Friday, August 29, 2008
One of the things that Karen talked about was de-cluttering your home. I have been moving from room to room and de-cluttering as I go. The purpose in purging is to have a manageable home.
If you were given a 15 minute warning from your hubby that some company was coming over, would you be able to make a quick sweep through the house and make it presentable? If there isn't much clutter the answer would be, "yes". I love this concept. De-cluttering is an ongoing process. If you haven't tried it, buy a copy of Karen's book.
Another thing that Karen talks about is opening up your heart to others. This is the part that can be a little tricky. If we are opening up our heart to others that means we have to be transparent.
I see that the Lord has me on parallel tracks. He is showing me how to purge my home and also how to purge my heart. Purging my heart is a much more difficult task! You see, there are things in my heart's closets that have been there for a long time, and I'm quite attached to them. But if I'm going to be transparent, they are going to have to go! These are mostly selfish thoughts which lead to bad attitudes.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! I can so relate to that statement! The minute I was willing to open up my house to hospitality, the Lord brought to the surface relational issues with some people who are close to me. Why does it seem so much easier to be hospitable to strangers? Maybe because they don't know me. LOL!
Another key ingredient in Karen's book is this: Take care of your own first, then you can take care of strangers. I know this is important because God is showing me relationships that need to be strengthened. He's trying to teach me how to clean out those closets. You know, the ones with past hurts and resentments piled high! OUCH! I feel like I'm going to literally lose weight just cleaning out these hidden closets!
Keep me in your prayers, this is a tough process and I need to learn how to let some of these past hurts go. I feel so much more vulnerable if I do. There seems to be a false sense of security in holding on to the bitterness. I'll be praying about this myself over the next few days to try and figure out where the insecure feelings are coming into play. I do believe that God will give me the victory in this area, it's just a painful process. Thank you for reading this long post! I love you all very much! God Bless.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
* Author's Note: I am NOT naturally hospitable, and I didn't have an example of hospitality growing up! God is in the miracle working business! LOL!
I bought a copy of this book, "A Life That Says WELCOME", by Karen Ehman.
The book is a delightful read. It is full of real life stories and humor. It is also full of practical advice on how to start opening up your heart and home to others. I encourage you to buy a copy of this book and start to read! You won't regret it, as a matter of fact I think you'll be glad you did!
This book has transformed my thoughts about hospitality. Until I read this book, I always thought that hospitality was really about having a perfect home. I now realize that hospitality is a heart thing, not a home thing. Don't get me wrong, your home will get involved, but it's about your hearts state of being more than anything.
Karen did several surveys while writing this book. The outcome - women don't really care if your home is fabulous or not, as long as it is generally clean (clutter free) and they feel welcomed and loved while they are there. What an eye opener for me!
I have six children so I have always thought that the toys and kid stuff would hinder my ability to be hospitable to others. Not so!
God has planted in me the desire to start a new ministry called, "Titus 2 Ministries". If you aren't familiar with Titus Chapter 2 I recommend you grab a cup of tea, open your Bible and read it! The gist of it is this, the older women (no laughing about me being older!) should teach the younger women how to ... (Go read it if you want to know what it says!)
The best way to teach others anything is to come alongside them and lovingly show them how. I believe this is where hospitality will fit into my life and this new ministry. God has not showed me the big picture yet, regarding Titus 2 Ministries, but I know that He is molding me and changing me to become the woman He needs me to be in order to run with this ministry.
I could go on and on about this new passion, so I will just stop here! God Bless you all!
Monday, August 25, 2008
I had begun to notice that we were getting on each others nerves. This is not a good thing, especially since I home school - no time alone in sight!
I prayed that God would show me what was causing all of the tension. He is so faithful to answer us when we ask.
This was His answer:
Matthew 5:37 "But let your word be, Yes, yes; No, no. For whatever is more than these comes from evil. "
God was telling me that we were talking too much! Well, not exactly, but He was saying that our responses to each other had become laden with too many extra words, sarcasm.
