.home.school.planning.

The new school year is upon us and much like New Years, a new school year has me setting goals, examining routines and cleaning out junk. We start school this coming Monday the 8th and while I don’t feel 100% prepared, I’m so ready! It’s hard to believe I have a 5th grader and a 2nd grader.

I’ve taken some time the past week to specifically pray over our school year, ask for guidance and get some wisdom from the Lord (and not just in the areas of homeschooling). I felt a stirring in my soul for some reflection.

The only thing that we’ve changed as far as curriculum is that we are no longer using Singapore math. Luke will be using Teaching Textbooks and Eli will be using Math U See. Luke is so excited about his math being on the computer! We took a break from Heart of Dakota history last year to do Alabama History and I’m thrilled to be back with HOD’s history. We’ll be studying Creation to Christ this year! I am so looking forward to it!

In my praying and thinking over things, I landed on the idea of using clip boards for the boys to keep track of their chores and school work. I am NOT a planner type person. I love the idea of beautiful planners and everything all scheduled out but in reality, that’s not happening here. I need simple. I love simple. I do need direction and so do my kiddos and I think this clip board system might just work for us. Here is what Luke’s look like:

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(yes, my pages printed crooked and it’s driving me nuts but I hate to waste paper!)

So, every weekend I will get their clip board ready with their chore list (which won’t change) and school work list. Luke’s work correspond with headings in the Creation to Christ guide (seen below). We don’t do everything they suggest and sometimes we add our own things. That’s the beauty of homeschooling! Our covering requires us to write out daily plans, so this will not be something extra I’m adding to my plate. You can get these printables and more here. If I were computer savvy, I would create my own template and type in each item and maybe I’ll figure that out someday but for now, writing it in will work.

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There are several points that I’m hoping that we will benefit from by using this system. First, this will help Luke gain more independence in his school work. He will be responsible for completing his independent work (the yellow) in a certain time period. Some things he will have to complete daily and some (the books/audio books section) he will have freedom to work on whenever as long as it’s completed by the end of the week. (Just a side note: I don’t choose his free reading books, like The Boxcar Children. We do have a say in what he can and can’t read just like we have a say in what he can and can’t watch, but he gets to choose what he wants from books we approve.) In the future he will have more projects with deadlines that he will work on his own time because I think it’s something everyone should learn to do. These checklists will also help me in that I won’t have to be directing him constantly with what he should do next. He has it all in front of him. He’s always been very independent in his work but it was all guided by me. Now, he can guide himself for the first half of the school day while I focus on working one on one with Eli. The green sections will be times when we are together with Eli joining in. The orange boxes are when we work one on one.

Some may look at this list and see A LOT of work, but it really isn’t. There are three sections for History, but they are all a part of a whole. They are just written separately because they are under different headings in the guide. Altogether, his work should take him about 3 hours total. Our school day will run from 9:30am-1:30pm with a break for a snack, lunch and some exercise outside! Eli’s school day will be shorter, around 2 hours total. For those organizing/planning types, this system will not impress you at all. For those non-planning types (raises hand!), it may seem overwhelming. I’ve convinced myself that writing these two sheets out once a week will take me just a few minutes, since I’m following the HOD guide and the few minutes it takes will greatly help us. And you know what? If we don’t get something done for good reason, it’s okay. I’m not a stickler on that stuff because I learned long ago that whether or not my to-do list gets completed is not a good gauge of whether or not I’m choosing wisely. Sometimes the wisest and best things we can do in a day are never on a list.

No matter how you plan or not plan, no matter what types of books or programs you use, remember mamas,

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

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In Pursuit of…

I’m a total weirdo. I’ll be the first to admit it and for the most part I’m more than okay with it. There are lots of things about me that make me weird. The whole anxiety thing makes me super weird and socially awkward. It totally screws with my life and I’m not okay with that. I’m a work in progress there. But there are many choices I’ve made on purpose for my life that may make me weird to others. There is no need to list them because if you know me, you can probably name few! Robby and I have also made choices for our family that may be unusual to some. We’ll probably continue to make them as life goes on. Those are the things I’m good with. We kind of like being weird. We’ll be the weird people and own it!

