Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The reason we celebrate Christmas

God rest ye, merry gentlemen—
Let nothing you dismay.
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day.
To save us all from Satan's power
When we had gone astray.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy!
O tidings of comfort and joy!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Today's dilemma – solved!

PROBLEM:  Gum in youngest son's hair.

SOLUTION #1:  Olive oil.
RESULT:  No luck.

SOLUTION #2:  Peanut butter.
RESULT:  Nuthin'.

SOLUTION #3:  The scissors.
RESULT:  Worked like a charm. :)
'

Monday, December 16, 2013

Trust Him and Believe Him

S (Scripture) - Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
-Proverbs 3:5

O (Observation) - Why should we trust the Lord and lean not on our own understanding?  Because human understanding is limited and often influenced (skewed) by our perceptions and experiences.  God is GOD and I am not!  Isaiah 55:8 reinforces this point: "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine."  God knows the whole plan of our lives—all the ins and outs of how it works together—and He is good (Psalm 119:68)!

A (Application) - God is the Creator. He is far wiser than anyone!  AND He is good and He does only good (Psalm 119:68)!  I can trust God—only He is worthy of my trust.  I need to apply this to a frequent struggle of mine: I often hold too large a view of my sinfulness and too small a view of His mercy & love.  When I think about what the Bible says about God's love for me, I wrestle with it.  How could He love me?  So when God's love is beyond my understanding, I need to lean not on my own understanding and rely only on trusting the Lord with all my heart.  In His Word (the Bible) He says He loves me (see Romans 5:8, John 3:16, and 1 John 4:10)—and I need to believe it with all my heart!

P (Prayer) - God, I'm so glad that my thoughts are not Your thoughts, and my ways are not Your ways!  If *I* were God, I would have crumbled me up like a useless piece of paper and thrown me away long ago.  But You don't see it that way.  Your love, Your mercy, Your goodness, and Your wisdom are all so much higher and more wonderful!  I am going to focus on trusting You and not leaning on my own understanding.  YOU SAY You love me, and I believe!

Have you heard of SOAPing?

I recently read a book called, The Divine Mentor by Wayne Cordeiro.  The points in this book have the potential to change the way you personally hear from God through His Word, the Bible!


Mr. Cordeiro explains that God put the Bible together to instruct us, to help us, and to encourage us.

"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." - Romans 15:4

Expounding on this verse, he also suggests that as we read, we can consider the authors of each book of the Bible as "divine mentors"—ones whom God picked to teach us.

What Mr. Cordeiro recommends is reading a selected chunk of Scripture (perhaps one chapter or a section of a chapter—having a reading plan is helpful)... taking time to chew on it and consider it.  Then you take a verse that stuck out to you and write about it in a journal.  He came up with a method of journaling he calls SOAP (S- Scripture, O- Observation, A-Application, P- Prayer).  Read the book to learn more about it!

While to some it might sound like a lot of work, especially to a person who perhaps has never done any journaling—or doesn't care for it much—I can testify that God has a way of speaking to a person's heart through this method... insights you've never noticed before!

I plan to post a few of my journal entries... hopefully as an encouragement to anyone who may be reading this blog.  My life experience has shown me that hope is only found in the Lord, and I want to pass that on!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mistletoe-ing

As we get nearer to Christmas, Brandon is already crazy about listening to Christmas music.  All. The. Time.

So this afternoon we were in the car, and he hears the following lyrics:

It's the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be much mistletoe-ing
And hearts will be glowing
When loved ones are near...

And he asks, "Mom, what's mistletoe-ing?"

I explained about the old tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, and he exclaims, "Yuck! I don't ever want to go mistletoe-ing!"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Family Fun Day

Today (a gloomy November Saturday) is turning out to be a really fun day together!  It started out with me and Brandon having a "date."  First we enjoyed eggs and bacon at Perkins.  Then we went to the new Menards near us, where we were enchanted by the beautifully lighted Christmas trees and festive d├ęcor... and our experience was only enhanced by the lovely piano-playing of a grandmotherly-type woman at a grand piano.  Brandon spotted a 3' lighted Christmas tree for only $10 and imagined how cool it would look in his bedroom... so he decided to purchase it!

