Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New year, new study

As we shiver and bundle up, I decided to warm our thoughts with a little study on Hawaii. When we visited a couple months ago, we observed lots of unique plant and animal life, not to mention the island culture that varies so much from life on the mainland.


Many Hawaiian plants can be found few other places in the world, and some, like this silversword plant, are found nowhere else. Another example of Hawaiia's unique offerings is this type of partridge called a chukar:



And, since our president-elect spent a significant part of his life in Hawaii, it seems a fitting time to learn more about the 50th state of the union.


Here are some snippets and links to the material that I have compiled and pored over in preparation for our study:

Of course we'll be looking over lots of our own pictures, some of which I posted previously.

When renting our snorkel gear, they gave us some fish identification cards. A web address on the card links to a video that is free to educators. You do have to pay $5 shipping, so it is not quite free, but you can watch a web version of it on that page if you would prefer. This is an amazing video of baby Hawksbill turtles heading out to sea for the first time.


I hope to create a lapbook for this unit using the state lapbook resources at Homeschool Helper.


This book is currently on hold at the library:
The Island Below the Star


Author & Illustrator: James Rumford
Summary: Five brothers, each with a special skill, sail across the vast Pacific Ocean to the islands now known as Hawaii.
ISBN: 0395851599

And, while reading it we will also draw from the unit study at Homeschool Share, highlighting the parts on Hawaii. Much of Hawaiian culture is a blending of Pacific island culture, so I look forward to reading through this book with my kids.

Some topics we will hit in this study using the links throughout this post --

Geography:
landforms
marine life


Food:
poi
tropical fruit


History:
pre-statehood
WWII
Statehood


Science:
Volcanos

Fun additions:
- Learning some Hawaiian words using an online dictionary. Or this site has a basic phonics lesson and a few words.
- Or you could just start with the state fish: humuhumunukunukuapua'a
(that's hoomoo-hoomoo-nookoo-nookoo-ahpoo-a-a) also known as the Picasso Triggerfish
- Lei making with paper, silk or real flowers



Some other sites for reference:

Facts and trivia on Hawaii, good overview.
Some downloadable activities on Hawaiian forests and wildlife
Links from the Hawaiian Department of Education.
Some historical resources (Pearl Harbor among others)
My son found this site with quick facts on all of the states.
Another unit study with a variety of resources at Homeschoolhelperonline.
A travel Hawaii site, but with many links.
Pictures of plants in Hawaii.
Hawaiian animal pictures
General pictures of Hawaii.




Always a good idea to check out websites for particular landmarks, parks, and islands:
Haleakala National Park
Diamond Head
Lava Tubes
Landmarks on Oahu
Landmarks on Maui
Memorial at the USS Arizona (Pearl Harbor)
Kauai
Molokai
Lanai
Big Island (Hawaii)



Lots to learn about a land that is one of our states and yet is so different from where many of us live. I'm looking forward to reliving some great times and learning even more about these amazing islands.

What's in store -- Bible and Marriage

The last day of the year.

Tomorrow when the kids wake up we will say things like, "Where have you been all year?" And, "Why haven't you cleaned your room since last year?" They rub their bleary eyes and stare blankly, sometimes we might get a little smirk out of them, but it gives my husband and myself a good chuckle.


So, what do I want to accomplish in the year ahead? I wrote about some of that recently and have thought more and specified more since then.


Two significant goals you will hear more about here as the year goes on. The first is a project that a bloggy friend of mine asked me to be a part of. Reading through the Bible in a year together and posting my "journaling" from the reading once a week. How exciting!


I read George Mueller's biography recently with the kids and at the end of his life he had read through the Bible over 100 times! He had this to say about it (at age 71):
Now in brotherly love and affection I would give a few hints to my younger fellow-believers as to the way in which to keep up spiritual enjoyment. It is absolutely needful in order that happiness in the Lord may continue, that the Scriptures be regularly read. These are God's appointed means for the nourishment of the inner man. . . .Consider it, and ponder over it. . . . Especially we should read regularly through the Scriptures, consecutively, and not pick out here and there a chapter. If we do, we remain spiritual dwarfs. I tell you so affectionately. For the first four years after my conversion I made no progress, because I neglected the Bible. But when I regularly read on through the whole with reference to my own heart and soul, I directly made progress. Then my peace and joy continued more and more.


(For more on George Mueller, check out this captivating bio glimpse)

No wonder God answered his prayers in such dramatic fashion. He walked daily with his Lord and knew God's heart and mind the way few men have. When he prayed, his prayers lined up with God's desires and God moved mountains in response.