Going against the grain is often a good thing in the life of a believer, right? The Bible talks about the wide and narrow gate. Many enter through the wide gate and the Bible says it’s an easy gate to enter. But that wide gate, it leads destruction. That must mean that the narrow gate is where fewer enter and the journey is more difficult. Yet, the narrow gate leads to eternal life. Well, that flies in the face of the prosperity gospel, right? Most would agree with me that we need to avoid the wide path, right? The believer will because she has been made new, and therefore puts to death, “sexual immorality, impurity, evil desires, covetousness, which is idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk, lying to one another.” These things from Colossians 3 are pretty cut and dry, black and white. But what about other things that aren’t so black and white in our life? Do we only stick to the exact written word (Thou shall not…) and everything else is fair game?

I can’t give you a specific list of those types of things because I could never exhaust it. We’re talking about things that aren’t morally wrong… hobbies, friendships, ideas, charities, activities, movies, music, food, places and so on. What I can say from experience is that sanctification will cause us to also stop doing things that aren’t on the black and white list. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that sanctification is “a continuing change worked by God in us, freeing us from sinful habits and forming us in Christlike affections, dispositions and virtues.” Sanctification includes putting away things that hinder our affections for Christ, even if they aren’t morally wrong. This is all part of growing in holiness. We are called to pursue holiness.

I came across this quote in Recovering Redemption that describes this kind of sanctification work, “The only healthy sin is dead sin… Scripture can help us outline  a whole lot of things in our lives that are only good for being yanked up and being burned in our back yard. Open and shut. Cut and dry. Black and white. But you’re also likely to find, as you keep maturing in the faith and growing deeper into the sanctification process, that God’s Spirit will increasingly alert you to certain habits and hobbies, that — even though they are not morally wrong — are still personally detrimental to your own heart…. For whatever reason — for you — there’s just a noticeable drag in your zeal for Christ that slips in when you do these things or play around with these things or get into the vicinity of these things. Participating in it just always ignites some old feelings that compete with your purity and take the edge off your spiritual desire. And so there’s often wisdom in mortifying that particular distraction — whatever it is — in order to keep your heart vivacious in following hard after the Lord.”

Yes, in order to keep your heart vivacious for the Lord. Isn’t that the desire of our  hearts?

I know when God saved me 15 years ago and began working on my heart, relationships were some of the first to go. I wasn’t the same person and so I didn’t mesh with the same close friends anymore. I can remember it being hard. It was a very lonely time but it was a huge time of growth in my faith. God was growing my affections for Him. As I’ve continued in my relationship with Jesus, I’ve laid aside other things. It’s a constant in my life that won’t end until I’m with Christ.

It’s remarkable and beautiful really, that God would save me and keep me. He’s made me new and is making me new. Sanctification is hard sometimes but it’s the very work of God in our lives. And that is a glorious thing to behold! My encouragement to you (and myself) is to pursue holiness. Seek things that encourage purity and holiness. Keep a watchful eye on the various parts of your life and put away anything that lessons your affections for Christ, even if it makes you weird. Christ is always worth it.

 

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What’s on your mind?

Taking my thoughts captive has been one of the greatest tools for fighting my anxiety. Our minds are so powerful. But this idea of taking our thoughts captive isn’t just for those of us with anxiety. Taking thoughts captive and renewing our minds should be a common, continuous practice for those of us in Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 says, For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,  being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” We have weapons that have the divine power to destroy strongholds. This is good news for me! One of those weapons is to take our thoughts captive. Before we can even try to figure out how to do this, we must understand why we should.

We are constantly bombarded with worldly things. It’s almost impossible to get away from it entirely, no matter how diligent you may be with what goes before your eyes and in your ears. Matt Chandler describes it as “.. nagging, noisy combination of sound bites, bad advice, rumors, old wives tales, trivia, others’ opinions, devilish accusations, breaking news and all the unholy influences we allow to rattle around in our brains all day, from beer commercials and movie trailers, to temporary worries and a whole carousel of covetous desires.” I honestly don’t think we have any idea how much the things we hear and see shape our mind. It’s dangerous.  Everything around us is fighting against what God’s Word says. Truth continues to be attacked, though often times it is so subtle we don’t notice. We might be aware of the vulgar commercial we just saw. But it’s the ideals and opinions we are forming about various parts of our life that come from an unholy and God-less mindset that seem to slip in unaware because they aren’t one of the seven deadly sins.

