Looking for Answers

Directions on Weather Vane

I have recently come to the realization (and more importantly, acceptance) of the fact that my eight year old daughter is not like me. She doesn’t think like me, learn like me, do chores like me, remember things like me… yeah. None of it. I think I’ve known it for a while, but haven’t figured out quite what to do about it. I’ve started looking at learning styles and been more of a student of who she is and how she ticks. What motivates her and how can I help her stay focused? Instead of insisting that she do things the way I think they should be done, I’m trying to find what might work better for her. The expectations in life are the same (chores and schoolwork need to be done, etc), but maybe there’s a different way she can get there.

I was feeling a little overwhelmed trying to figure all this out, when this verse was brought to my attention:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

Have you ever needed to be reminded that you’re not in this alone? We don’t have to have all the answers. God has them and He has promised to share them with us! He knows your children (and you) better than you do and knows what methods, curriculum, and strategies they need to learn and grow. Seek Him daily for how to be the parent and teacher you can be.

Keeping Holidays Spiritually Fresh

White Flower near Christian Cross

With snow still on the ground where I live and the promise of more today, it’s hard to believe that Easter is in a few weeks. I look forward to holidays and the accompanying traditions. My hubby has off on Good Friday so we usually go out to breakfast as a family. We do some Easter egg hunts and candy and sometimes we make Resurrection Cookies  the night before Easter. With no family in the area, we frequently invite friends over for Easter dinner. All good things that help make Easter special.

But how do you keep it fresh, spiritually? With all the repetition of the traditions, how do you make it significant and not just another holiday?  I feel for pastors who need to come up with new sermons each year for the same types of holiday topics. How many different ways can you look at the same story? I want Easter to be a meaningful time to remember the incredible things that Jesus did for us. But how do you not just get used to it? I want to be amazed anew at the crucifixion and resurrection, but I feel trapped by the repetition of traditions.

One way that I think I’ve found to keep the same stories fresh is to look at them through my children’s eyes. As they grow and increase their capacity to understand spiritual things, it’s been really neat to see them understand these holidays in a new way each year. When I see it through their eyes, it helps me to find new wonder and deeper understanding.

On a lighter note, we had some unexpected revelations this past Christmas. I talked with the kids (ages 8 and 10) about the virgin birth and how significant it was that Mary was pregnant without being married. People would have assumed she had been immoral. The kids were confused. We’ve taught them that having babies was what married people were supposed to do. We’d communicated that was God’s plan to wait to have babies until marriage, but I didn’t realize my ten year old thought that was the only possible way for babies to be produced. He didn’t understand how Mary got pregnant if she and Joseph weren’t married. It’s NOT where I had planned on going during our devotional! What ensued was an awkward discussion about how yes, girls can get pregnant without being married, although that’s not God’s plan. No, kissing doesn’t make girls pregnant. Yes, there’s something else that goes on to produce babies, but we don’t want to get into it right now. No, Joseph was not Jesus’ father – God was. It got a bit messy but did clear up some of the theology issues. I think.

I don’t foresee the same types of revelations during our upcoming Easter discussions! Hopefully and prayerfully, as we talk about the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection, both my kids and I will grow into a deeper understanding and appreciation for His sacrifice. That’s the wonder of God’s Word – it speaks to us even when we’ve heard the same story countless times.

What do you do to keep the holidays spiritually fresh and significant?

Don’t Light Your Own Torch

torch

Up until last spring, we had a horrible neighbor situation two doors down from us. The kids would taunt and bully our kids and their friends, and the mother was completely uninvolved in supervising them and intervening. We tried talking to her, but she wouldn’t help. Mostly, she slept all day, by her own admission. We tried befriending the kids, but it only backfired in our faces. We were hesitant to even let our kids play outside because we never knew when these kids would come around. We tried involving the police, but didn’t get very far there, either.

We prayed and prayed, begging God to intervene. We felt bad for the kids, who seemed to be victims of a very poor family situation, but we also couldn’t tolerate their behavior. We were very tempted to take matters into our hands, but felt like God really wanted us to just trust Him. It was so hard because we couldn’t see the end. We knew from public records that they could be forced to leave, but from what we understood, it would still be a while. It was a horrible situation and we even considered moving, even though we really enjoy our neighborhood otherwise.

