Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year, A New Perspective

As a former public school educator education has always been important to me.  I was the first in my immediate family to go to college, earn a degree and go on to get a master's degree.  I love learning and I think passing on that love for learning is important in teaching and parenting too. 

But how much of my focus has been on turning out children to succeed in the educational arena?  Our oldest was taught at home until 9th grade, went to a private school for two years, and then the public school for two years.  She exceeded in her studies.  So much like her mother, she loves to study and to learn.  Thankfully, she also has a heart to love and serve the Lord.

The questioning of myself has been on just "getting the job done".  With seven children, four of which are still learning at home (and a preschooler too) much of my day is focused on just getting done the bare necessities. 

God has used the last few months to convict my heart.  Perhaps some of it is due to a child who is very smart, but doesn't like to complete his assignments.  I know he can get straight A's but that is not his priority.  His priority is friends. 

In my attempts to get him to  "do what needs to be done" I am pushing him away and it is creating tension in our home. Yes, he does need to be held accountable and do the best he can do, but, in my focus on his scores alone I have left out something more important...his character and True Greatness.  In Tim Kimmel's book, Raising Kids for True Greatness he challenges parents to strive not only for their kids to succeed but to reach greatness.  Here is an excerpt from his book:

One date in recent history permanently seared its mark onto America’s conscience: September 11, 2001. This defining moment exposed the best and the worst things about us. It forced us to look in the mirror as a nation and ask ourselves what really matters.

The terrorists who slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center caught us completely off guard. In the middle of a business-as-usual morning, they showed us how naive we were about the magnitude of their hate and the extent to which we could be humbled by their violence.

Many successful people found themselves trapped in the clutches of this ghastly event. At 9:03 that Tuesday morning, their SAT scores and the cars they drove to work meant nothing. There was very little that their pedigrees and résumés could do for them. The famous as well as the obscure became equals in the statistics. In the Twin Towers, “Who’s Who” died side by side with “Who’s he?”

But in the midst of this crisis, there were magnificent people who responded to the urgency of the moment and gave everything they had for the sake of others. As the successful rushed down the stairs of the World Trade Center, the truly great ran up. As the well-heeled and comfortable ran for their lives, the truly great slipped inside the nightmare to see what they could do to help those who were left behind.

And after the smoke cleared, thousands of truly great people stepped out from their quiet positions within the ranks of successful Americans and opened their hearts and their wallets to those whose lives had been shattered by this cataclysmic event.

Isn’t it ironic that as a nation we worship those who are successful, but when tragedy strikes, our survival depends upon those who are great? A cry for help is always answered first by people who live for something more valuable than their own fame or fortune. They respond even though there isn’t a thing in it for them.

That’s why, when it’s time to bury our dead, we mourn the loss of those
who were successful, but we celebrate the memory of those who were truly great—the firefighters, the EMTs, the rescue workers, and the countless civilians who sacrificed everything they had for people they’d never met.

Truly great people seldom simply happen; they are carefully groomed for the moment long before they are forced to face it. Long before they get to these challenges, so many of them have lived within the proving grounds of a family that inspired them to true greatness.

An excerpt taken from Raising Kids For True Greatness, pp 11-12, Tim Kimmel, Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Isn't that inspirational?  I want my children to be truly great in the eyes of the Lord.  I want them to seek to serve, rather than to be served.  I want them to follow the example of Jesus, who lived to give his life for others. 

That kind of life will not be learned in the pressures of daily life, with a focus on schooling alone.  It is an intentional life, one that is not only taught but caught.  As a mom, my life needs to first reflect love for my Savior and to set an example of living for others and not for my schedule alone. 

For this new year my focus will be differnt and my teaching of my children will be different.  Yes, they will still need to accomplish their daily assignments and tasks, but in the midst of life, I want to help them to get a glimpse of greatness beyond themselves. 

I hope to achieve this by a few intentional things:
  • Pray diligently for my children
  • Help them establish good, healthy routinues in their daily lives.  One thing I am going to try is a daily planner by Ann Voskamp from A Holy Experience
  • Read great books.  Since most of my children are taught at home I can have an impact on what they read.  This year I am committed for them to read great literature and heroes of the faith.  I want them to get a glimpse of others who had a bigger picture than themselves.
If you have any other ideas I'd love for you to share them below so together we can help our children reach for true greatness

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Christmas Breakfast

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of my favorite childrens' books.  A tiny caterpillar slowly eats his way through the week and various objects of food.  It's an adorable story and I have always enjoyed reading with my children.  But when a real caterpillar shows up in breakfast...well, that's another story.