So, how can we combat this daily infiltration of truth robbers? God’s Word. ” … if God’s message is not deep inside you, where you can meditate on it, return to it, and frequently call it back to mind, you won’t be able to discern what’s really true from what may be really intriguing, really alluring, really convincing, but really false. And really defeating.”  (Chandler) This is why God’s word must be our daily bread. It must be what we feast on. It must be our life’s work.

It’s a war. It’s a battle of what is going to occupy our minds. I posted this on Facebook yesterday: The Bible changes our worldview. Sometimes I read things that come across my Facebook feed from a professing believer that makes me scratch my head. Be careful, friends, of worldly sayings and ways of thinking. Test everything according to God’s Word. John Piper says, “Saturate your mind with the wide and deep truth and wisdom of Scripture so that you are equipped at every level to encounter with knowledge and to discern how the principles of Scripture guide you in assessing what you are seeing. Keep yourself in a community of believers where other minds also, besides your own, provide guidance and ballast so that you are not alone in this process of assessment.”

When are minds are filled with Scripture and false ideas come across, we can stop them. When our minds are filled with the truth in God’s Word and we begin to fear, we can remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness in Scripture. We can remind ourselves of the promises we’ve hidden away in our heart. When we’re faced with questions that we don’t have answers to we can hold those questions up in light of the solids truths from the Bible that we have built our foundation on. But we won’t know them if we don’t continually have a steady diet of Scripture. Read His word. Every day. Surround yourselves with others who love His word and will spur you on with truth. This constant fight is not easy. Fighting against my anxiety and my sin struggles is a hard battle. “Taking every thought captive to obey Christ” won’t happen magically for you or me. It’s a lifelong process of sanctification for the believer, a partnership with the living God who brings true satisfaction. And it’s totally worth it all.

Oh God, draw us to your beautiful Word. It is glorious and I pray I fall more in love with it every time I read it.

That’s my prayer for myself and for you.

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(Check back next week for some resources to help you with filling your mind with truth!)

Goals for the New Year

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I mentioned that I had made some New Years goals in my last post and I thought I’d share some of them this week. Honestly, for years I thought NY resolutions were kind of silly. I just read a post by someone who was shopping at a health food store earlier today. They commented to the cashier at how busy it was at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon. The cashier replied back that January was their busiest month of the year but it goes right back to normal in February. People are changing their eating habits.. for one month. Anyway, I thought it was interesting and one reason why I’m not big on major resolutions. Much of the time they don’t stick. But small goals throughout the year, I can do that. Taking some time to reflect on our life is a good thing.

Today, I’m going to stick to my health (food) goals for the year and honestly, I don’t have many that I’m starting. Most of them I’m just continuing. Over the past several years our family has slowly made changes to the way we eat. We eat a mostly real food diet and keep processed foods to as little as possible. We think this is important for our family. Our bodies are a gift and we want to take care of that gift by treating it well and taking care of it.

I gave up refined sugar back in October. What that means is no white sugar (or brown sugar). I mainly use honey and maple syrup. I occasionally use coconut sugar. Besides a little dark chocolate here and there and some BBQ sauce on a BBQ pizza, I’ve stuck to this goal. This is not a short term goal for me, this is a forever goal. Last year was the first time I’ve ever went through Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas with no dessert. Of course, you can make dessert without refined sugar but I just didn’t make anything. I’ve never been through Halloween without at least a little candy! And I survived! I’ll admit, the cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning were hard to resist but I’m determined to make them sourdough next  year and with coconut sugar! It’s hard to find research saying refined sugar is good for you, so I plan to continue this as a lifestyle change.

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(Our New Years dinner was homemade pizza. This one was BBQ chicken with red onion on a sourdough crust. I used the Archer Farms spicy barbecue sauce. It is corn syrup free!)

Around the same time I gave up sugar, I decided to go gluten free. I’m not one who thinks all gluten is evil, but I do think that processed gluten products (packaged crackers, bread, pasta) are not so great for you because of the strange chemicals added. And if you are trying to heal your gut, then going off gluten in the process is a good move. Gut health is so important. This is the main reason I decided to go gluten free. I’m working on my gut health (SLOWLY). I am still eating traditionally fermented sourdough that I make at home. It is easier to digest and much (though, not always all) of the gluten proteins get broken down in the process. Traditional food preparation is always better. So, one of my goals to go along with this is to make more sourdough. I plan to slowly convert all of my baked goods (muffins, pancakes, etc), so that all of us are only eating traditional sourdough at home.

