Saturday, December 28, 2013

Either God is God, or He's Not!

Father, You are indeed the One and Only true God!  You made heaven and earth and everything in it!  You are the Creator, and You have dominion over everything in heaven and on earth.  What You have made is beyond our understanding and is vast beyond measure.  We have yet to reach the furthest reaches of outer space, to discover every creature hidden in the rainforests of the world, to delve into the deepest parts of the oceans, or to find the smallest particle, for there is always something smaller that provides the make-up of the smallest of the smallest of the smallest!  Unfathomable!

Father, You gave to Jesus all authority in heaven and on earth.  Jesus is above all!  He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords!  Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Heavenly Father, Your name is to be revered, for you are holy, set apart from all the rest.  You are in heaven.  Yes, You are in heaven!  Let Your kingdom come, and let Your will be done, here on earth, right now, in and through us, just as it is done in heaven.  Give us what we need for today.  Forgive us of our sins, all wrongdoing, just as we forgive all those who sin against us.  Do not let us fall into temptation, but deliver us from evil, all day everyday, because the kingdom, and the power, and the glory are Yours, forever and ever, and ever, and ever!!!

You are God!  Medicine is not!
You are God!  Money is not!
You are God!  Our children are not!
You are God!  Our husbands are not!
You are God!  Our families are not!
You are God!  Education is not!
You are God!  Our identity, our image, is not!
You are God!  Our bodies are not!
You are God!  Our government is not!
You are God!  Our laws are not!
You are God!  Our friends are not!
You are God!  Our media (TV, cable/satellite, computers, phones, etc.) are not!
You are God!  Our churches are not!
You are God!  Our military is not!
You are God!  Our leaders are not!
You are God!  You are God alone!

God, forbid that we should ever make anything, ANYTHING, more important in our own hearts that we would fail to obey Your command to Love You and Love Others as You have loved us!  We are to keep ourselves from idols!  We are to have a faithful relationship with You alone!  Our genuine relationship with You, Father, will lead us to see You as You are.  Then, we will be able to see others as You see them.  Amen!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Living in Love

I talk about love everyday!  The truth is (I read it in my Bible) that the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.

My twelve year old daughter, who has recently started reading the Bible every night for herself and who has experienced life with a selfish and angry mom that has been transformed by love, tells me very simply that the only thing that makes any sense at all is love.

It's true.  When two people are acting selfishly, offense is bound to happen and arguments turn ugly.  (James 4:1-3)  If one person responds in love (Proverbs 15:1), then anger is turned away.  Love does not take offense, no matter what the other person says or does, because love is not selfish.  (Proverbs 19:11, 1 Corinthians 13:5)  Love cares for the well-being of the one who is suffering from their own selfishness.

Because I am not blinded by my own selfishness, I am able to see that selfishness blinds people to their own sin.  They are able to see the sin of others, but are completely blind to their own sin.  Because I am not blinded by my own selfishness, I do not take offense at other people's behavior.  I'm not offended, so I am able to see how the other person's selfishness destroys them.  I am able to see how it hurts them.  I am able to have compassion for them, be patient with them, and love them, regardless of what they throw at me.

It's not about me.  It's about Him, who is love, and my faith in His name (who He is) expressing itself through love.  I demonstrate my love for Him by loving others, no matter what it costs me.  That is how he loves me.  He demonstrated His love for us in this: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  (Romans 5:8)

One example of what this looks like:  Yesterday, one of my children gave the devil a foothold by getting angry at another child for not giving him/her (I'll just say he) what he wanted.  He was acting very selfishly, pushing himself on others and forcing his way into someone else's game.  When that didn't work, he got angry and started hurling accusations at others.  (This does not happen often anymore, but it does happen.)  Another child came to get me so that I could help the angry child, who was acting out in front of our guests.  It was an awkward situation, once it was initiated.  I called the child out of the room.  He was furious that I had been called and that things were not going his way.  He stomped past me to meet me in my room where I had directed him to go so we could talk in private.  I wanted to remove the child from the awkward situation.  I didn't want the child to make a spectacle of himself any longer, and I needed a quiet space to love my out of control child.

Discipline looks like this:  My child was angry!  He sat there on the couch in our room with his arms crossed, his eyebrows furled, and his lips pursed.  I sat down next to my child and said nothing.  I prayed quietly, because I really did not know quite what to say.  I asked God to help me handle this in love.  My child began to throw angry accusations out about the one who was not giving him his way.  I gently tried to show this child how he was being selfish by trying to push his way into someone else's game.  That did not go over so well.  My child began to hurl insults and accusations at me.  I was tempted to get angry, but...the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.  I prayed quietly and sat silently, looking at my child with compassion.  I could see that this child was miserable.  He was the most miserable person in the house.  His selfishness was eating him up.

