November 30, 2010

Drum Roll, Please!

I'm excited to announce the winners in my first blog giveaway!





I'll be in touch to get your details if I don't already know them!

Thank you SO MUCH for participating in this very first giveaway.  I'm trying to figure out where this blog is going and it's been exciting to get some feedback and have friends get into the giveaway!

Here are some photos of the lovely Frankie, my friend's daughter, helping with the drawing. 

November 29, 2010

The Screwtape Letters

This is almost it, folks.  Tomorrow's post will round out a month of daily posts.  Wow, it went by fast.  Tomorrow we'll also reveal the winners of the Sally Clarkson book giveaway ... last chance to throw your name into the ring!

Since I read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis this month, I want to share a couple of passages that have stuck with me.  This is one marvelous book!  It's fiction, but bursting with rich Biblical themes.  Adjusting to the perspective can take a couple of chapters, e.g. "The Enemy" is God since it's an exchange between demons, but it doesn't take long to get into the story.  What an amazing reminder that there are powers at work that we don't see but are part of reality, whether we're giving them any attention or not!

It seems one cannot go wrong reading a work by Lewis.  What a gift God gave to the world in C.S. Lewis; I'm so glad He called him to be His own!


Okay, on with the show.  Two of my favorite passages concern the topics of suffering/trials and dying to self.

On Suffering/Trials: (p. 45-46)
To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy wants to make of it, and then do the opposite.  Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else.  The reason is this.  to us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense.  But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing.  One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth.  He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself - creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His.  We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons.  We want to suck in, He wants to give out.  We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over.  Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united with Himself but still distinct.

On Dying to Self: (p. 68)
Of course I know that the Enemy also wants to detach men from themselves, but in a different way.  Remember always, that He really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them.  When He talks of their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.

The latter quote I have found to be quite true in my own life; though I never could have expressed it so eloquently.  God has taken this people-pleasing woman and turned her away from manipulation and self-aggrandizement to service for the joy of serving and loving God and others.  Things I used to do because I felt I had to in order to get my way or look good, I now do because I want to.  Only God can do that - free us from what binds us and then hand it back to us, repackaged to bring us delight, because He created us in specific ways, with specific purposes in mind.

I could quote so many more paragraphs from The Screwtape Letters.  Instead, I"ll leave you to pull the book off the library or bookstore shelf!

November 28, 2010

Advent Enrichment

Boy, oh, boy!  Today is the beginning of Advent.

I already subjected you to a book recommendation for this season.  Now for a music recommendation:

Andrew Peterson's
Behold the Lamb of God

There's never been an album like it, and I wonder if there ever will be.  Peterson follows the story of redemption from Genesis to Revelation, including a fun song called Matthew's Begats.

You can purchase it here - in fact, it's a 10th anniversary 2-disc edition with a live and studio recording of the album.  Bonus!

Happy Listening!
May you be filled with expectation and hope as you prepare your heart for Christmas.

November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

We began the day with 
egg casserole
baked french toast

Brian really likes this meal!

The tv was on all morning with the parade and the dog show that followed.  We got the table and food ready throughout those hours as well.  Then, Elizabeth and I went to pick up our international guests at 2.

The bird cooked nicely but was about 3x the amount of meat that we needed!

Here's the group just before we all parted for the evening. 

It was a happy Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2010

Two Stories on Discipline & Consequences: Part 2 - Brian

Story #2

We were heading out for a somewhat spontaneous trip to Phipps Conservatory.  I needed to pop some laundry into the dryer before we left.  As I was doing so we talked about each having a piece of gum once we got into the car.  The gum was in my purse at the bottom of the stairs. Brian knows what pocket I keep it in.

I was around the corner in the laundry room taking care of my task.  At one point I heard Brian going into my purse.  Popping my head out the door of the laundry room, I made sure he was looking at me and firmly told him that if he got the gum out, he would not get a piece.

I finished up with the laundry, and found Brian with the gum in his hand.