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(My most recent sourdough loaf. I made this with 1 part spelt and 2 parts white flour. Delicious!)

Before Christmas I decided to give up coffee and tea. So, I plan to continue that. Like my other goals, this one is long term, too. With my anxiety, I felt like this was a good move for me. Occasionally, caffeine will cause my heart to race and that is the last thing I need. Also, because my anxiety causes so much stress on my body… because it is stress… I know my poor adrenal glands need support and caffeine does the opposite of that! I do love decaf coffee and herbal teas! There is just something comforting about a warm mug in your hands!

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(One of my favorite herbal teas! I love a cup before bed!)

Lastly, I want to get back to making kombucha regularly and learn to make homemade sourkraut (and possibly other fermented foods). Again, these are beneficial for the gut and something I’d like to add to all of our diets. I’m going to work on adding these slowly, because a sure way to fail is to do too much at once! So, once I get my kombucha system down again, I’ll start on kraut. I’m just praying my SCOBY isn’t dead. It’s looking like it might be. I’ve got some brewing and so far… nothing.:/ Thank goodness  I have a friend who always has SCOBY’s going!

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(Back when I had my kombucha system running like a well oiled machine! I’ll get there again!)

So, as you can see these aren’t all goals that I made on Jan 1st. These are goals that I’ve made over the past few months and a few more recent ones. Nonetheless, January is a good time to talk about them! I’ll leave you with something my pastor said this morning that he had heard recently: a goal without a plan is just a wish. Of course, he was talking along the lines of disciplines for holiness in leadership but it applies here, too. It’s something to ponder for sure. I have some other areas of life that I’ve set some goals for as well! Hopefully I can find time to share them soon.

What about you? Resolutions? Goals? Or none at all?

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{2016 is here: a look back and ahead}

I’m a little late to the game in the new years blog posts. I wrote this post out a few days ago but my laptop is being frustrating and wanting to go S.L.O.W.

As I think back over 2015, well, I have a lot of thoughts. I honestly don’t have many vivid memories from the first half of the year. The second half of the year though… was tough. For the past 6 or so months, I’ve dealt with some really heavy anxiety issues, which sometimes leads to depression. It’s been a hard few months and I’m still fleshing it all out.

As tough as it’s been, the Lord has been so good and gracious to me. He is teaching me so much and I trust that He will continue. He has met me in dark places. He has shown me love, a love I’m praying to fully comprehend. I know the root of much of my anxiety and I’m fighting head on. I’ve come face to face with some of the ugliness of my own sin during this time. I’m learning and I’m growing thanks to a loving Father who has not let me go. One thing I know, fear never comes from God to those He so loves. So, I will fight for joy and fight to fully trust in the God who loves me completely. I will continue to press in to Christ, to trust and seek Him. He is my answer. I want the world to know He is so worthy. That’s been a prayer I’ve been praying and today I read a quote that echos the same: “Our victory is that we treasure Christ in a way that exposes the world as unsatisfying.” (John Piper)

I’d like to share some of the ways I’m fighting in the future, but today I will mention the most influential book I read last year outside of the Bible. It’s When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy by John Piper. I highly recommend it, even if you’ve never dealt with anxiety or depression. It has helped me to see the biblical truths I need to focus on and put practical steps in growing and moving forward. Those truths are  so helpful to anyone! I will read it again and again!

Looking ahead, my hope for the new year is Jesus. My desire is Jesus. I do have some small goals that I’ve been praying over and maybe I will share those, too. I hope you’ll join me here in the new year because one of those smaller goals is to share more here as time allows. I think I say this often but I do want to be an encouragement to you. In closing, this song sums up much of my thoughts on my life…

“If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life overcome the grave

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long”

My Story, Big Daddy Weave

Blessings to you in the new year!

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Weekends are my favorite (list style)!

We had a fun three day weekend, so I’m posting our weekend recap (in list style) today!

1. My favorite Fridays are when my hubby is home! We are blessed that he gets every other Friday off. This Friday we decided to take breakfast to the park and have a little picnic. It was a great way to start off our weekend, even if we did come home and do some school!

