Thursday, February 23, 2012

Motherhood: Raising World Changers

"God, teach our children to humbly 
consider others better than themselves. 
May they look not only to their own interests,
 but also to the interests of others."

I often wonder what God will call each of my children to do later on in life.  Will they serve as missionaries on foreign soil?  Will they be leaders or elders in their home church?  Or will they be shining lights in the secular world?  It excites my soul to know and trust that God has a plan for each of them.  

And because of this, I often question myself.  God has entrusted us with four precious children to teach them in the way they should go.  So, how am I molding them into becoming world changers?  

I recently went into our local grocery store to do some shopping with my children.  Throughout the store, I heard many comments about my "heavy burden" and how I am brave to take them out to the store.  One woman even asked me if I ran a daycare and yet another asked about their dad.  I was taken back by their freedom of speech.  No one seemed to care about the impact their words were having on my children whom had heard every comment against them.  And because of this, my heart was heavy.  My children are not a burden to me.  Rather, I am doing my best to raise burden lifters.

Raising world changers begins at home. 

How do we start to raise world changers?

1.  We begin by prayer.  

Because we want our children to exemplify Christ, Philippians 2:3-8 can be a great prayer guide:

"God, teach our children to humbly consider others better than themselves. May they look not only to their own interests, but also to the interests of others."

We also ask the Lord to bless our kids, not necessarily with wealth or fame or an easy life, but that through them, His way would be known on Earth and His salvation among all nations (Psalm 67:1-2).

2.  Serve together as a family!

Our children should not be an excuse to not ever do ministry.  They can serve alongside of us even in the small stuff.  Serving others will help children see beyond themselves.  It brings needs into the light and allows for children to see the power of God up close and personal.

World changers follow Christ's example through service. They practice kindness and are willing to sacrifice convenience and comfort for another's sake.  The earlier kids see our hands at work, the greater chance we have of equipping them for a lifetime of compassion and service.

3.  Make time to talk to your children about faith.

About a week ago, I pulled over to purchase a newspaper that is sold by those in need here in Nashville.  The man looked at me and proceeded to ask me about my faith.  He said that he could see that I was a Christian by my demeanor.  We talked for a little bit & then I drove home.  For a split second, I felt pride that he spoke kindly of me in front of my children.  As I looked up into the rearview mirror, I was struck with conviction.

I looked at their sweet faces and thought of our morning.  I had raised my voice several times to corral all the kids into our van.  No one was listening to me.  One jumped in the mud and another didn't want to wear her shoes.  All were in tears before we left the driveway.  They did not see Christ in me that day.  

When we got home, I had to ask for their forgiveness.  We talked about serving others and how we need to do so with a rightful heart.  I shared with them how Christ is always compassionate and how no matter the circumstance, mommy needed to show compassion, too. 

If we want our children to be world changers, we need to be intentional about sharing our faith.

In addition to being intentional about communicating with our children, we need to be intentional about modeling and sharing our faith with them.

Raising world changers begins at home.  From there, only God knows and that's a trustworthy saying to be excited about! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mary's Fictional Story: Raising Awareness Against Sex Trafficking


The air is crisp outside.  It feels like the coldest winter that I've ever experienced.  Some people seem to really enjoy this time of year; however, I can't help but dislike it.  To some, it is called, 'the most wonderful time of the year', but to me, it seems like any other month of the year, just much colder.  Please don't get me wrong.  I want it to be happy, joyful, & filled with wonder, but I just don't know how.  You see, nothing is great about living on the streets.

I've made some mistakes in my life.  I have chosen selfishly and strayed from what others call "normalcy".  One bad step after another took me down a path of destruction.  I was kicked out of one foster home after another.  I grew up wanting to be loved, you know like the kind of love you see on TV for at the time, I knew nothing else.  But instead, the only 'love' I found was that of my caretaker's husband, who beat me and raped me until I was 12.   

Scared and alone, I ran.  I ran as far as my little legs could take me.  With the wind in my hair, I felt freedom like never before.  I was like a bird that for the first time spread out my wings and soar.

After a year, I ended up here in Atlanta, a city where anything is possible.  Right away, I was approached by a couple of well-dressed, young men.  It seemed easy to find 'friends' on the streets.  I was offered a job and shown pictures of young ladies partying and having a great time on a yacht.  They told me I was beautiful and shared fabulous stories of all the great things I would do and wonderful people that I would meet.