 
After we returned home and Brandon set up his Christmas tree, all four of us headed out to Kohl's for some shoe shopping.  That trip was, perhaps, a little less pleasant, as there was some trouble with following directions on the little people's part...  But we survived. :)  And voila... shoes a plenty... Tony Hawks for Brandon, New Balance for Mom, and Sketchers for Ryan.
 

On the docket for this afternoon: Trouble and Sorry.  (Hmmm... sounds like a rough afternoon, doesn't it?  Perhaps I should specify that I'm referring to the board games... ha!)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Parenting Tips

So thankful for Jim and Lynne Jackson at Connected Families!!  They give great parenting tips!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Learning (and re-learning)

Another aspect I love about homeschooling is learning things with my son (or, re-learning things that I probably already learned at some point).  I suppose I had little interest in subjects like science or history when I was young... perhaps just not enough life experience or understanding of the world around me to put it into perspective.......

So here's today's experimental science project: How far are the planets from the sun?


As a kid I was like, "Oh. Ok."  (ho hum)  As an adult, I'm like, "WOW! Can you believe that???  Look how far Neptune is from the sun!!!!!!!!"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Follow Jesus

"My fear is that there are a lot of people in the Church following the rules, but not really following Jesus."

"I think that most people in most churches think that they're following Jesus—and it's well intentioned—but the reality is, they have invited Jesus to follow them. And that's a whole different thing."

"The Gospel cost [us] nothing, but it demands everything. Too often we want what God is offering, but we don't want to give anything up in return. And that's where we miss out. I'm afraid that some people feel like, 'Well, if I don't hold out a little bit, I'm going to miss out on what life may have to offer.'  But the reality is, when you hold out on God you're missing out on everything that He wants to do in you and through you."

~ Mark Batterson on Focus on the Family
(broadcast on 10/15/13)
 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Selfie

The other day, Ryan was sitting at the computer watching Blues Clues on Amazon Prime.  Apparently he reached into the desk drawer and was tinkering around with the camera... as indicated by the evidence...


 


When asked about the last picture, he declared, "That's my tonsils!"  LOL :)

Cute and cuddly

My sweet boy and his monkey!
 


 
By the way, he named his monkey Roy. :)


Saturday, September 21, 2013

The mohawk

Well, ladies and gentlemen... I just cut my first mohawk!  Brandon (now 8 years of age) has been talking about it for weeks.  So, with some fear and trepidation, I grabbed the clippers, slapped on the #1 guide comb, and started at the back of his head.  Yikes!  I'm actually a little surprised it turned out as well as it did! :)

Here are a few pics.  He has some pomade in his hair, so it looks a little bed-headish (it might look crooked on the picture, but it's actually that "on purpose" messy look).  Drumroll, please...


 

Not too shabby for a "mom job!"

Friday, September 6, 2013

Being bored is an OK thing

With boredom, creativity abounds!  This particular summer day was "too hot" to be outside (his opinion)... and then came the "b" word.

"Mom, I'm bored."

I gave him my favorite response: "Well, I have plenty of cleaning you can help with..." Which sends him running in the opposite direction.

So he spent a good chunk of that afternoon playing with Legos in his room.  And he came up with this:


His very own Lego checkers game!  I thought it quite clever. :)  Good job, Brandon!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First day of school

Here's my little champ on the first day of Kindergarten!  Isn't he just the cutest thing?


He goes to a charter school, and he was so surprised to see that the other boys had the same color shirt and pants that he did! :)

And here is my older son, who started 2nd grade on Monday...


...very proud of his new LEGO Ninjago shirt. :)

My boys are growing up!  *sniff sniff*

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Remembering

I found this picture of me and my honey (in 1999!) at a church Christmas party... before we were dating!


I think it's funny... and cute... that look of innocence... and hope!  We're trying not to touch... but I sure did like him... and he liked me! :)

It's fun to remember!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Chemicals

Thought for the day:  If my neighbor is having their lawn treated by a professional company and the man applying the treatment is wearing a mask over his face, how does that affect me and my family as the wind carries that scent through my open windows....?  Hmmmmm.

This displeases me.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Love one another

God just showed me something this morning. It's about how we regard other drivers and what's really going on in our hearts.

So I'm coming down the freeway and this Chrysler is entering reeeeeally slowly... probably 20 mph slower than the flow of traffic.  Slightly annoyed, I mutter under my breath, "Come on, dude!" 