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2. Saturday we spent the majority of our day organizing! We cleaned out two closets, plus part of another. I am NOT an organizer. Seriously, my sister got every bit of those genes. I am really trying to get better at storing things we use wisely, getting rid of things we don’t and making our space work for us, not against us! Simplify! The boys also had fun putting together a puzzle we found that had never been opened!

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3. I love chocolate and have totally been craving something chocolaty and sweet! I gave up all refined sugar over a month ago. I also gave up all processed breads/grains. I am eating traditionally fermented (for at least 8 hours) sourdough a few times a week. I made these brownies with coconut sugar (it is technically “refined” but I am okay with having it in a treat now and then. I have only used it once in the past 5 weeks for myself.) last week and while they weren’t really like a fudgy brownie, they were good! Robby and I both noticed that they were much better the next day right out of the fridge. I’m going to play with the recipe to try and get something more brownie-like!

4. Speaking of a treat, most nights I just have a cup of tea with a little honey. I use to really not like hot tea at all but over the past year it has grown on me and now I love it. I have a cup almost every night and it satisfies that sweet, comforting taste I’m looking for at the end of the day. There is something about holding a warm cup of tea (or coffee) that is soothing to the soul! My favorite night time teas right now are Numi Honeybush and Yogi’s Chai Rooibos teas.

5. My sweet little muffin has slept in his own bed for the past three nights. He now has his own big boy bed in the room with his big brothers. He sleeps through the night now, but last night he was up twice the first two nights, but last night only once! I knew there was going to be some adjustments. The first night was bittersweet for me. Jude has been next to me for the past 2.5 years, so it was a change for both of us! It was definitely time for him to move out of our bed though. He still nurses to sleep!🙂

6. I’m a huge fan of fall. Football, cooler temps, chili, soups, pumpkin bread, cinnamon spice everything and my anniversary! I ditched candles a while back and only use my essential oil diffuser in the house. I decided to come up with a fall spice scent to replicate those fall smells I love. Here is the recipe I came up with and love for the diffuser!
3 drops of cinnamon bark
2 drops of nutmeg
2 drops of orange
1 drop of ginger
1 drop of clove
It smells so yummy! The only down side is that it might make your family think that you are baking something yummy!

7. Robby picked me up a new notebook to take notes in during church. I love it! I was expecting a plain jane one (which I would have been totally happy with!) but he had picked out something he knew I would love. When he brought it home, he told me that it was only $14.99. I gasped! He knew I would probably flip because, um, a notebook for $14.99! Of course, he was joking! It was only $2.99 from Target. Isn’t it pretty?

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8. We were blessed with a new washer and dryer this weekend! The Lord is truly our Jehovah Jireh and provides for us! It’s been fun learning how to use it because it has a lot of buttons! It’s like a new toy to me!

9. Speaking of laundry… My mom came by to visit this afternoon and helped me get caught up on some of it!! Luke came in the kitchen and saw her putting on a load of laundry and said, “I don’t think this is how you should treat guests!” LOL! It only takes a few days for a family of five to get way behind laundry. I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with my mama today!

10. I just finished reading through the book of Ephesians and started Philippians. I’m doing the study on She Reads Truth. As I looked back over the week, my favorite post from last week was on friendship (from Phil 2:19-20). I am surrounded by some really amazing women. I mentioned it last Monday, but this got me thinking about it more. I have women that I can text or call a prayer need and they will pray immediately for those needs. I don’t want to take that for granted. When they say they will pray, I know they will pray and meet with the Father on my behalf or on the behalf of someone I know. Vivian Mabuni says, “We become like the people with whom we spend our time.   God calls us to walk with Him in the company of like-minded believers. Like Paul, we learn that while following God’s will is extremely worthwhile and rewarding, it’s also utterly mysterious and sometimes flat-out hard. This is why the people we choose to surround ourselves with play such a critical role.” I was encouraged to praise God for these women and also pray that the Lord will give me opportunities to grow in my relationships with them. My challenge to you: Who do you surround yourself with most? Do they deepen your desire for the Father? Do they encourage you to dig into God’s Word? Do they encourage you to be more Christlike?

Well, that about sums it up! Are you a hot tea drinker? Have any types or flavors that I must try? What about healthy sweet treats that would satisfy and nourish? Bonus if they are gluten free or sourdough! And lastly, how do you nourish the friendships you have with other believers outside of the church walls?

