June 30, 2012

A 5-Year Plan ... Sort of.

I sit cuddling my infant while pondering Day 5 of Misty's new e-book.  The topic?  My goals and dreams.    What are my hopes for where I'll be in twenty years, ten, five ... next year?  Spiritually, physically, academically, etc?

I'm feeling so free!  It's so fun to dream!!  Holding a precious wee one while thinking she'll be half way through college in twenty years is doing this mama good on this hot summer afternoon (indoors in the AC, of course!)  I'm reminded not only that God's given me these tender souls to nurture and guide into their futures, but also that God wants to nurture and guide me into mine.  Super cool.  My life is not put on hold while I "raise - my part of - the next generation."  No, I can be thinking about, growing in, and moving toward whatever the Lord has put on my heart for me, too!  I can also trust that God is using these years to form in me character and faith that are imperative for the coming years.  If we're not trusting Him now, how can we expect to in the future?

Not only is it freeing to dream, but it's also freeing to be reminded there is TIME!*
  • I don't have to smash everything into the next week.  My children, husband, and I have many years together to grow & learn and love & serve.
  • I don't have to despair, because there's time to work toward personal goals little by little over these years that seem to be flying by in baskets of laundry, sinks-full of dishes, pages of workbooks, and trips to parks and museums.  All of these dreams can be broken down into smaller parts.  And God will use what I'm learning in the middle of real life, too.
  • I don't have to worry, because God gives dreams and promises to fulfill the desires of or hearts.  Usually this does not come about as we expect, but He's got our good and His purposes in mind.  We need not worry!

Have you spent any time dreaming lately?  Are there some skills you'd like to develop, a career you'd like to pursue, places you'd like to go?  What do you want to do in the next 1, 5, 10, 20 years?  These are great questions, not for making set-in-stone plans, but for propelling you forward into what God has for you.  He'll speak to your heart as you dream!

It's the summer, a great season for evaluating, rearranging, rethinking, and dreaming!
Will you join me?

*I do realize that the Good Lord has numbered my days and yours.  Perhaps we don't have as many as 20 years.  But I know deep down we all want to use whatever time we have well.  Thinking ahead a little, dreaming, planning, allows us to do that.

June 24, 2012

Too Hung Up on Jesus? No way!

As I made my list of praise and thanksgiving the other morning, I added that Jesus died and rose again for me (especially after the way I acted this week), which got me to thinking about how it might seem a little silly to always be thanking God that Jesus died on the cross.  I mean, really, it can seem like a platitude. Can't we move on and thank God for greater things?

No.  We can't.

We can thank and praise God for lots of things in addition, but the believer should always be praising and thanking God for Jesus, the cross, the resurrection.  We must never feel ourselves above or beyond thanking God for what was accomplished on Calvary.  (In fact, we should be quite scared if we do find ourselves there.)  Pardon the pun, but it is at the crux of all the Christian believes; we have to keep going back to the cross, because our daily access to the Father depends upon the work of Christ.

Amazing Grace!

Years ago in Sunday School, one of our pastors shared this diagram:
(Thanks, Bradley Barnes!)
What this illustrates, (starting from the left) is how when we become a Christian, we're aware that it is the cross that bridges the gap between us in our sin and God's holiness.  As we move toward the right, the cross gets bigger, because as we mature as Christians we learn more of just how awesome God's holiness is (high and unattainable) and how wretched our sin is (low and despicable) ... but the cross is always there - the work of Jesus - to bridge the gap.  The cross becomes more precious because we know we need it today more than ever!

Ironically, as we walk with the Lord and the Holy Spirit works in our lives, we might actually be "better people," more prone to good works and trusting the Lord.  But even in the midst of that, He shows us more or our sin (like peeling of layers of an onion) that we might cling all the more tightly to the cross, forsaking our pride and self-sufficiency.

So folks, don't be ashamed or embarrassed to be thanking the Lord every day for Christ's work on the cross and don't think it's silly when it's spoken of over and over again in worship this morning.  Join in and give thanks and rejoice!

We praise you, Jesus!  Thank you for dying on the cross to rescue us from our sin so we could return to right relationship with the Father.  Thank you, Father, for putting together such an amazing rescue plan.  Thank you, Spirit, for working in our hearts by conviction and transformation so that the cross is increasingly precious to us.  Thank you, in Jesus' name.  AMEN!

June 22, 2012

A Job of the Levites

This morning I was reading in 1 Chronicles about the duties of the Levites in the temple.  One group of them had this job:

They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord.
They were to do the same in the evening.
I Chornicles 23:30

Would you like to join me this morning and make a last of your praises and thanksgivings to God?  I know my attitude has needed an adjustment many times this week, and I think starting the day giving thanks and praise to God should start me off on a much better foot today.

Let's give praise and thanks to the Lord!  What are some of the things on your list?