I want to know God that way. I want to soak myself in the Scriptures. I want to pray with confidence. I want to walk daily with my Lord and continue to grow in peace and joy.


This year, with the accountability of a new website, 66 books, we will blog our way through the Bible. Each day one of the contributors (from across the country and various walks of life) will share their devotional thoughts from the passage of the day. The website has a reading log to follow and I pray that you would join us and find encouragement, accountability to read God's Word cover to cover, and spiritual nourishment to fuel your walk with Christ.


John Adams said, "Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write." So, take it as a dare if need be, dare to read and think about His Word, and then solidify it by speaking and writing as well. Spread the word, we would love to have many Christians (and even genuine seekers) join us through this year as we make reading His Word a priority.


Second big goal . . . Maybe this is too much for one blog post. :-) I realized in recent weeks that my marriage has received less than stellar amounts of my time and effort. Somehow between the homeschooling and mothering and housekeeping and desk work, I didn't worry about my marriage because it was "good." It's always been good. But, that doesn't mean I should neglect it or that it doesn't deserve my attention.


A recent time away with my husband opened my eyes to this and one of my key goals for the coming year is to focus on my marriage. Since I realized this while in "paradise" and since growing, intimate marriages are "paradise" in and of themselves, I am calling this series, "Bringing Home Paradise."


Starting next week and throughout the month of January I will share my goals, self-given assignments, and practical ideas for making marriage a priority and bringing home that taste of paradise that God intended marriage to be.


Here's a little outline of what I have in store:

- Pray (a week of praying in preparation for the coming weeks and months of growth and change);
- Prioritize (if this matters it must show in our choices and management of our resources);
- Put into Practice (little behaviors and attitudes that express love)
- Practical (applying this to the nitty gritty of each day)


At the end of the month I plan to put up a Mr. Linky (my first, and hopefully not my last) for all of us to share how God has moved in our marriages in just a few weeks.


I am expecting great things from Him! Are you ready to open yourself and your marriage up to what God can do? Please join me on these journeys to greater knowledge of Him and His Word, and a sweeter marriage.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Homeschool Showcase Carnival

I always love the great tips and perspectives I find browsing through various carnivals. The latest edition of the Homeschool Showcase Carnival is up for your browsing pleasure at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Check it out!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Verse of the week -- II Peter 1:5-8

Second Peter opens with a powerful challenge to its readers, but one that also gives the power to reach this goal. Verses five through eight say,

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.



So fitting at this time of the year as many people look back and pass judgment on the year gone by and also look ahead in hopes of making the new year an even better one. We sometimes weigh our year based on health and fitness, home organization, the quality of relationships, the growth in our assets, or the progress in reaching lifelong goals. I can think of no better place to reach for a measuring stick than the Scriptures. And, this passage gives us plenty to work on, for a lifetime of growth.


Want to look back a year from now and say that you had an effective and productive year? You might want to check out the qualities in these verses, and elsewhere in Scripture, and start praying them into your life. As my pastor has often said in recent weeks, "You won't find them in your life perfectly, but increasingly so, if you are a true follower of Christ."


I have so much to say about these few short verses and would encourage you to read the surrounding ones as well. First, we should look back at what the "very reason" is that the first verse refers to. In the previous verses Peter talked about the grace, peace and divine power given us through knowledge of Him. He has rescued us from sin and saved us to His precious promises and we should not be able to keep ourselves from responding from every corner of our being.


Starting with our faith firmly rooted in Him, our every effort should seek to live a "good" life, as detailed in God's Word. Goodness is just a start though. If we only desire to be good, or want our children to be "good" kids, that remains a fairly shallow goal. Living virtuous, well-mannered lives may look good to others, but isn't always an evidence of a godly life. We need to continue building.


We must search for knowledge. Study His word, know Him more, grow in discernment. We should be lifelong learners at our Savior's feet. Daily quiet time with Him, absorbing teaching from mature, biblically-sound believers, constantly seeking a greater understanding.


Beyond knowledge, we take another step in our character, and surrender ourselves to Him. Not letting our self control us, but allowing Him to control our self. Daily surrender, self-denial. Gratefully His mercies are new each day, and we need to come each day with a new acclamation to Him as Lord of our life.


I think it is key that this is not a "one time, never to be thought of again, stick it on your shelf for fire insurance" type of decision. You have got to persevere. Never quitting, never backing down, always striving to bring our relationship with God to the next level. Persevering on the path to greater godliness. Again, not perfectly, but always increasing.