Hope you have a great week! It’s almost half over!

Weekends.. my favorite!

We had a super relaxing and enjoyable weekend. The kids and I spent  Friday at my moms celebrating my Mawmaw’s birthday. Saturday was a rainy and gloomy. We just spent the day at home. I organized and went through some bins of clothes. I’ve been swapping over seasons and seeing what I had saved for Eli and Jude. Robby took a load of stuff to the thrift store. I love watching stuff we don’t need or use ride off to the thrift store. It’s such a good feeling. It’s literally like a weight being lifted. We have a lot of stuff but we are continually trying to live more simply. Later, we watched the Alabama game and just hung out. I love days like that. I’m such a homebody!

Sunday was such a good day, although, it didn’t start out that way for me. I woke up anxious and who knows why! I worked through it and mid sermon I was good. Sunday’s message was something I desperately needed to hear. We are going through Proverbs and it was on using our words to bring encouragement and life. I need a lot of work in this area and I needed to do a lot of confessing afterwards! If you’d like to listen, HERE is the link to the sermon. I had left my phone in the diaper bag which was with Jude in the nursery, so that was frustrating. I take notes on my phone, so I had to squeeze my notes on the bulletin. I think I’m going to switch back to a notebook for sermon notes. Otherwise, I’m going to have to save and print all of my phone notes. And well, we all know I’m not going to actually do that. Do you take notes in church? If so, what kind of system do you use? It’s a proven fact (right?! or did I make that up?) that you remember more if you take notes.

We had a lovely baby shower for a friend at church Sunday afternoon. I absolutely love baby showers at our church. They are unique in that not only do we shower the mama and baby with gifts of diapers, clothes and the like, but we also shower them with some spiritual encouragement. At each shower someone speaks on biblical motherhood. It’s so beautiful and not only does it feed the sweet mama preparing for her new baby but I think I can speak for most mamas there, it serves us as well. I’m thankful to attend a church that sees motherhood as such a high calling. It’s seen in the way us mamas are encouraged to remember that our heart is our home. Yesterday, we were encouraged to allow the gospel to shape our days, rather than others’ ideas of what our lives should look like or what we should be accomplishing. It’s easy to feel like a failure when our homes don’t quite look like a Pinterest photo at the end of the day and our to-do list is still a mile long. We put standards on ourselves that Christ never intended. I’m so encouraged to be surrounded by a community of women who desire a deep relationship with Christ.  They spur me on in my own walk with Christ. It is such a blessing!

{Just as an FYI, an excerpt from the book Mom Enough was read at the shower. I haven’t read it yet but actually downloaded the book about 2 weeks ago. There are a few free downloads here. I have heard great things about it! I’ve read from several of the authors and have really loved what I’ve read. Godly mentors (Titus 2!) are few and far between, and I’m thankful for the ones I’ve never met who write wise words for me to read.}

I hope you all have a great week!

See ya later, alligator!

(Can yall just pretend there is an awesome, appropriate picture here that draws you into read the post below? K, thanks!)

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve taken a break from Facebook. I’ve done this before but this time feels different. I’m perfectly okay with the possibility of being gone forever.

There’s no candy-coated way to lay it all out to make myself look noble for doing such a thing. I know people take breaks from Facebook for many reasons, lots of them good! I really love the good things about Facebook. It has redeeming qualities for sure… But Facebook is not good for me. Often it turns in to downright sin. Sin doesn’t have to be blatantly “bad”. Sin can come in all forms. I recently had a talk with Luke about sin. He was asking me how to determine when something in your life that isn’t an “obvious” sin, is in fact a sin. Here’s how I explained it to him… When something is taking away time that you normally would spend with the Lord, it’s sin. If you can watch TV, play games, get on Facebook, go shopping or {fill in the blank} but you never have time to spend with the Lord, there’s a problem. It’s sin. I told him when something is hurting your relationships with people, it’s sin. If you’re face is always in your phone or computer and you aren’t spending time with your family, it’s sin. The same can be said about lots of things: hobbies, friends, even charities or organizations you may be involved in. Even work can hurt relationships. Also, if something effects your work negatively to where you cannot work with integrity and diligence, then it’s sin. A good question to ask ourselves is, what do I think about most? We love what we spend time doing or what we spend a lot of time thinking about. As a man thinks, so he is. (My paraphrase of Proverbs 23:7) This conversation was good for Luke, but it was especially good for me and reinforced my decision to stay away from Facebook. Facebook was stealing my time and affections. That sounds so dumb, right? But it’s so true. And sin is dumb, by the way.