Blushing, I couldn't seem to hide my feelings.  I believed them.  I mean, they were nicely clothed and didn't smell like alcohol, so surely they were trustworthy.

"Are you hungry?  Let's get something to eat and we'll introduce you to our boss.  I'm sure he's going to hire you right away.  He's been searching for fresh new girls for the business."

"Ok," I naively said, "I am kind of hungry."  I shamefully entered the car and was handed a drink.

I remember nothing more of that night expect that it forever changed my life.  I was an easy target.  That had me at "you're beautiful". 

Night after night, I was drugged, beaten into submission, and scared into doing things that are too shameful to mention.   

They had a tight reign over me.  I was one of their "top" sellers.  Could this be considered as being a successful, business woman at age 13?  You'd probably say no, but in this line of work, it seems that I was 'sought after'. 

It disgusted me to pretend to enjoy what I was having to do, but it seemed as though there was no way out.  Is there anyone out there who can make this stop?

People saw me on the streets and I took notice of their heads turning away.  I often wondered why they turned away.  Why would they not help me?

I spent another 397 days in this filthy business.  A business that brings in billions of billions of dollars and has no fear of client shortages.  Young boys are able to view pictures and videos online at such a young age.  And by the time they are older, they deeply crave fantasies that only money can provide.  So, they become partakers in the 'business'.  Please don't get me wrong, it's not only men but women as well.

I spent every sober moment dreaming of an escape.  I grew faint of waiting for my knight in shining armor to rescue me.  It seemed as though I'm the only one who cares for me.

When my moment came, I took advantage of it.  The 'client' went into the bathroom to shower and 'politely' gave me the remote.  He said he'd just be a minute.

I nodded and grabbed for the remote.  I raised the volume to the TV and quickly put on my clothes.  It was dark outside and I slipped out as quickly as I could.

Scared and confused, I ran.  I had felt this feeling before.  But this time, I promised myself that no one will ever mistreat me again.

I spent days sleeping on the streets.  I avoided making eye contact, but always kept an eye behind me.  I feared my 'boss' would find me.

Winter came early this year, and I have found myself in a women's shelter ran by some church people.  They try to be nice, but I didn't trust them.  It seems that everyone wants to promote me as some kind of 'project'.

I'm not a 'project'.  I'm a 16 year old, young lady.

These ladies tell me that they know a man who can help me.  His name is Jesus.  But, I don't need a man.  I have had plenty who were 'good' to me.  I just want a place to stay during these cold, winter months and am grateful that they provide some food. 

These ladies are crazy annoying.  They just don't give up.  I don't need your 'Jesus' or anything like that.  I have myself and at this point, I feel the need to leave this joint.  I can't stand their condescending looks or fake smiles.  Don't reach out to shake my hand.  Do I look like I want your hug?  No, just don't touch me. 

I can't believe that I've been here for a couple of weeks now.  I'm thinking of heading out in a few days.  I don't like all these people coming in and out doing their 'feel good projects' and then leaving to never be seen again.

Although, there's this older lady, Rachel, who seems to be sincere.  I am starting to maybe like her.  Do I trust her?  I don't want to.  But she seems to care about me in a way that is different than anything else that I've ever known.  She listens to me.  She doesn't preach at me or talk at me.  She doesn't treat me as if I can't do anything myself like those that come in wanting to 'serve' for their 'good card' to get punched.  She shares her life with me and I feel a friend in her.

Tonight, she prayed with me.  I was hesitant at first, so I prayed sat quietly with my eyes opened.  I watched her while she held my hand and her tears warmed my heart.  She strangely prayed, "Jesus, I come to you on behalf of my friend, Mary.  She is weary, scarred, and alone.  I am carrying her to you because I know that only you can heal her wounded heart and broken body.  You can restore peace to her soul.  Only you can give hope to the hopeless.  Jesus, her pains should not have happened to her and I know that you cry with us.  This world is so broken and this madness of child-trafficking has to end.  Help us, Lord.  We cry out to you for healing.  I cry out to you for wisdom.  Give me your words to comfort, Mary, and to walk by her side.  It is in your loving name that I pray, Amen."

I looked at her as she reached in to hug me.  I didn't know what to think, but as she gently embraced me, my shoulders dropped and I felt a release of something in my back.  It was a hug, a real hug.  And you know what, she knows my name. 