Mine starts like this:  Thank you for Your love that endures forever and your mercies that are new every morning ...

Have a blessed day, friends!

June 19, 2012

Wiped out Sins? Times of Refreshing? How Can I Sign Up?!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.
Acts 3:19-20

I came across this verse in my reading this morning.  After reading to the end of the chapter, I went back to it, wrote it out in my journal, thought about it a minute.  At first reading I thought, yes, please, I want refreshing from the Lord.  That was the part that first caught my eye.  Then I had to go backwards to find out how it is that we experience that.

Repentance.  Turning to God.  Turning away from sin, letting it be enveloped in the forgiveness of the Father.

Yesterday I had gotten upset about something and really couldn't wouldn't let it go.  At least not completely. I needed to hold on to my arrogance, just a little bit, caressing it with judgmental thoughts.  After all, my expectations had not been met and something I was excited about was not to be.

Not completely letting go, however, was going to keep me from full joy.  I needed this word on repentance.

Repent, then, and turn to God.

So there on the front porch in the the "quiet" of the morning - birds chirping, traffic humming - I did.  Friends, the Bible says, (in more than one place!), that when we do that our sins ARE wiped out.  And let me tell you, refreshing DOES come from the Lord, the One who forgives, over and over and over again.  There's such rest in repentance.

The above is in the middle of a short address Peter gives to a group of Jews who have just watched him heal a lame man in the name of Jesus.  At one point he says this, You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.  Then he goes on a couple of sentences later, Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 

Peter, addressing those whose voices had cried out, "Crucify him!", gave a call to repentance.  The very God they crucified was inviting them to know Him, to know forgiveness, to know His refreshing.  What?!  There are no words.  Will He not, then, do the same for us, as He has promised in His word?  Day after day, refreshing us with His forgiveness and presence, as we repent and believe?

Surely, He will.

Repent and believe the good news!

PS  Sorry I have not gotten to Part II of the Life-Giving summer.  There's sick child in our home and I've not had the time to sit and think-type it all out.  It'll come, I promise!

June 17, 2012

A Life-Giving Summer: Part I

Wow!  Sorry to have disappeared for a week.  We've had a lovely first week of summer vacation.  How about you?

I've been thinking in the last couple of weeks about how to make the summer special and fun for the kids, different from the norm.  But at the same time, I don't want my kids to get out of good disciplines that are easier to maintain during the school year.  I guess I don't believe the summer for kids - though it does include some out of the ordinary trips and activities - should only be about fun, as if somehow we're completely off the hook for any work over the summer. (Oh, I'm such a killjoy!)  As I pondered, then, what our summer should look like, the phrase LIFE-GIVING came to mind.

Yes, I want this to be a LIFE-GIVING SUMMER.

What does that mean?  Well, I've been asking myself the same question!

I've been thinking things like, What will fill us up this summer, mind/body/soul?  How should I organize our days so that what I want to be priorities actually are prioritized?

People, I have great ambition for the next couple of months: house projects, personal reading lists, school subjects to plan, visions to cast.  I also have children who I want to enjoy being with this summer: going on museum trips, playing the sprinkler, spending afternoons at the pool, reading books together, hanging out on the (newly cleaned up and so relaxing!!) front porch.  But as I mentioned in the previous post, it's too much for me to think about all at once.  I imagine right away that I'm going to fail at accomplishing anything of purpose this summer and get tempted to just let the days come as they will.  But then I know for sure that my priorities won't be prioritized and, well, it's a self-fulfilling prophesy.  Ah!

If you're still reading, you're really nice, because clearly, I'm crazy!  Or do you feel this way too?  So much potential with so much possibility of blowing it?  (I may be a bit dramatically pessimistic when I'm overwhelmed, eh?)

So, here's what I've been thinking.  The basic idea I borrow from a classic children's fable, The Tortoise and the Hare: slow and steady wins the race.  This little phrase has been keeping me from worry, helping me to dream big, stay on task, and plan with joy.

I'm gonna continue with these thoughts tomorrow, so c'mon back!  In the meantime, join in the conversation by leaving a comment about how you're approaching your summer.

June 11, 2012

Beginning and Ending and Beginning

September 2011

June 2012

Summer Vacation 2012

Today begins our first week of summer vacation.  I have myriad hopes and plans for the next couple of months.  I have books I want to read, projects I want to complete, and major organization I want to do in the house.  I'd also like to make fun memories with the kids: going on outings, enjoying days at home, swimming at the pool, reading good books.  I'm fairly certain my plans far extend the time frame and my human limitations (like, I need to sleep!)  Knowing myself, I tend to get very flustered and/or frustrated when plans don't go as, well, planned.  So this morning as I talked with the Lord, I was asking Him to give me some verses to keep me grounded as we embark on the summer.  Here are a few that came to mind:

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines His steps.Proverbs 16:9 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.Proverbs 3:5-6 
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.I Corinthians 10:31

How about you?  Do you have a bunch of hopes and plans for the summer?  What are they?  How do you approach them with the Lord?  (Rather than leaning toward control freak tendencies or worry, like I am prone to.)  I would love to hear about it and learn from you!