I did not rebuke my child for treating me with dishonor.  He was accusing me of being selfish.  He was accusing me of not loving him.  He was accusing me of being a hypocrite.  It didn't hurt, because it is simply not true.  He got angry at me for talking about love, and he said that he hated that I always talked about love.  He said that he hates the Bible.  He said that he hated everything about me.  It didn't hurt, because I knew that none of it was true.  This was not my child speaking.  He had given the devil a foothold, and the devil went all out shouting lies into my child's mind.  I just looked at my child and told him that I loved him.  He scowled at me.  I sat quietly.  I really was not angry.

After a short time, my child looked at me and asked for a hug.  I held out my arms, and he scooted over, sat in my lap, and began to cry.  He told me that he felt awful.  He told me that he stuck his tongue out at his sibling.  He knew that he had been selfish.  He knew he was wrong.  I didn't have to say a thing.

Once my child was calm, I asked if we could talk about what happened.  We were able to discuss how selfishness hurts the one who is being selfish.  It hurts others, too.  I asked if he was ready to go join everyone else.  We left the room happy and all was well after that.

Today, the same child had a brief moment with selfishness.  We were cleaning up and gathering things to give away.  We found a toy that we had not seen in a while.  An older sibling then gave it to a younger sibling, but it actually belonged to this child.  Oops.  Before we could straighten it all out and figure out what to do with the toy, the child lost control.  I stayed calm, always thinking how to respond with authority and with love.  The child did eventually see how his response of anger due to offense revealed his selfishness.

We decided that so much negative feelings were now associated with the toy that we did not to keep it, because every time he played with the toy he would remember his selfishness and he didn't think he would enjoy it anymore.  I agree.

My child was able to see his own selfishness, because the light of love in me exposed his sin.  He was not able to be distracted by my behavior.  The only wrong behavior in the room was his.  We are the light of the world!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sometimes Things Don't Go Right

In the previous two posts, I share our homeschool schedule.
Occasionally, we get off-track.  If I don't hold to the schedule very well for too many days in a row, then we have to make too many adjustments and the kids don't know what to expect.  Then, things start to get crazy again.  Kids slack off on chores and schoolwork.  Behavior goes downhill.  I can't easily say, "You know the schedule," so I begin to get frustrated and target the kids' irresponsibility and their poor behavior, which makes everything worse.  They become insecure, and their behavior continues to spiral down.  Thankfully, this doesn't happen often and we know how to quickly get back on track.  Praise the Lord!
At some point, I realize what is happening and I praise God for opening my eyes to see the truth.  I recognize that I had not been faithful to my word and they were simply following my lead.  I thank the Holy Spirit, who lives in me, for convicting me (convincing me) that my behavior was not right.  I confess (acknowledge, agree) that I was not faithful like my Heavenly Father is faithful, and I agree that I do not want to live like that because no good thing comes from it.  I want to be like my Abba in heaven.  I confess (acknowledge, agree) that I had become unloving as I focused on my children's behavior and became frustrated with how it affected me and my plans for the day.  I agree with God that love is the only way!  He comforts me, reminding me that I am His child and that there is now no condemnation for me, because by faith I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ Jesus.  I thank Jesus for what He did on the cross, which He did because of His great love for me.  Wow!  He loves me!  He really loves me!  He paid the price for my sin!  He really loves me!  I thank God for Jesus and for giving me His Spirit to lead me in paths of righteousness.  I thank Him that I am free to forget what is behind and to move forward in righteousness.  I am free from the power of sin and death!  I am truly free!

Schedule and Meal Plan Short Version

Here is the short version for reference:

General Daily Schedule:
6 or 6:30 - Wake up, read the Bible, and pray
7:00 - Wake everyone up, devotional time
8:00 - chores and breakfast.
9:00 - Math
10:00 - Foundations
11:00 Reading and Writing

11:45 Naptime for youngest

12:00 - lunch and afternoon chores

Mondays - sandwiches, chips or crackers, raw veggies, and fruit 
Tuesdays - PB&J, something crunchy, some kind of fruit, sometimes a cheese stick, sometimes raw veggies
Wednesdays - sandwiches or leftovers and whatever we can find in the fridge 
Thursdays - something quick and easy like sandwiches, leftovers, or mac&cheese or SPAM 
Fridays - same as Tuesdays
Saturdays - pancakes, eggs, and bacon for brunch 
Sundays - leftovers

1:00 Latin with my Challenge A student and board games and card games for elementary students

2:00 EEL and IEW (Language Arts) with 4th grader, study and time with siblings for others