The table was set with fruit, quiche, bacon, and a birthday cake for Jesus.  We were half way through breakfast when Benjamin said, "Something is moving in my food."  He continued with, "There is a caterpillar in my cake!"  Much to his dismay, his breakfast was ruined. 

It didn't matter that the caterpillar most likely came from the raspberries, there was no way he would eat another bite (and I don't really blame him!)

No matter how much time and energy go into planning the perfect Christmas breakfast (or some other event) the little unexpected things in life can try and steal away our joy and peace.  If my hope had been in everyone having a perfect meal and meaningful conversations around the table, then my Christmas breakfast would have been ruined too.  But my hope is in the One we celebrated today - Jesus - and His hope never disappoints.

I did feel sorry for my son, whose stomach was a little queasy all day, but I do hope someday he can look back and laugh at the Christmas that a very hungry caterpillar got to enjoy his cake. 

After all, isn't it unexpected things, whether good or bad, that tend to stick in our memories for years to come?

Advent Calendar Day Twenty-five...Christmas is Here!

Merry Christmas...after 25 boxes Christmas is finally here!

In box #25 there are three gifts to represent the gifts the Magi gave to Jesus

Matthew 2:11

"On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh."

December 25th...the day we celebrate Christmas...the day when the Greatest Gift of all came into the world-Jesus.

But Christmas isn't just about a baby being born.  It is about redemption...a way back to God.  You see, the things in our life that are not good - bad thoughts, words, actions - keep us from God.  God is holy and cannot be in the presence of sin.  When sin entered the world, God's plan of redemption was already in place.  It would take sacrifice.  The sacrifice of His One and Only Son to enable us to have a relationship with Him.

There is no way for us to reach Him on our own.  That is why Jesus had to die.  He was perfect and came to earth wholly God and wholly man, to die in our place once and for all.  It is His birth, death, and resurrection that made the way for us to spend eternity with God.

But there is a catch.

You see, with any gift that is given it has to be received and opened.  Taking a gift and leaving it under the tree does no good.  Knowing about Jesus and what He has done isn't enough.  Going to church and being a good person isn't enough.  Dedicating your time, money, and energy isn't enough. 

Nothing is good enough...only God.

You must take the gift and open it for your very own.  It involves admitting your sin, and your desire for God to be the One in control.  It involves humility and surrender, surrender to the One who sacrificed all for you...all you have to do is to surrender your control to Him.  The One who gives good and perfect gifts, the One and Only who can restore your life and make you the kind of person He wants you to be. 

This Christmas  as you open gifts under your tree, how about opening the only gift that can never perish and that alone can satisfy your heart?  Jesus...the greatest gift of all, given for you.  Will you take the gift and make it your own?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Twenty-four

In box #24 there is a star, to represent the star the Magi followed to find Jesus.

Matthew 2:9-10

"After [the Magi] had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Twenty-three

In box #23 there are jewels to represent Jesus being th King of Kings!
Matthew 2:1-2

"...Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.'"

The Magi traveled a long way, at their own expense to worship the King of Kings.  With only two days left until Christmas I am humbled to think of their focus on the One who is important.  At this time of year it is so busy to fill the days with a long 'to do' list of all that needs to be done.  But my challenge is, how do I clearly use the days left until Christmas, not to fulfill my list, but to worship the One who left heaven to make a relationship with God possible for me? 

Advent Calendar Day Twenty-two

On day #22 there is a scroll in the advent calendar box.

The scroll represents the wisdom and knowledge of the Magi who were watching and waiting!

Matthew 2:1

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem." 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Twenty-One

In Box #21 there are a pair of eyes

The eyes remind us that Jesus was revealed to Simeon as the Christ, the promised Messiah.

Luke 2:25-32

"Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout.  He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.  Moved by teh Spirit, he went into the temple courts.  When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
'Soverign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in sight of all people, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.'" 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Twenty

In Box #20 there is a dove

The dove symbolizes the purification sacrifice that needed to be made.  It also represents a later time in the life of Jesus, when the Holy Spirit came upon Him in the form of a dove after his baptism.

Luke 2:22-24

"When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, 'Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord', and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord:  'a pair of doves or two young pigeons.'"

