do when snowed in? How 'bout something creative! Like this...

And this...

Are you noticing a common theme? Most crafting in our house revolves around such boyish ideas. :)

One wonderful thing this weather affords us is natural opportunities to bond and have fun together. Hurray! :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Life is kind of like a cake...

This concept is from Deborah Wuehler, senior editor of The Old Schoolhouse magazine...

...that life is kind of like a cake. The individual ingredients might not taste good by themselves (think flour, baking soda, etc.), but God knows what our life needs and has a recipe that's going to make a masterpiece for His glory.

Love it! Sometimes there are things in our lives that are like, yucko! They don't taste very good in and of themselves. But we need to always remember that our loving God has a "recipe" for mixing all the ingredients of our lives together "for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes." (Romans 8:28)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

No matter what your mood... pray.

This paragraph from 31 Days of Praise was SO convicting to me! I should pray no matter how I feel—and perhaps especially when I'm not feeling like it!!

>>We get in trouble when we depend on our feelings in prayer. We start thinking we have to be in a praying mood to pray. Or we call our petitions "good prayers" if they give us a certain feeling. It's much better to just decide to pray, as God commands—regardless of how we feel. Charles Spurgeon wrote, "We should pray when we are in a praying mood, for it would be sinful to neglect so fair an opportunity. We should pray when we are not in a praying mood, because it would be dangerous to remain in so unhealthy a condition."<<

Myers, Ruth. 31 Days of Praise, p.193

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Got prayer?

Yesterday I pulled 31 Days of Prayer (by Ruth Myers and Warren Myers) off the bookshelf. After a brief scan, I decided to make it my quiet time companion for the next month or so.

Actually, I'm a little surprised I didn't read it at the time I purchased it about 8 years ago. I have loved and re-read several times the Myers' previous book, 31 Days of Praise, and it ministers to my heart in new ways every time. But this book... a book specifically about prayer? What's there to know about prayer? You just tell God what you need, right? Well, yes... but there's so much more to it...

To quote from the book, prayer "brings us into a love relationship with God, rooted in our realizing how much we need Him and our choosing to depend on Him. Prayer also links our lives with God's exciting purposes and power." I want that!! I could use some help in this area! I want my prayer life to go beyond what I call vending machine prayers... "God, I need this" and "God, help me with that"... like putting my prayer into the coin slot and expecting an answer to drop into the basket.

So I read day 1 this afternoon, and boy did God move my heart! The prayer brought up being an ambassador for Christ in all areas of my life... asking God to work in me and through me... and recognizing that God alone can give true significance to my work and activities. It just made me realize how narrow my focus has become (i.e. too inwardly focused on MY mothering responsibilities, MY kids, MY issues).

Oh, how I want to walk closely with Him and rest in the joy of His presence. All. Day. Long. I hope this book will be a springboard into a greater prayer life—not just for mySELF, but for others (known or unknown)—and to experience God freshly and more deeply in seeing Him move!

The pinings of a 5-year-old boy

As heard around our house today: "Mom, I want to be a construction man when I grow up. But what if I don't know how to drive a backhoe?"

I love him! :)

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Word stands forever

Of all the different kinds of flowers, I think my favoritest ones are the "just because" variety. An unexpected expression of care.

"Just because" flowers, in my world, are usually garden daisies or wild flowers. I really delight in such a lovely burst of color on an overcast, snowy winter day! But what brings me far greater joy is God's Word!

The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the Word of our God stands forever.

Isaiah 40:8

How thankful I am that God's Word doesn't fade or die off as flowers do! His Word is rock-solid, unchanging, and eternal. The Bible is a tangible expression of God's love, faithfulness, and forgiveness... full of hope, it breathes life into what would be my purposeless existence. So in light of God's goodness, I encourage everyone to grab a Bible and ask God to speak to your heart through His Word!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Solution for grimy DVDs

I learned something new today. (You might already know this, but it was new to me.) You see, I decided to start researching and borrowing children's DVDs from the library as much as is available, rather than buying them and then discovering they don't fit in with our values. Well, if you've ever rented or borrowed a DVD from a library, or Red Box, you know that they usually come complete with scratches and fingerprints.

Not sure how much detail you can see in this picture, but this DVD was covered in disgusting, grimy fingerprints. Yuck. What's a mom to do? Google it!

I found that a 50/50 mixture of water and rubbing alcohol did the trick! I took one of Daddy's old t-shirts, dipped it in the mixture, and then gently wiped (not rubbed) from the center of the disk toward the edge. Voila! Fingerprints and smudges, be gone. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Holiday = school's closed

You know your son loves preschool when... he is sorely disappointed that it's a holiday and school is closed! :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cabin fever?