Brian was not going to have a piece of gum, and I told him as much.  For a moment, I considered that Elizabeth and I shouldn't either.  He was going to cry; it would make our lives more bearable if we skipped the treat too.


But then what was the point of setting the limit in the first place?

After everyone got settled into the car, I gave E her piece of gum and had mine.  Brian was MAD!  As expected he started crying, begging for the gum, kicking he legs, writhing around.  (I was glad he was strapped in and couldn't try to get himself a piece; he'd probably beat me in a wrestling match!)

I spoke calmly, but firmly, reminding him that he made the choice not to wait until we got in the car and lost the treat.

Then I said something like, "I'm not pulling out of this driveway until you calm down."

Right after I said it was thought, Oh geez, what did I just do.  We probably won't be able to go out; we'll have to go inside and give up on our outing or sit her forever.

A minute later he sighed and we left.


I really did want to give Brian a piece of gum.  He LOVES gum, almost obsessively.  And much later in the day, when he asked for a piece ever so sweetly, I did give him some.  I was glad to know that he wasn't holding a grudge either!

I share these two stories - Part I is here - to give you some examples of stickin' to your guns, even when it's inconvenient or painful.  It's so good for these little ones to learn that the world does not revolve around them, that their actions have consequences (good or bad, you can praise them for obedience too!), and also that they're loved even after they've disobeyed (if we give clear rules and lay out the consequences for disobedience, we don't need to hold a grudge, we apologize, hug, and all just move on after the fact.)

My hope, too, is that you will be encouraged.  This mama's default mode is anger, annoyance, and impatience.  Sound familiar?  But there are times that I see the light breaking through, God is changing me.  Those women, like Sally Clarkson and Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, who seem to have the right words to say at the right time in so many of their stories, have been molded and shaped by the Father. They're not super heroes; they're disciples of Christ who have sought to disciple their children following His model.  It's no pipe dream, God works in our hearts as we're "in the trenches" learning as we go along as parents.

There's so much hope!

Will you reach out, grab it, and enjoy the ride?!

November 25, 2010


Today we give thanks, watch a parade, dog show, and/or football, eat too much, laugh, play, rest, eat more, rest more, play more.  Hurray for a holiday!


We will spend the morning with my in-laws, eating baked french toast (thanks, Jenny McFadden) and egg casserole (thanks, Kate Krsulich).  I'm forcing our traditions on them.  But somehow they don't seem to object much to my taking care of the cooking!

For dinner we're having a family from church we know a little and four international students we've never met!  I'm so excited about this.  We'll have three women from China and one from Korea.  There's a  ministry to internationals here in Pittsburgh called PRISM and they invite families to host students and give them an authentic Thanksgiving experience.

Since we lived away for so long and never established any Thanksgiving routine with family, we have the privilege (thank you family!) of maintaining this day as our own.*  For the last many years we have celebrated with international families who lived in university housing with us.  I'm so thankful we get to continue this tradition.

And now, a few other things for which I am thankful:
  1. new birth into a living hope and an inheritance that can never spoil perish or fade (I Peter 1)
  2. holidays to be with my people and extend hospitality to other people
  3. really yummy food with lots of butter and eggs
  4. the story of the pilgrims and how God provided for them
  5. how fun NaBloPoMo has been
  6. God hearing and answering prayers in my life and the lives of others
  7. that my husband is searching black Friday deals to get me a laptop ... yup, super cool!

Have a blessed holiday!

*Special thanks to my in-laws for letting us use their house!

November 24, 2010

Two Stories on Discipline & Consequences: Part 1 - Elizabeth

Story #1:

Elizabeth loves the show How It's Made.  It is quite fun, seeing how the things we use come into existence: where machines are used in the process, what the machines are like, and how many things are still done manually (A LOT!)  But this post is not about that, it's about disobedience and letting natural consequences teach a lesson.