I put my head down and politely said, "Thank you.  It's time for me to go to bed". And I left her side.

I can't sleep tonight.  I keep thinking of Rachel and this man, Jesus.  She really believes in him and kind of makes me want to believe in him, too.  But tonight, the only thing that I'm sure of is that I can sleep with both eyes closed.

Tomorrow, I might just ask her a few questions about this Jesus guy.

*Although I wrote this fictional story, sex trafficking is disgustingly real.  Please support organizations that are raising awareness and those providing a safehouse for sex trafficking victims.  I have listed a few organizations below.  There are more organizations out there, but these we know personally.

These videos inspired the post:

More organizations suggested by a dear friend:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Motherhood: Going Back to Prayer

 You can learn many things from children.  
How much patience you have, for instance.  
~Franklin P. Jones

Motherhood.  I had longed for it for years.  Before getting married, I had such wonderful, fairytale expectations of what my life was going to be like.  We'd all be well-groomed in the latest fashion and I'd accomplish all my errands in one day while strutting a babe on my hip.  Everyone would compliment our appearance, our mannerisms, and our kindness.  Occasionally, I would see a frantic mom in a grocery store and would think to myself, "I'd never let my children act like that nor would I ever respond out of frustration!".   

Tell me that I'm not alone here, ladies?!  Did you ever think that and then shortly after bringing your sweet child home from the hospital realize that your motherhood dreams were exposed as unrealistic expectations?! 

When Sergio and I were newly married, I had already decided that I was ready for a child.  Every month, I thought I was pregnant.  I would naively mistake my monthly symptoms as possible pregnancy signs.  Go ahead and laugh at me.  It's okay...I'm laughing with you.  I was optimistically wishing for a child.  I let me desires get the best of me.  We could've been rich off of the stock we should've taken out on pregnancy tests.  (Have I mentioned that I have the BEST, MOST PATIENT husband in the world?!) 

But after about six months of using no protection and only seeing one line instead of two, my heart began to feel grief.  I questioned what is wrong with me.  I even questioned God.   Why would He not give us a child?!  

Month after month, I sat in our bathroom and wept over that stupid, urine stick.  What the heck, EPT, where's the other line?!  

We went from purchasing pregnancy tests to ovulation tests.  Still, nothing.  It was heartbreaking.  I longed for a child.  My arms felt heavy, but they were empty.  

Three years went by like this.  Month after month, we prayed, hoped, and tried for our child.  Let me emphasize that we prayed everyday, multiples times a day.  

In February of 2004, after giving up on conceiving, I got really sick.  We were missionaries in Mexico and the doctor on staff gave me a pregnancy test.  I remember sitting in his bathroom thinking, "I'm not pregnant.  This is useless.".  I sat the test on the back of the toilet and walked out.  He asked me what it said and I simply replied, "I'm sure it's negative."  

He walked into the bathroom and examined the test.  He slowly walked out saying something to the extent of, "don't get your hopes up, but the test says that you are pregnant.  This could be a false positive."  He then sent us to a nearby clinic to do blood work.  We'd have to wait until the next day for it's results.  

Sergio and I prayed that night.  I didn't want to get my hopes up, but I've never seen two lines on a stupid stick before!  So, what else do we do but lay in bed and dream?  I remember Sergio ending our conversation by gently touching my stomach and praying a tender, sweet prayer to God.  

The next morning, we caught a bus and headed to the clinic.  We walked up to a lady sitting behind a window and asked for my test results.  The waiting room was packed.  I wanted to rip that envelope wide open, but to avoid being the crazy, white woman (depending on our results), we ran out the door.  Sergio and I stood together on the corner of a busy street.  I'm sure Sergio gave me some kind of pep talk, but I don't remember a word he said.  We both held the envelope and opened it together.  The words forever changed our lives.  "Embarazada"!!!   

I was PREGNANT!!!  

I screamed!  We hugged!  We cried!  We danced in the street!  After so many years of praying, crying, and giving up.  We were going to be parents.  

Now if I may, let me fast forward to the day we brought our son home.  It was far from my fairytale expectations.  I had never in my life seen or heard a child cry as much as he did.  It was not normal.  He would scream for hours before falling asleep.  There was nothing that I could do to comfort him.  He would wake up screaming and it seemed as though he never stopped.  I would take him to the grocery store and women would stare harshly at me or give me their "advice".  I remember one woman telling me that he screams at me because I must scream at my husband.  Seriously, lady?!  Thank you for not helping. 

