Monday, January 23, 2012

In His Image

Designed to Create...

I remember from my earliest school days writing.  Not sitting down at the school desk and completing assignments but WRITING.  I would create my own books.  I would take two pieces of construction paper and cut out a shape and then cut lined papers to match the shape and write within the pages of that book.  They were adventure stories, with me of course, being the main character of my book.   My heart's desire was to create...and maybe someday, to have my name on the outside binding of a book.  Published. 

Heading off to college that dream died quickly.  No, I didn't head into my college years with the vision of becoming an author.  I shot for an attainable goal, to become a teacher. I achieved that goal and went on to teach for several years (and loved it).   But somehow, that love of writing, and the ability to communicate with written words didn't disappear.  For you see, it wasn't just a crazy notion, it was how I was designed. 

In His Image.  In Genesis 1:26 God said, "Let us make man in our image..."

What does that mean?  Does it mean I look just like him?  No, but I was made to be like him, his nature, his character. Of course, that was all damaged in the fall, and man forever since has been trying to be god himself, rather than to reflect his Creator. 

However we all have this innate desire to create, to build, to bring beauty...all because we are made to be like Him, our Creator

I see it in the hands of my boys and their creations...Lego's, first built to look like the picture on the box, and then taking on a new design to fit their dreams on that day.  I see it in my little girls that love to draw and color.  I see it in the fingers of my oldest, who has spent untold hours clicking away at the keyboard, on her way to be an author.  (She has written several books and is hopefully on the way to get this one published!) 

Over the years my writing has been mostly in journals and prayer letters.  Occasionally I'll come up with a new idea and run with it, but at this season motherhood is in full swing.  I have no doubt that God has given me a love to write for His purpose and glory.  Someday maybe I'll write that book and be published...or maybe my love of writing will carried on into the next generation and I'll see my dream fulfilled in the lives of my children. 

Of course I do have works in progress...and maybe once Courtney gets published, I'll be on the way too!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

An Unsettled Heart

A quiet morning at home...the oldest 4 are out of the house, the youngest 3 are playing quietly together, and hubby is on his way home from a trip.  The peace is wonderful, so why is my heart unsettled?

I've spoken with my mom and sister on the phone, tried calling a friend, but that longing in my heart to connect, to really connect with another has been unmet.  I pick up the phone and try again, only to be greeted with another automated message. 

Perhaps in my longing to connect this morning I've neglected to connect with the One who made my heart, the One alone who can fulfill all my desires.      

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? 
 Why so disturbed within me? 
 Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God."
  Psalm 42:5

I think it is time to put down the phone, pick up the Word and prepare to meet with God .

Sunday, January 15, 2012

One Thousand Gifts

Some time last year someone mentioned the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  The title intrigued me and I picked it up thinking it would be a great read.  Although it was a great book to read, it was much more than was a challenge to "live life fully right where I am".  It is a challenge to look at life differently, to see the little things in life that are often missed and to give thanks in them. 

In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 we are instructed to:

"Be joyful always;
pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

In giving thanks it changes the focus off of me and puts my focus back on God.  In giving thanks it causes my heart to grow in contentment rather than in discouragement or complaining.  My list of gratitude has not been just words scrawled across a page in a journal, but in a transformation of heart.  Thankfulness is transformational.  Looking at all of life as a gift is a gift in itself. 

My list of One Thousand began with...

  1. Blue sky peeking through the clouds
  2. Hugs from children
  3. Laughter
  4. Flowers waiting to be born
  5. Trees waiting for spring to burst into bloom
  6. Eyes with which to see (and read)
  7. Children learning to read
  8. Sharpened pencils
  9. My husband
  10. God who has blessed us with His Gift

At the beginning of 2012, when I decided to do things a little differently with my children, I got them journals too and together we are recording the things that we are choosing to be thankful for.  What a treasure it is to begin our school day with 5-10 minutes of us taking time to reflect on and record the gifts in our lives.  To me, it has been an incredible gift to treasure these moments with my children and to encourage them in giving of thanks.  To see my children growing in thankfulness is a GIFT! 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

An Innocent Spill

"QUICK!  GRAB THE B-B-Q SAUCE!" I said to Caleb who had accidentally let it slip from his hands.  Unfortunately it had landed on the floor vent with the cap off and b-b-q sauce was quickly spilling from the opened container. 

The vent on the floor is perfectly situated for keeping us cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  Many times little feet can be found standing on it to warm up during the cold, winter months. 

It does however, have a major drawback.  Being so close to the kitchen table the vent also collects a lot of crumbs.  Tiny pieces of scraps that fall during a meal, or that are inadvertently swept in the wrong direction by a careless child are quickly gathered into its depths. 