We were watching one evening, E, B, and I.  I was snuggled up with Brian on one end of the couch.  Elizabeth was on the other.  The first segment was coming to a close and I was interested in listening to the end.

Elizabeth pipes up, "Mommy, when this part ..."

I cut her off, "Let me hear the end of this and then you can talk."

"But, just let me say it, Mom."

"Elizabeth, it's just about over, you may talk then."

"But, it's short, I'll say it fast. I just want you to come sit with me after this part."

I turned off the tv.  That was the end of How It's Made for that day.

Why?  Well, because Elizabeth has gotten into a pattern of doing this with us, not waiting to speak when we ask her to wait, and she was being disobedient when asked to stop talking for a moment.  If I don't teach her to listen to authority, who will?  My request was not unreasonable, there was very little time left.  She needed to simply wait.

Learning to wait is not easy, but I want to help her learn to wait.  This was a great opportunity.

She almost burst into tears.  Almost.  But as I talked with her about how she would not be watching the rest of How It's Made that night, I could see her little mind understanding that it was right, that mommy wasn't mad*, just instructing and training, and that she'd made a poor choice in not waiting.

Let me tell you, it broke my heart to see that sadness in her face.  I desperately wanted to turn that tv back on and let her watch.  I believe, however, that would have negated the growing-up moment for her.  While she bounced along to something else to do before bed, I was left thinking about how challenging this parenting thing is, when we know we're doing good for our kids, but it means they need to suffer a little in the process.  Reminds me of Hebrews 12:11  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

There are tough moments in this calling.  It's good to remember how God gently deals with us in our sin, letting us experience a little pain now and then in repentance & enduring consequences, so we can grow.

It's worth it.

*This was an act of God, simply and seriously.  The Spirit helped me see this as a teachable moment, not just a time to get ticked off and take away the tv.  Praise Him!

November 23, 2010

A Giveaway!


Next Tuesday, in honor of the end of NaBloPoMo, we will crown three winners in a Sally Clarkson book giveaway!

Apologies to any of you dad or childless readers out there; though, wait, I will let you submit your wife's or a friend's name - good Christmas or baby shower gift maybe?  These books are specifically written for moms.  (Being pregnant certainly counts, so submit your name if you want to!)

Here are the books to be mailed to your home if your name is chosen:

Ministry of Motherhood

this is for homeschooling moms

Here are the contest rules and regulations (ha!):

  1. You must comment on the blog to have your name entered into the drawing.  I will submit your name separately for each book, so let me know which you're interested in, (one, two, or all three)
  2. You may only win one book and only one entry per book per household.
  3. You'll have to email me your address, or some address, to receive your prize.  Arrangements will be made privately, not here on the blog.
  4. I will mail anywhere in the world!
  5. Get a friend to enter and I'll give you an extra entry on the book of your choice!
  6. The contest organizer reserves the right to do whatever she wants; these rules are subject to change at any time.  (I'm a dork.)

November 22, 2010


I read a lot.

I'm a non-fiction junkie, but am being drawn back into reading classic fiction now that Elizabeth is in school and we're reading chapter books together.  (Think: Chronicles of Narnia, Winnie-the-Pooh, Secret Garden, etc.)

With the new year approaching you may be thinking about resolutions for 2011.  In my family growing up ,we had a wonderful tradition of all making some goals for the new year.  My dad has a folder of all of the resolutions we made throughout the years, chronicling our development moving from things like "not wetting the bed" to "reading a specific number of books."  I need to go back and see how many times I said I'd stop biting my nails.

I still do.  Though certainly less.

Sorry, dad.

Anyway, back to the topic of reading.  There's a lot of wonderful literature out there, folks!  A couple of years ago, I wanted to increase the amount of reading I was doing.  Many moms will attest to the fact that it's easy to let these nice past times slip away when you have small children.  My goal was to read a chapter of a book a day.

This was such an achievable goal and so beneficial!