On a lighter note... this afternoon my sons are having a blast jumping on the bed. What could be better on a cold winter day?! :)

A great way for my energetic boys to burn off some energy!! Their gleeful grins make me smile. :)

The grey days of January

Ugh. I admit it: I am a whiner today. I'm tired of winter. Not tired of the snow (surprisingly, as we've gotten A LOT this year)—actually I find the snow to be quite pretty! It's the overcast days that might do me in.

Everything looks grey. I miss the sunshine.

I love sunshine. Not necessarily the hot days of summer... it's just that sunshine somehow reminds me of the warmth of God's love. A sunny day just adds a little extra bounce in my step...

"God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all." (1 John 1:5) ...Jesus, please be my Sunshine today!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nothing can separate me/us from God's love

Man, the enemy is just relentless. He keeps hammering me with doubts of God's love, and it cuts me to the core. I have been teary-eyed all morning... and it's been kind of hard keeping it together while trying to effectively mother two very busy little boys.

After I dropped Brandon off at preschool, I set Ryan up with a video downstairs and I headed to the stereo, where I could privately sing at the top of my lungs—a way to release some of my emotions. There, God led me to a Sara Groves song called, "You Cannot Lose My Love." That broke the dam of my tears...

You will lose your baby teeth
At time you'll lose your faith in Me
You will lose a lot of things
But you cannot lose My love

You may lose your appetite
Your guiding sense of wrong and right
You may lose your will to fight
But you cannot lose My love

You will lose your confidence
In times of trial, your common sense
You may lose your innocence
But you cannot lose My love

Many things can be misplaced
Your very memories be erased
No matter what the time or space
You cannot lose My love
You cannot lose My love

Romans 8:38-39 says nothing can separate us from the love of God. NOTHING!! I don't exactly know why I have such a hard time believing that God could love me. Maybe because I see all too clearly what a big fat sinner I am. But He already knew that information when He died for me while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8).

Another verse I was just pondering, 1 John 3:1... See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! This means: 1) I am loved by God, and 2) I am God's daughter! I'll have to really try to soak that in today...

Thanks for letting me share... I hope this helps someone else out there too...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

O Christmas Tree...

Confession: I still have my Christmas Tree up.

Brandon excitedly helped me assemble and decorate the Tree on Christmas Eve Day... and I just can't get enough of it. It just seems to make winter a little more bearable... maybe a little warmer and dreamier... or something... :)

Now, I'm not the only one who is enjoying the loveliness of the Christmas Tree. We had to stow away our coffee table (and by "stow away" I mean that it is on its side, crammed into our bedroom)—which meant the train track, which had been displayed and played with ON the coffee table, is also stashed away in a box with the trains—but for the moment, Brandon loves looking at the Tree more than he misses playing with trains.

*peaceful sigh*

Friday, January 7, 2011

Real love

God's unfailing love is so far beyond my comprehension... it is so great... so high, so wide, so deep! In my limited human thinking, I keep wanting to put terms on it (like, "You are loved if ___"). And the enemy works hard to convince me that I am not worthy of God's love. I know that is a lie... yet I still find myself tempted to believe it. Ugh! That is so painful!

So this morning I soaked in the beautiful truths the Bible boldly proclaims about God's love...
God showed how much He loves us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
1 John 4:9-10

See that? Real love is not that we love Him, but that He loves us!

We love others because He loved us first.
1 John 4:19

This is a really phenomenal concept! God doesn't love us because we love Him, or because we do stuff for Him—He loved us first...before we had a chance to do anything... good or bad!

There's so much about God's unfailing love in the Psalms... so I started highlighting those verses in pink. They're much easier to find that way! Over and over, His unfailing love is demonstrated toward His people. Psalm 107 is a perfect example... even after His people rebelled against Him (once again), He STILL loved them and rescued them from "darkness and deepest gloom!" Wow. His love is amazing! See what I mean about the height and width and depth of it?!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Today Brandon had show-and-tell at preschool... a special show-and-tell where everybody brought their favorite Christmas gift. For Brandon, it was a toss-up between his tone block and his kazoo! Here he is, pictured playing both.

Incidentally, he decided to bring the kazoo. From what I hear, he demonstrated its operation by playing a rousing rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. (Frankly, it thrills me that something so inexpensive is such a delight to him!)

Our very own Zorro

Something happened in December, and I'm not exactly sure what ... but our 5-year-old is becoming even more boyish... challenging... and shall we say, artful? Our recent discoveries....

The legendary masked swordsman Brandon who slashes B's everywhere.... on the basement door, the bathroom door, his closet door...

...and it appears writing some additional secret code. All I have to say about it is, Why is he doing this?! and Thank God for washable markers!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A work in progress

Be confident of this: He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!
~ Philippians 1:6

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Perspective for 2011

Be thankful for
whatever God allows
to come your way.
He will not allow anything
that will not ultimately be
for your good and growth
and for His glory.

[quote by Bonnie Trude, from the booklet A Woman More Precious Than Jewels]

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes for them."~Romans 8:28