4:00 Dinner prep for me, free play for others, study time for older kids if they need it

5:00 - Dinner 

Mondays - currently boiled chicken, rice or bread, and a veggie, soon to be meatloaf 
Tuesdays - always a crockpot meal, usually a roast with carrots and potatoes
Wednesdays - hotdogs with buns or with rice, veggie, spinach salad
Thursdays - usually Frito Pie: Fritos, homemade chili, cheese 
Fridays - Pizza Night: pick up pizza and salad, everyone loves pizza night 
Saturdays - something yummy for dinner 
Sundays - still not set

6:00- 9:00 - chores, finish school, get ready for bed

6:30 - bathtime for three boys

7:00 - bedtime for three boys

8:00 - bedtime for KES

9:00 - bedtime for Challenge students and Mommy and Daddy time!

This is our schedule.
It is meant to serve us, not to rule us.
Love always comes first.
Mercy trumps the schedule.

God is with me throughout the day, whatever I do and wherever I go.
Love is with me throughout the day.
I am learning to talk to Him about everything, all day long.
I talk to Him about love, all day long.

Our Schedule and Meal Plan with Details

Another homeschool mom asked me to share what our family's schedule looks like.  I decided to post it here so I could share with others if anyone else ever asked.
We have a schedule that works for our family, because I prayed and asked God to help me create a schedule that would ensure that I have one-on-one time with every child, to teach them and to love them.  It is a wonderful schedule for us, because I have time with every child, and they have dedicated time with each other.  The younger ones do academics in a fun and relaxed way with me in the morning, while my older kids work independently.  In the afternoon, the older kids each have an hour dedicated to play with the younger kids, while I work one-on-one with the older kids.  There are still not enough hours in the day to "do it all," but at least we are sure to get some or most of everything done, which is more than ever happens when chaos reigns.  The kids know the schedule, so they are not constantly asking me what we are going to do, and they are not constantly asking me to do what they want to do.  When they do ask me to do something different, I can simply remind them of what is scheduled and let them know what we are doing in that moment.  Occasionally, I can tell them if and when their desire might be fulfilled.  It might be later in the day, or it might be later in the week, but they are usually good with it, because they know there is a time scheduled for it and they can look forward to it.  If we have an off day or a field trip, we just go back to the schedule the next day.  The kids, even my teenagers, find comfort and confidence in knowing what to expect.
The same concept holds true for disciplining, even my youngest, children.  Our one year old has picked up on the schedule and happily participates in different activities in different parts of the house or yard throughout the day.  I did not know how to teach self-discipline to my babies until after my third child.  I started with our fourth as an infant to train him to listen to my kind words and choose to obey.  I can simply say, "No-no.  Don't touch."  Our one year old will pull his hand back and consider his actions, then move on to something else.  He stays out of the kitchen cabinets and away from purses, keys, and cell phones, etc., because he has learned not to touch them.  If he is tempted, I can remind him with a few kind words.  It is very pleasant for him and for me.  If you want to know more, I will be happy to tell you more.  God is good.  He has answered my prayers and has shown me how to parent, because I had no clue what I was getting into when we started our family.  I really screwed up with my older kids, but love does indeed cover over a multitude of sins, and God really does work all things together for the good of those who love Him and whom He has called according to His good purposes.
General Daily Schedule:
Wake up, read Bible, and pray around 6 or 6:30
Wake everyone up around 7:00AM 
(While they are waking up, still lying in bed, I tell them things like: This is the day that the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.  God is love!  God made us in His image.  He made us to love.  Our goal today is to live in love.  It's what God made us for.  He commands us to love Him and to love others.  Love is the fulfillment of the law.  He gave us the Golden Rule so that we can know if we are being loving or not.  If I am treating someone in a way that I would not like to be treated, then I am not acting in a loving way.  If I am treating someone in a way that I would like to be treated, then I know that I am loving that person the way God wants me to love.  It's a good day when God's love shines in all of us.  Let's do everything without complaining or arguing so that we will shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the word of life.  You are a treasure.  You are a gift from God.  Note: I do not say all of this everyday.  I say some of these things every day, as well as other things, as the Lord leads.  I learned from my first child to never ask, "How are you doing this morning?" or "How did you sleep?"  The answer was never good, and it always started off the day on a sour note.)
7-7:30 I do a devotional, read the Bible, or read Missionary stories to my older kids while I nurse the baby.  The younger two (4 & 6) play or read.
From 7:30 or 8:00 until 9:00 we do chores and eat breakfast. The four and six year old get dressed independently, put plates, forks, and napkins on the table, then they are given the big responsibility of babysitting their baby brother in the playroom (gated to keep them all in), while the big kids and I do laundry, gather trash, put way clean dishes, tidy the house, and cook breakfast.  Some training was necessary to teach them to stay in the playroom until we call them to breakfast.  Some training was necessary to teach them how to play with the little one.  They are so proud to have this responsibility, and they look forward to their time with him.  They do very well.  Of course, all of the big people are watching and listening as we go about our chores.  They are not really alone with the baby.
9-10:00  MATH - The three big kids work independently, while I spend some time teaching math to the younger boys.  Usually, one of the big kids takes the toddler for a while to play in their room while they study flashcards or read, so that I can work one-on-one with the boys for at least 20 minutes.  Sometimes, I put the little one in a backpack carrier or in the stroller while I work with the boys.  I also use some of this hour to check on the older kids' math, which they work on independently.
10-11:00  Foundations - The big kids work independently while the youngest four join me in the living room with a whiteboard and a copy of the week's memory work.  We block all exits to corral the little one and start working on the Classical Conversations memory work together.  Wednesday - we spend a lot of time finding the songs and singing them over and over and over.  Thursday - we teach the memory work to some friends who come over to study with us, so we sing and review everything very thoroughly on this day, too.  Friday - we go through all of the work more quickly and play some games with some of the subjects.  Monday - we quickly review the week's work, then play review games with all of the past week's material.  I will likely have to start focusing on single subjects each Monday.  It is getting to be a lot of material.
11-12:00 Reading and Writing - Our nine year old (KES) watches the little one while I work with boys on Reading and Writing.  10-20 minutes each.  During this hour, I have KES read to or play games with the boys, while I put the baby down for a nap around 11:45.