If you've been wanting to read more, perhaps all you need to do is give yourself a challenge for this coming year.  There's no punishment or shame if you don't read each day, but it does make you stop to think before automatically turning on the tv in the evening or just putzing around online in your free time.  I try to stop in the middle of the day, rest at the beginning of the time when the kids are resting, and take 15-30 minutes to read something challenging or soul-nourishing.  We all need a break, folks!

Where to get books:
  • your local library
  • used book sites - I particularly like AbeBooks
  • as gifts from birthday & Christmas wishlists
  • your local used book store
  • and, of course, regular old bookstores

Where to get good book recommendations or warnings about bad ones:
  • people you trust or know have reasonable taste
  • books that come up in conversation (this is why I just read Screwtape Letters)
  • amazon reviews
  • lists of classics like one from the BBC that a friend of mine just posted on facebook
  • this book is good for recommendations for the whole family: Read for the Heart

What are you reading these days?  You can see my list to the right.


November 21, 2010

Phipps, & Light Up Night

I felt I needed to do those parenting posts in succession, so it is very much time for a "fun" post about what we've been up to!

Here's Brian's new trick:

(This is supposed to be a video, but it wouldn't up-load.
Brian can do a somersault!) 

We've been to Phipps Conservatory - where I want to live all winter!
They're getting ready for the Christmas flower show.

The Christmas train display is out and Brian was delighted!

waiting for a train to come through the tunnel

the little trains in side displays

Pittsburgh celebrated its 50th anniversary "Light Up Night" this weekend.  It's a time each year that they light up all of the Christmas lights downtown and the city gets lookin' all festive n'at.

The Creche outside the US Steel building

A new event: horse-drawn carriage parade! 

And after this picture, the camera battery died.
This is the abrupt end of this post.

November 20, 2010

What Should We Expect From Our Children? Part III

The last couple of days we have looked at what the Bible says to children and what the Bible says to parents.  As promised, with those things in mind, I'd like to put it together and offer some application.  None of the Bible verses give us really specific plans for training, instructing, or disciplining our children, so there will be great variety among families as to how child rearing looks.  The main goal, is that we think Biblically about what we're doing in our day-to-day interactions with our kids and look forward with a vision of what kind of people we want them to become.  Are we remembering our calling to train, instruct, and discipline them, or are we letting life and the never-endingness of it get us down and make us lazy in our good work?

Here's why I think this is important - a realization I had while preparing these posts - If we don't teach our kids these things, where will they learn them?  Children cannot be expected to behave in ways they have not been taught!  God designed the family and has put us in that position, to nurture and teach them, training them up in the way they should go, guiding them in the way of maturity.  Scripture tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things - children will not choose God's way, left to their own devices.  They need direction; they need parents; they need you!  You're the parent; BE THE PARENT!  Your children desperately need you to step up to this call.

What does that look like?

  1. Develop your own relationship with God:  I cannot emphasize this point enough.  In your parenting, God's not asking you to always get it right, He's asking you to be faithful and to trust Him.  We learn to trust and obey, as the old hymn says, by spending time with the Lord in Bible reading and prayer.  As God fills us up, we have overflow to offer to our children and the energy to stay committed to training, instructing, and discipling them when the going gets tough.
  2. Talk about God with your children: Read Bible stories with your kids; tell them what God's teaching you; share prayer requests and pray together; tell stories from your life of God's faithfulness and loving-kindness toward you; enjoy the beauty of creation together; explain to them how God's placed you in authority over them to train them, which sometimes means enduring natural consequences or other appropriate discipline.  (Just a few ideas to get you started!)
  3. Be consistent in discipline: In this we help our kids to grow up in the command to honor and obey your parents.  It's a blessing to our children to set limits, establish expectations, and consistently train them in righteousness.  When they know the rules, they may be angry with the consequences, but at least they're not surprised!  Friends, this can be so exhausting - going over the same rules, giving another time out, talking AGAIN about how x behavior is no appropriate, sending them to apologize another time.  But this is training.  It's a marathon we're in here.  26.2.  No sprint to the finish.  (See point one on how we draw strength for this calling.)
  4. Get connected to a community that supports you as a parent:  When I lived in Cambridge, I attended a Tuesday morning Bible study.  And while it was not a mommy group, there were mostly moms in the group.  I got food from the Word and also had a place to ask questions about what the heck I was supposed to do in specific situations (behavior, potty training, quitting thumb sucking, etc.)  And I'm not out of the woods, I'm still seeking out older counsel for guidance and hanging out with moms who have kids my age to delight in and grumble about our kids!