But what am I REALLY saying?

What I'm really saying is, "I am going somewhere and you're in my way! You're slowing me down!  Move it!"  And it struck me how utterly SELFISH that is!

What does Jesus say about dealing with people?  "Love one another" and "Be patient with one another, bearing with each other in love" and "Forgive one another, just as I have forgiven you!"  (John 13:34, Eph 4:2, Col 3:13)

Whether the guy is 90 years old or not from around these parts, no matter what the reason, we are to be patient and loving toward one another!

I love how the Lord gently convicts. :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My precious super hero

Ohhh yeah!  This is even better than the Green Lantern last month.

Today Brandon volunteered to use the new Kirby to suck up crumbs off the dining room floor. You read it right, folks: Vol. Un. Teered.  I pinched myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.  Rock it!

Shortly after he began, I heard him say in a booming voice, "I am Super Cleaner! I will clean you up! I'm a super hero!  I make things super-clean!" 


Then he proclaimed, "Activate super cleaner!" when he restarted the machine.

AND THEN... he began looking for other places he could clean... like the rug by the back door... and the stairs!!  Seriously!


What fun pretending can be!   And what a blessing to Mom. :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Look out, Green Lantern...


See any similarities?

Pool party

A beautiful summer day... lower humidity... the perfect day to play in the pool! 

 
Goggles are a must in a kiddie pool...


Can I just say how BOYISH my boys are, though?  They don't sit in the pool nicely and just play.  Oh no.  They are constantly running and wrestling!

 


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sunblock is your friend

Note to self:  EVERY time you wear a tank top—Put. On. Sunblock.


I mean, seriously.  Wouldn't you think in 40-some years I would figure that out?!?  I guess I just got fooled.  We were at the park for 5 hours with my cousin and her kids, and we were under a shady tree for quite a while... but then the sky clouded-over and I never once gave thought to the sun's rays still coming through the clouds.  Tsk-tsk.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Obedience

In the old way, obedience was an obligation to keep the rules. In the new way, it is an opportunity to be exactly what you were created to be.
-Ethan Formo

Monday, June 3, 2013

Raising Kids with Christ-like Character

I like to listen to Focus on the Family (on my laptop) while I work in the kitchen.  This morning I was listening to a broadcast from May 30th called "Raising Kids with Christ-like Character," featuring marriage and family therapists Paul and Virginia Friesen. 


This part really resonated with me... 

JIM DALY:  The thing that I notice with our Christian parenting, particularly, is this ideal for perfection. I mean, Jean and I experience it; we want our kids to act correctly all the time, and if they get out of line we get nervous—somehow it reflects on us.  And we’re doing far better with that now that they’re a bit older. But I think that’s normal for parents. In that regard, when we’re looking at our parenting style—again, especially as Christians—how do we relax that desire for perfection, [and] at the same time understand that we can please the Lord even if we’re not perfect?

VIRGINIA FRIESEN:  I think that the Christian community through the decades has been more committed to appearance management than to heart-driven pursuit of Christ. That probably sounds like a strong indictment, but I will level it at ourselves as well as anyone, because it is true—especially when our children were younger. We just so wanted to look good as parents; we wanted to make sure that we were doing the right thing, ostensibly so that we would help them find Christ.  But there’s an awful lot of our own insecurities that end up being wrapped up in that, and if our child behaves, we can feel better about ourselves as parents. And I think for ourselves, raising our children in the ministry context from the very beginning, we discovered that if we focused on appearance management we would miss their hearts, and our own hearts would probably move away from what matters most to God.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sensory tote

My younger son loves "sensory" stuff.  So I thought I'd put together a sensory bin for him.  Super easy!  And doesn't require any special creativity.

Step 1:  Purchase rice.  I bought a 25-pound bag of white rice for under $10 at Sam's Club.  Note: a smaller bag would have sufficed... perhaps like 10 pounds?

Step 2:  Purchase a large flat tote with locking handles. 

Step 3:  Dump rice into tote.  Leave plenty of space to move.

Step 4:  Add items of interest.

Step 5:  Play!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pursuing what matters

Pursue righteousness and you'll gain happiness.
Pursue happiness and you'll miss both.