Luke 3:21-22

"When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too.  And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven:  'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cranberry Pistachio Christmas Bark

This is fun and the red cranberries and green pistachios make it so festive for Christmas. 


1 pound white chocolate confectionery coating
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pistachios, shells removed

Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.  Stir in cranberries and pistachios.  Pour onto wax paper-lined baking sheet and spread out to form a thin layer.   Chill in the refrigerator.  Break into pieces.  Enjoy!

This recipe is so easy to double (and I tend to add more cranberries and pistachios to fill it up!) 

Mocha Truffles

One of my favorite Christmas treats to make and to share is Mocha Truffles.  I got this recipe many years ago from Taste of Home and it is one frequently requested.  It takes a little time to make because the truffles need to be firm enough to shape, but it is simple and yummy!  This is a great recipe to do with children too because it is simple for them to help shape the truffles into balls. 

2 packages (12 ounces each) semi sweet chocolate chips
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons water
1 pound dark chocolate confectionery coating
   white chocolate confectionery coating, optional

In a microwave safe bowl melt chocolate chips.  Add cream cheese, coffee, and water.  Chill until firm enough to shape.  Shape into 1 inch balls and place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.  Chill for 1-2 hours, or until firm.  Melt chocolate coating in microwave safe bowl.  Dip balls and place on waxed paper to harden.  If desired, melt white chocolate and drizzle over top.  (Yield around 5 dozen) 

Advent Calendar Day Nineteen

In Box #19 we find the name Jesus...
Luke 2:21

"On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived."

Jesus...the name above all names, the only name by which we may be saved...the precious name of Jesus

Advent Calendar Day Eighteen

In Box #18 there is a heart to symbolize Mary, Jesus' earthly mother treasuring what was said in her heart. 

Luke 2:19-20, 33-35

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."..."The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: 'This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.  And a sword will pierce your own soul too.'"

Mary had so many unusual experiences as a very young woman.  She was visited by an angel, was pregnant before being with her husband, traveled to Bethlehem being very pregnant, went into labor and had her first child born in a stable, was visited by shepherds from the fields announcing their visit from the angel, and now hearing of things to come with her child. 

So much for a young woman to take in.  But Mary was chosen by God.  He knew her heart and she trusted him.  She surrendered her will to His and was faithful to what God had called her to do.  The road before her would not be easy.  God never promised easy.  He promised a Savior and God is faithful to do what He promised, even if life looks like it is filled with trials.  God is not surprised.  He has a purpose and a plan...and it is Good. 

Advent Calendar Day Seventeen

In box #17 there is a rock to symbolize us kneeling on the ground in response to Jesus as God.
Psalm 95:6

"Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care."

Jesus, came as a baby, but fully God and fully man.  He is the King of King and Lord of Lords.  Our response to him is to humble ourselves and worship him.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Sixteen

December 16th.

My children are excitedly counting down the days to Christmas.  With less than 10 boxes left, there is still more to tell in the Christmas Story...

Box #16 is loaded with bells to symbolize spreading the word of the Good News to others.
Luke 2:15-18

"When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, the spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them."

The visit of the angel to the shepherds caused them to seek The One they heard about.  They searched for the child in the manger, and they found him!  After finding Jesus, they told others about Him. 

Finding Jesus has that affect on people.  Jesus changes the hearts and lives of individuals and those who find Him have an incredible urge to tell others about spread the Good News meant for all people. 

That's our call too.  To share Jesus and what He has done for us and in us.  How are you spreading the Good News this Christmas? 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Fifteen

In Box #15 there are many gold "halos" representing the multitude of angels
Luke 2:13-14

"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God ans saying, 'Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'"

Can you imagine what it would have been like?  The lowly shepherds were out in the fields at night.  Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared and spoke to them.  They were terrified but the angel spoke of the Good News which was nearby.  Then, the skies were filled with angels giving praise to God.  A life-changing experience! 

The shepherds got a glimpse of heaven, but soon they would meet the One who would provide the only way to get to heaven.  God's Good News had arrived for all men!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Fourteen

December 14

Yesterday we read about the angels telling the shepherds the Good News.  In Box 14 we read about the shepherds being told where to find the baby Jesus.

Luke 2:12

"'This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Thirteen

In Box #13 the Good News is proclaimed to the shepherds.
Luke 2:8-11

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born for you; he is Christ the Lord.'"