As God takes greater control and more influence in how we live our lives, we will love as no one else can love. He will love through us as only a Creator can. So many people I struggle to love, situations that I struggle to show love in, yet when I live by faith, knowledge in Him, and persevere to give Him control, He can love for me.


Then what? As we strive for these goals, set in place concrete ways to keep stepping along this path, and continue to see God grow these qualities in our soul, the promise at the end of these verses is for us, "they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Our walk in Christ will not grow stagnant will not remain fruitless. It will flower up full of life that honors Him. We will grow more intimately acquainted with His ways and knowledge and continually add more faith, knowledge, self-control, and godliness to our offerings.


Thank you, Lord, for your great and precious promises!


For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.


~2 Peter 1:5-8~

Friday, December 26, 2008

Heart of the Matter Meme - 2009 goals

In recent weeks I have contemplated the year to come and thought about areas in my life, habits, and daily schedules that could use some tweaking.

This week's Heart of the Matter meme motivated me to jot down some of those rambling thoughts (which I didn't manage to get organized enough on Wednesday for the Homeschool Memoirs task, but better late than never, right?)


Sometimes I would like to set simple goals, that I know I can "check off" without too much effort.


In that case my list would include:

- Enjoy Christmas decorations around my home for another 4 weeks
- Clean up vomit from carpeting at least once this winter
- Overcommit my weekends
- Try to never see the bottom of the laundry hamper
- Pamper my dog by letting her clean off the table after meals


However, I know at the same time those "accomplishments" would invariably drive me nuts. So in all seriousness I have come up with a loftier set of goals, knowing that if I fall short, it's just because I'm looking at the wrong list.

My goals fall into the areas that I wear hats at this point in my life. Primarily: Child of God, wife, mother, homeschool instructor, housekeeper.

Child of God:

- Continue to spend daily time with Him, even during times of inconsistent schedules. I am actually very disciplined in this area, except during breaks from daily routine (holidays, vacations, etc.) This needs to remain consistent no matter what happens with the rest of my day!

- Memorize Romans 12. This is kind of an easy one, because I have done it before, but it was 11 years ago. There is so much detail in the chapter that is easy to miss in simply reading it, so I want to commit it to memory again.

- Pray consistently for each family member. Again, I have a schedule for this, but during breaks it gets set aside. I need to be consistent with this 365 days a year. Satan never lets up on his attacks, and we need to keep our defenses strong.


Wife:

- God really worked on my heart during my recent get away with my husband and I realized how often this hat gets lost in the shuffle, or buried underneath all the other hats I have on at the time. I want to take time each day to just be a wife. To daily do at least one thing that isn't about managing the kids or schedules or meals or errands, but just about my relationship with my best earthly friend.

- Pray each morning and night for my husband

- Start the year with a month of focus on this area of my life. I hope to blog about this more, about some of what God has challenged me in, and encourage you to make your marriage a priority as we enter the new year.


Mother:

- Show genuine love to each of my children each day.

- Speak openly and often of Christ in conversation around the home.

- Continue to seek out good books to encourage and challenge me as a mother (right now I am finishing up Age of Opportunity, and need to find another one after that)


Homeschool Instructor:

- Expect more diligent work during school hours. I realize I have been a little lax in what I look for some days. I want to be faithful stewards of each minute we have together to learn. It won't always be academic, but I don't want to waste an opportunity.

- Consistently spend time each weekend wrapping up any loose ends and prepping the week ahead. This makes such a difference in our school week! I have done this about 75 percent of the time this year and want to get closer to 100%.


Housekeeper:

- Be consistent with routines already set in place. This is one area that I feel I am mostly on top of (finally!), at least in the areas of plans and intentions, and just need to keep up with my plans and intentions consistently.

- Tackle some of the hidden clutter around our house. This is slowly getting better, and I don't want to let up. Each month I try to drive a few boxes or bags to a donation site (or my parents' house for a garage sale), and I want to continue this habit.


Sounds like a lot when I look it over, but I have 12 months to keep at it, and I wouldn't want to get bored. If it gets too overwhelming, I've always got that first list to fall back on.

Happy New Year!

Christmas




I have been relatively absent from my computer for about a week due to many of the holiday preparations. We hosted Christmas twice, had a birthday party and then battled a short bout with a stomach virus that hit all but two of us. And, of course, celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior and remembering all that He did for us in coming as a babe in a Bethlehem stable so long ago.