“Sin is not merely wrong doing, but wrong adoring.” (Tony Reinke)

I’ve known for a long time that I struggled with this but I never had the power to completely cut it off. I’d take a few days off, try to schedule my time better, set time limits… but it never worked. Mark 9:43 says, “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” So, I just cut off my hand. I’m committed stay away until God says otherwise.

I tell all of this not to show myself great. I can assure you, it’s quite the opposite. It’s been a long battle. Obedience, like salvation and faith, is a gift from God. He is my power and on my own, I totally fail. I share this because it’s important for us believers to take sin seriously, no matter what it is. My time, service and affections belong to God. He’s called me to specific tasks. When I allow something to come before that, it’s sin, plain and simple. It’s idolatry. It’s empty and futile. Something like Facebook might seem silly to some but you pick your own vice… gambling, eating, shopping, spending money you don’t have, sports, desiring praise from others, friends that cause you to stumble, game apps, television… and the list goes on and on. “.. the lure behind every addiction is the same. We turn to a God substitute to find our joy, our security, our hope and our approval.” (Tony Reinke)

I want those things: joy, security, hope and approval. I know truth and I believe God’s word. God is true satisfaction. (1 Timothy 6:17-19, Psalm 22:26, Romans 15:13, Matthew 5:6, Psalm 91:2) I know this, yet in my flesh, I still battle with sin taking God’s place but it’s a battle that is worth fighting. He is the only hope that can stand and hold me through it all. His approval is all I need.

The greatest truth in it all is that He deserves my adoration. He is worthy of all my affection. Those other things are futile. Whatever I battle tomorrow and forever do not compare to His glory and His worth. I want to live my life continuing to fight, die to myself and live for Him. This is the desire of my heart.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26

P.S. The quotes from Tony Reinke are from the book, The Joy Project. There are a few free downloads of the book here. I ended up getting the kindle version for my kindle app so I can highlight! I’d love to know if anyone is reading it or wants to read it with me. I need a discussion partner! Send me an email or FB message (yes, I kept Facebook messenger because that’s my only way of communicating with some!).

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Good stuff for your weekend!

I just wanted to pop in here and give you a quick update and some other info! I’m on a Facebook break… Maybe a few weeks or months, maybe forever. I plan to write about that more at some point but today is not the day. How’s that for quick?

I came across this link in an Ann Voskamp newsletter and had to share it. It’s a book from Desiring God called The Joy Project. I love when God gives you tools to fight battles that you are fighting. I posted on Instagram (I’m breaking from there, too!) a while ago that I am reading When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy by John Piper. I’m still reading that and I think The Joy Project is going to be a perfect companion. I know there are people out there who could benefit from the book and so that’s why I had to jump on the blog to share it. It’s from a trusted source (Can I just take a pause to say that reading books on biblical subjects is only beneficial if they are written by sound men and women. This is ridiculously important. There is a bunch of junk out there in the ‘religious books’ genre.) If you get the downloadable book, it’s FREE! I downloaded the PDF version on my phone in my iBooks. There is also a free version for Kindle. A Kindle is on my wish list! The links to all of the ways you can get the book are all on this page at the bottom. I hope you’ll check it out!

Some other links that may be beneficial to you:

How to Make a Simple Prayer Journal

The Absolutely Enormous List of Christian History Books (By Grade and Time Period)

Sourdough Crackers (on my list to make!)

Have a great weekend!

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Judge not and how to love well…

When the media spotlights controversial subjects, you get to hear everyone’s opinion on it. Social media is full of posts letting you know how all of your family, friends and acquaintances feel. I don’t find fault in this because I like to share things as well. I do try to be wise about what I share, sharing only what I consider to be of value, truth and in love. It can be rather disturbing though, when you see what others believe by sharing and liking certain things. (FYI, others can often see things you like, which has been some of the most disappointing things to me. What some may not publicly share, they will often “like” it and then it shows up in my feed.) As my husband recently said, “You don’t have to read minds, just read Facebook.” I’m often concerned, frustrated and down-right sad over what I’ve seen.