(Posted by a friend on Facebook today.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Praying with your fingers

I thought this was a neat idea. (I don't know who wrote it—it was from a forwarded email.)

Praying With Your Fingers

1. Your thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C. S. Lewis once said, a "sweet duty."

2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct, and heal. This includes pastors, teachers, and doctors. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble, or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

5. And lastly comes our little finger—the smallest finger of all—which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.


 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday funnies

Life before the computer:
  • Memory was something that you lost with age.
  • An application was for employment.
  • A program was a TV show.
  • A keyboard was a piano.
  • A web was a spider's home.
  • A virus was the flu.
  • A CD was a bank account.
  • A hard drive was a long trip on the road.
  • A mouse pad was where a mouse lived.
Maybe worthy of a little grin? :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Kleenex vs. Puffs

This is not a paid endorsement.  It is purely the expression of my opinion.  I just couldn't help but speak out on my tissue discovery.  (I know. I'm a weirdo.)

I have a nasty cold.  Yes, sadly... a spring cold.  I purchased a small square box of Kleenex Tissues With Lotion, as my nose was becoming chapped from all the blowing.  The tissues were heavenly!

Then I ran out.

So off to the store I went... and purchased Puffs Plus Lotion, because the striped box was cute.

Now, I have long held the belief that Puffs were the softest.  I.Was.Wrong.  The Kleenex Tissues With Lotion were faaaaar softer on my raw nose than the Puffs Plus Lotion!  The Puffs were only slightly softer than a regular tissue with no lotion—AND there were about 20 fewer tissues in the box.

So there you have it, folks.  Take my advice.  (Or leave it.)  Kleenex is softer.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I think...


I *think* I can finally wash and put away the snow pants...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hard to believe

Hard to believe that on the 23rd day of April, I would be able to take a picture of my hooligans like this:
(What's up with all that snow, right?  And this is new snow, after all the stuff from my last post had melted!)

Well, they sure enjoyed one last morning of the white stuff.  (It is the last time this spring, right??)

Also enjoyed the pretty view from the couch as we homeschooled...


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ready for Spring. Now. Right now.

Not a very promising picture of Spring (above), is it? Yeah... not so much. Pretty drab.

Overall, I guess I'm not too bent out of shape about the wet white ground cover and lack of Spring's more typical physical attributes.

It's more problematic when dealing with two crazy busy boys who have a whole winter-ful of energy that's starting to burst forth. Presently, my 5-year-old is running around the dining room table to gain speed, and then hurling himself into a full body-slam against my husband on the couch. Repeatedly. He's laughing so hard he can barely speak (my husband, that is).  Downstairs, my 7-year-old is setting up an obstacle course of sorts.

Meanwhile, Daddy and Momma still secretly long for hibernation. :) haha

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spring... where art thou?

Spring, oh Spring... where art thou?  How you pain our hearts and steal our hopes when you are so fickle, visiting us on a mere whim and then leaving us shivering in temperatures below-average.  Alas, our eyes are dim with longing... hopes dashed again, as a wintery mix is in the forecast...

So much for global warming.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Choose

"Everyone must choose one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret."
- Jim Rohn

Thursday, March 28, 2013

God's strength demonstrated by His forgiveness

Somehow I was able to rouse myself out of bed and go for a walk this morning at 6:30.  (Keep in mind, in Minnesota it's still below freezing in the morning.)  But what a glorious morning... crisp air, clear sky, the sun not quite at the horizon, and the cardinals calling to each other... a great way to start the day!

On my walk I was thinking about God and how good He is... how much He loved us, that He sent His Son—Jesus—to pay the penalty for our sins (He never sinned!) by dying on the cross WHILE we were still sinners [see Romans 5:8].  What other god would do that?!

You see, that's where God really displays His power.  Any other god would pulverize a wrong-doer.  Not our God—He shows His great strength in forgiving those who've done wrong!

I can't figure out where the image of God got distorted along the way—how did God come to be portrayed as this Big Drill Sergent in the Sky, just waiting for humans to screw up so He could hurl lightning bolts down on them?

The God of the Bible is a loving God!  And here's how we know.  The truth is, we have all wronged Him...

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23, NLT)

But God made a way for us to be "made right" with Him...

The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 6:23, GW)

That's great news!  But it's not enough to just acknowledge that Jesus lived...