Praying you all had a wonderful, peaceful Christmas yesterday. We enjoyed a special, quiet day together as a family. Nowhere to run to, nothing to plan, just togetherness and enjoying some of our traditional Christmas activities. Wanted to share some of our special moments with you all . . .


I have no idea who first connected Christmas with pickles, although various sites love to share the creative possibilities (read those here and here). Apparently a non-German tradition, despite much press to the contrary.


My sister bought us a cute little gherkin ornament a few years back and it has quickly become a treasured part of our Christmas morning.


The littles get a few extra minutes before we release the older two.



Where, oh where, can my gherkin be?


Blake working diligently to maintain pickle finding champ status.



Success! Faith earned the pickle present this year.



Then on to stockings. We don't involve Santa Clause in our Christmas focus, but we do enjoy exchanging gifts and I have fun filling stockings on Christmas Eve after the kids are in bed.



Paige and Faith are so thankful for the walkie-talkies that now enable them to have conversations from opposite ends of the couch. :-)




My beautiful princess in her new Christmas nightgown.


We spent the day relaxing and I actually spent some time folding laundry and cleaning up wrapping paper central so we could once again walk around our bedroom. I also finally got the suitcases put away . . . what a crazy couple weeks it has been! In the evening we watched Prince Caspian, which I loved and will have more to say on another post, hopefully soon.


Now we look forward to more quiet and time to get life back to normal. Another wonderful Christmas to top off a year of growth and learning to walk more closely with my King.

Giving and Quilling


For our Keeper's and Contender's Club project this month I led a lesson on quilling. I had just learned the craft myself as I browsed the handbook for inspiration. Quilling offers a wonderful, simple, yet beautiful craft that is fairly simple for even little hands (6 and 7 year olds attempted this with much success) to master.


I opened our time with a devotional that brought us back to the purpose of our club. While often our time centers around a craft that highlights a new skill, this is not simply a craft time. And, although we enjoy getting together with other homeschool families, the focus of this club is mentoring within our family to grow our boys and girls into godly men and women.


We talked about the use of all of our gifts for God and the challenge to give generously. The more skills and gifts we acquire, the more we can give away. In preparing for this time I came across an intriguing site that shares so much of what I believe about giving. I love the key verses that they shared including the category titles that they grouped them in. Such a powerful reminder that God owns everything, we should follow His example of extreme generosity, giving combats greed, God blesses us so we may give, and we need to keep God's agenda in mind. They list great verses to illustrate each of those principles.


So, what started as a simple devotional talk to make some practical and spiritual applications for our quilling craft, grew into a powerful personal devotional time for me as well. God continues to work on my heart and I am excited to see where He will lead in this area in the year to come.


Back to quilling . . .

Quilling is a paper craft that involves rolling and gluing. Simple procedures that produce amazing results. You start with quilling strips (purchased at most craft stores or online, see websites at the end of this post)

Quilling strips in a tube of 250 12 inch strips for about $3 at Hobby Lobby.

and a quilling tool (a long handle with a metal tip that has a slit opening at the end of it):


To begin, simply choose a strip and insert it into the slit at the top of the tool. Move the tool to the end of the paper strip and then spin the tool so the paper wraps around the tip to form a spiral coil.
Pop the coil off the end of the tool. You can then glue the end down as is for a tight coil, or . . .

Let the coil loosen for a loose coil that can then be shaped and pressed into a variety of designs from ovals to diamonds to squares. The end is glued in place to retain its desired shape.

After you have created a number of shapes these can be glued together (while working on a wax paper surface for easy removal when dry) to form anything from snowflakes to people.

My first attempt, I was pretty impressed!


My girls (7 and 9) made these flowers to put on a card for me that I just opened on Christmas. These were their first attempts at quilling and they really enjoyed it.


Many stores also sell kits that provide patterns and special colors to create projects for a specific holiday or theme. These kits run only a couple dollars and provide some beautiful pieces that could be used as ornaments, card decorations, or to enhance picture frames or other gifts.


I also found some great websites that offered patterns and other quilling resources:
Quilling.com (the same company that makes the kits that I bought)
A Handcraft site with a nice little section on quilling.
I used this quilling site extensively for its good descriptions of the basic shapes and some very simple designs to form for beginners.
For online purchases, this "quilling superstore" has quite a bit to offer.
To see some beautiful quilling in a variety of projects see this keepsake site.
One last site, whimsiquills, with lots of beautiful pieces and some simple patterns available for free as well.
And, if you get hooked, there is even a yahoo quillers group.