When I stopped to think about recent conversations, I was amazed at the truth that God had spoken over my family! We have become quite sarcastic to one another. Oh how I am grateful that He loves us enough to point out our sins.
We had an immediate family meeting and I told them what God had showed me. Then I began to give examples. After only two examples, they chimed in, showing me that they really understood what I was saying. Now the hard part (I'd love some advice, if you have any) how to change this bad habit?
The only thing that I can think of, is to catch the extra sarcastic words and write them down on our dry erase board. Then, we can begin to recognize the problem and fix it.
It has taken the entire summer to create this bad habit, so I am sure it will take some effort and time commitment on our part to correct it. I will keep praying because harmony in a family is critical.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I have decided to answer these questions today.
I am passionate about my Lord! I want everyone to know God and Love Him for what He has done for them. I want everyone to surrender their lives to God and feel the peace that He gives me in most circumstances (I say most because I have to remember to look to God to get that peace!)
I am passionate about my marriage. I love my husband whole heartedly. I want other women to know how to love their husbands. There are times when I have to fight for that love and really search my own heart, but God always shows me areas in my own life to change and then things turn around again. It's so worth the effort because the friendship and companionship is unmatchable!
I am passionate about my children. I love being their mom. I have six lovely kids and I want them to love eachother and not bicker! I am passionate about helping other mom's who are struggling with behavioral issues. I want my kids (and yours) to love thier God and serve Him.
My newest passion is hospitality! God is showing me how to be hospitable to others. He is preparing my heart and my home for this new venture. I cannot wait! As He leads I will be inviting others over for fellowship. God is so good!
So how about you? What are you passionate about? I'd love to hear!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Psalm 118:1-4 "O give thanks to Jehovah; for He is good; because His mercy endures forever. Let Israel now say that His mercy endures forever. Let the house of Aaron now say that His mercy endures forever. Let those who fear Jehovah now say that His mercy endures forever. "
The interesting thing is that in some translations the word mercy is translated love. So what's the difference?
In the New Testament (and probably today), mercy is used to mean pity and compassion.
In the Old Testament, however, it is used to mean kindness, loving kindness, to show kindness. It is usually from a word that literally means "bowels" which is supposed to refer to the sympathetic region.
So how does this get translated as love? I think it comes down to the difference between pity and loving kindness.
The definition of pity is:
1. sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy: to feel pity for a starving child.
The definition of mercy (loving kindness) is:
1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.
2. the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy.
3. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, esp. to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
4. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.
5. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just a mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.
Number one and three really jumped out at me! We are a people in desperate need of God's mercy! If that wasn't good enough, the psalmist has used the word endures. This is critical to the verse, you see we are constantly sinning and testing God's mercies. So when does His mercy end? NEVER! Praise God, NEVER!
Yes, I will give thanks to my God and King, because His mercy endures FOREVER!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
This has been a crazy week over here. I am giong to be honest and tell you I wasn't able to do the study this week. I'm up to my eyeballs in lesson planning for a history class I'm teaching at my local homeschool coop for next year. I hope to be back on track next week.
I did week 3 last week and posted about it. Linda has a post up today on week 3 so, maybe I'm not behind after all?
Anyhow, Linda, over at 2nd cup of coffee, has done an excellent job recapping the lesson. Take a minute and read her post for today. :)
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I am still enjoying the victory of the USA in the Olympic men's swimming event. I've thought a lot about how fast Michael Phelps is and how talented, too! I've wondered what he must feel like, being the fastest man to ever swim - on record.
Then I started to think about Team USA. How did all of this make the team feel? Some of them won medals, but they were downplayed. I saw an interview right after Michael had won a gold medal and one of the Team USA men had won the silver, and they were asking the other men how they felt about Michael's gold medal! I have to admit I felt a bit sorry for them. Any other year they would have found themselves in the spotlight, but not this year.