In that tiny stable, the Prince of Peace was born.  The One who would make peace between God and man.  The One who would die in our place so we could live forever with God in eternity.  That's Good News.  News so good cannot be contained, it must be shared.  The shepherds were the first to hear the good news.

Advent Calendar Day Twelve

December 12

In this box there is a handmade peace sign which represents Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

"For to us a child is born,
to us a child is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And his will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Jesus doesn't just give peace, He is Peace.  In a world where there is so much uncertainty, where things are shaking and out of our control, why not trust in the One who brings peace and who is Peace?

Advent Calendar Day Eleven

In box #11 of the Advent Calendar there is a piece of a blanket (thanks to one of my children for sharing a very loved portion!)

Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem for the census.  It was crowded and all the inns were full.  They were able to find shelter in a stable.  When the time came for her to give birth and bring Jesus into the world she wasn't in a familiar place, surrounded by female relatives and a midwife.  She was in a stable, surrounded instead by animals and a man to whom she was engaged.  Not my ideal setting or situation, but God, who is wise and loving, had the entire plan orchestrated. 

Luke 2:7

"and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in the manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

Advent Calendar Day Ten

Although today is December 13th I am catching up with our advent calendar.  The unexpected trials in life have caused us to fall behind...a sudden, unanticipated death in our extended family, cars that won't start, etc.  So, today on the 13th, I will go back to December 10th and box #10 in the Advent Calendar:

If you remember from December 8th, Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem to register for the census. 

Luke 2:6-7

"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son..."

A long journey, and now a birth of the anticipated One.  Mary had been told by the angel that she would carry the Messiah.  He would be named Jesus.  Joseph was told by the angel that he should still take Mary as his wife because this was all God's plan.  And now that they were in Bethlehem, the very place that God had said that the Messiah would come from...Jesus was born.  God's plan, to redeem people to Himself through the birth and sacrifice of His One and Only Son, was finally entering the world.  Hope!   

Friday, December 9, 2011

Give a Bracelet, Provide Food for a Child for a Week

One thing that is near and dear to my heart is children.  Children are precious in the eyes of the Lord.  As a mom I am thankful for being able to love and nurture my children.  One thing I haven't had to worry about is enough food for them to eat.  Unfortunatley that isn't true for children in many places of the world.

How would you like to help provide food for a child in need for a whole week in a beautiful way? You can with Give Jewelry.  1 Bracelet - 1 Child - 1 Week of Food.  For every bracelet that is purchased at Give Jewelry you provide food for one child for an entire week!  (And if you read further you can see how you can receive a free gift with your purchase!)

Bracelets with a Purpose...

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1 Bracelet – 1 Child – 1 Week of Food
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Leave a comment here and on the Give Jewelry site for each of the following that you do.  It will help spread the news! 

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Advent Calendar Day Nine

On the ninth day of December we found a lion in box #9.  The lion represents the house of Judah, from which the Messiah was to come.

Micah 5:2

"'But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.'"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Eight

On this day, the eighth of December, we found a "donkey" in our box. 

The donkey reminds us of the journey Joseph and Mary had to take to Bethlehem. 


"He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child."

I cannot imagine what it would have been like to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem being very pregnant.   I've always stayed close to home during the last month of my pregnancies with my bags packed and ready to go to the hospital.  Mary didn't have that luxury.  Because of the census that had been ordered (Luke 2:1) Joseph had to go to his hometown to register.  The timing wasn't convenient for Mary, but it was God's timing.  His plan was for the Savior to be born in Bethlehem.  He used a Roman ruler to accomplish His plan. 

For me, I like to plan things out in advance.  But sometimes my planning may not be what God has preordained in His will.  Do I submit to His will, or complain that my plans have been interrupted?  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Seven

In Box Seven there is a chain.

The chain represents the house and line of David - the genealogy of Jesus.

Luke 2:4

"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David."

It was promised that the Messiah would come from the house of David and be born in Bethlehem. 

In Matthew chapter one the genealogy of Jesus is recorded from Abraham all the way to Joseph.  In Luke chapter three the genealogy of begins with Jesus and goes all the way back to God Himself.  The two differ slightly, one tracing the line from David to Mary, the other tracing the line from David to Joseph.  

Advent Calendar Day Six

In the sixth box of the advent calendar there is a string (I couldn't find a bridge!)
The string represents the gap that Jesus filled between God and man.
Matthew 1:22-23

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord has said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel-which means, 'God with us.'"

Isaiah 7:14

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."