It was a long, 4 years.  Yes, I typed that correctly.  He didn't stop crying for FOUR years.  Was it all the time?  No.  Was it every time he went to bed?  Yes and it lasted at least an hour.  I remember looking at Sergio one night and asked, "Surely he is not going to cry like this when he is in high school!  Will it ever end?!".

I went from praying every day for our child to complaining daily about everything.  I lost focus.  I forgot about God's gift to me.  I became a dripping faucet that needed a good bang to shut me up. 

One day while praying, God answered my complaints.  I had become convicted of my sins in this blissful stage of life called motherhood.  I realized I had become selfish. 

I had to get back to praying for my child(ren).   The best way I knew how to pray was to start with Scripture.   Praying the word over each child will allow God's divine nature to flow onto them! 

Here's my go-to list.  It's an extensive list of references I use for praying over our children:

Acts 19:20.........I thank you Father that Your Word prevails over our children 

Isa 54:13...........That they are taught of the Lord and continue to be
Isaiah 54:13...........Great is their peace and undisturbed composure 

Psalm 91:11..........Give Your angels special charge to accompany, defend, preserve
Psalm 4:8.............and provide safety for them, day and night

Proverbs 2:6............ Father, give us counsel and wisdom in bringing up our children
Proverbs 3:4 ..........having favor and high esteem with God and man 
Proverbs 13:1.......... the fruit of godly instruction and correction 

John 10:5 ........They will by no means follow strangers, not knowing their voices 

1Thessalonians 4:1......... and abound more and more in how they should walk and please You

2Timothy 1:7 ..........not having a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind
2Timothy 1:9...........Father, You have saved them and called them with a holy calling
2Timothy 1:9 ..........not according to works, but according to Your own purpose
2Timothy 4:18.........Deliver them from every evil work and preserve them
2Timothy 2:22 .........They abide with others who call on the Lord out of a pure heart

James 1:19............That they are swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger
James 1:22............I thank You that they are doers of the Word, and not hearers only
James 3:10 ..........and cursing comes not out of their mouth
James 4:8 ...........cleansing their hands and purifying their hearts 

Hebrews 13:5.......... Their conduct is without jealousy
Hebrews 13:5.......... and they are content with what they have
Hebrews 13:16......... They do not forget to do what is right and to share 
Hebrews 13:18........They have a good conscience and desire to live honorably

Philemon 1:6...........effectively sharing their faith
1John 1:7 ...........They walk in the light as You are in the Light
1John 2:5 ...........Because they keep Your Word, Your love is being perfected in them.
1John 2:15 .........They do not love the world or the things in the world
1John 5:18 ..........Because Jesus keeps them safe, the wicked one does not touch them 
3John 1:11..........and they do not imitate what is evil, but what is good

1Peter 1:14.......... I say they are obedient, not conforming to the things of the flesh
1Peter 1:15.......... be holy, in all conduct
1Peter 2:2........... desiring the pure milk of the Word that they may grow
1Peter 5:5........... That they submit to their elders, and to one another
1Peter 5:5........... being clothed with humility
1Peter 5:7........... That they cast their cares upon You, Father, for You care for them
2Peter 3:18.......... I pray that they grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord

The power of prayer is real and it should be used not as the last option but the first.  

I need to remember this more often!
There are many ways to pray for your child.  I'd love to hear & be encouraged how you all pray for your children.  Is it daily?  Do you pray a certain prayer over each of them? 

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

Friday, February 17, 2012

Missional Motherhood

"As our children's first and primary spiritual leaders,
our job is to help them understand the difference between
succeeding in the world's eyes and living lives worthy of God's calling."
-Helen Lee

This afternoon over lunch, I was talking to our kids about God giving them each very special gifts.  I talked to each child about a few of their special qualities and then asked them what they'd like to do (professionally) when they grow up.  Our oldest, Josiah (7), said, "I want to be President of the United States!".  I responded with, "That's great.  Our country could use a good man like you to help us all out!"  I looked over at Lydia who responded with, "a pretty doctor."  I was taken back by her 'pretty' comment, so I explained how she is so pretty on the inside and how God can use her kindness to comfort others and help them when they are sick.  And then, I looked over at Eliah.  He looked back at me, paused, and then shouted in a raspy, could-be-a-two-year-old-smoker voice, "A BAD GUY!".  
Um, well, that's not what I expected.  I didn't have any wise words to give him at the time.  My first thought was, "I better start praying, training, and calling his 'Tio' who is a police officer out in Missouri.  Surely, he can convince Eliah that it is not cool to be bad....all while wearing his uniform, handcuffs, & gun."  