Noon to 1:00 is lunch and afternoon chores.  We make lunch, eat lunch, clean up, and do a few set chores (laundry and cleaning up the kitchen).  Mondays - sandwiches, chips or crackers, raw veggies, and fruit  Tuesdays - PB&J, something crunchy, some kind of fruit, sometimes a cheese stick, sometimes raw veggies (made the night before to take to CC)  Wednesdays - sandwiches or leftovers and whatever we can find in the fridge  Thursdays - something quick and easy like sandwiches, leftovers, or mac&cheese or SPAM  Fridays - same as Tuesdays because I put them all in the car from 12-1 to drop my oldest off for Robotics  (We eat in the car and get back in time for me to study Latin with my 13 year old daughter.)  Saturdays - pancakes, eggs, and bacon for brunch  Sundays - leftovers

1-2:00 I study Latin with my Challenge A student, while KES plays board games and card games with the boys.  Little one is still sleeping.  Oldest studies independently or is at Robotics.

2-4:00 I work with KES on EEL and IEW (Language Arts), while the oldest two each have an hour to study and an hour devoted to the three little boys.

4-5:00 Dinner prep for me and free play for all the little ones.  They usually like to play outside on the play set or play make believe in the house together.  I can watch them all from the kitchen either way.

5:00 Dinner  - I'm in the process of changing it a bit, but here it is:  Mondays - currently boiled chicken, rice or bread, and a veggie, soon to be meatloaf  Tuesdays - always a crockpot meal, usually a roast with carrots and potatoes, because we are gone all day to Classical Conversations  Wednesdays - hotdogs with buns or with rice, veggie, spinach salad, which is quick and easy so I can be sure to get dinner on the table and take KES to choir practice on time.  Thursdays - usually Frito Pie: Fritos, homemade chili, cheese  Fridays - Pizza Night: pick up pizza and salad, everyone loves pizza night  Saturdays - something yummy for dinner  Sundays - still not set

After dinner is play, baths, bedtime for the younger ones and finish chores (6-7:00) and schoolwork (7-8:30) for the older ones, if needed.  This is when I have time to go over questions and spend time on schoolwork with the oldest two Challenge students.

6:30 is bathtime for the three boys

7:00 is bedtime for the three boys

9:00 is Mommy and Daddy time!

God is with me throughout the day, whatever I do and wherever I go.  I am learning to talk to Him about everything, all day long.

Love Is Patient

I'm so glad that love is patient.  I find that I keep learning the same things over and over and over.

I used to be impatient with myself and with my children for not doing what we know to do, but now I am just so thankful every time I do what I know I should not do that I recognize once again that only God's ways are right.  I am so thankful that love is patient.  God's patience with me makes me want to be patient with others.

If we are to love God, then we must be patient as we wait for His promises to be kept.  He is faithful.  He does keep His promises.

If we are to love others, then we must be patient with them when they fail to do what we know that they know to do.