My thoughts here are in no way exhaustive.  I just want to follow God's way as a parent and encourage you to do the same.  May God bless you as you train, instruct, and discipline your children!  And may He increase your love for them as you watch them grow and develop; children are such precious gifts from above.  What a blessing that we get to grow up with them!

For further reading:

Any books you would suggest?

November 19, 2010

What Should We Expect From Our Children? Part II

Yesterday we looked at the Bible's directions for children.  As a parent, there are some nice verses we can quote to our kids, "REMINDING" them of their call to obey.  But, all joking aside, we must be careful, because guess what?  The Bible also has directions for parents, and as you will see ... we've got a much greater responsibility than our children!

Before continuing, however, I want to remind us all (myself included) that studying Scripture and seeking God in anything is not about getting it "right" - here, becoming a perfect parent.  The goal is to know God more - He is, after all, a perfect Father - walk closer with Him, and seek to glorify and enjoy Him, and guide our kids in the same direction.  So, here are my BOLD statements before going on:

YOU WILL FAIL; Jesus' forgiveness is REAL.
YOU WILL GROW; transformation by the Holy Spirit is REAL, too.

Now, [deep breath] let's look to the Bible as our guide.

I like categories, so I'll present three that I see emerging from Biblical teaching to parents.  Then, tomorrow I'll write a final post, putting it all together with more of an application focus (and some book recommendations, of course!)  My apologies if you're left hanging today, but often God speaks to us in those "loose ends" places, doesn't He?

Scripture gives us direction as parents as to our MESSAGE, ACTIONS, and ATTITUDE in parenting.


Deuteronomy is full of directions for parents; in chapters 4, 6, and 11 God tells them several things:
  • Remember/Don't forget who I am and what I've done
  • Love and obey all my commands
  • Teach my Word to your children - all the time!

God knows we modern folk are prone to forget that He's redeemed us from slavery, just like the Israelites.  Having children to teach is a wonderful way to keep from forgetting - we've got to love, honor, and remember God in order to point our kids in that direction.  The message God gives us to impart to our kids is about who He is from Scripture and what He's done in our lives and how to best love and obey Him according to His Word.


Proverbs addresses more the issue of disciplining our kids.  I've found in some Christian circles this automatically means spanking the disobedience out of our kids.  Hm....  It's based on a few verses (Prov. 23:13-14, 29:15) and sadly we can be deceived into believing that the right method will somehow make our kids turn out "right."  But these verses are only part of our calling, not the primary focus.

Proverbs 22:6 says Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.  As parents we're not simply disciplinarians in the punishment sense; we are trainers.  We are our kid's God-ordained coaches!  We help them to learn that disobedience has consequences, that obedience can be difficult but brings reward, that growing up and improving takes work and practice, that good things come to those who wait.  patiently.  on the Lord.  Training involves much more than punishment, it's a life-long discipling of our children.  Not only showing them how they're disobeying, but teaching them to obey - what is right.

Ephesians 6:4b says [fathers] bring [your children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  Just as God shows us what is disobedience and what is obedience, we do the same for our kids in our parenting.  More on this tomorrow, but the take-away point here is that we have an immense calling that spans  our childrens' life-times; no quick fixes here, "slow and steady wins the race."