No, but seriously, I have been thinking since our lunch discussion as to what prompted Eliah to want to be 'a bad guy.'  Is it their sense of independence?  Their free-spirit?  Or maybe how TV shows portray them as cool, driving fast cars, & being crazy?  Well, if so, then I understand his response.  Eliah is a one-of-a-kind, extremely smart, do-what-he-wants-and-not-look-back kind of kid.  And we love every bit of him!  Am I worried about his response?  No, I'm not.  I know without a doubt that he is going to do great things for the kingdom.  Bad guy or not, God's glory & power can be displayed through everyone's story.  

Now, let me take this post up a notch.  What about the responses of Josiah & Lydia?  They have both stated really great professions of making a difference in helping those in need.  And in the eyes of the world, these are two jobs that are viewed as highly successful. 

I had to take a step back and reflect on my parenting style.  Am I pushing my kids to "be successful" as the world sees success?  To do great things and to be 'somebody' that will receive lots of praise and glory for their own achievements?  I would like to hope this is not true of me.  But, what am I pushing them to be?  Am I teaching them excellence for their own sake or for the sake of Christ? 

Here's what I do know...I no longer want to raise my children up to just "be successful".  No, my vocabulary & actions are changing.  I am not just changing for my kids' sake, but for my own grow and maturity as well.  Instead of walking the road of "being successful", let's walk the road of "remaining in Christ".  

John 15: 1-4 states, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."

To remain in Christ is to be inseparably connected to Christ in every aspect of your life.  We depend on Him for grace and power to obey.   In our obedience to Him, we look to His Word for instructions on how to live our daily lives.  We praise Him, adore Him, and submit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him as authority over our lives.

Let me break it down further by using synonyms for "remain" paired with Scripture found in John 15: 
  • We "cling" to Him!  In our hardships, victories, and mundaneness of life, we run to Him.  We remain in Him to hold us, celebrate with us, and to get us through the day.  We share this genuinely with those whom may not know Christ so that they, too, can experience His love.  "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." John 15:4
  • We "live" in Him!  Where He goes, we go.  Where He moves, we move.  For the things that break His heart, may they break ours as well.  May we make a difference.  We share hope to the hopeless, love to the lonely, and healing to the broken.  We do this through the power of His name.   “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
  • We "wait" in Him!  For those who seek wisdom, He will give it generously.  Wisdom waits for it's time to speak and to act appropriately.  "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." John 15:7
  • We "rest" in Him!  In a chaotic world, He provides perfect peace.  In a darken world, He gives both light & life.  He sustains our needs and provides us with unconditional, everlasting love.  “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love."  John 15:9
  • We "stick around" Him!  We do what He would do and therefore what He has called us to do.  We reach out our hands to those in need because that's what He wants.  We do not neglect the poor.  We do not turn our head away and ignore injustice.  We do not forget the widow or the orphans.  We love as Christ loves us.  We share joy, grace, mercy, and forgiveness as He has shown to us.  "If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."  John 15:9
Isn't it amazing how a simple conversation with your children can turn into an amazing life lesson?!

Do you have any good stories to share?   I'd love to hear them!

I appreciate all the emails & sweet messages on Facebook.  Each one warms my heart!  Thank you!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reclaiming My Purpose

"God's call is often demanding.  
It will require sacrifice of some kind,
and possibly some hardship.
But it will result in meaning and purpose.  
You can be sure of that."
-OS Guinness

I received a handwritten letter yesterday from a dear friend back in Joplin.  There's something extra special about receiving a surprising letter in the mail, don't you agree?!  I cherish her words of encouragement.  In it she wrote, "We need to remind ourselves and each other that our family is our primary ministry and not a frustrating obstacle to 'real' ministry" (words from 'A Mother's Heart).  