Were they angry, disappointed? NO!!! Amazingly they were glad to defer the praise to Michael and his once in a lifetime accomplishments! I was impressed.
I began to think of my own life and my own friends. Do I get jealous of others when they are in the spotlight, and I'm not? Or do I gladly defer the limelight to them? God's word clearly points out that we are one body with many parts. Some are more glamorous than others, but all are equally important.
I want to be like Team USA, I want to be encouraging to my sisters in the Lord! After all, USA won, that was the point. In our spiritual lives, God gets the victory, and that's the point!
Monday, August 18, 2008
I have really enjoyed watching the summer Olympics this year! It has been so refreshing to have our whole family watching the events and rooting for team USA!
Our favorite event was the swimming, especially Michael Phelps! We stayed up late every time we knew that he would be performing. Why? Because we had to know if he would beat the world record and it was addictive!
When his relay won the gold we were rejoicing right along with him, hooting and hollering! How incredible that we were able to watch as the fastest swimmer in all of our human history performed. It really was a privilege. It also got me thinking.
Did you see his mom? She was so cute to watch. I enjoyed seeing her reaction each time her son won another gold medal. She was precious! Once, when Michael won by a nail length, she had a stunned look and when she realized that he had won his seventh medal, she fell to the floor! I loved it!
That's when I began to wonder about my own children. You see, God created Michael Phelps to be the fastest swimmer to ever live. How did he get into swimming? When did his mom realize that he had a talent? You don't win medals like that unless you are talented and committed. How do we know what our children were created to do?
This is something that plagues me at times. I have six children and I cannot let them try everything that's out there. I spend a great deal of time praying about each opportunity and asking God to show me if they are gifted or talented in a particular area that He wants to cultivate.
Can you imagine if Michael Phelps had never entered in a swim meet? The Olympics would have looked quite different this year!
I am not expecting my children to be in the Olympics or set any world records. No, I am looking for them to serve God in the way He wants them to serve.
Eph 2:10 "God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do."(GNB)
The works that we are to do for God, He has already prepared for us! He is the master builder. May He guide each of us as we raise up the next generation.
Friday, August 15, 2008
One thing I'm supposed to do, is say the 5 step statement of faith. Statement number four is, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
On the surface, that statement sounds easy. When you get down to the realities of life, fear and doubt seem to be lurking behind every new door!
Recently, I had a chance to listen as my two nine year old daughters were having a conversation about their upcoming birthdays and what kind of party they wanted to have. Here's how the conversation went:
Val, "I was thinking that I'd like to have the entire home school coop over for a cookout on my birthday." (There are 100 children in our coop!)
Val, "But then I thought, no, because it would be too hard for mom." (bless that girl!)
Steph, "Val, if Mom can raise six kids, she can do ANYTHING!"
The faith of a child! I guess it's all in perspective, isn't it! The truth is, I have only been able to raise my six children because of God and His love and grace. Based on that fact, He will help me in any situation. Apparently, I need to get back to having a faith like a little child.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Can God do what He says He can do?
I started off by saying, "of course He can!". As the study has progressed this week, I'm finding myself a little ashamed because it is really digging up some unbelief in my heart, OUCH! This study is really cleaning house in my spiritual life.
Beth splits the churches today into two basic categories: Those who say there are no miracles happening today, and those who say its all about the miracles.
Interestingly, both of these views are sinful! If you don't believe there are miracles anymore than you aren't having any faith. Conversely, if you believe there must always be signs and wonders you are called, adulterous and wicked! That last one really threw me! If you want to look up some scriptures I'll list a few.
Heb. 11:1, 1Peter 1:21, Romans 4:8, and 1Cor. 13:13.
The reason why we shouldn't always need miracles is because we begin to focus on what He can do for us, instead of focusing on who He is. It makes sense, I'd just not thought of it that way before. I was raised in big faith churches and I fear many of them fall into the second category.
Here is a phrase that I really liked:
We don't know if He will, but we must believe that He can.