Have you ever considered your attitude toward your children?  One moment we can be overflowing with love and affection, and then next minute crazy frustrated and wildly harsh because of some behavior our kids display.  God knows this and issues two warnings to fathers in Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21; I believe they apply to all parents.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
I've exasperated and embittered my kids.  This often happens when I'm expecting behavior from them that's not age-appropriate or have not taken the time to train them what would be proper in a specific situation.  As we rear our children, we need the Lord to work on our heart attitude toward the calling He's given us in raising these little eternal beings, ('cause let's face it, sometimes we wish our kids would go away or be 18 already - we're sinful too!)

More tomorrow, friends.  For today, let me pray for us:
Lord, we see in your word a calling to something we cannot do on our own.  We know the damage parents can do to children, perhaps even the way our own parents fell short of this calling.  The pain can run so deep. Remind us of Your love for us, Your desire that we share in Your holiness, Your tender care for us.  There is no God like you.  Fill us with a desire to know your Word, apply it to our lives, and teach it to our children.  We need you and we love you.  Thank you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for giving us all we need for life and godliness and for the depth of Your forgiveness in Christ - what a blessed message we have to give to our kids because of who You are.  Amen.

November 18, 2010

What Should We Expect From Our Children? Part I

You don't need to spend too much time in a bookstore before coming across the expansive parenting section.  There's no shortage of literature to help guide you in your parenting pursuits.  If you read a few books on similar topics, however, you will quickly find contradictions.  Seriously, how are we supposed to have any idea what we're doing?!

I've been wondering what exactly I expect of my children.  Have I even thought critically about it?  Honestly, when I seek out a parenting book, often I'm looking for a quick fix for something my kids do that annoys me!  (re: sleeping, whining, hitting, talking back, etc.)  You too?

Upon reflection, I had a strong feeling this was NOT what God had in mind when He made me a parent.  So, what does the Bible say?  What are we supposed to be doing?  What should we expect from our children?

I knew the Bible talked about children obeying their parents; it's one of the 10 commandments, for goodness sake!  But was that it - simply turning my children into obedient robots?  Seemed a little shallow.  Over the next couple of post, I'll flesh out my findings, hopefully encouraging us as parents to love our children in accordance with God's call and directions and to depend more on Him in the process.  Part I (today!) will focus on God's word to and about children; in Part II we'll turn to God's word to parents; and in Part III we'll put it all together with some practical application and a good dose of hope ... I hope!

Two major themes emerged for me in my (surely not exhaustive) study of children in Scripture:
  1. Children are expected to honor and obey their parents.  There's no way around this one; it's stated as such in both the Old and New Testaments!  Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1-3, Colossians 3:20
  2. Children are precious to Jesus and teach us about believing in Him and participating in His kingdom.  Jesus called the children to Him and blessed them - saying things like the kingdom belongs to such as these and become like little children to enter the kingdom. Matthew 18:2-4, Mark 10:14-15, Luke 18:16-17
 So, pretty simple then, our kids need to obey us, and that's that!  We tell them to obey and that doing so pleases God, and they obey, right?  Well ... if you have children, or know any children, or were a child once, you know it is not that simple.  That's where the commands of God to parents come into play.  We'll address that subject tomorrow.  It's not for the light-hearted, so prepare your hearts

As a quick sidebar for further reflection, I want to highlight two things Jesus said about our interactions with children.
  1. Welcome a child in Jesus name, and you're welcoming Him: Matthew 18:5, Mark 9:37
  2. Cause a child to sin, and you're in deep water! Matthew 18:6

November 17, 2010

Praying for Our Children

My Aunt Jill sent me this weekly prayer guide for parents.  I can always use help getting started praying for my kids; sometimes I'm not sure how to pray for them.  These are great categories through which you can speak specific requests to God for each of your children.  Such guides can also help us as parents think about how we can train our children in areas of service, loving God, loving truth, etc.