June 5, 2012

And The Winner Is!

Thanks to all of you lovely ladies who entered the drawing to win a copy of Misty Krasawski's new book, Back to Homeschool: 23 Days to Preparing Your Heart, Home and Homeschool Calendar for Your Best Year Ever.  And thank you to those who have further spread the news of the release of this book!

Without further ado, here are some photos of our ultra sophisticated method for choosing a winner:

Joanna, congratulations!

But wait, there's more.

Wendy H., you too are a winner, because you posted the 1,000th comment on this blog!  Isn't that fun?  I thought that was a milestone worthy of giving out an extra copy.  Woo-hoo, I love surprises!!

For the rest of you enthusiasts, you're only $4.99 away from your own copy of Misty's book.  You can purchase it here.  Misty is also having some cool giveaways on her blog for the launch of her book.  Maybe you'd like to get in on the action.  If so, CLICK HERE.

And now, good night.  :)

June 3, 2012

So My Friend Wrote an eBook ... And I'm Giving Away a Copy!

I wanted to alert you, my dear readers, to a new book that will appear on the Amazon virtual-shelf in just a couple of days!

by Misty Krasawski

If you click on the title above, you can check out the giveaways that Misty will be doing over the next week and even get a sneak peak at the book.  To get in on the excitement of the launch, I'm giving a copy away this week.  Wa-hoo!!!  I had the privilege of getting to read the book for review before its release.  Below you can see my review.  But before you get to that, here are the details to enter the giveaway.  You can have your name entered one time for each of these things, just let me know in your comment how many times to submit your name into the drawing.

  • leave a comment here for an entry
  • post this post on your Facebook or Twitter page for another entry
  • email your homeschool group or friends to spread the news

The drawing will take place on the evening of June 5th at 7pm EST (that's only TWO days away!!!)  Be sure to leave your comment before then so you don't miss out on the chance to get a free copy!

*     *     *

My review of Back to Homeschool by Misty Krasawski

If I had to give you reasons quickly about why you should get this book, I’d say this: You should buy a copy of Back to Homeschool because it is encouraging, comprehensive, practical, flexible, and reusable, and will set you on a purposeful path for the coming year, far beyond simply choosing great educational materials.  If you are a Christian homeschooler, I recommend this book to you.  If you are Christian and NOT a homeschooler I recommend this book to you (more than half of the book can be used by any homemaker to get a better handle on where you are and where you’re going with your family.)
[If you want a little more depth of review, please continue reading.  If not, just skip to the last paragraph of this review for my final thoughts.]
This book is ENCOURAGING: Misty is an experienced homeschooler and home manager.  She’s passionate about not simply educating her kids, but also about home discipleship.  She points her readers to the God of the Universe for strength, courage, and guidance as they prepare for the coming school year.  And she throws in some humor, as well; I definitely “LOLed” a couple of times!
This book is COMPREHENSIVE: As you work your way through the days, you will think about goals for yourself, your marriage, each of your children, and your family; you will look through curriculum options and do some shopping for materials; you’ll clean rooms of your home to ready them for the school year.  Misty walks her readers through an examination and cleaning out of their minds, hearts, schools, and homes.  So thorough!!
This book is PRACTICAL: There’s no hard and fast rule that you need to complete this book in 23 days.  You could expand it to 46 or use it over a full summer to get ready.  Mostly it’s put together in a wonderful order to get you thinking and then get you “doing” to prepare for the school year.  On day one, you focus on that topic, knowing that you will later get to buying binders and cleaning out your school room!  Misty also includes practical tips for home and school, and she suggests resources one might find as helpful as she has.
This book is FLEXIBLE: As I mentioned, you don’t have to complete this in 23 days.  In fact, we finish school this week and I’m thinking I’ll devote two days (a couple of hours each day) to each “day” in the book.  And even Misty admits by the end that she didn’t get everything!  But she got started, and having a general plan to follow is so helpful for staying focused and making progress.
This book is RESUABLE: I imagine I’ll be using this book every summer!  Not only will it calm my when-will-I-get-to-it-all craziness in my mind, it will refocus my heart each year on what really matters, far beyond the content of our school days: listening to what plans God has for our family, discerning what’s going on in each of my kids’ lives, and discipling their little hearts as we grow and learn together.
To wrap up, Misty is a real mom who lives in the real world with a real family, marriage, and herself.  She also knows the One True God.  With those things in mind, she’s written this wonderful resource to get us all thinking about and asking God what He has in mind for us each school year as we “do life” together with our families.  Don’t miss out on this gem!
(One final thought: reading this book will not make your year, USING it will!)