That's one I'll keep on the forefront of my mind as I move foreword.
Beth goes on to point out that we tend to base our beliefs on what we see happening to others. This is not how we are supposed to base faith! We should be so saturated with the Word of God that we believe what God says about a situation.
There are so many good truths that I've learned this week. I think I'd need to post every day to cover it all. I am going to sum this one up here:
She talks about the difference between the old testament covenant and the new testament covenant. The new testament covenant is written on our hearts, not a tablet. God's number one priority is to work a good work in our own hearts, the inner man, not the outer man. He can and will still perform outward miracles, but He will only do so if it will benefit our inner man.
My sweet friends, let us not get caught in this circle of unbelief:
We believe little because we see little and we see little because we believe little.
Let's get into the word of God and saturate ourselves with it to the point of believing God can do what He says He can do!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Isn't it sweet to see a child holding hands with their parent. This is a picture of Tiff and Mom holding hands. Tiff is three years old and our years of holding hands are numbered.
This year has been the year of my calling. God has graciously reached into my life and prophetically called me into a ministry that I was created for. In His sovereignty He also gave me a warning, "In the excitement, don't step out in front of God."
This picture has such profound meaning to me. I know all too well, that when my children stop holding my hand, they tend to step out in front of me. If we are in a parking lot, stepping out in front can mean injury. I am constantly reminding my kids to let Mom go first, but without holding my hand, they tend to walk too fast.
We consider ourselves adults, don't we. But after my stern warning, I realized that in God, we aren't adults until we meet Him face to face in heaven. For now, God wants us to hold His hand. We are NEVER too old to hold His hand. In doing such, we ensure that we won't run out in front of Him and risk getting hurt.
Monday, August 11, 2008
What a wonderful week we had! My sweet husband surprised us with a week long trip to sunny, Myrtle Beach, SC. It has been one of the most relaxing vacations that we've had in quite some time. My sister, her husband and their son were there in another condo. Here are some of the pictures that I think you'll enjoy!
My Son is the one on the left, his older cousin is in the white shirt. My 6yr old daughter is in the surf behind them.
Nothing like riding the waves on your boogie boards!
Skin Boarding, it's the latest rage with all of the boys at the beach.
Relaxing in the surf, bonding moments.
No trip to the beach is complete until you have the sand castles.
Father and daughter, aren't they sweet!
My youngest two making mud pies.
Thank you, my wonderful husband! You are a gift to me and our children. I am a blessed woman.
Monday, August 4, 2008
My husband has surprised us with a special vacation to sunny Myrtle Beach, SC.
I just assumed I would be blogging and keeping up with my blog reading this week, but I really feel like the Lord is telling me to sign off and just take time to enjoy every moment with my precious family. So, I'll be praying for all of you, and I'll be back next Monday.
If you think of it, pray for us, for safety and that we'd really bond as a family.
PS. This is a picture of my oldest daughter walking to the ocean to check it out when we first got here. There will be more photos to come next week.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Don't judge a book by its cover.
What's in your wallet?
Ok, so the last two are commercial ads. The point is what do you do when you meet someone new? Do you judge them by their appearance? the way they look, smell, dress, or speak?
We've been searching for a new church and consequently we've had the opportunity to meet many new people. How have we judged them?
According to God's Word, we are only supposed to look at the heart.
Joh 7:24 Don't judge by appearances. Judge by what is right.
I've decided to try and be careful as I meet these new people. I've asked the Lord to let me see only the good in them. This is difficult because we don't really know them, and whether someone is good or not is a heart matter. But God has been good enough to help me not judge them based on appearances. I want to see them the way God does. With loving eyes, not harsh eyes.
Here's another one:
The truth is in the pudding. (Where did this one come from?)
Anyhow, once we get to know someone, then we can make a true judgement and determine if they are exhibiting the fruits of the spirit - or not. Until then they will be:
Innocent until proven guilty.