MONDAY: Ask the Lord to completely surround your children with emotional, physical and spiritual protection.
TUESDAY: Pray that the Lord will strengthen your children’s faith and will fill them with a passionate desire to want to seek and know Him, His word and His will.
WEDNESDAY: Ask the Lord to give your children godly wisdom in choosing their friends and peers, and to give them strength and courage to boldly take a stand for what is right.
THURSDAY: Pray that the Lord would renew your children’s mind. Helping them to remain pure in their thought and deeds.
FRIDAY: Ask the Lord to extend His blessing over the activities of your children, both academic and extracurricular, giving them alertness and clarity of mind. Pray also for encouragement in their defeats and humility in their victories.
SATURDAY: Pray that your children will be sensitive and compassionate to the needs of others, and that the Lord will help them act in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
SUNDAY: Pray for and seek blessings for those who are in authority over your children, asking the Lord to give them wisdom and understanding as they instruct your children.

Here, from The Message translation, are some verses for meditation, Romans 12:1-3 and 13:11-14 that my aunt included in her mailing to parents at her church.  (emphasis mine)

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can't afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

God bless you as your pray for and train up your children! 

November 16, 2010

Bowling, Anyone?

My nephew, Isaac, turned 5 and had a bowling party Saturday afternoon!

preparing to sing

appreciating the singing

Brian was way into it!

Michelle (Isaac's mom), Michelle, and me
(sister & sister-in-law: yes, my children have two aunt Michelles!)


November 15, 2010

MomHeart Ministries

At the end of the summer 2009, I became acquainted with WholeHeart ministries through a homeschooling book.  This connected me to the ministry of MomHeart, lead by Sally Clarkson.  I have been so encouraged by her books for moms to think about motherhood as a calling.  It's revolutionized my perspective on what I do day in and day out.  I'm so thankful for her faithfulness in pursuing this ministry to mothers.

So here's my advertisement:  SALLY DOES CONFERENCES!

This year the topic is:  My Mom Heart Matters!

Your mom heart so does matter.  God's given you the high calling of nurturing souls for eternity and He will provide for your every need along the way!

Here's a list of the dates and the locations:

January 21-22: Colorado Springs, CO, MH Conference, COS Marriott 
February 4-5: Irvine, CA, MH Conference, Mariners Church
February 18-19: Irving/DFW, TX, MH Conference, LC Marriott
March 4-5: Raleigh-Durham, NC, MH Conference, Hilton RDU

I live in Pittsburgh, and none of these are close.  But I will be in North Carolina, Lord willing!  My prayer is this, for God to provide three other women who will join me and share a hotel room (making it about $25 per person for the room.)  We could fly down together, or road trip together to cut down on costs even more. 

Basic details for the North Carolina conference, if you want to join me:

  • Registration is only $79 through Dec. 31  (GREAT CHRISTMAS PRESENT IDEA!)
  • Conference runs from 1pm Friday - 4:30pm Saturday
  • Click the button on the right for more details

Sally speaks to moms of all ages, in all stages of life, from all different backgrounds, and with kids from infant to grown.  Her message is so versatile because she points us to Jesus' model of discipleship with our kids.  When I attended a training she hosted in Colorado this summer, I was delighted to meet single moms, homeschooling moms, working moms, moms with many children, moms with few children, etc.  Her words of grace-filled wisdom will touch your heart in one way or another.  Don't miss attending a conference!

However, if a conference is out of the question for distance, finances, or other reasons, please check out her books; perhaps you can find them at your local library!  And I may just wrap up NaBloPoMo with a little give-away of one or two of her books ...


November 14, 2010

What Do the People Want?

I would like to take this time, mid-NaBloPoMo to let you, the people, speak!

I have tons of post ideas and I'm sure more will present themselves, but I'd also like to address any questions you have for me or things you want to know more about.

Please comment and I'll do my best to oblige.

Have a blessed Sunday!

November 13, 2010

It's Not Always Pretty, Folks!