Isaiah 50:10-11 has some very interesting things to say about situations like this:

“Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of His servant? Let him who walks in dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.”

Everyone walks in some type of darkness from time to time, whether it be from nasty neighbor, an illness, or unanswered prayer. What are we supposed to do in those times? Trust in God. Rely on Him and His character. Sometimes, instead of trusting God, we light torches so we can see better. We take matters into our own hands rather than relying on God to lead us through the dark. God says to those who do that, “Go ahead. Use that light from your own torch rather than trusting in Me. But look out. There will be consequences. You will lie down in torment.”

Are you tempted to create your own solutions to problems in life? Maybe it’s a difficult situation with your children or curriculum, or something with an extended family member. If you feel like you’re walking in darkness, don’t light your own torch. Hold God’s hand one step at a time and trust Him to get you to the end.

Our neighbors moved away sooner than we expected. We certainly weren’t perfect witnesses throughout the whole ordeal, but we made attempts at living in peace and we didn’t come up with our own solutions. God will take care of it. Just trust Him.

Jesus is better

This isn’t mine, but I had to post it.

Faith

Jesus is Better

I‘ve got a couple minutes to convince you of one thing.

Altogether, it’s 13 letters, 3 words, and 1 complete sentence.

And I hope you never forget it.

Jesus is better.

 

You say…Better than what?

I say…Better than everything.

 

He’s better than any dream you might be chasing after.

He’s better than any ambition that may have captured your devotion.

He’s better than anything that could distract you from doing what you

were created to do. Jesus is better.

 

He is bigger than the labels you were given when you were young He is

huger than the cynicism that settles in as you get older.

He is greater than the greatest moment in your life thus far.

 

Jesus is better.

 

He’s better than a 6-figure salary.

He’s better than a 4.0 GPA

He’s better than a 3-story house.

 

He’s better than the Heisman trophy, a trophy hunt or a trophy wife,

 

He’s better than a big promotion, no commotion or a DVD player with

replay in slow motion

 

He’s better than a scholarship, a big raise or a  Harvard education

 

He’s better than the Superbowl, a caribbean cruise or Disney Vacation.

 

Jesus is better

 

He’s better than any person that has ever walked this earth.

He’s wiser than Confuscius and smarter than Einstein.

He’s more holy than Ghandi and more spiritual than Buddha.

He’s more eloquent than Shakespeare and more creative than Mozart.

He’s more powerful than Napoleon and more compassionate than Mother

Theresa.

 

Jesus is better.

 

The Bible says…

He’s better than the angels, better than the demons, and better than

any prophet, priest, or saint.

 

Jesus is better!

 

Moses represents the law, Jesus fulfills the law Joshua launched a

kingdom that lasted centuries, Jesus launched a kingdom that lasts

forever David beat a Giant named Goliath, Jesus beat a giant named death

 

Jesus is better

 

He’s the rest you’ve been waiting for.

He’s bigger than the temple.

He’s better than the law,

His priesthood is better.

 

Jesus is better.

 

He’s better than money, cars, clothes, sex, entertainment, achievement,

and popularity.

He’s better than anything this world can offer you.

Jesus is better.

 

And there will be times when it’s hard to believe: times when it

doesn’t feel like Jesus is better. The world will hate you. Your flesh

will fight you. And the devil will lie to you. Storms…will…come.

 

You’re gonna face disappointment, deception, betrayal, rejection,

regret, sickness, and death. You’re gonna feel tired, empty,

broken-hearted, scared, and alone.

But don’t forget what you learned.

 

Jesus is better.

 

He’s the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

He is the Prince of Peace and the light of the world He is the friend

of sinners and the enemy of Satan.

He is the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning

and the end.

He is the way and the truth and the life for all people.

Jesus is better.

 

And if you really, truly believe it, it’s gonna cost you.

You’re gonna deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him.

You’re gonna help the poor, swallow your pride, and love your enemies.

You’re gonna read your Bible when you¹d rather watch TV.

You’re gonna pray when you’d rather sleep.

You’re gonna serve when you’d rather be served.

You’re gonna speak up when you’d rather be silent.