You believe there is one God. That’s good, but even the demons believe that! And they shake with fear.  (James 2:19, ERV)
...we need to place our faith in Him:
 
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved ... For "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  (Romans 10:9, 10, 13, NLT)
We do that by acknowledging (through prayer—just talking to God!) that we are sinners and that we deserve death, but believing that Jesus died on the cross to save us from the penalty of our sin, and then receiving His free gift of salvation!

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12, NLT)

From there we turn away from our old life of sin to a new life in Christ:

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! (2 Corinthians 5:17, MSG)

When we trust Jesus to save us, this makes us God's children!  And He was glad to adopt us!!

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:5, NLT)

All of this is what gives my life meaning and purpose.  The God who made heaven and earth LOVES YOU and ME—and He wants to be near us!  But He is a gentleman—He won't force Himself on anyone... He will only come when we invite Him.

Won't you call on Him today?  He'd love to hear from you...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Life: interrupted

My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered the interruptions were my work.

-Henri Nouwen

Friday, March 15, 2013

Perspective: life is short

“Teach us to number our days,

that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12

Lord, my time on earth is short, and I want to make it count. Help me today to do the things that honor You and benefit others.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

How many times

Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that Still Small Voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise

How many times have You heard me cry out
"God please take this"
How many times have You given me strength to
Just keep breathing
Oh I need You
God, I need You now

-Plumb, Need You Now

Friday, February 22, 2013

Clinging to earthly pleasures

"Remember what I say: if you would cleave to earthly pleasures, these are the things which murder souls. There is no surer way to get a seared conscience and a hard impenitent heart, than to give way to the desires of the flesh and mind. It seems nothing at first, but it tells in the long run.

"Consider what Peter says: 'abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul' (1 Peter 2:11). They destroy the soul's peace, break down its strength, lead it in to hard captivity, make it a slave."

~ J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)

When I read this, I thought about my computer usage. Not "bad stuff" but just a lot of time wasters...  a lot... and it can feel addictive at times.  Earthly pleasures... these are the things which murder souls...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Why are boys so destructive??


WHY?  Why do boys destroy things with no thought to the outcome?  See exhibit A, below.


Why would you destroy something when you had fun playing with it??  I do not understand why a boy of seven years would do this.  Apparently he has some sort of scissorlust, as I found a pile of snipped-up rubber bands on the floor yesterday.  (We've had other trouble in the past with scissor misuse, but I won't go into that.)  I should have hidden the scissors at that point, but I could not find them...

Oh Lord, give me grace!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Throw away the "input/output" theory of parenting!

"And 'train up a child in the way he shall go'—we've taken that verse to an extreme, to almost make it a guarantee. And I was always taught with Proverbs, you read them as tendencies. At Dallas Seminary, this was drilled into us—you take those as tendencies. We've taken that verse, along with a lot of the social pressures, and we've fallen for this faulty 'input/output' theory of parenting that says, whatever I put into my kid is what I'm going to get out of my kid. And that is just not true."

"As a pastor, I am constantly trying to challenge our parents with the verse, 'His mercies are new every day.'  So we have to let ourselves go a little bit—because here's what I've found with Christian parents especially: we take too way too much credit and way too much blame for the way our children turn out."

~Ted Cunningham on Focus on the Family interview, "Moving Beyond Performance-Based Parenting"

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hooray for snow!

After a weather warm-up several weeks ago, much of our snow melted—meaning no more sledding—and then in marched the frigid arctic air, leaving me cooped up in the house with two big bundles of energy!

Well, we are just pleased as punch to have gotten another 3-or-so inches of heavy, wet snow yesterday!  Here's the new friend we discovered created during our backyard adventures this afternoon.

Yay!

Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK Day

"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people."
~Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Don't just take a break—get revived!

I lie in the dust, completely discouraged;
     revive me by Your Word.
-Psalm 119:25

Yesterday was a hard day. I'll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say my discouragement related to parenting. After supper my husband suggested I take some time by myself to get refreshed—so I headed back to our bedroom, laptop in hand.  While he put the boys to bed, I spent some time laughing at bloopers from a favorite TV show on YouTube and felt the heaviness of the day slip away.

But when I woke up this morning, the heaviness was there again.  What happened?  I had not actually received refreshment the previous evening—I had merely taken a break and escaped from reality for an hour or two.