This week at Community Group, we were discussing Christ's words about adultery and lust in the Sermon on the Mount.  Now, I don't have much trouble with visual stimulation, but I do find my heart being pulled at in almost irresistible ways at times.  This happens a lot with a desire to be on the computer ... so I don't miss an important email, a comment on the blog, or cool news on Facebook.  Seriously, it's out of control and very embarrassing to say out loud.

I shared this with the group and asked for prayer to dominate it, rather than it dominating me.

A couple of mornings ago, I was considering what the root(s) of the issue are.  At the heart of the matter  are two main things: my self-worth being tied up in what kind of e-communications I'm receiving and plain old laziness. 

On the first point, I'm living like an orphan, when I'm a beloved daughter of the King - looking for love in all the wrong places.  I'm worshiping at the idol of myself and how ugly it is!  I find myself longing for positive blog comments or an affirming email from a friends.  I'm crushed when I don't get one or overly elated when I do; then the happiness wears of and I find myself longing for more.  (Sounds like Romans or Ephesians - these deep desires that drive us like wild beasts.)

How  unbecoming of a daughter of the King!  I'm loved to the core by a God who was willing to die to rescue me from that nasty sinful nature.  Only in His presence do I find that fulfillment I'm looking for.  God promises to fill us up, quench our thirst, give rest to our souls.

On the second point, the computer is simply an avoidance tool.  I get bored waiting for E to finish a writing assignment, so I check my email.  I want to put off a task, so I check the computer to find an excuse to put it of just ... a little ... longer.  What if there is an urgent message to which I MUST respond, the lie goes.  It's just laziness and irresponsibility!  (Thanks to Bridget for pointing this out.)

Again, how unbecoming of a daughter of the King!  God has taken my life and given me new purpose: to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.  I can do this in whatever situation and don't need to distract myself.  I  I have a spare minute, I can think of Him, encourage the ones I'm with, or give thanks for anything going on around me.  If I have a task to do, I could just do it - and reward myself with some posting time when it's done!

I have a strong feeling (based on many Bible verses) that you, too, dear reader, struggle with sin that threatens to undo you, keeps you living like an orphan when you have a loving, purpose-giving Father.

So let's get practical.  How do we overcome it?!
  • Repent:   If your heart is telling you you're clinging to something other than God - sinning - tell Him you're sorry at that moment, thank Him for His forgiveness, and "walk away" from whatever it is, right then.

  • Believe:  In repentance we must remind ourselves of the Gospel; this is a major part of the Christian life from day one until we see our Savior face to face.  Jesus died for our sins to reconcile us to God.  Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret. (2 Corinthians 7:10)  Salvation, people! Jesus came that you might have life abundant as you walk with Him.  BELIEVE the good news; you are forgiven when you put your trust in Jesus.

  • Accountability: You do not necessarily need to confess all of your sins to your spouse, small group, or pastor.  But if there's a sticking point for you, confide in someone.  I found that simply expressing my concern about how I'm drawn to the computer brought some automatic release; it's out there now, people know, they will ask.  I want to give a good report!  You can also set up sentries (borrowed from John Stott) to guard your heart.  For example, I've set up my blog to email me when I get a comment so I don't need to go looking to see if anyone's commented, so I don't NEED to go visit it a  million times a day ... in theory.  It's a growing process, people!

  • Fill up the space you've emptied: Paul talks about putting of the old self and putting on the new.  What good things can you use to fill up that gap?  Can you memorize a verse to say to yourself when you're tempted?  How can you be filled up by God in that place where you used to look to sinful behaviors or thoughts to get you through?

Remember, too, that there is an enemy that wants to see us fall.  He wars against the things of God, longing to rob Him of glory.  I wrote the first half of this post, and then thought maybe it wasn't that bad and I shouldn't share it.  Boy oh boy, that sneaky little devil.  Sin is real and so is Satan.  But the God of peace will soon crush satan! (Romans 16:20)  Let's stick it too him and remain faithful to our Father; His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  II Peter 1: 3

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 
I Timothy 1: 15-17