When sin entered the world, it caused a gap between God and man that man could not fill.  Our sin keeps us separate from God.  Jesus came, wholly God and wholly man to die to pay the price for our sins.  It is through his death that bridged the gap between God and man.  It is through His sacrifice that paved the way so we could have a relationship with God. 

Advent Calendar Day Five

In box number five we find a cross.
Matthew 1:21

"'[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'"

Jesus came to earth as a baby to die on the cross to be our Savior.  He was the promised Messiah.  It all goes back to the garden.  When sin entered the world, God's plan for a Savior would enfold.  Throughout the Bible we see promises made for the Savior to come and redeem His people.  At Christmas we celebrate not only the birth of Jesus, but we look to what the Gift means...that we could have forgiveness for our sins and a relationship with God.  Jesus is the only way for us to get to heaven.  His birth was for His death, so we could live forever with Him.

"I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."  John 14:6

As you prepare for Christmas, have you ever looked beyond the manger to the cross?  I hope that this Christmas you will take time to reflect on the gift that God has given us through His Son Jesus.  God gave us this Gift.  I hope this Christmas you will take the time to receive the greatest gift of all - Jesus.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Four

In the fourth box in the Advent Calendar there is an angel. 

Matthew 1:20
" angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.'"

In the previous verse it says, "Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly."  Joseph was a righteous man.  During his time of engagement to Mary he anticipated their marriage.  But how could Mary be pregnant?  He knew the child was not his and so he sought to "divorce her quietly" rather than the alternative for her - death.  The visit from the angel opened his eyes to the truth.  Mary was chosen by God to carry the Messiah into the world.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Three

Day Three brings us to Mary's Song...

 In today's box we find some sheet music to remind us of Mary's Song...

Luke 1:46-55
"And Mary said:
'My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham an his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.'"

Mary's life was forever changed by the announcement the angel made.  Her response is one of praise and worship of God.  She knows Who He Is and what He has done and she offers Him her praise.  How can we praise Him this season, not for what we want or what we are expecting, but for Who He Is alone?  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent Calendar Day Two

On this second day of Advent, we are one step closer to the Savior.  In today's box we found rings as a symbol of the engagement of Joseph and Mary.

Matthew 1:18

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about:  His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit."

I wonder how Mary felt.  She had been visited by the angel Gabriel and told of God's plan.  But now she would have to walk a difficult road in her love and obedience to God.  Others would talk and question, but Mary trusted God and submitted her heart to His plan.  And I'm so glad she did!

What challenging road does God have you on right now?  Can you trust Him with your heart, as Mary did so many years before?

Advent Calendar Day One

Each year we have looked foward to Christmas with an Advent Wreath.  This year, we have added an Advent Calendar, with each box filled not with treats, but the best treasure of all...the Christmas story. 

Last evening the children looked all over the house for the items needed to fill the advent calendar.  Then we opened box number one to find an angel and the following verse:

Luke 1:26-28, 31

"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin's name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you...You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.'"

I hope you are blessed as you focus this advent on preparing your heart for the arrival of the Greatest Gift of all!

*I found the wonderful idea for this advent calendar (and all the instructions for it) on another blog

Here is another spot where you can go to get ideas to celebrate the season of advent!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wasted Prayer

In September life was busy with getting things ready to send Courtney off to college.  A haircut got put on the back burner until I was desperate.  My hair was driving me crazy!  I called to schedule an appointment hoping that I could get in immediately.  Nothing was available until the next week but I said, "If anyone cancels today give me a call and I will come right in."  My day was pretty open and I was desperate.

I found myself praying frequently throughout the day, "Lord, will you please allow a time slot to open up.  I really need my hair cut."  In the morning I had peace that my request would work out.  In the late afternoon however, I realized my request probably wasn't going to work out so I intensified my prayers.

God got my attention while I was praying and doing dishes by the kitchen sink.  All day long my prayers had been about me.  They had been selfish, wasted prayers.  How I could have spent that time praying fervently for my son and his friends at school, for the needs of others, and so many things and I had wasted all that time ON HAIR!  How convicting! 

God does tell us to "pray continually" but the context is "Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  God certainly got my attention through a missed haircut and now I am hoping that my prayers will reflect more of His will, rather than my own selfishness.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Season of Advent

advent (ad'vent) n.
1. arrival or coming into being
2. the coming of Christ into the world

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Different Kind of Labor

Over 18 years ago I had the joy of bringing my oldest into the world. It was a painful process, but there was joy at her arrival. Last weekend I had the privilege of taking her to college. From the day she was born she was destined for this, and I as her mother, had to undergo another kind of labor...the labor of letting go.