But when it’s all said and done, you won’t regret it.

You’ll say, “It was worth it.”

 

Let me hear you say those three beautiful words now.  “Jesus is better.”

 

And the day that you buy this idea is the day that you step out of your

cul-de-sac existence into God¹s greater plans for your life as an apostle of Jesus.

 

The Bible says…

“That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raise him from the dead you will be saved…For there is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile – the same Lord is Lord for all and richly blesses all who call on him, for Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”

Jesus is better.

 

Whatever it takes; I want you to know that Jesus…is…better.

13 letters, 3 words, 1 sentence, and no question about it.

 

Jesus…is…….. better.

 

Adapted from a poem by Caleb, Sol, Ashton, Furtyck with quotations from Hebrews and Romans. 

Accepted on Sonship

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????We went on a 3 day family trip a few months ago. The toddler was, well, a toddler. He wasn’t very used to trips, staying in hotels, and dealing with the level of overstimulation that travel frequently creates. By the time we were ready to go home, he was done. He was belligerent, ornery, defiant, and any other adjective you can think of that would describe an overtired toddler at the end of a trip. Do you have the picture in your mind? We managed to get the car packed for the ride home while trying to keep said toddler from running free in the parking garage. My husband stopped and laughed. He looked at this adorable bundle of defiance trying to pull away from me and asked, “So, did he earn a ride home?”

“No!” I shouted, trying to find any shred of patience and sanity left in me. “He certainly did not!”

“But we’ll bring him home safely, anyway.” Hubby smiled. “Why is that?”

I took a deep breath, starting to see what he was getting at. “Based on sonship.”

“Yes. Based on sonship. Not too different from us, huh?”

It was a very interesting observation. Our toddler had done absolutely nothing to deserve a ride home. But we would never dream of leaving him behind. We would die to protect him from any harm anyone else could cause him or that he would even cause to himself. Isn’t that how God is with us? We can be ornery, defiant, and stubborn. We dress it up so it looks much nicer than the two year old does, but is it so different? And yet God, because we are His sons and daughters, gave Himself for us. Not based on what we deserved, but based on our relationship to Him and His love for us. He protects us and will bring us home.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’. The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:15-16

Fear not!

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Do you struggle with fear in your parenting, your homeschooling, and in life? I sure do. I fear that our family will come down with this nasty stomach virus that’s going around, or worse, some horrid disease. I fear the direction our country is going and that homeschooling won’t stay legal. I fear that my kids will grow up hating certain subjects because I’ve taught them wrong or used the wrong curriculum. I fear that I’m not being a good example of how to deal with stress or other issues in life.

But God says not to fear. Are we not to fear because those fears are irrational and unfounded? The kids really won’t get sick, the country won’t fall apart, and they won’t hate math or learn bad habits from me?

No, that’s not it. Some fears are irrational and unfounded, but many are completely legitimate concerns.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

We are told not to fear because God goes with us. If everything that we fear comes to pass, God will still be with us. He promises to strengthen and help us and to uphold us through whatever comes our way.

“I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

He also promised to deliver us from our fears. He’s never promised to give us a problem free life. He may protect us from certain things, but life is still hard and things don’t always go the way we want. It should bring us peace to know that whatever happens, our loving Heavenly Father walks through it all with us.

Education in its various forms

MP900386461Chaos. Homeschooling three kids feels like chaos. Yes, there’s education – the normal, book learning type of education going on, but also another type of education. I had to laugh at my older two (DD 8 ad DS 10) trying their hardest to be patient with the very exuberant two year old this morning. They started taking turns having the little one be their chore helper. DS 10 was trying to have DS 2 help collect the laundry. The little guy was just not cooperating. It was much more fun to throw laundry all over the room, including back in to the original hamper, rather than put it into the basket as he was instructed to do. DS 10 is learning a lot about how to be patient and not lose your cool. What better teacher than an insane 2 year old?

I think about how much our kids would miss out on if they were gone at school all day. The older two certainly wouldn’t be as close to the little guy as they are. They all adore each other! When they’re not fighting… But they do adore each other. The 2 year old won’t go to bed unless his older brother tucks him in. I wouldn’t trade that for all the peace and quiet in the world. I’ll take the chaos.