After Caleb grabbed the bottle off the vent I took off the cover to wash it.  What I found underneath the vent cover was disgusting! Crumbs, dust, debris had been slowly building up over time unnoticed.  (Yes, it has been cleaned out several times before!)  But then I began to much of my life is like that vent?

Daily I go about my tasks letting little things slip in angry thought, a disappointment, a frustration with a situation.  Rather than taking it to the Lord, the crumbs fall into the hidden places of my heart and are forgotten.

Over time, my life may appear fine on the outside, but the inside is another story.  The crumbs don't just sit there innocently.  They cause the diseases of the heart to grow, to multiply.  And those little crumbs don't just stay put.  They come out in other ways...a harsh word, a lack of peace, discontentment, a critical spirit.

Just like the vent cover needed to be removed and the insides vacuumed out, so my heart also needs to be cleansed through confession of my sin and the work of the Holy Spirit. 

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."
Psalm 139:23-24

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins and purify us from
any unrighteousness."
1 John 1:9

How thankful I am for God's forgiveness and grace.  Now, if I'd only remember to have Him check the "vent cover" of my heart a little more frequently!

Friday, January 6, 2012

An Encouragement for Moms

As a mom, it is so easy to get discouraged by the daily challenges of life and motherhood.  But how would you like a chance to get away and be encouraged by other women? 

In March, why not attend MomLife's Bootcamp at Pine Cove in Tyler, Texas?  Check out the video on the right sidebar to find out more about what MomLife Bootcamp is all about.

And, better yet, how about if you could win free registration for the event?  Check it out today.  Go to MomLife Boot Camp Giveaway and leave a comment to be entered to win!  I hope you do! 

Monday, January 2, 2012


Yesterday I shared about prayer and my commitment to pray daily for my children using the book  
While They Are Sleeping: 12 Character Traits to Pray for Your Child.  Today, I had an inspiration of how to help develop the character qualities in my children using the poster and certificate set that corresponds with the book.   Each poster has one of the character qualities, what it means, and also a verse that goes along with it.

I covered the posters with contact paper and hung them near the table where we do school.  The character quality will not only be the focus of my prayers for my children, but it will also be the focus of the teaching for the same amount of time. 

FamilyLife also has some beautiful certificates to go along with each of the character qualities.  But, with seven children, the organization of award certificates is more than I realistically wanted to deal I decided to cover the certificate with contact paper as well and place it on the wall next to the poster.  When I see a child consistently exhibiting a particular character quality, I will write their name on the certificate with a dry erase marker.  That way I can reuse the certificates and give incentives for my children to actively participate in the quality we are studying. 

I also thought I would allow my older children to look for ways other siblings are showing the character quality and let them write a name on the certificate as well.  Not only would it help them learn to look for kindness (for example) but it would help them to continue to cultivate kindness in their hearts as they look for it in the lives of their brothers and sisters. 

How do you help your children grow in kindness? 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Confession

Okay, I'll admit it.  One area I am weak in is prayer.  I love to spend time reading and studying the Bible.  I love to write and contemplate, but when it comes to prayer I get so easily distracted. 

Perhaps it is the little ones that seem to get up just when I should be praying.  Maybe it is the older ones that are preparing for school. Or maybe it is because prayer is a battle.  It isn't just a battle to pray, but when we pray when enter the battle for the hearts and minds of our children. 

When our oldest ones were little and went to bed early, Tom and I would go into their rooms after they were asleep and pray over them.  We were united and our children were covered in prayer.  As life got busy, somehow this important event got put on the back burner.  It wasn't that we weren't praying, but it was no longer consistent and intentional.  Prayer became more of a 911 emergency call, rather than consistently planting and weeding a garden. 

One book that I have decided to use this year to help in my prayers for my children is While They are Sleeping: 12 Character Traits to Pray for Your Child.  It is a beautiful book focused on consistent prayer and application.  There are 12 chapters, each focused on one character trait with five days of prayer per trait.  There is also you and me time, live it out, and a journal area to record answers that you see to your prayers. 

I like the idea of focusing on kindness, humility, teachability, forgiveness, obedience, discernment, purity, responsibility, courage, servanthood, contentment, and endurance.  I know that at the end of this year I will see a difference in my children, but I will be different as well.  Prayer does that.  It changes the situation, but more importantly it changes the one praying.  Spending time at the feet of Jesus does that. 

I am excited for this adventure.  Anyone else want to join me this year as we consistently lift our children before the Lord?


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