I don't know why the Lord's work always seems to surprise and amaze me.  Her letter was written back in October during the beginning of my hard journey, but was just mailed this week.  If I may, let me tell you that I have walked down a bumping road these past few months to reclaim my purpose and live out God's call for me.  Looking back, I see her gentle prayers for me...they were like shadows behind the bushes jumping out to catch me when I began to stumble.  

True friendship.  That's what we have.  

It's been 8 months since we left our dear family & friends to partner with Reunion Christian Community.  In these past few months, I have gone through a tough season of finding my purpose.  Church planting is not easy, and when you are a stay-at-home mom, like me, it can often become lonely.  At times, I have felt discouraged and have even doubted myself.  I have cried tears of loneliness and complained about my imperfections.  Rather than being proactive, I've been reactive.  I saw hardships as undefeatable mountains and at times, I have chosen to just sit and stare in hopelessness.  

However, again to my surprise, it only took one day.  One day to look up at the mountain and to be reminded of what's above it.  "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night, they display knowledge."  (Psalm 19:19)  He has the power & strength to help me conquer each and every mountain.  I have been reminded of joy that only comes from our Creator.  

Believing the lies and feeling defeated was giving Satan an easy task of robbing me of my joy.  It took the pressure's of today and caved in my world.  Joy reminds me of salvation and helps me to anticipate eternity.  It helps me to look at the mountain and remember God's promise to me.  He will not leave me alone; He will not forsake me. 

Today, as I re-read her letter, I am comforted by the printed Scripture found on the bottom of the page.  It reads: 

"The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms."
-Deuteronomy 33:27

The God of the universe is my refuge.  His invitation to provide shelter is always open and always available.  And at times, it seems as though I have fallen, I am hurt, and I can't seem to get there alone.  But to my surprise, a dear friend picks me up & carries me to him.  He does not leave me alone.  Instead, His everlasting arms reach out to me.  His loving hands caress my face and wipe my tears.  He restores my purpose and I reclaim it graciously.  

"God, I know your purposes in my life are most important.  And when I see the works of your hands, I know you want my hands to create also.  I'm here to use my body-fearfully and wonderfully made-to create life warm and usable.  So give me the gift of transforming the cold chains of heartache into the bright, new kingdom of God.  I want to touch hate and to rename it love.  I want to touch vengeance and rename it mercy.  I want to touch resentment and rename it understanding.  I want to touch defiance and rename it submission.  Create in me a servant who worships you and cherishes the kingdom Jesus died to establish.  Amen."  -Calvin Miller

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  Hebrews 12:1-3

I've learned that it is better to live selflessly than in selfishness.  The heavy burden of carrying all the 'woes of me' is tiresome and discouraging.  To live selflessly and to consider others better than myself is both freeing and allows me to experience joy.  Is it always easy?  No, but it is always rewarding.

"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, 
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  
rather, he made himself nothing 
by taking the very nature of a servant, 
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, 
he humbled himself 
by becoming obedient to death— 
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place 
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father."

Today, I rest in the assurance that He is with me and I am encouraged that His refuge will never close up shop.

I am challenged to put on my hiking boots, grab His hand, & conquer the mountains.

And I am filled with joy even considering the hardships because it is the testing of faith that produces perseverance.  May I allow perseverance to finish its work (as difficult as it is at times) so that I may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  (James 1:3-4).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Where We Homeschool

We are well into our first, full year as homeschoolers & just this week, I've finally got us somewhat organized.  Sending 2 out of 4 children to Preschool two days a week has given me some time to understand what homeschooling is & how it looks for our family.  My pictures are not perfect, but you'll have an idea of how this family rolls.

Overview Picture 1:

Overview Picture 2 (it's not pretty...yet):

This armoire was given to me last week.  I did not get a good before picture because I was so excited to get it in our room.  Thanks, Tatiana!! 

Now, for the other side of the room.  I purchased this large & heavy armoire off of Craigslist for dirt cheap.  I had originally planned to slap some paint on it and resell it.  But once I saw how much it could hold, I've decided that it's perfect for our homeschool room.  I don't really want every piece of furniture painted, so I'm up for any suggestions on what to do!  And for those who have a great eye, the missing drawer pull is getting fixed. 


Thanks for letting me show you around our not-so-perfect homeschool room....and for the record, it's just the way we like it.

We plan to have a contract on a home near the city by the end of April.  My plans for the next house is to have the new school room organized BEFORE school begins in August.

Surely that's an obtainable goal, right?!