Psalm 119:25 (above) tells us it is God's Word that revives us!  And David proclaims in Psalm 19:7, "The teachings of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul."  Oh boy, did my soul need reviving and refreshing this morning!

So, assured of His glad welcome (Eph 3:12), I met with the Lord this morning and received the refreshment my soul needed.  God is good!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

To be fully committed: keep watch and pray

"If you want to be My disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, [spouse] and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life."
-Luke 14:26

Jesus was quite popular and had a large crowd of people following Him around.  I'm sure some people were sort of "star struck" and proclaimed they'd follow Him to the ends of the earth. (Even Peter said he'd be willing to die with Jesus.)  But Jesus knew that fair-weather, half-hearted disciples would be ineffective—so He made it clear that His true followers would need to be so committed to Him, it would appear as though they hated everyone and everything else in comparison.

What caught my eye about the verse above was the "even your own life" part. As I take a few moments to ponder it, I see I spend a fair amount of time/effort trying to make my life as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. I recognize this because of the displeasure I feel when my life seems "too hard" (hah! seriously?!), too unpleasant from dealing with whining/arguing children, and full of thoughts of "when can I get some me-time" to read, exercise, be on the computer, veg in front of a movie, etc.  And this is often. When I am so consumed with what I perceive are "my needs", how can I really be sold out for the Lord?

I am reminded of Matthew 26:41 where Jesus says, "Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."  In my heart of hearts (my spirit), it is Jesus I desire more than anything else!  Nothing is worth living for besides Him!  But I am self-centered and weak (my flesh). I want extended amounts of leisure and pleasure, and no harassment.  This is not reality for a follower of Christ.  Not that it's all drudgery! But it is hard work, and it takes perseverance and perspective.  Jesus said, "If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will find true life" (Luke 9:23-24).

So, the antidote for a half-hearted pursuit of Him and the temptation to create (and worship) a comfortable life: keep watch [keep eyes on Him] and pray!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Do it now

The new year is in full swing.  Seems like the perfect time to start new habits.  And so we ponder and daydream of what we'd like to change.  But you know, I think we tend to exalt the dream more than taking action!

Action always generates inspiration.
Inspiration seldom generates action.
- Frank Tibolt

Reminds me of another cute little quote I came across several years ago: "Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes" (Robert M. Hutches).  Funny!.... and oh so true.

You want to get in better shape?  Go for a walk—now—instead of having a snack.  You want to be closer to God?  Get into the Word—now—instead of checking Facebook.

Don't wait to feel motivated.  Just do it—right now! 

And, yeah... as I sit here and write, my 5-year-old comes upstairs to inform me that he "lost" his bouncy ball in the treadmill.  Yes, in the treadmill.  The very treadmill that the boys are not supposed to touch.  I can hear it rolling around in there when I lift the plank.  Great.  So much for exercise in the winter.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr..........

You want to vent less anger?  (I do.)  Take a deep breath—NOW—instead of verbally puking all over everyone.  You want to be more joy-filled?  (I do.)  Instead of complaining, thank God for your blessings—now.

Just do it.  Action generates inspiration.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hardship, our friend

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives... don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character...
James 1:2-4 (Phillips)

These verses apply to me (especially the trials that come with being a stay-at-home mom) ...and these verses also apply to my boysI need to love them enough to allow them to struggle sometimes.

I so truly want the best for my sons... and part of that is allowing them to experience (and hopefully learn from) life's hard-knocks.  So often I want to soften the blow of disappointing circumstances—but as "nice" as that seems, it only makes them weak.  "Nice" and "good" are two different things.  Jesus didn't strive to be nice—He was good and He did good.  Do I value being "nice" over doing what's right?  Am I willing to do what's best for my kids, even though it might bring discomfort (for everyone involved)?

Much as I hate to admit it, it is the trials that grow our character.  When I shelter my child from difficulties—whether it's sugar-coating an answer I know will disappoint them, or appeasing them by telling them they can just exchange the Christmas gift they didn't really care for—I stand in the way of valuable life lessons and character growth for them.

Lord, give us discernment in our dealings with our children. Help us to be willing to allow hardship in their lives, so they will develop perseverance and mature character—and so they will be strong men and women for Your Kingdom purposes!