Of course, I checked out a few books from the library for the kids to thumb through in between their projects. Here were a few that we enjoyed:
- Popular Quilling
- Quilling to be used on cards
- The Book of Paper Quilling

There are others out there, these are just a few that I found conveniently at my local library.

If you are looking for a new craft to take up, or supplement your cards or scrapbooks with; or if your children need something to keep their minds and hands busy during the cold winter days ahead, you might consider something so old it is new, and take a spin into the world of quilling.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Toy packaging

Picture of Discarded Christmas Wrapping Paper - Free Pictures - FreeFoto.com

We enjoyed a full, sometimes crazy weekend with first my family and then my husband's family. About 20 people at our house each day with lots of food, laughter, and presents.

These days, with so many kids' gifts comes the joy of toy packaging. The twists, the ties, the tape, the glue. Ah, the joy of it all! My kids enjoy the generosity and love of quite a few aunts, uncles, and grandparents. So, this song resonated with me and added a smile to my face as I faced my own post-Christmas gathering-toy-packaging battles.


Here's the lyrics if you are interested in reading along (sometimes I found the audio a little fuzzy):

Nothing makes me lose my cool like
Toy packaging
Ask the kids to leave the room for
Toy packaging
I have no choice the money's spent
I've worked for hours to make a dent
I guess it's anger management
Toy packaging

Nothing makes me lose my cool like
Toy packaging
Ask the kids please leave the room it's time for
Toy packaging
I'm drawing up a battle plan
to extricate this robot man
My self-esteem is in the can
Toy packaging

In the old days you could hold a box and shake it
And hear the pieces rattling around
My eyes tear up with these grommets, tape and twisty ties
Remembering their beautiful sound

Toy Packaging
I love Toy Packaging
(Mom! Honey!)

Nothing makes me lose my cool like toy packaging
Kids you really need to leave the room, mom's opening toy packaging
I'm sorry you have to see this sight
You must be brave, no please don't cry
I promise it will be alright
I hope to have it by tonight
Nevermind this dynamite
Toy packaging


More Christmas memories in the making. :-)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Joy


Where do I find my Christmas Joy?


Christmas joy comes in the little moments, usually after the big meal has been served and my mind is once again clear of my "Martha" worries.


Joy in extended family together, remembering Christ's birth through reading Luke 2 and singing Silent Night.


Joy in seeing my son, 11 years old now, and always overwhelmed by the generosity behind the gifts he receives. Not generally an emotional kid, but he actually gets choked up when thanking person after person for the gifts.


Joy in quiet moments spent head on shoulder of my husband watching the Christmas tree or listening to the kids joyfully sharing their new gifts.


Joy in traditions: sweet cereal for breakfast, finding the pickle ornament on the tree, driving around to look at lights, Christmas stockings, singing the rich carols.


Joy in the moments of discipline. Invariably one child complains rather than thanks after opening a gift (I have this, I don't like these, etc.) And, it becomes a moment to love, to teach, to instruct. I need to find joy in these moments, too. These "momentary, light afflictions" can produce an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (both in my self and child), if we don't let it pass without joy in the opportunity to parent these little ones according to His Word.


Joy in the peace and hope that I have. So foolish to the world. So incomprehensible to those that build their lives apart from it. Jesus Christ, setting aside His glory to become flesh with the ultimate goal of paying the price for my sin. How can I not find joy in the celebration of this day?


Need more Christmas joy?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs - winter treats

http://i301.photobucket.com/albums/nn63/sillydreamer91/graphics/hm18.png


Each day my kitchen has a different scent this week. Chex Mix, Toffee Bars, Sugar Cookies, so many goodies, so many calories! I had prepared for Christmas a couple months ago with a mass baking campaign, but somehow, none of that is left . . .


So, we begin again. And, for Homeschool Memoirs they happen to want our favorite winter treat recipes posted, so I figured I would share one of my favorite standbys and a new favorite.


This was the first year for trying these Toffee Candies and they were a huge hit. The original recipe called for saltines, but I made them with graham crackers and we loved them.


Easy Toffee Candy

On a baking sheet lay out graham crackers broken into halves or quarters

In a small saucepan over medium heat melt:

1 stick butter

1 cup brown sugar

Once the mixture is well combined and gooey, pour evenly over crackers.

Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes, until bubbly.