If we are to love ourselves, then we must be patient with ourselves as we grow up into Him.  He IS working in us.  He IS changing us.  He IS sanctifying us.  He loves us!

God is love.  He is patient.  He is kind.  He does not envy.  He does not boast.  He is not proud.  He is not rude.  He is not self-seeking.  He is not easily angered.  He keeps no record of wrongs.  He does not delight in evil.  He rejoices in the truth.  He always protects.  He always trusts.  He always hopes.  He always perseveres.  He never fails!

It's true!  Jesus is the image of the invisible God.  He is the exact representation of the Father.  If we have seen Jesus, then we have seen the Father.  Jesus is love with skin on.  He is not only our Savior, but our example to follow.  Praise God!  His love endures forever!  His faithfulness continues through all generations!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Happy First Birthday!

Yesterday we celebrated the first birthday of our littlest "gift from God."  He is so precious and so amazing!  He is a very happy little one, unless you have food and fail to give it to him fast enough.  He loves food!  All kinds of food!  He eats just about anything!  No food allergies!  WooHoo!  That is a miracle!  God healed me and my five older children of food allergies/sensitivities, and so much more, and God gave us a baby without any of the "issues" that my older children and I suffered.  Praise the Lord!

I write this to remember this precious child's first year and this special celebration of his life.

This baby sleeps!  He has always been a good sleeper compared with our other children.  He napped regularly, and though he woke in the night, he always went back to sleep, so he never had his days and nights mixed up.  That is a huge blessing!  Praise the Lord!  Just before the school year started, he began to sleep through the night (12 hours).  I nurse him.  I sing to him.  I lay him down.  I walk out.  He goes to sleep.  Amazing!!!  Praise the Lord!

He began to walk earlier than our other children.  The first five children all walked within two weeks of their first birthday.  This little guy started walking at ten months.  I know that other babies have walked earlier and that ten months is within the normal range for walking, but for us, it is a novel and exciting thing to have such a little one toddling around under foot.  He's so big, yet not.  I loved that he was such a confident walker by the time he celebrated his first birthday!  It's a whole different kind of first birthday when they can run around the way he did.

He loved the balloons.  He is doing his best to say, "Balloon!"  It comes out, "Baaalll."  Too, cute!

He was all smiles when we placed a cake in front of him in his high chair, but his smile quickly turned to cautious concern when everyone started singing Happy Birthday.  Everyone was singing loudly.  They were looking at him and pointing to him.  He was not sure what to make of that!  I put the whole cake on his high chair tray, and he smiled big and reached out for the candle (we never lit it), but everyone laughed and several kids exclaimed loudly about the baby messing up the cake.  They thought it was great fun, but it stopped him short.  He pulled back his hand and looked uncertainly at the cake, clearly wondering if he had done something he should not have done.

We gave him a piece of cake on a plate: vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate covered sunflower seeds for sprinkles.  He did not know what to do with it.  He was a little weirded out by the texture of the frosting.  We eventually had to break off pieces of the cake, with no frosting, so he could pick up the pieces and eat his cake.  He liked it, but not the frosting, because of the texture.  Ew.

He has had eight teeth since he turned nine months.  Still eight teeth.  I think he might be working on some molars.  Time will tell.

Still no shoes.  I have not found any that I like for him.  Little time to shop around, so I bought him some socks so that his feet will not be cold when the weather cools down.  I will keep my eyes open for shoes.  I may have to make a special trip soon, just for shoes.

Just this week, he started to point to everything and say, "Thah?"  He tries to say everything we say.  Yep.  He's going to be a genius baby, just like all the rest!  (wink wink)  I do think that they are all amazing!

What else?  Other miscellaneous facts:
1) He expertly ascends the stairs, and he is enjoying his efforts to walk down the stairs like the rest of us, one foot at a time, but this can only be done by a person of his size if a big person has a good grip on both wrists.
2) He discovered that pencils make pretty marks on the pages of teacher's guides while Mommy is distracted with teaching an older sibling.
3) He only drinks water from a real cup, but almost always chokes on too much water.
4) He loves a bath.
5) He has the smoothest skin and rarely gets red or rashy.
6) No cradle cap!  OK, a little, but it brushes away with dry brushing.
7) He has never been washed with soap, except for his hands.
8) He plays happily with just about anyone.  He is independent and confident.

I'm sure that there is more, but I am falling asleep.  I can edit later to add more, so I will just post and go to bed.  I can enjoy eight hours of sleep.  Praise God!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Prayer

Wow!  What a crazy year!  There is simply too much to update tonight, because it is already after midnight, but I will post again soon.  I just want to pray "out loud" and then go to bed.