It was a new kind of birth...Courtney spreading her wings and finding out what God has designed her to be. There is joy in seeing her try out her wings and succeed. But there is death in this process too. The pain of childbirth has returned, not the physical contractions to bring new life into the world, but the emotional ones of letting go and trusting God to continue to do His will in her life. At the end of labor I had a child in my arms. At the end of this new kind of labor, my arms are empty of her embrace.

Isn't this what motherhood is all about? To give them wings so they can fly-to become who they were designed to be...but just as a kernel of wheat must die in order for new grain to grow, the season of mothering Courtney is also create new life in her. Oh, the dying is painful but I know that joy will come in the morning!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Challenge

Last fall a good friend of mine was interviewed for MomLife Today. She was asked, "What is one thing you have done well in parenting?" Marilyn told the story of how she and her husband Don issued a challenge to each of their children when they reached the age of 13.

The challenge placed before each of their children was to read the Bible through in one year and write a commentary. For each and every chapter of the Bible they had to write a 2-3 sentence summary on the chapter. Each day they would read a chapter in the Old Testament, a chapter in the New Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb. If they completed the challenge within the year (with some grace allowed) they would receive a big prize of their choosing. (Marilyn mentioned each one chose something of their liking...a computer, clothes shopping, a sewing machine, etc).

My oldest two are well past the age of thirteen but I thought it would be a wonderful challenge, so we sat them down and gave them the opportunity to write a commentary as well. What an incredible have the knowledge of what is in the Word from beginning to end.

I am excited to see how spending the time in the Word and summarizing what each chapter is about will impact my children!

My next child is twelve and his birthday is in October. I had really thought about waiting awhile to issue this challenge to him. However, he WANTS to do this! He is so excited about the opportunity and it has blessed my heart tremendously! Thanks Marilyn, for sharing your words of wisdom!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


~Graduation...a time to celebrate~

On June 3rd we had the privilege of watching our oldest graduate from high school. We also had the chance to cheer her on as she gave the Salutatorian speech for her graduating class. We were so proud, not just of her achievement, but of who she is becoming to be. It is an honor to see her choose to walk in faith and to follow the giftings that God has placed on her life. Way to go Courtney! We are so proud of you!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Ugliest Cake and a Lesson on Forgiveness

The day before MaryElise turned three I wasn't feeling good. I knew I needed a cake and I was debating whether to make one or pick on up at the grocery store. Tom and Josiah were headed to the store so I enlisted them to find a cute pink cake for MaryElise's birthday.

Sometime later Tom called from the store describing some of the cakes. He told me about a "Diner Cake". I had no idea what he was talking about. I heard the lady in the bakery talking about a "big cupcake cake" or a Cinderella cake and then Tom said, "Okay, I think we got it covered" and then he hung up. I felt secure knowing he would come home with something cute with the help from the bakery lady.

He entered the house carrying a cake box and I took a peek inside to see what kind of a cute cake he chose. The cake he came home with looked more like a jelly doughnut explosion than a birthday cake. The sides were smeared with strawberry jelly and the top had mounds of icing and globs of jelly. It was the ugliest cake I had ever seen. I responded by going into my room and crying. (Really mature I know) Much to Josiah's credit, he came in and apologized and said it was his idea. He thought the cake looked great.

Throughout the day I couldn't get over my disappointment. I rehearsed the situation over again in my mind and the frustration began to grow. "How could he be so clueless? This cake is ugly. It isn't even pink. Maybe I'll get lucky and the cake will accidentally fall on the floor and I'll have to get a new one. There is no way I want to take pictures of my cute little girl with such an ugly cake!"

I didn't realize how far I had let the situation go until dinner. I can't remember exactly what it was that I said, but Tom's reply was, "Oh, that really sounds like forgiveness". I realized from his tone that I had not forgiven him. I was choosing to wallow in the disappointment rather than forgiving and letting go. God convicted my heart. How many times have we as parents spoken to our children about the importance of forgiveness and here I was holding on to something silly!
In Colossians 3:13 it says, "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." I had a choice to make and I chose to forgive. (Needless to say, I did take pictures of MaryElise with the cake that we still fondly refer to as the Jelly Doughnut Explosion!)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

In honor of Good Friday, the children made a Garden Tomb. I got the idea from the blog A Holy Experience. The children planted some herbs in a flower pot we had on the deck and put a large stone in the garden to represent the garden tomb. Another rock was placed in front of the large stone to represent the stone that was rolled in place to seal Jesus' tomb. A candle is in our garden because Jesus is the Light of the World. On Easter the stone will be rolled away and we will celebrate the good news that the tomb is empty!