Remove from oven and sprinkle 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips.

As chocolate melts, spread it around evenly.

Refrigerate until set then break apart and enjoy!


And, my absolute favorite cookie . . .

Chocolate Buttersweet Cookies

Cookie:

1/2 cup Butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teasp. vanilla

1-1/4 cups flour

Cream butter.

Add Sugar and vanilla gradually

Add flour

Shape by teaspoons into balls on ungreased cookie sheet.

Press in centers

Bake in preheated 350 oven for 12-15 minutes until delicately brown.

Fill while warm, then cool to frost.


Filling:

soften 3 oz. cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbsp flour

1 teasp. vanilla

1/2 cup coconut

1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)


Topping:

Melt together:

1/2 cup chocolate chips

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp water

1/2 cup confectioners sugar


These cookies are amazing!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Need a laugh?

My brother told me about this video and my husband tracked it down on YouTube.

If you are a Wii Fit fan or opponent you should enjoy it .

Calvary's love

Picture of Sunset, Hastings - Free Pictures - FreeFoto.com

Not long ago I stumbled on a book at a garage sale that I had heard about but never read. This book, not really intended to be read straight through, offers nuggets of challenge and encouragement.


Amy Carmichael wrote the book "If" as a compilation of sayings that came to her as she worked with children saved from temple prostitution and cared for at the Dohnavur Fellowship she founded. I cannot imagine the challenges she faced on any given day (spiritual, mental, physical, etc.), and yet she still recognized that she often attempted to work by some power of her own rather than through Calvary's love. Each of these sayings end with, "then I know nothing of Calvary's love."


She wrote these down initially for those that worked alongside her, but eventually decided to share them that they may encourage any who may find themselves as under-shepherds. Whether a mother, father, worker in children's ministry, or if you find yourself in some other capacity of nurturing lives, you may also find a wise word among these.



IF . . . I deal with wrong for any others reason
than that implied in the words,
"From His right hand went a fiery law from them.
Yea, He loved the people";
If I can rebuke without a pang,
then I know nothing of Christ's love.


IF . . . I have not the patience of my
Savior with souls who grow slowly;
if I know little of travail (a sharp and painful thing)
till Christ be fully formed in them,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.


What's my motivation today?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Verse of the week -- Ephesians 3:20, 21


Recently my bedtime reading has brought me to a book heralded as the sequel to Shepherding a Child's Heart. Although my oldest still has a couple years before official teenage categorization, I want to prepare as fully as possible for this next stage of parenting. Age of Opportunity has offered some insight, encouragement, practical tips, and real life examples of parenting teens God's way, even when our own fallen human nature botches things up at times.


Paul Tripp shares about some of his failures and then verses that have helped him get back on his feet again and one of these really jumped out at me. In Ephesians 3 Paul shares the following, empowering words, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."

That's a reminder I need to hear more often. As I strive to live my life in honor and praise to the King of Kings, I need to remember that His power works in me. The power that created the waterfalls, greater power than exists in our earth, greater power than the universe can contain. Power that can accomplish more than we can imagine. Not just a step beyond what we could envision, but abundantly beyond it. That very same power works in my life.


I can do it! I can parent. I can accomplish all that God has for me in the next 24 hours. Not in my own strength, but resting in His.


When I give up, He's just getting started.

When I cave, He's rock solid.

When I pull back, He presses on.

When my vision blurs, His clarity grows brighter.

I'm so glad I'm not in this alone.


Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

~Ephesians 3:20,21~

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Need a vacation?

It's that time of year . . . You know, when our to-do list takes up multiple single space pages and more items are added than removed each day. When simpler sounds better, but choosing what to eliminate seems to take more time than just doing it all. Need a little break? I probably took too long of one (10 days of forgetting absolutely everything that needed to be done back home in the next two weeks), but maybe a little relaxation would do you good.


God created an amazing world that brings so much peace when we sit and enjoy it. So, grab a cuppa, turn on some soft music, and relax with some images straight from God's art gallery. Mountains, waves, beaches, flowers, and waterfalls. Ready to feel that sand between your toes?

He alone stretches out the heavens
and treads on the waves of the sea.
~Job 9:8~

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
~Isaiah 58:11~


Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea-- the LORD on high is mighty. Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O Lord.
Psalm 93:4,5



He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.
~Psalm 107:29~






I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From whence shall my help come?
Psalm 121:1







Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
~Luke 12:27
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If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!
~Luke 12:28~




Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.

~Isaiah 55:2,3~