Heavenly Father, You are my Abba.  You are my daddy.  Thank You so much for making me to be Your child.  It is unfathomable to know that I am a child of GOD!  You love me with a love that endures forever.  Your faithfulness continues through all generations.  You uphold me with Your mighty right hand!  Lord, my Lord, I praise You, for You are worthy to be praised.  You sent forth Your Word and You healed us!  You gave us faith to believe!  You teach me when I come to You and ask You for wisdom.  You give generously, without finding fault.  Thank You for teaching me.  Thank You for teaching us!

Father, I thank You for Jesus!  He is the way, the truth, and the life.  He is the visible image of You, my Father!  He is the exact representation of You, so if I know Jesus, then I know You.  You are eternal life!  Your Word says that to know You is eternal life!  I know Jesus!  I believe in Him!  Therefore, I have eternal life!  Thank You, Jesus, for loving me and dying for me, so that I might be reconciled to the Father.  Because of Your great gift, I am righteous and can stand before the Father in Righteousness!  There is NO condemnation for me, because I am clothed in Your righteousness.  I am in You and You are in me!  Wow!  Thank You for giving me the gift of the Holy Spirit!  Thank you, Holy Spirit, for living in me and working in me to will and to act according to Your good purposes.  I love living in love!  I love knowing that love never fails!  I have proved over and over that selfishness fails every time, but I believe Your Word, that love never fails!  I will live in love because Your Spirit lives in me.  Your commands are not burdensome, because Your Spirit lives in me.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!

Lord, give me rest tonight.  Give me strength for tomorrow.  Fill me with love for those who are difficult to love.  Thank You, because I know that I can ask for anything in Your name.  I can have confidence before You and know that I have received whatever I ask for, because I obey Your commands and do what pleases You.  Thank You for faith to believe.  Thank You for hearing my prayer.  Thank You for advancing Your kingdom through me and through my children.  Thank You for the privilege to live for You!

Father, I love You!  Thank You for filling me with You love and for giving me the same kind of love for others that You have for them.  Amen!

Monday, May 20, 2013

It Is The Lord Who Works In Me To Will And To Act

My life is not perfect, but I would not change a thing.  My Father in heaven works all things together for good, because I love Him and He has called me according to His good purposes.  It is my Heavenly Father who lives in me and works in me to will and to act according to His plan.  When we choose to obey, instead of trying to push everything to go our own way, He leads us and He uses us in ways that we could never have imagined.

Example:  About a month ago, I arrived at our homeschool co-op with our five youngest children.  Our four year old did not want to bring his jacket, but it was cold, so I tossed it in the van.  When we arrived, he saw it and decided that we should all stand in the cold and wait for him while he put it on to walk from the van to the door.  OK, no big deal.  Funny, but...whatever!  However, when we get to the door, he decides that we should all wait outside while he zips his jacket up, which could take a long time and end up in frustration.  We were right on time, if not a few minutes late.  I was not going to let him be in charge.  This was not about the jacket.  It was about control.  He had been pushing these boundaries for several weeks.  I told him that we were late, that we were entering the warm building, and that he did not need to have his jacket zipped up.  I was not angry, just matter of fact.  I proceeded through the door, and he let out a loud protest, as if I had just abandoned him.  Everyone looked our way, and some even came over to see how they could help.  I just stopped.

My thoughts were all over the place.  We were late.  This was embarrassing.  It's not fair to the tired baby, who had been crying.  It's not fair to my six year old, who was going to be late because of this.  Every onlooker has an opinion.  There are always some who just want peace and quiet.  Sure enough, after explaining the reason for the tantrum, which continued far beyond the initial outburst, someone suggested that I just let him put his jacket back on and zip it up for him.  Note that after we stepped inside, I had taken his jacket off and had put it into his backpack, telling him that he could wear it when his class went outside to play on the playground.  Inside my head I was screaming, "No way!"  This was a battle for dominance, and I was not going to let a four year old win, no matter how embarrassing the situation was.  I politely told the woman that I did not think that would be the best plan of action.  I moved my crew to the door, but discovered that there was a science class meeting outside, so there was no private place to take my out-of-control child to work it out with him.  I decided to carry on as if nothing was out of the ordinary, so I headed for my 'mailbox' to pick up my name tag and check for notes.

One friend followed me to my 'mailbox'.  She wanted to help, but...Really...What could she do?  I spoke with her calmly, while my preschooler continued to cry and complain.  I explained what I thought about the situation and what my rational and strategy was for teaching my son that he was not going to be in charge.  She understood.  I was thankful.  I took a few minutes to talk calmly with my son, telling him that he was not going to be allowed to put his jacket on until it was time for his class to play outside.  I no longer remember all that was said, but it was all spoken in love and with his best interest in mind.  In the end, he agreed to go to class and wait until recess to put his jacket on again.  My friend walked with us to the preschool department to drop him off.  She pushed the stroller and waited with the baby so that I could hold my son's hand as we walked and get him settled into his class.  Did I mention that this was my son's 4th birthday.  Thankfully, the rest of his day was much better than the start of his day.