"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said,
'Why do you look for the living among the dead?
He is not here; he has risen!"
Luke 24:1-6

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ingredients Matter

In honor of Courtney's 18th birthday, and because she has gone vegan, I decided to make her favorite German Chocolate Cake " vegan style". I found a great recipe online and baked the cake. It smelled delicious baking! The frosting however, was a different story. I mixed the ingredients and put it on the stovetop to heat. After awhile the frosting doubled in size and was foamy. I transferred the frosting to my biggest pan and was a little amazed when it continued growing in size. Finally it bubbled out of my pan and onto the stove. I was mortified. I so wanted to bless Courtney, but I had made a mess of the frosting and the stove.

When she came home I told her what happened. She said, "Mom, you did use corn syrup or cornstarch?" I looked up in the cabinet and saw the cornstarch on the shelf and realized I had never taken it out of the cupboard. I had used Baking Soda instead! Oh my. No wonder it acted more like the boys' volcano science experiment rather than frosting. By the way, Josiah fondly calls my concoction "frothing" rather than frosting! With a quick trip to the store and all the right ingredients, the cake was completed. But I sure learned a lesson. Putting something in that doesn't belong can spell disaster. Ingredients are important!

What is your recipe for life? Is your life bubbling out of control like my "frothing"? What kind of ingredients are you putting inside of you? Are there things in your life that you are compromising or substituting for the ingredients that really belong? I know that listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit are so vital in life. Sometimes I ignore what God might be trying to tell me thinking, "Oh, this is no big thing" but God knows what is best for me. He designed me (and He designed you too) and He knows what is best to make each of our lives perfect in His sight.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

An Incredible Tool to Help You Understand The Heart of Your Child

Discover Your Child's Heart with the
Kids Flag Page

This is a resource created by Tim Kimmel and Mark Gungor. "Consider this the operating manual that SHOULD have come with each of your kids...BUT DIDN'T."

Having seven children you think I would have figured out this parenting thing by now...but having seven children has shown me just how much I still need to learn! What works for one of my children does absolutely no good with another. What motivates one, frustrates another!

I found this resource and thought I would give it a try. It is a "game" for a parent and child to do together. At the end, you will have a great handle of who your child is and what is needed to motivate them. The guide says it works best with children from 6-11, but I used it on my 14 year old as well.
This is the best parenting tool I have ever used! What I learned from doing this one on one with each of my children has opened my eyes up in a way to understand them and their unique personalities and how to parent them individually.
To begin you find a quiet place to play the game one on one with your child. They look at each of the cards and decide if it is Always Me, Sometimes Me, or Never Me. The cards say things like, "I think it's possible" or "I like things to stay calm" etc. All the cards reflect one of the four "Home Countries" (The Perfect Country, The Peace Country, The Control Country, and The Fun Country) The child puts the cards in one of the three piles according to how they see themselves (not how mom or dad sees them). Then they choose their top 6 from the Always Me pile and then out of the 6 they choose their favorite.
From the way they place their cards the parent tallies them up and finds out the "Home Country" and the "Adopted Country". There is a book that goes along with the game that helps to explain what each country means and things you see from children that belong to the four different countries. The thing that was extremely insightful was understanding how the Home Country and the Adopted Country play out together in how children act and respond to situations. This was the so eye opening to me to help me see into the heart of my children. It was an incredible blessing and has helped me in parenting them according to what motivates and encourages them, rather than what could hurt my relationship with them.
You can find this resource at Family Matters. There are four flag pages in each game, enough to do with four children. If you need more flag pages you can order additional pages separate from the game itself. If you use this resource post a comment and let me know what you think about it!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Wonderful Challenge

When I was younger memorizing God's Word came so easily for me. However, as the years have passed it has become more difficult. This year I have been challenged by a friend to not only read but to memorize the book of Colossians. Want to join me? Riann even shared a link to a wonderful tool to help. I'm a week behind, but it's only two verses a week. What a blessing!


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