The subject of judging others has come up many times. “Only God can judge me (or them)!” And they are correct in terms of God judging the soul for eternity. God is the ultimate and final judge. Unfortunately, many find comfort in this for some reason, but the reality is that it should cause fear and a good long look at our own life in comparison to God’s word. We will all be judged and God’s standard is perfection.

The truth is God has laid out how we are to deal with others in sin. We are called to judge other believers. We are responsible for those who call themselves members of His body. We are called th look at the fruit in the lives of others who profess Christ. The verse often quoted, “Judge not, that you be not judged (Matthew 7:1),” doesn’t end there. Jesus goes on to say that the judgement you give someone will be the same given to you (my paraphrase, read the text here). So, first you deal with your own sin, before you can go to someone else about theirs. Matthew 18:15-17 goes deeper and says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him along. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

These verses are for the believer, for the body of Christ. They are for anyone who calls themselves a Christian. It is our job as believers to keep one another accountable. It’s our job to go to someone who is “wandering” as James says. If we see something questionable or outright sin, we should go to them in love. It’s always in love and covered in prayer. As the verses lay out, first you go to that person one to one. This always begins within relationships. It’s how we should operate in biblical community. Our walk with God isn’t one done in isolation. For the believer, it is our whole life. The goal in going is to talk it out. Maybe you misunderstood a situation and everything is fine or maybe there is sin. If there is sin and the person refuses to repent before God, you go to them with others. Again, the goal is restoration with God. Lastly, if there is no repentance, it goes before the local body of believers that this person has revealed an unregenerate heart. An unregenerate heart is one that doesn’t know Jesus. The issue of hypocrisy would dwindle inside the church walls. If this person has no local body, well, that is another subject all together. A believer needs a local body for many reasons, one being accountability. That subject is for another day.

It’s important to see that those who went to him were not the ones who revealed that unregenerate heart. The Bible revealed it. Those who went to him just followed the steps that God laid out in scripture. The hope is, of course, that the person will say, “You’re right. This is sin and I need to repent.” And they will do just that and be restored to God and continue to grow in faith. That doesn’t always happen, but there is still great purpose in the process.

There is one huge problem with this and that is that most churches do not practice this kind of accountability. Most believers don’t go to one another because “it’s not my place” or “I don’t want them to think I’m judging them”… But that is not loving. Let me attempt to explain. Let’s say you have two churches, both with a person living in unrepentant sin. It’s become evident to members in both churches. In one church they practice church discipline. So, they follow the steps and this person says, “I’m going to continue to live this way.” This church then, considers this person an unbeliever and he is no longer a member of that local body. The other church does nothing. Many people notice this person’s sins but they don’t want to get involved. They just ignore it. This is completely unloving. This person continues to live in this sin all the while the church is affirming that he is a Christian. The first situation didn’t end as anyone would want it to, but the hope is that it will jar the person into seeing their separation from Christ. The prayer is that this person’s eyes will be opened to their “lostness” and that God will open their eyes to the truth. This is the point of the gospel message! To open the eyes of the blind! This is how to love others. The second person, whose sin is ignored, has had no one share the truth to him. The reality is that no one cares for his soul enough to and if he is an unbeliever, his fate is hell. Sometimes we need to be reminded, people do die and go to hell.

James 5:19-20 says, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

Practicing Matthew 18 with your brothers and sisters is one of the most loving things we can do. It reveals the heart. It will reveal if there is fruit of a regenerate heart. A Christian wants to be in fellowship with God. And if the person truly doesn’t know God then the prayer is that this person is brought back to the truth and saved from death (that is, hell). This is not a way we deal with those who don’t call themselves a Christian. They need the gospel message brought to them. I struggle often with how to deal with some I come in contact with. In our area and I think common in the Bible belt, most people consider themselves a Christian. And many aren’t in a local body at all. So, I’m trying to figure out, how to we talk to them about their sin? How do we apply Matthew 18 to them when there isn’t a local body to answer to. I’m often deeply concerned with those who claim His name but they don’t have the fruits of a regenerate life. I’d love some thoughts on this, so please share! Also, I’m wanting to take a specific look at some verses like “Judge not…” that are commonly misinterpreted for future posts.

As always, I pray this was encouraging and that God is glorified! May we love others deeply in truth, the way Christ did.

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