So, God was working in me to will what He wills and to act according to His good purposes.  I acted in love for the good of my child.  Then, God did something amazing.  The friend who witnessed the tantrum and my response to it was a friend with whom I had recently shared how God had healed us from so much.  I had told her how I used to lose my temper often, and I told her how God's love had healed us.  She saw me deal gently and lovingly with an out-of-control four year old and she remembered what I told her about my past and our healing.  While I was dropping my son off in his classroom, she was talking with another young mom in our co-op.  She shared with her what she knew about me and what she had witnessed, expressing the desire to hear the rest of our story.  I needed to nurse the baby, so I told them that I was going to go to the nursing mom's room to feed him and to try to give him a nap.  They both asked if they could join me and asked if I would share with them how I had learned to handle my children with love.  I said yes!  I was delighted to have an opportunity to share what God had been doing in my life, with the hope that they, too, would be inspired to seek Him and His righteousness before all things, so that their lives would be blessed also with a more intimate relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I did not know either mom well, but had recently become acquainted with both, so I did not know where to start, but I reasoned that God did know where I should start.  I began with prayer, which consisted mostly of praying the Word and asking God to be present and to teach us what He would have us to know about Him.  I asked God to guide me to say only that which He would want me to say, so then I began.  I began at the very beginning, with the birth of our first child, his difficult early years, my anger and frustration, etc.  I talked about autism and diet.  I shared pretty much everything.  As I was sharing, they would look astonished at times and explained the similarities between my first child and theirs, and the similarities with the struggles and frustrations of dealing with such behaviors.  I talked for nearly three hours, and they listened intently and asked questions throughout.  It was encouraging to all of us.  I was uplifted to speak of God's working in my life.  I was uplifted to see them so blessed by His testimony in my life.  They were most assuredly blessed.

At the end of the day, I can honestly say that a life surrendered to God is a life worth living.  I was obedient to the will of God, and He used me to minister to others.  His command to me is to love Him and to love others.  I acted in love, when my child was acting selfishly, and God used my son's tantrum to do something good.  He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  To the praise and the glory of the One who made me to be His!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Prayer

Lord, You are absolutely more than I can even find words to describe.  One word simply cannot define You.  You are Love.  Your Word says that!  You are my Provider!  You are my Healer!  You are my Savior!  Yes, You are my Savior!  Thank You!  Thank You for saving me.  You are The Way, The Truth, and The Life!  You are Love and You are The Way, so Love is the Way.  You are Love and You are The Truth, so Love is The Truth.  You are Love and You are The Life, so Love is The Life.  Love is The Way, The Truth, and The Life!

You taught me through my daughter's Classical Conversations Essentials class that the word IS is a linking verb, which can be replaced with an equal sign (=).  I love words.  I love the study of words.  I love the study of Your Word!  Your Word is amazing!  It IS living and active!  Of course, because Jesus IS God, Jesus IS Love, Jesus IS the Word, and Jesus IS alive!!!  He IS living and active!  Wow!!!

Father, thank You for Jesus, who died for me so that there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Thank You for the Holy Spirit, who lives in me to convict me, comfort me, and guide me.  What a gift He is!  The Holy Spirit living inside of me; Your Spirit of Love living inside of me!  Thank You, Father, for sending Jesus to live among us so that we might know You, for Jesus himself said that if we know Him, then we know the Father.  Eternal life is to know You and to know the One You sent, Jesus Christ!

If I believe in Jesus (I do), then I believe what He says (I do).  Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to "love The Lord your God with all your heart, with all you soul, with all your strength, with all your mind," and the second is like it, "Love your neighbor as yourself."  He's my Lord!  I want to obey His command to love.

Jesus also says, "A new command I give you: Love one another.  Just as I have loved you, so you must love lone another.  By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."  Father, I cant argue with that.  Jesus says it.  He's my Lord.  I should obey.  I can only love like Jesus loves if I am filled with Your Spirit.  I want to be rooted and grounded in love, because Your Word says that nothing matters, except faith expressing itself through love.

Lord, You showed me that what I believe matters.  If I believe the Truth, who is Love, then I will express that faith by being love.  Abba, Father, I want to be like You.  I want to be love, because You, my Daddy, are love.  I want to be like You.  Thank You for sending Jesus so that we could see what You look like in the flesh.  We who are flesh, can follow Jesus, who is God, who is love, who is flesh. Jesus is how we know what love looks like with skin on!  I love that!  I can follow You, because You showed me how to follow you.  You're amazing!  You thought of everything!  Of course you did!  You're God, the Creator of Everything!

How wonderful is Your creation!  It shouts out clearly just how amazing You are.  Yes, YOU ARE!  You said, "I AM!"  Yes!  YOU ARE!  We can not go back into the past, nor look into the future, but You ARE the Alpha and the Omega!  We have not been to the depths of the earth, or even the depths of the sea, nor have we explored the furthest reaches of outer space, but You are Omnipresent.  You are with us, always, wherever we go.  There is no where that we can go to hide from You.  We know very little compared to all You know.  Our knowledge, understanding, and wisdom pale in comparison with Your Omniscience.  You are Omnipotent!  There is NOTHING that is impossible for You!  You WILL do ALL Your Holy Will!

Father, thank You for teaching me, because You said in Your Word that You would teach me great and unsearchable things, if only I would ask.  "Ask, and you will receive."  Thank You that You WILL be found, if only I will seek You.  "Seek, and you will find."  Thank You for opening the door for me and for my family.

You said to seek You and that "all these things will be added unto you," and I am so grateful for all that You have added to my life because I finally sought You out through prayer and through Your Word.  Thank You for pursuing me until I gave up trying to do it all in my own strength.  Thank You for showing me the Truth.  With out You, I am nothing!  Your Word says that!  With You, I am a child of God, a co-heir with Christ Jesus!!!  Your Word says that!  With You, I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!  Your Word says that!  Nothing is impossible for him who believes!  Your Word says that!

Oh, Lord, Abba, Father, increase my faith!  Give me faith to believe Your Word!  Give me faith to believe Jesus, fully and completely!  I believe!  Help me, in my unbelief!

Lord, I thank You for the trials that prove my faith to be genuine, and bring praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed!  Let the people in my life see Jesus when they look at me.  Amen!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Update - Why I Haven't Posted In A While

The following is my response to a comment posted to my blog.  I didn't post the comment because I do not yet know how to edit comments to leave out personal information.  This reader asked me how everything has been going and if I was going to continue to blog.  I will.  Time is key.  Right now I have a few other priorities, so my blogging time is limited.

Hello G,

My name is ----.  I want to blog.  I love it.  Our baby was born at the end of September, four days before his due date.  The birth was amazing!  This baby is amazing!  He's four months old.  He sleeps long stretches at night, even some 9+ hour nights.  He's never had his days and nights mixed up.  He's so healthy.  He even likes tummy time.  My others hated tummy time.

We just moved to a lovely new home on January 11th.  Twice as big as our old home and brand new.  Long story.  Still unpacking.  My father-in-law now lives with us.  I have to help with meds, diet, just remembering things.  We are still working to make the house safe for him and for our little ones.  He keeps coming up to the second floor, which isn't safe, since he is so weak and wobbly.  There is just no time, for the moment, to blog.

My best friend died suddenly right before Christmas.  She has 7 children at home.  They are like family to us.  We go to the same church, same small group/fellowship group, same homeschool co-op and support groups. We play together, worship together, and study together.  We are good friends.  We have been helping to get things worked out for the children's nurturing and academics.  This has been the most difficult and time consuming thing to work out, but it is the most important task at hand.  It is truly a labor of love.

Am I still walking in faith?  Absolutely!!!

Any one of these things would have crushed me a few years ago.  I believe that God is love.  He is good all the time.  He works all things together for good.  His hand is in all of this.  I am at peace and I am not overly stressed by any of it.  That IS a miracle!!!

Since my last post...
We have a new baby.
We sold two houses.
We bought a house.
We moved.
We have added my father-in-law to our home and to our daily lives.
My husband interviewed for a new position and took on a new job.
My best friend died.
My children's friends are grieving and are currently living in chaos.
We are helping to coordinate care and schooling for the children, while dealing with multiple issues of concern for the well-being of the family.
We continue to homeschool our own children as best we can through all of this.

I should be a mess, but I'm not.  God is amazing!  His peace is amazing!  His love is amazing!

We have eaten the worst food, during this time.  Fast food, restaraunt food, meals brought to us (lots of pasta, bread, brownies and such).  The peace and the sound minds remain!  Praise The Lord!  He does not give us a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, of love, and of self-control.

Lord, I love You!!!

G, thank you for asking.  It is great to be able to share such good news.  You can see why it is difficult to find the time to blog.  I WILL get back to it.  There is so much good news to share.  Yay!